Teaching Naval history - discuss

But ultimately he stifled initiative in his officers - and that cost him opportunities to destroy the High Seas Fleet.
Please provide an example of a lost opportunity.
 

seaweed

LE
Book Reviewer
RIP
As the tactical doctrine of the HSF was to avoid action with superior forces (the GF), there was no opportunity to destroy it. Better handling of intelligence in the Admiralty might have made a bit of a difference but I doubt it.
 
Polish naval veteran sets a magnificent Example for patrol boat crew | Royal Navy

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.
Not wanting to take anything away from Richard Polanski's service and bravery, and perhaps this is just a terminology difference on my part being non-RN, but how can you be 'closed up' in an open-backed turret? Journalistic license?
 
Not wanting to take anything away from Richard Polanski's service and bravery, and perhaps this is just a terminology difference on my part being non-RN, but how can you be 'closed up' in an open-backed turret? Journalistic license?
"Closed up" means "At his station".
 

P2000

LE
As the tactical doctrine of the HSF was to avoid action with superior forces (the GF), there was no opportunity to destroy it. Better handling of intelligence in the Admiralty might have made a bit of a difference but I doubt it.
The best guide to the lessons the RN drew from Jutland lie in changes to doctrine and equipment.

Magazine safety was rigorously enforced after Jutland.

The fleet was still kept under tight central control under Beatty. Ships received director “clocks” and markings on their turrets to allow them to pass range and bearing information to the next ahead and astern - allowing quicker concentration of fire.

And the fleet received new, effective semi-armpit piercing shells that were capable of passing through the armoured belt of German ships and detonating in engine spaces and magazines.

In essence, the fleet was optimized to gain as many hits as possible as quickly as possible on a fleeting (fleeing) target and to stand a good chance of disabling the enemy.
 

Yokel

LE
The fleet was still kept under tight central control under Beatty. Ships received director “clocks” and markings on their turrets to allow them to pass range and bearing information to the next ahead and astern - allowing quicker concentration of fire.
Do you have any information on how these worked? How was the information passed - flags, Aldis lamp, wireless?
 

P2000

LE
Do you have any information on how these worked? How was the information passed - flags, Aldis lamp, wireless?
Range clocks were essentially “clocks” on the masts of ships - see above the spotting top in the image below.

Deflection markings were painted onto the turrets.
 

Attachments

Wordsmith

LE
Book Reviewer
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.
Jellicoe struggled to decide on which wing to deploy (port or starboard) because Betty (whose job it was to keep in touch with the enemy) had lost temporarily lost contact with the High Seas Fleet. Thus although Jellicoe was in visual signalling range of Beatty, Beatty couldn't pass on the bearing of the HSF. When Jellicoe was eventually passed the information, he deployed on the port win and crossed Scheer's 'T'. Second time round, it wasn't Jellicoe who put this fleet in a position to destroy Scheer, it was Sheer performing a second 180 degree turn and blundering back into the Grand Fleet.

At Trafalgar, the Combined fleet was trying to run away from him. It had reversed course and was heading back to Cadiz. Nelson (originally over the horizon) had been receiving signals from Blackwood's shadowing frigates overnight and had put himself in position to intercept by dawn. A classic difference between Nelson and Jellicoe - Nelson had arguably the finest frigate captain in the navy in change of his shadowing force - Jellicoe a more flamboyant but less competent officer. Nelson knew the precise position of the Combined Fleet through the hours of darkness; Jellicoe only found out the exact position on course of the HSF moments before he deployed.

Nelson's original signal was to be "Nelson confides that every man will do his duty" - a much more personal signal intended to tap into the huge personal respect Nelson was held in by pretty much everyone under his command. It was also intended as a distraction as the leading ships (Victory included) came under fire which they couldn't return. But Hardy suggested substituting 'England' for 'Nelson' and then his signal lieutenant pointed out that 'expects' was in the signal book and 'confides' wasn't, so he could make the signal briefer if he used 'expects'. So what was originally a very personal signal from Nelson expressing trust in every man serving under him, became the ringing exhortation in the history books.

Nelson seldom did anything pointless in action. Victory and Royal Sovereign (leading their respective lines) were under fire for 30 minutes before they could return a shot. By the time the signal had been hoisted, read, acknowledged and shouted down to the gun decks, many men had been distracted from the French and Spanish gunfire.

Wordsmith
 

Wordsmith

LE
Book Reviewer
Please provide an example of a lost opportunity.
The High Seas Fleet slipped past the rear of the Grand Fleet at dusk. Several ship's captains saw them, but neither opened fire nor informed Jellicoe. There was enough light and time to destroy at least part of the HSF - their ships were still clearly visible in the gathering gloom.

Whether Jellicoe would have welcomed an action at that time of day is another matter. The HSF had trained for a night action with the use of searchlights. The GF had not, giving the HSF an advantage at night.

