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Sunday, 16 May 2010

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Though I don't dispute the burden of the legacy of Nelson I think he was also weighted with the idea that he was "the only man on both sides who could lose the war in a single afternoon". If the Germans lost, then the blockade would remain and they would be contained in a land war. If Britain lost, then all sea connections including the Channel and Atlantic would be cut and with it the ability to prosecute total war.

Hello, 'TDK'! I think you will find that remark was aimed, after the war, by Churchill at Jellicoe, not Beatty. It referred to the (still) controversial decision of Jellicoe to turn away from the German High Seas Fleet as it fled the scene because of his perceived danger of torpedoes and mines. Thus, according to his critics, he missed the chance of annihilating the German fleet in the Nelsonian/Trafalgar tradition. I intend to return to that in a later post. Not the least of the fascination in all of this lays in the differences in character and professionalism between Jellicoe and Beatty.

"the brave men, German as well as British, who fought the battle." Including the future George VI - I'll spare you the obvious, tired joke.

You risk the Tower, Sir, with that sort of a joke!

Quite right. I confused the two.

Thoroughly enjoyed the piece David. Alas Poor Beatty (and Admirals in general). Reminds me of Guadalcanal. Hopefully the fellows administering the USN's History site won't come for me because I'm only pasting 'cause I'm uncertain the link will work. (Membership is supposed to be required and all that).

"The reputation of Vice Admiral Frank Jack Fletcher, the original expeditionary force commander, took a beating after the war. But a new study by John B. Lundstrom demonstrates how sound Fletcher really was and how a great many charges against him were unfounded. Fletcher provides an enduring lesson on how a senior leader can adjust to vast technological change beyond his personal experience. It is easily overlooked today that the first year of the Pacific war coincided almost exactly with the first year of widespread fleet use of radar. Moreover, the capabilities of carrier air groups evolved rapidly with new generations of aircraft.

Fletcher, a nonaviator, recognized he needed advice from officers with practical experience and knowledge. What earned him many enemies, however, was that he correctly perceived that the officers best fitted to provide that advice were far junior to those normally consulted by an admiral at his level. Fletcher reached down to squadron and air group commanders, lieutenant commanders, and even lieutenants. The naval aviator captains and commanders he passed over for advice became bitter critics."

http://www.usni.org/magazines/navalhistory/archive/story.asp?STORY_ID=2245

Thanks, 'JK', but am I not right in thinking that Fletcher had a touch of the 'Jellicoes' at the end of Midway when he declined the chance to go haring off west after Yamamoto in much the same way that Jellicoe did when the German fleet turned away having had their 'T' well and truly crossed. The Nelsonian-Beatty-ites never forgave him. I think Fletcher and Jellicoe were quite right, and I say that with all the authority of an ex-corporal!

You are of course correct where Midway is concerned, technically speaking. As it happens, there's a pretty fair "technical" reason (sadly I can't recall off the top of my head where I read it or if it was lectured me). But, if you read the link - you'll recall those newly developed fleet radars had a nasty habit of showing "ghost returns."

As I recall, those "ghost returns" were the subject of some debate after the fact. But, were I present at the time, I think it entirely possible that an Admiral JK could've come up with a few reasonably sounding justifications for not haring off across the Pacific after a "possibly sinking" Jap battle group. (Pardon if necessary - my lack of "pc").

Indeed, and Fletcher's duty was precisely the same as Jellicoe's, forego the chance of fame and just preserve your fleet. Fletcher, I think without checking, was left with one and 'half' carriers at the end of the battle and carriers had just proved themselves to be the new Queens on the naval chess board.

Thank goodness for the internets. Refreshing one's recollection is far easier performed in skivvies with beer near at hand than performing all the 'necessaries' prepping for a trip to the library. And this time, I won't be risking the ire of Naval authorities, however official Navy sources I prefer.

"As darkness fell, both sides took stock and made tentative plans for continuing the action. Admiral Fletcher, obliged to abandon derelict Yorktown and feeling he could not adequately command from a cruiser, ceded operational command to Spruance. Spruance knew the United States had won a great victory, but was still unsure of what Japanese forces remained and was determined to safeguard both Midway and his carriers."

http://modelshipwrights.kitmaker.net/modules.php?op=modload&name=SquawkBox&file=index&req=viewtopic&topic_id=140348&page=1

Aha! When I wrote "Fletcher", of course, I meant "Spruance", as I explained to that chap in the shaving mirror this morning whose name escapes me! (Must take more water with it.)

Advise that "chap" in the mirror (might he - no I suppose he's not Michael Jackson) though I've lost some detail, I generally have the gist - (Now 'Hank' do not engage here... please?) - of the timeline.

Midway was prior to Guadalcanal and even Spruance could not be sure a Jap sub "couldn't have been on-station" and a rifled big-gun naval engagement (which would surely have occurred at night) would've most probably, given away any advantage to protecting Singapore and by extension Australia... I wonder David - I understand you're engaged in a "battle-game?"

How's that going?

Yes, 'JK', I tried that game "War in the Pacific" but it was rather disappointing - probably because I'm too thick and failed to understand the workings of it properly. However, yesterday was my birthday and 'SoD' bought me "Jutland", which as the name implies offers wargaming based on Big Ships with Big Armour and Bloody Big Guns! Had a quick look and it appears to be rather good - but I'm off to France next week so I will leave it until my return. Once I've learned it I will show all you 'Jacks' what an ex-corporal can do!

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