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

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

Postby Antonio Bonomi » Thu Oct 31, 2013 11:57 am

Hello everybody,

I like to share and analyze here in the night shadowing tracks and the engagement approach of the 4 Royal Navy units involved into the battle of the Denmark Strait.

We are talking of course about HMS Suffolk, HMS Norfolk ( CS1- RearAdm F.Wake-Walker), HMS Hood ( BC1 - ViceAdm L. Holland ) and HMS Prince of Wales.

So lets start from an official couple of documents, the narrative of that night from the RN Admiralty Battle Summary Nr 5 of 1947 and the attached Plan 3 covering that area of analysis.

Do you notice something " strange " on the Plan 3 tracks ??? Just as a starter ... :wink:

Night_shadowing_May23_24_Plan_3.jpg
Night_shadowing_May23_24_Plan_3.jpg (82.83 KiB) Viewed 2803 times



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/

Postby Antonio Bonomi » Thu Oct 31, 2013 7:22 pm

Hello everybody,

do everybody find " normal " that Norfolk is plotted on the port side of Holland squadron all the way thru until 06.00 ?

Do you ever check Holland squadron course on this plan 3 ?

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/

Postby RNfanDan » Sun Nov 03, 2013 4:03 pm

I've not paid much attention to this plot before today.

Now I will.

It looks almost as if the BC1 tracks are drawn to a completely different scale, doesn't it?

:think:
Image

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

Postby Antonio Bonomi » Sun Nov 03, 2013 7:13 pm

Hello everybody,

@ RNfanDan,

well my friend, I just had your same surprise when I noticed it :wink:

At first view I do not think it has been drawn on a different scale, but now that I am a lot focused on maps and in particular at 2 rectangular sectors of this overall map, than I immediately got some discrepancies I would like, as usual, to share with all of you my competent friends.
This way we can all put our best efforts and passion into the analysis and correct re-construction of those events.

Lets initially define the area with the exact Longitude and Latitude of the area, the Geographic coordinate system :wink:
Than I will start focusing on the 2 rectangural areas on the left bottom I have evidenced in RED, which are exactly the 2 one's that were used to make " The Plot ", for Norfolk and Suffolk.
We are talking the 2 areas between parallels 63 and 64 North and meridians 31, 32 and 33 West.
Each area is 26 sea miles between meridians and 60 sea miles between parallels.

That is the Denmark Strait battle area, so we can compare that area with the inputs on this map and see what we can realize and move forward from it.

Map_DS_02.jpg
Map_DS_02.jpg (53.19 KiB) Viewed 2731 times


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/

Postby Antonio Bonomi » Sun Nov 03, 2013 8:04 pm

Hello everybody,

it does not take much to demonstrate which of the 2 tracks has been wrongly drawn.

The plotted track on Admiralty Plan 3 of Battle Summary Nr 5 is wrong for Hood and PoW.

DS_02.jpg
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DS_01.jpg
DS_01.jpg (78.93 KiB) Viewed 2727 times


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/

Postby Antonio Bonomi » Sun Nov 03, 2013 8:45 pm

Hello everybody,

and after having demonstrated in graphic form that the track on that Plan 3 is WRONG, ... simply because it plots Hood and PoW on the starboard side of Norfolk all the way thru from 02.10 until 06.00 that morning, so between Norfolk and the enemy :shock:

I am telling you why it is wrong like that, ... because they drawn a straight course 220 degrees for Hood and PoW from 02.10 until 06.00, which is again WRONG !

