Le Bismarck & Supermarina. LOS! Nº42

Discussions about the history of the ship, technical details, etc.

Moderator: Bill Jurens

User avatar
jabeque
Junior Member
Posts: 9
Joined: Tue Apr 01, 2014 3:42 pm
Location: Madrid. España

Le Bismarck & Supermarina. LOS! Nº42

Post by jabeque » Thu Jan 10, 2019 9:44 am

Hello

Sorry if this is not the correct subforum.

This month, in the french Magazine LOS!, there are an article about battleship Bismarck

Inédit / Mai 1941
Le Bismarck & Supermarina
Un aspect ignoré de la fin du cuirassé allemand
Lorsque la flotte britannique lance la traque du Bismarck en Atlantique en mai 1941, ses échanges radio sont captés par le B-Dienst mais aussi, chose méconnue, par le renseignement militaire italien qui réussira à les décrypter avant d’avertir l’allié allemand. En pure perte.


http://www.los-mag.com/enkiosque.htm

I think that the article was published first in Storia Militare

Regards

User avatar
Alberto Virtuani
Senior Member
Posts: 3016
Joined: Mon Jul 08, 2013 8:22 am
Location: Milan (Italy)

Re: Le Bismarck & Supermarina. LOS! Nº42

Post by Alberto Virtuani » Thu Jan 10, 2019 10:36 am

Bonjour jabeque,

I have never heard about the Italian Intelligence involvement in the Bismarck Operation. It would be very interesting to read the article from LOS. Can you post it or can you send me a copy to my private mail address (please send me a private message from this very forum and I will provide you my mail address, I can easily read French).

Regarding the source, can you give some more detail, as my friend the Director of Storia Militare has just confirmed me that the source cannot be his magazine (I have the last years editions and there is no article about Bismarck Op, except the ones published by Antonio Bonomi in 2005 and the one published by Antonio and myself (the very last one on the topic in 2017). Therefore, I can disprove this info re.the source.


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)

User avatar
jabeque
Junior Member
Posts: 9
Joined: Tue Apr 01, 2014 3:42 pm
Location: Madrid. España

Re: Le Bismarck & Supermarina. LOS! Nº42

Post by jabeque » Thu Jan 10, 2019 11:29 am

Ciao Alberto

I saw,last night the article superficially. It is likely that the reference to Storia Militare is a confusion of mine. Tonight I will see it quietly and I will give more details.

Ti ho inivato un PM

User avatar
Alberto Virtuani
Senior Member
Posts: 3016
Joined: Mon Jul 08, 2013 8:22 am
Location: Milan (Italy)

Re: Le Bismarck & Supermarina. LOS! Nº42

Post by Alberto Virtuani » Thu Jan 10, 2019 12:10 pm

Hi jabeque,
thanks a lot!
I really wonder which message Supermarina could have got before B-Dienst and did not pass to Germans... :think:

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)

User avatar
José M. Rico
Administrator
Posts: 892
Joined: Sat Oct 16, 2004 10:23 am
Location: Madrid, Spain
Contact:

Re: Le Bismarck & Supermarina. LOS! Nº42

Post by José M. Rico » Thu Jan 10, 2019 5:15 pm

Alberto Virtuani wrote:
Thu Jan 10, 2019 12:10 pm
I really wonder which message Supermarina could have got before B-Dienst and did not pass to Germans... :think:
I have not read the article, but from what I have seen, it is the message sent by NORFOLK at 2032 hours on 23 May after sighting the Bismarck in the Denmark Strait.

"1 Battleship, 1 cruiser, bearing 330º, 6 miles, course 240, my position 66º 43' N., 25º 22' W."

It was apparently intercepted by Italian intelligence.

User avatar
Alberto Virtuani
Senior Member
Posts: 3016
Joined: Mon Jul 08, 2013 8:22 am
Location: Milan (Italy)

Re: Le Bismarck & Supermarina. LOS! Nº42

Post by Alberto Virtuani » Thu Jan 10, 2019 6:06 pm

Hi Jose,
thanks, I was not aware of the Italian interception of this message. However, even if passed to Germans, it would have added nothing to Lutjens knowledge, as he was already well aware of his encounter with Norfolk.


