CM-DS prelude : Sommerville for Spartivento

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Antonio Bonomi
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CM-DS prelude : Sommerville for Spartivento

Post by Antonio Bonomi » Fri Jan 26, 2018 12:13 pm

Hello everybody,

on his book Naval Policy between the wars - Vol. 2, on page 464 Stephen Roskill was describing Adm Pound addiction to inquiries with some examples on the footnote 1 at bottom page.

The first example was Sommerville for Cape Spartivento, during the Op. Collar of Late November 1940.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of ... partivento
After the battle, Winston Churchill demanded Somerville's scalp, having questioned the admiral's offensive spirit ever since his objections to attacking the French at Mers-el-Kébir.
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However, a board of inquiry exonerated Somerville, who enjoyed the strong support of several fellow admirals.

In summary we can very easily correlate this executed inquiry for Cape Spartivento with the Bismarck chase regrettable aftermath one that was aborted, and find all the similarities that Stephen Roskill was summarizing on his footnote.

As a personal consideration from my side I found lapidary the last Admiral A.B. Cunningham comment " ... should be continuously under the threat of finding a Board of Inquiry waiting for him ... "

But that we know was basically the state of the affairs on that moment, and the Bismarck case demonstrate it once again.

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: CM-DS prelude : Sommerville for Spartivento

Post by Alberto Virtuani » Fri Jan 26, 2018 1:55 pm

@Antonio Bonomi:
Hi Antonio,
interestingly enough, the Italian admiral who faced Somerville at Spartivento, the Chief of the Fleet (Campioni) was removed few days after the battle, together with the "Capo di Stato Maggiore" (the Italian equivalent of "First Sea Lord") Cavagnari, based on the same "imputation": not having shown enough offensive spirit, despite the fact that before the battle he had received strict orders not to engage the enemy when not in clear superiority and that he had already faced a carrier based air attack....

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)

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Re: CM-DS prelude : Sommerville for Spartivento

Post by Antonio Bonomi » Fri Jan 26, 2018 2:14 pm

Hello everybody,

@ Alberto Virtuani,

I know it well, since I am working a bit now on it while putting togheter the related chapters for Adm Holland biography book I am working on.

As I wrote above that was clearly the state of the art on that moment clearly depicted by Corelli-Barnett book text as well as underlined by Adm A.B. Cunningham clear words.

Corelli-Barnett defined it " the Jutland syndrome ", ... and maybe it is the right definition for this type of approach, ... but surely it was the standard rule on that moment that apparently no one can escape as Cunningham commented.

On December 1940 was the turn on the Mediterranean fleet, on June 1941 it was the turn of the Home Fleet to feel the taste of 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: CM-DS prelude : Sommerville for Spartivento

Post by wadinga » Fri Jan 26, 2018 2:19 pm

Hello Antonio,

Now I am the one saying what has this to do with the Bismarck? :D

This has all been covered months ago.

After the embarrassment of Lord Cork and Orrery absolving Somerville at the Board of Enquiry, and his description of the accusers as "ignorant of the facts" it was surely even less likely that Pound would jump the gun again with a threat "on arrival" before he even knew what had happened.

Churchill's demand to replace Force H's commander could not be handled by Pound's usual method of "Listen, don't be a brick wall, promise to get the reports together, and then do nothing until the PM forgets about it." Somerville was too senior. Churchill had been determined to get rid of him since the latter had protested so much over Mers-el-Kebir. The only thing which kept him in command for nearly a year since then was Pound's continued faith in his abilities.

Despite getting his favourite, Lord Cork and Orrery to head things up, and Alexander as executive to trigger the Board of Enquiry, Churchill got cold feet and tried to cancel the process when Italian propaganda denied the facts and suggested it was the British who had run away. He thought it would be best to avoid the publicity of a Board interrogating the victor. However perhaps Pound saw a golden opportunity to embarrass Churchill by giving him what he wanted, but with an enquiry that would fail, and force him to stay out of RN affairs, so the Board went ahead. Maybe he even thought of doing the same again in May 1941 but Tovey didn't understand what was going on or wouldn't play ball. :shock:

One should recognise Roskill's prejudice against Pound, by considering he personally had been on the receiving end of Pound's ire pre-war over his responsibility for letting pom-pom shells land on Malta, and seemingly later used his position as historian to get some "payback". See Brodhurst's comments.

Campioni became Deputy Chief of Staff and later Governor of the Aegean but was taken prisoner by the Mussolini faction and shot for treason in April 1944.

This thread should not be here.

All the best

wadinga
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Re: CM-DS prelude : Sommerville for Spartivento

Post by Alberto Virtuani » Fri Jan 26, 2018 2:38 pm

Wadinga wrote: "Campioni became Deputy Chief of Staff and later Governor of the Aegean but was taken prisoner by the Mussolini faction and shot for treason in April 1944. "
Hi Sean,
Campioni was clearly sacked. He left his command leaving his flagship (Vittorio Veneto) "with tears in his eyes". We know very well other cases of the "promoveatur ut amoveatur " practice both in the RM and in the RN....(e.g. wasn't Wake-Walker sitting in the board of Admiralty less than one year after the Bismarck operation ? ....)

