On the morning of 11 March 1943, Fw190s from IV./JG5 left their base to escort the mighty battleship Tirpitz and a screening fleet of escort destroyers and torpedo boats, at the start of a voyage north to Bogen Bay during ‘Operation Rostock’, designed to escape the increasingly frequent British bombing raids.
Tirpitz would leave southern Norway to join an impressive German naval battle fleet gathering near Narvik, one of the largest German naval bases in Norway. Together with the Scharnhorst, the heavy cruiser Lützow and the light cruiser Nürnberg, they would pose a grave threat to the Arctic convoys.
Tirpitz was the flagship of the German Kriegsmarine. After repeated attempts to sink her she was eventually destroyed by Lancaster Bombers of 617 and 9 Squadrons at her anchorage in Altafjord on 12 November 1944.
This stunning print has been hand numbered and signed by artist as well as one of the few survivors rescued from the upturned hull of the Tirpitz when she was sunk, along with an escort pilot who was one the last to fly over the sinking vessel:
Leutnant Zur See WILLIBALD VÖLSING
He was Senior Controller in the Gunnery Fire Control Section on Tirpitz, one of the most important gunnery positions on the ship, passing vital information between the ship’s guns and the ship’s commanders. After the Tirpitz capsized, he was one of the few fortunate survivors to be released from deep inside the ship by rescuers cutting into the upturned hull.
Oberleutnant KURT SCHULZE