Cover up synopsis

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alecsandros
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Re: Cover up synopsis

Post by alecsandros » Sun Dec 11, 2016 3:56 pm

@ Cag

By withdrawing Eastwards whle the enemy was steaming hard to S-W, it naturaly follows that Prince of Wales allowed the enemy to escape into the Atlantic, as there was no speed advantage for Leach to overtake the advancing German ships.
On Prince of Wales salvo map, Bismarck suggested speed is 28kts https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/ ... y_plot.png (I don't know if this was written and drawn based on info existing in the fatefull minutes) - and if Leach knew this, he must have acknowledged that any further engagement would be left to Lady Luck.....

The intent to re-engage is clear , but this became a reality because Bismarck was forced to reduce speed.
For all Leach knew at the fatefull moment, Bismarck would have gone away. This isn't to condemn him , it is to present facts as they were at that time with that info.

With other info (hindsight), the Germans would have acted differently as well. Leach was lucky to some extent, as he escaped death at 6:01, then managed to exchange some salvos with the German battleship, before being forced to go back to Iceland for refueling. He arrived in port with almost empty fuel - that shows determination, IMHO.

@Alberto
Completely agree with you,
best regards,

Cag
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Re: Cover up synopsis

Post by Cag » Sun Dec 11, 2016 5:31 pm

Hi All

Alberto, I can also see your points and although we cannot be sure I would agree that Leach would more likely be unaware of hits on Bismarck, however with the loss of at least 3 guns and salvos seen to be falling short the chances of causing any further damage to Bismarck would be, to put it mildly, remote where as the likelihood of receiving hits were not. I concede we do not know for sure but am simply pointing out the facts.

Would this have been further reduced by continued action and further hits? Bismarck turning away would not have created any more opportunity than if Bismarck had not as the gunnery of PoW was already losing its edge.

As for Captains being condemned for doing their duty I'm afraid there are quite a few cases, the escort Captain that stopped to pick up survivors of a apparently mined ship whose ship was then sunk by torpedo was not given a gong but hauled over the coals for the loss of his ship.

Would the Bismarcks ability to roam free to sink ships not have been hampered by the fact Suffolk and Norfolk were at that point still shadowing? I understand that for PoW there was a 'possibility' that no further action would immediatly present itself but does it also not preclude the fact that the opposite would still apply and it would still be possible?

According to Wake-Walker Leach informed him that Y turret was out of action at 06.24 and that Wake-Walker informed PoW to take station at 07.20?

Hi Alecsandros again I see your points as you said the battle was brought on by deft seamanship therefore would the same use of deft seamanship not have allowed PoW to regain the chance of contact? We cannot rule out one and not the other in any scenario was not PoW capable of at least 29 knots during the chase? Was not the Bismarck still being trailed by Norfolk and Suffolk with the PoW and the Home Fleet following? Should the Home Fleet and Tovey have not continued the pursuit because their opportunity was less than that of PoW?

Please believe me I do understand your points but the Bismarck had fought off the interception, it had not escaped detection. If as we agree the intention of Captain Leach was there he must have believed that he was still capable of achieving something.

Best wishes
Cag.

alecsandros
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Re: Cover up synopsis

Post by alecsandros » Sun Dec 11, 2016 6:09 pm

... Hope of interception and re-engagement always remains.

However, Prince of Wales "estimated best speed " (by Capt Leach) was 27kts (later 26)...
It's true that the message concerning best speed was sent later , and it's probable that Capt Leach couldn't and didn't knew actual PoW best speed at the moment of withdrawal (6:02) - so couldn't have known then and there that he wouldn't have any delta speed over the expected enemy speed later on.

However, even working with 29kts speed for PoW and 28kts for Bismarck (if presuming Leach hoped - again hoped - that the enemy could not and would not go faster...) , the actual latitudes and directional vectors existing at 6:02 make a later interception highly unlikely... (the initial 5:35 interception was possible because Holland started the interception vector at 2:03 from a more southernly latitude then Luetjens. At 6:02, latitude between the 2 forces was almost identical, PoW still retained a small advantage, but that would not be enough to overtake the enemy , again, at a future moment in time).

Cag
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Re: Cover up synopsis

Post by Cag » Sun Dec 11, 2016 6:36 pm

Hi All

Again Alecsandros I understand and agree but Leach and even Lütjens had no idea what the future movements of Bismarck was to be. Norfolk and Suffolk would report to the best of their ability what it would be.