It does not take much from Capt Leach narrative to realize that was a lot different, in fact the BC1 squadron of Vice-Adm L. Holland, so Hood and PoW :

1 ) at 02.10 ( 02.05 in reality ) turned south west on course 200 degrees for one hour and 16 minutes until 03.21, so 76 minutes on course 200 degress.
2 ) at 03.21 they turned on course 220 degrees ( 20 degrees to starboard ) for 21 minutes until 03.42.
3 ) at 03.42 they turned on course 240 degrees ( other 20 degrees to starboard ) for one hour and 55 minutes until 05.37, so 115 minutes on course 240 degrees.
4 ) at 05.37, after the enemy interception report, they turned 280 degrees ( 40 degrees to starboard ) until 05.50, for 13 minutes.
5 ) at 05.50 they turned on course 300 degrees ( so 20 degrees to starboard ) for 5 minutes until 05.55.
6 ) at 05.55 they turned back on course 280 ( so 20 degrees to port ) for 5 minutes than Hood was hit at 06.00 while turning again on course 260.

Now it should not take much to draw correctly on this overall map scenario their exact course and see what we can realize :wink: .

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/

Postby Antonio Bonomi » Sun Nov 03, 2013 9:22 pm

Hello everybody,

and once you draw the correct tracks of BC1 backwards from the Hood sinking place, to the 05.37 enemy interception report and back, ... with correct tracks and courses, ... than suddendly you realize that :shock:

What can be realized once the BC1 tracks are correctly plotted on the overall scenario map ???

Opinions are welcome ... and remember, each squared/rectangular area is 25 sea miles wide and 60 sea miles height ... so do your proportions now.

Of course the interesting area is NOT the Suffolk and Bismarck/Prinz Eugen that are not correctly plotted, ... but we can understand now why it was done like that on " The Plot " :wink: ... what is really interesting now is the analysis of BC1 squadron course ( Hood + PoW ) compared with CS1 ( Norfolk ) both for course, proximity and timing of events/course change.

DS_correct_BC1_track_01.jpg
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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/

Postby Antonio Bonomi » Sun Nov 03, 2013 10:37 pm

Hello everybody,

I suggest everybody by looking at the above maps to read carefully Capt Leach narrative here following :

Saturday, 24th May
Weather at 0001: Wind North, force 4/5, visibility - moderate, Sea and swell 34. At this time reports put the enemy 120 miles 010 degs., from battlecruiser force, approx. true course 200 degs. Speed was reduced to 25 knots at 0008 and course altered by blue pendant to 340 degs. At 0012 and 000 degs. At 0017. At 0015 ships assumed first degree of readiness, final preparations for action were made, and battle ensign hoisted. It was expected that contact with the enemy would be made at any time after 0140. Cruisers at this time had lost touch with the enemy in low visibility and snow storms. B.C.1 signalled his intentions as follows:- "If enemy is not in sight by 0210 I will probably alter course 180 degs. until cruisers regain touch = 0031." "Intend both ships to engage "Bismarck" and to leave "Prinz Eugen" to "Norfolk" and "Suffolk" = 0032."
"Prince of Wales" Walrus was now ready for catapulting and, as Iceland was out of her range if more than half an hour's useful work was to be carried out, the pilot was given instructions to land alongside a destroyer when endurance was up. It was intended to fly off to port altering course to starboard as necessary. B.C.1 was informed accordingly. However, visibility deteriorated rapidly from about 0045, and as there seemed little likelihood of improvement and action was expected shortly, it was decided to de-fuel aircraft and stow it in the hanger. This was started at 0140 and B.C.1 informed. 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. Chance of encounter before daylight was now slight and B.C.1 gave permission for personnel to be rested while on the present course. Speed was increased to 26 knots at 0214 and 27 knots at 0222. Visibility was now about 5 miles and after a long gap in enemy reports "Suffolk" regained touch by R.D/F at 0256, her report putting the enemy about 15 miles to the northwest of the battlecruiser force. The large unknown vessel reported by "Norfolk" at 0229 appears from the plot to be "Prince of Wales". Regular D/F bearings were now being obtained from "Norfolk" and "Suffolk" and passed to B.C.1. Course was altered by blue pendant to 220 degs. At 0321 and 240 degs. At 0342. At 0353 speed was increased to 28 knots. Enemy was considered to be 20 miles to the northwest at 0400. Visibility continued to improve and by 0430 was about 12 miles. Consequently orders were given to refuel the aircraft. Owing to delays, principally on account of water in the fuel, aircraft was not ready until after fire had been opened on the enemy and it was damaged by shell splinters before it could be flown off. As the petrol constituted a danger, the aircraft was jettisoned into the sea. Meanwhile at 0450 "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 0505. B.C.1 ordered first degree of readiness at 0510. There was a long wait while the horizon became gradually more distinct and at last at 0535 a suspicious object was sighted and an enemy report made at 0537. "Hood's" report followed immediately. Enemy bore 335 degs. And was on an approx course of 240 degs., "Bismarck" astern of a lighter ship. Course was altered 40 degs. By blue pendant at 0537 and at 0541 "Prince of Wales" was stationed on a bearing of 080 degs. At 0549 B.C.1 signalled:- "G.S.B. 337 L.1" and a further blue two making to course 300 degs. Was executed.


