Denmark Strait and RN Articles of War

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Byron Angel
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Re: Denmark Strait and RN Articles of War

Post by Byron Angel » Fri Feb 28, 2014 12:45 pm

..... FWIW, the following are approximated SWAGs re PoW's turn performance (has anyone found actual data on PoW's turning performance?) -
At 29 kts, PoW would probably have a tactical diameter of about 1,000 yards (500 yard radius) at full (35deg) rudder.
From the time of the order to commence a turn, she would travel about 5-600 yard in an arc of gradually tightening radius before achieving her minimum 500 yard turning radius.
If making revolutions for 29 knots, PoW's speed through the water after completing a 45deg turn under full rudder would be about 24 knots, after 90deg about 20 knots, beyond 90deg about 18 knots.
A reversal from full rudder turn to starboard over to a full rudder turn to port would also consume a certain amount of time and distance as she unwound from her starboard turn to commence her port turn.
Her overall rate of turn under full rudder would have been approximately one degree per second.

A 160deg turn would therefore require about 160 seconds (2 min 40 secs). Antonio's chart indicates PoW commencing her turn away to port at 6:01 and completing same at 6:03 (120 secs), which - if the above estimations are accurate to within +/- 10pct of reality - seems a bit too fast.

Just an observation.

B

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Re: Denmark Strait and RN Articles of War

Post by alecsandros » Fri Feb 28, 2014 12:47 pm

:clap:

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Re: Denmark Strait and RN Articles of War

Post by alecsandros » Fri Feb 28, 2014 12:59 pm

Wordy wrote:Then get back to us. :ok:
... Capt Leach wrote nothing of his own damage suffered in his report, indicating the decision to withdraw was taken BEFORE Prince of Wales received her first hit. In fact, I do not think him or Holland were the pet monkeys many articles seem to indicate. They probably thought pretty damn well about their strategy BEFORE the battle, and both of them probably considered the alterntive of his partner taking heavy damage and even possibly being sunk. Then what ? A cautious retreat or a bold fight to the bitter end ?
Leach clearly preffered the firrst option, and I , along with others, consider his action as lacking the offensive drive such an enconunter, and such a rank, demanded.

But to say he decided to turn away under smoke at 6:03, or even 6:01, isn't doing the man a favor. My opinion is that he carefully thought about his options before firing his first shot - that's what a true Captain would have done.

All the elements you've listed are known and mostly accurate (in their spirit if not in their letter - the rate of approach for example was probably more like ~ 1000y/minute, not 500)

Leach should have continued the battle, for as long as possible. Command should have been switched to the aft con tower, and salvos fired on the Bismarck (which was also out of her IZ)

Or are British battleships expected to fight the enemy ONLY when having numbers on their side ... ?

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Re: Denmark Strait and RN Articles of War

Post by RF » Fri Feb 28, 2014 1:26 pm

alecsandros wrote: , I do not think him or Holland were the pet monkeys many articles seem to indicate. They probably thought pretty damn well about their strategy BEFORE the battle, and both of them probably considered the alterntive of his partner taking heavy damage and even possibly being sunk. Then what ? A cautious retreat or a bold fight to the bitter end ?
I'm not aware of any pre-battle briefings between Holland and Leach taking place, say as Harwood did with his captains prior to the River Plate battle. They were of course physically separated, so the only instructions to Leach would have been by flag signal, as the squadron was maintaining radio silence. Such signals would of course be logged, and from the traffic sent Leach was ordered to remain in company with Hood to concentrate fire as one unit. After that he was told which ship to target, namely the left hand ship (Prinz Eugen) which at the last moment was countermanded by an order to shift fire to the right hand ship. Beyond that there was no discussion of battle tactics, indeed it is likely that Holland would not have considered any further detailed discussion as necessary.
Now what we don't know is how much discussion took place between Captain Kerr of Hood and Holland, however such discussion would not have focussed specifically on POW otherwise it would have been reflected in further orders to POW.

