Cover up synopsis

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Antonio Bonomi
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Re: Cover up synopsis

Post by Antonio Bonomi » Mon Oct 05, 2015 12:46 pm

Hello everybody,

@ Francis Marliere,

I like your definition : " As far as I know, you are the author of the ' cover up ' theory ".

YES, I take full credit for having discovered the obvious :

1) Adm Tovey on May 30, 1941 declared to the Admiralty that PoW retreated two minutes after the Hood explosion.
On July 5th, 1941 he changed to 13 minutes after the Hood explosion the PoW retreat on his dispatches, writing 06.13.
On 1948 the Royal Navy Admiralty corrected him back on the Battle Summary Nr 5 from 06.13 to 06.03.

2) RearAdm Wake-Walker at the Hood First board declared Norfolk distance being 10 sea miles (20.000 yards) from Hood at 06.00.
On June 11th, 1941 that distance was already increased to 15 sea miles on every report and changed with " The Plot " at the Hood Second board by Wake-Walker himself using " The Plot " with 30.000 yards (15 sea miles).
I have demonstrated that " The Plot " is an incorrect document and the distance was much less than the 15 sea miles declared, for both Norfolk as well as for Suffolk.

You asked :
So if you agree with me on the fact that not opening fire made sense, why do you blame RearAdm Walke-Walker ?
If you don't blame him, why do you think he should have been court-martialed ?
Apart the pure Military considerations, ... and here Horatio Nelson ( my favorite Admiral :wink: ) would have had no doubts about it, ... we still have to find the orders they had at hand.

If the Admiralty orders were to shadow and flank mark ONLY, avoiding to open fire ( maybe according to the fighting instructions ) than they did it right.

If the orders were different or somebody took the freedom of interpreting them being only reduced to that duty ( shadowing and flank marking ONLY ), ... than they did not perform as required.

So, bottom line in order to have a defined call about this, ... we NEED to find the operative orders they received before sailing by the Home Fleet / Admiralty.

Regarding those orders I still need to put my hands on, here what we have:

By Adm Tovey :
It was the intention of the Vice-Admiral Commanding, Battle Cruiser Squadron, that the Hood and Prince of Wales should engage the Bismarck, leaving the Prinz Eugen to the cruisers, but the Rear-Admiral Commanding, First Cruiser Squadron, was not aware that the battlecruiser force was so near; the Norfolk and Suffolk, therefore, shadowing from the eastward and northward respectively at a range of about 15 miles, were not in a position to engage the Prinz Eugen who was now stationed ahead of the Bismarck on a course of 240°.
No mention to orders by Tovey, ... just an " intention " by Holland, ... but again which orders did they have ?
Which orders he gave them ?

By Capt Ellis own autobiography :
The Suffolk's tactical function of the moment was to follow and flank mark.
No mention to orders received by RearAdm Wake-Walker or anybody else, ... as you can read yourself.

Meanwhile we look for the orders, ... somebody can surely tell us what the shadowing and flank marking fighting instructions were telling them on may 1941.

Here the shadowing ones :

viewtopic.php?f=1&t=6802

Bye Antonio :D
In order to honor a soldier, we have to tell the truth about what happened over there. The whole, hard, cold truth. And until we do that, we dishonor her and every soldier who died, who gave their life for their country. ( Courage Under Fire )

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Re: Cover up synopsis

Post by Francis Marliere » Tue Oct 06, 2015 8:50 am

Hello Antonio,

thanks for your answer, I understand better your point of view. There's still something unclear however.
Antonio Bonomi wrote:If the Admiralty orders were to shadow and flank mark ONLY, avoiding to open fire ( maybe according to the fighting instructions ) than they did it right.(...)
So, bottom line in order to have a defined call about this, ... we NEED to find the operative orders they received before sailing by the Home Fleet / Admiralty.
I don't understand your logic here. No offense, I just try to understand. If admiral Walke-Walker was right to open fire, why should Tovey and others lie in their reports ? They have no reason to cover Walke-Walker because he did what he was ordered to do. The 'cover up' theory, if I understand your point well, has a sense only if WW had the orders to engage the enemy. Since, as you say, you do not know what were the orders given to the cruisers, the theory cannot be proven. Or did I miss something ?

