Adm Troubridge-right/wrong-in the GOEBEN AFFAIR

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Re: Adm Troubridge-right/wrong-in the GOEBEN AFFAIR

Post by HMSVF »

wadinga wrote: Thu Apr 07, 2022 7:14 pm Hello All,

There are serious discrepancies in reports of the speed Goeben could achieve as a result of boiler problems. Her perceived ability to outrun or out manoeuvre and engage in gunnery at her optimum distance against Troubridge's squadron obviously weighed heavy on his mind. The shadowing HMS Gloucester reported the enemy's speed as 26 knots after leaving Messina and 22 knots somewhat later. Admiral Souchon, writing in 1930 claims an 18 knot maximum was only maintained with the utmost effort by stokers and every available extra hand moving coal in extreme high temperatures. Georg Kopp records four stokers died through their exertions or by steam leaks. Her boilers were in a parlous state with one or more of 24 completely out of action at any one time. Some of the coal she had scrounged from various sources in Messina was of very inferior quality. She had been due to return to Germany for major refit, and relieved in the Mediterranean by Moltke.

The maximum speed Goeben could make could only be discovered by actually engaging her, and there are many cases where ship's powerplants have failed due to being overstressed in battle. Whilst Gloucester's reporting was very good on the whole, it is possible occasional overestimates by guessing closing rates at very long ranges,unduly affected Troubridge's judgement.

All the best

wadinga

From the titbits I have read half the problem was the British battlecruisers were hardly making a pace either. From the link I sent Byron, chapter 4 it states that Captain Kennedy (Indomitable) that it was his "belief that she was deficient by some 90 stokers"...

Why Indefatigable wasn't able to catch up ? Who knows. Due for refit?


Troubridge was IMHO the fall guy/scapegoat for an Admiralty cock up. Christopher Cradock said as much himself -"I will take care I do not suffer the fate of poor Troubridge"....
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Re: Adm Troubridge-right/wrong-in the GOEBEN AFFAIR

Post by Byron Angel »

Following extracted from Miller's book "Superior Force" -

GOEBEN's boiler problems, as described above, pre-dated the outbreak of the war. She had run her trials in August 1912 and made 28.0 kts on the measured miles at 85,660 shp; nominal design speed for MOLTKE/GOEBEN was 25.5 kts at 52,000 shp. She was however dispatched to the Mediterranean in November 1912 before her steam trials had been fully completed and GOEBEN suffered a steady series of problems with leaking boilers. Souchon took command of GOEBEN in October 1913 and, under the peacetime conditions then prevailing, the boiler complaints did not prevent GOEBEN from extensively cruising the Mediterranean, Adriatic and Aegean seas, making numerous port calls. Although scheduled to be replaced on the Mediterranean station by MOLTKE in October 1914, the elevation of war risk caused by the July 1914 assassination of Archduke Ferdinand forced a change in plan. Instead of being replaced by MOLTKE, GOEBEN was immediately directed to the naval arsenal at Pola, where she was re-fitted by means of materials and German dockyard workers sent via rail. GOEBEN spent the second half of July 1914 refitting at Pola, where 4,460 boiler tubes were replaced in 13 days. GOEBEN departed on 30 July 1914.

From Pola, GOEBEN then made for Brindisi, to pick up an officer (Karl Doenitz) from BRESLAU who had been put ashore there to organize colliers. While en route, preparations for war and remaining re-tubing work continued aboard GOEBEN. GOEBEN maintained a cruising speed of 18 knots on this passage, with re-tubing work ongoing and three boilers off-line. Her cruising speed of 18 kts on this passage cannot be taken as her maximum speed, as fuel state, ongoing work on her boilers, and desired arrival time at destination all would have dictated Souchon's choice of passage speed.

Note - By July 1914, INDOMITABLE was four months overdue for re-fit and, on 23 July, was at Malta dockyard with her machinery partially dismantled preparatory for her overdue re-fit. With war clouds rapidly gathering and GOEBEN at sea, INDOMITABLE's machinery was hastily re-assembled in its existing condition. She took on 1,800t of coal and put to sea immediately.