Would there have been another turn to shake off the cruisers? Would Bismarck have attempted a move to the east or west? Would a course change by Bismarck make a convergent course at some point in the future totally out of the question?

I agree neither the possibility of future interception or the lack of it were known at the point of disengagement but its possibility would have been definitely ruled out if PoW was damaged to a point where it became materially impossible.

The Home Fleet were in less of a position to deny the Atlantic to the Bismarck than the PoW but it did not stop their pursuit in their belief of changing that. The PoW continued the search for Bismarck after it had escaped detection on the 25th until it was too far north and without fuel. During this search Leach still did not give up on the possibility of further contact.

I do understand your points and am happy to as always accept your point of view.

Best wishes
Cag.

alecsandros
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Re: Cover up synopsis

Post by alecsandros » Sun Dec 11, 2016 6:50 pm

... Been thinking about this,
I think I finaly understand why there wasn't any pressure / direct order given to Leach from Tovey or higher-up to re-engage the enemy: the practical geometry of the pursuit did not allow interceptions... When Holland intercepted at 5:35, he was attacking from a more southernly latitude then Luetjens held at the time. For Leach to do the same, he would first be required to take position somewhere more south of Bismarck, while at the same time not causing concern to the Germans (that could alter course further west once clear of the ice sheet) - which was nearly impossible to do (especialy after 12:50 when maximum speed on PoW was reported at 26kts). So all Leach could do was shadow from the N-E of the enemy... Hooping for a reducement of speed, coupled (hopefully) with concentration of own forces in the area (i.e. KGV/Repulse/Victorious appearing on the battlescene). I think Tovey understood very well the practicalities of future shadowing, and thus risked HMS Victorious , barely comissioned for 10 days, to steam at high speed in front of KGV and launch a first aerial strike on the enemy..... Oddly enough, Tovey was right, Victorious did his job, Bismarck was hit and possibly suffered speed impairment, AND KGV/Repulse did pass through the expected Bismarck future course position at ~ 05:00... Only that Luetjens had already out-witted his pursuers ... His problem was he did not understand the fact that he was "free" of visual and electronic shadowing.....

Thanks for a very intersting discussion,
Best regards,

dunmunro
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Re: Cover up synopsis

Post by dunmunro » Sun Dec 11, 2016 8:13 pm

alecsandros wrote:... Hope of interception and re-engagement always remains.

However, Prince of Wales "estimated best speed " (by Capt Leach) was 27kts (later 26)...
It's true that the message concerning best speed was sent later , and it's probable that Capt Leach couldn't and didn't knew actual PoW best speed at the moment of withdrawal (6:02) - so couldn't have known then and there that he wouldn't have any delta speed over the expected enemy speed later on.

However, even working with 29kts speed for PoW and 28kts for Bismarck (if presuming Leach hoped - again hoped - that the enemy could not and would not go faster...) , the actual latitudes and directional vectors existing at 6:02 make a later interception highly unlikely... (the initial 5:35 interception was possible because Holland started the interception vector at 2:03 from a more southernly latitude then Luetjens. At 6:02, latitude between the 2 forces was almost identical, PoW still retained a small advantage, but that would not be enough to overtake the enemy , again, at a future moment in time).
Leach must have been stating his maximum indefinitely sustainable speeds as PoW averaged 28.5 knots (along with the requisite RPM being greater than attained on trials) from 0600-0900 according to her log. But her speed advantage, as you say, was still minimal.

alecsandros
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Re: Cover up synopsis

Post by alecsandros » Sun Dec 11, 2016 8:30 pm

Thanks for the log info, I did not knew that.
However, Capt Leach must have known it. Perhaps the speed measured on the water surface was 27/26, but the machinery was doing revolutions for 28.5 ? (I'm thinking some problems from the underwater holes caused by German shell hits under the waterline... but it must be something else as well, as maximum speed transmitted at 12:43 was 26kts, down from best speed of 27kts earlier in the morning - and that despite they pumped out most of the water leakage caused by the underwater hits. Maybe a sea-current going against PoW direction of pursuit ?)

