Withdrawing from Combat

General naval discussions that don't fit within any specific time period or cover several issues.
Byron Angel
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Re: Withdrawing from Combat

Post by Byron Angel » Mon Aug 04, 2014 11:09 am

Antonio ..... I have made my best effort to convince you to be more cautious in your interpretation of the psychology underlying events. But, as is attributed to that great Roman, Julius Caesar: "Man believes what we wishes to be true." Best of luck on your venture, upon which you have spent so much time, effort and passion.

B

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Antonio Bonomi
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Re: Withdrawing from Combat

Post by Antonio Bonomi » Mon Aug 04, 2014 4:28 pm

Hello everybody,

@ RF and Bryron Angel,

many thanks for your wise suggestions, for the challenges ( always taken in a positive way ) and for your recommendation.

I know this is a very sensitive and delicate argument to publish, ... and nothing will be done without a very careful evaluation upfront.

Those months and many threads has been a very good " exercise room " for me to realize in which way those arguments were going to be accepted, refused or challenged by the British readers, and I think both from here as well as from Facebook I have a very good idea about it now.

I think I have to thank you for the open mind showed on accepting to discuss about it and honestly bring out your opinion while accepting my points as well.

Some more details and evidences will be made available after my article will be published and I am sure we will cover them as well soon after.

Bye Antonio :D
In order to honor a soldier, we have to tell the truth about what happened over there. The whole, hard, cold truth. And until we do that, we dishonor her and every soldier who died, who gave their life for their country. ( Courage Under Fire )

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RF
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Re: Withdrawing from Combat

Post by RF » Tue Aug 05, 2014 7:57 am

Antonio Bonomi wrote:
Those months and many threads has been a very good " exercise room " for me to realize in which way those arguments were going to be accepted, refused or challenged by the British readers, and I think both from here as well as from Facebook I have a very good idea about it now.
My views on this subject and indeed on all the other threads on this forum are not specifically influenced by my nationality, which happens to be British. I apply the same criteria in evaluating the situations facing the military forces of all other countries, including those which at the time were enemies of the British state and people.

The idea of ''my country right or wrong'' wears very thin with me, as I believe the case is that wars are caused by people as individuals. Most people, including myself, are inevitably flawed in some way, as that is in human nature.
What I do believe in, as an individual, is that the spirit of enquiry and academic research should transend particular loyalties to encompass as broad a view as possible. At the same time I do believe in my country as a nation state, as part of a world of self governing nation states. That world has to be based on a mutual self respect and understanding of others, and that in my opinion is the best guarantee of world peace. Where peace breaks down it is because of a lack of respect and understanding, where people don't want to live with or like each other, for which the current situation in places like Gaza is such a shining example.
''Give me a Ping and one Ping only'' - Sean Connery.

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paulcadogan
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Re: Withdrawing from Combat

Post by paulcadogan » Wed Aug 06, 2014 3:54 am

Well said RF!

To Antonio I'll say, I recall giving you similar counsel way back, buried somewhere in the "Articles" mega-thread. We can all speculate on the motives and intentions behind certain actions - nothing wrong with that, as long as we do it with due sensitivity and the knowledge that we may be completely wrong, or we might have hit the nail on the head. We put forward what we think and let the reader decide based on the merit or lack thereof.....

As for Leach and Wake-Walker, also somewhere in the Articles mega-thread which I cannot spend the time to find, I did an evaluation of their overall conduct in the entire Bismarck operation. Apart from the negatives that have been scrutinized in the several threads related to this topic, there were positives too.

Wake-Walker was in command of BOTH Suffolk and Norfolk, with the later addition of PoW, and so was responsible for all of them. His ships found Bismarck, shadowed her (yes, mainly thanks to Suffolk), and despite the problems, enabled her to be brought to battle by BC1 and damaged, then kept in contact for many hours thereafter out into the open Atlantic, allowing Victorious to attack, before being given the slip. Still with his flagship, WW doggedly pursued Bismarck to be present to take part in her final destruction, his ship virtually steaming on fumes. Whatever his shortcomings, whatever he might have done differently in the DS, he stood fast until the end. His superiors chose to look past the negatives and rewarded him with a CBE. Good for Frederic Wake-Walker!

Leach was cited for "skill in action" among other things. He and his officers whipped his new ship with a defective main armament into shape in short order. He kept perfect station on his flagship up to the point of her demise, keeping perfect GIC/time sector shooting (McMullen) and thanks to his decision to ignore his Admiral's erroneous target order, his new ship scored 3 hits - 2 vital ones - that put paid to the continued execution of Exercise Rhine. He made a split second decision to discontinue the action very quickly - too quickly for some of us - right or wrong - he was decisive and in doing so probably saved his ship. He did not know at the time what damage, if any, he had done, but he found out very soon....Bismarck's hemorrhaging of precious oil.