Italian authorities did not permit GOEBEN to coal at Brindisi (official reason - "choppy seas"). GOEBEN and BRESLAU returned to Messina around midday on Sunday 2 August, where GOEBEN took on "a small amount of coal of varying quality" from steamers in the harbor before the two ships quietly departed Messina at 1AM on the night of 2/3 August, heading W at 17 kts (cruising speed, once again) for Philippeville to interfere with the transfer of the Algerian corps to France.

In the afternoon of 3 August, INDOMITABLE and INDEFATIGABLE, then somewhat E of Malta, were dispatched under the command of Captain Kennedy and ordered to proceed at 14 kts with all boilers lit to search for GOEBEN and BRESLAU in the waters between Cape Bon and Cape Spartivento. In a further confusion of orders, Battenberg ordered Milne to immediately divert Kennedy's two battle-cruisers to the Strait of Gibraltar "at high speed" and watch for GOEBEN and BRESLAU. Kennedy received this order at 8:47pm on 3 August and immediately ordered steam to be raised for 22 kts, which was considered "close to the maximum speed of the battle-cruisers in their current state".

According to author Miller, GOEBEN was at this time considered capable of 22 kts and up to 24 kts "if pushed", while Milne's battle-cruisers (speaking here of INDOMITABLE and INDEFATIGABLE) "were now capable of no better than 22 knots". Captain Kennedy of INDOMITABLE, prior to encountering GOEBEN, is said to have reported that "his ship had been using oil since 9 o'clock the previous night to be able to maintain 22 knots and that the stokers were to be put into three watches instead of two, but to accomplish this, 90 ratings would have to be put to work trimming the bunkers".

Kennedy's battle-cruisers finally sighted GOEBEN and BRESLAU off the coast of Algeria near the port of Bona at 10:32am on 4 August. Some minutes thereafter, Kennedy ordered steam to be raised for full speed. At that moment of sighting, GOEBEN was making 17 kts; by noon, she was making 22.5 kts on 21 serviceable boilers, with 24 kts achieved "in short bursts" thanks to herculean efforts on the part of her crew. British light cruiser DUBLIN had joined Kennedy's battle-cruisers at some point in the later afternoon. Author Miller states that by 4:45pm the German ships had "pulled away from the British battle-cruisers".

After reaching Messina, GOEBEN and BRESLAU managed to take on a combined 1,580 tons of poor quality coal - barely enough to reach the Dardanelles at economical speed, but insufficient to permit a high speed transit. As a precaution, arrangements were made to position three colliers along the route from Messina to the Dardanelles (Cape Malea, off the island of Santorini and Chanak at the entrance to the Strait).

Note - An important addendum to the Messina port visit is that both GOEBEN and BRESLAU were able to bring their crew complements up to wartime numbers by drawing volunteers and reservists from German merchant vessels in the port of Messina. This in my opinion would have been a useful advantage versus opponents still crewed by peacetime complements - particularly in the stokeholds.

- - -

A good deal more transpired and deserves to be addressed, but I'm going to take a break from typing at this point. Suffice it to say that anyone interested in this historical event should avail himself of a copy of "Superior Force" by Geoffrey Miller - it is by far the best study I have come across on the topic.

Byron
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Re: Adm Troubridge-right/wrong-in the GOEBEN AFFAIR

Post by HMSVF »

Its good read. Certainly told me a lot about the episode I was unaware of!


I've kept it in my favorites tab!
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Re: Adm Troubridge-right/wrong-in the GOEBEN AFFAIR

Post by Byron Angel »

Another tidbit after reading through some of my period references on RN 1914 armor penetration trials and range tables for the 9.2-in Mk X gun: The 9.2-in MK X firing a Hadfield Mk IV cast steel APC at a MV of 2,750 f/s would have to be within 9,000 yds in order to be able to penetrate 6-in FH armor at 0 degrees obliquity.

