Adm Troubridge-right/wrong-in the GOEBEN AFFAIR

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Re: Adm Troubridge-right/wrong-in the GOEBEN AFFAIR

Post by tommy303 » Wed Mar 20, 2013 7:20 pm

Actually, an engagement where a couple of British armored cruisers had blown up at that stage of the war might have been beneficial to the RN, as they might have been prodded into looking into the problem and avoided worse disasters at Jutland.
If I recall, the RN did investigate following the action at Coronel following the loss of Good Hope to a magazine explosion and came to the mistaken conclusion that the ammunition handling arrangements in the armoured cruisers was adequate. I believe Campbell mentions this in his book on Jutland.

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Re: Adm Troubridge-right/wrong-in the GOEBEN AFFAIR

Post by Ersatz Yorck » Wed Mar 20, 2013 8:26 pm

Yes I recall that too. But no one survived from the Good Hope or the Monmouth, so it must have been hard to investigate.

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Re: Adm Troubridge-right/wrong-in the GOEBEN AFFAIR

Post by SteveFutcher » Wed May 27, 2015 10:42 pm

I believe he was correct to refuse action. His ships were slower & had a far less effective gun range. Theoretically 16000 yards but had never hit anything over 8ooo. Also far less well armoured. Consider this, Milne`s battlecruisers, Indefatigable - sunk at Jutland, Inflexible, sister ship Invincible sunk at Jutland - both due to magazine explosions. Troubridge`s armoured cruisers, Defence & Black Prince, sunk at Jutland due to magazine explosions & Warrior sunk due to serious flooding. At Jutland, German battlecruisers proved wonderfully resistant to British 12", 13.5" & 15" shells. Where did they think that 9.2 & 7.5" shells would do the job. Churchill was callous & infantile when he said that the four armoured cruisers would have been wonderfully employed in being sunk whilst consuming Goeben`s ammunition.
Regarding Harwood 25yrs later. His ships were faster & had an equally effective gun range. The armour on Graf Spee was easily penetrable by 6 & 8" shells & her poor main armament disposition only allowed her to engage two targets at once. War games carried out pre war in both Britain & the USA had predicted a British victory in that scenario.

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Re: Adm Troubridge-right/wrong-in the GOEBEN AFFAIR

Post by Byron Angel » Tue Jun 02, 2015 1:48 am

..... Welcome aboard, sir.

I agree that Troubridge faced an extremely dicey situation. Apart from the gun/armor/speed inferiority he faced, he was facing a formation speed problem, with Duke of Edinburgh not capable of making 20 knots; His destroyers were so extremely short of coal that they were historically unable to accompany the cruisers to sea. What he needed in order to have any real chance of success was a position astride Goeben's route of retreat and very short visibility. IMO, that spelled (a) a winning bet upon Souchon's true destination, and (b) a night interception from a down moon position.

What would the Admiralty have thought if Troubridge had opted to leave the lame duck Duke of Edinburgh behind and filled the bunkers of his destroyers with her coal? Eight destroyers with 21in torpedoes at night would pose a real concern for Goeben.

I have not read the Troubridge court of inquiry proceedings, but I wonder if anyone raised the fact that no training in four ship concentration fire had ever been undertaken in the navy at that time - two ship concentration fire only. How would Troubridge have been able to make use of four ships firing upon a single target without incurring interference?

A fascinating topic.

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Re: Adm Troubridge-right/wrong-in the GOEBEN AFFAIR

Post by LeopardTooth » Tue Jan 26, 2016 6:07 am

This discussion looks to me to have focused on the tactical more than the strategic.

As most people on this board probably know, it is said the British seizing Agincourt and Erin for their own purposes, instead of delivering them to their original purchasers the Ottomans, cheesed off the Turks. But it was Souchon's ships reaching Constantinople, and "joining the Ottoman navy", more-or-less as replacements for the missing battleships, and then Souchon's self-initiated attacks in the Russians in the name of the Ottomans, that firmly and conclusively brought Turkey into the war on the Central Powers side.

A few years later, the Gallipoli campaign produced approximately a quarter million casualties for each side

So, if Troubridge's cruisers had engaged Goeben and Breslau, and all four armored cruisers had been destroyed with all hands lost, but they had slowed down the German ships long enough for Milne's three battlecruisers to have caught up and sank them both without them ever reaching the Dardinelles, then, in the big picture, the British nation would have been the better off.

In fact, I think that a case could have been made that if Souchon's ships had both been sunk but they had first somehow sunk the entire twenty-five ship British Mediterranean fleet - battlecruisers, armored cruisers, and all - even that might have been an overall more favorable strategic outcome for the Allies than what actually happened IRL.