So when Hood blew up Leach at that moment was on his own. There was no plan, contingency or anything to indicate what he was ordered to do in that event, because it wasn't expected. Leach therefore had to act on his own initiative. The scenario presented by Wordy a few posts ago now applies....
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Re: Denmark Strait and RN Articles of War

Post by alecsandros » Fri Feb 28, 2014 1:34 pm

RF wrote: So when Hood blew up Leach at that moment was on his own. There was no plan, contingency or anything to indicate what he was ordered to do in that event, because it wasn't expected. Leach therefore had to act on his own initiative. The scenario presented by Wordy a few posts ago now applies....
No,
I did not mention discussions between them.
But their own expectations and strategies. It seeems the most likely course of events - each captain thinks about hiw ship and crew, and either of them knew they were entering a dangerous battle. Thus thinking about possible heavy damage, or worse, was only natural to either of them - just as thinking about destroying the enemy also was.

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Re: Denmark Strait and RN Articles of War

Post by RF » Fri Feb 28, 2014 1:39 pm

alecsandros wrote: Leach should have continued the battle, for as long as possible. Command should have been switched to the aft con tower, and salvos fired on the Bismarck (which was also out of her IZ)
Or are British battleships expected to fight the enemy ONLY when having numbers on their side ... ?
This is a point of view expressed again without having any consideration of the arguments put for disengaging, particulary the consequences of the Bismarck coming out on top with hardly any more damage suffered than it already had.
There is no argument here, no empathy or understanding of the ideas put forward by those with a contrary opinion, to justify the opinion advanced. This doesn't advance the thread at all, instead it polarises the matter between two groups who talk at each other and ignore each others case.
English cricket currently has a similar ''debate'' over the sacking of Kevin Pietersen, an excercise in total futility in that each side hikes up the ''arguments'' to grossly inflated positions that are factually ridiculous.

Perhaps the best way to proceed from here is for alecsandros or Alberto or Antonio to directly answer the arguments put forward for a scenario where POW is crippled or lost and Bismarck is loose in the open Atlantic without any shadowers. In other words if POW continues, what is your Plan B?
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Re: Denmark Strait and RN Articles of War

Post by alecsandros » Fri Feb 28, 2014 1:51 pm

RF wrote: Perhaps the best way to proceed from here is for alecsandros or Alberto or Antonio to directly answer the arguments put forward for a scenario where POW is crippled or lost and Bismarck is loose in the open Atlantic without any shadowers. In other words if POW continues, what is your Plan B?
No, this has been debated much earlier in the thread.
In short, for my part at least, I do not expect the Bismarck to escape without further damage sufferd. And given the range (13km), and perforating power of 14"/L45 at that range, every portion of Bismarck from the waterline upwards was completely vulnerable .

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Re: Denmark Strait and RN Articles of War

Post by Wordy » Fri Feb 28, 2014 2:01 pm

alecsandros wrote:
Wordy wrote:Then get back to us. :ok:
... Capt Leach wrote nothing of his own damage suffered in his report, indicating the decision to withdraw was taken BEFORE Prince of Wales received her first hit. In fact, I do not think him or Holland were the pet monkeys many articles seem to indicate. They probably thought pretty damn well about their strategy BEFORE the battle, and both of them probably considered the alterntive of his partner taking heavy damage and even possibly being sunk. Then what ? A cautious retreat or a bold fight to the bitter end ?
Leach clearly preffered the firrst option, and I , along with others, consider his action as lacking the offensive drive such an enconunter, and such a rank, demanded.

But to say he decided to turn away under smoke at 6:03, or even 6:01, isn't doing the man a favor. My opinion is that he carefully thought about his options before firing his first shot - that's what a true Captain would have done.

All the elements you've listed are known and mostly accurate (in their spirit if not in their letter - the rate of approach for example was probably more like ~ 1000y/minute, not 500)

Leach should have continued the battle, for as long as possible. Command should have been switched to the aft con tower, and salvos fired on the Bismarck (which was also out of her IZ)
Are you going to answer my questions?
alecsandros wrote:Or are British battleships expected to fight the enemy ONLY when having numbers on their side ... ?
Or are British Battleship expected to carry on fighting when heavily outgunned, out damaged at a tactical disadvantage, without a firing solution all the while taking hits?
Last edited by Wordy on Fri Feb 28, 2014 2:10 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Denmark Strait and RN Articles of War

Post by alecsandros » Fri Feb 28, 2014 2:02 pm

Wordy wrote:

Are you going to answer my questions?
.. I did answer them, above.

