Branch: Kaiserliche Marine / Reichsmarine / Kriegsmarine
Born: 28 March 1894 in Altenkirchen, Germany.
Died: 27 May 1947 in the North Atlantic.
Kapitän zur See 1 April 1938
Fregattenkapitän 1 October 1936
Korvettenkapitän 1 April 1932
Kapitänleutnant 1 January 1925
Oberleutnant zur See 7 January 1920
Leutnant zur See 18 September 1915
Oberfähnrich zur See
Fähnrich zur See 3 April 1914
Iron Cross 1914
1st Class 27 September 1919
Honour Cross for Combatants 6 December 1934
Service Award 2nd to 4th Class 2 October 1936
Service Award 1st Class 16 March 1938
Spanish Naval Merit Cross 3rd Class 6 June 1939
Spanish Naval Merit Cross in White 21 August 1939
Spanish Naval Merit Cross in Gold 3rd Class 21 August 1939
Swedish Royal Order of the Sword 11 January 1941
War Merit Cross 2nd Class with Swords 20 January 1941
Clasp to the Iron Cross 1939
2nd Class May 1941
1st Class May 1941
Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross 27 December 1941
High Seas Fleet Badge 1 April 1942
Takes command on 24 August 1940
Ends command on 27 May 1941
Ernst Lindemann was born on 28 March 1894 and became the only commandant of the battleship Bismarck during its eight months of service during the Second World War. Ernst Lindemann joined the Kaiserliche Marine in 1913, and subsequently after his basic naval training, served on a number of vessels during the First World War as a wireless telegraphy officer. Aboard SMS Bayern, Ernst Lindemann took part in Operation Albion in 1917. Later on after the First World War, Ernst Lindemann served in assorted staff and naval gunnery training situations. Within a year of the Second World War starting Ernst Lindemann was assigned commandant of the battleship Bismarck, at the time the largest warship in commission anywhere in the world and the pride of the Kriegsmarine.
Ernst Lindemann was commandant of their battleship Bismarck in May 1941 during Operation Rheinübung. The battleship Bismarck and the heavy cruiser Prinz Eugen under the command of Admiral Günther Lütjens were to break out of their base in German occupied Poland and attack British merchant shipping lanes in the Atlantic Ocean. The naval task force's first major battle was the Battle of the Denmark Strait which led in the sinking of HMS Hood. Within week later, on 27 May, Ernst Lindemann and most of his crew lost their lives during Bismarck's last engagement.
Ernst Lindemann was posthumously awarded the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross, an honour that recognised extreme courage on the battlefield or outstanding military leadership. On 6 January 1942 the medal was presented to his widow, Hildegard.
Ernst Lindemann was born on 28 March 1894 in Altenkirchen in the Westerwald, Rhine Province. Ernst Lindemann was the first of 3 children of Dr. jur. Georg Heinrich Ernst Lindemann and Maria Lindemann, née Lieber. Known as Ernst, Georg Lindemann was a probationary judge (Gerichtsassessor) and later president of the Prussian Central Land Credit Company, a Prussian credit bank.
Ernst Lindemann was christened into the evangelistic Church on 26 April 1894. The family moved to the Charlottenburg area of Berlin, Germany where they lived at 6 Carmer Street, in 1895. His younger brother Kurt Lindemann was born in 1896, followed by a 2nd brother, Hans-Wolfgang Lindemann, in 1900. The family moved again in 1903, this time to their own home in the Dahlem area of Berlin, Germany near the Grunewald forest.
During 1910, when Ernst Lindemann was sixteen, his uncle Kapitän zur See Friedrich Tiesmeyer was in command of the light cruiser SMS Mainz October 1909 to January 1910 of the Kaiserliche Marine, at that time holding the rank of Fregattenkapitän. At a family reunion in Hamelin, Ernst Lindemann chattered with his uncle and discovered of his seagoing adventures in the Far East. These conversations gave Ernst Lindemann the idea of a naval career.
Ernst Lindemann graduated from secondary school (Bismarck-Gymnasium) in Berlin-Wilmersdorf with his diploma (Abitur) in 1912 with an intermediate to good overall rating. Ernst Lindemann attended the Royal Polytechnic Institution in Richmond, London, England.
