The Court Martial for the Denmark Strait

Discussions about the history of the ship, technical details, etc.

Moderator: Bill Jurens

Cag
Senior Member
Posts: 577
Joined: Wed Sep 30, 2015 9:53 am

Re: The Court Martial for the Denmark Strait

Post by Cag » Mon Nov 20, 2017 2:22 pm

Hi All

Having spent all morning reading Roskills files and with a wad of yellow papered notes I've decided to chip in here using the archive WiFi.

Obviously I can't reveal details due to copyright and also out of respect to the wishes of those who wrote to Roskill, but I am able to access these files and therefore anyone can, and I will let you know all I can once I've correlated my notes but the file does contain a lot of info and importantly some surprises.

One thing I will say is, Alberto you do make me laugh with your comments! You cannot resist a little dig can you? Haha!

Please I really dont wish to believe that an educated man like yourself considers people who clearly post when they accept fact as fact but then when they will accept an opinion or an inference or an imagined idea of what someone else may have thought etc but not accept it being promoted as a cast iron fact, as deniers? Please tell me that is not the case.

For example I hope I have shown that the specified case against these men would have been arguably hard to win, when you argue against this I do not call you a denier, nor when we discuss the battle map and disagree or as regards the salvo chart your opinion is accepted and others are in fact modified.

I will pass on what I learn but for now back to the reading and note taking. There are over 250 pieces of evidence which covers all aspects of the operation.

Best wishes
Cag.

User avatar
Alberto Virtuani
Senior Member
Posts: 3607
Joined: Mon Jul 08, 2013 8:22 am
Location: Milan (Italy)

Re: The Court Martial for the Denmark Strait

Post by Alberto Virtuani » Mon Nov 20, 2017 3:08 pm

Hi Mr.Cag,
I must say YOU make me laugh (your nice words, that I attribuite to the same "shock" as Sean) with your comment..... to what do you refer, please ? Can you refer clearly to my statement you disagree with, quoting it ?
I have NOT spoken of the possible outcome of the proposed Court Martial, as you stubbornly insist on, I have my opinion you have your one, funny as it can be. Nobody can say how it would have been, if celebrated, despite your opinion. :negative:

Thanks in advance

Alberto

P.S. I do hope you will be able to post something new and more relevant after your visit to the Churchill Archives.
"It takes three years to build a ship; it takes three centuries to build a tradition" (Adm.A.B.Cunningham)

"There's always a danger running in the enemy at close range" (Adm.W.F.Wake-Walker)

Cag
Senior Member
Posts: 577
Joined: Wed Sep 30, 2015 9:53 am

Re: The Court Martial for the Denmark Strait

Post by Cag » Mon Nov 20, 2017 4:48 pm

Hi All

Well Alberto again you've made me laugh!

I quote " No one of the 'ones who deny at all evidence at any cost' has ever admitted with dignity that he was wrong, in all these years even when convicted by simple geometry. It would have been surprising the contrary. At least Sean was courageous enough to try an hopeless defence instead of disappearing or not answering your questions.....or just complaining about a lack of fair play...... :negative:

Not an example of another liitle dig? Haha.

As I say perhaps accepting fact is easy, accepting opinion is easy, accepting anyones opinion who's calling it a fact may be for some a tad hard and applies to all.

So back to more relevant matters, as I'm on the train I can say that there were If I remember correctly five letters to Roskill from Tovey and one to a Roger Bellairs between the years 1950 and 1962. There are letters from McMullen regarding the battle and one from 1962 regarding Tovey. I'll give a copyright censored account once at home and correlated but of course you're all free to see it for yourself.

From what I saw Roskill investigated the famous tow home signal and actually found it. But it is worded very differently to the one Tovey mentions and also the one he found was sent much later than when Tovey thought he received it.

I will say that this simple statement is not meant to suggest anything at all, infer anything, but is a statement of fact as regards Roskills research.

There are letters from someone who was in the Admiralty operations room during the operation which give the general opinions of the operation. There are letters from participating Captains regarding certain aspects of the battle.

There are photocopies of letters from other sources regarding the DS battle inc Vickers workers which reveal a great deal and there are appraisals of battle tactics by the RN staff college and also the RN tactical school.

I'll post what I can when I can. I've had to take time off work to do this so that needs to be caught up on first!

Best wishes
Cag.

