Michael E Haskew explores the career of the pithy hero of the Battle of the North Cape and wartime commander of the Royal Navy’s Pacific Fleet

“Fraser’s career, which lasted from the era of the dreadnoughts to the nuclear age, remains one of the most successful in the history of the Royal Navy”

The two-word communiqué conveyed all the necessary information: “Scharnhorst sunk”. Knowing the sender, the recipients at the Admiralty were not surprised. They expected no flowery prose. Admiral Bruce Fraser had completed his mission, simple as that. The commander of the Royal Navy’s Home Fleet and his subordinates had ended the threat of the Kriegsmarine surface raiders to transatlantic convoys. Particularly vulnerable to the big guns of the German fleet were those convoys to and from Murmansk and Archangel in the USSR, carrying materiel essential to the fight on the Eastern Front.

Now, only the damaged Tirpitz, bottled up at Altenfjord in Norway, remained a major adversary capable of wreaking havoc in the far northern reaches of the Barents Sea. But Tirpitz would never sortie again; her days were numbered as she was under constant attacks by the aircraft of the FAA and the RAF.

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