Ernst Lindemann met Charlotte Weil née Fritsche 1899 to 1979, a Berlin singer, in the spring of 1920. The couple wedded on 1 February 1921, and they had a girl, Helga Maria, born on 26 February 1924. Ernst Lindemann's job as a naval officer involved him be away from his family for extended periods of time. Nevertheless this proved to be too exacting on the married couple, and they were divorced in 1932. Ernst Lindemann was engaged again on 20 July 1933 to his youngest brother's sister-in-law, Hildegard Burchard. Hildegard was fourteen years junior than Ernst Lindemann. They wedded on 27 October 1934 in the St Annen Church in Berlin Dahlem Germany. The ceremonial occasion was done by Martin Niemöller, a founding father of the Confessing Church, later incarcerated as an anti national socialist. They had a girl, Heidi Maria, born on 6 July 1939.
Ernst Lindemann journeyed with his parents to Flensburg for his medical checkup on 26 March 1913 at the Naval Academy at Mürwik. The solid financial background of his parents made him a desirable applicant for the Kaiserliche Marine, as the costs connected with a naval training in 1909 were 800 to 1000 Marks each year for 8 years. By comparison, a metal worker earned 1366 Marks per annum and a teacher 3294 Marks per annum. Only 5 percent of the German population at the time earned more than 3000 Marks annually. Nevertheless, the doctor certified him as fit only for limited duties, as he had pneumonia in childhood which had left him unfit for service in U-boats. Subsequently after a second medical checkup, he was admitted on probation, and Ernst Lindemann became one of the 290 young men of Crew 1913 the incoming class of 1913. Ernst Lindemann was formally enlisted in the Kaiserliche Marine as a Seekadett on 1 April 1913.
Ernst Lindemann was assigned to SMS Hertha with 71 of his comrades, from the cadets of Crew 1913 in May 1930. At that time, SMS Hertha was under the command of Captain Heinrich Rohardt, a friend of his uncle Friedrich Tiesmeyer. Coming on board on 9 May, they were separated into watches comprising of roughly 18 men each. SMS Hertha left Mürwik and stayed in Kiel, Germany till the end of the month. On 29 May 1913, SMS Hertha headed for Swinemünde, where she stayed until 15 June. The next stop, through Sassnitz and Visby, was Stockholm, capital of Sweden, arriving on 24 June. SMS Hertha remained in Stockholm until 1 July, before leaving for Bergen in the Kingdom of Norway. Later on, the voyage carried on to the Lönne Fjord. Here, Ernst Lindemann met his commander-in-chief Kaiser Wilhelm II for the first time. SMS Hertha then returned to Wilhelmshaven, Germany, arriving in on 8 August 1913.
One week later, SMS Hertha started a seven month training cruise from 15 August 1913 to 12 March 1914. The ocean trip took Ernst Lindemann to Dartmouth in England, Vilagarcía de Arousa in Kingdom of Spain, Faial Island in the Azores and as far as Halifax in Nova Scotia. The return voyage went via Vera Cruz in United Mexican States, Havana in Cuba, Haitian capital in Haiti, Kingston in capital of Jamaican, Port of Spain in Trinidad and then to the Canary Islands, Madeira, and the Spanish mainland, getting back in Germany in the middle of March 1914, first in Brunsbüttel and two days later in Kiel, Germany. Ernst Lindemann was promoted to Fähnrich zur See on 3 April 1914.
With the German proclamation of war in August 1914, all further training at the naval academy was ceased and the normal mandatory officer testing was passed over. The entire Crew 1913 was allotted to respective units in the Kaiserliche Marine. Ernst Lindemann was assigned to SMS Lothringen, a battleship which belonged to the 2nd Battle Squadron of the High Seas Fleet under the command of Vizeadmiral Reinhard Scheer, acquiring the position of third wireless telegraphy officer. SMS Lothringen was largely tasked with policing the North Sea, navigating back and forth between Altenbruch and Brunsbüttel without engaging in armed combat. Ernst Lindemann left SMS Lothringen on 1 June 1915 to attend the wireless telegraphy school at Mürwik. Ernst Lindemann with success finished the course and came back in July 1915. Ernst Lindemann then took over the position of 2nd wireless telegraphy officer and was promoted to Leutnant zur See on 18 September 1915.
