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Admiralty War Diary, 22-28 May 1941

Posted: Wed Jan 09, 2019 6:01 am
by José M. Rico
Hello all,

I began to transcribe the Admiralty War Diary regarding the Bismarck operations into HTML language. It is now presented in a format that is easier to read and understand. Some sections including the 22-23 May part are still missing, but the "operations" part from 24-28 May is already in the website here:

http://www.kbismarck.com/admiralty-war-diary.html

I managed to figure out some of the acronyms used in the original document, but others I just don't know. Can anybody help?

1st S.L. = First Sea Lord.
1.C.S. = First Cruiser Squadron
2.C.S. = Second Cruiser Squadron
F.O.S. = Flag Officer Submarines
R.A.D. H.F. = Rear Admiral Destroyer Home Fleet
C. in C. W.A.= C. in C. Western Approaches???

V.C.N.S.= ????
A.C.N.S. H. = ????
D.O.D. H. = ????
D.S.D. = ????
D.D.I.C = ???

Thanks to "dunmunro" for providing a copy of the original document.

Best,

José

Re: Admiralty War Diary, 22-28 May 1941

Posted: Wed Jan 09, 2019 10:06 am
by Alberto Virtuani
Hi Jose,
V.C.N.S. = Vice Chief of the Naval Staff = Tom Phillips (during the Operation)
A.C.N.S. H. = Assistant Chief of the Naval Staff (Home) = Rear.Adm Power
No clue about the others...


Bye, Alberto

Re: Admiralty War Diary, 22-28 May 1941

Posted: Wed Jan 09, 2019 11:54 am
by OpanaPointer
For the really ... difficult ... documents I've used voice recognition over OCR or just retyping the documents. The process is at the point where it makes fewer mistakes. For speckled* documents it beats FineReader hands down.


*Many documents were printed on green paper, "file copy", and have been copied too many times for a mere computer to deal with.

Re: Admiralty War Diary, 22-28 May 1941

Posted: Wed Jan 09, 2019 12:48 pm
by wadinga
Hello Jose,

From my information in the "1941 Criticism of Royal Navy Officers' tactics" thread,

viewtopic.php?f=1&t=8249&start=60

which covers some of these signals:
Tovey was sent "Take all forces of Home Fleet, also Rodney and Ramillies under your orders." by Captain Edwards, Director of Operations Division DOD(H) at 08:36B/25 and apparently repeated at 10:48B.
Captain Edwards was the real life character to whom Kenneth More's performance in "Sink the Bismarck" was definitely "purely incidental".
D.D.I.C was Deputy Director for Intelligence Centre Admiral "Jock" Clayton who was the one who recommended at least three months' specialist experience as a D/F plotter before achieving reliable results.
I attempted, with valuable contributions from Dunmunro and Herr Nilsson, to illustrate how various individuals and divisions within the Admiralty overrode, contradicted and confused each other during the Bismarck Chase. These are highlighted in the signal record.

D.S.D was the British Radio Interception service, also called Y-Stations, which intercepted German radio signals and did direction finding from onshore locations. It was lead by Commander Humphrey Sandwith and worked closely with the N.I.D- Naval Intelligence Department associated with Bletchley Park's work on German codes as well as administrating British Naval codes.

C in C Western Approaches was Sir Percy Noble, based in Derby House, Liverpool. As Bismarck moved south into his area, convoy threat and reallocation of some of his convoy escorts to the chase meant he was involved.


All the best

wadinga

Re: Admiralty War Diary, 22-28 May 1941

Posted: Wed Jan 09, 2019 8:56 pm
by wadinga
Hello Jose,

Supplied by Dunmunro-
This is extracted from the 1942 edition of Battle Summary 5:
Recorded in a footnote
37. “Proceed on assumption enemy turned towards Brest.” Received Norfolk 1045/ 25.
This message does not apparently appear in the Admiralty Diary, (can any record be found?) but suggests somebody, VCNS?, giving direct instructions to Wake-Walker, just as were given to Dalrymple-Hamilton, based on current Admiralty opinion, but countermanded shortly afterwards by Tovey's 10:47B. Suffolk's narrative confirms that as a Home Fleet ship she proceeded in line with Tovey's instruction.

Thanks for transcribing the listing.