User avatar
wadinga
Senior Member
Posts: 2069
Joined: Sat Mar 12, 2005 3:49 pm
Location: Tonbridge England

Re: The Court Martial for the Denmark Strait

Post by wadinga » Mon Nov 20, 2017 6:43 pm

Hello Alberto,

It was always obvious that there had to be some microscopic germ from which Tovey has imagined up into a serious proposal by the First Sea Lord to CM two of his subordinate officers, which he heroically quashed. In the story he told. :cool:

He misremembered when the towing signal was received and he misremembered being instructed to pursue to the coast of France. They were misrememberings associated with things that happened. Roskill was well aware of these misrememberings. There was concrete proof available in 1954 that Tovey was wrong about these matters. What Roskill was also clearly aware of is that there was no evidence the CMDS story occurred other than Tovey's statement. Which is why he sat on it for 20 years. Until the temptation to have an extra dig at Pound and WSC became too great, especially when it could be hidden under another writer's byline. My take on what has been revealed from the letters so far, (I think we can rely on Cag to give us all the relevant information) is that Roskill realised to his horror that Kennedy had given the CMDS business more prominence- and more investigation, than Roskill had.

You have not accepted that, from the quote you yourself supplied, Roskill said Pound often made such threats and in only one or two cases, I supplied two- both of which involved the loss of the CM defendant's own vessel, did such proceedings take place. A threat not acted on is insignificant, and unworthy of consideration, as is one so summarily abandoned at the very first sign of resistance.

You have itemised
the May 24 message sent to Wake_Walker by the Admiralty regarding his intentions to re-engage (and W-W feelings about it),
Completely negated by Pound's congratulatory "Admirable" message sent later.
W.Churchill comments on May 25 ("the worst thing since Troubridge turned away from the Goeben in 1914")
We have already established that half this quote refers to Cunningham's actions off Crete, not to the Bismarck Chase anyway. It is negated by Churchill's (or anyone else's) lack of interest in following up Pound's inaccurate, incomplete interim report.
the comments from Pound at the Cabinet on May 26 ("The PoW had then broken off action. Whether or not she had been right in doing so could not be judged on the information so far available")
See above.

Cag Solid research work. :clap: :clap: :clap: It is a pleasure to see somebody bringing fresh information instead of blowing their own trumpet about what they have "discovered", denigrating others' efforts by declaring them "losers" and trying to prematurely close matters down to stifle any new information. I have seen a letter from Roger Bellairs in 205/10.

Although it belongs in another thread, I cannot wait to see the Vickers' technicians' information after the imaginative efforts to pretend that here was nothing wrong with PoW's guns.

To understand the complexity of Pound's situation, dealing with Churchill as overbearing Prime Minister, and constantly tempted to interfere by radio with operational matters over the heads of his commanders, even when inadequately informed, should try and get access to Robin Brodhurst's comprehensive biography of Pound. "Churchill's Anchor".

All the best

wadinga
"There seems to be something wrong with our bloody ships today!"

User avatar
Alberto Virtuani
Senior Member
Posts: 3607
Joined: Mon Jul 08, 2013 8:22 am
Location: Milan (Italy)

Re: The Court Martial for the Denmark Strait

Post by Alberto Virtuani » Mon Nov 20, 2017 7:32 pm

Wadinga wrote (my bold): "It was always obvious that there had to be some microscopic germ from which Tovey has imagined up into a serious proposal by the First Sea Lord to CM two of his subordinate officers"
Hi Sean,
I see that there nothing that will convince you to look at the reality after more than 2 years and half from your first post in this same thread, where you wrote TOTALLY INCORRECTLY, contradicting what you say above:
Wadinga wrote on 23 march 2015 (my bold/underlined): "This imaginary Court Martial wasn't mentioned to Roskill by Tovey until the 1960s, the official RN historian having discovered nothing in the previous 20 years despite having access to all sorts of documentation."
No other comment is needed about your side taken approach "a priori" and your reluctance to admit that YOU WERE SIMPLY WRONG since the beginning of this discussion..... :negative:


The ONLY important point of this thread, accepted now by everybody including you, is that a threat of a Court Martial was actually done and that Tovey was considered FULLY reliable by the RN historian, S.Roskill.

The above are both demonstrated and THE CASE IS CLOSED.