SMS Bayern went on sea trials at Kiel Canal. On 19 March 1916, Ernst Lindemann was transferred to the freshly commissioned battleship SMS Bayern under the command of Captain Max Hahn, with the same rank of 2nd wireless telegraphy officer. SMS Bayern, with her eight 38 cm guns, was the most powerful ship of the fleet. It Her crew had been mostly assigned from SMS Lothringen, which remained to serve as a training ship. Onboard SMS Bayern, now under the command of Captain Rohardt, Ernst Lindemann took part in Operation Albion in September to October 1917. Operation Albion's objective was the invasion and occupation of the Estonian islands of Saaremaa, Hiiumaa and Muhu, then part of the Russian Republic. At 507 hours on 12 October 1917, SMS Bayern hit a mine whilst manoeuvring into her barrage location to secure the landing beaches at Pamerort. 7 sailors were killed. In spite of mine damage, SMS Bayern attacked the coast defence battery at Cape Toffri on the southern tip of Hiiumaa. SMS Bayern was discharged from her responsibilities at 1400 hrs that day. Temporary repairs were made on 13 October in Tagga Bay before SMS Bayern to Kiel, Germany on 1 November 1917.
Later after the armistice in 1918, SMS Bayern collectively with the bulk of the German High Seas Fleet was interned at Scapa Flow, the home of the British Grand Fleet. SMS Bayern got there on 23 November 1918 with a skeleton crew of only 175 men, including Ernst Lindemann, who was then ordered to return to Germany, arriving in Kiel on 12 January. On 21 June 1919, Admiral Ludwig von Reuter ordered the interned fleet to be scuttled, and SMS Bayern sank at 1430 hrs.
Once Ernst Lindemann came back to Germany, it was dubious whether he could stay on, on active military service. Because of the Treaty of Versailles which was signed on 28 June 1919, the German Navy was downsized to 15,000 men, including 1,500 officers, while the German Navy was renamed the Reichsmarine in the era of the Weimar Republic. Whilst Ernst Lindemann had finished 5th in the Class of 1913, Ernst Lindemann stood a good chance of being kept on. Ernst Lindemann served temporarily in the Dahlem Protection Company a part of the Protection Regiment of Greater Berlin June to July 1919, before Ernst Lindemann became adjutant to the recently created chief of the Naval Command Department on 1 August 1919 to 30 September 1922, at the time under the command of William Michaelis. The Naval Command Department was directly subordinated to the Admiralty Staff. At the same time, Ernst Lindemann had the position of adjutant in the Fleet Department. During this assignment Ernst Lindemann was promoted to Oberleutnant zur See on 7 January 1920.
Ernst Lindemann's following assignment on 1 October 1922 to 30 September 1924 was onboard the battleship SMS Hannover, where Ernst Lindemann served as a watch and division officer. During this appointment, Ernst Lindemann attended an officers' course at the ships' gunnery school in Kiel, Germany between 5 February and 3 May 1924. Then, Ernst Lindemann took command of the 1st Artillery Company of the 3rd Coastal defence Department in Friedrichsort in Kiel, Germany on 1 October 1924 to 26 September 1926. Ernst Lindemann commanding officer was Korvettenkapitän Otto Schultze, a former First World War U-boat commandant and later Generaladmiral of the Kriegsmarine. Whilst in that position, Ernst Lindemann was promoted to Kapitänleutnant on 1 January 1925.
Ernst Lindemann following appointment was on 27 September 1926 to 6 September 1929 placed him on the Admiral's staff at the Baltic Naval Station, first as a staff officer then as assistant to the chief of the station, which was under the command of Vizeadmiral Erich Raeder. Then, Ernst Lindemann was transferred to the Elsass serving as the second gunnery officer and Fähnrichsoffizier officer in charge of cadets, and responsible for the onboard training of the officer cadets, from 7 September 1929 February 1930. Whilst keeping the same rank, Ernst Lindemann was then transferred to the pre-dreadnought Schleswig-Holstein.
