May 23/24 night shadowing and interception approach CS1/BC1

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Antonio Bonomi
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Re: May 23/24 night shadowing and interception approach CS1/BC1

Post by Antonio Bonomi » Fri Oct 28, 2016 4:26 pm

Hello everybody,

@ Herr Nilsson,

that is one possibility I was thinking as well, ...

... but PoW was behind the Hood and the destroyers were supposed to be ahead if on screen No. 4 ... or Option 2 ... :think:

... so why Hood was passing the order to PoW to be communicated to the destroyers if all 4 destroyers were ahead of Hood ? It does not make any common sense, ... unless a couple of them were aside PoW ... so the destroyers were NOT on that moment of screen mode No. 4 ( Option 2 ) ... but on something like Option 3 or 1 ... so 2 destroyers were closer to the PoW side and far away behind from Hood ... and this do make sense.

... the most interesting part of those statements I was thinking at is the fact that to Capt Leach it seems that :
... and it is uncertain whether it was received by all of them.
Based on what occurrence Capt Leach wrote a statement like this one ... :think:

Logic would suggest that Capt Leach had some sort of evidence that somebody did not receive the order ... and maybe followed the BC1 on the turn ... and that may have required the need to repeat the order to them once again ... like Ltnt Cdr T.J. Cain seems to tell us when writing :
Next he ordered the destroyers to stay behind and continue with the search as a sort of insurance policy against contingency Number two- a gateway to the north.


Because if an order like this was repeated after the turn of the battlecruisers as it seems clear to me based on Ltnt Cdr T.J. Cain account, ... it can only mean that somebody was still following the main warships after the turn SW on 200° course and there was the need to tell him to " stay behind and sail north " once again, ... while somebody was probably " catching up " aside to take again the lead or side according to the need of the last screen formation ( Option 1 or 3, or 2 / screen No. 4 ) last formation they had before the turn while still escorting the battlecruisers ... :think:

Opinions welcome ...

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: May 23/24 night shadowing and interception approach CS1/BC1

Post by wadinga » Fri Oct 28, 2016 6:11 pm

Hello Antonio,

This instruction was made visually using a signalling lamp, presumably from Hood to Electra for further distribution or alternatively from Hood directly to each destroyer. This confirms how bad visibility was at this time. Either ships kept requesting message repeats, or when the action was taken, some were slower off the mark in complying than others.

I am swinging toward the idea that the "execute" for commencement of independent action by the destroyers would be the actual turn by BC1. When they saw Hood turn away that was the signal for independent action. If visual signalling was so hard, how would the "go" signal be made to all four ships simultaneously?

On the Norfolk Plan 8 of which I have a copy, the times annotations are all printed or stencilled whereas the fragments you have shown as per last Sunday are hand written, suggesting yours is an earlier version which was traced and tidied up later for an official report. There are two positions shown by triangles with a central dot for Suffolk at 03:20 and 05:41. She made a transmission at 03:20 so that a radio bearing only from Norfolk MF/DF might be possible. How did this turn into a position? There can be no reliable range.
Reports.- Made reports at 0028, 0101, 0131, 0231, 0247, 0256, 0319 and 0321 during the above phase.
Suffolk made no recorded transmission at 05:41.
Reports.- Made reports at 0447, 0456, 0522, 0533 and 0538 during the above phase.


Again a position is shown and even if a bearing were extrapolated from say 05:38 why not record the actual time? At neither 03:20 or 05:41 can Norfolk have recorded positions for Suffolk since she had only a single moderately reliable bearing to work with on each occasion.

Have you succeeded in deriving a lat and long for the Suffolk triangle on Norfolk's Strat map? I estimate 63 50N 31 25W. From Suffolk's Strat map I estimate 63 40N 31 10W.

Whether one considers Page 1 or 80 from the "Plot Thread" I have never accepted that the PoW original "Pre-plan 4 sketch" shows the tracks or positions of the cruisers accurately, relative to PoW. The traced action plots also show only crude straight line approximations for them, even after after 06:20 when PoW was attempting to formate on Norfolk. Pre-Plan 4 is only a "might have been" doodle which was never adjusted to relate to reality.

I am studying Derek Plummer's tape and there are many "approximations to reality" in his jaunty delivery which means the recollection of an hour's warning of Hood's arrival is highly unreliable. He also said "they went right past us, close to" Close to Even you think Suffolk was many, many miles from BC1.

