Worst admiral of all time

General naval discussions that don't fit within any specific time period or cover several issues.
JtD
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Re: World's worst admiral

Postby JtD » Wed Mar 04, 2009 8:34 pm

The movement of the S&G away from Brest was not a withdrawal, but a redeployment to a different front. They were both intended to go up North to stop Arctic convoys, which at that time provided the Soviet Union with crucial equipment.

In the North, they were thought to achieve more while being at a lesser risk, mainly from the RAF. Also, the main idea for the Germans at that time was to knock the Soviets out of the war, not the British or let alone the US.

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Re: World's worst admiral

Postby RF » Fri Mar 06, 2009 9:01 am

Strategically Cerebus was a blunder, but if the twins are not going to be used for Atlantic operations then it is pointless leaving them exposed in ports very close to British airfields. The real problem here is that the British dispertion strategy was working - Germany was too heavily engaged in Russia and the Med to give the twins proper air and artillery support in France.
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Re: World's worst admiral

Postby tommy303 » Fri Mar 06, 2009 8:46 pm

There was also the fact that the twins and Prinz Eugen at Brest no longer had the supply ship and tanker network to keep them fueled and supplied in the Atlantic. This supply system had been pretty much eliminated in the early summer of 1941. The only missions they could now perform were simple dashes out into the Atlantic in hopes of finding a target and dash back again when the fuel situation required it. The attendant danger was that the British would know where the ships would have to go once their fuel was low and could simply wait and try to ambush them as they came back to the bBay of Biscay. There simply was no chance of them turning up unexpectedly once the pressure was off. Withdrawl to German and Norway was really the only useful option open to the Germans if they had hopes of the ships being of further use to the war effort.

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Re: World's worst admiral

Postby chcrawfish » Fri May 08, 2009 6:54 pm

Karl Heidenreich wrote:
Chuichi Nagumo For many (including Japanese heroes as Fuchida) he was responsible of the utter defeat at Midway



According to Tully and Parshall in Shattered Sword, Fuchida's post war writings, especially about Midway, are full of falsehoods, and the Japanese don't lend them much credence.

That being said, Nagumo is a pretty good choice for this category, as he ran away from Pearl Harbor instead of launching the planned third and fourth waves, which would have destroyed much of the repair facilities and the fuel farms, making Pearl useless for the first year of the war. His lack of decisiveness at Midway was a problem, but since the scout planes didn't spot Fletcher and Spruance until too late to hit them before they launched their strikes, blaming him for that isn't justified. Blaming him for the loss of Hiryu on the other hand is justified. He closed the range between Kido Butai and the Americans after the first 3 carriers were smashed, which allowed the Americans to chalk up carrier #4 on the scoreboard.

Takao Kurita could also go in this category because of his defeat by Taffy 3 off Samar. Four battleships, six heavy cruisers, two light cruisers, and 10DDs against escort carriers, DDs and DEs...and he turned tail and ran, losing 3 heavy cruisers (and one more damaged, never to make it home), against the losses of 1 CVE, 2 DD, and 1 DE.
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Re: World's worst admiral

Postby Bgile » Fri May 08, 2009 11:19 pm

chcrawfish wrote:
Karl Heidenreich wrote:
Chuichi Nagumo For many (including Japanese heroes as Fuchida) he was responsible of the utter defeat at Midway



According to Tully and Parshall in Shattered Sword, Fuchida's post war writings, especially about Midway, are full of falsehoods, and the Japanese don't lend them much credence.

That being said, Nagumo is a pretty good choice for this category, as he ran away from Pearl Harbor instead of launching the planned third and fourth waves, which would have destroyed much of the repair facilities and the fuel farms, making Pearl useless for the first year of the war. His lack of decisiveness at Midway was a problem, but since the scout planes didn't spot Fletcher and Spruance until too late to hit them before they launched their strikes, blaming him for that isn't justified. Blaming him for the loss of Hiryu on the other hand is justified. He closed the range between Kido Butai and the Americans after the first 3 carriers were smashed, which allowed the Americans to chalk up carrier #4 on the scoreboard.

Takao Kurita could also go in this category because of his defeat by Taffy 3 off Samar. Four battleships, six heavy cruisers, two light cruisers, and 10DDs against escort carriers, DDs and DEs...and he turned tail and ran, losing 3 heavy cruisers (and one more damaged, never to make it home), against the losses of 1 CVE, 2 DD, and 1 DE.


Halsey doesn't shine very brightly through this episode, after being suckered out of position.

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Re: World's worst admiral

Postby lwd » Sat May 09, 2009 5:14 pm

chcrawfish wrote: ... Nagumo is a pretty good choice for this category, as he ran away from Pearl Harbor instead of launching the planned third and fourth waves, which would have destroyed much of the repair facilities and the fuel farms, making Pearl useless for the first year of the war.