Campioni was captured by the Germans in Rodi after the armistice (and not by the Mussolini faction), transferred to Germany and then "given back" to the R.S.I. (the republic led by Mussolini), whose representatives decided to process and to shoot him.
He got the maximum decoration in 1947 (medaglia d'oro al valore) for having refused to recognize the R.S.I. as a legitimate entity and for having refused to ask for "grace".


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)

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Re: CM-DS prelude : Sommerville for Spartivento

Post by wadinga » Fri Jan 26, 2018 2:52 pm

Hello Alberto,

You never miss an opportunity to denigrate Frederic do you?
In April 1942 he was promoted to vice-admiral and was appointed Third Sea Lord and Controller of the Navy. His main task was the creation of the huge fleet of landing craft needed to carry out the amphibious landings that began with "Operation Torch", and ended on D-Day.[3]
In 1943 Wake-Walker was appointed a Knight Commander of the Order of the Bath.
On 8 May 1945 he was promoted to full admiral, and in September was appointed Commander-in-Chief in the Mediterranean, but on 24 September 1945 he died unexpectedly at his home in London.[3]
Rest in Peace Good and Faithful Servant.

All the best

wadinga
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Re: CM-DS prelude : Sommerville for Spartivento

Post by Alberto Virtuani » Fri Jan 26, 2018 5:04 pm

Hi Sean,
should we speak about his July 1941 action with the sinking of HMS Achates for which he got the "severe displeasure" of their Lordships in January 1942, as per his personal record ?

Please, let's both respect our "gentlemen" agreement to leave apart the past (and future) actions of this officer..... :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)

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Re: CM-DS prelude : Sommerville for Spartivento

Post by dunmunro » Fri Jan 26, 2018 6:20 pm

Alberto Virtuani wrote:Hi Sean,
should we speak about his July 1941 action with the sinking of HMS Achates for which he got the "severe displeasure" of their Lordships in January 1942, as per his personal record ?

Please, let's both respect our "gentlemen" agreement to leave apart the past (and future) actions of this officer..... :wink:


Bye, Alberto
HMS Achates was sunk at Barents Sea 31/12/42.

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Re: CM-DS prelude : Sommerville for Spartivento

Post by wadinga » Fri Jan 26, 2018 6:53 pm

Hello Alberto,

Own up you started it................
"promoveatur ut amoveatur " practice
All the best

wadinga
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Re: CM-DS prelude : Sommerville for Spartivento

Post by Alberto Virtuani » Fri Jan 26, 2018 9:21 pm

Hi Duncan,
you are right, my mistake: Achates was "only" severely damaged by a mine in July 1941 (I have interpreted "mining" as equivalent to "sinking", my admiration for a solid destroyer).

Their Lordships were equally conveying their severe displeasure to Wake-Walker for it and for endangering his whole squadron on January 1941.


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)

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Re: CM-DS prelude : Sommerville for Spartivento

Post by wadinga » Fri Jan 26, 2018 9:23 pm

Hello Alberto,
Please, let's both respect our "gentlemen" agreement to leave apart the past (and future) actions of this officer
:?

All the best

wadinga
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Re: CM-DS prelude : Sommerville for Spartivento

Post by Alberto Virtuani » Fri Jan 26, 2018 9:44 pm

Hi Sean,
I have not discussed first his "actions" (if you read my words), just the decisions of the admiralty in his regard. :negative:

You did it first, mentioning the "hero" of Dunkirk and later his wonderful job with "Overlord". Are you really forgetting what you post ? I'm a bit tired of finding your nonsense and re-posting it just to show to everybody that you are wrong..... :stop:


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)

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Re: CM-DS prelude : Sommerville for Spartivento

Post by dunmunro » Fri Jan 26, 2018 9:56 pm

Alberto Virtuani wrote:Hi Duncan,
you are right, my mistake: Achates was "only" severely damaged by a mine in July 1941 (I have interpreted "mining" as equivalent to "sinking", my admiration for a solid destroyer).

Their Lordships were equally conveying their severe displeasure to Wake-Walker for it and for endangering his whole squadron on January 1941.


Bye, Alberto
W-W was commanding the covering force for Operation EF when Achates was mined. You can read about what happened in W-Ws own words here:
http://www.ibiblio.org/hyperwar/UN/UK/L ... /38300.pdf

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Re: CM-DS prelude : Sommerville for Spartivento

Post by Alberto Virtuani » Fri Jan 26, 2018 10:06 pm

Hi Duncan,
most interesting, Wake-Walker was always very good at finding excuses (as when he justified his refusal to re-engage).

However, this time, after investigation, the admiralty decided he was fully responsible and:
Wake-Walker_Achates.jpg
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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)

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Re: CM-DS prelude : Sommerville for Spartivento

Post by dunmunro » Fri Jan 26, 2018 10:21 pm

Alberto Virtuani wrote:Hi Duncan,
most interesting, Wake-Walker was always very good at finding excuses (as when he justified his refusal to re-engage).

However, this time, after investigation, the admiralty decided he was fully responsible and:
Wake-Walker_Achates.jpg
Bye, Alberto
W-W was undertaking an urgent and hazardous passage under severe conditions, over which he had no control, and he failed to be sufficiently cautious (at least we must think so) which is why he was only reprimanded in the mildest manner. OTOH, your main criticism of W-W is that he was too cautious during and after 22 May/41.

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