Wordsmith
 
The High Seas Fleet slipped past the rear of the Grand Fleet at dusk. Several ship's captains saw them, but neither opened fire nor informed Jellicoe. There was enough light and time to destroy at least part of the HSF - their ships were still clearly visible in the gathering gloom.

Whether Jellicoe would have welcomed an action at that time of day is another matter. The HSF had trained for a night action with the use of searchlights. The GF had not, giving the HSF an advantage at night.

Wordsmith
So maybe this was an opportunity to lose the battle that was sensibly ignored.
 

Wordsmith

LE
Book Reviewer
So maybe this was an opportunity to lose the battle that was sensibly ignored.
Or Jellicoe could have trained the GF in the same techniques as he knew the HSF used, thus removing the disadvantage the GF was at in a night action.

The difference in mental attitudes between Nelson and Jellicoe is striking. Jellicie merely sought to avoid losing a battle, although he obviously would have liked to destroy the HSF. Nelson actively sought the utter destruction of the enemy fleet, realising that it would inflict both a massive psychological blow on the enemy and free up the surviving British ships for other tasks. At the Nile for example, he destroyed or captured 11 of the 13 French ships of line and was still frustrated that 2 escaped.

Nelson ran finely calculated risks which resulted in the destruction of a major part of the enemy fleets he opposed. Jellicoe was risk adverse and would only try to destroy the HSF if he could minimse his own risk. Which is why Nelson has gone down in history as arguably the greatest admiral of all time, while Jellicoe is remembered for fighting an inconclusive battle.

Wordsmith
 

Goatman

ADC
Book Reviewer
There is an interesting precursor to Jutland in the Russo-Japanese war .

The Japanese commander at Tsushima - Battle of Tsushima - Wikipedia - Admiral Togo was the first naval commander to use wireless telegraphy during the course of the battle.

Lieutenant Akiyama Saneyuki had been sent to the United States as a naval attaché in 1897. He witnessed firsthand the capabilities of radio telegraphy and sent a memo to the Navy Ministry urging that they push ahead as rapidly as possible to acquire the new technology.[9] The ministry became heavily interested in the technology, however it found the cost of the Marconi wireless system, which was then operating with the Royal Navy, to be exceedingly expensive. The Japanese therefore decided to create their own radio sets by setting up a radio research committee under Professor Shunkichi Kimura, which eventually produced an acceptable system. In 1901, having attained radio transmissions of up to 70 miles (110 km), the navy formally adopted radio telegraphy. Two years later, a laboratory and factory were set up at Yokosuka to produce the Type 36 (1903) radios, and these were quickly installed on every major warship in the Combined Fleet by the time the war started.[9]

The Imperial Japanese Navy at this time was strongly influenced by the RN and most of the ships had been built in Britain.

The difference in mental attitudes illustrated by @Wordsmith above is also shown here:

Night attacks
At night, around 20:00, 21 destroyers and 37 Japanese torpedo boats were thrown against the Russians. The destroyers attacked from the vanguard while the torpedo boats attacked from the east and south of the Russian fleet. The Japanese were aggressive, continuing their attacks for three hours without a break, as a result during the night, there were a number of collisions between the small craft and Russian warships. The Russians were now dispersed in small groups trying to break northwards. By 23:00, it appeared that the Russians had vanished, but they revealed their positions to their pursuers by switching on their searchlights – ironically, the searchlights had been turned on to spot the attackers. The old battleship Navarin struck a mine and was compelled to stop; she was consequently torpedoed four times and sunk. Out of a crew of 622, only three survived, one to be rescued by the Japanese and the other two by a British merchant ship.[citation needed]

The battleship Sissoi Veliky was badly damaged by a torpedo in the stern, and was scuttled the next day. Two old armoured cruisersAdmiral Nakhimov and Vladimir Monomakh – were badly damaged, the former by a torpedo hit to the bow, the latter by colliding with a Japanese destroyer. They were both scuttled by their crews the next morning, the Admiral Nakhimov off Tsushima Island, where she headed while taking on water. The night attacks had put a great strain on the Russians, as they had lost two battleships and two armoured cruisers, while the Japanese had only lost three torpedo boats.
[38]
 

Wordsmith

LE
Book Reviewer
There is an interesting precursor to Jutland in the Russo-Japanese war .

The Japanese commander at Tsushima - Battle of Tsushima - Wikipedia - Admiral Togo was the first naval commander to use wireless telegraphy during the course of the battle.

The difference in mental attitudes illustrated by @Wordsmith above is also shown here...
Togo was a Nelson fan. Hence the signal he sent to his fleet on the outbreak of battle.
The Empire's fate depends on the result of this battle, let every man do his utmost duty
He was also highly aggressive in his battle tactics, sought to destroy the maximum possible number of Russian ships and expected his captains to use their initiative.

Hence the Russian fleet was largely destroyed.

