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The Mission

  • Benny Goodman
  • Interview by: Ewan Burnet

Transcript

The Tirpitz had a tremendously,

from our point of view, awesome reputation

because it represented as one ship only

an enormous threat to the whole Atlantic.

Now, the Atlantic is where,

it was through the Atlantic that Britain lived.

Without supplies from the United States

whether it was food or ammunition or tanks

or airplanes, we wouldn't have been able

to continue with the war

or with enormous difficulty.

They were the bread basket

and the supplier of pretty well everything we needed.

Shipped over planes and they shipped over food

and of course, they shipped over troops in the end

but the Tirpitz,

for about two years they'd been trying to,

Eisenhower and Churchill had been trying

to work out how to sink the Tirpitz

'cause the Bismarck had already gone.

And they could find their way

and of course, when it was hiding in the fields,

it was in trouble, when we went after it.

It was out of range really of

and it was pretty well impregnable.

Or it was thought to be

and I'm sure that the German high command thought it was

and Eisenhower and Churchill decided between them

that it had to be sunk

because of the threat it was.

It was holding up ships,

battleships and naval ships

just in case it came out.

It was that much of a threat.

It was so powerful,

it was, I suppose, the most powerful ship

in the world at the time, I suppose.

I can't underline that

because I'm not sure but it was certainly one

of the most powerful, if not the most powerful.

So they put it at the top of the agenda

and the story is that they sent

for Air Chief Marshal Arthur Harris

and said you will have to sink this ship

or words to that effect

and he's supposed to have answered,

"We'll do it in our spare time"

but I don't know how true that is.

But certainly he was, a bombing commander,

one would think was far too busy

to concentrate on just this one ship

that seemed impregnable.

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