Blucher in Dogger Bank

From the birth of the Dreadnought to the period immediately after the end of World War I.
Byron Angel
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Re: Blucher in Dogger Bank

Post by Byron Angel »

I own at least ten books by Friedman, starting with his first work, “Battleship Design and Development 1905-1945” published all the way back in 1978. However, my opinion of Friedman has unfortunately rather diminished over recent years. He seems to have developed (IMO) a serious case of compulsive teutophobia.

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marcelo_malara
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Re: Blucher in Dogger Bank

Post by marcelo_malara »

Byron Angel wrote: Sun Mar 24, 2024 2:33 pm I own at least ten books by Friedman, starting with his first work, “Battleship Design and Development 1905-1945” published all the way back in 1978. However, my opinion of Friedman has unfortunately rather diminished over recent years. He seems to have developed (IMO) a serious case of compulsive teutophobia.

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I do not like Friedman. His writing is confusing some times. When writing about ships he gives more space to unrealized projects than actual ones, and on the actually built classes he rarely gives a note about their effectiveness. Neither will you find a simple GA plan of the ships. His firepower volume should be the most consulted in my library, but it is not so, due to the mentioned confusing writing. His only merit is writing about unwritten by other authors themes. No more than that.

Regards
NCC1717
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Re: Blucher in Dogger Bank

Post by NCC1717 »

Thank you Byron for that source material with the German official account of Skagerrak (Monthly Information Bulletin - (Office of Naval Intelligence, Navy Department), Supplement Number Four, February 1926).

Here is a link to a scanned copy online:
https://archive.org/details/monthlyinformati1926unit

NCC1717
Byron Angel
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Re: Blucher in Dogger Bank

Post by Byron Angel »

NCC1717 wrote: Sun Mar 24, 2024 7:58 pm Thank you Byron for that source material with the German official account of Skagerrak (Monthly Information Bulletin - (Office of Naval Intelligence, Navy Department), Supplement Number Four, February 1926).

Here is a link to a scanned copy online:
https://archive.org/details/monthlyinformati1926unit

NCC1717

Thanks NCC1717.
I knew there was a digital copy in one of the ONI annual volumes on archive.org. But I knew right where my original paper copy was on my bookshelves. Call me foolish, but there is just something special to me about handling these century old documents that were actually around when the history was being made.

But I absolutely do just LOVE archive.org ..... :dance:

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wadinga
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Re: Blucher in Dogger Bank

Post by wadinga »

Hi All,

If any further evidence were needed apart from Friedman's inciteful assessment, Scheer's own writing is available, from his own self-serving and downright inaccurate account of Skaggerak which some Teutonophiles might prefer to accept uncritically, rather than admit its numerous distortions of reality :
A message was then received from the leader of Scouting Division II that he had been fired on by some newly arrived large ships. At 8.2 p.m. came a wireless: " Wiesbaden incapable of action." On receipt of the message I turned with the Fleet two points to larboard [port] so as to draw nearer to the group and render assistance to the Wiesbaden.
He seems to be a hour later than the radio log above

and
It was still too early for a nocturnal move. If the enemy followed us our action in retaining the direction taken after turning the line would partake of the nature of a retreat, and in the event of any damage to our ships in the rear the Fleet would be compelled to sacrifice them or else to decide on a line of action enforced by enemy pressure, and not adopted voluntarily, and would therefore be detrimental to us from the very outset. Still less was it feasible to strive at detaching oneself from the enemy, leaving it to him to decide when he would elect to meet us the next morning. There was but one way of averting this—to force the enemy into a second battle by another determined advance, and forcibly compel his torpedo-boats to attack. The success of the turning of the line while fighting encouraged me to make the attempt, and decided me to make still further use of the facility of movement. The manœuvre would be bound to surprise the enemy, to upset his plans for the rest of the day, and if the blow fell heavily it would facilitate the breaking loose at night. The fight of the Wiesbaden helped also to strengthen my resolve to make an effort to render assistance to her and at least save the crew.
from www.wtj.com/archives/scheer/scheer10c.htm Germany's High Seas Fleet in the World War Chap 10c or https://archive.org/details/germanyshighseaf0000admi

So Scheer attempts to explain away his tactical blunders in having his T crossed twice as a laudable (if irresponsible) attempt to save poor Wiesbaden by risking his entire fleet.

A read through Scheer's book is hugely entertaining, including historical re-imaginings such as Beatty's force retreating from Hipper's at Dogger Bank, without admitting that it was the speed of Hipper's retreat over several hours which left tail-end Charlie Blucher to her fate. I especially enjoyed him shamelessly attempting to steal Nelson's phrase:
The manœuvre would be bound to surprise the enemy, to upset his plans for the rest of the day
I have a republished edition which includes a foreword by modern historians Andrew Lambert and Marcus Faulkner which seeks to mitigate somewhat the blatant arse-covering and distortions of Scheer's account by pointing out that, like the German Official Account, it was considered necessary to change facts in order to try to ensure the existence of any German Navy under a post-war post-Imperial pacifist government. The High Seas fleet had sat uselessly and expensively at its moorings for pretty much every day of the War, whilst the army had bled to death on the Western Front or scored stunning victories in the East. Yet the revolution that destroyed Wilhelmine Germany and collapsed the war effort had originated in the mutinous crews of that very "Luxury" fleet. Desperate measures were necessary in the 1920s to create an alternate history in which the HSF (and its commanders) had played a valuable part.