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)

User avatar
Alberto Virtuani
Senior Member
Posts: 3016
Joined: Mon Jul 08, 2013 8:22 am
Location: Milan (Italy)

Re: Le Bismarck & Supermarina. LOS! Nº42

Post by Alberto Virtuani » Fri Jan 11, 2019 9:41 am

Hello everybody,
thanks to jabeque, I could have a look to the article on LOS: a very interesting one, as I was not aware of the interceptions done by Supermarina about the Bismarck Operation.The article was written by Enrico Cernuschi, former collaborator with Storia Militare before his divorce from the magazine...) and translated in French, but I have not found in it any reference to any article published on the Italian Magazine, even if I will check again with the Director.

The title was misleading (at least for my fairly good but not perfect knowledge of French language....). I was under the impression that the article was "accusing" the Italians not to have transmitted information decrypted to their allies. Instead the "en pure perte" comment at the end is just referring to the fact that the info, duly transmitted to B-Dienst, were not much useful (e.g. the Norfolk enemy in sight message of May 23, as Jose was correctly suggesting) or even ignored by the German service (e.g. the message transmitted by a plane at 12:00 on May 26, signalling 4 unknown units: they were the 5 destroyers of the 4th flotilla (Vian) running to intercept Bismarck).
Apparently this last message intercepted by Supermarina and already decrypted by 13:35, was not passed by the Germans to Lutjens. Also in this case, however, I'm unsure that the advise could have helped in any way the Bismarck.

The article is well written and presents some interesting copies of the original decrypted messages with the annotation "passed the Germans" ("fatto avviso alla Marina Germanica") to prove that the info had been shared with the ally.


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)

User avatar
Alberto Virtuani
Senior Member
Posts: 3016
Joined: Mon Jul 08, 2013 8:22 am
Location: Milan (Italy)

Re: Le Bismarck & Supermarina. LOS! Nº42

Post by Alberto Virtuani » Fri Jan 11, 2019 11:48 am

P.S. the original decrypted messages posted in the article (5 of them are reproduced in the article in high definition) are all available at the USMM (Ufficio Storico della Marina Militare) archive.
"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)

User avatar
Herr Nilsson
Senior Member
Posts: 1318
Joined: Thu Oct 21, 2004 11:19 am
Location: Germany

Re: Le Bismarck & Supermarina. LOS! Nº42

Post by Herr Nilsson » Mon Jan 14, 2019 1:17 pm

Alberto Virtuani wrote:
Fri Jan 11, 2019 9:41 am
...or even ignored by the German service (e.g. the message transmitted by a plane at 12:00 on May 26, signalling 4 unknown units: they were the 5 destroyers of the 4th flotilla (Vian) running to intercept Bismarck).
Apparently this last message intercepted by Supermarina and already decrypted by 13:35, was not passed by the Germans to Lutjens. Also in this case, however, I'm unsure that the advise could have helped in any way the Bismarck.
This message was already decrypted by the Germans (B-Dienst message at 13:25) and passed to Lütjens at 15:00 (Uhrzeitgruppe 14:24).
Regards

Marc

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

User avatar
Alberto Virtuani
Senior Member
Posts: 3016
Joined: Mon Jul 08, 2013 8:22 am
Location: Milan (Italy)

Re: Le Bismarck & Supermarina. LOS! Nº42

Post by Alberto Virtuani » Mon Jan 14, 2019 2:00 pm

Hello everybody,
Herr Nilsson wrote: "This message was already decrypted by the Germans (B-Dienst message at 13:25)"
Thanks for the info, Cernuschi's article refers to a message sent at 12:27 on May 26 from Cleethorpes station, repeating an airplane message and signalling to all the units in North Atlantic "4 unknown units" with their position and their course (140°). Signal was decrypted by Supermarina at 13:35.

Does it mean that this list http://www.kbismarck.com/archives/telegram4.html is not complete ? Where can be found a complete one ?


