Article from the
of May 28, 1941,
The story of the chase of the Bismarck, as told by Mr. Churchill with tantalising slowness, kept the House of Commons in a state of acute tension (writes the Parliamentary Correspondent).
The faces of some members went white with suppressed excitement.
When Mr Churchill came into the Chamber he had only scraps of information that had been given to him by the Admiralty, and he seemed while he was speaking to be hoping that some more definite news would arrive.
Telling of the loss of the Hood he said she was struck at about 23,000 yards range by a shell which penetrated into one of the magazines.
She blew up - with only a few survivors.
There were many tantalising pauses as the Premier produced more pieces of paper.
"Great as is our loss in the Hood" ended Mr. Churchill, "the Bismarck must be regarded as the most powerful enemy battleship, as she is the newest enemy battleship and the striking of her from the German Navy is a very definite simplification of the task of maintaining effective mastery of the Northern sea and maintenance of the Northern blockade."
He sat down, and there came a question from Sir Alfred Knox (Con., High Wycombe). "After the experience at Jutland," he asked, "was the Hood fitted with special equipment to guard her magazines?"
Mr. Churchill replied that the Hood was refitted about ten years ago, and during the war she had been several times in hand for short periods to have her turbine blades attended to, but no major reconstruction of the ship which was known to be thinly armoured, was possible during the war, and was not effected before the war.
Then came, unexpectedly the hoped-for climax.
The House had passed to the next business when it was noticed that Mr. Brendan Bracken, the Prime Minister's Parliamentary Private Secretary, was pushing his way through a group of Members standing inside the entrance to the Chamber.
"JUST HAD NEWS . . ."
He hurried to the Treasury bench, and Members watched expectantly while a piece of paper was passed along to Mr. Churchill.
The Prime Minister rose hesitatingly with an apologetic glance at the Speaker.
To rise while the Speaker is on his feet is a Parliamentary offence.
"I do not know," said Mr. Churchill.
"whether I might venture to intervene, with the very greatest respect.
I have just received news that the Bismarck is sunk."
The cheers were loud and long.