Royal Navy Sank the Bismarck This Day in 1941




HMS King George V, flagship of Admiral of the Fleet Sir John Tovey as he maneuvered the units of the Royal Navy to sink the Bismarck


A RAF Coastal Command Catalina (AH545 WQ-Z of 209 Squadron) located the German battleship Bismarck on 26 May 1941 which led to the sinking of the Bismarck. The sighting was made by the co-pilot, American US Navy Ensign Leonard “Tuck” Smith, but was credited to the pilot, British Flying Officer Dennis Briggs of the RAF, because the United States was supposed to be neutral.



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”




Churchill’s 10 Most Important Speeches from Daily Telegraph of London


Churchill’s stirring oratory is perhaps his greatest legacy. His wartime speeches famously gave the British lion its roar during the darkest days of the Second World War.

Winston Churchill’s 10 most important speeches

As we approach the 50th anniversary of Sir Winston Churchill’s death, here are his ten most influential feats of oratory – including some which history has almost forgotten


Churchill believed, unsurprisingly, in the romantic power of speeches. He wrote that if a man’s oratory was powerful enough he would become an “independent force”. He said a speech should be brought to a climax through a “rapid succession of waves of sound and vivid pictures”.

the entire article is here:

As I turned over and twisted in bed the full horror of the news sank in upon me.

Churchill aboard POW IWM

Churchill aboard HMS Prince of Wales on his way to meet with US President Franklin D. Roosevelt at the Atlantic Conference in Placentia Bay, Newfoundland.

“In all the war I never received a more direct shock.”

Prime Minister Churchill on learning HMS Prince of Wales and HMS Repulse had been sunk.



Admiral Tom Phillips (right) commanding Force Z. A desk admiral, ignorant of modern naval warfare of the time, Phillips refused to listen to advice from experienced naval combat commanders.


Rear Admiral Arthur Palliser (left) deputy of Admiral Sir Tom Phillips (right), commander of Force Z,  on the quayside at Singapore naval base, 2 December 1941. Palliser was a nonentity and a man who was ‘bone from the neck up.’ Phillips was a “desk admiral” who had spent 8 or the previous 11 years on staff appointments.

Admiral Tom Phillips, commanding what had been designated Force Z, was completely ignorant of the danger enemy aircraft posed to ships.

Despite first hand reports of the extreme danger from the air,  especially dive bombers and torpedo bombers, Phillips continued to smugly wallow in his preconceptions. Not only was he ignorant, he refused to listen to the younger officers who had been on convoy duty in the English Channel and who had been involved in the Norwegian Campaign. German aircraft had pounded Royal Navy in these battles. In 1940 alone more than 18 destroyers were lost from air attack. As Vice Chief of the Naval Staff, Phillips would have been well aware of this.


 In the Highest Traditions of the Royal Navy, a thoroughly research biography of Captain John Leach, author Matthew B. Wills gives us this sketch of the Admiral commanding Force Z:

“Admiral Phillips had no recent sea experience and had never been on a ship that had to defend herself from attack by enemy aircraft.” 

This was deeply unfortunate.

British Government Ordered Seduction of Trainee Spies

From the London Daily Mail 1 October 2014



Honeytrap: Noreen Rois was in Churchill’s secret Special Operations Executive – but her job was not to deceive foreign spies but British ones, testing them to see whether they would spill secrets to a pretty face

Special agent seductress: Her hush-hush wartime mission was to bewitch our trainee spies into spilling national secrets. Now, 70 years on, she tells her gripping story

  • Noreen Rois was in Churchill’s secret WWII Special Operations Executive
  • She would seduce trainee spies near HQ at Beaulieu estate in Hampshire
  • If they revealed too much to her, they would fail final stage of their training
  • Now 88, great-grandmother of nine tells story after revelation of ‘Agent Fifi’
  • Exploits under her given name Marie Collard released in files this week

The entire article is here:

Read more:

“I have taken more out of alcohol than alcohol has taken out of me,” Winston Churchill once said.


