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Book Review, NRJ 59.4

November 15, 2014 12:00 PM | David Eddy

The Battle of the Denmark Strait: A Critical Analysis of the Bismarck’s Singular Triumph

Robert J. Winklareth

The Battle of the Denmark Strait is considered one of the most famous and defining naval battles of World War II. Fought in May of 1941 in the waters between Greenland and Iceland and between the forces of the British navy, with the battlecruiser HMS Hood and battleship HMS Prince of Wales, against the German battleship Bismarck and cruiser Prinz Eugen, the battle of Bismark Strait pitched the mighty vessels of the German raiding operations against the pride of allied shipping in the North Atlantic.

Despite being one of the most documented events in world naval history through photographs, war diaries, and official reports, controversy abounds as to the actual mechanisms of the battle and the details of how the battle was fought are confused due to conflicting photographs and battle diagrams. In an attempt to remedy the lasting historical confusion, Robert Winklareth, in The Battle of the Denmark Strait: A Critical Analysis of the Bismarck’s Singular Triumph, provides an extremely detailed look at not only the specific maneuvers of the battle itself, but also the definitive events leading up to the battle--contributing to its outcome, as well as the aftermath and the battle's lasting effects on the remainder of the War.

Based on a technical analysis of documentary and photographic evidence including salvo-by-salvo descriptions and first-hand accounts, Winklareth examines the scenarios of the Battle of Denmark Strait with an eye for clarification and consolidation into a cohesive account. To provide new evidence for the account, Winklareth reconstructs the factors of naval gunnery including shell to target flight time, reactions and correction time, and recycle times affecting the course if the battle and the ultimate victory of the German force.

Although the expansive detail provided in the account through salvo descriptions, minute by minute maneuvers and photographic changes add increased evidence for the clarification of the battle, the real highlight of Winklareth's account is that is goes beyond the minute details of the battle, and attempts to understand how the battle fit into the larger picture of global relations, extending years into the past to the resurrection of HMS Hood and the eventual sinking of the notorious Bismarck, and the uncertain future of both German and British warships.

Whether inadvertently or intentionally, Winklareth provides an excellent account of naval development, expansion, and decline from the era before World War I to after World War II, and pf the fates of vessels Prinz Eugen and Rodney, and lasting interest in Bismarck and the battle, as underwater explorers uncover the remnants of the battle thousands of meters below the surface, showing how Battle of Denmark strait affected world events and continues to affect historical memory.

 Philadelphia: Casemate Publishing

2012 6-1/4” x 9-1/4”, hardcover, 336 pages

Photographs, maps, appendices, bibliography, index. $32.95

Reviewed by Jennifer E. Jones, East Carolina University

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