So we know that at 02.29 Norfolk reported a large vessel, that was later understood being Prince of Wales.

More, at 01.45 Norfolk reported himself 64° 49' N, 28° 16' W, corse 200 degrees sped 29 knots, enemy bearing estimated 269° at 18 sea miles from her. Visibility 3 sea miles.

At 02.56 Suffolk regained contact and reported himself 64° 39' N, 29° 22' W, course 240 degrees, speed 28 knots, enemy bearing estimated 192° at 9 sea miles from her.

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/

Postby paulcadogan » Mon Nov 04, 2013 5:35 pm

Antonio,

I'm not sure what you're trying to get at here - besides showing how unreliable these hand-drawn plots are, especially given the errors in the estimated positions of individual ships that have to use dead reckoning in their estimates...

It seems that, had visibility been better earlier, it might have been possible for Norfolk to actually join BC1's formation for the run against the Germans.

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

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

Postby Alberto Virtuani » Tue Nov 05, 2013 8:52 am

Antonio Bonomi wrote: "What can be realized once the BC1 tracks are correctly plotted on the overall scenario map ? "

@ Antonio: disregarding the evident plotting errors (Norfolk couldn't logically be on the port side of BC1....), and looking at your suggested routes (in your above post), what I would notice at first glance is that the engagement could have developed well before 5:52 AM, possibly at any time after 3 o'clock AM.

In any case, Holland was driving since a while his 4 ships squadron on a slightly converging course to intercept enemy from 3:42 AM, possibly waiting for good visibility to engage as Paul correctly suggests.

Bye, Alberto
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Re: May 23/24 night shadowing and interception approach CS1/

Postby Antonio Bonomi » Tue Nov 05, 2013 4:16 pm

Hello everybody,

@ Paul.

you wrote :

I'm not sure what you're trying to get at here ...


My friend, as usual just trying to reach the truth as much as I can, ... just that with no preconceived views/judgements. Surely something is not correct there .... :negative:

@ Alberto,

the errors are very evident my friend, ... now I just started to define the area, look at what is available, ... merge " The Plot " I know was wrongly made too as far as tracks relative distances, ... and draw myself a first trial of Hood and PoW correct track made backwards from Capt. Leach narrative.

I do not have Hood and PoW geographical evidences so everything can be improved and more precisely made as real data will hopefully become available.

On top of my Denmark Strait battle re-construction, I have also those 2 very good works, so I will refer to those as well.

http://hmshood.com/history/denmarkstrait/woodward.htm

http://hmshood.com/history/denmarkstrait/holland.htm

My goal is to make a map that will show as best as I can the real tracsk they sailed and the reletive distances, ... than we will see what additional consideration can be made, if any.

