HMS Prince of Wales - Lost and now Found

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Vic Dale
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HMS Prince of Wales - Lost and now Found

Post by Vic Dale » Fri May 24, 2013 5:02 am

photo was taken there can be no more appropriate time to post it than at 0602 on the 24th of May, exactly 72 years after the actual event. Prince of Wales is clearly visible in this photo.
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In so many publications produced since that event in 1941, the black smoke has been attributed to burning oil from Hood and those who believed the smoke came from Prince of Wales had a very hard time convincing anyone.

The Battle of the Denmark Strait raged 72 years ago and since then it has become one of the most contentious issues in naval history. It took 50 years and more before the battle itself was generally recognised as a separate battle from operation to sink the Bismarck. Until then, the sinking of HMS Hood and the defeat of HMS Prince of Wales was an unfortunate incident on the path to Bismarck's destruction. Only through the tenacious actions of people dedicated to discovering the truth, has the battle itself been established as a set piece in it's own right in naval history. The writer of these lines has had some vicious fights over elements of the battle with others who profess a common thirst for knowledge of this fascinating 15 or so minutes.

The photo you see below clearly shows PoW under heavy fire from Bismarck and Prinz Eugen. She is marked by the arrow and since the photo was taken from PG's main deck, about 35 feet above sea level, much of PoW's hull and superstructure will be below the horizon, so all we can see is superstructure, four decks above the main deck.
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I have blown up the mid section of the photo so you can see that the image of the ship remains consistent and is not the result of some jiggery pokery with pixels. The arrow was put in place by myself using Windows Paint, and it has distorted the image some, so I advise members to go back to the original shown above and have a better look for themselves. The raised structure forward of the funnel is the raised starboard director cupola which stands level with the lower command position
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To my eye, PoW is viewed at about 50 degrees from the bow and considering that the shell from Bismarck which ripped through the compass platform entered at an angle of 48 degrees, I would be prepared to say that the shell splashes seen to the far right are almost certainly from that salvo. The strike on the compass platform indicates a high flight path for these high velocity, fairly flat trajectory shells, so "overs" will be a good way off.

The dark feature to the left looks like a short, but as it is dark this may indicate HE, so given the position so far off line to the camera, it is most likely HE from Bismarck's 150mm secondary battery. It could also be a spurious blemish on the negative.

Once seen, the image of PoW in the thick of battle does not go away and the eye is automatically drawn to her. I hope everyone enjoys this discovery, but is fully aware of the terrible rain of fire she is under.

This discovery does of course alter a great many conceptions about what other photos mean, in particular NH69725, which no longer shows "burning oil from Hood" now clearly shows PoW having turned hard to starboard, has turned to port, ready to continue the engagement on her original heading. It also alters our perception of what is shown in that short clip in the Schmalenbach film depicting basically the same scene as can be seen in the photos above.

It also alters our perception of how we think PoW steered after Hood Blew up. In the photos above she has is turned starboard bow towards us as she would have appeared when she took the shell in the compass platform, at 0602. In order to clear Hood's smoke shroud she must continue steaming left to right for some minutes before turning away. This vindicates Captain Leach who stated that the turn away was made at 0605, after PoW had sustained further damage. PoW stayed in the fight until she was driven out. After that hit, Leach himself unhurt though undoubtedly dazed, moved his command post down a deck and into the Admirals bridge.

That shell struck at 0602 and 30 seconds, so allowing him a minute or two to discover that there was nothing to be done where he stood, moving himself and what he could gather of his staff into the new command post, establish communications he will continue the fight. He will not be able to see much of the ship for himself, so must rely on battle and damage reports to come from other positions. So between 0604 and 0605 he comes to the conclusion that he must turn away or risk losing his ship. She is holed in three places below water and has now taken a list and there are further breakdowns in the main battery. At 0605 he reluctantly turns PoW out of the battle under cover of smoke.

My best wishes to all.

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RNfanDan
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Re: HMS Prince of Wales - Lost and now Found

Post by RNfanDan » Fri May 24, 2013 7:11 pm

Hello, Vic;

In this annotated NH image we see smoke along a wide arc of the visible horizon , drifting and rising as it blows in the wind, progressing from left to right. The photograph does not appear to be airbrushed, spliced, or deliberately altered, but is too poor in quality to draw any conclusions from---only suggestions, one way or another. cannot Your "arrowed" image purporting to show PoW's upper bridge, seems to place it well-amidst the the entire swath of smoke which occupies a significant ard of the horizon, in the NH photo. Note that a significant amount of darker, more well-defined smoke lies well to the left of the "bridge". What is shown instead, to the immediate left of the arrow, is smoke of less density (i.e., is more dissipated by the wind) than that which lies far off to the left (aft) of the ship's bridge.