Winston Churchill visits FDR 7

Prime Minister Churchill having dinner on one of his many visits to meet with President Franklin Roosevelt. Although Churchill certainly drank more alcohol than FDR, the President was a man who liked two or three or martinis before dinner.

(photo courtesy of US National Archives and Records Administration)

Winston Churchill liked to drink, of that there is no doubt. His dozens and dozens of biographers disagree on how much he alcohol he consumed each day but they agree it was a lot.  In a series on lectures on Churchill by Professor J. Rufus Fears delivered for the teaching company, Dr. Fears says Churchill drank at least a dozen strong scotches a day. Plus assorted champagne, sherry, brandy, port and French wines.

Another source, his historical research assistant of many years, Dr. Maurice Ashley, described evening meals at the many times he spent at Chartwell, Churchill’s much beloved country home.

“Before dinner we had sherry, then Champagne, brandy and port…” Note the words “before dinner.”  During dinner Churchill drank various wines and afterwards more port, brandy and often champagne (which he also enjoyed many times at breakfast).

Many times, Dr. Ashley met Churchill at the great man’s  flat in London:

“When I used to visit him in the morning at a flat… he always greeted me with a glass of sherry. He could not stand cocktails. For lunch there was beer, at tea he had whisky.”

What is amazing is that Churchill drank this much alcohol on a daily basis through his entire adult life. Nor did he stop when he grew quite old. 

“Near the end of his life, a new MP asked the former prime minister if he would like some tea. Churchill replied, “No. Don’t be a bloody fool. I want a large glass of whisky!”

Churchill died in 1965, age 90. During these 90 years, he served more than 60 years in Parliament. 


Churchill by Professor J. Rufus Fears, PhD Harvard University. Professor Emeritus of History, University of Oklahoma

Available from the Teaching Company at the link below: (I highly recommend this course. I have no financial interest in this company, nor commission arrangement and I don’t know anyone who works there).

The Teaching Company


As I Knew Him: Churchill in the Wilderness:
A paper presented by Dr. Maurice Ashley, C.B.E., who served as Churchill’s historical research assistant for many years. Given at the Churchill Society International Convention London, England, on 19 August 1989.

You can download and read the entire paper here which is quite fascinating.

Churchill in the Wilderness A Biography




USS Winston Churchill




At sea with USS Winston S. Churchill (DDG 81) Sep. 13, 2001 — USS Winston S. Churchill makes a high-speed run in the English Channel. The destroyer, based in Norfolk, Va., is making its first deployment to the United Kingdom and Norway. The Churchill is the only U.S. Navy vessel in active service named after a foreign dignitary. The ship is named in honor of Sir Winston Leonard Spencer-Churchill (1874-1965), best known for his courageous leadership as the British Prime Minister during World War II. U.S. Navy photo by Photographer’s Mate 2nd Class Shane T. McCoy.

 According to the website of the USS Churchill, which is here:


“The USS Winston Churchill is the fifth U.S. warship to be named in honor of an Englishman and the 16th warship to be named after a foreign national – the only one in active service today.

USS Winston Churchill is the only U.S. Navy ship to have a Royal Navy officer permanently assigned to the ship’s company. Presently, the ship’s navigator is from the British Royal Navy. The ship is a 9,500-ton, 509-foot- long Aegis equipped Arleigh Burke-Class destroyer.

She was  was built at the Bath Iron Works and commissioned at her home port of Norfolk, Virginia on March 10, 2001…. Lady Mary Soames, Sir Winston Churchill’s daughter and the ship’s honorary sponsor from the United Kingdom, took part in the ceremony.”



4 June 2008 USS Winston Churchill (DDG 81) pulls into Naval Station Norfolk after a seven-month deployment. (Official USN photo by MC Spec 2nd Class Pamela M. Coxe)





North Atlantic Ocean (Oct. 24, 2001) — Sea spray whips across the deck of the USS Winston S. Churchill (DDG 81) as the ship plows through rough seas in the Northern Atlantic Ocean. Official USN photo by Photographer’s Mate 2nd Class Shane McCoy.) 


I have the feeling that the photo Winston Churchill would have liked most is the last one showing his namesake ship making her determined way in heavy weather.