The Scottish veteran pilot, Lt Cdr John “Jock” Moffat, who helped sink the Bismarck during World War II, has died at the age of 97, the Royal Navy announces.
Winston Churchill had announced that the German battleship Bismarck had to be destroyed before it reached the relative safety of waters near the coast of France. Lt Cdr John Moffat was the pilot of one of the biplanes of HMS Victorious and Ark Royal that had helped take down the ship, as Britain’s last hope.
Moffat and his crew had taken off his Swordfish L9726 from the deck of Ark Royal and headed for Bismarck against rain, low cloud and a torrent of bullets.
According to naval chiefs, “he flew at 50 feet, barely skimming the surface of the waves, in a hail of bullets and shells, to get to the best possible angle of attack on the ship.” At approximately 9pm, he dropped the torpedo that had jammed the rudder of the ship, leading it to sink.
“When Churchill gave the order to sink the Bismarck, we knew just had to stop her trail of devastation at all costs,” he said. “The great thing about the Swordfish was that the bullets just went straight through. After all, it was only made of canvas. It was David and Goliath.”
John William Charlton Moffat was born in Kelso, Scotland in 1919. He joined the Navy as a reservist when he was just 19 years old. After qualifying as a pilot, he was posted to Ark Royal with 759 Naval Squadron for eight years.
After the war, he became a hotel manager. However, still in love with aviation, he only stopped flying planes at the age of 90.