Blucher in Dogger Bank

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marcelo_malara
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Blucher in Dogger Bank

Post by marcelo_malara »

Hi guys. In this battle Blucher was abandoned by the rest of the German ships, that could (orders notwithstanding) have stood by her. Was there any other case of a fellow ship left alone like this (in any war in the steam era)?

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BobDonnald
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Re: Blucher in Dogger Bank

Post by BobDonnald »

Perhaps USS Juneau during the withdrawal from the Friday the Thirteenth sea battle.

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RF
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Re: Blucher in Dogger Bank

Post by RF »

Bismarck ???
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marcelo_malara
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Re: Blucher in Dogger Bank

Post by marcelo_malara »

Robert! Good to see you, so much time!

I was reviewing the case of Juneu, quiet different, it was more a case of wrecked sailors abandoned instead of a fighting ship. In the case of Bismarck, are you Robert referring to the possibility of PE standing by her? In Dogger Bank numbers were quiet even, 5 British BC against 3 German ones plus Blucher, the balance would surely be made good by the better protection in the German ships.

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Re: Blucher in Dogger Bank

Post by RF »

Not so much PE, as an 8 inch cruiser wouldn't have been much use against KGV or Rodney, but the failure to use the stranded Bismarck as bait to attack Tovey's forces. I am thinking here of the Luftwaffe principally but also other surface forces that could have been sent out with air escort to attack RN forces approaching Bismarck.
Obviously weather conditions for air activity were not ideal, but a more sea power minded leadership could have done more than simply abandon Bismarck to its fate.
Then of course there was the prospect of U-boat support as well......
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Steve Crandell
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Re: Blucher in Dogger Bank

Post by Steve Crandell »

I believe the Germans did try to provide U-boat support, but they are too slow and there wasn't enough time. IIRC the Arc Royal passed within easy torpedo range of a U-boat which was returning home after expending all of it's torpedoes on patrol.
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RF
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Re: Blucher in Dogger Bank

Post by RF »

The main priority for the U-boats was to retrieve Bismarck's war diary rather than attack the RN battleships. Deonitz did suggest suspending the U-boat commerce war to concentrate on supporting Bismarck, but Raeder did not endorse this.

Had the Fuhrer ordered Raeder and Goering to give utmost combined support for Bismarck, combining aircraft, surface ships including tugs and U-boats then I think something could have been achieved.
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RF
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Re: Blucher in Dogger Bank

Post by RF »

Duplicate post
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wadinga
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Re: Blucher in Dogger Bank

Post by wadinga »

Fellow Contributors,

Scheer and the High Seas fleet left the crippled battlecruisers Lutzow and Seydlitz behind as he ran for harbour at utmost speed after his "victory" at the Skagerrak. Seydlitz staggered in under her own power, but Lutzow was deliberately sunk with trapped survivors still aboard in order to deny Jellicoe a prize vessel.

At Coronel HMS Glasgow was faced by insurmountable odds and left the crippled Monmouth to her fate.

At the Falkland Islands Von Spee ordered his light cruisers to leave Scharnhorst and Gneisenau to their almost inevitable fate. When Scharnhorst herself was disabled, Gneisenau kept going until she too succumbed.

Naval officers sometimes have to make hard decisions.

The old "Bismarck could have been saved" shibboleth surfaces again. The Luftwaffe made an extreme effort at maximum range. They attacked various ships but only sank HMS Mashona. There were virtually no operational Kriegsmarine surface warships in Western France. Slow moving tugs would have taken days to arrive in the prevailing weather and could have done nothing anyway in these conditions. Raeder and Doenitz did pull all available U-boats off convoy attack to go to Bismarck's aid. By sinking British ships that is, although picking up the War Diary was of interest, as a secondary task. Since Wohlfarth had no torpedoes left (and little fuel) he was ordered to do that and Kentrat would have loved to torpedo any British ship, but weather conditions were too bad to operate at periscope depth.

Raeder's official report to Hitler, available on this very website (thanks Mr Rico) at http://www.kbismarck.com/raeder-berghof-report.html makes it absolutely clear all possible resources were made available. Nothing more could have been done.