All the best

wadinga
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Re: May 23/24 night shadowing and interception approach CS1/BC1

Post by Antonio Bonomi » Fri Oct 28, 2016 8:10 pm

Hello everybody,

@ Wadinga,

Sean, I think I would agree an all your evaluations you are making on the extreme bad visibility difficulties on that moment among the various units, ... so confirming all the above other evaluations we are making too.

Also the commencement time of the action is in doubt, ... since we have either 02.03 as well as 02.10 ( on the PoW tactical map I have ), ... as well as the end of it well after 02.15 according to Ltnt Cdr T.J. Cain.

It can be for example that after the turn some destroyer followed the BC1 warships, ... and this was the reason why Hood told the PoW to signal them to sail North as previously ordered ... and in this case it made sense to use PoW as a signal " bridge " to communicate to them ... since at that point only the PoW was between Hood and the destroyers for sure ... :think:

Too bad we do not have other destroyers reliable sources to be evaluated ... :think:

YES, you are right, I have all the original strategical " manual " made maps as well as the reconstructed ones you have apparently.
I usually use only the original manual ones.

The Suffolk position at 03.20 ( she was transmitting ) was taken from PoW too, ... and Norfolk can be correlated with PoW as I did at 02.29 and at 05.41.
Consequently it is possible to correlate using their 3 tracks, ... the Suffolk with PoW, and with Norfolk both ways and several times, ... on point in time I called the key " checkpoints ", ... like the 02.29, 03.20, 05.41 .... etc etc etc

Suffolk was transmitting at 05.38, ... and Norfolk was taking very frequent ( according to Wake-Walker report ) D/F radio bearings to her, ... it was they way Norfolk was sailing compared to Suffolk and the enemy, ... that is the reason why on Norfolk map and track you can see that 05.41 traced bearing or Norfolk strategical map.

It is obvious that both Norfolk as well as Suffolk are incorrectly positioned on their own strategical maps from the geographical positioning stand point, ... so I only use their tracks and the bearinsg data from there.

This is the reason why I created a brand new map on a very high scale and very precise, ... placed the Hood and PoW exact one as the reference based on Warrand and D. Mearns Hood exact wreck position, ... reconstructed backwards the BC1 tracks until the evening of the 23rd, ... and positioned the Norfolk and Suffolk tracks ( taken from their strategical maps ) on it using just as best as I can the relative bearings one ( 02.29; 03.20; 05.41 ) to the other using the PoW track as reference, ... just as I showed you for the Norfolk demonstration days ago.

For me it is important only the 320° degrees relative bearings at 05.41 between Norfolk and Suffolk, but here you can see the Suffolk geographical positioning on Norfolk strategical map as you asked.
0541_Norfolk_map_bearings.jpg
0541_Norfolk_map_bearings.jpg (74.9 KiB) Viewed 1265 times
We know today why " The Plot " was made, so it is to be taken after a very careful scrutiny on all it is traced on it, including the ship tracks.
I lost a lot of time thinking it was reliable, ... until I understood that it cannot be taken as a base reference at all, .. but only as a source of some carefully double checked inputs.
In fact I realized a " corrected " version to allow everybody to understand the differences between the reality and that " created " map. Here it is :
Bearings_comparison_02.jpg
Bearings_comparison_02.jpg (90.62 KiB) Viewed 1265 times
You are right, that PoW Plan 4 was maybe made not so accurately by the Admiralty on 1948, but they understood that it was the only way to realize the truth using the bearings, that is the reason why we are just trying now to make it better.

I agree, those interviews cannot be taken 100 % for granted, ... still some inputs are very good and some memories even if not 100 % correct, ... are in any way describing lived reality and known emotions.

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: May 23/24 night shadowing and interception approach CS1/BC1

Post by Herr Nilsson » Sat Oct 29, 2016 10:48 am

Antonio Bonomi wrote:
... but PoW was behind the Hood ...

Who says?
Regards

Marc

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Re: May 23/24 night shadowing and interception approach CS1/BC1

Post by Antonio Bonomi » Sat Oct 29, 2016 12:49 pm

Hello everybody,

@ Herr Nilsson,

you are right in fact we have :
23.15 - " Prince of Wales " stationed on a bearing 090 degrees from "Hood".
Meanwhile at 04.50 "Prince of Wales" was made guide of the fleet while "Hood" stationed herself on a bearing of 230 degs., resuming guide of the fleet at 05.05.
Consequently we cannot assume for sure that they were sailing " in line " with Hood ahead PoW at 02.00 before turning to SW ... so we need to realize in which way they turned 160° to port ... :think: ... doing this :
Course was altered by blue pendant to 200 degrees at 0203, B.C.1 then ordered "Prince of Wales" to search with type 284 ...
What type of turn is the one with " Blue Pendant " from 360° to 200°, ... so 160° to port ?

