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Sinking the Bismarck.. wish you were here; NAVY POSTCARDS FOR SALE.

Byline: EUAN STRETCH euan.stretch@mirror.co.uk

A RARE set of postcards documenting the historic Second World War mission to sink the Bismarck have been unearthed after 71 years.

The fascinating pictures were taken from the British aircraft carrier HMS Victorious, one of 42 vessels sent to find the fearsome German battleship in May 1941.

Days earlier the pride of Hitler's fleet had sunk HMS Hood, killing 1,415 British sailors - an attack which prompted Prime Minister Winston Churchill to give the famous command: "Sink the Bismarck."

The 20 photos, up for auction on Saturday, show Royal Navy ships steaming through the Atlantic as they raced to carry out the order.

On the back of an image of a biplane, a message reads: "Swordfish taking off from Victorious to have a smack at the Bismarck."

Another, showing the 41,000-ton German warship with a plume of smoke coming from it, says: "Bismarck receiving the first torpedo from aircraft from Victorious."

After coming under heavy attack the Bismarck was sunk, with the loss of 2,000 lives, as it tried to limp to the Nazi-occupied French port of St Nazaire.

King George VI is pictured inspecting the crew of Victorious after the battle.

It is believed the postcards were exclusive souvenirs for the ship's crew. But they came to light when a private collector decided to sell. They are set to fetch PS300 at Henry Aldridge and Son, in Devizes, Wilts.

Auctioneer Andrew Aldridge said: "It's a fascinating archive cataloguing one of the war's decisive moments."

FACTFILE

GERMANY'S biggest battleship, named after the country's former chancellor Otto von Bismarck, was built in August 1940. The 823ft, 34mph ship sailed for just eight months before it sank - after being hit by about 400 shells.

CAPTION(S):

UNDER FIRE The Bismarck

AIR ATTACK Plane takes off

SEA KING Victorious and, inset, George VI
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Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:Dec 13, 2012
Words:311
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