Adm Troubridge-right/wrong-in the GOEBEN AFFAIR

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aurora
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Adm Troubridge-right/wrong-in the GOEBEN AFFAIR

Post by aurora » Mon Feb 11, 2013 3:47 pm

Troubridge was well placed for meeting the 11" gunned Goeben. It was not until he heard from the Gloucester that she had turned South and was persistently steering on a South-Easterly course that any new decision was required from him. He received no orders to quit his station from Sir Berkeley Milne. He was in constant hope of receiving a battle-cruiser.

But Admiral Troubridge decided to act on his own responsibility. Eight minutes after midnight of August 6 (i.e. 0.08, August 7) he gave orders to his four cruisers and his eight destroyers to steam Southward at full speed for the purpose of intercepting the Goeben. He also signalled to the Dublin (Captain John Kelly), at that moment coming from Malta to join him with the two extra destroyers, to head her off.

He reported his decision to the Commander-in-Chief. Thus at midnight August 6-7 sixteen British vessels were converging upon the Goeben and Breslau and were In positions from which they could hardly fail to intercept the enemy shortly after daylight. At 3.50 a.m., however, after further reflection and having received no orders or reply from Sir Berkeley Milne.

Admiral Troubridge became convinced that he could not hope to engage the Goeben under the advantageous conditions of the half light of dawn, and that in an action fought in broad waters in full daylight, his four ships would be sunk one after another by the Goeben, who all the time would keep outside the range—16,000 yards—of the British 9.2-inch guns.

This is thought by some naval officers to be an extreme view. The limited ammunition of the Goeben would have had to have been wonderfully employed to have sunk all four British armoured cruisers at this long range. Moreover, if the Goeben and Breslau had become involved in an action, it is hard to believe that none of the sixteen British cruisers and destroyers which were available could have closed in upon them and attacked them with gun or torpedo. All the destroyers were capable of reaching the enemy and could have found their opportunity to attack. It would have been indeed a prodigious feat on the part of the Germans to dispose of so many antagonists at once.

However, the Admiral came to the conclusion that the Goeben was ‘ a superior force’ which by his instructions, passed to him by the Commander-in-Chief, he was not to engage. And in this conclusion he has been sustained by a British naval court-martial..

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

Post by Ersatz Yorck » Mon Feb 11, 2013 11:28 pm

The British DDs were short on fuel and could not have kept up in a high speed engagement. So no chance for a torpedo attack. The only reasonable outcome is that a number of the British CAs would have been demolished, but maybe not sunk. After all, the Goeben only needed to slow them down and escape. I believe Troubridge's decision was correct, but it still was a career killer in the RN.

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

Post by Byron Angel » Tue Feb 12, 2013 3:34 am

A very complicated topic, made more complicated by its reliance upon the assumption that Souchon would have been willing to stand and fight - something I do not necessarily believe.

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

Post by aurora » Tue Feb 12, 2013 4:24 pm

Whatever the rights and wrongs of Troubridge's decision not to engage the Goeben, the Court Martial ruined him; notwithstanding that it exonerated him.The Admiralty were livid -Churchill told him that he would never receive another command and The First Sea Lord, Prince Louis of Battenberg branded him as as a "danger to the state" and exiled him to the Balkans. There he remained, for the rest of his career, desperately seeking rehabilitation and failing constantly. Some of the blame must attach to him because he could be extraordinarily tactless, but it must be said that there was more than a degree of institutional prejudice against him in London.

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

Post by simonharley » Fri Feb 15, 2013 5:37 pm

For the record Battenberg had nothing to do with Troubridge going to Serbia. He himself had been sacked by that point.

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

Post by aurora » Fri Feb 15, 2013 6:29 pm

Prince Louis was not sacked. His wartime career was brief however, lasting under three months. The victim of a press campaign centred upon his German heritage, Prince Louis, who spoke with a German accent, seemed at first surprised by the nature of the attacks.Less astute than King George V, who chose the appropriate moment to renounce his German titles and to change his name from Saxe-Coburg-Gotha to Windsor, Prince Louis endured a barrage of criticism, even retaining his German estates until 1917, before finally tendering his resignation on 29 October 1914. He was replaced by the returning Fisher.Whether he had a hand in Troubridges subsequent fall from grace-I cannot prove.Can you prove that the Prince had no hand in his ultimate fall from grace and sent to the Danube???