All the best

wadinga

Re: Admiralty War Diary, 22-28 May 1941

Posted: Wed Jan 09, 2019 9:54 pm
by dunmunro
As promised this is the relevant pages from the AWD for 22-23 May 1941:

http://www.sfu.ca/~dmunro/images/Bismarckops_22_23.pdf

Re: Admiralty War Diary, 22-28 May 1941

Posted: Thu Jan 10, 2019 5:03 pm
by José M. Rico
Thank you guys for your help! :ok:
wadinga wrote:
Wed Jan 09, 2019 8:56 pm
37. “Proceed on assumption enemy turned towards Brest.” Received Norfolk 1045/ 25.
This message does not apparently appear in the Admiralty Diary, (can any record be found?) but suggests somebody, VCNS?, giving direct instructions to Wake-Walker, just as were given to Dalrymple-Hamilton, based on current Admiralty opinion, but countermanded shortly afterwards by Tovey's 10:47B. Suffolk's narrative confirms that as a Home Fleet ship she proceeded in line with Tovey's instruction.
That's not the only message missing in the Admiralty War Diary. I have already found another dozen or so from other sources.
I'm now considering adding all of them together in the same file.
dunmunro wrote:
Wed Jan 09, 2019 9:54 pm
As promised this is the relevant pages from the AWD for 22-23 May 1941:

http://www.sfu.ca/~dmunro/images/Bismarckops_22_23.pdf
Great! I downloaded the file and will take a look asap.

Re: Admiralty War Diary, 22-28 May 1941

Posted: Thu Jan 10, 2019 7:16 pm
by José M. Rico
The Germans were able to intercept some of the British messages sent during Rheinübung, and it is interesting to note that some of the intercepted messages are not included in the Admiralty War Diary. The radio traffic during the chase of the Bismarck was huge, so they must have only included the most relevant ones in the Admiralty report.

http://www.kbismarck.com/archives/telegram4.html

http://www.kbismarck.com/admiralty-war-diary.html

Re: Admiralty War Diary, 22-28 May 1941

Posted: Sun Jan 13, 2019 10:40 am
by wadinga
Hello Jose,

The collation of all material in one sequence would be extremely valuable and much appreciated. As became clear recently with a typescript message Antonio supplied, precise source still unclear, some of the material was unfortunately truncated or poorly copied when vessel logs, departmental summaries and final collations were put together, which may create distortion. Also since 1941 radio in high latitudes was subject to atmospheric conditions some signals were simply not received and are therefore unrecorded.

We now have indications that the Supermarina were also picking up and decoding British radio traffic involved in the Bismarck Chase, which is not really surprising since there was an attempt of co-ordination from 1940 onwards when the Italian base at Bordeaux (Betacom) was established for the Italian submarine force which was supposed to integrate with U-boat operations. The degree to which intelligence was exchanged should have been extensive since it was only after May 1941 that Doenitz apparently decided the Italian submarines were better used independently away from the North Atlantic battleground in the Middle and South Atlantic. Source apps.dtic.mil/dtic/tr/fulltext/u2/a613508.pdf KEVIN M. MOELLER, LCDR, USN M.S., Naval Post Graduate School, Monterey, California, 2010
and it is interesting to note that some of the intercepted messages are not included in the Admiralty War Diary. The radio traffic during the chase of the Bismarck was huge, so they must have only included the most relevant ones in the Admiralty report.
When the task of collation is complete I expect we shall have to address allegations that any errors or omissions were somehow deliberate, for politically motivated reasons.


All the best

wadinga

Re: Admiralty War Diary, 22-28 May 1941

Posted: Sat May 11, 2019 8:20 pm
by José M. Rico
I have more or less finished transcribing the Admiralty War Diary regarding the Bismarck operations from 22-28 May. The "SITUATION REPORT" from 24 May was missing in the copy that Dunmunro provided but hopefully we will find that in the future. Also interesting would be the diary part from 20-21 May.
I have also started to add other relevant messages (those in yellow background) that were not included in the original Admiralty War Diary.
All comments, modifications, etc. made by the editor (that is me!) are within brackets [...].

