In May 1941 Rinehart was engaged in the search for and shadowing of the Bismarck. Lifting Catalina ‘O’ off the water at Oban soon after midday on the 26 May , he was quite probably wondering how earlier sorties by Coastal Command had fared. In point of fact, a Catalina from No. 209 Squadron had moments before spotted the elusive Bismarck heading at full steam from Brest. Lucky to survive the resultant barrage of gunfire, she was able to radio in the enemy’s latest position. Such intelligence was not available to the crew of Catalina ‘O’ and in any case she would still be required to guide and observe for any future engagement. Meanwhile the navigator, Frank Cadman, patiently plotted new grid searches until, after nearly twelve hours on patrol, the Bismarck was spotted. Sweeping in for a closer look, Catalina ‘O’ suddenly emerged out of a protective bank of cloud right above her quarry.The crew stared horrified as Bismarck’s multi-coloured tracer came homing in on their air space, Rinehart vividly comparing the experience to driving home at night in a snow storm, when flakes look as though they are going to hit the windscreen but suddenly dart sideways. Hatfield and Rinehart grappled over the wheel, each pulling in opposite directions, but thankfully both pushed forward the throttle and managed to get clear. However, this was by no means the end of their mission and they remained in the area to witness the gun flashes which heralded the commencement of the historic duel between the Bismarck and the assembled ships of the Royal Navy. Soon afterwards Cadman took an Astro Fix over the Bismarck, again under heavy fire, but with icing problems and nearing the end of their operational limit, it was thankfully time to turn for home. Their spirits up, the crew of Catalina ‘O’ engaged a hovering Blomm & Voss aircraft but were unable to destroy it. By the time the Catalina arrived back at Oban, the Bismarck was history, and their 26 hour, 45 minute flight had established a new record.
Later in the war he became the squadron commander of VPB-118 flying against the Japanese late in the war earning a DFC. This was his only decoration. He never did receive a decoration for his participation in the sinking of the Bismarck.
Edited by KASTAUFFER, 11 October 2012 - 01:18 PM.