Bye, Alberto
"It takes three years to build a ship; it takes three centuries to build a tradition" (Adm.A.B.Cunningham)

"There's always a danger running in the enemy at close range" (Adm.W.F.Wake-Walker)

Cag
Senior Member
Posts: 577
Joined: Wed Sep 30, 2015 9:53 am

Re: The Court Martial for the Denmark Strait

Post by Cag » Mon Nov 20, 2017 10:17 pm

Hi All

I am going to try and give you what I can without breaking copyright law. At the archives as is the case with most others you are only allowed to use pencil and their yellow coloured paper to take notes. You have to pay for prints or photography.

I will attempt to give info from notes but please contact the CA if you require detailled info. I will remain impartial and present the info without opinion or implying anything or jumping to conclusions from information found. There are six letters from 1950 to 1962.

There are mostly replies by the C in C Tovey to letters from the author Roskill. There is one to Bellairs.

An early one is in reply to one from the author concerning a question of looking at the authors on going work, in reply he talks about the work load he already had. There is a suggestion instead of talking to his old staff officer and to ask him for help. If this isn't possible or if needs be the author can send his work to him personally to look at but advises that he never kept a diary and so it would be dependant on his not very good memory.

There is also a letter in reply to the other man mentioned above. With comments on the admiralty attitude shown during the Bismarck operation. There is a mention of the 'towing' signal sent and the apology by the 1st Sea Lord after his arrival back. Comparison of the resultant disaster that would have followed to that of lost ships in the far east.

To another letter from the author he replies he was still not looking for work but if the author sends his work to him he will look at it making notes but is busy at present.

In another reply to an authors letter he had not read the authors work. There is mention again of the France tow home signal, and comments on it. He recounts again that the 1st Sea Lord apologised on his return for the signal. He also recounts his battleship availability at this time and he recounts the decision made regarding his intentions if the Swordfish attack on BS failed. There was no wish by him now to criticize those concerned.

He replies to another letter from the author regarding his new book. It includes again the telephone conversation with the 1st Sea Lord and the apology for the tow signal. He also recounts the story of the 1st Sea Lord wanting VACS1and the captain of the PoW being brought to trial by the C in C for not re engaging Bismarck and the C in C explained the action taken was what he required and the threat of Bismarck being forced further West. The already known info that the C in C would not bring them to trial and if the Admiralty ordered him to he would resign etc is contained in the letter. There was no wish by him for this to become public now as he would not want either VACS1 or the 1st Sea Lord unfairly criticized.

The last letter he thanks the author for letting him see his articles on the 1st Sea Lord. He does mention the towing signal again and its contents (there is a note by the author that it is not the signal the Admiralty actually sent). He finishes by replying to what must have been a question by the author that again that there was nothing to gain from reference to the VACS1 incident and prefer it not to be used out of respect to the 1st Sea Lord and VACS1 who could now not respond.

There is also a letter from PoW gunnery officer in which as far as he can remember the C in C talked about the admiralty wanting to court martial VACS1 for the charge already mentioned here of not re engaging after the morning action in which Hood was sunk. He recalls his response to the 1st Sea Lord etc etc including the inadvisability of re engaging with PoW and pushing Bismarck to the west and that VACS1 shadowing tactics were what he wanted.

The last three ones are all written in the 1960's.

Hope this helps
Best wishes
Cag.
Last edited by Cag on Mon Nov 20, 2017 11:40 pm, edited 6 times in total.

paul.mercer
Senior Member
Posts: 904
Joined: Fri Mar 26, 2010 10:25 pm

Re: The Court Martial for the Denmark Strait

Post by paul.mercer » Mon Nov 20, 2017 11:13 pm

Gentlemen,
I believe that Rodney also had a Captain Coppinger on board who was getting a lift to the States to pick up his ship during the final battle. As a full Captain He may well have had some part in the discussions that took place on board before and after the battle, i wonder if he left any notes or comments on the threatened court martial?

Kev D
Member
Posts: 56
Joined: Mon Jul 25, 2016 5:27 am
Contact:

Re: The Court Martial for the Denmark Strait

Post by Kev D » Tue Nov 21, 2017 7:33 am

To add some brevity to the discussion I say everybody here needs a good court martialing! :D Or :stubborn:
We are off to look for trouble. I expect we shall find it.” Capt. Tennant. HMS Repulse. Dec. 8 1941
A review of the situation at about 1100 was not encouraging.” Capt. Gordon, HMS Exeter. 1 March 1942

User avatar
Herr Nilsson
Senior Member
Posts: 1439
Joined: Thu Oct 21, 2004 11:19 am
Location: Germany