On 30 January 1933, the National Socialist German Workers' Party, under the leadership of Adolf Hitler, came to power in Germany, introducing a period of naval rearmament. In 1935, the Reichsmarine was renamed the Kriegsmarine. Between 22 September 1931 and 22 September 1934, Ernst Lindemann was a senior lecturer at the Naval Gunnery School in Kiel, Germany. Ernst Lindemann was then assigned to the SMS Hessen under the command of Commandant Hermann Boehm and served as first gunnery officer from 23 September 1933 to 8 April 1934. Ernst Lindemann was promoted to Korvettenkapitän on 1 April 1932. On 9 April 1934, Ernst Lindemann was ordered to the Wilhelmshaven Shipyard, Germany on April and November 1934 for training in ship building and familiarisation with the pocket battleship Admiral Scheer, under the command of Commandant Wilhelm Marschall.
Whilst on their pocket battleship Admiral Scheer, Ernst Lindemann once again served as 1st gunnery officer, and in that position Ernst Lindemann took part in the Spanish Civil War from 24 July 1936 to 30 August 1936. Thepocket battleship Admiral Scheer had to make ready for the mission on short notice, the order came from Admiral Rolf Carls on 23 July 1936 at 1345 hrs. The normal 48 hours needed to organise the ship was cut down to 12 hours, necessitating a lot of the crew and particularly Ernst Lindemann. As the first gunnery officer, Ernst Lindemann was accountable for managing and storing all ordnance stores. The pocket battleship Admiral Scheer and the pocket battleship Deutschland (Lützow) left Germany on 24 July at 800 hours. Ernst Lindemann's main duties included commanding the German landing companies and acting as diplomatic aid and interpreter for Wilhelm Marschall. These landing parties comprised of up to 350 men, which included 11 officers, 15 non-commissioned officers and 266 Navy personnel, or roughly a third of the crew. Whilst on the homecoming voyage to Germany, pocket battleship Admiral Scheer stopped at Gibraltar on the morning of 25 August 1936. Wilhelm Marschall and Ernst Lindemann and other officers met with the British Governor and Rear Admiral James Somerville. Later on Ernst Lindemann returned to Germany, he was promoted to Fregattenkapitän on 1 October 1936.
During 1936 and 1938, Ernst Lindemann was an consultant and later head of the ship building section at the Naval High Command, and simultaneously a adviser to and later chief of the Naval Training Department. On 1 April 1938, Ernst Lindemann was promoted to the rank of Kapitän zur See. On 30 September 1939, one month after the outbreak of the Second World War, Ernst Lindemann succeeded Heinrich Woldag as commandant of the Naval Gunnery School in Wik in Kiel, Germany after Heinrich Woldag took command of the heavy cruiser Blücher.
Ernst Lindemann was disappointed by the fact that as commandant of the Naval Gunnery School he would never come into direct contact with the opposition. While Ernst Lindemann received the news that he had been hand-picked to be the first commandant of the battleship Bismarck, Ernst Lindemann was honoured by the confidence that had been bestowed on him but doubted that he would be able to get battleship Bismarck ready for action before the war was over. Ernst Lindemann uncertainties indicate that he was convinced the war would end in a prosperous outcome for Germany by mid 1940. Before commanding battleship Bismarck, Ernst Lindemann had never held any shipboard command, a situation rare if not unique in the Kriegsmarine. However, Ernst Lindemann had served solely on ships with a gun calibre of at least 28 cm, and he was Germany's leading gunnery expert. In 1940, Ernst Lindemann ranked 2nd out of Crew 1913 and was regarded an spectacular leader.
Ernst Lindemann arrived at the Blohm & Voss shipbuilding works in Hamburg, Germany at the beginning of August 1940. battleship Bismarck's keel had been laid on 1 July 1936 and she was launched on 14 February 1939. Burkard Freiherr von Müllenheim-Rechberg joined battleship Bismarck as 4th gunnery officer in June 1940, and he would become the highest ranking officer to survive battleship Bismarck's last battle on 27 May 1941. So much of what is currently known about battleship Bismarck's last days is accredited to his account as a witness. Ernst Lindemann made Burkard Freiherr von Müllenheim-Rechberg his personnel adjutant and taught him to refer to the ship as he rather than she, Ernst Lindemann believed the ship too powerful to be referred to as a female. Ernst Lindemann commissioned the battleship Bismarck on 24 August 1940. Ernst Lindemann showed a good deal of attachment to the ship and was well-thought-of by his crew.
