A Fine ‘Sinking of the Bismarck’ D.S.O.
Group of Seven, Distinguished Service Order, George VI; British War and Victory Medals, impressed (MID. A.D. MERRIMAN, R.N.); 1939-45 Star; Atlantic Star with France and Germany clasp; Italy Star; 1939-45 War Medal, court mounted on longpin. London Gazette 14 April 1941:"His Majesty has also been graciously pleased to give orders for the following Appointments to the Distinguished Service Order, and to approve the following Awards formastery, determination and skill in action against the German Battleship Bismarck:Commander (E) Arthur Duncan Merriman (H.M.S. Suffolk)"On 21/22 May the C-In-C Home Fleet received word that The German Battleship Bismarck in company with Prinz Eugen had left the Baltic port of Gotenhafen withthe intention of preying on the merchant ships that carried supplies and war materials from Canada and the U.S.A. to Britain. The passage to the Atlantic is knownas the Denmark Straight. HMS Suffolk was immediately advised of the situation and ordered to locate the two German ships. Suddenly on the morning of 23 May,lookouts aboard HMS Sheffield noted the presence of Bismarck and Prinz Eugen making their way to the southwest along the ice at a fast rate of speed. HMS Suffolkimmediately changed course to hide in the Arctic mist and began forwarding a series of course and speed reports to Admiral Tovey. She was shortly joined by HMSNorfolk who also took up a shadowing position. Based on the reports coming from the shadowing ships, the Admiral dispatched the Battle Cruiser Force of HMSHood and HMS Prince of Wales with orders to engage the enemy. The Admiral sailed from Scapa Flow with the Battleships HMS King George V and HMS Repulse.HMS Victorious (carrier) and other cruisers and destroyers accompanied the Admiral?s force. On the morning of 24th May Bismarck was engaged by HMS Hood and HMS Prince of Wales in the North Atlantic. Much to the shock of the Royal Navy and the Britishpeople the Bismarck succeeded in sinking the "Mighty Hood" in a battle that lasted approximately six minutes. HMS Hood went down with almost all hands, therebeing only three survivors from a complement of 1419 men. During the battle the Bismarck had been hit by HMS Prince of Wales causing damage to her fuel tanksand disabling one of her engines.In the meantime, Churchill had given orders to "Sink the Bismarck". HMS Suffolk had lost contact with the German ships at 03:00 on the 25th and a massive searchwas begun. The Bismarck had disappeared! The Royal Navy ordered almost every capital ship into the area in order to prevent Bismarck from reaching port. She wasfinally sighted the following morning at 10:30 by RAF Coastal Command. Bismarck was approximately 700 miles northwest of Brest. With Admiral Tovey?s forcesstill some 150 miles to the north, something had to be done to slow the German Battleship.The ships of Force H, which had been diverted from Gibraltar on the 23rd, were now positioned to intercept the Bismarck before she was able to reach port. Thesethree ships were the aircraft carrier HMS Ark Royal, the cruiser HMS Renown and the light cruiser HMS Sheffield. HMS Ark Royal launched a Swordfish Torpedoraid against the Bismarck. Later that evening a second Swordfish raid was launched resulting in two torpedo hits on the Bismarck. One of the hits was minor, but theother had damaged the steering and jammed the rudder.With Bismarck slowed by the damage, four British and one Polish destroyers launched further torpedo attacks harassing the Bismarck continually during the night.The following morning (27th) HMS King George V and HMS Rodney arrived and engaged the Bismarck from approximately 16,000 yards range. After a one and a halfhour battle, Bismarck was reduced to a shambles. She was eventually scuttled by her crew.