Killing the Bismarck

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paul.mercer
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Killing the Bismarck

Post by paul.mercer » Tue Oct 12, 2010 7:37 pm

Gentlemen,
Not sure if this is the right place for this post, Have just purchased a new book by Ian Ballantyne entitled 'Killing the Bismarck' (subtitled 'Destroying the pride of Hitlers Fleet').
have not got very far as yet but on page 15 he states" I hope my account is also honest, too in revealing the neccessary brutality of the Bismarck episode's finale and the fact that a major motivating factor for the British sailors and marines was revenge for the murder of 1,415 of their shipmates on Hood".
My question to you is this, I was a little disturbed by the use of the word 'murder', obviously war is a terrible thing under any circumstances, however to my mind there is a subtle difference to taking life while fighting a war for defence for oneself, friends or country and cold blooded killing of prisoners or civilians. What do you think?
Has anyone else read this book yet?

paul.mercer
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Killing the Bismarck

Post by paul.mercer » Tue Oct 12, 2010 7:46 pm

Has anyone read Ian Ballantynes new book entitled 'Killing the Bismarck' and subtitled 'Destroying the pride of Hitlers Fleet'?
This is the same author who wrote 'HMS Rodney' which was published last year.

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frontkampfer
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Re: New Books

Post by frontkampfer » Wed Oct 13, 2010 1:25 am

No, I haven't read this book but based on the excerpt you gave I now know I can save my time and money!
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RF
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Re: New Books

Post by RF » Wed Oct 13, 2010 6:18 pm

If this is the book I thimk it is, there is also an allegation that Bismarck ceased fire early in the action as a sign of surrender... I have co-incidentally started an adjacent thread on this.

My sentiments are in agreement with frontkampfer.
''Give me a Ping and one Ping only'' - Sean Connery.

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Re: Killing the Bismarck

Post by behblc » Thu Oct 14, 2010 12:09 pm

I have almost finished it , when you get used to the author's style of writing it is not too bad.
To being with the quality of the construction of the book is quite good , text is clear , font size good , quality of illustrations is varied and reproduction is sharp, map/ diagrams - too small and held in the Appendices away from the main text , these I found disappointing ,all sources are well documented.
The contents of the book - the author does "explode the myths" many of which will be known to readers of this forum ( I took a look over it last night and read the "myths" section / thread.) , RN gunnery , "who sank the Bismarck" , did Hood get her torpedoes away , and the possible photo of Hood blowing up are looked at.
The chase from Norway to Biscay is covered quite well as one would expect.
The title "Killing The Bismarck" - the "revenge" of the Royal Navy I am not totally sold on this - certainly the "Sink The Bismarck" order is easily understood following Hood being destroyed and POW being seriously damaged , the "murder" of the crew of Hood again the "killing of the Bismarck" seems to sit alongside this "the Surrender" of the Bismarck is looked at - the notion of this comes from a seaman on Rodney who thought he saw a signal being flashed from Bismarck and this is quite reasonably dismissed.
Is it worth £25 , mixed feelings on it to be honest- someone coming to "Rhine Exercise" for the first time would probably be happy with it , I know I keep looking back to Ludo Kennedy's book and I still find it a hard benchmark to be equalled.

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RF
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Re: Killing the Bismarck

Post by RF » Thu Oct 14, 2010 1:40 pm

Threads have been opened up in the Bismarck General Discussion section about this book, which appears to have as its aim the need to be controversial to generate publicity and sell copy.

I haven't read this book, but apparently it was reviewed in the latest edition of Warship International.
''Give me a Ping and one Ping only'' - Sean Connery.

behblc
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Re: Killing the Bismarck

Post by behblc » Thu Oct 14, 2010 3:17 pm

The authors view that revenge was a huge part of the motivation in sinking her does bring to mind Churchill's order to "Sink the Bismarck" not that the intention of Tovey and Holland was ever anything less to sink her , Hood's loss stunned national pride sinking her was one thing - "Killing her" does put a different slant on things.
The emphasis or extent to which revenge or the desire to avenge the loss of Hood played is open to interpretation. Mr Ballantyne's book is a good read but I do not view the desire to sink Bismarck in the wake of Hood being sunk as a "dark secret".