All the best

wadinga
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Byron Angel
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Re: Blucher in Dogger Bank

Post by Byron Angel »

marcelo_malara wrote: Wed Aug 12, 2020 4:31 pm Hi guys. In this battle Blucher was abandoned by the rest of the German ships, that could (orders notwithstanding) have stood by her. Was there any other case of a fellow ship left alone like this (in any war in the steam era)?

Regards

I’m only four and a half years late here 🤪, but the German light cruiser WIESBADEN (part of 2SG) was left to fend for herself after her engines had been disabled by gunfire from Adm Hood’s 3BCS at the culmination of the “Run to the North”. It has been claimed that Adm Scheer dispatched a destroyer flotilla to take off her surviving crew, but conclusive proof thereof has proven somewhat elusive.

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Re: Blucher in Dogger Bank

Post by marcelo_malara »

Byron Angel wrote: Sun Feb 25, 2024 9:18 pm
marcelo_malara wrote: Wed Aug 12, 2020 4:31 pm Hi guys. In this battle Blucher was abandoned by the rest of the German ships, that could (orders notwithstanding) have stood by her. Was there any other case of a fellow ship left alone like this (in any war in the steam era)?

Regards

I’m only four and a half years late here 🤪, but the German light cruiser WIESBADEN (part of 2SG) was left to fend for herself after her engines had been disabled by gunfire from Adm Hood’s 3BCS at the culmination of the “Run to the North”. It has been claimed that Adm Scheer dispatched a destroyer flotilla to take off her surviving crew, but conclusive proof thereof has proven somewhat elusive.

Byron
Thanks for the info Byron.
Byron Angel
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Re: Blucher in Dogger Bank

Post by Byron Angel »

De nada.

B
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Re: Blucher in Dogger Bank

Post by wadinga »

Hi All,

In his highly imaginative post-war rewrite of reality, Scheer claimed his motive for actually turning his whole fleet back, not just a few destroyers, into the gunnery maelstrom was to rescue poor Wiesbaden.

Norman Friedman, writing in Fighting the Great War at Sea, references the German Official History:
ascribes Scheer's second attack to excessively optimistic reports of British losses, to a reluctance to retreat and to his determination to support a mass torpedo attack. None of this is particularly convincing and all of it reflected Scheer's post-battle effort to explain a potentially disastrous manoeuvre. It seems fairest to say that Scheer had too little situational awareness.
and
That was a way of explaining Scheer's subsequent charge towards the British line (the second time his T was crossed) as other than a total blunder.
As I said,
Naval officers sometimes have to make hard decisions.
"There are some men in the water just there!"........... "Bloody murderer!" -The Cruel Sea- movie

All the best

wadinga
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Byron Angel
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Re: Blucher in Dogger Bank

Post by Byron Angel »

Yes, I know. I invariably turn up like a bad penny whenever Jutland is being discussed.

I happen to have a translation copy of “The German Official Account of the Sea Battle off the Skaggerak (Jutland)” as it appeared in the “MONTHLY INFORMATION BULLETIN, Office of Naval Intelligence, for February, 1926 – as translated by Lt-Cdr W. P. Beehler, USN (Retired). One particular attraction is that this document included the German signal/message traffic in considerable detail. On that basis, I’d like to present the experience of SMS Wiesbaden, as reflected in said message traffic.

( For reference: German time = GMT + 1 hour. )


Fm: Wiesbaden / To: Cdr, SG II / Time rcvd : 7:01pm
“Both engines broken down. Unable to maneuver.”

Fm: Frankfurt / To: Derfflinger / Time rcvd: 7:02pm
“To commander scouting forces and commander in chief. Am under fire of enemy battleships, Signed Commander Scouting Division II.”

Fm: Frankfurt / To: Commander in Chief / Time rcvd 7:10pm
“Enemy battleships in 025e. Signed, Commander Scouting Division II.”

Fm: Frankfurt / To: Commander in Chief / Time rcvd: 7:10pm
“Wiesbaden disabled. 024e.”

Fm: Commander Scouting Division II / To: Regensburg / Time rcvd: 7:14pm
“Send destroyer to Wiesbaden. Take her in tow.”

Fm: Commander Scouting Division II / To: Lutzow / Time rcvd: 7:15pm
“Wiesbaden disabled on starboard bow.”

