Message Traffic heard by RODNEY 24 May 1941

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paul.mercer
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Re: Message Traffic heard by RODNEY 24 May 1941

Post by paul.mercer » Sun Jun 02, 2019 8:21 am

Byron Angel wrote:
Thu May 30, 2019 2:31 pm
Indeed, the fog of war can be easily eliminated by a simple spray bottle filled with some facts and evidence mixed into a solution of assumptions, opinions, inferences, interpolations, extrapolations, guesses, pre-judgments.

Works every time. That is why the study of history is so elementally simple.

I am still awaiting any sort of real evidence to support the claim that British authorities held their tongues in order not to contradict the report of Captain Leach. The same repeated responses offered up so far have nothing whatsoever to do with this issue. I am beginning to suspect that no such evidence exists. As such, it reminds me of the great Bismarck forward bulkhead penetration debate of several months ago.

B
Hi Byron,
While not disputing your statement in any way, there were (I believe) many occasions during the war when certain 'occurrences were not made public and relatives were only told that someone had 'died in action' or some other excuse. I was watching a documentary about the ramming of a cruiser escort by the Queen Mary last night and it appears that this was also 'hushed up' for security reasons (how they managed this with several thousand US troops on the QM who witnessed the disaster is a mystery!) but the point I am trying to make is that the British Government at the time was, quite rightly, obsessed with secrecy and while I don't want to reopen the 'cover up' theories that have been expressed in this Forum it seems obvious that HM Government at the time was not going to let anything out that might be an advantage to the enemy and even today many archives are buried under a 100 year (or whatever)rule and some have been destroyed or will never be released.

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Re: Message Traffic heard by RODNEY 24 May 1941

Post by Byron Angel » Sun Jun 02, 2019 4:55 pm

paul.mercer wrote:
Sun Jun 02, 2019 8:21 am
Hi Byron,
While not disputing your statement in any way, there were (I believe) many occasions during the war when certain 'occurrences were not made public and relatives were only told that someone had 'died in action' or some other excuse. I was watching a documentary about the ramming of a cruiser escort by the Queen Mary last night and it appears that this was also 'hushed up' for security reasons (how they managed this with several thousand US troops on the QM who witnessed the disaster is a mystery!) but the point I am trying to make is that the British Government at the time was, quite rightly, obsessed with secrecy and while I don't want to reopen the 'cover up' theories that have been expressed in this Forum it seems obvious that HM Government at the time was not going to let anything out that might be an advantage to the enemy and even today many archives are buried under a 100 year (or whatever)rule and some have been destroyed or will never be released.

Hi Paul,
I do not consider your post to be in dispute with my position - quite the contrary in fact. Whether it be inaccurate or absent physical data, conflicting witness testimonies, poor memories, biased motives or (as you have pointed out) withheld documents of a "sensitive nature" ... or any combination thereof, it all leads to the same end result - difficulty in confidently establishing a fully accurate account of any complicated event such as the Bismarck episode. In the words of the great American philosopher and Baseball Hall of Fame member Yogi Berra - "You don't know what you don't know".

Honest studies of historical events have value. But their worth can only be measured in relative terms of objectivity, plausibility and depth of study and analysis. The best work under the most favorable conditions may get close to "the truth", but none will ever reach "the whole truth". Adorning any such effort with the mantle of absolute papal infallibility is for me intellectually unconscionable.

Strictly my opinion, of course.

B

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Re: Message Traffic heard by RODNEY 24 May 1941

Post by HMSVF » Sun Jun 02, 2019 8:25 pm

Byron Angel wrote:
Sun Jun 02, 2019 4:55 pm
paul.mercer wrote:
Sun Jun 02, 2019 8:21 am
Hi Byron,
While not disputing your statement in any way, there were (I believe) many occasions during the war when certain 'occurrences were not made public and relatives were only told that someone had 'died in action' or some other excuse. I was watching a documentary about the ramming of a cruiser escort by the Queen Mary last night and it appears that this was also 'hushed up' for security reasons (how they managed this with several thousand US troops on the QM who witnessed the disaster is a mystery!) but the point I am trying to make is that the British Government at the time was, quite rightly, obsessed with secrecy and while I don't want to reopen the 'cover up' theories that have been expressed in this Forum it seems obvious that HM Government at the time was not going to let anything out that might be an advantage to the enemy and even today many archives are buried under a 100 year (or whatever)rule and some have been destroyed or will never be released.