The Battleship Bismarck left the Kiel Fjord on the morning of 28 September 1940 heading east. Subsequently after an quiet voyage through rough oceans, The Battleship Bismarck arrived at Gotenhafen the next day. The Battleship Bismarck executed a number of sea trials in the comparative safety of the Bay of Danzig. On 30 November 1940, Ernst Lindemann had set a number of trials for the crew, which they surpassed at. Whilst at high speed trials, the battleship Bismarck reached a top speed of 30.8 kn, surpassing the design speed. Nevertheless, one failing promptly became evident, without the rudders and using only the propellers, the battleship Bismarck was just about impossible to manoeuvre.
The battleship Bismarck left Hamburg for the first time on 15 September 1940. In November 1940, Von Müllenheim-Rechberg was sent to the Naval Gunnery School at Wik to finish his heavy gun training classes, which stopped his position as Ernst Lindemann's personal adjutant. Ernst Lindemann's new adjutant was the signals officer Lieutenant Wolfgang Reiner. The battleship Bismarck's heavy guns were first test fired in the 2nd half of November, and the battleship Bismarck was proven to be a very stable gun platform. During the 1940 Xmas festivity aboard the battleship Bismarck, Ernst Lindemann and the bulk of the officers, noncommissioned officers and sailors went on home leave. 1st gunnery officer Korvettenkapitän Adalbert Schneider relieved Ernst Lindemann as the battleship Bismarck's commandant during his absence. Ernst Lindemann spent his leave with his wife and daughter and came back on 1 January 1941.
In 28 April 1941, the battleship Bismarck and crew were ready, and stores were brought aboard for a three month tour. Ernst Lindemann advised Oberkommando der Marine (Naval High Command), Marinegruppen Nord und West (Naval Groups North and West) and Fleet Command that the battleship Bismarck was ready for action. The Chief of Fleet Admiral Günther Lütjens and his fleet staff held drills for the first time aboard the battleship Bismarck on 13 May, assessing the communication chain between Fleet Command and the battleship Bismarck's officers.
Adolf Hitler came with Generalfeldmarschall Wilhelm Keitel, his previous naval adjutant Commander Karl-Jesco von Puttkamer, and his Luftwaffe adjutant Oberst Nicolaus von Below, among others visited the battleship Bismarck on 5 May 1941. Großadmiral Erich Raeder was not present. Adolf Hitler was taken on a tour of the battleship Bismarck by Admiral Günther Lütjens and inspected the individual battle stations. Adolf Hitler and Günther Lütjens also met in private and talked about the risks of a tour in the North Atlantic Ocean. Subsequently after this meeting, Adolf Hitler and the officers of the battleship Bismarck had luncheon in the officers' mess, where Adolf Hitler spoke about United States of America unwillingness to enter the war. Ernst Lindemann openly took issue with Adolf Hitler, conveying his opinion that the possibility of the U.S. entering the war could not be eliminated.
The goal of Operation Rheinübung (Rhine Exercise) was for the battleship Bismarck and the heavy cruiser Prinz Eugen under the command of Ernst Lindemann's Crew 1913 classmate Kapitän zur See Helmuth Brinkmann to break into the Atlantic Ocean and engage Allied merchant shipping. Großadmiral Erich Raeder's orders to the task force commandant Admiral Günther Lütjens were that the objective of the battleship Bismarck isn't to defeat enemies of equal strength, but to tie them down in a delaying action, whilst conserving fighting capacity as much as conceivable, so as to allow heavy cruiser Prinz Eugen to get access to the merchantmen in the convoys and The primary target in this operation is the enemy's merchant shipping, enemy warships will be engaged only if that objective makes it essential and it can be done without unreasonable danger.
