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Burkhard Baron Von Mullenheim-Rechberg (deceased)
|Burkard Baron Von Mullenheim-Rechberg is a former German naval officer, lawyer, and ambassador. Born in Spandau into a family where the profession of arms was an established tradition, he entered the navy of the Weimar Republic in 1929. After service in a variety of ships and as assistant naval attache at the German Embassy in London, he was assigned to the Bismarck in May 1940. A year later he became the senior officer to survive her sinking. In 1952, after spending time as a prisoner of war and earning a law degree, the baron joined the diplomatic service of the Federal Republic of Germany. He served as consul general in Toronto and as ambassador to the West Indies, Zaire and Tanzania. Born in Prussia into a family with an established military tradition, Burkard Baron Mullenheim-Rechberg entered the Navy of the Weimar Republic in 1929. Burkard, like many Prussian officers, was critical of Hitler and his National Socialist Party. However, the regime did not accept criticism, and Burkard was forced to react with impotence or face the difficult fate awaiting dissenters. During his naval career Burkard served as an instructor at the Murwick Naval School, and as an assistant to the naval attachC, at the German Embassy in London. He had plenty of sea duty including time on both cruisers and destroyers. In May of 1940 Lieutenant-Captain Burkard was assigned to the Bismarck. He served as adjutant to Captain Ernst Lindemann, the Bismarck's commanding officer. Lindemann was an experienced gunnery expert, and given the Bismarck's enormous firepower, this background was deemed an asset. Captain Lindemann informed Burkard that the Bismarck would henceforth be referred to as a "he" instead of the traditional "she." In addition to being an ideal duty assignment, serving as the adjutant to Captain Lindemann, provided Burkard insights, into Lindemann's character. The Bismarck was commissioned on August 24, 1940, but was unable to go to sea for several months because a sunken ship blocked the channel. At the time of the Bismarck's demise on May 27,1941, Burkard was Fourth Gunnery Officer, and he was the highest ranking officer to survive the great ship's sinking. He became a prisoner of war, and spent much of the remainder of the war in Canadian prisoner camps. Burkhard earned a law degree after the war and joined the German diplomatic service in 1952. His first assignment was in Iceland followed by posting to Oslo Norway where he was head of the consular section on the German Embassy. He served in a variety of posts. He was Consul General in Toronto, and Ambassador to the West Indies, Tanzania, and Zaire. Burkhard retired from the diplomatic service in 1975. Since that time he has lived with his wife in upper Bavaria. He has authored two books on the Bismarck, and has served as a consultant to movie producers and other WW II authors. In addition to being one of the world's foremost authorities on the Bismarck, and its demise, Burkard has written extensively regarding his reflections on the political nature of the Nazi regime and its criminal misdeeds. Many officers which served their country during the war were unaware of the crimes and atrocities of the Nazis, where others with some knowledge were torn between their loyalty to their country and their opposition to Hitler's misdeeds. He died 1st June 2003.|
|The Aircraft :|
|Swordfish||Torpedo bomber and reconnaissance biplane, crewed by three, with a top speed of 154mph, reduced to 136mph as a float plane. Maximum ceiling 19,000 feet, reduced as a float plane. Armed with a .303 Vickers machine gun fixed forward and one in the rear cockpit. One 1610lb torpedo or up to 1500lb bomb load. At the outbreak of world war two the fleet air arm had 13 operational squadrons. The Fairey Swordfish has earned its place in history for major contributions to naval warfare, during the Norwegian campaign, and especially during the raid on Taranto. In November1940, twenty Swordfish took off from HMS Illustrious to attack the Italian fleet in their Harbour of Taranto. At Least nine torpedoes hit their targets. Seven Italian ships were badly damaged including the battleships, Caio Duillio, Littorio and Conte De Cavour. This was followed in February 1942, by a heroic but suicidal attack on German battlecruisers in the English Channel by six Swordfish of 825 squadron from RAF Manston. All aircraft and crews were lost. This resulted in a Victoria Cross for the leader Lieutenant Commander E Esmonde. The next major event was the torpedo attack on the Bismarck by Swordfish from HMS Ark Royal, which badly damaged the steering gear of the Bismarck which helped in the final destruction of the German battleship by Royal Navy battleships. The Fairey Swordfish was also used in anti-submarine and anti-shipping roles. The Swordfish sunk more enemy ships (by tonnage) than any other aircraft acting in the same role. By the end of the war the Fleet Air Arm still had nine active squadrons, but these were finally disbanded in May 1945. A total of 2399 Swordfish were built.|
Sunk 27th May 1941
Built by Blohm und Voss of Hamburg and launched on the 14th February 1939, the Bismarck spent the following 18 months fitting out. On the 24th of August 1940 the Bismarck was handed over to the German Navy. During the battle of the Denmark Strait, her main adversary, HMS Hood blew up after receiving hits to the magazine. In response to this, the Royal Navy vowed to sink the Bismarck, and on 27th May 1941, just days after the battle with HMS Hood, Bismarck lay on the sea floor. With her rudder jammed by a torpedo hit from a Swordfish aircraft, she was a sitting duck for the combined firepower of HMS Rodney and HMS King George V, who ruthlessly pounded the German battleship before she was finished off by torpedoes from British cruisers.
Specifications of the the battleship Bismarck :
Armament: eight 15-inch Guns and 12 6-inch Guns, with a secondary armament of 16 40-inch guns and 16 1.5inch AA Guns.
Speed : 30 Knots
Compliment of 2,400
Length. 823.5 feet.
Width 118 feet
Height 29.5 feet
Displacement 41,700 tonnes.
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