Hi Paul,
I do not consider your post to be in dispute with my position - quite the contrary in fact. Whether it be inaccurate or absent physical data, conflicting witness testimonies, poor memories, biased motives or (as you have pointed out) withheld documents of a "sensitive nature" ... or any combination thereof, it all leads to the same end result - difficulty in confidently establishing a fully accurate account of any complicated event such as the Bismarck episode. In the words of the great American philosopher and Baseball Hall of Fame member Yogi Berra - "You don't know what you don't know".

Honest studies of historical events have value. But their worth can only be measured in relative terms of objectivity, plausibility and depth of study and analysis. The best work under the most favorable conditions may get close to "the truth", but none will ever reach "the whole truth". Adorning any such effort with the mantle of absolute papal infallibility is for me intellectually unconscionable.

Strictly my opinion, of course.

B
I raise your Queen Mary with HMS Audacious. Mined off Ireland,towed by RMS Olympic for a time,the admiralty still denied her loss.

Despite a 1000 passengers witnessing her demise!


In regards to “cover ups”. If Denmark Strait was a cover up how come PQ17 wasnt buried in the archives or the Force Z catastrophe? IMHO both of these events far outweigh the significance of the Denmark Strait action, yet we have a raft of information accessible. Yet both of these actions had some serious blunders and cock ups that lead to far bigger ramifications (certainly in the case of Force Z).

On the flip side

HMS Glorious is sunk in highly questionable circumstances and is slapped under the 100 year rule. I hope I make it to 2040 as I really want to know what was so important that such a timeframe was set.

Either way I think that the idea that there was a massive cover up is pretty laughable and an exercise in anglophobia.

There have been far bigger events, with far bigger effects than the loss of Hood and the actions of HMS POW. Whilst we have an interest,in reality it’s a small footnote in history.

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Re: Message Traffic heard by RODNEY 24 May 1941

Post by Alberto Virtuani » Mon Jun 03, 2019 6:51 am

Hello everybody,
"If Denmark Strait was a cover up how come PQ17 wasnt buried in the archives or the Force Z catastrophe?...the idea that there was a massive cover up is pretty laughable and an exercise in anglophobia"
As well as HMS Glorious, it was simply impossible to totally "cover-up" facts that caused the death of so many sailors (and/or civilians) and their families "anger". Possibly the loss of HMS Barham was a more successful "cover-up" example, but at a certain point in time it emerged anyway.

At Denmark Strait, after Hood loss, the poor military behavior of some RN officers had the sole consequence of... the final demise of Bismarck without any further loss (a great success and very good decisions with hindsight!): much more easy to cover up "poor" episodes linked to such a final triumph than the other mentioned ones...



The Bismarck episode might have been far smaller than other WWII episodes, but it was the largest gun naval engagement for the RN during the whole war: I think that the idea that there was no embellishment of the DS story at all is pretty laughable and an exercise in anglophilia.
It was even admitted, after the war, by the historical branch of the Royal Navy, that corrected the wrong 06:13 retreat time back to a more "conceivable" 06:03 (see Pitcairn-Jones, battle summary n.5, last updated version viewtopic.php?f=1&t=7741&p=73022&hilit= ... ary#p72992)...


Bye, Alberto
Last edited by Alberto Virtuani on Mon Jun 03, 2019 8:28 am, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Message Traffic heard by RODNEY 24 May 1941

Post by alecsandros » Mon Jun 03, 2019 8:26 am

Alberto Virtuani wrote:
Mon Jun 03, 2019 6:51 am
Hello everybody,
"If Denmark Strait was a cover up how come PQ17 wasnt buried in the archives or the Force Z catastrophe?...the idea that there was a massive cover up is pretty laughable and an exercise in anglophobia"
As well as HMS Glorious, it was simply impossible to totally "cover-up" facts that caused the death of so many sailors (and/or civilians) and their families "anger". Possibly the loss of HMS Barham was a more successful "cover-up" example, but at a certain point in time it emerged anyway.

At Denmark Strait, after Hood loss, the poor military behavior of some RN officers had the sole consequence of... the final demise of Bismarck without any further loss (a great success and very good decisions with hindsight!): much more easy to cover up "poor" episodes linked to such a final triumph than the other mentioned ones...



The Bismarck episode might have been far smaller than other WWII episodes, but it was the largest gun naval engagement for the RN during the whole war: I think that the idea that there was no embellishment of the DS story at all is pretty laughable and an exercise in obstinate anglophilia.
It was even admitted after the war by the historical branch of the Royal Navy, that corrected 06:13 back into 06:03 (see Pitcairn-Jones, battle summary n.5, last updated version viewtopic.php?f=1&t=7741&p=73022&hilit= ... ary#p72992)...