On 19 May 1941 at 0200 hrs, the battleship Bismarck and heavy cruiser Prinz Eugen left Gotenhafen and continued through the Baltic Sea and out toward the Atlantic Ocean. Unbeknown to Günther Lütjens, the British had intercepted sufficient signals to deduce that a German naval operation could happen in the area. The German task force was first ran across by the Swedish seaplane cruiser Gotland on 20 May heading North West past Gothenburg. The British Admiralty was advised through a Norwegian officer in Stockholm, capital of Sweden who had learned of the sighting from a Swedish military intelligence informant. Alarmed by this report, British Admiralty called for air reconnaissance mission of the Norwegian coast. A Spitfire reconnaissance aircraft discovered and photographed the German naval task force in the Grimstad fjord, near Bergen, at 1315 hrs on 21 May. During the evening of 23 May at 1922 hrs, the German naval force was discovered by the heavy cruisers HMS Suffolk and HMS Norfolk that had been policing the Denmark Strait in anticipation of a German naval breakout. The alarm was sounded and Ernst Lindemann declared at 2030 hrs over the intercom system Feind in Sicht an Backbord, Schiff nimmt Gefecht auf. (Enemy sighted to port. Engage!) The battleship Bismarck fired 5 salvos without scoring a direct hit. The heavily outgunned British naval cruisers withdrew to a safe distance and shadowed the opposition until their own heavy naval units could draw closer. Nevertheless, the battleship Bismarck's forward radio detection and ranging had failed as a result of vibration from the heavy guns firing during this encounter, and Günther Lütjens was compelled to order heavy cruiser Prinz Eugen to move ahead of the battleship Bismarck in order to furnish the naval squadron with forward radio detection and ranging coverage.
During the Battle of the Denmark Strait on 24 May 1941, HMS Hood was sunk, in all likelihood by the battleship Bismarck. The hydrophones on heavy cruiser Prinz Eugen discovered a foreign ship to port at a 0500 hrs. The German naval force seeing the smokestacks of two ships at 0545 hrs, which the first gunnery officer Korvettenkapitän Adalbert Schneider at first reported as two heavy cruisers. The first British salvo gave away them to be battleships, but not until the British naval task force turned to port was their specific identity discovered. The British naval ships began firing at the German naval task force at 0553 hrs. Vice Admiral Lancelot Holland decided on targeting the battleship Bismarck first, but due to the reversed German battle order, HMS Prince of Wales and HMS Hood opened fire on the heavy cruiser Prinz Eugen as an alternative. The commander of the HMS Prince of Wales Captain John Leach discovered this error and ordered his guns swung around to fire on the battleship Bismarck. The German naval task force was still awaiting for the order to start firing, which Admiral Günther Lütjens did not give straightaway. Two minutes later, after several inquiries by Schneider, was permission given to open fire, an impatient Ernst Lindemann replied: Ich lasse mir doch nicht mein Schiff unter dem Arsch wegschießen. Feuererlaubnis! (I'm not letting my ship get shot out from under my arse. Open fire! At 0601 hrs, the 5th salvo by the battleship Bismarck, fired at a range of about 18,000 m, was seen to hit HMS Hood abreast her mainmast. It's likely that one 38 cm shell struck someplace between HMS Hood's mainmast and X turret aft of the mast. A vast jet of flame burst out from HMS Hood from the area of the mainmast. These were accompanied by a devastating magazine explosion that demolished the aft part of the ship. These explosions broke the back of HMS Hood, and she sank in only 3 minutes, her nearly upright bow last to descend into the water.
The battleship Bismarck firing at HMS Prince of Wales on 24 May 1941 as seen from heavy cruiser Prinz Eugen. Following the explosion, HMS Prince of Wales was targeted by both German ships and withdrew from combat after 7 direct hits, 4 by the battleship Bismarck and 3 by heavy cruiser Prinz Eugen, at about 0609 hrs. During this brief engagement, HMS Prince of Wales had also hit the battleship Bismarck 3 times, 1st striking the commandant boat and putting the seaplane catapult amidships out of action. The 2nd shell passed right through the bow from one side to the other. The third struck the hull underwater and burst inside the ship, flooding a generator room and damaging the bulkhead of an adjoining boiler room, partly flooding it. The damage caused to the battleship Bismarck by these two shots allowed 2,000 t of water into the battleship Bismarck.
