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  #1  
Old 16 May 15, 19:26
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A CV & a BB for PQ-17, no battle of Madagascar

Convoy PQ-17 was the first massive Anglo-American operation and transported an impressive amount of urgently needed materiel to the USSR.
Although the RN was terrified of Tirpitz and was aware of a strong U-boat and LW force, it put in charge admiral Pound (who had had a brain tumor diagnosed 3 years before) and sent a large escort force with CAs, CLs, DDs, etc, but w/o any air cover or BBs.

At the same time a strong fleet spent months supporting the surreal invasion of Madagascar ordered by Churchill and no naval action took place in the rest of the Indian Ocean.

When the Swedish embassy falsely reported that Tirpitz had sailed to intercept the convoy, Pound ordered the escort to abandon the convoy and sail westward (against the advice of all his staff).

In this scenario Admiral King convinces Roosevelt to disuade Churchill from wasting considerable resources in Madagascar by refusing to lend Wasp to ferry Spitfires to Malta, so it can escort the convoy, and refusing to participate in the convoy unless Wasp and a British BB join the escort.

Churchill has to call off the battle of Madagascar and use his carriers to ferry the Spitfires to Malta and has plenty of warships to escort both the convoy to Malta and to the USSR (including DDs to escort the CV and BB in PQ-17).

When Pound is notified of Tirpitz's sortieby the Swedes, he is elated at the chance to sink her with the poweful fleet. The warships remain close to the convoy. When the LW attacks, practically all the planes are destroyed by the carrier planes and the AAA and the planes cause no significant damage. Tirpitz never shows up and the U-boats sink only a ship, but 2 U-boats are lost. Stalin receives the invaluable cargo, which helps considerably. Most importantly, the convoys are not temporarily suspended and the merchant sailors and cargo ships survive to make many more convoys. Soviet-British relations and improved, instead of deteriorating.
The heavy losses and poor performance force the LW and KM to cancel operations against large convoys.

Last edited by Draco; 16 May 15 at 19:49..
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  #2  
Old 16 May 15, 19:48
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You obviously know little about Admiral King...

King had no real love for the British. So long as the USN wasn't involved in the operation King could have cared less. The IO was not really a USN area of operation at the time so what the British were doing there was of little interest to him.
Later, he also resisted the RN operating in the Pacific in joint USN operations.

So, your mechanism for cancelling the Madagascar invasion doesn't hold water.
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Old 16 May 15, 19:53
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The USN was involved in the operation, a DD performed a spectacular charge towards the LW, with a 30 knot turn to discharge an AAA broadside, which forced the first wave to drop their torpedoes too far and fly back without inflicting any damage at all. The rookies placed under British command for lack of experience impressed the RN experts. Both the British and American crews were shocked and angry at the absurd order to abandon the convoy. Remember your comment that the RN and USN never run from a fight, even against the odds (Tirpitz in this case).
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Old 16 May 15, 20:06
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Tuscaloosa, Wichita, London, Norfolk, mighty Washington & Duke of York, Victorius, etc, were available and could have easily sunk Tirpitz, had she shown up. Pound just didn't use them well. I'm adding Wasp and a British BB to wipe out the LW and enhance the safety margin, considering this a much better use than Madagascar.

Last edited by Draco; 16 May 15 at 20:36..
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Old 16 May 15, 20:36
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As for PQ 17. It appears that the only real problem was the British selection of Pound as convoy commander.

The covering forces were more than adequate to take on the KM whatever might be sent (4 CA, 2 BB and a CV). The convoy escort was particularly strong for dealing with U-boats and there was considerable AA assets assigned.

It seems that the only real issue was Pound. But, it isn't the first time an incompetent or bad commander was assigned to some operation at sea or on land.
If anything, it soured King and senior US naval commanders on any further joint USN / RN operations.

I could see between aircraft and submarines a number of merchants and maybe an escort or two either heavily damaged or sunk. But, the convoy would have done better with a better overall in command.
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Old 16 May 15, 20:40
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Poor and few fighters in the carrier though. it's difficult to understand why they did not deploy either Washington or Duke of York or even an R class all the way. It was really an invaluable convoy. Compare the forces in Pedestal, etc,

Using Wasp to ferry planes twice, instead of to fight, escorting a gem of a convoy is quite absurd and can be attributed only to Winnie's genius.

