Gneisenau Encounter with Rodney

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gflotron
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Gneisenau Encounter with Rodney

Post by gflotron » Thu Jan 07, 2021 3:48 am

I asked same on other forum and had some good info on radar capabilities but..

I'm trying to get an idea how close Gneisenau was to HX114 when she encountered the Rodney. Likewise how close the Scharnhorst was as they were operating some distance apart at this time I believe.
I'm curious as that I saw one reference which said Gneisenau had "3 blips" on her radar, and am just wondering how close the convoy may have been.
The Ramillies and Malaya encounters are always discussed in the context of the convoys they were guarding, the missed opportunity.
In the case of the Ramillies I understand early in Operation Berlin, still not ready to tip off Royal Navy that they are at sea, avoid enemy battleships per orders, etc, but in the Rodney instance, the operation was weeks in, coming to an end soon, and despite the operation orders/limitations, the situation could have been exploited further.
For the 3rd time there was (I think, why I’m asking) a 25+ ship convoy of tankers and freighters within their grasp.

paul.mercer
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Re: Gneisenau Encounter with Rodney

Post by paul.mercer » Thu Jan 14, 2021 11:01 am

I don't think they ever got that close to Rodney, certainly not within firing range.
Rodney was a totally different danger to the twins than Ramillies or Malaya so they rightly decided that it would be a mistake to engage such powerfully armed ship who, because of the increased elevation capabilities of her guns would be likely to match them for range - unlike the other two who did not have their guns altered.
But even then, they were under orders not to tackle any convoys that was accompanied by a capital ship - a sensible precaution as it would take only a few large calibre shells in the 'wrong' place to put them in serious danger as they had no friendly ports to run to.

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wadinga
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Re: Gneisenau Encounter with Rodney

Post by wadinga » Thu Jan 14, 2021 7:31 pm

Hi Gflotron,

A gunnery officer quoted in Ian Ballantyne's book HMS Rodney says about 15 miles but in a rapidly darkening sky and looking past the glare of the burning Chilean Reefer the distance was hard to gauge and impossible to range. Rodney challenged by searchlight but got no sensible response and Gneisenau turned away and escaped at 30 knots, far faster than Rodney could manage. Scharnhorst was elsewhere. The Germans had sunk several vessels which were in a loose convoy on the HX route, and Rodney was not directly escorting a convoy at the time. Chilean Reefer engaged Gneisenau with her popgun defensive armament in a brave but futile act and reported her plight by radio. Rodney used searchlights to pick up survivors, which was also pretty brave, and Gnesisenau had also saved some before the British battleship arrived which was also admirable.

All the best

wadinga
"There seems to be something wrong with our bloody ships today!"

gflotron
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Re: Gneisenau Encounter with Rodney

Post by gflotron » Fri Jan 15, 2021 6:20 pm

Thanks for the responses!

Guess my main question, most curious about, is just how close HX 114 was, within 50 miles? 75?

The Royal Sovereign was with the convoy, so her presence alone would have dissuaded any attack, but in the entire course of the war, be it in the Atlantic, Mediterranean, Pacific, there are only a handful of times capital ships were relatively close to a vulnerable convoy, and it intrigues me to know how close.

Speaking of the Royal Sovereign, as maligned as the R class was, the fact remains they had their moments.
On February 8th 1941, when the Ramillies alone guarded 41 tankers and freighters loaded with essential materials bound for England, the Scharnhorst and Gneisenau refused to give battle because of her mere presence. This is a supreme example of sea control, a victory won without firing a shot.
The essence of Mahan's theories.

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Re: Gneisenau Encounter with Rodney

Post by Thorsten Wahl » Fri Jan 15, 2021 8:31 pm

What day?
Meine Herren, es kann ein siebenjähriger, es kann ein dreißigjähriger Krieg werden – und wehe dem, der zuerst die Lunte in das Pulverfaß schleudert!

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wadinga
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Re: Gneisenau Encounter with Rodney

Post by wadinga » Sat Jan 16, 2021 8:28 pm

Hi Gflotron,

You had most of the good info on "Axis".

Rodney was with HX 114 on 15th but left the convoy due to receiving distress calls from a group of tankers including Bianca, San Casimiro, Simnia etc and proceeded independently at highish speed steaming overnight and reached the Chilean Reefer incident at twilight on 16th, so the distance was way over 100 miles. Lutjens' ships on the 16th were slaughtering a dispersed westbound convoy, thus unescorted.

This has photos taken on the two days https://www.uboatphotos.net/operation-berlin.html

The three mysterious echoes might have been Chilean Reefer and/or lifeboats. Lutjens was determined to avoid any chance of damage and his ships had destroyed/captured many ships on 15th/16th. Unfortunately Brest proved to be anything but a safe refuge, more like a prison.

All the best

wadinga
"There seems to be something wrong with our bloody ships today!"

gflotron
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Re: Gneisenau Encounter with Rodney

Post by gflotron » Sat Jan 16, 2021 10:17 pm

Thank you very much!
Answers all my questions.

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