Moreover I don't agree with you on this point :
Antonio Bonomi wrote:If the orders were different or somebody took the freedom of interpreting them being only reduced to that duty ( shadowing and flank marking ONLY ), ... than they did not perform as required.
I may be mistaken, but as far as I understand things, a naval officer, whatever his orders are, is required to use his brain and skills and not obeye orders blindly. If admiral Walke-Walker has orders to engage the German squadron but thinks that opening fire will do more harm to his side than to the enemy, he's right to keep his guns silents.

Best regards,

Francis Marliere

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Re: Cover up synopsis

Post by Cag » Tue Oct 06, 2015 11:22 am

Hi All,
In looking at the cover up synopsis I think that both Antonio and Mr Marliere have valid statements, I think Mr Raven has posted in another thread that, in his view, no written operational orders would have been issued so probably Admiralty fighting instructions as well as other Admiralty guidelines would be in effect? Obviously we are not party to verbal instruction that would have been routinely discussed as a matter of course regarding Tovey's operational requirements in a case of any attempted German breakout, but I think that the continuous contact of any German squadron was of utmost importance. I think also we have to consider three questions as regards the Norfolk and Suffolk,
1) Did the Norfolk or Suffolk at any time transmit the dispositions of the German forces (ie BS in the rear and PG in the lead)?
2) Did Holland know, in his planning for the Norfolk and Suffolk to engage the PG, that she was the lead ship in the German column?
3) If the Norfolk and Suffolk had the neccessary excess of speed over the BS and PG, how would they have circumnavigated the BS (The larger ship) without either inducing the BS to engage, or the German force to alter course possibly away from the approaching ships of BCS 1, or be out of the BS's gunnery range but without any loss of contact, and then be able to be in a position in which they could close on PG to attack when BCS 1 made contact?
I presume that this manoeuvre would have been required to have been carried out prior to BCS 1 making contact with BS and PG to gain the most desirable effect of PG being 'kept honest' by Norfolk and Suffolk whilst BS was left to Hood and PoW. And therefore this would require transmission of messages between Norfolk and Suffolk, and Norfolk or Suffolk and Holland in BCS 1?
I believe that 'flank marking' was inter ship communication as to each others fall of shot etc but will leave that debate to more knowledgeable contributors?
Cag.

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Alberto Virtuani
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Re: Cover up synopsis

Post by Alberto Virtuani » Tue Oct 06, 2015 12:59 pm

Francis Marliere wrote: "If admiral Walke-Walker was right (not) to open fire, why should Tovey and others lie in their reports ? They have no reason to cover Walke-Walker because he did what he was ordered to do."
Hi Francis,
In case it was Tovey to order W-W to shadow ONLY, without engaging, then the cover-up was needed for Tovey himself (and not for W-W) as his orders were the wrong ones.....Just see how much damage PG did with 8" guns and imagine how could Tovey explain that he preferred to keep out of the fight 2 heavy cruisers.....The comparison with the unconventional decision taken by Adm.Lutjens re. PG would have been embarrassing for him......

you wrote: "....a naval officer, whatever his orders are, is required to use his brain and skills and not obeye orders blindly. If admiral Walke-Walker has orders to engage the German squadron but thinks that opening fire will do more harm to his side than to the enemy, he's right to keep his guns silents."
You are right, however if he had orders to engage and he did not, he should have explained why at an inquiry.....

On the other side your reasoning is correct also if W-W had orders not to engage, as his initiative should have suggested to open fire in any case supporting the battleships (in this case of disobedience I guess that the judgement of an inquiry could have been possibly more indulgent)....

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)

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Antonio Bonomi
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Re: Cover up synopsis

Post by Antonio Bonomi » Tue Oct 06, 2015 1:39 pm

Hello everybody,

we surely have 3 reference here : Orders, Fighting Instructions and the Articles of War.

The mix of the 3 defined the situation and how to manage it.

If they missed the operational orders, than the Fighting Instructions and the Articles of War do apply.

