Admiral Dudley Pound Wouldn’t Take His Own Advice

 

 

iwn pound and SC

Admiral of the Fleet Sir Dudley Pound and the Prime Minister on the deck of the SS Queen Mary. (Photo courtesy of the Imperial War Museum)

 

Early in his tenure as First Sea Lord, Admiral of the Fleet Dudley Pound wrote to a close friend in the navy and said, “why have Commanders-in-Chiefs and do their work for them? If they are not capable of doing it they must make way for someone who can.” 1

Unique amongst the respective British service commands, the Admiralty had command, organizational and administrative responsibilities of a standard service ministry but also had operational control over the fleets.

Unfortunately, Dudley Pound didn’t take his own advice during the war since he often went over the heads of his C-in-Cs and gave orders to formations under their command.

During the disastrous campaign in Norway beginning in early April 1940, Pound went over the head of both the senior Royal Navy officer on the scene (Admiral Jock Whitworth) as well over the head Whitworth’s C.O., the Commander in Chief, Home Fleet. Pound even sent orders to individual ships. This caused immense confusion as you might imagine.

While many of the orders sent to RN ships fighting in the Norwegian campaign by Dudley Pound were thought to have originated with then First Lord of the Admiralty, Winston Churchill, many other times during the war Pound needed no prodding from Churchill to interfere in fleet dispositions during action with the enemy.

This could cause serious problems and occasionally disaster such as the infamous scattering order issue to convoy PQ17.

As an aside, the Chief of Naval Operations in the US, has no operational authority over US naval ships. He, or she, is responsible for everything concerning the navy but he doesn’t exercise command over fleets or ships. This has always been the case in the modern history of the US Navy.

In World War Two, Franklin Roosevelt picked Admiral Ernest King out of  a dead-end post which Admirals took a few years before retirement and made him Chief of Naval Operations. However, this gave King little power over the dispositions of the actual naval ships themselves since those were in fleets or other units under the authority of Commander in Chief US Fleet. This title had the unfortunate acronym of CINCUS.

After a spell, this did not suit Roosevelt who wanted one person in charge so he elevated King to the position of Commander in Chief US Fleet while allowing him to also keep the office of Chief of Naval Operations. This gave King immense authority over the entire US Navy. (And he sometimes went over the heads of his commanders such as Nimitz, not to change any of their fleet dispositions but to fire some of their subordinates).

Upon assuming the position of Commander in Chief, US Fleet, Admiral King immediately changed the acronym to COMINCH. King is the only man ever to have held the position of Chief of Naval Operations and Commander in Chief US Fleet simultaneously.

1 Roskill, Stephen “The War at Sea”

 

 

 

A Photograph Which Will Make You Feel the Cold of an Arctic Convoy in World War Two

HMS_Sheffield_frost

Ice forming on a 20-inch signal projector on the cruiser HMS SHEFFIELD whilst she is helping to escort an Arctic convoy to Russia. December 1941.

(Photo by Lt. R.D. D. Coote, Royal Navy official photographer and used courtesy of the Imperial War Museum

HMS Hunter, Sunk During First Battle of Narvik 10 April 1940, Found in One Thousand Feet of Water – Part 11

Part 1Part 2Part 3Part 4Part 5Part 6Part 7Part 8Part 9Part 10Part 11Part 12Part 13Part 14Part 15Part 16Part 17Part 18Part 19Part 20Part 21Part 22Part 23Part 24Part 25Part 26Part 27Part 28Part 29

+
This is said to be a photo of HMS Hunter (H35) sinking in Narvik fjord on 10 August 1940.

This photo said to be of HMS Hunter sinking raises several questions. It could only have been taken from the HMS Hotspur before she rammed the Hunter. Yet the eyewitness reports cited in Narvik: Battles in the Fjords by Peter Dickens, say the ship was aflame from all the hits she had taken from the Georg Thiele. So it is sort of confusing. Note: there is no smoke coming from her stacks which would be correct since the main steam line had been shattered and the stokers would have cut off the fuel to the boilers and blown all the steam.

Without taking a magnifying glass to various photos of Hunter and comparing them to the above, establishing the identity of the ship would be difficult. While ships of the same class all looked alike, each one had minor differences from the others because design changes were made as they were built.

I can’t state this for certain but since the photo above shows no signs of fire, I can only conclude that the above photo has been altered and must be of another H class destroyer sinking.

The photo below, is also said to be of HMS Hunter. By the way, her RN hull identification number was H35 which is painted on both ships. As you can see from the photo below, that number is much higher above the waterline than in the above photo of her sinking. So in the above photo, the ship really is sinking. But what ship is it?

Unfortunately, like much one finds on the internet, sources and dates are not given or any other way to find more information about the photographs.

+
HMS Hunter (H35) in 1936

Incredibly, although under heavy fire, HMS Hotspur managed to free herself but the moment she backed away, HMS Hunter rolled over and sank. Casualties aboard HMS Hunter were heavy. Of the 158 officers and crew, only 46 survived. The rest were either killed in the battle, trapped below when the ship went down, or died of hypothermia. They were plucked out of the freezing water by the Germans and released to the custody of the Swedes several days later. (It would be churlish of me not to point out that the Germans made a concerted effort to rescue the British sailors as quickly as they could.)

+
Wreck of HMS Hunter in a photo taken by the Royal Norwegian Navy. The wreck is so deep that the Norwegians had to photograph from a unmanned mini-sub.
I would like to thank Mr. Roger Cook, author and naval historian, who kindly emailed me and corrected my identification of the quadruple mount in the photo above. I had thought it a 2pdr pom-pom.
However, Mr. Cook correctly identified it in the following paragraph which I quote from his email:

“the photo of the quadruple gun mounting on the wreck is one of her quad Vickers .5in AA machinegun mounts. These ineffective weapons fired a smaller, less powerful cartridge than the contemporary .50 Cal browning (which is still with us). The lack of range was made worse by the fact that the guns were splayed out slightly one from another on the mounting, to give a scatter gun effect.”

Thank you, Mr. Cook, for your correction.

I started writing this blog years ago when recovering from successful treatment for cancer. Since I missed writing so much and since I was so fatigued, I couldn’t write much more in a day than a blog post. So I started my blog to entertain myself and have just continued on with it for more than five years. Not even sure why. Habit I guess.

One of things which constantly amazes me about my blog is this: while I have no idea who reads it, when I make a factual mistake, someone eventually emails me from somewhere in the world and politely corrects me.

Over the years readers from America, Canada, Belgium, England, Germany and the Netherlands have sent me corrections to posts. I appreciate that my readers take the time to do this.

 

 

[Source: Narvik: Battles in the Fjords by Peter Dickens. Images courtesy of Warships of World War II and NRK.]