Arctic Convoy PQ17

seaweed

LE
Book Reviewer
#1
Documentary on PQ17 by Jeremy Clarkson Thursday 2100 BBC2
 
#3
Looking forward to this, a subject that has been neglected over the years.
I remember watching a black and white programme years ago on the subject. From what I can remember it was a series. It always ended with a Naval Officer in a plotting room like western approaches summing up. Did I imagine it?

Anyway, got it set to record. I happen to notice that Heroes of Telmark is on earlier....that's been set to record as well.
 
#4
One of the worse incidents in British naval history. I have no doubt though that every RN ship thought they would be in action against a very superior force within a very short time. The realization that they had left the merchant ships to their fate haunted many veterans of that convoy
 
#5
Didn't David Irving end up tapping the boards at the Strand Law Courts on the wrong end of a libel (or Slander) suit because of what he wrote about PQ17?

One of the first of many distinguished appearances in front of M'Learned friends that ended badly for him.

@OP, thanks for the tip off, set to record.
 
#6
Didn't David Irving end up tapping the boards at the Strand Law Courts on the wrong end of a libel (or Slander) suit because of what he wrote about PQ17?

One of the first of many distinguished appearances in front of M'Learned friends that ended badly for him.
Correct; Wikipedia says the RN escort group commander & M'luds had a £40k disagreement with Irving's version of events.

David Irving - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
 

Wordsmith

LE
Book Reviewer
#8
The problem with all these programs is quality of research. Is Clarkson going to be a talking head spouting what other people have written for him or has he collaborated with some capable researchers?

The facts behind the debacle are fairly well known now: Pound's failing health and his unwillingness to follow the advice of the intelligence staffs more familiar with Ultra intelligence than he was. And you can add into that mix the ambiguous signals that were sent by the Admiralty to the convoy escort.

2111: Most Immediate. Cruiser Force withdraw to westward at high speed
2123: Immediate. Owing to threat from surface ships convoy is to disperse and proceed to Russian ports
2136: Most Immediate. My 2123. Convoy is to scatter
That convinced the escort that German capital ships would appear at any moment and they concentrated against that threat - with destroyers threatening torpedo attack from behind a smoke screen and cruisers to threaten any German destroyers, they could have held off a surface force. That's certainly what happened with convoy JW51B.

Battle of the Barents Sea - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Unfortunately, Tirpitz never sailed and the weakly defended merchantmen were massacred by U-boats and aircraft.

Wordsmith
 
#9
The problem with all these programs is quality of research. Is Clarkson going to be a talking head spouting what other people have written for him or has he collaborated with some capable researchers?

The facts behind the debacle are fairly well known now: Pound's failing health and his unwillingness to follow the advice of the intelligence staffs more familiar with Ultra intelligence than he was. And you can add into that mix the ambiguous signals that were sent by the Admiralty to the convoy escort.



That convinced the escort that German capital ships would appear at any moment and they concentrated against that threat - with destroyers threatening torpedo attack from behind a smoke screen and cruisers to threaten any German destroyers, they could have held off a surface force. That's certainly what happened with convoy JW51B.

Battle of the Barents Sea - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Unfortunately, Tirpitz never sailed and the weakly defended merchantmen were massacred by U-boats and aircraft.

Wordsmith
Maybe Clarkson will do what he normally does with these types of documentaries. Educate people who know nothing about it and make sure its remembered.
 
#10
My old man sailed on that convoy as junior engineer on HMS Pozarica.

Godfrey Wyne (sp) the author of PQ17 was also aboard.

There's loads of stuff on Google including newly released secret docs.
 
#11
M

Mark The Convict

Guest
#12
Bonnacon, does the author ^ mention the following;

being caught far out at sea in a gale that was later reckoned to have surpassed 12 on the Beaufort Scale,
encountering several warships sinking but being unable to help because of the sea state,
returning to port with warped plating, broken bridge windows and most of the deck fittings torn off,
being discreetly summoned by his superior officer a few days later and asked if he felt able to continue, as a number of the surviving Captains couldn't?