The old canard, "history is written by the victors" should be balanced by the fairly obvious truth that history written by the bitter, vengeful losers will be less trustworthy.

All the best

wadinga
"There seems to be something wrong with our bloody ships today!"
Byron Angel
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Re: Blucher in Dogger Bank

Post by Byron Angel »

Scheer's book was IMO clearly intended for consumption by the postwar general public in Germany. Whatever "heroic" liberties he took with the historical account are understandable on that basis. The book was also far greater in scope than Jutland alone; Scheer covered the entire naval war 1914-1918 in 363 pages.

Campbell's book on Jutland alone ran to 400 pages IIRC.

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wadinga
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Re: Blucher in Dogger Bank

Post by wadinga »

Hi Byron and all,

Having referenced the inaccuracies in Scheer's description of Dogger Bank and since I possess the book, I am well aware Skagerrak is covered in less detail than some other works. However Scheer's misrepresentations and creations of alternate facts (heroic liberties) are not errors of omission due to limited space, but deliberate acts to misinform and mislead.

You are percipient in spotting these distortions but it is disturbing that published authors, the late, lamented Gary Staff most notably, parrot this Second Reich propaganda nearly a century later and treat Scheer's work as gospel recording of fact. Writings by Jellicoe and Beatty have been given severe scrutiny since their time and the shortcomings of their actions and their subsequent presentations on what occurred have been endlessly dissected and mercilessly exposed when in error. Why shouldn't Scheer and the HSF be examined in the same manner?

As for Norman Friedman's "compulsive Teutonophobia" he is not afraid to call "a spade, a spade" and calls out the shortcomings of both sides evenly instead of adopting the current trendiness for exculpating Germany for its sins in creating the First World War and mythologizing its military forces and equipment for efficiency and brilliance. His lecture to the Naval War College: 8 Bells Lecture I Norman Friedman: Fighting the Great War at Sea on You Tube is a splendid performance where he lobs brickbats at both sides evenly and with sardonic humour. I cannot agree with Marcelo, Firepower attempts to cover a massively complex subject from first principles, and to me there is little point in duplicating what others have said before, so he covers new areas of interest, which is to be applauded. Fighting the Great War at Sea is a magisterial effort putting all aspects in context relative to one another.

No comments about Iachino and the brutality of sometimes having to abandon lame ducks to their fate?

All the best

wadinga
"There seems to be something wrong with our bloody ships today!"
Byron Angel
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Re: Blucher in Dogger Bank

Post by Byron Angel »

Wadinga,
You have gone down this path before. I have no interest in getting involved a second time.

Have a nice day.
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wadinga
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Re: Blucher in Dogger Bank

Post by wadinga »

Hi All,

Oh....well.....whatever.

Returning to Marcelo's original post, according to Staff's Battle of the Seven Seas which is based on German Official reports and Scheer's book, Hipper did turn to "make a stand", after running away at maximum speed for several hours, when he realised the trailing Blucher was severely disabled. A shell splinter from a Princess Royal hit damaged a main steam pipe reducing her maximum speed to 17 knots at about 11:30. The rest of the Scouting Group maintained course and speed SE by S and rapidly left her behind.

Staff quotes Hipper's Report :
For some time Blucher had been falling behind........so I determined to cover Blucher by energetically damaging the enemy and to go nearer him and put in a torpedo attack.
Hipper turned his force gradually to S by W at about 12:00 but noticed both Beatty's ships and Blucher had turned to port, frustrating his "instinctive desire" to create a circular battle. Staff says his desire disappeared shortly after when it was reported to him that Seydlitz' after turrets were destroyed and her stern flooded. BTW this had actually happened nearly an hour and a half earlier.

Of course that British turn to port was to avoid the "imaginary U-boat" and subsequent kerfuffle over Seymour's clumsy signal.

Hipper comes up with another reason in his report:
The support of SMS Blucher would involve the !st AG [his battle cruisers] in a circular battle between the English battlecruisers and the battleship unit that they had brought, supposedly behind them.
Whilst we're on the subject of imaginary warships, this battleship squadron was indeed in the North Sea but many. many miles away to the NW and Hipper had no real knowledge of its proximity or otherwise. Staff, always keen to put a gloss on German actions and demean British ones says:
he [Hipper] decided not to renew the battle after the British had broken off the action. At 12:12 Kontreadmiral Hipper turned away from the enemy with a heavy heart and resumed a south westerly [sic, easterly] course


Broken off the action, as in actually continuing the action against the nearly helpless Blucher as she staggered on south-eastwards for another hour, whilst Hipper continued SE to safety at full speed ignoring any chance of finishing the disabled Lion.

Just another example where there is no honest appraisal of Hipper's actions. He did what he had to do because running away was necessary to preserve his other ships. This half-hearted 12 minute "turn back" makes no sense, except to try and make him, Hipper, "look good". German accounts of the time, and over-generous ones subsequently written, should be held "to account" just like the British ones.

All the best

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