Re: The Court Martial for the Denmark Strait

Post by Herr Nilsson » Tue Nov 21, 2017 7:34 am

@Cag

Thanks for sharing. :clap:
Is there any further information when the telephone conversation between Pound and Tovey took place?
Regards

Marc

"Thank God we blow up and sink more easily." (unknown officer from HMS Norfolk)

User avatar
Alberto Virtuani
Senior Member
Posts: 3607
Joined: Mon Jul 08, 2013 8:22 am
Location: Milan (Italy)

Re: The Court Martial for the Denmark Strait

Post by Alberto Virtuani » Tue Nov 21, 2017 9:31 am

@Cag,
thanks a lot for sharing also from my side ! :clap:

Can you please tell us whether there is a date on McMullen letter you refer to ?


Bye, Alberto
"It takes three years to build a ship; it takes three centuries to build a tradition" (Adm.A.B.Cunningham)

"There's always a danger running in the enemy at close range" (Adm.W.F.Wake-Walker)

Cag
Senior Member
Posts: 577
Joined: Wed Sep 30, 2015 9:53 am

Re: The Court Martial for the Denmark Strait

Post by Cag » Tue Nov 21, 2017 10:25 am

Hi All

Hi Kev D sadly I'm afraid I agree with your sentiments.

Hi Herr Nilsson no there are no dates, as we know from the books it was after he returned from the operation. The conversation happened and he heard no more about it.

Hi Alberto, there is a date on the letter of 1962. If it helps I would say that the file is available and not closed, why the others are I'm not sure but this one is not so you may be able to access it.

As for me I've given as much info as I can without breaking copyright, the files are there and available for anyone to see or have copied. To be perfectly honest after all this and just at the moment I'm not really sure what is being done here, what people's motives or agendas are for what they do, or what is actually wanting to be achieved.

Reading the letters showed a very private man who had strong beliefs, who did not want the memories of others brought into question unfairly, yet we here seem quite happy to do just that which is very sad. If the gentleman directly involved thinks it would serve no purpose and would be unfair to all, who am I to disagree?

From reading the literature we already have we know Tovey remembered a threat, we also know that a court martial was not proceeded with. If you visit the Archive and read the files you will see support from other sources for all officers actions who either faced court martial threats or had their actions called into question, and by whom.

I have not, and will not comment on the state of Toveys memory, as I have no way of assessing it and I will not speculate or imagine, snd really nor do I want to. You cannot tell from a letter.

I hope the above has helped although to be honest I doubt it. We have debate after debate here without anything actually ever being resolved, only two views each with their merits, I could go on but believe it would make no difference.

Best wishes
Cag.

User avatar
Alberto Virtuani
Senior Member
Posts: 3607
Joined: Mon Jul 08, 2013 8:22 am
Location: Milan (Italy)

Re: The Court Martial for the Denmark Strait

Post by Alberto Virtuani » Tue Nov 21, 2017 11:12 am

Hi Mr.Cag,
thanks for the info, I would agree on everything you say regarding Tovey attention to involve anyone in polemics.

Me too, I have some letters from Tovey to Roskill, dated 1961, regarding other matters than the Bismarck in which his sentiments toward the "Service we have so loved to serve and serve in" and others in which his reluctance in involving dead men is very evident.

However, trying to reconstruct history, I would say that "open" documents can be referenced to, at a distance of more than 75 years from the event and when everyone involved is dead since a while, including Tovey and Roskill themselves.


Bye, Alberto
"It takes three years to build a ship; it takes three centuries to build a tradition" (Adm.A.B.Cunningham)

"There's always a danger running in the enemy at close range" (Adm.W.F.Wake-Walker)

User avatar
Antonio Bonomi
Senior Member
Posts: 3800
Joined: Mon Oct 18, 2004 10:44 am
Location: Vimercate ( Milano ) - Italy

Re: The Court Martial for the Denmark Strait

Post by Antonio Bonomi » Tue Nov 21, 2017 1:37 pm

Hello everybody,

@ CAG,

a very good job, ... BRAVO ! ... and thanks for the information you have provided, ... :clap:

The historical truth should not be a problem for anybody, especially 76 years after the events and with no one still alive.

Now, merging the information from the Cambridge Churchill archives and the ones contained into the Adm 205/10 into the Public Record Office ( PRO ) in Kew-London, ... and adding them to all the facts and the events we already know about, ... we will finally be able to write a more correct version of this story, .. from the beginning until the end of it.