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Re: Adm Troubridge-right/wrong-in the GOEBEN AFFAIR

Post by Barondog » Thu Feb 18, 2021 7:56 pm

Troubridge should not have engaged Goeben. This question is clear cut if one looks at the facts.

1. Even with boiler damage Goeben was still considerably faster than the Amoured Cruisers.
2. Goeben had 10.7 inches of the finest amour available at the time. The Amoured Cruisers had 6 inches maximum of an older weaker type of amour.
3. Goeben had 10×11 inch guns that had an effective (able to hit) range of 16,000 yards. The Amoured Cruisers had 4×9.2 inch guns (able to bear simultaneously) with an effective range of 7,000 yards.
4. Goebens' 11inch guns could penetrate the Amoured cruisers amour at maximum range. The Amoured Cruisers 9.2 inch guns could not penetrate Goebens amour except at a suicidal point blank range.
5. Goebens superior speed allowed her to choose the range to fight or not fight at all.

Those are the facts. Whether Goeben had enough shells to sink all 4 is irrelevant even 1,2 or 3 would have killed many British sailors and given the RN the dishonor or loosing the first surface naval battle of WW 1. This is the only possible outcome of a battle between these two types of warships.

With his superior speed Souchon would have never allowed the Amoured Cruisers in range. Most likely he would have chosen not to fight at all. He probably would have thought the British Battlecruisers were just over the horizon and the Amoured Cruisers were a delaying tactic. His mission was to get to the Dardanelles and the Ottoman Empire not fight old warships.

These same ships were rapidly blown out of the water at Jutland. Only one ship barely survived and that was due to Warspite presenting herself as a more valuable target. The battle of Cornel between old and weak British Amoured Cruisers against new more powerful German Amoured Cruisers is a perfect example of what would have happened. The British battecruisers in turn easily ran down and sank the more powerful German Amoured Cruisers at the battle of the Falklands. This is also a perfect example.

Now why the WW 2 battle between the Graf Spee and 3 smaller British cruisers is not relevant. The amour on both British and German ships was thin enough to be penetrated by either sides guns. The British cruisers had a clear speed advantage meaning they could dictate range and withdraw as needed. The battle conditions were due to mistakes made by the Germans. They ran in close thinking they were picking off destroyers. A long slow chase in which the British would have been out of range while Graf Spee was shooting at them likely would have been different. Finally the cruisers did not sink the Graf Spee the Germans scuttled her. These two battles are not analogous they were fought under different conditions.

British naval culture at the time demanded Troubridge fight even if it was suicidal. Again Cornel proves this. So Troubridge made the right decision but had to pay a heavy political price. It is worth mentioning that later even ashore fighting river actions Troubridge distinguished himself. There is no controversy in this subject other than pride.

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Re: Adm Troubridge-right/wrong-in the GOEBEN AFFAIR

Post by Barondog » Fri Feb 19, 2021 1:20 pm

Troubridge made the correct decision not to engage the Goeben. This statement is made based upon the of the speed, amour and guns that would have been employed by the two opposing forces as well as the results of later battles. For some reason certain key aspects relevant to any potential engagement have been ignored for the most part. Items such as amour, likely perceptions and order. In addition many have pointed the outcome of the battle of River Plate which is irrelevant and ignored the rest of WW I which is highly relevant.

After leaving harbor Goeben took an unexpected route to the South. This left Troubridge in a long chase to intercept Goeben. Initially he planned to attack in low light and restricted waters to give his ships at least a chance of getting in gun range of the Goeben. As the night wore on it became clear Troubridge would intercept Goeben at dawn in open waters. This was key to his decision to stop the chase to engage Goeben. The facts are as follows:

1. Gun range: The 11 inch guns on Goeben had a maximum effective range (the range they could hit and damage a target) of 16,000 yards. The effective range of the 9.2 inch guns on the British AC was 7,000 yards. This gave Goeben a 9000 yard range to destroy the AC without their having any ability to reply


2. Speed: Much has been said that the Goeben had damaged boilers reducing her speed. While this is true she was still considerably faster than the 19 knots of the AC. This gave Goeben the ability to dictate the range and conditions of any potential battle.

3. Amour: Though the ACs were the most powerful in the Royal Navy they are 19th century ships. Their amour was an older weaker type but still only a maximum of 6 inches thick. The new Goeben carried the latest of Krupp Amour technology making it stronger inch per inch the the AC and it was 10.7 inches thick. This made Goeben too tough for the 9.2s except at a suicidal point blank range. This met Goeben's 11 inch guns would have easily cut through the AC protection even at maximum effective range.

