on May 26th, 1941 at around 17:00 after one unsuccesful strike of the HMS Ark Royal Swordfish against the Bismarck, it was realized by Adm Tovey on board KGV that the fuel situation was becoming very critical if Bismarck was not going to be slowed down.
After many visual signals with Rodney, in order to realize that situation too while reducing the speed, Adm Tovey sent out this signal at 18:21 on May 26thy, 1941 :
It now seems very unusual that the Admiralty did not reply in any way to such a signal providing directions .
On a private letter to Stephen Roskill after the war Adm Tovey stated that the response was provided and described the content of it too, but Adm Pound during the CM phone call on May 30th, 1941, after having beg pardon for that message told Adm Tovey that the message was going to be deleted ( expunged ) from the records.
Re: The Court Martial for the Denmark Strait - Post by Alberto Virtuani » Fri Jan 12, 2018 10:20 pm
in one letter (1962), Tovey wrote to Roskill that the text was :
" if necessary she is to be pursued right up to the shores of France, even if the K.G.V. has to be towed home "
in another letter to Bellairs (1950) Tovey said it was :
" you are to continue the pursuit right up to the shores of France even if you have to be towed home "
in another letter to Roskill (1954) Tovey says that the message was :
" ordering me to continue the chase up to the shores of France, even if the K.G.V. had to be towed back "
Finally in the "Court Martial" letter from December 1961, Tovey wrote that the message was :
" you are to continue the pursuit right up the coast of France, even if it means your ship being towed back "
This created all sort of questions on the British historians and even some very unfair doubts about Adm Tovey memory, since no evidence in this direction have been found anywhere by the historians.
Sir Winston Churchill on his 3rd book " The Grand Alliance " on page 282 stated the following, while declaring that the message was really sent to Adm Tovey and he personally was the one requesting it to be sent by Adm Pound with clear directions :
Still remain the fact that the only Admiralty recorded message regarding the KGV fuel situation from the Admiralty to Adm Tovey, ... thus confirming they had received the previous day message about the fuel critical situation of KGV from Adm Tovey that apparently had no reply sent back to him immediately after, ... even if they were very carefully visualizing the whole tactical situation on real time into the War Room, ... is this one at 11:37 on May 27th, 1941 :
Logic would dictate that there is something that does not fit right and that having 2 persons ... Adm Tovey and Sir Winston Churchill, ... both with memory failures about such a very important event, ... seems very unlikely.
We have other examples of messages/documents and record alteration and elimination during WW2 on the RN side, ... consequently my personal opinion here is that most likely Adm Tovey and Sir Winston Churchill were right about that message being sent on May 26th, 1941.
In this case, differently than for the Court Martial attempt, we will probably never able to prove it.