Bismarck sunk even after Germans tried to surrender, reveals sailor

London, May 27 (ANI): A British sailor, who was left tormented by the "sinking of the Bismarck", is said to have revealed to his son that the ship was sunk even after the Germans tried to surrender.

The German battleship, which was one of the most famous warships of the Second World War, had a few days earlier sunk the Royal Navy's pride of the fleet, HMS Hood, and all but three of its 1,418 crew.

Then Prime Minister Winston Churchill wanted to avenge the Hood, and ordered Royal Navy officers, who had been made aware of the attempts of the Germans to surrender, to "sink the Bismarck".

In two hours the battleship, with 2,200 onboard, was a helpless wreck of twisted metal, raging fires and dead and dying crew, and was finished off by torpedoes, slipping under the Atlantic with all but 200 of those aboard.

It was a huge triumph for the Royal Navy, but now the son of one of the British sailors who saw Bismarck's end 70 years ago has come forward to claim that the battle might have ended differently had the German signals been heeded.

Tommy Byers, a sailor on the British battleship Rodney, maintained until he died that the ship hoisted a black flag - the naval sign calling for parley.

He and a second seaman also saw a Morse code flash, which they interpreted as surrender, along with a man waving semaphore flags conveying the same message.

Royal Navy officers were made aware of the signs but they were determined to follow Churchill's orders.

The revelation was unearthed by author Iain Ballantyne for a book about the Bismarck, which has been published 70-years after the sinking on May 27, 1941.

He came across was an interview Tommy gave to his son Kevin before he died in 2004 aged 86.

"Dad knew what he saw. He felt guilty he didn't do more at the time but he wasn't of high enough rank to be heard," the Daily Mail quoted Kevin, 52, from Portaferry, County Down, as saying.

"Something like 2,000 men died and this nagged away at him for the rest of his life," he added.

The second witness was air defence officer on HMS Rodney, Lieutenant Donald Campbell, who in his account of the sinking said he saw the Morse signal, which was also reported by a sailor on the cruiser HMS Dorsetshire. (ANI)