An order can go against the Fighting Instructions or the Articles of War, ... but than the Officer who issued it will be responsible for it ... and I seriously doubt that any Officer did something like that on that occasion.

So it is going to be probably a matter of interpretation of the Fighting Instructions and the Articles of War, ... and that is why in case of an unclear conduct, ... they were used to go for the inquiry.

The " cover up " that I have highlighted ( it is NOT anymore a theory, since it is well demonstrated already ) on the PoW retreat time as well as on the heavy cruisers distance from the enemy before and during the engagement, ... REMOVED the need to call an inquiry ... and ENABLED the recognitions and the awards.

Bye Antonio :D
In order to honor a soldier, we have to tell the truth about what happened over there. The whole, hard, cold truth. And until we do that, we dishonor her and every soldier who died, who gave their life for their country. ( Courage Under Fire )

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Re: Cover up synopsis

Post by northcape » Tue Oct 06, 2015 7:36 pm

Antonio Bonomi wrote: The " cover up " that I have highlighted ( it is NOT anymore a theory, since it is well demonstrated already )
Again you need to be corrected here: The "cover up" is your theory, which is not proven. The only thing you "demonstrate" is your rationale behind it.

When you demonstrate your theory, it is still the theory: You just show (=demonstrate) it to other people. It is simply wrong to state that a theory is not a theory any more (e.g. it has been proven) only because you demonstrate it.

If you want to state that your theory of the "cover up" is proven then please use the word "proven" and demonstrate the proof, but not the theory itself.

Thanks!

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Re: Cover up synopsis

Post by Antonio Bonomi » Wed Oct 07, 2015 8:23 am

Hello everybody,

@ Northcape,

the fact that they altered time ( 06.03 becoming 06.13 ) for the PoW retreat and the Norfolk to Hood distance at 06.00 ( from around 10 sea miles to around 15 sea miles ), ... and for Suffolk too, ... is with no doubts nor discussion.

It is a proved fact today.

How do you call or define it ?

Why they did it is what you like to call my " theory " of the " cover up ".

Well, here W. Churchill directions to Adm Godfrey ( Naval Intelligence Department - NID ) about how to manage the news is what I refer to :
Good news was made to seem better; bad news was toned down, delayed or sometimes suppressed.
So, as you can read is not my personal " theory " ... it was Churchill direction ... I am simply connecting the 2 things as any average history researcher should do.

But I am honored if you like to still call it my " theory " ...

Bye Antonio :D
In order to honor a soldier, we have to tell the truth about what happened over there. The whole, hard, cold truth. And until we do that, we dishonor her and every soldier who died, who gave their life for their country. ( Courage Under Fire )

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Re: Cover up synopsis

Post by Herr Nilsson » Wed Oct 07, 2015 8:36 am

Antonio Bonomi wrote:I am simply connecting the 2 things as any average history researcher should do.
That's the problem :(
Regards

Marc

"Thank God we blow up and sink more easily." (unknown officer from HMS Norfolk)

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Antonio Bonomi
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Re: Cover up synopsis

Post by Antonio Bonomi » Wed Oct 07, 2015 8:52 am

Hello everybody,

@ Herr Nilsson,

you are right Marc, ... I should have mentioned in between an inquiry and a potential Court Martial too ...

... for evident reasons .... :wink:

They went from a negative new impact ... to a positive propaganda ... applying Churchill directions.

Bye Antonio :D
In order to honor a soldier, we have to tell the truth about what happened over there. The whole, hard, cold truth. And until we do that, we dishonor her and every soldier who died, who gave their life for their country. ( Courage Under Fire )

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Re: Cover up synopsis

Post by Francis Marliere » Wed Oct 07, 2015 9:58 am

Alberto Virtuani wrote:In case it was Tovey to order W-W to shadow ONLY, without engaging, then the cover-up was needed for Tovey himself (and not for W-W) as his orders were the wrong ones.....Just see how much damage PG did with 8" guns and imagine how could Tovey explain that he preferred to keep out of the fight 2 heavy cruisers.....The comparison with the unconventional decision taken by Adm.Lutjens re. PG would have been embarrassing for him......
Alberto, I don't really think that admiral Tovey, the commander of the Home Fleet, needed a 'cover up' in case he ordered the cruisers not to engage. When given (if they were indeed given), this order was sound, because CA aren't designed to fight battleships, and during the fight it still made sense.