Bye, Alberto
Another Court Martial threat that never materialised was produced after the Indian Ocean debacle, where Adm. Somerville was reprimanded for his lack of interception of the enemy. Such was war...

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Re: Message Traffic heard by RODNEY 24 May 1941

Post by Alberto Virtuani » Mon Jun 03, 2019 8:55 am

Hi Alec,
correct, but during the Indian Ocean Raid Somerville showed an even excessive "offensive spirit" against superior forces, and this is not something the RN usually condemns.


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: Message Traffic heard by RODNEY 24 May 1941

Post by alecsandros » Mon Jun 03, 2019 9:00 am

Alberto Virtuani wrote:
Mon Jun 03, 2019 8:55 am
Hi Alec,
correct, but during the Indian Ocean Raid Somerville showed an even excessive "offensive spirit" against superior forces, and this is not something the RN usually condemns.


Bye, Alberto
It is possible,
but from what IIRC at least, at the time of Operation C, Somerville expected to meet 2 enemy fleet carriers with maximum 96 planes on them (48 + 48), with a more probable set-up considered being 40+40. Therefore, his 2 fleet carriers with 83 operational machiens would have been on rough parity with the expected strength of the enemy. It was only later (don't know when) when the full force of Nagumo's strike force was correctly acknowledged.

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Re: Message Traffic heard by RODNEY 24 May 1941

Post by wadinga » Tue Jun 04, 2019 1:08 am

Fellow Contributors,
It is possible,
but from what IIRC at least, at the time of Operation C, Somerville expected to meet 2 enemy fleet carriers with maximum 96 planes on them (48 + 48), with a more probable set-up considered being 40+40. Therefore, his 2 fleet carriers with 83 operational machiens would have been on rough parity with the expected strength of the enemy. It was only later (don't know when) when the full force of Nagumo's strike force was correctly acknowledged.
I'm afraid I consider it as naive to simply count the aircraft on either side without considering what was known at the time of their relative performance, as it is to consider Hood with her 1919 gunnery fire control an equal match for Bismarck simply because both had 8 15" guns. Nagumo's aircraft were known to be vastly superior to the Albacores and Fulmars that were aboard Somerville's carriers, and the only slim chance of a successful RN airstrike was at night, when Japanese high performance aircraft did not operate. How to get close enough for this without being discovered and annihilated either the day before or the day afterwards in daylight was practically impossible.
Another Court Martial threat that never materialised was produced after the Indian Ocean debacle, where Adm. Somerville was reprimanded for his lack of interception of the enemy. Such was war...
Hi Alec,
correct, but during the Indian Ocean Raid Somerville showed an even excessive "offensive spirit" against superior forces, and this is not something the RN usually condemns.
both these incorrect statements should be contested. Quoting Pound's defence of Somerville to Alexander (Somerville Papers p 408 on;
the Prime Minister has stated "No satisfactory explanation has been given by this officer of the imprudent dispersion of his forces in the early days of April, resulting in the loss of Cornwall, Dorsetshire and Hermes...." I do not think this can go unchallenged and I accordingly suggest you send a memorandum to the Prime Minister on the lines of the attached draft:
He then produces 8 paragraphs of explanation (which I do not intend to retype), justifying Somerville's decisions in great detail. So Churchill's uninformed and pompous criticism is dismissed by Pound, and it was not anyway about excessive or indeed lack of offensive spirit, but about tactical dispositions, of which the PM had no knowledge or expertise. No disciplinary action was even contemplated, nor was Somerville required to explain himself, because the PM's misunderstanding and intemperate observation based on inadequate information was easily quashed.

Does any of this sound at all familiar to anybody here? :cool:

Needless to say, Somerville stayed in position. Just like Leach and Wake-Walker.

Incidentally Norman Friedman's book Naval Firepower states that there were several attempts to get Hood's FC system upgraded to the latest standards in the late 1930s but all were cancelled, with structural rebuilds to the QEs and Renown prioritised instead.

All the best

wadinga
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Re: Message Traffic heard by RODNEY 24 May 1941

Post by alecsandros » Tue Jun 04, 2019 4:06 am

From what I remember, there was a debate on combinedfleet.com forum, about the loss of HMS Dorsetshire and Cornwall. Excerpts from one book (written by the late Captain of Cornwall, named Captain Abe IIRC), indicate that , at the time 'we (RN) considered the enemy's aircraft performance comparable to our own. It was later that we found out they had twice the range , etc.'

Thus, my opinion is that the expected battle was thought to be executed on equal terms. Probably that's why Somerville disposed aggressive searches to scour the seas foer the enemy.