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Re: Denmark Strait and RN Articles of War

Post by Wordy » Fri Feb 28, 2014 2:12 pm

alecsandros wrote:
Wordy wrote:

Are you going to answer my questions?
.. I did answer them, above.
Not really, I asked 5 questions and what would you do after each question.

Apolgies for quoting my own post....
Wordy wrote:1. You have just seen HMS Hood blow up, now you are heading straight for the wreckage of this ship at 30 knots. What do you?

2. On your present course you are converging with your enemy, closing on average about 500 yards a minute, your ship is out of its immune zone and the enemy has an accurate firing solution on your ship. What would you do?

3. Immediately(as in seconds after) after a 15 inch, 800kg(1,800Ib) shell travelling at 800 metres a second has just hit less than a few metres away from where you are standing and turned everyone apart from one other into red mist, what do you do?

4. You are in a position facing away from your enemy, and you’ve just been informed that Y turret has jammed and the Greenies don’t know how long it’s going to take to un-jam. What do you do?

5. Given that Y turret has jammed and turning to re-engage will mean that you have 40% less firepower than you should have, then add the trouble in A Turret into that equation and you have to find a new firing solution on an enemy that already has one on you. What do you do?

To accurately as possible mimic the conditions Capt Leach was in. Before answering these questions get someone to kill a large number of people right in front of you, then before answering questions 3-5 drink an absolute skin full of alcohol and wait for the hangover to kick in. Then get someone to bang a pair of symbols as loudly as possible right next to your head. Then get someone else to shake and push you around violently every 30 seconds or so. Then get some other people to start giving you life-threateningly bad news in rapid succession. Then get back to us.
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Re: Denmark Strait and RN Articles of War

Post by alecsandros » Fri Feb 28, 2014 2:59 pm

... I have answered above. No mayter how much you quote yourself doesn't change the fact that pow was under fire and her captain decided to escape.

Many other British ships have been in bad situations (Glowworm anybody ?) and still theu honored the tradition.. Or, if you like examples with hurt captains, tjink about Onslow battling the Hipper and Sherbrooke nearly killed by a 20.3cm gun salvo...

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Re: Denmark Strait and RN Articles of War

Post by Wordy » Fri Feb 28, 2014 3:12 pm

alecsandros wrote:... I have answered above. No mayter how much you quote yourself doesn't change the fact that pow was under fire and her captain decided to escape.

Many other British ships have been in bad situations (Glowworm anybody ?) and still theu honored the tradition.. Or, if you like examples with hurt captains, tjink about Onslow battling the Hipper and Sherbrooke nearly killed by a 20.3cm gun salvo...
Because it's that simple.

Again, you haven't. I asked 5 seperate questions about seperate events that need seperate decisions making, all in chronological order that happened within a short space of time.

So it's expected for RN officers to act with suicidal bravery everytime they go into action?
Last edited by Wordy on Fri Feb 28, 2014 4:25 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Denmark Strait and RN Articles of War

Post by northcape » Fri Feb 28, 2014 3:53 pm

alecsandros wrote:
Leach clearly preffered the firrst option, and I , along with others, consider his action as lacking the offensive drive such an enconunter, and such a rank, demanded.
An offensive drive can of course NOT be related to a rank, and also not that much to the significance of an encounter. The person in charge must make his judgement dependant on (1) the chances of success and (2) the likely consequences of engagement and withdrawal. But it is absolutely not related to his rank - whether it is the first sea lord or a petty officer. You applauded earlier to Leach and Phillips because the went down with the POW - I also find this very inappropriate. The thought that officers have to drown instead of surviving and continue to serve their country, appears very ridiculous and irresponsible to me (of course I don't know if Leach and Philips chose this deliberately). The same applies of course to precious machineries of war like one the few modern battleships. That is also called rationality.