This leads me to believe that Fawcett-Wray was speaking the truth about the challenge facing an armored cruiser when opposed by a modern BC.


Byron
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Re: Adm Troubridge-right/wrong-in the GOEBEN AFFAIR

Post by HMSVF »

Byron Angel wrote: Sun Apr 10, 2022 12:27 am Another tidbit after reading through some of my period references on RN 1914 armor penetration trials and range tables for the 9.2-in Mk X gun: The 9.2-in MK X firing a Hadfield Mk IV cast steel APC at a MV of 2,750 f/s would have to be within 9,000 yds in order to be able to penetrate 6-in FH armor at 0 degrees obliquity.

This leads me to believe that Fawcett-Wray was speaking the truth about the challenge facing an armored cruiser when opposed by a modern BC.


Byron

Given the state of British shells I wouldn't have much confidence if by some miracle (sudden dense fog that miraculously that hung over and followed the squadron) they got down to 6000 yards that they would do as designed!
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Re: Adm Troubridge-right/wrong-in the GOEBEN AFFAIR

Post by Byron Angel »

HMSVF wrote: Sun Apr 10, 2022 1:42 pm
Byron Angel wrote: Sun Apr 10, 2022 12:27 am Another tidbit after reading through some of my period references on RN 1914 armor penetration trials and range tables for the 9.2-in Mk X gun: The 9.2-in MK X firing a Hadfield Mk IV cast steel APC at a MV of 2,750 f/s would have to be within 9,000 yds in order to be able to penetrate 6-in FH armor at 0 degrees obliquity.

This leads me to believe that Fawcett-Wray was speaking the truth about the challenge facing an armored cruiser when opposed by a modern BC.


Byron

Given the state of British shells I wouldn't have much confidence if by some miracle (sudden dense fog that miraculously that hung over and followed the squadron) they got down to 6000 yards that they would do as designed!

Hi HMSVF,
In chapter VI ("Admiral Troubridge changes his Mind"), author Miller describes the visibility on the night in question as excellent with a bright moon, with HMS Dublin able to track GOEBEN from six miles (12,000 yds) astern. The deeper I go into this, the more I feel that Fawcett-Wray's assessment of the tactical situation facing Troubridge was correct.

Byron
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Re: Adm Troubridge-right/wrong-in the GOEBEN AFFAIR

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Byron Angel wrote: Sun Apr 10, 2022 5:08 pm
HMSVF wrote: Sun Apr 10, 2022 1:42 pm
Byron Angel wrote: Sun Apr 10, 2022 12:27 am Another tidbit after reading through some of my period references on RN 1914 armor penetration trials and range tables for the 9.2-in Mk X gun: The 9.2-in MK X firing a Hadfield Mk IV cast steel APC at a MV of 2,750 f/s would have to be within 9,000 yds in order to be able to penetrate 6-in FH armor at 0 degrees obliquity.

This leads me to believe that Fawcett-Wray was speaking the truth about the challenge facing an armored cruiser when opposed by a modern BC.


Byron

Given the state of British shells I wouldn't have much confidence if by some miracle (sudden dense fog that miraculously that hung over and followed the squadron) they got down to 6000 yards that they would do as designed!

Hi HMSVF,
In chapter VI ("Admiral Troubridge changes his Mind"), author Miller describes the visibility on the night in question as excellent with a bright moon, with HMS Dublin able to track GOEBEN from six miles (12,000 yds) astern. The deeper I go into this, the more I feel that Fawcett-Wray's assessment of the tactical situation facing Troubridge was correct.

Byron

I agree having read the same text for what is worth. However "un British"(at the time)the decision Fawcett-Wray was ,it does appear that he had a grasp of the situation. I go back to Cradock's comments. He wasn't going to suffer the same result - i.e slaughtered by the Admiralty.

Troubridge was promised battlecruiser support prior. That never happened. He is left in an unenviable position of trying to outfight a unit specifically designed to destroy armored cruisers. Its an Admiralty cock up with added British arrogance and incompetence. Troubridge was the fall guy.