Fm: Lutzow (visual) / To: Scouting Division I / Time rcvd: 7:20pm
“Change course together to SE.”

Fm: Derfflinger / To: Commander in Chief / Time rcvd: 7:20pm
“Scouting Division I is turning off, as no observation possible on account of sun.”

>>>>> In the intervening 40 minutes, the HSF battle-line and Hipper’s battlecruisers are surprised by the GF and taken under heavy fire. Scheer launches a mass torpedo attack to cover the turn-away of the battle line. The GF evades away into the mist to avoid the German torpedoes. Gunfire ceases and Hipper feels safe enough to transfer his flag from the heavily damaged Lutzow to Seydlitz.

Fm: Commander in Chief (visual) / To: First Leader of Destroyers / Time rcvd: 8:00pm
“Take off crew of Wiesbaden.”

Fm: Rostock / To: Flotilla III / Time rcvd: 8:00pm
“Proceed to Wiesbaden. Save crew.

Fm: Rostock / To: Flotilla III / Time rcvd: 8:03pm
“3 boats to the Wiesbaden. Rescue the crew. Bearing NE.”

Fm: S-53 / To: V-71 / Time rcvd: 8:03pm
“Proceed with your 3 boats to the Wiesbaden to rescue the crew.

Fm: Rostock / To: S-53 / Time rcvd: 8:03pm
“Flotilla III, advance quicker.”

Fm: Commander in Chief (visual) / To: Rostock / Time rcvd: 8:05pm
“Send assistance to Wiesbaden.”

>>>>> Approximately 5-10 minutes later, the GF suddenly re-emerges from the mist and the German battleline once again finds itself in a badly compromised situation. Scheer orders the battlecruisers to attack at 8:13pm. A second battle-line turn away is ordered at 8:18pm. A mass torpedo attack is ordered by Rostock at 8:23pm. S-53 reports having re-assembled her half-flotilla around 9:45pm and requests orders and position. Rostock requests S53 to report her position and Regensburg shortly thereafter orders Flotilla III to “Remain here”. No further mention of Wiesbaden is to be found in the signal traffic.

So ..... It appears from the signal traffic that Scheer was apparently not the originator of the Wiesbaden rescue effort and only appears to have gotten involved after the first contact with the GF had been concluded.


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Re: Blucher in Dogger Bank

Post by wadinga »

Hi Byron,

You vastly underestimate your value at only one penny :D This original material is an extremely valuable contribution to the debate and genuinely appreciated by me, as it should be by all who post here. :clap: :clap: :clap:

Given the poor visibility and Scheer's location vis a vis the head of his line it is to be expected that a local commander might take the initiative to attempt a rescue mission, risking only limited forces. Marcelo's original query seems to me to be about risking all, or a significant part of one's force, to an overwhelming pursuing force.

Friedman, in the footnotes says
According to the Austrian attache, Scheer said simply that,"those who make a study of this engagement will be very puzzled as to my object in advancing thus against a wall of British ships. The fact is that I had no particular object. I made the first advance because I had the feeling that I ought to endeavour to assist the Wiesbaden and because the situation ahead was quite obscure to me, for I saw nothing of the Lutzow and received no W/T reports. I soon saw, however that the leading ships were coming under an overwhelming fire and that I could not risk the fleet on the Wiesbaden's account. When I noticed that the British pressure had ceased and that the fleet remained intact in my hands, I turned back, under the impression that the action could not end this way and that I ought to seek contact with the enemy again". The Austrian attache was not amused and the German Admiral von Trotha "said jokingly that, if an Admiral brought about such a situation at a war game or on manoeuvres, he would never be entrusted with another command.
These radio messages suggest (depending on decoding etc) that soon after 07:10 Scheer was informed his advance unit was under fire by battleships, about the same time he was informed directly of Wiesbaden's disabled condition, assuming no earlier intercept of her reports had been made.

After the Kaiser's praise of Scheer as "breaking the spell of Trafalgar", based simplistically on a list of ships sunk, any negative assessment of his performance (at the time) as a commander at Jutland would be politically difficult.

The classic example of hazarding "rescuers" lives must be Iachino's decision to send Zara, Fiume and their attendant destroyers back to the stricken Pola without considering that a powerful British force, including a carrier, was in pursuit.

All the best

wadinga
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