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Re: Denmark Strait and RN Articles of War

Post by Antonio Bonomi » Fri Feb 28, 2014 4:59 pm

Hello everybody,

now that we are all in agreement that 06.13 is INCORRECT for sure, lets go back on the PoW 06.03 retreat time evaluation.

This discussion as been done long time ago on this thread so I summarize it only to provide to newcomers some references.
For further details please go back and read the many pages already written previously.

When PoW fired her 16th salvo after having received the salvo from Bismarck that hit the compass platform, she was already on a 280 degree course since Y turret was firing too.
This has been widely discussed as well as the direction from were the Bismarck shell hit the compass platform ( GREEN 150 ) from an enemy bearing 330 degrees.

The PoW turn to starboard consequently occurred after PoW salvo 14th fired before Hood explosion and before PoW salvo 16th, it is very simple and visible on photos and film.

Y turret started opening fire in Local Control at 06.03 and 10 seconds, referencing a recently published PoW gunnery map I have found in KEW-PRO, London.
This time correspond to my re-construction based on cross checking the photos and the available PG maps and Film, so double checked.

Hood exploded at 06.00 and some seconds.
We have discussed it into a dedicated thread, it is showed on photo Nh 69724 with PoW salvoes 13th and 14th smoke in the air.

It is obvious that the ALL the events described by Capt. Leach himself on his 3 radio messages and his narrative occurred into the timeframe : 06.00 and some seconds and 06.03 and 10 seconds = around 180 seconds in total, just as showed on my 2 above maps.
On one were I gave you the British view and on the other from German view were all the events are listed just as Leach and also G. Brooke described one after the other in logic sequence from Hood explosion until Y turret opened fire in Local Control at 06.03 and 10 seconds.

http://www.hmshood.org.uk/reference/off ... #P391Leach

You can refer the 3 radio messages sent by Capt. J.C.Leach I have attached on page 51 on Sat Nov 02, 2013 10:35 pm.

viewtopic.php?f=1&t=5830&start=750

Leach wrote all the events, the official PoW battle maps ( Rowell, Gunnery and Plan 4 ) give the events timing.

Than you can read the turning events confirmed here :

LIEUTENANT COMMANDER GEORGE WILLIAM ROWELL, ROYAL NAVY, "H.M.S. PRINCE OF WALES."

Which was on the compass platform as navigating officer.

Read his point 33 :

http://www.hmshood.org.uk/reference/off ... htm#Rowell

Here you have his PoW detailed battle map :

http://www.hmshood.org.uk/reference/off ... encIVb.gif

And the exact timing here :

LIEUTENANT COMMANDER ANTHONY HUNTER TERRY, ROYAL NAVY, "H.M.S. PRINCE OF WALES."

Which was into the Port After H. Director.

Reference point 53

http://www.hmshood.org.uk/reference/off ... .htm#Terry


Hood First Board of Inquiry Officers commented on Ltnt A. Hunter-Terry :
(WITNESS'S EVIDENCE WAS LARGELY TAKEN FROM NOTES WRITTEN AT THE TIME OF THE ACTION AND THE TIMES TAKEN WERE ON THE SPOT.)

@ Wordy :

1 ) You should turn to starboard to avoid the wreckage, go back on your stable course and keep on firing as you were doing before.

2 ) See above, at least until the enemy is not sufficiently damaged, since that is your original order of battle to be executed and you were engaged into a battle with that objective. Just turn to 260 degrees as you were going to do before the Hood exploded and keep on firing.
Make a radio signal to Wake-Walker telling him your intentions to still fight and ask for his direct support.

3 ) Depending on your status, if you are a battleship Captain engaged into a battle against an enemy with the mission to destroy and sink it, you evaluate the real damages and decide what to do.
In this particular case, keep on fighting with your known capabilities, so 9 guns out of 10 available and minor real damages on board not compromising your real fighting capabilities.

4 ) NOT APPLICABLE, since PoW had already turned away at that point, the disengagement order already given.

5 ) NOT APPLICABLE as above, not even thought about it.