I've been trying to remember the name of the book in which I read all this - just wondering if this is the one.

ETA; if it is, it's a cracking read.
 
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#13
Bonnacon, does the author ^ mention the following;

being caught far out at sea in a gale that was later reckoned to have surpassed 12 on the Beaufort Scale,
encountering several warships sinking but being unable to help because of the sea state,
returning to port with warped plating and most of the deck fittings torn off,
being discreetly summoned by his superior officer a few days later and asked if he felt able to continue, as a number of the surviving Captains couldn't?

I've been trying to remember the name of the book in which I read all this - just wondering if this is the one.
Sounds more like ESCORT by D A Rayner to me. It's not Destroyer Captain I know that book so well.
In Escort Rayner is given command of a very small but fast end of WW1 destroyer (HMS Shikari IIRC) and used out of Londonderry or Iceland where they were totally unsuited. His superior was Max Horton head of western approaches who had hoped to use small fast destroyers to get to aircraft sighting areas quickly. A sort of early hunter killer group. It was Rayner though who went to Horton and told him the ships were not up to it.
Hope that helps
 
M

Mark The Convict

Guest
#14
OK, thanks. Been meaning to get it out again from the BCC library...bit difficult when you don't know where to start looking!
 
#15
Warships sinking? I seem to recall that postwar analysis showed the RN to be the only major navy not to lose ships due to weather.
 
M

Mark The Convict

Guest
#16
I'm pretty sure that's what was said, although it's quite a few years since I read it, so stand to be corrected.
 
#17
I recently watched a rather good 3 part BBC documentary on Youtube called Battle of the Atlantic The Battle Of The Atlantic: 1/3 - The Grey Wolves (BBC Documentary Series). I used to read books about it when I was younger but never really realised just how close Britain came to defeat until a visit to the wartime cabinet rooms brought it into perspective. The tales which make up the whole are those of extremes, in one of the episodes the story is told of a bunch of seaman whose boat had been torpedoed and managed to survive 47 days bobbing about the freezing Atlantic in a small dingy until they were picked up by an Icelandic fishing boat. Its hard, in our modern world, to even begin to imagine what these people went through to keep the nation alive. Correspondingly I hope that Clarkson is able to bring the history of PQ-17 to a wider audience with a lively, yet respectful documentary, in much the same way as he did with Operation Chariot and the VC.
 
#18
Warships sinking? I seem to recall that postwar analysis showed the RN to be the only major navy not to lose ships due to weather.

British ships were always designed to carry on fighting long after everyone else got too seasick, packed up and went home.
Came with a price though, our top weight limits always meant out ships were relatively underarmed compared with other navies.
 
#19
I recently watched a rather good 3 part BBC documentary on Youtube called Battle of the Atlantic The Battle Of The Atlantic: 1/3 - The Grey Wolves (BBC Documentary Series). I used to read books about it when I was younger but never really realised just how close Britain came to defeat until a visit to the wartime cabinet rooms brought it into perspective. The tales which make up the whole are those of extremes, in one of the episodes the story is told of a bunch of seaman whose boat had been torpedoed and managed to survive 47 days bobbing about the freezing Atlantic in a small dingy until they were picked up by an Icelandic fishing boat. Its hard, in our modern world, to even begin to imagine what these people went through to keep the nation alive. Correspondingly I hope that Clarkson is able to bring the history of PQ-17 to a wider audience with a lively, yet respectful documentary, in much the same way as he did with Operation Chariot and the VC.

We were never 'close to defeat', nothing like it. Overall convoy losses never exceeded 2% of sailings, with no convoy ever being wiped out, most convoys saw nothing more exciting than the odd seagull.
 
#20
Didn't David Irving end up tapping the boards at the Strand Law Courts on the wrong end of a libel (or Slander) suit because of what he wrote about PQ17?

One of the first of many distinguished appearances in front of M'Learned friends that ended badly for him.

@OP, thanks for the tip off, set to record.
The David Irving account is in the link below. (PDF File.)

http://www.fpp.co.uk/books/PQ17/1968edition.pdf
 

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