Last edited by Draco; 16 May 15 at 21:11..
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Old 16 May 15, 21:06
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Most sources mention about 150 sailors lost in PQ-17. I find that extremely conservative and regard it as propaganda. The loss of 24 extremely heavily laden merchant ships (which sink very fast) in arctic waters (where a man lives a few minutes) and scattered over a huge area and at the mercy of the Soviet navy must have cost hundreds of lives.
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Old 16 May 15, 21:14
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Winnie was obsessed with Madagascar and Malta, but the USSR was barely holding on at the time and fighting an infinitely larger and better armed force than Rommel's. China was holding a huge Japanese force and also barely surviving. PQ-17 should have been priority 1, Burma priority 2, invading Pantelleria priority 3, Malta priority 4 and Madagascar priority 10.
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Old 16 May 15, 23:51
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Draco View Post
Winnie was obsessed with Madagascar and Malta, but the USSR was barely holding on at the time and fighting an infinitely larger and better armed force than Rommel's. China was holding a huge Japanese force and also barely surviving. PQ-17 should have been priority 1, Burma priority 2, invading Pantelleria priority 3, Malta priority 4 and Madagascar priority 10.
Pantelleria?
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Old 16 May 15, 23:57
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Pantelleria?
Gozo? Rhodes? Crete?...
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Old 17 May 15, 00:11
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Most sources mention about 150 sailors lost in PQ-17. I find that extremely conservative and regard it as propaganda. The loss of 24 extremely heavily laden merchant ships (which sink very fast) in arctic waters (where a man lives a few minutes) and scattered over a huge area and at the mercy of the Soviet navy must have cost hundreds of lives.
You learn something new every day.

I had no idea the Soviet navy had attacked PQ-17.



And as to your speculation about amount of losses, do the research and you'll find out. There was no cover up and no one has discovered one in the years since.
No, merchant vessels do not always sink fast.
Yes PQ17 had rescue ships which did a great job in picking up survivors quickly.

Here's a list of vessels sunk by U boat from the convoy:
Convoy PQ17
If you click on the vessels name, you get details of crew losses and how many survived.

Quick list here too:

Order of Battle PQ 17 with crew losses


The above is ,of course, for the benefit of any one else reading this thread as I don't expect actual research to make any impact on you .


Last edited by CarpeDiem; 17 May 15 at 00:35..
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Old 17 May 15, 00:55
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CarpeDiem View Post
You learn something new every day.

I had no idea the Soviet navy had attacked PQ-17.



And as to your speculation about amount of losses, do the research and you'll find out. There was no cover up and no one has discovered one in the years since.
No, merchant vessels do not always sink fast.
Yes PQ17 had rescue ships which did a great job in picking up survivors quickly.

Here's a list of vessels sunk by U boat from the convoy:
Convoy PQ17
If you click on the vessels name, you get details of crew losses and how many survived.

Quick list here too:

Order of Battle PQ 17 with crew losses


The above is ,of course, for the benefit of any one else reading this thread as I don't expect actual research to make any impact on you .

Thx. Some of those made an interesting read.
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Old 17 May 15, 08:57
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Draco View Post
Convoy PQ-17 was the first massive Anglo-American operation and transported an impressive amount of urgently needed materiel to the USSR.
Although the RN was terrified of Tirpitz and was aware of a strong U-boat and LW force, it put in charge admiral Pound (who had had a brain tumor diagnosed 3 years before) and sent a large escort force with CAs, CLs, DDs, etc, but w/o any air cover or BBs.

At the same time a strong fleet spent months supporting the surreal invasion of Madagascar ordered by Churchill and no naval action took place in the rest of the Indian Ocean.

When the Swedish embassy falsely reported that Tirpitz had sailed to intercept the convoy, Pound ordered the escort to abandon the convoy and sail westward (against the advice of all his staff).

In this scenario Admiral King convinces Roosevelt to disuade Churchill from wasting considerable resources in Madagascar by refusing to lend Wasp to ferry Spitfires to Malta, so it can escort the convoy, and refusing to participate in the convoy unless Wasp and a British BB join the escort.

Churchill has to call off the battle of Madagascar and use his carriers to ferry the Spitfires to Malta and has plenty of warships to escort both the convoy to Malta and to the USSR (including DDs to escort the CV and BB in PQ-17).

When Pound is notified of Tirpitz's sortieby the Swedes, he is elated at the chance to sink her with the poweful fleet. The warships remain close to the convoy. When the LW attacks, practically all the planes are destroyed by the carrier planes and the AAA and the planes cause no significant damage. Tirpitz never shows up and the U-boats sink only a ship, but 2 U-boats are lost. Stalin receives the invaluable cargo, which helps considerably. Most importantly, the convoys are not temporarily suspended and the merchant sailors and cargo ships survive to make many more convoys. Soviet-British relations and improved, instead of deteriorating.
The heavy losses and poor performance force the LW and KM to cancel operations against large convoys.
Although the RN was terrified of Tirpitz and was aware of a strong U-boat and LW force, it put in charge admiral Pound


Dudley Pound did not command PQ17. The escort was commanded by Commander Broome in HMS Keppel, the cruiser screening squadron (CS1) by Rear Admiral Hamilton in HMS London ( two British & two U.S. heavy cruisers ) and the heavy cover by Admiral Tovey, in HMS Duke of York ( DoY, Washington, Victorious, two cruisers & fourteen destroyers).

