Can anyone substantiate or negate this? Or add info?

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Can anyone substantiate or negate this? Or add info?

Post  Black Hornet on Tue 7 Dec 2010 - 4:59

Some books about the Bismarck mention a sighting report supposedly radioed by Norwegian agents on 20 May and acknowledged by the British. This story is recounted in the 1967 book The Greatest Gamble.[16] No evidence, either direct or circumstantial, supports this story. British and Norwegian authorities deny that secret agents were involved before or during the Bismarck operation,[17] and that the Norwegian resistance had radio or other ability to communicate swiftly with Britain and Sweden in May 1941. Radio links between Britain and the Norwegian resistance were established in 1942.[18]


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Re: Can anyone substantiate or negate this? Or add info?

Post  Terje Langoy on Tue 7 Dec 2010 - 15:02

G´day all


The battleship Bismarck and heavy cruiser Prinz Eugen weighed anchor at Gotenhafen (Polish Gdynia) around nightfall 18th May 1941, deployed for “Exercise Rhine” - the second Atlantic raid to be made by German capital ships after Operation Berlin had been successfully concluded at Brest some two months earlier.

During 20th May the German force was heading up the Kattegat when they were sighted at 1300 hours by a Swedish naval vessel, the hangar-cruiser Gotland. A contact report was immediately dispatched by Captain Ågren to the Signal Station at Kullen, from there further relayed to the Swedish Military Intelligence offices at Stockholm.

In the early spring months of 1941 officers within the Swedish Military Intelligence had decided that a close co-operation with the Norwegian resistance also served Swedish interests. This was of course an unofficial private stance but nonetheless one of significance. As it turned out the Chief of Staff for the Swedish military Intelligence, Major Tørnberg, was a close friend of the Norwegian Military attache in Stockholm, Colonel Roscher Lund.

Colonel Lund received word from Major Tørnberg about Ågren´s report being told that a Swedish vessel had sighted two large warships and several other ships, sailing under air cover, earlier that day. This had Colonel Lund making a visit to the British embassy to meet with the British Naval Attache, Commander Henry W. Denham. Lund informed him of the contact report whereas Denham sent the following message to London at 2058 hours:

Kattegat, 20 May at 1500 hours. Two large warships escorted by three destroyers, five other escorts and ten to twelve aircrafts, passing Marstrand at a N.W. course.

Within an hour after Denham dispatched the report to London the German warships were spotted once again, this time from an island off Ny-Hellesund just outside Kristiansand. Here they were seen by the Norwegian resistance agent Viggo Axelsen. A photograph was also made by Professor Edvard Barth, an ornithologist doing a survey on birds in that area, as the German ships passed by. The photo he captured can be found at pg. 92-93 in the book “Bismarck - a survivor´s story” by author and former artillery officer aboard the ship, Burkhard Friherre von Müllenheim-Rechberg.

It would appear that Axelsen most probably relayed his sighting to another man. Linge Officer Odd Starheim* was a radio telegraphist with residence at Flekkefjord and it is said he dispatched a contact report to Colonel Wilson at the SOE offices in London. Starheim´s report would so forth be the first direct and solid indication received by the British that the Bismarck was on her way out.

Confirmation of a German breakout came the following day. At 1315 hours a reconnsaissance Spitfire flown by Lt. Suckling, passed some 8000 m. above Grimstadfjord outside Bergen. Sitting at anchor in the fjord beneath was the Bismarck.

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* Starheim´s report is yet unconfirmed by the British. I can however provide a name (Colonel Wilson) and time period (20 - 23 May 1941) thus if anyone at this board have access to SOE files then maybe they could shed more light on the subject..?
--------------------


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Re: Can anyone substantiate or negate this? Or add info?

Post  ervold on Sat 11 Dec 2010 - 1:13

Terje Langoy wrote:G´day all


The battleship Bismarck and heavy cruiser Prinz Eugen weighed anchor at Gotenhafen (Polish Gdynia) around nightfall 18th May 1941, deployed for “Exercise Rhine” - the second Atlantic raid to be made by German capital ships after Operation Berlin had been successfully concluded at Brest some two months earlier.

During 20th May the German force was heading up the Kattegat when they were sighted at 1300 hours by a Swedish naval vessel, the hangar-cruiser Gotland. A contact report was immediately dispatched by Captain Ågren to the Signal Station at Kullen, from there further relayed to the Swedish Military Intelligence offices at Stockholm.