4. Mission and perceptions: Souchon would have been fully aware of these facts just as Faucet and Troubridge were. Souchon's mission was to deliver the Goeben to the Ottoman Empire. Troubridge's mission was to sink or damage the Goeben.

Given the above facts Souchon likely would have seen the AC attack as a delaying tactic to allow the British Battlecruisers to catch up to him. His belief was that the two RN battlecruisers were just over the horizon. He had no way of knowing they were on the other side of the Mediterranean sea. It is most likely he would have poured on the speed and outran the AC without subjecting his ship to any unwarranted damage.

However if Troubridge did succeed in engaging the Goeben things likely would have been far worse for the British. Goeben could have stayed outside the range of the 9.2 guns and sank as many of the AC as his ammunition would allow. Sinking 2 or 3 AC would have been substantially damaging to the RN as they would have lost the first surface battle of the war. This catastrophy would have taken place right after loosing 3 AC to one German submarine.

If we look at similar battles we can deduce the results with even greater accuracy. Jutland: 3 of these same four cruisers were sunk within minutes by long range 11 inch shell fire. The last ship was only able to escape with severe damage thanks to the Warspite presenting a more tempting target. The battle of Cornel in which two older weaker Brtish AC were sank by the newer more powerful German AC because they were too slow to be able to get in range. Shortly after this the two German AC were run down and sank by two British battlecruisers. All these battles prove Troubridge had no chance to sink or damage Goeben.

In WW 2 a British cruiser squadron ran the Pocket Battleship off the River Plate to ground where she scuttled herself. But this battle has key differences. First the speed advantage belonged the British. the amour on the Graf Spee was thin enough that the guns of the British cruisers could penetrate it at long range. Third due to a brilliant intelligence victory the Germans scuttled the Graf Spee rathethan face a hopeless battle against the armada they believed awaited them. One can see this battle is not analogous to the actions in the first word war.

It is clear any battle between the AC and Goeben. Troubridge had neither the speed nor firepower to force the issue. The best he could have hoped to do done is to have sacrificed his ships in a pointless delaying action.

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Re: Adm Troubridge-right/wrong-in the GOEBEN AFFAIR

Post by paul.mercer » Wed Feb 24, 2021 9:26 am

Gentlemen,
I realise this is off the current topic, but in WW2 was there an incident where an Admiral commanding either Renown or Repulse who was criticized for not attacking some Vichy French cruisers due to either a misunderstanding or a conflict of orders from the Admiralty?

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Re: Adm Troubridge-right/wrong-in the GOEBEN AFFAIR

Post by wadinga » Wed Feb 24, 2021 11:30 am

Hi Paul,

The case you are referring to is the notorious Admiral Dudley North affair, which has been covered obliquely in the Court Martial for the Denmark Straits thread including:
I am currently reading Action Imminent by Peter C Smith which has a lengthy description of the circumstances under which Admiral Dudley North was dismissed from his position over the failure to stop Vichy cruisers reaching Dakar via the Straits of Gibraltar. There was no Court Martial or Inquiry even though North requested it, because Churchill and Pound could remove any officer from post without justification in this way. In fact, 1st Lord A V Alexander was specifically warned by his legal advice that the case against North was so weak he would be exonerated and the Admiralty would suffer massive embarrassment. Roskill described the unfair treatment of North at length in War at Sea Vol 1 in 1954 and a posse of Admirals forced the Government of the day under Macmillan to issue an admission that North had not been to blame.

North had been a target for Churchill and Alexander because he had criticized the Mers-el-Kebir attack in writing whereas Somerville and Cunningham's strong criticism had been more circumspect. As I pointed out, Pound, under instruction from above, could have dismissed W-W and Leach from their posts if he really, really wanted to, but the last thing the Admiralty would have wanted was another embarrassment like the Board of Inquiry into Somerville which would have exonerated them too.
North was in charge of Gibraltar base and light forces based there only, but Somerville was in charge of Force H (flagship Renown) operating from the same harbour but who was directly controlled from the Admiralty in London. There is little similarity with the Troubridge business, as he was the officer commanding a detached squadron at sea and thus had freedom of action, based on his interpretation of his orders.

Troubridge's lack of speed severely limited his tactical options against Goeben, but he should have attempted to engage nonetheless, for the honour of the RN. The most likely scenario is that Goeben would have escaped anyway, causing greater or lesser damage. The River Plate is the opposite situation where the British cruisers had a considerable speed advantage over Langsdorff.

Troubridge undoubtedly believed what is now being persuasively argued in another, very relevant thread in this Forum, Battlecruisers were specifically designed to annihilate armoured cruisers.