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

Post by simonharley » Fri Feb 15, 2013 8:01 pm

I think you'll find that Churchill essentially asked for Battenberg's resignation. Which for all intents and purposes is a sacking.

Troubridge wasn't appointed as head of the Serbian Mission, an active service appointment, until 21 January, 1915, nearly three months after Battenberg's resignation. If the latter truly thought Troubridge to be a danger to the state then such any recommendation is scarcely credible.

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

Post by aurora » Sat Feb 16, 2013 5:11 pm

Simon I have taken considerable time to research the circumstances of Battenberg's "resignation" and have concluded that you are absolutely correct in that Churchill did virtually sack him.My apologies


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

Post by Byron Angel » Sat Feb 16, 2013 11:49 pm

aurora wrote:Simon I have taken considerable time to research the circumstances of Battenberg's "resignation" and have concluded that you are absolutely correct in that Churchill did virtually sack him.My apologies

aurora

..... Churchill should also have sacked himself, as he was IMHO equally responsible for the debacle.

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

Post by MikeBrough » Sun Feb 17, 2013 9:48 am

Byron Angel wrote:
aurora wrote:Simon I have taken considerable time to research the circumstances of Battenberg's "resignation" and have concluded that you are absolutely correct in that Churchill did virtually sack him.My apologies

aurora

..... Churchill should also have sacked himself, as he was IMHO equally responsible for the debacle.

B
As he should have done following the Norwegian debacle in the next war. Instead he gets a promotion.

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

Post by aurora » Sun Feb 17, 2013 1:21 pm

Churchill's tenure as Lord of the Admiralty was not without strife, criticism, and tragic events. Churchill was responsible for removing from office no less than two Sea Lords, was forced to accept the resignation of a third, and had a severe falling out with his "hand picked" out of retirement First Sea Lord, Admiral Fisher.

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

Post by BobDonnald » Tue Mar 19, 2013 2:11 am

Churchill was probably setting a precedent for Chris Craddock's feeling that he had to engage the German East India squadron regardless of the outcome. I wonder if Henry Harwood's tactic in the next war would have worked on the Goeben. Split the Goebens fire by having two ships engage on opposite flanks.

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

Post by Ersatz Yorck » Tue Mar 19, 2013 3:16 pm

BobDonnald wrote:I wonder if Henry Harwood's tactic in the next war would have worked on the Goeben. Split the Goebens fire by having two ships engage on opposite flanks.
That would only have worked if Souchon or Ackermann had mismanaged the battle the way Langsdorff did. Much better for the Goeben to pick off the armoured cruisers one by one. One should also keep in mind that the British cruisers at the River Plate had a slight speed advantage over the Graf Spee, while the Goben was faster than Troubridges cruisers.

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

Post by BobDonnald » Wed Mar 20, 2013 8:30 am

IIRC, the action at River Platte started with opposing forces closing the range. By the book, Troubridge's armored cruisers should lose. Of course, by the book, a heavy cruiser going one on one with a battle cruiser at 3,000 yard range gets blown out of the water. All the British cruisers needed to do is inflict enough damage in a night action to slow the Goeben for other forces to finish. Of course Souchon will leave at high speed just as historically he did against the battle cruiser force.

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

Post by Ersatz Yorck » Wed Mar 20, 2013 2:14 pm

I doubt it would have been possible for Troubridge to arrange a night interception of the Goeben. It is not so easy to intercept an enemy force at night, nor was night fighting the preferred method for RN heavy units at the time. A day battle is far more likely, and Goeben would have all the advantages of speed and heavier guns.

In a day battle, Souchon would in all likelihood have wanted to escape without damage that slowed Goeben down, so a few long range salvoes is the most likely outcome. Even if Souchon had chosen to engage, the ammo of the Goeben would likley not have sufficed to dispatch all four British cruisers, even if one or two would have blown up as seems likley in the light of later developments, so the Goeben annihilating the entire British force is not a likely outcome.

Troubridge might have saved his career by gambling that Souchon would disengage, he would then have done his best and no one could have faulted him for his ships being a few knots slower.

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.

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