Filming the Tirpitz

The sinking of the German Battleship Tirpitz in a Norwegian Fjord in November 1944 marked the end of what the British considered a serious threat to their Atlantic shipping convoys. The mere presence of Tirpitz off Norway was enough for the Royal Navy to commit significant assets to the area to keep the German battleship and its attendant vessels from wreaking havoc.

From September 1944 the Royal Air Force conducted a number of bombing operations against Tirpitz, eventually sinking the ship on 12 November. A number of Australian airmen took part in these operations, and Jennifer Selby highlights the story of the crew of Lancaster Bomber ME 701 ‘Whoa Bessie’ of No. 463 Squadron, RAAF, and their involvement in the last three operations against Tirpitz. The crew were accompanied by a cinematographer on 15 September during their first operation against the German battleship.

Footage from that operation can be viewed here:

Several members of the crew were also interviewed about their experiences during the operations to sink Tirpitz. These interviews are held in the Memorial’s collection and can be accessed via the links below.

"Photographing the Tirpitz" by F/Lt Bruce Buckham and F/Lt Eric Giersch. (Extract from Radio Newsreel Talk). 463 Squadron RAAF, 14 November 1944
Flight Lieutenant Bruce Buckham DSO DFC, Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF), interviewed by Ken Llewelyn
Edwin John Holden, as a Flying Officer, radio operator, 463 Squadron, Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF), interviewed by Daniel Connell for the Keith Murdoch Sound Archive of Australia in the War of 1939-45.

To read Jen Selby’s article, purchase a copy of Wartime 89 here.