That's supposition and probably incorrect. I'm not even sure a 4 th wave was mentioned. A third wave is almost guaranteed on the other hand to have resulted in significant losses in Japanese planes and aviaters. This has been debated at length in quite a few spots on the internet by the way.
His lack of decisiveness at Midway was a problem, ...

Perhaps but is it enough to merit Worlds worst.
Takao Kurita could also go in this category because of his defeat by Taffy 3 off Samar. Four battleships, six heavy cruisers, two light cruisers, and 10DDs against escort carriers, DDs and DEs...and he turned tail and ran, losing 3 heavy cruisers (and one more damaged, never to make it home), against the losses of 1 CVE, 2 DD, and 1 DE.

Well he was opposed by a lot more than that during the course of this operation. Which particular decisions do you fault him for? At the point he decided to leave it's not clear that it was all that bad a decision.

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Re: World's worst admiral

Postby dfrighini » Tue Jul 21, 2009 2:27 pm

For the sake of having someone different I am going to nominate Rear Admiral Erich Bey. However to be honest I’m not sure if he really was the worst Admiral, more a victim of politics, circumstance and a lack of imagination. Rear Admiral Erich Bey certainly represents many of the problems with the German command; he should have taken a leaf out of Admiral Wilhelm Marschall book and disobeyed his orders, even if he suffered the same fate.

A victim of circumstance, Rear Admiral Erich Bey was promoted to Rear Admiral on the 25th December 1943, prior to his promotion he had a background in destroyers and fought at Narvik. The Kreigmarine was a very different fighting force in late 1943, gone were the great successes of early war, the surface ships were on their back foot, not only fighting desperately to survive against the Royal Navy, but fighting desperately to prove their value to their inept political leaders. Post the Battle of Barents Sea (1942) Hitler had ordered the decommissioning of the surface fleet, after Grand Admiral Raeder’s resignation Deonitz managed to secure their reprieve, but the ships still had to prove their worth in Hitler’s eyes. Grand Admiral Raeder is quoted as saying ‘they can do no more than show how they can die gallantly’, either suck in their Norwegian hideaway or fighting hopelessly again a well prepared comprehensive Allied fleet. Recently promoted Rear Admiral Erich Bey knew this, it is evident in his communications with his predecessor Otto Ciliax, like Günther Lütjens, Erich Bey saw his sad fate before he had even begun the operation.

Endemic problems in the German high command structure and the ongoing and hostile war between the Navy and the Luftwaffe also played a key role in the destruction of the Scharnhorst and ultimately Erich Bey. Certainly the intelligence was available, and Scharnhorst having set sail and wondered into the British trap could have escaped had the correct information been pass on timely to her and her commanders. However, even having taken into account the delay between the Luftwaffe sighting a British heavy unit and escorts 150 miles from the Scharnhorst’s position and the message being transmitted to the Scharnhorst, Bey did not react, perhaps because he felt compelled to from his ordered, full of contradictions and vagrancies. According to his detailed account it did not take Wilhelm Godde (acting petty officer and senior survivor) long to realise Scharnhorst doomed position, although it would be face to say Godde was writing with the benefit of hindsight. However, a inexcusable number of hours passed from Scharnhorst receiving the information during which time she could have made good her escape. Bey and the Scharnhorst had already made contact with Admiral Parham’s cruisers at this point, and therefore it would have been reasonable to assume the heavy united sighted give sailing time would try to intercept the Scharnhorst. Bey seems to have suffered a form of mental paralysis, similar to what inflicted the Bismarck’s command crew before she was sunk, fated and trapped, Bey failed to realise any alternative to death.

Another point I question is the German use of radar, it has already been the subject of many threads in this forum that German radar was not a bad as it is often made out to be, Scharnhorst could have certainly fought a night battle with radar fire control, even with her forwards radar knocked out. The real problem was the psychology amongst German officers regarding radar, this belief that use of radar will transmit signals which would allow enemy units to home in on there location. Certainly there is a little scientific background to this argument with early radar (used at the beginning of the war), however not using you radar as is should be used is worse in my opinion. As a German officer Rear Admiral Erich Bey has to share some of the blame in this.

Certainly Bey and the Scharnhorst put up a brave fight until the end, however I believe Bey’s command was questionable. Given the information and equipment available he could have escaped, certainly it would have been very hard for Scharnhorst to have achieved any kind of victory in her given situation, which to be honest she was put in by others.

The events that lead to the sinking of the Scharnhorst can best be described as a ‘snowball effect’ one event followed by another lead to etc. Bey main failing was his lack of imagination, he appear seemingly trapped, on one course to destruction.

Perhaps my writing of Erich Bey is a little harsh, I don’t know. Yet again I’m not really sure, or think it is fair to call him the worst Admiral, there are most likely worse, including people who were not Admirals (like Hitler) who were not.

Admiral Bruce Fraser’s words regarding the command of the Scharnhorst after the battle are respectable.