http://www.kbismarck.com/admiralty-war-diary.html

Re: Admiralty War Diary, 22-28 May 1941

Posted: Sun May 12, 2019 12:24 am
by dunmunro
José M. Rico wrote:
Sat May 11, 2019 8:20 pm
I have more or less finished transcribing the Admiralty War Diary regarding the Bismarck operations from 22-28 May. The "SITUATION REPORT" from 24 May was missing in the copy that Dunmunro provided but hopefully we will find that in the future. Also interesting would be the diary part from 20-21 May.
I have also started to add other relevant messages (those in yellow background) that were not included in the original Admiralty War Diary.
All comments, modifications, etc. made by the editor (that is me!) are within brackets [...].

http://www.kbismarck.com/admiralty-war-diary.html
OK, I should have a PDF with those pages posted tomorrow. Each day in the AWD consists of many pages and it's easy to overlook pages, that at first glance, don't appear relevant to the hunt for Bismarck.

Re: Admiralty War Diary, 22-28 May 1941

Posted: Sun May 12, 2019 3:46 am
by dunmunro
Here it is:

http://www.sfu.ca/~dmunro/images/Bismarck_ops3a.pdf

thanks for transcribing all that data.

Re: Admiralty War Diary, 22-28 May 1941

Posted: Sun May 12, 2019 7:07 pm
by José M. Rico
Thank you for providing the document.
Everything transcribed already. I have left out the material not related with the Bismarck operations.

Re: Admiralty War Diary, 22-28 May 1941

Posted: Mon May 13, 2019 10:28 am
by dunmunro
This should probably go in as well:
24.5.1941

Oilers Disposition

1 (a) Oiler CAIRNDALE fitted for oiling
at sea, and with scuttling charges has
been sailed from Gibraltar to patrol on
a line 60 miles 225° from 43° 35°.

1 (b) Severn will escort CAIRNDALE who is
expected to reach the patrol line about
31/5.

2. Oiler is being sent to St. Johns, N.F.
Capital ships can be fuelled in emergency
from oiler in Concepcion Bay.

3. There are tankers in convoys HX 187
and 128 with fuel oil.

4. Enquiries are being made whether any
U.S. oiler facilities can be made
available.

5. Oiler SAN ADOLFO has been ordered to
patrol a line 60 miles 225° from position
39° 49°. She should reach this position
about 28/5.

6. Attention is drawn to Chart of Sea
Surface Conditions for May Y 185 recently
issued.

(V.C.N.S., 2030B/24 to C. in C. H.F., CO Force H., etc, etc.)

Re: Admiralty War Diary, 22-28 May 1941

Posted: Mon Sep 23, 2019 9:41 am
by wadinga
Hello Fellow Contributors,

Firstly I would like to record again my appreciation of Jose Rico's tireless and meticulous work in collating recorded communications in order to give the reader a better picture of the help and occasionally accidental obstruction the Admiralty was giving those at sea hunting the Bismarck.
37. “Proceed on assumption enemy turned towards Brest.” Received Norfolk 1045/ 25.
This message does not apparently appear in the Admiralty Diary, (can any record be found?) but suggests somebody, VCNS?, giving direct instructions to Wake-Walker, just as were given to Dalrymple-Hamilton, based on current Admiralty opinion, but countermanded shortly afterwards by Tovey's 10:47B. Suffolk's narrative confirms that as a Home Fleet ship she proceeded in line with Tovey's instruction.
I was wrong in not spotting this message was recorded. My error is in assuming it was addressed to W-W but apparently not so, but to SO Force H (Somerville) but is also "taken in" by Norfolk. It does not indicate that this appreciation is based on the D/F co-ordinates already in the Admiralty's hands, (ie useful intelligence) but is vaguely worded as if, given Force H's distance from the last sighting, this is the only option of several equally-likely ones which Somerville can act on.

If Norfolk took this signal in, ie not as addressee, how many other chasing ships did so, including KG V, leading them to think the Admiralty was favouring Brest as a destination for Bismarck? This once again raises the most important question in the Bismarck Chase, why did Pound and Phillips not tell Tovey clearly and unambiguously they thought Bismarck was heading for France, based on D/F, or query Tovey's announcement that his plotting suggested she was headed for Norway instead? Why didn't Tovey immediately query that his results were so different to the Admiralty's?

The failure to identify this disparity between the Admiralty's interpretation of the D/F bearings and Tovey's, based on identical source information, for so many vital hours, is the big expose. The muddled later instructions to Rodney, later countermanded, and presumably "taken in" by all the other ships must have added to the confusion.

All the best

wadinga