It's also possible that Von R, together with Lindemman, surmised that Hood's 15 inchers were more of a threat than POW's 14 inchers. Not only cuz of the slight caliber difference, but also the realization that Hood would have the better crew.
Now as to Hood breaking off with Eugen to shoot Bismarck, tactically she is maneuvering in the right manner to do that. Also, she has enough directors to facilitate A and B engaging Eugen and X/Y to engage Bismarck. Now while on the surface, that just smells of madness, we have to remember that at this juncture in time (realization that Eugen is not Bismarck) Holland really has no choice.
If Briggs and Von R are to be believed, then Holland knows early on that POW is just cruising for the sake of cruising. Her guns are worthless. So he really has his back to the wall. He has no choice but to either split fire or fire all eight at one, break off and then fire all eight at the other. He has no option in that manner.
Admiral Don would have broken off, sent POW home and then come back later in the day with Electra, Norfolk, Suffolk and the other destroyers. But Holland was the British equivalent of Lutjens. He was a stickler to the regs almost to be anal. And he was also very incredulously narrow minded. Think France in 1940 - "no one would dare go AROUND the Maginot Line." Even after someone (Germany) did, they refused to bounce back. Pretty sad when you outnumber your attacker by nine million men but you can't get your mental shit (merde) together.
Holland was the same way. No self-respecting British force commander/admiral would have allowed a cruiser to lead formation. SHE HAD TO BE BISMARCK. He then incredulously postulates that the trailing ship must be a BIGGER class of battleship that's newer than Bismarck! These are the observations of Midshipman Dundas.
Considering the elan, training and esprite de corps of Hood's crew and also Hood's material condition, there is no reason why Kerr himself (the captain) or another admiral couldn't have taken on Bismarck and had a better outcome. Holland was odd in that he stuck to the flavor of Churchill's order but then falls back on "Zulu" mentality. "They won't attack us - they're savages." Last words of the Islawanda contingent.
Holland pokes Hood and POW into some 18th century battle formation, dons his dress whites and prepares for gentlemanly combat on the open ocean. The prudent course of action would have been to stand off and regroup. If he feels Churchhill's order is so great that having a green POW is acceptable, then surely losing a cruiser or two would also be acceptable. In that case, he should have sent POW/Suffolk one way and Hood/Norfolk another way.
Yeah, he'd have lost a cruiser. Or both. But he'd have put Bismarck and Eugen into a corner they couldn't have gotten out of. They would have been Holland - having to decide how to switch fire. Each ship would have been engaging a battleship and cruiser. Lutjens would have gone mad. And had Lutjens vacillation have followed the same pattern, his procrastination may have allowed the RN BB/CA combination to sink Eugen which would then have put all four RN ships now coming after him.
Again, I don't give the RN a complete free ride. In fact, I give Suffolk/Norfolk ten minutes at the most. But extra gunfire is extra gunfire and they also have torpedos. Look at the wild ass maneuvering Eugen does when her sonar guy mistakes Hood's breaking up sounds for incoming torpedoes? Had Suffolk or Norfolk launched fish, Eugen and Bismarck would have broke formation. Instant T cross for one of them.
Yup. So many things Holland could have done. So many things Holland should have done. The RN's problem that day wasn't Hood. It was command. We can't blame it ALL on Holland cuz to be fair we don't know what the cable said. Did Churchill's cable say "don't come home till Bismarck's sunk" or did it say "use your best judgement?" Hard to say. Even after all this time, the cables are still classified. Yeah yeah...a lot of it is to hide the Enigma references, but I think also there's 1400+ grieving families that would hang someone if the wrong info was in the cable.