He did his job in protecting the cruisers - re-engaging Bismarck twice. He wisely did not sink the Modoc! His superiors decided to overlook any apparent errors he may have made and look at the overall picture - after all, had it not been for the Prince of Wales, for Leach's "skill" Bismarck would have been unleashed on the convoy lanes, Suffolk may have been sunk. He was rewarded with a DSO. Good for John Catterall Leach!

BUT, I know many here, especially Antonio, Wadinga, will stand united in this regret...Vice-Admiral Lancelot Holland got nothing but criticism and scapegoating (I am not counting "Mentioned in Dispatches" as I feel that was woefully inadequate). He lost his ship, all but 3 of his crew, his life - but he was sent into a battle which his flagship was ill-equipped to withstand. He went in without fear, intent on doing the job. He was forced to make educated guesses during loss of contact with the enemy and was "not so much unskillful" as "unlucky". Yet he still brought the enemy to battle and one of the ships under his command seriously damaged the enemy. Had it not been for Holland's interception, this second ship (PoW) would not have scored those hits. He went down fighting with his flagship - the loss of which was an extremely unlikely event (as calculated by Admiral Santorini, according to Bill Jurens' fine review of his book) - so more sheer bad luck. Lancelot Ernest Holland deserved better....much better!! :clap: :clap:

That, my friends, conspiracy or no conspiracy, is how I feel about this WHOLE thing...

Paul
Qui invidet minor est - He who envies is the lesser man

alecsandros
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Re: Withdrawing from Combat

Post by alecsandros » Wed Aug 06, 2014 6:39 am

Byron Angel wrote: ..... Once again it seems that inference and supposition are being substituted for hard evidence. Leach ordered the turn-away under smoke, with Y turret becoming mechanically disabled as a result. Is it known with absolute certitude that Leach intended to flee from the fight altogether at the time he ordered that turn-away? There is a material difference between a disengagement to consolidate and outright retreat from the fight. Here is an excerpt the 04 Jun 41 report. It seems to me that Leach temporarily withdrew from the action; he did not leave the scene; he did not flee. At this point, Leach came under the orders of Wake-Walker as the next in command after Holland and PoW's actions were thereafter governed by Wake-Walker. It is worth noting that PoW's damage report was not able to be transmitted to Wake-Walker until 0707 hrs. It is also worthy of note that Wake-Walker himself went looking for Bismarck. I just do not see any logical traction for a case of dereliction of duty or cowardice.

- - -
In Leach's own words:
"Decision to Break off the Action
22. The Commanding Officer of Prince of Wales in his report says:

"Some explanation remains to be made as to my decision to break off the engagement after the sinking of H.M.S. Hood - a decision which clearly invites most critical examination. Prior to the disaster to the Hood I felt that, together, we could deal adequately with the Bismarck and her consort. The sinking of the Hood obviously changed the immediate situation, and there were three other considerations requiring to be weighed up, of which the first two had been in my mind before the action was joined namely:-

a. The practical certainty that owing to mechanical "teething troubles" a full output from the main armament could not be expected.

b. The working up of the ship after commissioning had only just reached a stage where I felt able to report to the Commander-in-Chief, Home Fleet, that I considered her reasonably fit to take part in service operations. This was the first occasion on which she had done so. From the gunnery point of view the personnel was immensely keen, but inexperienced.

c. The likelihood of a decisive concentration being effected at a later stage

In all the circumstances I did not consider it sound tactics to continue single-handed the engagement with two German ships, both of whom might be expected to be at the peak of their efficiency. Accordingly I turned away and broke off the action pending a more favourable opportunity
.""

Byron Angel
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Re: Withdrawing from Combat

Post by Byron Angel » Wed Aug 06, 2014 11:10 am

Alecsandros ... Leach's report is well known and represents perfectly valid reasoning IMO. But Leach also wrote that he disengaged in order "to consolidate" with Wake-Walker, who was successor to Holland as OIC. Leach did so, and, at that point, all decisions about engagement, disengagement, withdrawal, retreat, flight, etc rested in the hands of Wake-Walker.

B

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Antonio Bonomi
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Re: Withdrawing from Combat

Post by Antonio Bonomi » Wed Aug 06, 2014 11:47 am

Hello everybody,

@ Paul Cadogan,
paulcadogan wrote:Well said RF!

To Antonio I'll say, I recall giving you similar counsel way back, buried somewhere in the "Articles" mega-thread. We can all speculate on the motives and intentions behind certain actions - nothing wrong with that, as long as we do it with due sensitivity and the knowledge that we may be completely wrong, or we might have hit the nail on the head. We put forward what we think and let the reader decide based on the merit or lack thereof.....

As for Leach and Wake-Walker, also somewhere in the Articles mega-thread which I cannot spend the time to find, I did an evaluation of their overall conduct in the entire Bismarck operation. Apart from the negatives that have been scrutinized in the several threads related to this topic, there were positives too.