How is it then, that the darkest, thickest, smoke---assuming it is oil-rich exhaust caused by full-tilt sprayers feeding the ship's boilers---lies far astern than would be the case if the arrow DID point to PoW's bridge, as postulated? This is puzzling to say the least; PoW wasn't so lengthy a ship that her funnel smoke would appear to originate from a point so far to the left of the arrow, unless the ship was thousands of yards closer to the photographer, and that is a physical impossibility.

There exists a film clip of this battle, as well as numerous outtakes (stills) and other photographs that have since come to light which, taken together, offer a clear and unambiguous accounting of this segment of the Denmark Strait battle. It aired on British television, and is available from at least one media dealer in the EU. The newer material available on this sad chapter in naval history is abundant and, more importantly, of much better quality, and even further, renders the NH photo incapable of supporting any revision to the known record. Better and more numerous photographs, I will remind our readership, have been taken of other major events.

One such event was that of the JFK assassination (Dallas, TX 1963). THAT debacle produced a plethora of evidentiary photography, many of which were later used to prop-up a whole host of conspiracy theories and conjecture. Virtually all of of those attempts to establish conspiratorial "truth" were ultimately disproven, thanks to advances in technology, forensics, and the pursuit of historical accuracy by persons with no prejudicial beliefs.

I believe this NH photograph, though authentic and worthy of (limited) discussion, should not be used as a basis for what is essentially a "what if" scenario. Unfortunately, I feel it is being deliberately (re-re-)introduced, after years' worth of appearances elsewhere, to re-ignite an old revisionist conclusion.. I do not believe it will fly any further on this attempt, than it has done in the past. To paraphrase Barbara Tuchman: Let the evidence guide the research--do not allow preconceptions to lead you to a wrong conclusion.

The NH photo is, in my opinion, a poor basis for challenging the veracity of our present historical understanding. Please, let us have a better start, based on a view from a more contemporary evidentiary vantage point.

Dan

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Re: HMS Prince of Wales - Lost and now Found

Post by Vic Dale » Fri May 24, 2013 8:36 pm

Hi Dan

This is not the bridge under the arrow, but the forward funnel and this image is very distinct. Far more distinct than the vague collection of shapes to the far right I would add.

The photo below shows PoW smoking along with the after boiler room out of control. The next photo shows the same thing happening aboard KGV.

The photo of PoW after the battle shows that her after funnel has had a bit of a smokey time of it.

NH69731 shows a very typical smoke trail from a ship at speed. With the wind at just force three, that smoke if from an oil fire would be rising far higher and there would be no possibility of the wind blowing it into Hood's smoke either.
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RNfanDan
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Re: HMS Prince of Wales - Lost and now Found

Post by RNfanDan » Fri May 24, 2013 10:34 pm

I see your point, but strongly disagree that what we are looking at is anything quite so near-field. The dark smoke originates from its narrowest, well-defined point against the visible horizon, near the left edge of the photograph. It is too far to the left, in other words, to be related to anything in the vicinity of the arrowhead indicated on the image.

I believe what was captured here, is a much more distant view of the horizon than would ever allow for the ship's bridge to appear in such detail --an optical illusion, at best. The "clear area" to which the arrow points, in my opinion, could fit the whole of HMS Prince of Wales within, stem to stern, with room left over.

I will offer this alternative: At the base of the black smoke, on the horizon at the left of the picture, steams Prince of Wales, port bow slightly exposed to the camera lens, before Leach commenced his hard a-port helm order to resume course after avoiding Hood's wreckage.

I don't see anything at the base of the arrow to suggest a solid object, particularly one so close as to be a fraction of a ship's silhouette.

FWIW,
Dan

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Re: HMS Prince of Wales - Lost and now Found

Post by Vic Dale » Sat May 25, 2013 12:48 am

Dan.

Check the image I have highlighted with the height of the shell splashes to the right. They match the scale perfectly. At 70 metres high they would be roughly 3 times the height of the top of the funnel above sea level - 25 metres.

I have seen the video clips you speak of and they are very clear despite the misalignment of the frames. What is evident in the clip showing Hood's smoke pall, is PoW to the left of her firing on the Germans. She is steaming hard right to left and leaving a heavy smoke trail behind her. This smoke is clear and consistent in all frames and resembles the smoke trail left by Bismarck in other clips. Notably when PoW fires her salvo, A and B turrets can be seen to the left of the superstructure, the flash from the superimposed B turret is above that of A. X turret's flash to the right of the superstructure is at the same level as that of A turret. From observation of this clip PoW is steaming right to left and has her port bow to the camera, though the hull is not visible being well below the horizon.