Very interesting is also this statement :
and at 23.34 "Prince of Wales" was signalled to report bearing of "Suffolk" by D/F on 138Kc/s.
The first bearing 000 degs., was reported at 23.47.


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: May 23/24 night shadowing and interception approach CS1/BC1

Post by paulcadogan » Sat Oct 29, 2016 1:39 pm

Antonio Bonomi wrote: Course was altered by blue pendant to 200 degrees at 0203, B.C.1 then ordered "Prince of Wales" to search with type 284 ...


What type of turn is the one with " Blue Pendant " from 360° to 200°, ... so 160° to port ?
"Blue Pendant" means "alter course together" i.e. the ships were turned simultaneously, as they did during the DS battle.

So which ship was ahead immediately after the turn depended on their relative positions before the turn was executed.
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Re: May 23/24 night shadowing and interception approach CS1/BC1

Post by Antonio Bonomi » Sat Oct 29, 2016 4:30 pm

Hello everybody,

@ Paul Cadogan,

many thanks for the explanation, ... in fact I recall having already managed the " Blue pendant " ... :wink:

Here the turns executed by Hood and PoW with " Blue Pendant " before the 02.03 from 360° to 160°, ....

... first a 55°turn to starboard from 285° to 340° ...and after a 20° to starboard from 340° to 360° they kept until 02.03.

You can see at the starting point the 23.18 situation with PoW on true bearing 90° from Hood ... as reported by Capt Leach.

I have added ahead the 4 destroyers on screen formation No. 4 ( my option 2 ) ... :wink:
Turns_Hood_PoW.jpg
Turns_Hood_PoW.jpg (58.56 KiB) Viewed 1208 times
... and here the 160° turn from 0-360° to course 200° on South West ... by a Blue Pendant with the detroyers still ahead on screen No. 4 ...

... where we can easily see in the graphic format that if something was not executed properly ... PoW was the closest waship to communicate to the destroyers doing a communication " bridge " between the Hood ( BC1 - Vice Adm Holland ) and the destroyer leader ( Commander May ) on the HMS Electra ... :think:

Being the warships at 25 knots and assuming the turn being NOT done under full rudder, ... I assume something like 6 to 7 minutes to complete it, .. and this could explain the 2 timings on the documentation, ... 02.03 and 02.10, ... if 7 minutes is a correct time assesment, ... we can assume 02.03 being the starting point and 02.10 being the end of the turn, ... :think:
Turn_0203_01.jpg
Turn_0203_01.jpg (38.44 KiB) Viewed 1203 times
Of course your competent opinion is welcome and ... kindly required ...

Bye Antonio :D
Last edited by Antonio Bonomi on Sat Oct 29, 2016 5:07 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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: May 23/24 night shadowing and interception approach CS1/BC1

Post by Cag » Sat Oct 29, 2016 5:04 pm

Hi All

Its good to see the great work being done to figure out what happened prior to the battle, it is so difficult as some pieces of info are dependent upon memory and are sometimes given a lyrical spin for effect for a publication.

I'm not too sure and maybe someone with better knowledge may help but it is possible that PoW was stationed 090° by order from Hood and so in the turn she would attempt to keep station position thereby at the end of the turn PoW would be at 165° or in a position that would relate to her previous 090° position?

I have plotted the cruisers positions as signalled to try see how things appeared at the time, Norfolk's do seem to follow her course where as Suffolks do seem to creep south east (maybe due to her gyro compass problems?).

I've put in BC1 movements from PoW log and things were lining up but Leach's submissions of the enemy being 15nm north west at 0256 and 20nm north west at 0400 threw a spanner in the works so I'll re check my positions for the 3rd time and see what I get.

Best wishes
Cag.

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Re: May 23/24 night shadowing and interception approach CS1/BC1

Post by paulcadogan » Sat Oct 29, 2016 7:13 pm

Hi Antonio,

That second diagram would not, to me, represent a Blue Pendant turn, since the ships would make the same turn simultaneously. Therefore, PoW would end up on Hood's port side, slightly aft of her beam after a 160 degree turn to port. It seems that they stayed that way until 0450 when PoW was made "guide" so that Hood could move from her starboard beam to her port bow (260 deg), resuming "guide" at 0505. (BTW - I think this may allow us to pin down the likely time for the photos of Hood off PoW's port bow to between 0505 and 0535 when the enemy was sighted by PoW! That is, if they were taken on May 24.)