Wordsmith
 

seaweed

LE
Book Reviewer
RIP
Or Jellicoe could have trained the GF in the same techniques as he knew the HSF used, thus removing the disadvantage the GF was at in a night action.

The difference in mental attitudes between Nelson and Jellicoe is striking. Jellicie merely sought to avoid losing a battle, although he obviously would have liked to destroy the HSF. Nelson actively sought the utter destruction of the enemy fleet, realising that it would inflict both a massive psychological blow on the enemy and free up the surviving British ships for other tasks. At the Nile for example, he destroyed or captured 11 of the 13 French ships of line and was still frustrated that 2 escaped.

Nelson ran finely calculated risks which resulted in the destruction of a major part of the enemy fleets he opposed. Jellicoe was risk adverse and would only try to destroy the HSF if he could minimse his own risk. Which is why Nelson has gone down in history as arguably the greatest admiral of all time, while Jellicoe is remembered for fighting an inconclusive battle.

Wordsmith
It was NOT an inconclusive battle - it was a major strategic victory. Major losses to Jellicoe's fleet would have been a disaster. As it was, within 24 hours he had a fleet superior to the HSF again ready for action.

The root of our problem was Churchill's ignorant insistence on promoting the inadequately experienced and technically ignorant Beatty to command of the BCS, because Beatty was in effect a hard man to hounds and WSC in his profound (and sadly continuing) ignorance of naval matters thought that was a deciding criterion.
 

Wordsmith

LE
Book Reviewer
It was NOT an inconclusive battle - it was a major strategic victory. Major losses to Jellicoe's fleet would have been a disaster. As it was, within 24 hours he had a fleet superior to the HSF again ready for action.
Had the High Seas Fleet been destroyed, varying strategic possibilities would have opened up, including the possibility of passing a fleet into the Baltic, Fisher having build a number of shallow draft ships for the purpose when he was First Sea Lord.

Jutland was a strategic victory, but far greater dividends would have accrued had Jellicoe been more aggressive and sent much of the HSF to the bottom.

Wordsmith
 

Goatman

ADC
Book Reviewer
Togo was a Nelson fan. Hence the signal he sent to his fleet on the outbreak of battle.


He was also highly aggressive in his battle tactics, sought to destroy the maximum possible number of Russian ships and expected his captains to use their initiative.

Hence the Russian fleet was largely destroyed.

Wordsmith
What is also remarkable is that this battle took place a mere 40 years after the RN had reduced 500 houses in Kagoshima to smoking ash in a short bombardment.
 
Had the High Seas Fleet been destroyed, varying strategic possibilities would have opened up, including the possibility of passing a fleet into the Baltic, Fisher having build a number of shallow draft ships for the purpose when he was First Sea Lord.
In two words - mines, submarines, this was the most stupid non starter of the ideas dreamed up by the funny club of WW1.
 

Wordsmith

LE
Book Reviewer
In two words - mines, submarines, this was the most stupid non starter of the ideas dreamed up by the funny club of WW1.
Yep - it was always going to be difficult, but the threat of a Baltic landing (akin to the deception operations for the D-Day landings) would have caused the Germans to station strong forces on their Baltic coast. They couldn't afford the risk that the mines and submarines wouldn't stop an invasion force.

And with the bulk of the HSF on the bottom of the North Sea, any invasion force could have afforded a few losses.

Wordsmith
 

P2000

LE
Or Jellicoe could have trained the GF in the same techniques as he knew the HSF used, thus removing the disadvantage the GF was at in a night action.

The difference in mental attitudes between Nelson and Jellicoe is striking. Jellicie merely sought to avoid losing a battle, although he obviously would have liked to destroy the HSF. Nelson actively sought the utter destruction of the enemy fleet, realising that it would inflict both a massive psychological blow on the enemy and free up the surviving British ships for other tasks. At the Nile for example, he destroyed or captured 11 of the 13 French ships of line and was still frustrated that 2 escaped.

Nelson ran finely calculated risks which resulted in the destruction of a major part of the enemy fleets he opposed. Jellicoe was risk adverse and would only try to destroy the HSF if he could minimse his own risk. Which is why Nelson has gone down in history as arguably the greatest admiral of all time, while Jellicoe is remembered for fighting an inconclusive battle.

Wordsmith
Yes but bear in mind Nelson was wielding a fleet honed by almost a century of naval warfare against France, a cohesive doctrine of aggresssive close action developed in the 1750s under Anson and Hawke, and ships and guns which were a well developed weapon system.

Jellicoe commanded a fleet that hadn’t fought a peer in a century, and was adapting to a ferociously rapid technological transformation in all aspects of ship design, guns, shells, and fire control. Plus new threats like mines and torpedoes.

Given all this, plus his status as the one man who could lose the war in an afternoon, he did the professional thing which was to use his fleet cautiously despite the strong aggressive tradition of the RN.
 

New Posts

Latest Threads

Top