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Alberto Virtuani
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Re: Cover up synopsis

Post by Alberto Virtuani » Mon Dec 12, 2016 10:05 am

Hi all,
despite these very interesting discussions, I would like to come back to the thread topic. We can debate forever about the possible outcome of a prolonged fire action after 6:02, about the chances of PoW gunnery to regain the target (after avoiding Hood) vs those of Bismarck gunnery to hit again the enemy after the hard turns started at 6:03, about the possible outcome of an inquiry against Leach for risking/damaging/loosing his ship in action (following anyway Holland's last orders.....) and even about the opportunity/feasibility to re-engage when Bismarck was considered undamaged at 6:01 (at disengagement decision time) and later when she was relented by the hits and about W-W decision not to try such a re-engagement.......


What is absolutely clear is that, if Leach decision was appearing as 100% in line with his orders, duty and expected behavior, Adm Tovey would not have been forced first to add the word "temporarily" in his May 30 report (well before Leach's own, much softer, "pending a more favorable opportunity" of June 4) and finally to add 12 minutes, before the order to disengage, and to astutely insert the jamming of the Y turret among the other battle damages, sustained before the decision to break off action, in his "shameful" despatches point 19, in order to be able to present to Their Lordships a story that they could approve, based on the RN consolidated criteria and demanding standards.

The "embellishment" of the story (or "cover-up") is a clear demonstration that Capt.Leach's version was not considered sufficient to fully enable the (correctly) decided celebration of an important victory, even if someone in this forum is not ready yet (after 75+ years) to plainly admit what happened in this "case", and still prefers to trust L.Kennedy version based on the above point 19, instead of the Admiralty corrected (but secreted....) version of 1948 Battle Summary No.5. :wink:


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)

alecsandros
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Re: Cover up synopsis

Post by alecsandros » Mon Dec 12, 2016 10:55 am

Hi Alberto,
Agreed, as usual :)
I'd like also to kindly ask everyone who is reading this line of reasoning to take a look, in this light, at points 25 and 26 of Adm. Tovey's dispatch.

Best,

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Re: Cover up synopsis

Post by Byron Angel » Mon Dec 12, 2016 6:03 pm

alecsandros wrote: Perhaps the speed measured on the water surface was 27/26, but the machinery was doing revolutions for 28.5 ? (I'm thinking some problems from the underwater holes caused by German shell hits under the waterline... but it must be something else as well, as maximum speed transmitted at 12:43 was 26kts, down from best speed of 27kts earlier in the morning -
..... Could also have been a function of surface current and/or headwinds.

B

dunmunro
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Re: Cover up synopsis

Post by dunmunro » Mon Dec 12, 2016 6:45 pm

The relevant log entries include "distance run through the water" and mean shaft RPM. The shaft RPM is consistent with the "distance run through the water". The track charts of PoW and Norfolk show that PoW had a greater "distance run through the water" via a zig-zag course during the time frame in question, when Norfolk averaged 28 knots.

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Re: Cover up synopsis

Post by alecsandros » Mon Dec 12, 2016 8:38 pm

The more I read about this battle the less I understand about it. :whistle:

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Re: Cover up synopsis

Post by dunmunro » Mon Dec 12, 2016 10:01 pm

alecsandros wrote:The more I read about this battle the less I understand about it. :whistle:
PoW transmitted radio messages where Leach made statements that did not fully correspond to the actual tactical capabilities of PoW. This is an example of how one cannot rigidly and narrowly interpret statements. The explanation seems likely to be that Leach was giving information to Tovey and the Admiralty about PoW's ability to make strategic transits rather than tactically attainable speeds in a narrow timeframe.

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Re: Cover up synopsis

Post by alecsandros » Tue Dec 13, 2016 6:38 am

It's a possible interpretation.
What is interesting is that the second message transmitted less maximum speed then the first message.

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Re: Cover up synopsis

Post by Cag » Thu Dec 15, 2016 4:46 pm

Hi All

Sorry I have not posted recently I'm afraid there has been a death in my extended family and so other things have taken precedence as you can imagine.

Hi Alecsandros the fluctuations in speed are evident in PoW log as early on after the battle she logs speed at 27 knots up to about 09.38 when it drops to 26 knots which fits with her 10.07 message.

At 10.25 it drops again to 25 knots but just before midday again rises to 27 and on up to 29 knots (perhaps her full speed as noted in her log at 05.05 that morning?) by 12.26. After 7 minutes at this speed it drops again to 27 knots and then in the afternoon the ships zig zag and the speed drops to 24 knots.

I presume as you say this was due to on going repair and pumping out of certain flooded compartments or indeed flooding of her SPS compartments to right any list. As Dunmonro suggests it may be her best transit speed and would bow to his expertise on this subject. I hope this helps
Best wishes
Cag

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