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RF
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Re: Killing the Bismarck

Post by RF » Fri Oct 15, 2010 7:22 am

The order that the Bismarck ''be sunk at all costs'' was primarily motivated by the threat that this battleship posed to Britain's lifeline, the North Atlantic convoy routes. With its firepower, Bismarck could annihilate any cruiser/destroyer escorted convoy at long range, without even coming under fire itself. With Prinz Eugen in company, plus supporting U-boats, Bismarck itself wouldn't even have to directly sink the merchantmen, if the convoy scatters the U-boats have a feast...

The destruction of Hood underlined the threat posed by Bismarck. The RN had very few capital ships that could match Bismarck for speed. Those British battleships that could match Bismarck in firepower had nothing like the speed with which to catch her and force engagement.

Add to this the possibility of the Twins coming out of the Biscay ports to join forces with Bismarck, then the clear imperative to destroy Bismarck is clear.

To suggest that the order ''Sink the Bismarck'' was motivated purely for revenge over the loss of Hood is rather juvenile and petulant. And the treatment of the Bismarck survivors by their captors gave no indication of any desire to treat them as murderers or to inflict any kind of revenge. The one sailor who died on Dorsetshire was buried at sea with full military honours.
''Give me a Ping and one Ping only'' - Sean Connery.

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Re: Killing the Bismarck

Post by David » Thu Dec 09, 2010 3:24 am

I read Kennedy's "Pursuit" for the second time several years ago- aloud to my wife over about a month. There is poetry in his language, the cadence of a seaman. Bercuson and Herwig's "The Destruction of the Bismark" is flat by comparison and I am reminded of Dr. Johnson's famous reply "Your book is both original and good. Unfortunately, the parts that are good are not original and the parts that are original are not good." The plaigerism of Kennedy's work is noticable and there is some foolishness about USCGC MADOC and an American battleship that is presented without any evidence. I've read M-R and Grenfell and agree with M-R that Kennedy's book is the best.

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RF
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Re: Killing the Bismarck

Post by RF » Thu Dec 23, 2010 4:46 pm

Yes, I too think Kennedy's book is the best.
''Give me a Ping and one Ping only'' - Sean Connery.

paul.mercer
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Killing the Bismarck

Post by paul.mercer » Fri Feb 11, 2011 9:50 pm

Have just finished reading 'Killing the Bismarck' by Ian Ballantyne. As he also wrote a new book on HMS Rodney a short while ago it seems that he is perhaps overly impressed with the power of Rodney's guns as he appears to attribute most of the damage caused to Bismarck to them.
What is quite shocking is the eye witness accounts from both KGv & Rodney of the punishment that Bismarck suffered before being finally torpedoed.
Has anyone else read this book and if so what are their impressions.

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Re: Killing the Bismarck

Post by celticmarine10 » Mon Feb 21, 2011 3:49 am

obviously this book is VERY biased. Its war. Bismarck sunk Hood. Thats it. Its war. If you die in combat, its not murder.This seems more a propaganda piece then anything else. :x
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Re: Killing the Bismarck

Post by lwd » Wed Feb 23, 2011 8:10 pm

Well it could be an attempt to portray the attitude in the RN rather than declare the sinking of the Hood a crime. I'm not sure that it is accurate in that regard either but it might move it out of the propaganda catagory.

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RF
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Re: Killing the Bismarck

Post by RF » Thu Feb 24, 2011 9:15 am

I think that it does portray the atitudes in the RN at the time, particulary the lower deck who often have to operate on a ''need to know'' basis and thus won't know all the salient facts of the action.
''Give me a Ping and one Ping only'' - Sean Connery.

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Re: Killing the Bismarck

Post by celticmarine10 » Fri Mar 18, 2011 2:29 am

Very true. I apoligize for my rash reply. I'm sure this would be any navy's reaction when their flagship is sunk. Didn't think twice before blatently using the word 'propaganda'.

Speaking of this, does anyone know if the Germans wrote anything like that after Bismarck was sunk?
"Permission to Fire!" - Kapitan Lindemann

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