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Rated: E · Documentary · Military · #1651725
Part 5 of the continuing story of the Bismarck and HMS Hood
Part 5 Operation Rheinbung

    As the German battlecruisers Scharnhorst and Gneisenau docked in the

occupied French port of Brest on March 22nd, 1941, the officers and crew must

have felt the satisfaction of a mission well done. Over the winter months of 1940/41

these two ships, under the command of no less then the fleet chief himself, Admiral

Gunther Lutjens, had destroyed or captured twenty-two Allied ships totaling one

hundred and sixteen thousand tons. As the last island of democary and freedom in

Europe, Britain stood alone against the Nazi war machine that had burned across

Europe since September of 1939. Her only hope for survival was a tenuous link to

the great democarcies in the west, the United States of America and the Dominion

of Canada.

  Numerous supply convoys risked a three thousand mile journey through the

treachous North Atlantic, infested with German U-boats, to provide food, munitions,

medical supplies, fuel oil and numerous other goods that a nation needed to survive

and fight. By 1941, Britain required a million tons of imports per week and the Nazi's

were well aware of Britains dependency on imported materials.

  Flush with success of the Scharnhorst and the Gneisenau, the Naval High

Command now had much larger ambitions. The plan was to send into the Atlantic

a powerful battle force consisting of two battleships, the Bismarck and the Tirpitz

along with the battlecruisers Scharnhorst and Gneisenau. This flexing of German

Naval muscle would go by the code name "Operation Rheinbung". The "Battle of

the Atlantic" was about to enter a new chapter and the survival of Britain depended

on its outcome.

(to be continued)
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