Probably cost 1418 lives off Coronel....
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Re: Adm Troubridge-right/wrong-in the GOEBEN AFFAIR

Post by Byron Angel »

It has been a long time since I last read Gordon's "Rules of the Game" and I do not recall whether he covered the following aspect.

I would imagine that the hunt for GOEBEN was the very first occasion upon which the Admiralty attempted to remotely coordinate and contro such a complicated operationl in real time via long distance cable and wireless telegraphy. Given that the effort involved: (a) multiple British naval commands in the Med; (b) an allied French fleet with its own unique operational priorities; (c) the need to coordinate with the Foreign Office re diplomatic sensitivities connected with the looming outbreak of war; (d) managing the day-to-day vagaries of an unpredictable prospective Italian ally and diplomatically strained relations with Turkey - all without any pre-existing trained staff or leadership or organization to carry it all out - it is little wonder how quickly things were reduced to such a chaotic state.

Byron
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Re: Adm Troubridge-right/wrong-in the GOEBEN AFFAIR

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Byron Angel wrote: Mon Apr 11, 2022 7:06 pm It has been a long time since I last read Gordon's "Rules of the Game" and I do not recall whether he covered the following aspect.

I would imagine that the hunt for GOEBEN was the very first occasion upon which the Admiralty attempted to remotely coordinate and contro such a complicated operationl in real time via long distance cable and wireless telegraphy. Given that the effort involved: (a) multiple British naval commands in the Med; (b) an allied French fleet with its own unique operational priorities; (c) the need to coordinate with the Foreign Office re diplomatic sensitivities connected with the looming outbreak of war; (d) managing the day-to-day vagaries of an unpredictable prospective Italian ally and diplomatically strained relations with Turkey - all without any pre-existing trained staff or leadership or organization to carry it all out - it is little wonder how quickly things were reduced to such a chaotic state.

Byron
All fair points Byron. I think the problem is that you have Churchill and Battenburg moving little wooden blocks over a map of the Mediterranean without actually knowing the physical limitations (not enough stokers, ships in need of refit) nor the political ones (as nothing was at that point definite). So you get vague instructions sent and ambiguous orders about "superior forces". Its probably a very early case of "information overload" caused by technology. Loads of stuff transmitted but none of it actually useful and probably a hindrance. That said,if Fisher was to be believed, Milne was "all show and no go" and lacked the clarity of thought to deal with situation. Troubridge was given a "hospital pass".
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Re: Adm Troubridge-right/wrong-in the GOEBEN AFFAIR

Post by Byron Angel »

> Don't let GOEBEN interfere with the convoy of the Algerian Corps to France.
> Reinforce Troubridge.
> Prevent GOEBEN from reaching the Adriatic.
> Prevent GOEBEN from escaping the Mediterranean.
> Prevent GOEBEN from reaching Constantinople.
> Don't offend the Italians while pursuing the above objectives.

It's easy to criticize Milne, but I'm not sure anyone else could necessarily have done much better unravelling that tangled ball of yarn with Churchill and Battenberg perched on his shoulders 24/7. Compare Nelson's operational results a century or so earlier (without Admiralty "guidance") bringing first Brueys to heel at Aboukir Bay, then several years later hunting down and destroying Villeneuve's fleet at Trafalgar after chasing him across the Atlantic Ocean and back .

LOL - I like the "little wooden blocks" reference; being a dyed in the wool naval wargamer, it resonates with me.

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Re: Adm Troubridge-right/wrong-in the GOEBEN AFFAIR

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Hi All,

Souchon, writing after the War, and quoted in Redmond McLaughlin's The Esacape of the Goeben says on speed:after installing boiler tubes, sent from Pola:
as a result when the ship reached Messina it was possible to maintain a speed of 18 knots, with frequent slaking of the fires in certain boilers.....It was possible under pressure of necessity to log 24 knots on 4th August.
Milne had been told on the 3rd of August that the main objective was to shadow Goeben whilst waiting for a British declaration of war, as it was expected she would try to break out via Gibraltar. He also covered the less likely escape through Straits of Otranto to Pola, with orders to Troubridge, telling him
are not to get seriously engaged with superior force..