In fact, it does not take much now to correlate those events with the ones occurred after directly connected with the Officers involved until their final rewarding on September 1941.

But we already know this part of the story, ... :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 )

User avatar
wadinga
Senior Member
Posts: 2069
Joined: Sat Mar 12, 2005 3:49 pm
Location: Tonbridge England

Re: The Court Martial for the Denmark Strait

Post by wadinga » Tue Nov 21, 2017 2:23 pm

Hello Cag,

An excellent round-up :clap: :clap: :clap: thank you for doing this research and bringing information to the fore.

It is interesting that Tovey is so sensitive over the memories of W-Walker and Pound in telling Roskill about the CMDS threat, but apparently not wanting it published. After the decision to push through the Mers-el-Kebir attack against the advice of Somerville, Cunningham and North, dismissing Dudley North, putting the Board on Somerville, unrealistic demands of Cunningham over Crete and issuing the scatter order to PQ 17 against Tovey's wishes etc etc etc Pound comes in for considerable criticism from Roskill even in the HMSO published War at Sea, so a little additional opprobrium over the CMDS matter would amount to nothing.

That phone call.

We have already long established there are two versions of the CMDS threat. One has it that this was in a phone call on arrival at Scapa Flow of which obviously no written record or independent witness exists. From the dates on interim reports from vessel commanders I saw at Kew, some of these were transmitted from ships still on their way to harbour, but there would be scant time to evaluate and decide that there was a CM case to be made. I believe the phone call was actually dominated by Tovey's annoyance over the stupid "run-out of fuel" message.

The other version has it that after viewing all the plans and reports (ie after some time) Pound decided there was a CM case and contacted Tovey and was rebutted. There is apparently no evidence of such an evaluation with such recommendations happening.

The additional third option is mentioned in the otherwise excellent Churchill's Anchor, which despite my endorsement I consider has some glaring problems. Brodhurst parrots the CMDS story without any citation, even including the identifying phase "no more was heard of this". He has cited several examples of Pound's intemperate behaviour, but offers no comment here. Brodhurst says "after the action Pound wrote to Tovey, demanding Wake-Walker and Leach be court-martialled for not re-engaging Bismarck." If this were true, it is surprising no documentary evidence exists and anyway this contradicts Tovey's phone call version(s).
The last letter he thanks the author for letting him see his articles on the 1st Sea Lord. He does mention the towing signal again and its contents (there is a note by the author that it is not the signal the Admiralty actually sent). He finishes by replying to what must have been a question by the author that again that there was nothing to gain from reference to the VACS1 incident and prefer it not to be used out of respect to the 1st Sea Lord and VACS1 who could now not respond.
Am I correct that this is one of the 1960s letters where Roskill was writing for the Sunday Times? This is a series of articles which when revised and combined would become Churchill and the Admirals? What is the difference between allowing the "towing signal" incident to become public knowledge, which shows Pound in a bad light, and the CMDS story which is equally damning?

Cag can you also confirm this :
but advises that he never kept a diary and so it would be dependant on his not very good memory.
refers to Tovey?

In the last two years we have discovered, and it has recently been confirmed, that Tovey gave several bits of unreliable information to Roskill in 1954. Because I do not have an entrenched attitude I can assimilate new information. :D I am not trying to sell an associated fantastical theory of Conspiracy. :cool:

All the best

wadinga
"There seems to be something wrong with our bloody ships today!"

User avatar
Antonio Bonomi
Senior Member
Posts: 3800
Joined: Mon Oct 18, 2004 10:44 am
Location: Vimercate ( Milano ) - Italy

Re: The Court Martial for the Denmark Strait

Post by Antonio Bonomi » Tue Nov 21, 2017 5:01 pm

Hello everybody,

@ all,

I love this correlation :
A full report would also be made regarding certain aspects of the action which, PRIMA FACIE, seemed to require explanation.
with this one :
Some explanation remains to be made as to my decision to break off the engagement after the sinking of H.M.S. "Hood ...
Now everything is easy to be understood, ... very easy especially after having realized why Adm Tovey did what he did, ... and why Stephen Roskill did not disclose the facts, ... based on his request.

Easy, very easy for the ones that love to understand while re-constructing historical facts ... :wink:

Note : Prima Facie adjective [ before noun ] at first sight (= based on what seems to be the truth when first seen or heard)

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 )

Locked