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)

User avatar
Herr Nilsson
Senior Member
Posts: 1318
Joined: Thu Oct 21, 2004 11:19 am
Location: Germany

Re: Le Bismarck & Supermarina. LOS! Nº42

Post by Herr Nilsson » Mon Jan 14, 2019 2:29 pm

Hello Alberto,

yes, that're just the very few messages (mostly operational messages), which couldn't be deciphered by the B-Dienst almost immediately. It seems they weren't deciphered before the end of Rheinübung.
I doubt there is a complete list.
Regards

Marc

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

User avatar
Alberto Virtuani
Senior Member
Posts: 3016
Joined: Mon Jul 08, 2013 8:22 am
Location: Milan (Italy)

Re: Le Bismarck & Supermarina. LOS! Nº42

Post by Alberto Virtuani » Mon Jan 14, 2019 2:54 pm

Hello everybody,

I just saw the same message in the Bismarck Reconstructed KTB:

BS_KTB_Vian_message.jpg
BS_KTB_Vian_message.jpg (48.43 KiB) Viewed 1413 times

Therefore Cernuschi's LOS article, albeit very interesting about Supermarina intercepted messages in Atlantic, must be taken with some suspicion regarding its conclusions about what was transmitted to Bismarck...


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)

User avatar
José M. Rico
Administrator
Posts: 892
Joined: Sat Oct 16, 2004 10:23 am
Location: Madrid, Spain
Contact:

Re: Le Bismarck & Supermarina. LOS! Nº42

Post by José M. Rico » Mon Jan 14, 2019 3:10 pm

The original message was sent by Catalina aircraft M/240 to No. 15 Group, at 1200 hours on 26 May:

"4 UN 050 - 10 - 140 - KRGP 4731"
4 unknown vessels bearing 50º - distance 10 miles - course 140º - my position 49º 47' N., 21º 29' W.

See here: http://www.kbismarck.com/catalina-reports.html

This message from 1200 hours is not included in the Admiralty War Diary, eventhough there is a reference to it at 1240/26:

"From A/C Duty M. to 15 (R) Group HQ.
My 1200. Vessels reported are not objective."

User avatar
RF
Senior Member
Posts: 7580
Joined: Wed Sep 20, 2006 1:15 pm
Location: Wolverhampton, ENGLAND

Re: Le Bismarck & Supermarina. LOS! Nº42

Post by RF » Tue Jan 15, 2019 9:03 am

If it is the case that the Italians were aware of Rheinubung as it was developing (bearing in mind that they had a naval attache in Berlin) I would find it surprising that the Italians would not seek to take some advantage of it in respect of their own military operations, especially as the battle for Crete was underway at the time. But there again inactivity would reflect the general Italian defensive posture.....
''Give me a Ping and one Ping only'' - Sean Connery.

User avatar
Alberto Virtuani
Senior Member
Posts: 3016
Joined: Mon Jul 08, 2013 8:22 am
Location: Milan (Italy)

Re: Le Bismarck & Supermarina. LOS! Nº42

Post by Alberto Virtuani » Tue Jan 15, 2019 11:57 am

...especially after Matapan clash, that obviously caused a great shock in the Italian Navy.

On March 31st, 1941 the "Comando Supremo" ("Highest Command", Gen.Guzzoni) ordered to Supermarina (Amm.Riccardi): A seguito e conferma di quanto Vi ho espresso verbalmente ieri, Vi comunico, con le stesse parole usate dal Duce, il seguente ordine: “Marina, sino a nuovo ordine, non intraprenderà azioni che si svolgano oltre il limite di protezione della nostra caccia” (my translation: "In order to follow-up and to confirm what I have told you yesterday, I transmit you, with the words used by the Duce, the following order: "Until new orders, the Navy will not carry on any action outside the limit of the protection of our land based air force interceptors").

Such an order (issued just after Matapan disaster), that should have been temporary only but was never cancelled until the Armistice, was still strictly followed during the Bismarck Operation and prevented any decisive action of the Italian fleet during Crete battle.


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)

Post Reply