Replying to his order Troubridge responded with regard to encountering Goeben:
If we encounter her I will attempt to draw her into narrow waters where we can engage at our range.
Clearly neither considered Goeben "superior force" at this stage ,although Troubridge wanted to get geography on his side.

I think it is a little unfair to pillory Winston and his yes man Battenberg so. War had not been declared, Milne was supposed to shadow Goeben during any attack on the French but not intervene unless he was fired on. Neither Italy or Austro-Hungary were in the war-yet, but the latter might get involved and Milne had to avoid fighting their entire fleet. Milne covered the logical route for Goeben to escape from Messina to the west and at that stage nobody even considered Constantinople as a refuge. A voyage into the eastern Mediterranean would take Goeben away from all hopes of a friendly port and certainly finish any chance of a return home to Germany. Too many uncertainties to cover everything.

When Troubridge declined to engage the enemy as he ran to the east, neither he nor anyone else considered this was actually the last chance to get Goeben before she reached safety. They believed she was being shepherded into the unknown, well away from succour in Pola, (if the A-H declared), and with only neutral ports with limited repair facilities or British and French dominated coastlines. There was np need for a do or die effort as there would have been in the Straits of Otranto with the German ship escaping into the potentially friendly arms of the A-H. There would surely be another chance when Milne to join up with Troubridge, hunt down the Goeben in the eastern basin of the Mediterranean or drive her into internment. (Maybe a suicide attack on Suez).

As late as 11.00/6 Aug Souchon was signalled that although a deal was being arranged with the Turks , he should not enter Constantinople without express permission, because it was not finalised, hence the emergency coaling in Greek waters. If the deal had fallen through, he would have been stuck, living a hand-to-mouth existence relying on chartered colliers to stay alive.

Only when the deal with Turkey was finally struck, were things utterly transformed, and viewing with 20/20 hindsight, Troubridge's failure to engage became more significant that it might have been.

Does this sound familiar to anyone around here?> :cool: Wake=Walker and Leach's failure to re-engage Bismarck only became really significant when Suffolk lost track of her.

Cradock, on the other hand, was actually the last line of defence, if Von Spee got past him the entire Atlantic and British shipping would be his playground.

Byron, I seem to remember you pretty scathing about Rules of the Game last year.

All the best

wadinga
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Re: Adm Troubridge-right/wrong-in the GOEBEN AFFAIR

Post by Byron Angel »

I recommend reading Corbett ("Naval Operations, Volume 1"), Marder ("From the Dreadnought to Scapa Flow, Volume II"), Miller ("Superior Force"), Van der Vat ("The Ship that changed the World"), Staff ("German Battlecruisers of World War One"), Kopp ("Two Lone Ships" - interesting, but a bit melodramatic). The command and control confusion becomes quite evident - especially in connection with the unintended misleading wording of the message to Milne informing him that a state of war had come into existence between Great Britain and Austria-Hungary.

HMS Gloucester had remained in contact with GOEBEN and BRESLAU all the way past Cape Matapan, which strongly pointed to an Aegean destination, but getting a message through the German signal jamming proved difficult.

Souchon was formally instructed to make for the Dardanelles on 6 August; he was later provisionally instructed to put into the Ottoman port of Smyrna (current day Izmir) in the event he had not directly received timely official Ottoman confirmation to enter the Strait. The Ottoman cabinet had already struck a alliance with the German representative von Waggenheim, which included taking in GOEBEN and BRESLAU.

It's a hugely complicated scenario with a large number of moving but often uncoordinated and conflicting moving parts.

