May 24 (Empire Day), 1941
- The Bismark sinks the HMCS Hood
. The sinking of H.M.S. Hood
resulted in the single
largest loss of life for the Royal Navy
during World War II: 1,415 were lost
. There were absolutely no traces of any crewmen, living or dead, save the three survivors, Ted Briggs, William Dundas and Bob Tilburn.
May 26, 1936
- The Queen Mary left England
on its maiden voyage, arriving in France
four hours later.
May 27, 1941
- British ships sank the German battleship Bismarck off the coast of France
, resulting in the loss of 2,300 lives.
Launched Feb. 14, 1939 and named for former German chancellor Otto von Bismarck the fearsome Bismarck was the most powerful ship in the German navy
, but had a short career on the seas. A sighting of the massive battleship in May 1941 from reconnaissance aircraft sent the British navy into immediate action.
Two British battleships, the Prince of Wales and Hood engaged the Bismarck soon after making contact near Iceland
. The Bismarck sank the Hood in a matter of minutes, taking all but three of the 1,418 crewmembers, and then escaped into the open ocean. It was spotted by British aircraft a day later, and hit by a torpedo that damaged its ability to maneuver. The Bismarck made for the French coast, but was under bombardment from British ships throughout the night - and in the morning of May 27 three ships, the King George V, the Rodney, and the Dorsetshire teamed up to first cripple, and then sink the mighty war ship.