Teaching Naval history - discuss

It may perhaps help if the RN's own website was more historically accurate.

Without wishing to denigrate the RN airmen and ships companies involved in any way, Op TUNGSTEN did not sink Tirpitz and didn't even penetrate the ship's armour. However, it did result in significant damage to the superstructure, some flooding from holes beneath the waterline caused by near misses, and significant casualties among those German sailors topside. Further carrier launched attacks were planned or launched in subsequent months but were either cancelled due to weather, proved ineffectual due to German smokescreens, or caused only light damage.

Subsequent Bomber Command raids by Lancasters employed Barnes Wallis' 12 000lb Tallboy. These proved capable of both penetrating the Tirpitz's deck armour and causing serious damage from near misses or - as happened on several occasions - when they scored direct hits but went went right through the ship and detonated under the keel. The ship finally capsized and sank on 12 Nov 44 when 9 and 617 Sqn Lancasters dropped 29 Tallboys. These scored 2 (possibly 3) direct hits on the ship and several near misses; other bombs damaged under-water defences.

Irrespective of who's bombs finally finished her off (and that itself has been the subject of much debate between 9 and 617!), I'd say that the Tirpitz was sunk by the combined efforts of the RN, FAA and RAF. Collectively, they fixed her in Norway before successively damaging and finally sinking her via a combination of surface presence, air superiority, midget submarines and direct air attack, sadly at considerable cost to both sides.

Regards,
MM
Was it the X Craft that caused Tirpitz to flood? As far as I know there was Source (X Craft), Tungsten (carrier aircraft - but I think the largest bomb they had was 2000lb armour piercing), and 617/9 Sqn RAF Lancasters - I am afraid I do not know the codename of the RAF operation.

I share your frustration with the website, and the media, in describing naval aircrew as airmen. Mind you, documentaries about US carriers have a nasty habit of describing air group personnel as airmen.
 
Was it the X Craft that caused Tirpitz to flood? As far as I know there was Source (X Craft), Tungsten (carrier aircraft - but I think the largest bomb they had was 2000lb armour piercing), and 617/9 Sqn RAF Lancasters - I am afraid I do not know the codename of the RAF operation...
Allied attacks on the Tirpitz.

If nothing else, the ship fixed a lot of effort!

Regards,
MM
 

seaweed

LE
Book Reviewer
Not forgetting

Tirpitz log xtract.jpg


35 sqn, two nights running. They were going to be sent out again on the third night but fortunately for them a PR Spitfire reported sufficient damage. Barrelling down the dark fjord at nought feet, R Robert had one bomb door ripped off by the splash from an ack-ack shell exploding in the water beneath them. The Halifax immediately astern blew up when hit by a bomb from a Lanc on pre-attack flak suppression bombing late.

Not for want of trying but the munitions were never going to be adequate until Barnes Wallis' Tallboy arrived. Go see at Brooklands.
 

rampant

LE
Kit Reviewer
Book Reviewer
@rampant

Thank you. And each one leads to others!
Anytime you'll find sticking my oar in every now and then, just look for a Scotsman with a pretentious handle and a penchant for nautical stuff
 

rampant

LE
Kit Reviewer
Book Reviewer

rampant

LE
Kit Reviewer
Book Reviewer
Armoured Carriers also has a website. It’s a brilliant resource on RN WW2 carrier ops including this riveting read on Operation Pedestal:

Operation Pedestal: HMS Indomitable, August 10-12, 1942
Oh totally great resource.

Another great thing about twitter is you can see the RN having fun

Scroll up from this tweet and you see Naval Personnel trying to out compete each other in the knitwear stakes


Some excellent wool action that lot
 
Scroll up from this tweet and you see Naval Personnel trying to out compete each other in the knitwear stakes
Yep - brilliant thread. BZs all round.
 
A former Royal Canadian Navy Swordfish is for sale:

Warbird & Classic Aircraft Sales | www.platinumfighters.com

As it served with both the RN and the RCN, it is hard to say where its 'home' actually is, but I think as it was flown by Canadians, possibly from a Canadian carrier, it belongs in Canada.

However - I think Harrier XW175 (did development work for Sea Harrier/CVS integration, then continued development work, and finally VAAC trials that have led to where we are with F-35B and SRVL) belongs in the Fleet Air Arm muesuem.
 
Polish naval veteran sets a magnificent Example for patrol boat crew | Royal Navy

By the following spring he had transferred to the new destroyer ORP Piorun which became the first vessel to encounter the Bismarck during its final battle on the morning of May 26 1941 (the battleship had been crippled the previous evening by a torpedo strike from Swordfish bombers.

Closed up in the forward turret with its 4.7in guns, Mr Polanski engaged the mighty German flagship – armed with 15in guns – as the Piorun charged at Bismarck.

Anyone who has seen the film Sink The Bismarck!, or CS Forester's book on which the film was based, or read Ludovic Kennedy's Pursuit will be familiar with the engagement.
 
Last edited:
100-year-old veteran makes flying visit to Fleet Air Arm Museum

100-year-old veteran aviator Mr Douglas Rolton visited Yeovilton's Fleet Air Arm Museum recently for a special visit to see the Fairey Barracuda aircraft project.

Mr Rolton, who was 100 last month, flew as an observer/navigator in Royal Navy Barracuda aircraft on the bombing mission against the German Battle ship Tirpitz in 1944.

He also survived two crash landings at sea during his career as a Navy pilot, making him a double member of the ‘Goldfish Club’, the name given to aircrew members who have had to make forced landings over water.
 