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Re: Adm Troubridge-right/wrong-in the GOEBEN AFFAIR

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Hi All,

Does anyone agree there was a fundamental tactical difference between Troubridge operating a "Stopline" in the Straits of Otranto where he could perhaps Cross the T like Oldendorf at Surigao, of an oncoming Goeben needing to get past him, and the situation he found himself in facing an apparently speedy enemy disappearing off into strategically insignificant waters? IMHO no need for Death or Glory then. Nobody at any level on the British side knew of the secret treaty between Turkey and Germany. Reading McLaughlin and Barbara Tuchman (The Guns of August 1914) most of the Turkish government had no interest in being dragged into the war by Germany, and it was only the War Minister (and "Young Turks leader) Enver Pacha who pursued this path. Without consulting the Grand Vizier or cabinet he authorised Goeben and Breslau to enter the Dardanelles and gave orders to the forts to fire on any pursuing British warships.

Then the masterstroke was to "sell", actually donate the ships to the Turkish Navy. Except that their commander and crews remained aboard and barely under any kind of Turkish control. Most of the Turkish Government maintained its "neutral" stance whilst negotiating favours from both sides. Even a German gold bullion delivery to the impoverished state failed to fully get them aboard so Enver Pasha and his German Allies launched a premptive bombardment of Russian ports to force the Turks hand. Anglo-French bombardment of Dardanelles forts followed shortly after, it was Fait Accompli, the Otterman Empire was tied to the Germans and Russia's supply route through the Bosphorus was cut off.

It was British Government policy in stealing the two completing battleships (later Erin and Agincourt) from the Turks which was a major factor. It is questionable if the Turks could have actually paid the outstanding amount before delivery, but offers of a refund of the down payment were not even initially offered.

The Ship that changed the World has a great ring about it, but Ottorman hatred of Russia and resentment of British and French imperialism in the Middle East was the reason they joined the War. Enver Pasha and the Germans forced the policy through, with the object of regaining lost influence and territory and the tool they used was Goeben.

All the best

wadinga
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Re: Adm Troubridge-right/wrong-in the GOEBEN AFFAIR

Post by Byron Angel »

See Miller ("Superior Force", pg 177) for a somewhat different perspective on the treaty negotiations between Germany and "The Sublime Porte".

Also, for a peek into the postscript following the arrival of GOEBEN and BRESLAU at Constantinople taken from the Russian point of view, see George Nekrasov, "North of Gallipoli - The Black Sea Fleet at War 1914-1917", Eastern European Monographs, distributed by Columbia University Press NY, 1992.

B
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Re: Adm Troubridge-right/wrong-in the GOEBEN AFFAIR

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Hi All,

There is indeed much in Miller about the political manoeuvrings with the Greek government and confusion whether the Turks as a neutral would allow Souchon to pass through into the Black Sea to attack Russian interests. He quotes Grey in the British government that they did not know of the Germano-Ottoman treaty and had no reason to believe the latter would act as an aggressor in support of the Central Powers.

Like the recent speculations that Pearl Harbor was a "known" target, (and the spurious Conspiracy theories thus generated) there were many possibilities of what Souchon might do, and only afterwards did one become the "right one" which should have been recognised all along.. When Troubridge decided there was no urgent need for a "Do or Die" effort from him, his enemy was headed into an area bounded by either hostile coastlines or neutrals who might only allow him 24 hours or internment.

Interestingly, Miller includes a signal from Milne at 02:30/7 indicating that "careful plotting shews (sic) Goeben's speed 27 knots" which is completely at odds with Souchon's account published after the War in French. The British perception of Goeben's reputation for high speed seems to have coloured their decisions unduly, and highlights the difficulty for shadowing ships in estimating extreme ranges, and thus closing/opening rates, compared with their own speed in the pre-radar age.

McLaughlin quotes extensively from Souchon's account published as "La Percee de SMS Goeben et Breslau de Messine aux Dardanelles" pub Payot 1930. Although memoirs from participants can sometimes be subject to some bias, it surprising that Miller does not include this most important source in his comprehensive bibliography. Miller's project, as the fulsome reviews proclaim, is indeed a magnificent study, but may leave some important elements unconsidered.

All the best

wadinga
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