Hood & Bismarck: The Deep-Sea Discovery Of an Epic Battle

24 Feb 23

This book was published in 2002 to tie in with the two-part ITN/Channel 4 programmes on looking for & (re) discovering the remains of Hood & Bismarck. It is much better written that I had expected for a TV tie-in, but then Rob White is a past winner of the Desmond Wettern Maritime Media Award and his co-author is a director of a firm that specialises in locating deep-water wrecks.[1] The authors tell the stories of the genesis, construction, life & death of two of the most well-known warships of the last century. There are many books on each & both, so I assume that most members will know a fair bit about the subjects.

However, there are three reasons for recommending this book – new interviews with survivors from both ships (taken for the TV programme),[2] extensive research in Britain & Germany & fascinating insights into navigation in times just past.

I did not find anything unexpected from the Hood survivors’ accounts, but the German ones were all new to me, especially the story of Captain Lindemann, with his messenger, climbing up the fo’c’sle forward of ‘Anton’ turret as Bismarck finally sank. The research includes Captain Leach’s drawing of Hood from Prince of Wales at the moment she exploded.

Locating both wrecks involved researching & evaluating as many contemporary position reports as possible & then assessing them for accuracy.[3] David Mearns had extensive experience of doing this, so was able, very successfully, to refine the search datum for each ship. One of his surprising statements whilst explaining how he did this, is that submarine navigation was more accurate during WWI than WWII.

This book is obviously filling a niche in the story of these two ships, but it is well illustrated, especially of the two wrecks, has a good list of sources & a useful index. I would certainly recommend it to Members as a valued addition to any other books they may have on the subject.


[1] Including the bulk carrier, The Derbyshire.

[2] Three from Hood & 115 from Bismarck.

[3] Robert Ballard, who initially found Bismarck’s wreck, had not disclosed the exact position, so the Channel 4 Team had to do their own search.