Your comparison with Prinz Eugen is, in my opinion, not fair. Prinz Eugen was a stronger ship than Norfolk and Suffolk, newer, bigger, and with better guns and fire controls, which was firing at an old battleship, not a brand new one. Being closer, with good optics and fire control radar, he had more chances to hit than his British counterparts, and given a hit, more chances to do some damage.
Moreover, since Prinz Eugen had his own target, he was not spoiling Bismarck's fire and had nothing to loose by opening fire.

Best regards,

Francis Marliere

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Re: Cover up synopsis

Post by alecsandros » Wed Oct 07, 2015 10:06 am

Francis Marliere wrote:
Your comparison with Prinz Eugen is, in my opinion, not fair. Prinz Eugen was a stronger ship than Norfolk and Suffolk, newer, bigger, and with better guns and fire controls, which was firing at an old battleship, not a brand new one. Being closer, with good optics and fire control radar, he had more chances to hit than his British counterparts, and given a hit, more chances to do some damage.
Moreover, since Prinz Eugen had his own target, he was not spoiling Bismarck's fire and had nothing to loose by opening fire.

Best regards,

Francis Marliere
... While all this is true,
Prinz Eugen's positioning during the battle came under heavy criticism by KGM high-command, as she was not designed to resist 14 and 15" gunfire.

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Re: Cover up synopsis

Post by Alberto Virtuani » Wed Oct 07, 2015 10:21 am

Francis Marliere wrote: "I don't really think that admiral Tovey, the commander of the Home Fleet, needed a 'cover up' in case he ordered the cruisers not to engage. When given (if they were indeed given), this order was sound, because CA aren't designed to fight battleships, and during the fight it still made sense."
Hi Francis,
having seen the reaction of Churchill, such an order would have been considered "timid" to be kind.......and looking at what Lutjens did with PG, straightly using her as a battleship, the comparison would have been uncomfortable for him.....


you wrote: "Your comparison with Prinz Eugen is, in my opinion, not fair......"
You are right that PG was a better ship than County class ones, however by no means she was intended to stay in the line even against an un-modernized Repulse (Adm Scmundt reaction against Brinkmann was very clear in this sense)..... the British had 2 heavy cruisers there, no danger that the BS could fire at them (as she had to deal with 2 battleships already), so they could open fire without any "serious" danger (at worst they would have been engaged by the PG in a 1 to 2 confrontation (that would have more than compensated their design inferiority) or by the secondary armament of BS).
Regarding the efficacy of British 8" guns, Capt.Ellis in his memoirs (pag.19, chapter 19), confirmed the official report stating that, firing at 21000 yards, he straddled BS at the 3rd salvo in the May 24 evening engagement, and he added that he wonders about the possible damage that he could have inflicted to BS with a bit more luck. A British 8" shell is not so different from a German one, when hitting a battleship...... and the British 8" guns available that day were 16......


you wrote: "Moreover, since Prinz Eugen had his own target, he was not spoiling Bismarck's fire and had nothing to loose by opening fire."
Here I totally disagree: PG fired at the same target (Hood) as BS until 5:59 when fire was shifted to PoW, apparently not confusing the BS own fire.... PG had a lot to loose not leaving immediately the line of fire, and actually (possibly due to a mistake done on board Hood) she received the attention of 15" guns that would have been lethal to her..... The British cruisers were in a much more comfortable position to open fire without risking too much.

Bye, Alberto
Last edited by Alberto Virtuani on Wed Oct 07, 2015 12:21 pm, edited 6 times in total.
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Re: Cover up synopsis

Post by pgollin » Wed Oct 07, 2015 11:06 am

Antonio Bonomi wrote:
...........If they missed the operational orders, than the Fighting Instructions and the Articles of War do apply.

