Some questions about the battle at the Denmark Strait

Discussions about the history of the ship, technical details, etc.

Moderator: Bill Jurens

Bill Jurens
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Re: Some questions about the battle at the Denmark Strait

Post by Bill Jurens » Sat Jul 13, 2019 5:38 pm

Longer-term readers of this forum will recall that we tried a similar sort of 'micro' approach to solving the Denmark Strait problem a few months ago, trying to decide upon the lengths and bearings of various 'legs' of the track chart, employing fairly standard techniques that surveyors might use to resolve apparent discrepancies in the positioning of property lines, etc. That fell through quite quickly insofar as the various recorded measurements were, in most cases discrepant, approximate, and poorly defined, and in some cases entirely absent. I can't speak for others, but after a considerable amount of effort, I simply could not bring the various reports into tight congruence, i.e. no matter how one did it, there were several measurements, etc., that had to be (often fairly arbitrarily) considered to be in considerable error. Some will conclude, perhaps correctly, that the fault lay in the analyst, in this case, me. Others might conclude that the fault lay in the data itself. Where does it lie? Yes or no?

My sense of it is that we are now moving the discussion, for better or worse, into one revolving around historical (and perhaps, to a certain extent, technical) technique. I can't claim to be an historian, although I do have a couple of dinner-friends that are, and even they sometimes disagree as to the precise methodologies by which 'facts' can be manipulated and conclusions drawn. But I am sure there methodology is better than ours is -- or certainly mine.

I know of no historical sources prior to say, 1990, that claim, or require in their narrative, that any particular reconstruction to be in any way be considered definitive, nor that might claim that discrepancies in the accounts of either side are due to subterfuge or malfeasance. Each provided their own description of the action, often using somewhat different sources, and -- via differences in interpretation and emphasis -- resulting in accounts which in most cases differed in detail, sometimes substantively, from others. Presumably -- in part because during that period their still remained many survivors of the action who could quite easily comment upon the narratives provided prior to publication -- it was recognized by all or most that a definitive reconstruction was probably impossible.

Problems began, at least in my opinion, when the number of survivors who could, in the English idiom 'call BS' -- diminished. This allowed the genesis of a series of what might best be called 'over-analytics', where individuals felt that an excessive -- one might almost say compulsive -- re-examination of the data might somehow extract details which were -- for reasons remaining unknown to me -- previously hidden. Although this was not entirely without justification, as the declassification of certain documents did indeed reveal documentary evidence not generally previously available, one tended to enter a phase of what we called in engineering 'Paralysis by Analysis', where one essentially ended up overthinking the problem(s). The best example of this, again in my opinion, might be Robert Winklareth's elaborate reconstruction of the Denmark Strait action, primarily based upon -- again in my opinion -- rather sophomoric re-interpretation of the photographic evidence. The Winklareth reconstructions represent, again in my opinion, a very good example of 'A man sees what he wants to see..." as alluded to earlier.

Whether or not the reconstruction -- as I interpret it developed by Mr. Bonomi, and championed by Mr. Virtuani and a few others -- falls into thie same category is a subject that remains, in my opinion, legitimately debatable. As a participant, I clearly have opinions regarding its credibility; as a moderator, I do not. That is why, as a moderator, I have never knowingly deleted or redacted technical analysis per se, but have restricted redactions to commentary which is either blatantly dis-respectful in tone and/or includes ad-hominem components.

It remains to be seen whether this new attempt at a 'binary' analysis via 'yes or no' responses will move the discussion forward. Although I remain skeptical regarding its chances of success, that's not the same thing as saying that it's not worth trying.

The previous material is written by Bill Jurens as 'a guy', and should not be interpreted as representing a moderator's opinion. As a moderator, except in truly egregious situations, I try not to have any opinion at all, restricting my activities to moderating tone rather than factual content or factual speculation.

Hope this rant/commentary helps a bit. My apologies that it's much longer than the 'yes or no' format requested.

Bill Jurens
(just a guy...)

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Alberto Virtuani
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Re: Some questions about the battle at the Denmark Strait

Post by Alberto Virtuani » Sat Jul 13, 2019 5:43 pm

Hello everybody,
thanks to Mr.Jurens for his intervention against an explicit provocation.

However, as the "guy" seems to have doubts about the format (yes/no), I would suggest to concentrate on the "moderator" role, performing this kind of redactions in advance against his side, not only when asked by me...


Bye, Alberto
"It takes three years to build a ship; it takes three centuries to build a tradition" (Adm.A.B.Cunningham)

"There's always a danger running in the enemy at close range" (Adm.W.F.Wake-Walker)

Bill Jurens
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Re: Some questions about the battle at the Denmark Strait

Post by Bill Jurens » Sat Jul 13, 2019 5:56 pm

The adjective which Mr. Virtuani found potentially offensive has been redacted.

Clearly, based on recent postings concerning my own behaviour, I have -- or am expected to have -- considerably thicker skin...

Unless I am over-ruled by Mr. Rico, it is our policy that ALL participants are welcome (and encouraged) to participate in the board discussions, using any format which they consider to be reasonable. Except in truly unusual cases we limit restrictions to tone rather than content. Setting arbitrary 'rules' for the content a particular thread, to which others may not precisely conform, may be frustrating, but does not, at least in my opinion, constitute a major transgression. Lots of threads wander off-track, and -- though it may be seen by some to be inefficient -- the process does sometimes lead to interesting locations.

Bill Jurens

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José M. Rico
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Re: Some questions about the battle at the Denmark Strait

Post by José M. Rico » Sat Jul 13, 2019 5:59 pm

Sorry, I have been away for a couple of days and didn't have time to read the latest posts.
Because of the most recent exchange and before everything gets out of hand, this thread is temporarly locked until I find the time to revise everything and provide a proper answer.
Best.

Locked