In the early spring months of 1941 officers within the Swedish Military Intelligence had decided that a close co-operation with the Norwegian resistance also served Swedish interests. This was of course an unofficial private stance but nonetheless one of significance. As it turned out the Chief of Staff for the Swedish military Intelligence, Major Tørnberg, was a close friend of the Norwegian Military attache in Stockholm, Colonel Roscher Lund.

Colonel Lund received word from Major Tørnberg about Ågren´s report being told that a Swedish vessel had sighted two large warships and several other ships, sailing under air cover, earlier that day. This had Colonel Lund making a visit to the British embassy to meet with the British Naval Attache, Commander Henry W. Denham. Lund informed him of the contact report whereas Denham sent the following message to London at 2058 hours:

Kattegat, 20 May at 1500 hours. Two large warships escorted by three destroyers, five other escorts and ten to twelve aircrafts, passing Marstrand at a N.W. course.

Within an hour after Denham dispatched the report to London the German warships were spotted once again, this time from an island off Ny-Hellesund just outside Kristiansand. Here they were seen by the Norwegian resistance agent Viggo Axelsen. A photograph was also made by Professor Edvard Barth, an ornithologist doing a survey on birds in that area, as the German ships passed by. The photo he captured can be found at pg. 92-93 in the book “Bismarck - a survivor´s story” by author and former artillery officer aboard the ship, Burkhard Friherre von Müllenheim-Rechberg.

It would appear that Axelsen most probably relayed his sighting to another man. Linge Officer Odd Starheim* was a radio telegraphist with residence at Flekkefjord and it is said he dispatched a contact report to Colonel Wilson at the SOE offices in London. Starheim´s report would so forth be the first direct and solid indication received by the British that the Bismarck was on her way out.

Confirmation of a German breakout came the following day. At 1315 hours a reconnsaissance Spitfire flown by Lt. Suckling, passed some 8000 m. above Grimstadfjord outside Bergen. Sitting at anchor in the fjord beneath was the Bismarck.

--------------------
* Starheim´s report is yet unconfirmed by the British. I can however provide a name (Colonel Wilson) and time period (20 - 23 May 1941) thus if anyone at this board have access to SOE files then maybe they could shed more light on the subject..?
--------------------
The story about the spotting of Bismarck off Kristiansand can be seen in the book "Den høyeste heder" by Johan waage, in the chapter "En drake går av stabelen, et slagskip går ned." Wiggo Axelsen spotted the group of ships, and got the message through to Starrheim who sendt the message to Home station who confirmed receiving it. After an hour Home station sendt a message ordering observers north along the coast possibly to follow the ships.

Mvh
ervold



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Re: Can anyone substantiate or negate this? Or add info?

Post  Black Hornet on Sat 11 Dec 2010 - 3:22

Very good, thanks.

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Re: Can anyone substantiate or negate this? Or add info?

Post  hoh on Sat 11 Dec 2010 - 20:05

Hello

It seems not so easy to confirm Lt. Starheim’s message (over SOE-station Cheese) regarding this observation.
Ragnar Ulstein write in his book Etterretningstjenesten i Norge 1940-1945 (vol 1, pg 135-139), that copies of telegrams sent from/to Cheese in the actual time is kept by Hjemmefrontmuseet (Norwegian Resistance Museum). They are all serial numbered (from Cheese to Home Station 20. – 21. May have numbers 4-12 and no numbers are missing). None of the telegrams from Cheese mention the German naval force, but a telegram sent from Home Station 22. May asks Cheese for info regarding the force anchored in Grimstadfjord south Bergen, which Starheim responded by sending an agent (Kåre Austad) to Bergen. Due to the travelling time the info he recieved fro the agent came too late to influence the hunt for Bismarck.

The German force passed off Kristiansand Tuesday 20 approx. 9 pm. The message from Axelsen (Kr.sand) to Starheim (Flekkefjord) regarding the force was said to be sent by the regular local bus. This service had no departure until the next day and there were several hours travelling time between the cities those days.
By 11 am on Wednesday 21 the force dropped anchor in Grimstadfjord, where the ships were spotted by RAF at 1pm.

Col. Wilson says in “The Linge Company, Roll of Honour”, that Lt. Starheim “(....) remotely had a part in the sinking of the German battleship, Bismarck”, but no telegram is found to confirm this.

mvh hoh

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Re: Can anyone substantiate or negate this? Or add info?

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