Question: When the destroyers were order to form screen # 4 at 2318, did this mean they were to spread 7 miles apart (or less depending on visibility) as was supposed to be ordered at 2300? If so, this would explain the need for PoW to be a relay for the 2 destroyers on the starboard bow of the big ships (which were then steaming in line abreast formation) and the uncertainty in signalling them, due to distance and visibility.

Paul
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Re: May 23/24 night shadowing and interception approach CS1/BC1

Post by Antonio Bonomi » Sat Oct 29, 2016 7:58 pm

Hello everybody,

@ Paul Cadogan,

here it is, ... now it should be OK, ... please confirm it ... :wink:
Turn_0203_03.jpg
Turn_0203_03.jpg (55.32 KiB) Viewed 1186 times
I see your suggestion about the difficulties to communicate for the BC1 to the eastward destroyers, ... and I agree that using the PoW was a good way to communicate to them, ... it is logic too, ... but my point now is about this statement of Capt Leach :
... and it is uncertain whether it was received by all of them.


because, as I wrote above ...

Logic would suggest that Capt Leach had some sort of evidence that somebody did not receive the order ... and maybe followed the BC1 on the turn ... and that may have required the need to repeat the order to them once again ... like Ltnt Cdr T.J. Cain seems to tell us when writing :
Next he ordered the destroyers to stay behind and continue with the search as a sort of insurance policy against contingency Number two- a gateway to the north.
Because if an order like this was repeated after the turn of the battlecruisers as it seems clear to me based on Ltnt Cdr T.J. Cain account, ... it can only mean that somebody was still following the main warships after the turn SW on 200° course and there was the need to tell him to " stay behind and sail north " once again, ... while somebody was probably " catching up " aside to take again the lead or side according to the need of the last screen formation ( Option 1 or 3, or 2 / screen No. 4 ) last formation they had before the turn while still escorting the battlecruisers ... :think:

What do you think about it ?

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: May 23/24 night shadowing and interception approach CS1/BC1

Post by paulcadogan » Sat Oct 29, 2016 9:52 pm

Antonio Bonomi wrote:Because if an order like this was repeated after the turn of the battlecruisers as it seems clear to me based on Ltnt Cdr T.J. Cain account, ... it can only mean that somebody was still following the main warships after the turn SW on 200° course and there was the need to tell him to " stay behind and sail north " once again, ... while somebody was probably " catching up " aside to take again the lead or side according to the need of the last screen formation ( Option 1 or 3, or 2 / screen No. 4 ) last formation they had before the turn while still escorting the battlecruisers ...
I'm not so sure. If any of the destroyers had turned to follow Hood & PoW that would have made it CERTAIN that that particular ship had not received the signal. I would think the uncertainty would have come from the acknowledgements received or not received. (I would think that a message sent by signal lamp should be acknowledged to let the sender know it if was received?) PoW would not have had visuals on all 4 destroyers (likewise Hood, given the visibility conditions), therefore would not have known if all four sent their "read receipts".

Also, you may have to interpret Cain's account carefully - it may simply be his style of writing and not necessarily an exact sequencing of events. To me, if Holland intended the destroyers to continue north and fan out further, it would make no sense for him to let them turn with the big ships, then have to swing around again to their northerly course. That would be a waste of valuable time! Plus there is no evidence of a repeat of the signal.

I would think they continued north in their Screen 4 formation until 0215 when Cdr. May ordered them to fan out to 15 mile intervals. Maybe the time lapse is the time it took for May to ensure that all understood the orders in order for them to be executed properly?? After all, at the time, the 4 ships should have been separated at the limit of visibility and lamp signals would have to be relayed to the ship or ships out of sight of Electra. :think:

Paul
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Re: May 23/24 night shadowing and interception approach CS1/BC1

Post by Antonio Bonomi » Sun Oct 30, 2016 9:27 am

Hello everybody,

@ Paul Cadogan,

I see your opinion, so you are suggesting something like this may have occurred :
Destroyers_split_01.jpg
Destroyers_split_01.jpg (66.82 KiB) Viewed 1149 times
@ All,

if this was the situation, I really cannot see how that " Large Vessel " spotted by HMS Norfolk at 02.29 could have been the destroyer Number 4 ( more eastward ) reference the RED dots.