An order can go against the Fighting Instructions or the Articles of War, ... but than the Officer who issued it will be responsible for it ... and I seriously doubt that any Officer did something like that on that occasion.

So it is going to be probably a matter of interpretation of the Fighting Instructions and the Articles of War, ... and that is why in case of an unclear conduct, ... they were used to go for the inquiry. ............



No (as i have said several times) - you misunderstand what the relationship between "The Fighting Instructions" and Senior Officers were. They were absolutely and definitely NOT proscriptive and (in the modern sense) doctrinal, as in the joke they were "for the guidance of wise men and the obedience of fools". They were a fall-back, but Senior Officers (indeed ANY commanding officer were NOT meant to be tied to them.

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Re: Cover up synopsis

Post by Francis Marliere » Thu Oct 08, 2015 8:59 am

Alberto Virtuani wrote:You are right that PG was a better ship than County class ones, however by no means she was intended to stay in the line even against an un-modernized Repulse (Adm Scmundt reaction against Brinkmann was very clear in this sense).....
Alberto, sorry if I was not clear, but I did not mean that Prinz Eugen was intended to stay in the line. I just say that, had the cruisers been in range to engage the German squadron, they had good reasons for not opening fire. Prinz Eugen, being engaged by British squadron, had no choice but to fire.
Alberto Virtuani wrote: the British had 2 heavy cruisers there, no danger that the BS could fire at them (as she had to deal with 2 battleships already), so they could open fire without any "serious" danger (at worst they would have been engaged by the PG in a 1 to 2 confrontation (that would have more than compensated their design inferiority) or by the secondary armament of BS).
The problem was not German fire, but the probable gain / looses, had the cruisers opened fire. As I already said, there was little hope to do some serious damage and good chances to interfere with the battleships gunfire.
Moreover, admiral Walke-Walker had orders to shadow and was probably (and correctly) anxious not to loose its radar. Any damage from Prinz Eugen or Bismarck secondaries, even not serious, or the concussion of its own guns may put the radar out of order.
So, IMHO, admiral Walke-Walker had serious reasons not to open fire.
Alberto Virtuani wrote:Regarding the efficacy of British 8" guns, Capt.Ellis in his memoirs (pag.19, chapter 19), confirmed the official report stating that, firing at 21000 yards, he straddled BS at the 3rd salvo in the May 24 evening engagement, and he added that he wonders about the possible damage that he could have inflicted to BS with a bit more luck. A British 8" shell is not so different from a German one, when hitting a battleship...... and the British 8" guns available that day were 16......
Alberto, you know that British 8" guns had zero chances to defeat Bismarck's armor. The only chance to do some damage was a lucky hit damaging a radar or a fire control position. You have to put in balancean unlikely hit on German tops and the interference with Hood and PoW's gunfire. Anyway, I am not familiar with any of the maps of the battle (either the 'historical' or the ones you produced), but I guess that the cruisers would be able to use their forward turrest only.

Best,

Francis Marliere

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Alberto Virtuani
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Re: Cover up synopsis

Post by Alberto Virtuani » Thu Oct 08, 2015 9:39 am

Francis Marliere wrote: "Prinz Eugen, being engaged by British squadron, had no choice but to fire. "
Hi Francis,
PG could leave the line of fire before being engaged, and Adm.Schmundt asked to Brinkmann why he did not (of course Brinkmann answered he was ordered by Lutjens....)
you wrote: "As I already said, there was little hope to do some serious damage and good chances to interfere with the battleships gunfire. "
PG did inflict serious damage to both Hood and PoW, therefore even the inferior 8" British gun could do the same, and they were 2 cruisers......
you wrote: "Alberto, you know that British 8" guns had zero chances to defeat Bismarck's armor........I guess that the cruisers would be able to use their forward turrets only."
PG guns had no chance to defeat PoW or even Hood armor, but they caused serious damage to both ships. British 8" gun could damage not only radars and optics but also perforate the hull below waterline in the BS bow and stern (unprotected) as PG did with PoW. Also they could start fires and destroy all superstructure except the conning tower......

Suffolk could only engage with fore turrets, but Norfolk could use all her turrets, when on parallel course to Germans.

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)

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