The Second World War: sinking the Tirpitz

In November 1944 there was rejoicing after the RAF finally destroyed the Nazi warship 'Tirpitz'. But, asks Patrick Bishop, was the five-year campaign against the vessel really the best use of Allied resources?

'Tirpitz' hiding in a Norwegian fjord in 1942. “She outclassed anything in the British fleet,” says Patrick Bishop. (Getty Images) 

This article was first published in the March 2012 issue of BBC History Magazine 

The end, when it finally came, was swift, spectacular and devastating. At 8.30am on a clear morning the alarm sounded on board Tirpitz as she lay in shallow waters near the remote north Norwegian town of Tromsø. Minutes later, black specks appeared in the sky to the south – Lancasters of 617 (Dambusters) Squadron and their comrades in 9 Squadron.

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