Dudley Pound was the professional head of the RN, the First Sea Lord.
.
Oh, and the RN was not 'terrified' of Tirpitz. As with Bismark, the RN was eager to bring her to battle, in Tirpitz' case in order to eliminate a potential threat to the Arctic convoy routes. In March, 1942, Tirpitz sailed against PQ12, but her actions were so pusillanimous that Tovey was to write that:-
(Tirpitz) is so valuable an asset to all the Axis Powers that I am convinced that the enemy will not willingly expose this unique and irreplaceable asset to any unnecessary risk. The promptitude with which she entered the nearest harbour when attacked by aircraft from the Victorious supports my conviction.


At the same time a strong fleet spent months supporting the surreal invasion of Madagascar ordered by Churchill

Madagascar posed a serious potential threat to convoys between the UK & the Middle East/India, menacing in particular the Mozambique Channel. The possibilty that the Japanese might establish a base there could not be ignored.

The Madagascar operation was far from 'surreal.' It was an important pre-emptive strike.

When the Swedish embassy falsely reported that Tirpitz had sailed to intercept the convoy, Pound ordered the escort to abandon the convoy and sail westward (against the advice of all his staff).

I suspect you are confusing Tirpitz with Bismark here. British information on Tirpitz came from Commander Denning of the RN's Operational Intelligence Centre, but more importantly from GCCS at Bletchley Park. Have you ever heard of Ultra/Enigma?

You are correct about the decision to scatter, however. It was made by Pound and Pound alone, against the recommendations of Denning, Hinsley (GCCS) and most of his staff. It appalled Tovey, Hamilton, & Broome, who could only assume that Pound had additional information to which they were not privy. Indeed, Broome sent those of his destroyers which were armed with torpedoes to join Hamilton, on the assumption that CS1 would shortly be engaging a Tirpitz led Task Force until Tovey's covering force could come to their aid.

In this scenario Admiral King convinces Roosevelt to disuade Churchill from wasting considerable resources in Madagascar by refusing to lend Wasp to ferry Spitfires to Malta, so it can escort the convoy, and refusing to participate in the convoy unless Wasp and a British BB join the escort.


As Mr. Gardner has ably pointed out, you clearly know little about Admiral King. He had little love for the British, and even less for the activities of the RN.

However, as Wasp made two ferry trips with fighters to Malta, on 20 April and 9 May 1942, and PQ17 did not sail until 27 June 1942, I fail to see any connection. Incidentally, Wasp returned to the United States after the second ferry trip, undertaking a short refit in Norfolk before sailing for the Pacific with the battleship North Carolina on 6 June, 1942, via the Panama Canal.

Incidentally, I am due to visit Bletchley Park next week for a talk on Enigma intercepts and the Battle of the Atlantic. Would you like me to bring back a souvenir for you?
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Old 17 May 15, 09:13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Draco View Post
]Most sources mention about 150 sailors lost in PQ-17. I find that extremely conservative and regard it as propaganda. The loss of 24 extremely heavily laden merchant ships (which sink very fast) in arctic waters (where a man lives a few minutes) and scattered over a huge area and at the mercy of the Soviet navy must have cost hundreds of lives.
Most sources mention about 150 sailors lost in PQ-17. I find that extremely conservative and regard it as propaganda.


It really doesn't matter what your views are. The figures are fully documented and are correct.
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Old 17 May 15, 11:51
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Denning told Pound that he believed the Swedish report to be false since the Norwegian observers and radio traffic indicated no Tirpitz sortie.

If Wasp does not ferry planes, she can refit in April and return to the Atlantic, ready for PQ-17. Churchill cancels the absurd Madagascar operation and uses his own carriers to ferry his planes and the other ships in the Atlantic, where the Germans are having a great time.

The Japanese should have a hell of a time deploying ships, planes, troosp and supplies from Singapore to the Mozambique Channel, with the RN in Kenya (they ran away from Ceylon, but eventually they´ll have to make a stand)

British logic:

1) Churchill presses for priority on the European theater. He gets it.

2) He recalls the fleet to Kenya (weakening Ceylon) and ignores Roosevelt's plea to liberate Burma, so China, the linchpin against Japan, can be supplied, because he considers NA far more important than the E)

3) He neglects the Soviets (the linchpin of the priority 1 European theater) and sends a large fleet to invade neutral Madagascar and takes months doing so, while he relies on American CVs and BBs to police the Atlantic and ferry planes to Malta.

The idea of securing Madagascar (further from Japan than from Britain, very close to Aden, SA and Mauritius and next door to the RN base in Kenya, when Japan is already extremely over stretched), while the USSR, allied shipping in the Atlantic and China are on the verge of collapse can only be conceived by a brilliant strategist like Winnie and be clearly understood and justified by You.

Last edited by Draco; 17 May 15 at 12:23..
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