Interesting is how the destroyer Number 1 ( more westward ) was moving close to the Prinz Eugen/Bismarck tracks ... referencing the YELLOW dots :think:

But, as you can easily measure yourself, ... since I have placed the reference scale on the map, ... at 02.15 between the destroyers ( keep on sailing North at 25 knots ) ... and the Hood/PoW sailing now South West at 27 knots on course 200°, ... there are more then 10 sea miles ... :think: ... and into a 5 sea miles visibility area, ... I can hardly see what Ltnt Cdr T.J. Cain was describing having occurred on his account :

PHASE 3
Shortly after 2.15am Commander May opened formation and Electra and her sister ships, in accordance with Holland's latest order, spread out at fifteen mile intervals to 'search towards the north'.
PHASE 4
A few minutes later the battle wagons were dipping their massive superstructures below the skyline and steaming at high speed towards the south. Hood was in the lead- it was the last we saw of her. Her fate had been decided- the squadron had been split.
Especially the last statement refers to " A few minutes later ... ( the previous ->Shortly after 02.15 ) " ... so, lets say at around 02.20, ... on the map is easy to realize that we are talking at something like 15 sea miles relative distance between the destroyers sailing North and the Hood/PoW sailing South west, ... so it was impossible for Ltnt Cdr T.J.Cain to still see them from that distance into a 5 sea miles visibility area, ... :think:

Opinions welcome here, ... to solve this " enigma " ...

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: May 23/24 night shadowing and interception approach CS1/BC1

Post by Steve Crandell » Sun Oct 30, 2016 1:42 pm

So if Holland had turned NE instead of SE he'd have run right into the German formation at point blank range.

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Re: May 23/24 night shadowing and interception approach CS1/BC1

Post by Antonio Bonomi » Sun Oct 30, 2016 2:08 pm

Hello everybody,

@ Steve Crandell,

YES, of course ... but I am sure you wanted to say North West instead of South West ... :wink:

Now it should be clear to everybody that 02.29 is the " Key checkpoint " of that night ... well recorded by everybody ... including the Germans ... :think:

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: May 23/24 night shadowing and interception approach CS1/BC1

Post by paulcadogan » Sun Oct 30, 2016 4:32 pm

Hi Antonio,

I see your latest track chart, but there is a "complication" you haven't taken into account - the spread of the destroyer screen ahead of the battlecruisers. How far ahead were they? How far apart were they spread? If visibility issues made PoW unable to determine if they all received the signal to continue north, they must have been a significant distance away and apart.

Looking at Leach's narrative:
Destroyers kept up well and at 2120 B.C.1 signaled his intention to spread them at 2300 on a bearing of 070 degs. 7 miles or visibility distance if less, to act as a reconnaissance screen. This was not done and at 2305 signal was received that destroyers would not be spread until later.

At 2318 destroyers were ordered to form screen No.4...

At 0147 B.C.1 signalled:-

"If battlecruisers turn 200 degs. at 0205 destroyers continue to search to the northward."

Difficulty was experienced in passing this signal to destroyers owing to visibility, and it is uncertain whether it was received by all of them. Course was altered by blue pendant to 200 degs. at 0203, B.C.1 then ordered "Prince of Wales" to search with type 284 from 020 degs. to 140 degs. As type 284 would not bear beyond 070 degs. Permission was requested to use type 281, but this was refused.
(Exerpts)

So, the destroyers were told that should the big ships turn, they should continue north.

The question is, where was each of them in relation to the big ships. If they were in screen No 4, how far ahead were they, how far apart? Did they adopt the 7 mile spread?

What courses did they adopt to spread out to 15 miles?

Regardless of the answers, if your positioning of Norfolk at 0229, relative to BC1 is correct, it makes it very doubtful that the vessel sighted by her was a destroyer, unless one of them had indeed not received the order to continue north, and had turned back to follow BC1.

How about this for speculation? .....Any possibility that the bearing of Norfolk's 0229 contact was 248 deg and not 298 - a handwritten "4" being mistaken for a "9" and incorrectly recorded/signaled?? :think: 248 would perfectly match PoW's 68 deg RDF bearing!

This is tough! Without concrete info on the movements of each individual destroyer, which may never be obtained, it may not be solved. :stubborn: :think:

Paul
Qui invidet minor est - He who envies is the lesser man

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