Despite the publicity, dissection of Nelson's free wheeling tactics and the Trafalgar memorandum showing how Nelson gave his captains the right to use their initiative, Jutland was fought 4 years later by Jellicoe using the same rigid tactics that he had discarded. In the same battle, Beatty showed that he had completely failed to gain the technical mastery of his craft learned by Nelson after intense study and which was needed to produce an efficient fleet.

The teaching of naval history is of benefit only if lessons are distilled from it and those it is taught to apply what they have learned.
The problem is what, or more accurately who's, lessons you want to learn. If Beatty and Jellicoe had copied Nelson at Jutland we would have lost. Nelson's tactics only worked because the Franco-Spanish fleet's gunnery and sailing was so second rate that they didn't dismast half our ships as they sailed in and then doubled back their van squadron to surround our outnumbered force.
 

Wordsmith

LE
Book Reviewer
The problem is what, or more accurately who's, lessons you want to learn. If Beatty and Jellicoe had copied Nelson at Jutland we would have lost. Nelson's tactics only worked because the Franco-Spanish fleet's gunnery and sailing was so second rate that they didn't dismast half our ships as they sailed in and then doubled back their van squadron to surround our outnumbered force.
The real lesson of Trafalgar (not to mention the Nile and Copenhagen) was that if your explain your intentions to your captains and tell them they are expected to use their initiative if they see an opportunity to discomfort the enemy, you will win victories.

The Nile was won because the leading captains saw they could get inshore of the French and Copenhagen because captains anticipated Nelson's intentions when ships went aground. At Trafalgar, Nelson handed over better than half of the fleet to Collingwood, leaving him to destroy the rear of the Combined Fleet while he kept the centre and van from interfering.

The problem at Jutland was that captains (and some admirals) refused to use their initiative. As a result some captains saw the High Seas Fleet sailing past in the gloom but neither opened fire nor informed Jellicoe. Had they done so, the bulk of the High Seas Fleet would have been destroyed.

(Jellicoe contributed to the situation by micro-managing the fleet).

Wordsmith
 

seaweed

LE
Book Reviewer
Let's not get simplistic about Jellicoe. The visibility. not to mention the coal smoke from a thousand funnels*, meant that the only way for the Grand Fleet to avoid collisions and blue on blue was for it to be formally manoeuvred. There was indeed a real problem of subordinates at all levels including Beatty not passing on what they were seeing and doing but the primitive nature of wireless communication made this difficult if not impossible in many cases to do this. There was indeed a culture problem beaten into the junior officers in the Victorian navy who were now Battle Squadron admirals, but the practicalities speak for themselves.

All that mattered afterward was that we achieved a complete strategic victory and the Germans failed to achieve their strategic aim which was to disrupt the blockade which so successfully strangled their country with something between half and one million starved to death, all done by the silent pressure of sea power.


* including Beatty's as he raced across the bows of the GF to get in positon to lead the line instead of tacking the BCS onto the end of it, as the 5th BS had the sense to do.
 
Beatty never tried to use wireless, as he had not kept up to speed with new developments. He also ordered that unsafe amounts of ammunition and propellants were brought out of magazines. The Gunnery Officer aboard his Flagship, HMS Lion, ignored this order, and Lion survived.

Lessons:

1. Obey safety rules, even in wartime. One lucky hit by the enemy is all it takes to turn your bright idea to disaster.

2. Keep up to speed with developments in communications and other technology.
 

Wordsmith

LE
Book Reviewer
Let's not get simplistic about Jellicoe. The visibility. not to mention the coal smoke from a thousand funnels*, meant that the only way for the Grand Fleet to avoid collisions and blue on blue was for it to be formally manoeuvred. There was indeed a real problem of subordinates at all levels including Beatty not passing on what they were seeing and doing but the primitive nature of wireless communication made this difficult if not impossible in many cases to do this. There was indeed a culture problem beaten into the junior officers in the Victorian navy who were now Battle Squadron admirals, but the practicalities speak for themselves.
I don't discount Jellicoe's difficulties. He was a highly professional admiral who fully understood the strengths and weaknesses of both fleets. And he was - in Churchill's memorable phrase "the only man who could lose the war in an afternoon". But ultimately he stifled initiative in his officers - and that cost him opportunities to destroy the High Seas Fleet.

Let us not forget Nelson was the consummate professional as well. He could effortlessly administer a large fleet. As Collingwood remarked "as if by magic everything under his command seemed to prosper, but it was not the result of chance but of system".

But Nelson encouraged initiative in his captains within the broad plans he had set out; Jellicoe did not. Exemplified by Collingwood's irritable remark at Trafalgar when he saw Victory hoisting more flags: "Why does that damn fellow Nelson not stop signalling? We all know what we have to do".

Nelson could have been killed by the first shots at Trafalgar and the outcome would not have been much different. A lucky hit on Iron Duke would have thrown the Grand Fleet into chaos.

Wordsmith
 
As a result some captains saw the High Seas Fleet sailing past in the gloom but neither opened fire nor informed Jellicoe. Had they done so, the bulk of the High Seas Fleet would have been destroyed.
Like I said it depends on who's history you're teaching. In my version Jellicoe twice put his fleet in the perfect position to destroy the enemy if they had been stupid enough to keep coming. They just weren't that stupid. Nelson would not have won Trafalgar if the Franco-Spanish fleet had turned away from him. As I remember the reports from Jutland, Jellicoe asked his starboard column [nearest the enemy] for a report and got the exact text book answer he wanted, ships, bearing, heading, range. It was this report that enabled him to maneuver his fleet to obtain the first of his two crossing passes. He did so with one signal and clearly didn't feel the need to engage in 'every man...' type pointless signals. Previous reports from the scouting forces had been confusing because ships exact positions were not sufficiently accurate because of maths errors in calculation during high speed maneuvering.
 

Similar threads

Latest Threads

Top