thanks to Duncan for posting the account and to Antonio for the charts (both posted in the previous page).
It looks like the WS8B was strictly monitored by the Admiralty
, as obvious, being by far the largest troop convoy ever since the beginning of the war, with 40000 British soldiers fully equipped on board.
The attention of the Admiralty is clear, as this is the only one convoy plotted
on both these charts together with the warships involved: no sign of any other convoy (e.g. where was the one escorted by Ramillies, that would have been at risk in case Bismarck was sailing to the South Atlantic, as it could have been the case ?).
Still I don't fully understand why the rendezvous of Force H with the WS8B was cancelled
, to detach this group to the "uncertain" hunt of Bismarck, instead of keeping it more close to the convoy. This especially when Vian tells us it was thought that the "last" (?) course of Bismarck was going exactly to intercept the convoy (see text posted by Duncan)
Had Bismarck not been in fuel restrictions, and had her course been (wisely) just slightly more southerly (see the first chart posted by Antonio), instead of a direct one to France, she could have intercepted the WS8B at dawn on 26. At that point in time, Force H would have been too far to the East to launch any air attack (see the second chart posted by Antonio)....It was IMO a too huge risk taken by the Admiralty
(can anyone imagine the impact on the was of the loss of such an impressive number of soldiers?), but, with hindsight, it perfectly worked as it was finally Force H to deliver Bismarck to Tovey.
"It takes three years to build a ship; it takes three centuries to build a tradition" (Adm.A.B.Cunningham)