That night, ... 02.10 and 03.20 seems to be 2 important reference points ... on top the one's we already know about ... :think:

Norfolk was close to BC1 starting at 02.10, ...and turned on course 240 just as BC1 did, ... now I will try to see how close that more than 3 and a half hours parallel track was really ... as visibility was increasing with daylight ... :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/

Postby Antonio Bonomi » Sat Nov 23, 2013 10:03 pm

Hello everybody,

a very interesting photo, ... and a very interesting caption too ... :think:

http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205185330

IWM_A_4322_HMS_Suffolk.png
IWM_A_4322_HMS_Suffolk.png (165.21 KiB) Viewed 2558 times


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/

Postby paulcadogan » Wed Nov 27, 2013 2:05 pm

Hi Antonio and all,

My first question regards the sighting of a large unknown vessel by Norfolk at 0229. How should such a sighting have been interpreted and what should have been done?

This, to me, could have been WW's first evidence that a heavy British intercepting force was in the area. At that point Bismarck's exact location was uncertain due to Suffolk's loss of contact. It also seems from the plot that Norfolk had made a divergence to the south east, possibly to position herself to cover an alteration by the Germans to the south. So, shouldn't the contact have been investigated more - notwithstanding the constraints of poor visibility? Issuing a visual challenge maybe when the ship was in sight?

With regards to BC1's course, it is very obvious that Holland, realizing the error of his northward jaunt, was trying to regain any lost bearing on the enemy and, once contact was regained by Suffolk, to maneuver his force for the best possible interception once visibility improved. I can't see how he could have done it differently.

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

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

Postby Antonio Bonomi » Wed Nov 27, 2013 5:50 pm

Hello everybody,

@ Paul,

in order to evaluate those night run tracks we need to re-construct the whole things as I am doing, and it is a very interesting effort.
What as been produced is surely thousand miles away from the reality :shock: .
Than we need to associate all the radio issued messages as I am doing too and I still miss many of them but within 2 months I should be in condition to have them all in my hands as I will visit the London Archives and IWM in January.

Dave Saxton is right, the German were intercepting not only the radio messages thru SKL, but also on board the warships thru B-Dienst experts on real time, ... so as soon as something happened they were alerted and they were recording the inputs on their battle maps.
Prinz Eugen maps inputs to confirm all this.

Holland was right on keeping the radio and radar silence.

At 02.29 something very unusual happened and I think I am close to resolve it now. It was not only between Norfolk and BC1, but also the German were close than and reacted too.
I am not sure currently if Norfolk did or not communicate with BC1 on that occasion, surely he realized something was there, but I need to have his war diary to see what they wrote on it.

Unfortunately for Holland he was referring to the cruiser received infos, ... and there is one factor overall, ... and I here refer to the other thread were I have asked some evaluations, ... both Norfolk and Suffolk has been very bad on delivering their precious infos to Holland.
But this never surfaced as it should have been.

So everything Holland did, was close related and CONSEQUENT of the received radio infos ... and they were bad and wrong indeed.
Norfolk did almost nothing ... few things he did was adding confusion on wrong inputs by Suffolk.

This is what Adm Pound and Adm Tom Phillips realized immediately on the run, ... following the events on the plot on the Admiralty in London on real time ... and after close scrutiny after Op. Rheinubung and looking at the warships maps and reports.

Than they created " The Plot " to save Wake-Walker ... :negative:

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/

Postby paulcadogan » Wed Nov 27, 2013 7:32 pm

But Antonio...if what Suffolk and Norfolk did was all that wrong, how come there was a successful interception by Holland? It is obvious to me that shadowing under those conditions and with the limitations of the radar sets on both cruisers, precision was impossible...

I don't think it was Norfolk in contact with the Germans at 0229. At 0228 PG reports a cruiser approaching from astern. At 0246 Suffolk reports she picked up a ship on her 284 radar at 19,200 yards, bearing 180 degrees. This marked the regaining of contact after the loss during the snow storm and I think, given the bearing Suffolk reported, she was the ship picked up by PG at 0228. I doubt Norfolk or BC1 for that matter were in the immediate vicinity.
Qui invidet minor est - He who envies is the lesser man


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