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Re: HMS Prince of Wales - Lost and now Found

Post by RNfanDan » Sat May 25, 2013 6:48 am

Vic;

I am certain the shell splashes are the nearest objects of significance (other than the sea itself) to the photographer's own ship and camera lens. They are obviously in their decaying stage as shown in the image, evidenced by their bases being considerably wider than their peaks, and are therefore not nearly as tall as you've estimated.

The smoke at the extreme left is dark, freshly-originated, and represents the ship's exhaust as PoW is still moving toward Prinz Eugen. Within a very short time, perhaps a minute or less from the moment the NH photo was snapped, PoW will be seen, in the German film clip shot concurrently, to complete her course-restoring turn to port and firing a salvo from her 14" guns. In the photo, it is impossible for her smoke to be issuing forth from the sharp, low point far to the left of the arrow highlighted, if she were occupying the apparent gap in the smoke trail to which your arrow points. ALL smoke to the right of the origination point at the left is older, more dissipated, and continues rising as it drifts away from the darker, denser plume and toward the right.

The NH photo represents but one piece of the DS battle timeline "puzzle", but its placement within that puzzle (at least, locally) has now been fixed by other "pieces" and, in my opinion, there is nothing to be gained in attempting to place it elsewhere, nor to "bend" events which belong either side of its placement in the timeline, in order to support a theory that does not belong.

While there are almost certainly some unfilled gaps remaining within the whole of the battle's contemporary historical understanding, I believe the portion relevant to this NH image is no longer malleable. I therefore suggest it is better for all concerned that our energies and knowledge be directed toward filling these gaps and resolving other issues arising from the events of those eight days in May, 1941.

Respectfully,

Dan

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Re: HMS Prince of Wales - Lost and now Found

Post by Vic Dale » Sat May 25, 2013 7:33 am

So whose funnel is it?

That object in the smoke is the most distinct feature of this whole photo, yet Dan chooses to ignore it. Is there no merit in discovering something which has not been noticed before? Perhaps you prefer not to see it.

The base of those shell splashes is below the horizon and as the tops are sharp and not rounded off, I would suggest they are rising. See the splash rising between PG and Bismarck and then see how it falls.

I have still had no sound explanation as to how that smoke got mixed with Hood's smoke if PoW had not laid it there.

You speak as though the definitive assessment has already been made on this subject, perhaps you could point me to that thread.

I present below some stills taken from the video showing PoW engaging whilst steering out around Hood. She is moving right to left and this is confirmed by the way her gunflashes are positioned, "B" superimposed over "A" to the left of PoW's superstructure and "X" to the right of it. I don't think this can be seen any other way, though if it can I would be interested to hear. Note also the trail of smoke laying to the right of PoW, It is almost identical to that laid by Bismarck in other parts of the video.
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RNfanDan
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Re: HMS Prince of Wales - Lost and now Found

Post by RNfanDan » Sat May 25, 2013 4:10 pm

In closing for the second time Vic, the photo you introduced with the decaying shell splashes (from a "short" salvo fired by Prince of Wales), is not what you purport (or intend to purport, as you did years ago) it to be. With no disrespect to your person intended, you seemed determined continue to beat this dead horse yet again, despite the passage of time.

Further, I have to wonder why you re-introduced your discussion by soliciting "audience input", akin to one of the oldest and most effective sales techniques known to man. The "tell me what you see here?" technique allows a salesperson to control, (mis?)guide, and hopefully, influence his or her audience/buyer to reach a conclusion favorable to the seller.

Just as the old adage "wait one hour after a meal before swimming" has been debunked, so has any "induced controversy" and revisionist conclusions previously developed from manipulation of that singular NH image. You have not been alone in your endeavours, as there are any number of authors and pundits who have postulated "wild hair" theories that have since been disproven by subsequent, factual evidence and examination thereof.

A REAL case against the veracity of contemporary historical views is only validated through sound research, unbiased by its challengers' preconceptions or desired results, and--most importantly-- NOT based on popular support or self-advocacy. By laying this ageing project aside for nearly three years, giving it a quick wash -n'- wax and parading it now, before another audience, won't make it fly any better. In fact, it is now in bad need of redress and playing "salesman", no matter how skillfully done, will NOT result in success.

Good to see your by-line again, Vic---but I suggest you move on to sports, community calendar, or your local weather forecast.

Best wishes,

Dan
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Re: HMS Prince of Wales - Lost and now Found

Post by Vic Dale » Sat May 25, 2013 4:44 pm

Dan. Once again you have pontificated without saying anything. You did not even have the decency to point me in the direction of the definitive article which lays this to rest, which you seemed a few posts back to indicate exists. All you could bring yourself to do was pour dilute vitriol on someone who feels he has found something to offer.

