Shells Land Near DKM Prinz Eugen

Shell splashes from HMS Hood land near DKM Prinz Eugen at 0552:30 Hours on May 24, 1941. Prinz Eugen's First Gunnery Officer, Korvettenkapitan Paulus Jasper, expected Royal Navy cruisers, not battleships, and used high explosive rounds in her eight 8-inch (203-mm) main battery. Prinz Eugen returned fire and discharged her main batteries every 28 seconds on average during the battle. Jasper later wrote in the ship's war diary, "According to reports from the officers in position at the main antiaircraft battle station, a number of heavy caliber salvos impacted in the immediate proximity of the ship. Two salvoes struck 100-150 meters forward of the bow, one about 50 meters off port forward, which put the decks heavily awash, and quite a few impacts hit stern in the wake...A piece of shrapnel from a heavy caliber shell was found on the portside boat deck. It showed the telltale marks of guide rings [stabilizers for a rifled barrel], and was, according to data tables in a technical bulletin on weapons intelligence, not from the Hood, but it was instead attributed to a ship of the King George [V] class." Jasper was unaware during the battle that he was facing HMS Hood and HMS Prince of Wales, believing the targets to be British cruisers. Kapitanleutnant Paul Schmalenbach (August 21, 1909-September 26, 1986), Second Artillery Officer, stationed on the Main Antiaircraft Battle Station during the battle, was the ship's official historian and presented film of the battle shot by the Propaganda Kompanie aboard Prinz Eugen during Operation Rheinubung to the German government after the war. In 1970, Schmalenbach identified this photo as part of Prinz Eugen's war diary.
Caption Written By: 
Jason McDonald
Naval History and Heritage Comma
Archival Identifier: 
NH 69723
Date Photographed: 
Saturday, May 24, 1941
Prinz Eugen
Denmark Straits
Atlantic Ocean