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Re: World's worst admiral

Postby RF » Wed Jul 22, 2009 1:15 pm

I don't think that the loss of Scharnhorst was entirely down to Bey. I would certainly agree that he was not the right man for the job, he didn't have the required background or experience, but once at sea he was on his own and operating almost completely blind. To be honest I can't see any other German Admiral doing any better.
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Re: World's worst admiral

Postby dfrighini » Wed Jul 22, 2009 4:08 pm

RF wrote:I don't think that the loss of Scharnhorst was entirely down to Bey. I would certainly agree that he was not the right man for the job, he didn't have the required background or experience, but once at sea he was on his own and operating almost completely blind. To be honest I can't see any other German Admiral doing any better.


As I stated in my argument I also don't believe it was single handily Erich Bey's fault, here you have a man with a great many problems, created in a large part by the actions of others. However it seems one of Bey's major weakness was his ability to stick rigidly to his orders, which were contradicting. I think in terms of German leadership Admiral Wilhelm Marschall was probably the most promising, he was able to think for himself and had a good idea of the overall strategic situation. When I compare Günther Lütjens to Bey, i think at least Lütjens made decisions, they might have been incorrect, but the cogs were turning.

As I have already said I'm not really sure if it is fair to call Bey the worst Admiral, more a victim of circumstance, but this is where the best Admirals can shine.

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Karl Heidenreich
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Re: World's worst admiral

Postby Karl Heidenreich » Wed Jul 22, 2009 10:00 pm

Oberwarrior,

The thread intention is to point out the worst admiral in History and Bey, even if we can blame him for the loss thus associated, it´s not even a fraction of Villeneuve´s failure (which was HIS OWN doing) or Zinovy Rozhestvensky. These two guys really blew it sky high. I don´t believe that during WWI or WWII a guy commited such a mistake.

Well... there was one guy that commited a mistake that, if exploited by the enemy, it could be associated to a great failure: Halsey. But his failure didn´t translate in a disaster so he cannot be regarded as a "bad" admiral.
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Re: World's worst admiral

Postby dfrighini » Thu Jul 23, 2009 8:03 am

okay
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Re: World's worst admiral

Postby RF » Thu Jul 23, 2009 1:19 pm

Oberwarrior, if Marschall was in Bey's place I think he would have told Donitz that it was essential that Tirpitz be involved in the operation with Scharnhorst. That would have been impossible, and Marschall I believe would have resigned rather than take on something he would be likely to recognise as a suicide mission.
Bey was in an unfortunate position. He should have resigned. That would have been one action showing he had some naval savvy.
Instead he was rather being in the position of a small kid being forced by the school bully (Donitz, and Hitler behind him) to fight another kid he had no chance of beating.


However as Karl says this thread is about the worst admiral. If I were to take the post Second World War years could I suggest (I hope this doesn't offend Marcelo) Admiral Aneya of Argentina, for carrying out the Falklands invasion, which Alexander Haig quite rightly pointed out to him that he could only finish up in the losing position and his own people would be after his blood.....
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Re: World's worst admiral

Postby dfrighini » Fri Jul 24, 2009 9:28 am

RF wrote:Oberwarrior, if Marschall was in Bey's place I think he would have told Donitz that it was essential that Tirpitz be involved in the operation with Scharnhorst. That would have been impossible, and Marschall I believe would have resigned rather than take on something he would be likely to recognise as a suicide mission.
Bey was in an unfortunate position. He should have resigned. That would have been one action showing he had some naval savvy.
Instead he was rather being in the position of a small kid being forced by the school bully (Donitz, and Hitler behind him) to fight another kid he had no chance of beating.


However as Karl says this thread is about the worst admiral. If I were to take the post Second World War years could I suggest (I hope this doesn't offend Marcelo) Admiral Aneya of Argentina, for carrying out the Falklands invasion, which Alexander Haig quite rightly pointed out to him that he could only finish up in the losing position and his own people would be after his blood.....


Generally I agree with your analogy regarding Erich Bey, he was in a bad position, and only I don't think he had much chance of surviving.

I'm sorry for taking this forum post off subject, as Bey is not considered to be the worst Admiral (by a long shot), I simply did it for the benefit of debate and discussion, as this is what make history interesting. kind regards )))
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Re: World's worst admiral

Postby Karl Heidenreich » Fri Sep 11, 2009 1:58 am

Halsey? :kaput:
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Re: Worst admiral of all time

Postby Adolfo Ceño » Fri Sep 25, 2009 11:05 am

As a Spaniard my nomination as the worst admiral of all time is, without doubt,
José de Córdova
who wrote one of the most execrable pages of the Spanish naval history, as commander of the fleet which was defeated in the Battle of Cape St. Vincent in 1797 by a minor British fleet under admiral Jervis. Since then earl of St. Vincent !
Something to forget ...


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