What I have shown here is new and has not been seen before. It is the funnel of a ship, very clear to the eye which is open. It has remained hidden for all that time, yet it is the single most distinct object in the whole photo and it is dead centre of the shot where the photographer intended it to be. If PoW was so far to the right of the shot, as you seem to suggest, why did he not point the camera in that direction?

I find it odd that you could write so much and not deal with the matter in hand. If my new found object is not PoW's funnel what is it? There has never been a single shred of doubt in my mind about what this photo shows, my only problem was I couldn't actually see it until now.

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Re: HMS Prince of Wales - Lost and now Found

Post by RNfanDan » Sun May 26, 2013 12:11 am

Vic Dale wrote:If my new found object is not PoW's funnel what is it?
I can't begin to imagine what you are seeing, but a likely explanation may be found here:
Image
But I will keep looking...

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Re: HMS Prince of Wales - Lost and now Found

Post by Vic Dale » Sun May 26, 2013 5:48 am

So is there anyone who can tell us what this object is in the smoke. I have asked for information which might have helped, but nothing has been forthcoming. The object has been there all the time and as far as I know I am the first to see it.
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Re: HMS Prince of Wales - Lost and now Found

Post by Vic Dale » Mon May 27, 2013 5:08 am

Here is a still from the film showing what I am convinced is PoW steaming right to left. If it isn't PoW the camera is focused on, what is it focused on? Hood's smoke shroud is to the far right and partly out of the shot. The camera is definitely trying to pick out something. If it isn't PoW there is no logic to the shot.
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Re: HMS Prince of Wales - Lost and now Found

Post by Patrick McWilliams » Mon May 27, 2013 12:21 pm

Hi Vic,

It occurs to me that the object you believe might be one of POW's funnels is far too large for that to be possible. We're talking about objects of almost pin-prick size on the horizon to the naked eye.

Now, you will doubtless ask me what that object is. My answer is: I don't know but probably some combination of cloud, smoke, shadow and burning debris.

It is refreshing that people still continue to ask questions and challenge historical norms, and offer new theories. No one should be pilloried for doing so, even if all the evidence points to their not having much validity or likelihood of occurring. Your thread on a northerly escape route for Bismarck and Prinz Eugen after the battle is a case in point, IMHO.

To date, you have not suffered any major personal criticism for your posts here and I hope that would continue. You strike me as very thick-skinned and impervious to the views of others, anyhow :)

Regards,

Patrick

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Re: HMS Prince of Wales - Lost and now Found

Post by Vic Dale » Mon May 27, 2013 2:27 pm

Hi Patrick.

Thank you for your response.

I think the cine film was shot using a telephoto lens as can be seen on the cameras used by propaganda crews. If you compare the clip this still was taken from to the clip showing PoW engaging as can be seen in the stills below, I think you'll be able to see that the two compare very well.
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The camera is at main deck level and the range is 15,000 to 16,000 yards, or 7.5 to 8 nautical miles. So PoW would be half hull down on the horizon and not as far down as I had earlier thought. In answering your post I was forced to recalculate and discovered my earlier error. So half hull down and at seven to 8 miles she would make a very visible target, certainly visible with the naked eye.

Previously I had been sure that all that was visible of PoW was her upper superstructure and her funnels, the rest being below the horizon. If so much more was visible, I would adjust my appreciation of her angle to the camera as being that much finer. The still below shows PoW engaging with all three turrets and the two forward turrets are easily discernible as can be seen below. Though she is still moving right to left.
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comsat38

Re: HMS Prince of Wales - Lost and now Found

Post by comsat38 » Sat Jun 15, 2013 4:14 pm

Just seen the discussion started by Vic Dale based upon NH 69731. It all hangs on whether you can time very precisely when this photo was taken. Vic seems to be saying 06.02 but I do not see how that can be. By that time PoW would have been quite some distance away from the point where Hood had blown up, heading (on the photo) from left to right and in front of Hood. NH 69731 seems to me to show (from left to right) a water spout from a shell from HMS Norfolk falling well short. Either that or it is HMS Norfolk itself. Next right is the oil burning black smoke trail from the point where Hood blew up. Again to the right of that is the lighter smoke of PoW's smoke screen as she turns away and there are two very high water spouts from shells from the Bismarck just in front of this smoke screen.

In other words the photo NH 69731 looks like a photo taken at about 06.09, and the two high water spouts may be from the last shells fired in the battle. I do not think they could be from PoW's shells falling short: that would be so short as to be unbelievable. I'll take all this back if the timing of the photo is other than what I think it is. I think Mr Dale is looking for something that just is not there, but that does not mean that I am correct either. The photo in question has been published in several books, and each time with captions that disagree with each other.

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