Wednesday, May 29, 2013

How the Scharnhorst Was Sunk-- Part 2

December 26, 1943 is British Boxing Day and that is when the British ships caught up with the German cruiser Scharnhorst which had altered course and running for safety in a Norwegian fjord.  It was pitch dark and radar was being used.

The Scharnhorst first encountered the HMS Duke of York and engaged the battleship receiving damage and being forced to slow down because of it.  Various other destroyers and cruisers moved in for the kill.  Star shells lit up the sky.

Near the end, the destroyers came in and fired off their torpedoes at the Scharnhorst, often described at the most beautiful fighting ship of any navy.  Fighting to the end, the German ship fired every gun still operational and used 20 mm cannon on the destroyers.

The destroyers and HMS Matchless could not find the Scharnhorst on their second torpedo run, but did find men, mostly dead, floating in the water.  Norman Scarth remembers a man from the Matchless calling out, ""Scharnhorstgesunken?" and getting the reply "Ja Scharnhorst gesunken!"

The destroyers scrambled to get nets over the side to rescue the Germans.  Only 36 of the 2,000 man crew were saved.

Then, the Matchless was ordered away and Scarth can still remember voices calling out for help in that cold Arctic water.

A Valiant Ship to teh End.  --GreGen

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