Wake-Walker was in command of BOTH Suffolk and Norfolk, with the later addition of PoW, and so was responsible for all of them. His ships found Bismarck, shadowed her (yes, mainly thanks to Suffolk), and despite the problems, enabled her to be brought to battle by BC1 and damaged, then kept in contact for many hours thereafter out into the open Atlantic, allowing Victorious to attack, before being given the slip. Still with his flagship, WW doggedly pursued Bismarck to be present to take part in her final destruction, his ship virtually steaming on fumes. Whatever his shortcomings, whatever he might have done differently in the DS, he stood fast until the end. His superiors chose to look past the negatives and rewarded him with a CBE. Good for Frederic Wake-Walker!

Leach was cited for "skill in action" among other things. He and his officers whipped his new ship with a defective main armament into shape in short order. He kept perfect station on his flagship up to the point of her demise, keeping perfect GIC/time sector shooting (McMullen) and thanks to his decision to ignore his Admiral's erroneous target order, his new ship scored 3 hits - 2 vital ones - that put paid to the continued execution of Exercise Rhine. He made a split second decision to discontinue the action very quickly - too quickly for some of us - right or wrong - he was decisive and in doing so probably saved his ship. He did not know at the time what damage, if any, he had done, but he found out very soon....Bismarck's hemorrhaging of precious oil.

He did his job in protecting the cruisers - re-engaging Bismarck twice. He wisely did not sink the Modoc! His superiors decided to overlook any apparent errors he may have made and look at the overall picture - after all, had it not been for the Prince of Wales, for Leach's "skill" Bismarck would have been unleashed on the convoy lanes, Suffolk may have been sunk. He was rewarded with a DSO. Good for John Catterall Leach!

BUT, I know many here, especially Antonio, Wadinga, will stand united in this regret...Vice-Admiral Lancelot Holland got nothing but criticism and scapegoating (I am not counting "Mentioned in Dispatches" as I feel that was woefully inadequate). He lost his ship, all but 3 of his crew, his life - but he was sent into a battle which his flagship was ill-equipped to withstand. He went in without fear, intent on doing the job. He was forced to make educated guesses during loss of contact with the enemy and was "not so much unskillful" as "unlucky". Yet he still brought the enemy to battle and one of the ships under his command seriously damaged the enemy. Had it not been for Holland's interception, this second ship (PoW) would not have scored those hits. He went down fighting with his flagship - the loss of which was an extremely unlikely event (as calculated by Admiral Santorini, according to Bill Jurens' fine review of his book) - so more sheer bad luck. Lancelot Ernest Holland deserved better....much better!! :clap: :clap:

That, my friends, conspiracy or no conspiracy, is how I feel about this WHOLE thing...

Paul
:clap: :clap: :clap: :clap: :clap:

I am in FULL agreement with you analysis, ... I cannot have done it any better.

That is the reason why I want to rewrite my article in light of an overall new set of evaluations, ... especially about what was done by ViceAdm L. Holland.

I just add to your list ... LtntCdr William Colin McMullen and the PoW gunners, ... because they got lots of criticism too ... were " used " as justification for the poor PoW efficiency " confidence level " of their Captain ... and it was not fair ... since they did great given the conditions ... and scored 3 hits on Bismarck.

McMullen and his gunners deserved a DSO just like the others, ... like Holland and Kerr and if I was the King ... to the all crew of HMS Hood !

Bye Antonio :D
Last edited by Antonio Bonomi on Wed Aug 06, 2014 11:51 am, edited 1 time in total.
In order to honor a soldier, we have to tell the truth about what happened over there. The whole, hard, cold truth. And until we do that, we dishonor her and every soldier who died, who gave their life for their country. ( Courage Under Fire )

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Antonio Bonomi
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Re: Withdrawing from Combat

Post by Antonio Bonomi » Wed Aug 06, 2014 11:50 am

Hello everybody,

@ RF,

you wrote :
RF wrote:
Antonio Bonomi wrote:
Those months and many threads has been a very good " exercise room " for me to realize in which way those arguments were going to be accepted, refused or challenged by the British readers, and I think both from here as well as from Facebook I have a very good idea about it now.
My views on this subject and indeed on all the other threads on this forum are not specifically influenced by my nationality, which happens to be British. I apply the same criteria in evaluating the situations facing the military forces of all other countries, including those which at the time were enemies of the British state and people.

The idea of ''my country right or wrong'' wears very thin with me, as I believe the case is that wars are caused by people as individuals. Most people, including myself, are inevitably flawed in some way, as that is in human nature.
What I do believe in, as an individual, is that the spirit of enquiry and academic research should transend particular loyalties to encompass as broad a view as possible. At the same time I do believe in my country as a nation state, as part of a world of self governing nation states. That world has to be based on a mutual self respect and understanding of others, and that in my opinion is the best guarantee of world peace. Where peace breaks down it is because of a lack of respect and understanding, where people don't want to live with or like each other, for which the current situation in places like Gaza is such a shining example.
:clap: :clap: :clap: :clap: :clap:

Bye Antonio :D
In order to honor a soldier, we have to tell the truth about what happened over there. The whole, hard, cold truth. And until we do that, we dishonor her and every soldier who died, who gave their life for their country. ( Courage Under Fire )

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