Hoping that everyone involved in these wrangles is well, and given it is the hurricane season for some, will continue to be so.
Much has happened since this specific thread was last visited. It should be clear that it should not be used for arguments about tactics, what is or should have been included on maps or whether in the opinion of any current contributors Leach or Wake-Walker should have been court martialled. There are other threads for such matters. This thread is solely to present evidence whether there ever was any 1941 intention to court martial these officers.
As I have stated often, IMHO, there has never been any actual evidence, prior to the letter received by Kennedy in 1961, that such a threat existed. It is clear no such threat was discussed by Sir Henry Leach and his father when they met shortly before his father's death in Force Z.
As a recent retiree, I now have more time to devote to this matter, and have recently visited the PRO at Kew and viewed the documents which Antonio has kindly reproduced as well as many others on the subject, which he may also have seen. As my web skills improve I hope to make photos of original documents available.
As a summary, I have discovered only one thing to suggest there was the slightest criticism of Leach's and W-W actions. The documents include the minutes of the British Government Cabinet meeting at 17:00 on the 26th May at which Pound gave a description of the action so far, which lead to a request (from someone) for a more detailed report as to why PoW had disengaged. We should realise that this was full membership meeting including Churchill, Eden, Beaverbrook, and the entire wartime Cabinet, ie an inexpert political caucus who merely understood that 2 British battleships and 2 British cruisers had fought one of each category German ships and they wanted to know why they had lost and disengaged, at a time when Bismarck's demise was not certain or even likely. Later, on the 31st July the secretary of the Cabinet (Private Office), responsible for following up on the minutes has pointed out to Pound's office that no such amplification has been received. Pound's assistant observes that since he, Pound, he has discussed this with Churchill, no further action is required. Pound's own note, written in green ink says he will take Tovey's despatch with him next time. A further note, dated 25th September from Pound's office to Churchill offers to make the report requested to Cabinet, since Tovey's despatch is fully understood, but observes that since Churchill has discussed the matter with both Pound and Captain Leach
ie during the Placentia Bay voyage (August), there seems little point in such an exercise. It is clearly an irrelevant requirement since Churchill responds tersely through his representative (signed J K Peek) "Leave it!" on 26th September.
This bureaucratic exchange of requests for "outstanding matters" is all I found suggesting there was any question over Leach's and W-W's actions, and then only from a non-expert question raised during as a minor matter in a Cabinet meeting far more concerned with the unfolding disaster in Crete and whether conscription should be introduced in Northern Ireland. It spent far more time and effort on the outraged communication from De Valera Prime Minister of the Irish Free State demanding that no Irishmen should be forced to serve in the British Forces. As far as the Cabinet was concerned, and the Prime Minister as well, Bismarck was just one of several matters discussed and the request for further information on PoW's retreat an extremely minor matter.
There is no evidence here at all that any court martial was contemplated.................
Antonio and Alberto, I know your article is published in Italian, and I apologise for my ignorance, but is it available in English yet?
All the best