Ernst Lindemann and Günther Lütjens at this point disagreed on how best to carry on the mission. Ernst Lindemann, as commandant of the battleship Bismarck, was directed by the tactical position, and wanted to hunt down the damaged HMS Prince of Wales. The German naval task force did not know the ship to be HMS Prince of Wales, but knew that it was a King George V class battleship. Günther Lütjens, evidently aware of the fleet order to avoid unneeded contact with similar enemy naval units, disapproved this without discussion. Ernst Lindemann and Günther Lütjens also disagreed on where to take the ship for repairs, Ernst Lindemann recommended reconstructing their path through the Denmark Strait and coming back to Bergen, Norway. Günther Lütjens overrode him and ordered a course set for Saint-Nazaire, France. In the afternoon, Admiral Günther Lütjens ordered heavy cruiser Prinz Eugen to break away from the battleship Bismarck and work independently against the enemy's merchant shipping. heavy cruiser Prinz Eugen and the battleship Bismarck parted at 1814 hours that evening. heavy cruiser Prinz Eugen made it safely at Brest, France on 1 June 1941. No direct witnesses to this difference of opinion came through the sinking, but Matrosengefreiter Heinz Staat, the helmsman on the bridge, recollected a phone call between the 1st Watch Officer, commandant Hans Oels, and a fleet staff officer which recommended that Ernst Lindemann had been trying to sway Günther Lütjens to engage the enemy. A courier coming back to his companions below spoke of dicke Luft (thick air or a bad atmosphere) on the bridge.
The battleship Bismarck was sunk less than a week later, after a concentrated attempt by Britain's Royal Navy. At 2330 hrs on 24 May an attack was made by a small group of nine Swordfish biplane torpedo bombers of 825 Naval Air Squadron under the command of Eugene Esmonde from the aircraft carrier HMS Victorious. One hit was scored, which killed Oberbootsmann Kurt Kirchberg, but caused only trivial damage to the battleship Bismarck's armoured belt. In mid-morning at 1030 hrs on 26 May, a Royal Air Force Coastal Command Catalina reconnaissance aircraft from 209 Squadron Royal Air Force spotted the battleship Bismarck approximately 700 nautical miles west of Saint-Nazaire. The British naval battle group Force H, under the command of Admiral James Somerville, whose main units were the aircraft carrier HMS Ark Royal, the World War I era battlecruiser HMS Renown and the cruiser HMS Sheffield, was ordered to stop the battleship Bismarck. At 1915 hours that evening, 15 Swordfish biplane torpedo bombers from HMS Ark Royal launched an attack. The air raid alarm was sounded on the battleship Bismarck at 2030 hrs. Approximately fifteen minutes into the attack the battleship Bismarck was possibly hit by one torpedo, and at around 2100 hrs another single torpedo obstructed the battleship Bismarck's rudder in a 12° right turn. Damage control parties toiled to regain manoeuvering control and uncoupled and centred the starboard rudder, but failed to free the port rudder. With asymmetric power applied, speed reduced to 8 kn, the battleship Bismarck was on a convergence course with the Royal Navy units on the chase. The alarm sounded again at 2300 hrs when destroyers of the 4th Destroyer Flotilla under the command of Captain Philip Vian attacked the battleship Bismarck. During the night the battleship Bismarck was targeted by constant torpedo attacks by HMS Cossack, Sikh, Maori, Zulu, and ORP Piorun, denying Ernst Lindemann and the crew much needed respite.
The battleship Bismarck's alarm sounded for the last time at 800 hours on the morning of 27 May 1941. HMS Norfolk sighted the battleship Bismarck at 0815 hrs, and the battleship HMS Rodney opened fire on the battleship Bismarck at 0848 hours. The battleship Bismarck returned fire at 0849 hrs. Further involved in the final battle were the battleship HMS King George V and the cruisers HMS Norfolk and HMS Dorsetshire. Torpedo bombers did not take part in the final battle. The battleship Bismarck's forward command location was hit at 0853 hrs, and both forward gun turrets were put out of action at 0902 hrs, killing Adalbert Schneider in the main gun director. The after command position was destroyed at a 918 hours and turret Dora was out of action at 0924 hrs. The battleship Bismarck experienced further heavy hits at 0940 hrs, ensuing in a fire amidships, and turret Caesar went out of action after a hit at 0950 hrs. All weapons fell silent at 1000 hrs. Short of fuel, HMS Rodney and HMS King George V had to withdraw preceding to the battleship Bismarck's sinking. The Germans were organising to scuttle the battleship Bismarck when three torpedoes fired by HMS Dorsetshire hit the ship's side armour. The battleship Bismarck sank at 1036 hrs at position roughly 300 nautical miles west of Ouessant (Ushant). The cruiser HMS Dorsetshire rescued 85 men, and the British destroyer HMS Maori rescued 25. A further five sailors were rescued by German U-boat U-74 under the command of Korvettenkapitän Eitel-Friedrich Kentrat and the weather observation ship Sachsenwald. The Befehlshaber der U-Boote (U-boats Commander-in-Chief) Karl Dönitz had ordered U-556 under the command of Korvettenkapitän Herbert Wohlfarth to pick up the battleship Bismarck's war diary. Out of torpedoes and low on fuel, Wohlfarth requested that the order be transferred to U-74. U-74 failed to reach the battleship Bismarck on time and the war diary was never retrieved.
