HMS Ark Royal
After the attack by HMS Victorious, Bismarck escaped her pursuers and for the next day and a half there was no sign of her. The hunt was on again and time was now critical.
Finally, at 10.30am on 26 May, Bismarck was sighted 690 miles from Brest less than 24 hours from the umbrella of air cover provided by the Luftwaffe and ultimately the sanctuary of port.
With an anxious world awaiting the outcome, all hopes of Britain and the Navy now lay in the second aircraft carrier HMS Ark Royal and her Swordfish Squadrons.
HMS Ark Royal was steaming northwards with Force H in storm tossed seas with waves reaching more than 50 feet, to intercept Bismarck heading south and get within striking distance before nightfall.
Victorious’ Swordfish had slowed the enemy down, but it was to be Ark Royal’s Swordfish Squadrons, that at the eleventh hour would move the drama decisively towards its denouement.
Determined to prevent Bismarck from making for the security of Brest, during the afternoon on 26 May, in conditions that bordered on the horrific, HMS Ark Royal launched a fifteen strong second Swordfish strike.
The flying conditions were atrocious, low rain cloud, gale force winds, stormy seas and fading daylight.