I know Somerville was never formally charged, although Ceylon and Trincomalee were badly hit, and several ships lost. Such was the nature of war, today's heroes can (and many times are) tomorrow's vanquished. Effective interventions (by CM) are rare, because they sap morale and erode careers, for little (many times very little) to be gained.

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Re: Message Traffic heard by RODNEY 24 May 1941

Post by wadinga » Tue Jun 04, 2019 12:05 pm

Fellow Contributors.

What the captain of Cornwall "knew" about Japanese aerial capabilities and the top-level intelligence available to Somerville gleaned from examining the devastating raids by Nagumo's force on Pearl Harbor and Darwin are probably very different things. Captain Abe(?) was apparently unaware of what had happened to Force Z? (OK land based aircraft). Somerville was particularly "air-minded" amongst RN admirals and very well understood the limitations of FAA aircraft of the time. He had a young relative who was FAA aircrew. He was overjoyed to get his hands on Martlets when they arrived in the Indian Ocean because he knew how compromised the two-seat Fulmar was in performance against any enemy fighters, let alone the agile and deadly "Zeke".
Effective interventions (by CM) are rare,
Yes, correct in democratic countries' forces because a reasonable attitude to failure in battle is the norm. War is unpredictable. Even when the PM gets a bit overwrought (briefly) because the victory he confidently expected (and promised) didn't happen, and actually follows through on his threats, instead of reconsidering carefully, admirals, generals and air marshals etc get shuffled out of office, not dragged in front of perfunctory Court Martials and then shot. On the other hand in the fascist and communist dictatorships officers who lost battles might very likely be led out in front of a firing squad. Pour encourager les autres :D and that was a British Admiral.

This demonstrated sensible attitude to failure to win in war is why the whole CMDS story is so fatuous and a simple case of exaggeration in an old admiral's memory, now exposed with a letter he wrote at the time.

Despite all the vague insinuations about excessive secrecy in the UK files, traditionally British Governments have considered access to these records was "nobody else's business" with the "across the board" 100 year rule. This has been recently relaxed almost everywhere, but there is still concern to protect leaders and decision makers against hindsight-driven witch hunts unleashed during their lifetimes. The 30 year rule means we are learning lots about Maggie Thatcher's reign for instance.

Concealing losses like Audacious and Barham from the enemy (and indeed one's own sensation-hungry newshounds) for as long as possible is sensible policy, especially at time of crisis. Re Glorious you can still read internet articles with outrage quoting "Board of Inquiry results sealed until 2041" whereas at Kew
ADM 178/201
Description:
Loss of HMS Glorious, Ardent and Acasta, transport Drama and tanker Oil Pioneer: Board of Enquiry
Open Document, Open Description
It may be that absolutely all the dirty washing is not out on the clothes line, yet. :cool:

All the best

wadinga
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Re: Message Traffic heard by RODNEY 24 May 1941

Post by alecsandros » Tue Jun 04, 2019 4:15 pm

wadinga wrote:
Tue Jun 04, 2019 12:05 pm
Fellow Contributors.

What the captain of Cornwall "knew" about Japanese aerial capabilities and the top-level intelligence available to Somerville gleaned from examining the devastating raids by Nagumo's force on Pearl Harbor and Darwin are probably very different things. Captain Abe(?) was apparently unaware of what had happened to Force Z? (OK land based aircraft). Somerville was particularly "air-minded" amongst RN admirals and very well understood the limitations of FAA aircraft of the time. He had a young relative who was FAA aircrew. He was overjoyed to get his hands on Martlets when they arrived in the Indian Ocean because he knew how compromised the two-seat Fulmar was in performance against any enemy fighters, let alone the agile and deadly "Zeke".
Somerville aggressively sought after the enemy, at one point dedicating 16 Albacores (IIRC) in a 10-hours sweep for the enemy. Some Albacores were lost, others damaged by enemy air umbrella, before they could adequately send a sighting report.

Japanese searches were equally ineffective and, the 2 great squadrons by-passed each other by as little as 120nm (30min flight of a warplane).

From what I remember, Somerville planned to use a mass-Albacore strke , at night , to use his advantage in radar (the Albacores had ASV radar on board), and also to deny the enemy of his fighter power (lest he had night fighters), while at the same time resting his own fighter pilots, for the probable heavy air fightings that would have been produced early in the following morning (an ASV night strike does not require fighter protection, or a minimal fighter protection at the most).

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Re: Message Traffic heard by RODNEY 24 May 1941

Post by dunmunro » Tue Jun 04, 2019 8:42 pm

HMS Cornwall was commanded by Captain Manwaring and HMS Dorestshire by Captain Agar, who by way of seniority was in overall command.

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