Burkard von Müllenheim-Rechberg saw Ernst Lindemann for the last time at around 0800 hrs on the command bridge just before the final battle. Burkard von Müllenheim-Rechberg described the generally levelheaded, bantering and optimistic Ernst Lindemann now as demoralised and withdrawn. Burkard von Müllenheim-Rechberg tried to talk to him and was ignored, and later wondered whether this was attributable to battle fatigue or whether the disagreements with Günther Lütjens had worn him down.
The Ernst Lindemann family plot at Cemetery Dahlem, Berlin, Germany inscription in memory of Kapitän zur See Ernst Lindemann. Ernst Lindemann's body was never recovered, and it is thought that he, Günther Lütjens and other officers probably died when shells from the British warships hit the battleship Bismarck's bridge at 0902 hrs. When Robert Ballard discovered the wreck in 1989, he found that most of the forward superstructure had been blasted away by shellfire and there were more than 50 shell holes around the area of the conning tower. This may support the hypothesis.
As an alternative, Ernst Lindemann may have left his combat position when the battleship Bismarck's controls were rendered unusable, and prior to the lethal hit on the command position, in order to give the command to abandon the ship. The surviving Matrose Paul Hillen who had managed to escape to the upper deck in the final phase of the battle, said that he had seen a group of 20-30 people standing at the bow, among them a man with a white peaked cap. Generally on a German naval vessel at sea, a white cap is worn only by the commandant. Additionally, the surviving Maschinengefreiter Rudolf Römer, who at the time was already in the water laid claim that he had seen Ernst Lindemann standing on the bow, near the battleship Bismarck's forward 38 cm turret, Anton. He was said to be with his combat courier, a leading seaman, and evidently trying to sway his courier to save himself. In this account, his courier took Ernst Lindemann's hand and the two walked to the forward flag mast As the ship turned over, the two stood briefly to attention, then Ernst Lindemann and his courier saluted. Whilst the ship rolled to port, the courier dropped into the water. Ernst Lindemann carrying on his salute while clinging to the flag mast went down with the battleship Bismarck.
On Wednesday, 28 May 1941 Ernst Lindemann was posthumously named in the daily Wehrmachtbericht, an information bulletin issued by the military headquarters of the Wehrmacht the amalgamated armed forces of Germany. To be singled out on an individual basis in the Wehrmachtbericht was an honour and was entered in the Orders and Decorations' section of one's Service Record Book.
Ernst Lindemann's comrades of Crew 1913 all got hold of the young widow after his death. The former head of Crew 1913, Kapitän zur See Klüber, contacted Mrs Ernst Lindemann in the fall of 1941 and offered her an honorary membership. Shortly after Christmas on 27 December 1941, exactly seven months after the sinking of the battleship Bismarck and the death of its commandant, Kapitän zur See Ernst Lindemann received a posthumous Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross. Ernst Lindemann received this high award because the Oberkommando der Marine felt that his skilled leadership importantly contributed to the destruction of the British battlecruiser HMS Hood and the damage inflicted on the British battleship HMS Prince of Wales. Ernst Lindemann was the 94th recipient of the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross in the Kriegsmarine.
Ernst Lindemann's 1st gunnery officer Korvettenkapitän Adalbert Schneider had been awarded the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross on 27 May 1941. Traditionally, the commanding officer would have received this award before any other crewman was so honoured. This exception had been criticised by several circles in the Wehrmacht. It is thought likely that Ernst Lindemann's cousin, the former General der Kavallarie Georg Lindemann, stepped in. Grand Admiral Erich Raeder, with whom Ernst Lindemann shared a 20 year camaraderie dating to the early days of the Reichsmarine, presented the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross to Mrs Ernst Lindemann on Tuesday, 6 January 1942, in Dahlem. Erich Raeder went on to furnish moral and emotional support to Ernst Lindemann's mother and widow.
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