The real reasons why Capt. J.C. Leach retreated while in action against the enemy are clearly listed on his own narrative.

Bye Antonio :D
In order to honor a soldier, we have to tell the truth about what happened over there. The whole, hard, cold truth. And until we do that, we dishonor her and every soldier who died, who gave their life for their country. ( Courage Under Fire )

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Re: Denmark Strait and RN Articles of War

Post by Antonio Bonomi » Fri Feb 28, 2014 10:11 pm

Hello everybody,

@ Wordy,

in case you have difficulties to find into Captain J.C. Leach narrative the real reasons of his disengagement that are written on the document narrative preface, I attach them here for you to read them in details.

You may notice yourself that Captain J.C. Leach do not mention in any way the received hits or his ship damages on any part of his ship at the time of disengagement being among the reasons of his breaking off the action his warship was engaged into.

The key phrase is : " The sinking of "Hood" obviously changed the immediate situation, and there were three ( 3 ) further considerations requiring to be weighed up, of which the first two ( 2 = a and b ) had been in my mind BEFORE action was joined. "
SECRET - H.M.S."PRINCE OF WALES" - 4th June 1941 - No. 001.B.
Sir,
I have the honor to submit the following account of operations between 22nd May and 27th May, 1941, in which H.M.Ship under my command took part.

2. Throughout the operations, and in particularly during and immediately after the morning engagement on Saturday, 24th May, the behavior of my officers and ship's company was in all respects admirable, and the morale throughout the Ship was unquestionably high. The sinking of the "Hood" produced no noticeable adverse effect. It is intended to submit, as soon as is practicable, a list of those officers and ratings who are considered deserving of special mention for outstanding devotion to duty.

3. Some explanation remains to be made as to my decision to break off the engagement after the sinking of H.M.S. "Hood" - a decision which clearly invites most critical examination. Prior to the disaster to the "Hood" I felt confident that together we could deal adequately with "Bismarck" and her consort. The sinking of "Hood" obviously changed the immediate situation, and there were three further considerations requiring to be weighed up, of which the first two had been in my mind before action was joined.

Namely:

(a). The practical certainty that owing to mechanical "teething troubles" a full output from the main armament was not to be expected.

(b). The working up of the Ship after commissioning had only just reached a stage where I felt able to report to the Commander-in-Chief, Home Fleet, that I considered her reasonably fit to take part in service operations. This was the first occasion on which she had done so. From the gunnery point of view the personnel was (sic) immensely keen and well drilled, but inexperienced.

(c). The likelihood of a decisive concentration being effected at a later stage.

In all circumstances I did not consider it sound tactics to continue single handed the engagement with the two German ships, both of whom might be expected to be at the peak of their efficiency.

Accordingly I turned away and broke off the action pending a more favorable opportunity.

4. A detailed narrative is attached as an appendix, and tracks charts are forwarded under separate cover.

I have the honor to be, Sir, your obedient servant,

Signed : J.C.Leach Captain, Royal Navy

To : The Commander-in-Chief, Home Fleet. (Copy to Rear Admiral Commanding, First Cruiser Squadron).
@ Wordy and Wadinga

I am sure you have noticed also that : " A detailed narrative is attached as an appendix, and tracks charts are forwarded under separate cover.

The tracks charts Capt. J.C. Leach is referring to are : the PLAN 4, the overall PoW battle plan and the PoW Gunnery report.
Those maps ONLY show the turn to starboard being made and NOT a turn to port before it.
But it should be no news, since both Capt. Leach and LtntCdr Rowell wrote it on clear words. It was enough to read and trust them :wink:

Capt. J.C. Leach : “ Course had to be altered to starboard to avoid remains of Hood. “

LtntCdr W. Rowell : “ We put the wheel over to starboard to give us a greater clearance from the wreckage. “

Everything was written and events timing well known and proven on both sides now.

Bye Antonio :D
In order to honor a soldier, we have to tell the truth about what happened over there. The whole, hard, cold truth. And until we do that, we dishonor her and every soldier who died, who gave their life for their country. ( Courage Under Fire )

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