Peter Poland, naval officer devoted to life at sea who, at the age of 19, recorded a unique record of the sinking of the Bismarck – obituary



By 4:00 p.m. that night, however, it was clear that something was wrong. The enemy should have been seen. Two hours later, Poland was in the chart house, preparing to watch the evening stars when Lloyd walked in and ordered, “Get out the Admiralty list of radio signals and the signal giving the direction, Mid.” “

After a few minutes of work, Lloyd suddenly straightened up. ” My God no ! He apologized. “They forgot half of the convergence. Poland knew that there were two forms of map in use, the gnomonic, which takes into account the curvature of the Earth, and the Mercator projection, which assumes that the Earth is flat. The line between two points on this last graph is known as the rhumb line, and the arithmetic correction known as half-convergence, which, when applied by Lloyd, showed that Bismarck was south- is, as the uncorrected bearings showed.

Poland was present when this was explained to the Commander-in-Chief, who immediately ordered King George V to head south.

Poland stayed with Lloyd all night, listening to the C-in-C discuss the tactics of the now inevitable battle. He was on the bridge at dawn on May 27, when “we all saw Bismarck at the same time. The long, low silhouette of a huge battleship emerged from the mist about ten miles away. Even at that distance her beauty was evident… It seemed a real shame that we were destined to destroy a ship of such beauty, but from then on the battle became a blur of noise and explosions.

“The sound of battle was now a continuous cacophony, the sea around the enemy was almost a curtain of continual spray. We closed until the range was reduced to about two thousand meters and the guns fired over open sights, at fixed range; the shells were heading towards the enemy, and I could see the damage we were inflicting.

“His huge guns were bent in half as if they were paper clips. His superior works were a jumble of torn steel. I could see jagged holes in its side through which the orange glow of the lights was evident. In its wake dragged a thick haze of smoke.

Running out of fuel, the C-in-C ordered its battleships to break the engagement and let its cruisers finish off Bismarck with torpedoes.

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