All the best

wadinga
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Re: Adm Troubridge-right/wrong-in the GOEBEN AFFAIR

Post by HMSVF » Thu Feb 25, 2021 12:27 pm

T/O

A tricky one.


He wasn't armoured well enough, he wasn't fast enough, he had no guarantee that his 9.2's would have done any substantial damage to Goeben. Harwood 25 years later showed that 3 smaller ships could tackle a larger foe BUT he [Harwood] had the advantage of speed - AGS wasn't going to be able to chase down any of Harwoods cruisers unless they were all severely damaged. Could he have halted Goeben? Or made her 'hors du combat'? Tricky to answer. You would hope that the armoured cruisers could at least hit her but there are no guarantees. Sturdee fired off an enormous amount of ammunition to sink Scharnhorst and Gneisenau for instance and Goeben could outrange the cruisers. If Troubridge could have closed the range sufficiently to bring the multitude of 6 inch and 7.5's guns he possessed in to effective range then possibly, with enough of a hail of fire, he may have done the Goeben some mischief.

I suspect (given what we would learn about the results of armoured cruisers against heavy calibre shells) that we would have seen 1 or possibly 2 of Troubridge's cruisers go up in flames a la' HMS Defence or end up charnel houses like HMS Black Prince and Warrior with Goeben tailing off towards the Western Mediterranean at a speed dictated by whether Troubridge had managed to cause any damage that would impact her seaworthiness or machinery.


The die was probably set prior to any potential action in any case.

My understanding that French were busy ferrying troops from North Africa and at the time Milne came across Goeben GB and Germany weren't actually at war and that communication between the Entente powers was pretty shonky. Neither of the two fleet commanders had the imagination to think that Goeben would head to Turkey and would aim for an Austro/Hunagarian port or the Straits of Gibraltar. In the French case I think that they were (understandably) more concerned about getting the troops safely across to France before the front collapsed and left it to the (not unsubstantial) British Mediterranean fleet. Milne pottered around the Med like a headless chicken thinking that Goeben must run for the Straights of Gibraltar before realising too late where the Goeben was actually sailing. The whole affair was a cock-up,made worse by the arch meddler WSC giving out ambiguous orders such as "do not to engage a "superior force". I believe WSC meant Goeben + Austrian warships - but he never made it implicit that was what he was thinking (We would see similar with Craddock)

I can't remember where I read but somebody made a comparison with Cradock and argued that perhaps Troubridge showed more moral courage than Craddock did off Coronel in not fighting an action he was unlikely to win. Its a compelling question.

In defence of Craddock, he had seen what the Admiralty did to those who were deemed to lack the 'Nelson spirit'. He also knew that he didn't necessarily need to sink the ships - damage them sufficiently far from home and any bases at all and his job was done. Unfortunately he was up against a very strong squadron and a very good (one of the best?) commanders of the time. He was outmanoeuvred and out fought, the only 'damage' (of sorts) he achieved was to deplete Spee's magazines.



Just my 2 penneth!



BW


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Re: Adm Troubridge-right/wrong-in the GOEBEN AFFAIR

Post by HMSVF » Thu Feb 25, 2021 12:36 pm

paul.mercer wrote:
Wed Feb 24, 2021 9:26 am
Gentlemen,
I realise this is off the current topic, but in WW2 was there an incident where an Admiral commanding either Renown or Repulse who was criticized for not attacking some Vichy French cruisers due to either a misunderstanding or a conflict of orders from the Admiralty?

I believe he wrote to his wife "how I was meant to stop all 6 I don't know!"

Mind you. Signalling 'Bon Voyage' probably didn't help as they sailed though the Gibraltar strait!

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Re: Adm Troubridge-right/wrong-in the GOEBEN AFFAIR

Post by Byron Angel » Fri Feb 26, 2021 5:37 am

An important new piece of scholarship on Coronel is due to be published within the next year or so.

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Re: Adm Troubridge-right/wrong-in the GOEBEN AFFAIR

Post by HMSVF » Fri Feb 26, 2021 3:20 pm

Byron Angel wrote:
Fri Feb 26, 2021 5:37 am
An important new piece of scholarship on Coronel is due to be published within the next year or so.

B

I'm pretty sure that one of the authors may write on the "all the worlds battlecruisers" website as they talk about Coronel in great depth and about future work. From what I read it was very interesting stuff so this new work could be a real gem and one to look out for.



BW

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Re: Adm Troubridge-right/wrong-in the GOEBEN AFFAIR

Post by Byron Angel » Fri Feb 26, 2021 6:35 pm

Hi HMSVF,
Highly likely. I met one of the authors on the Battleship vs Battleship Forum.

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