The Truth About Force Z? (Full Version)

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warspite1 -> The Truth About Force Z? (5/20/2017 8:45:57 AM)

I am reading an interesting book at present, The Royal Navy In Eastern Waters (Boyd), and the dispatch of Force Z features within. The author claims that the roles played by Winston Churchill and the Admiralty are, in truth, mirror opposites of the 'accepted version' of events.

Interesting - if not easy - reading. I will report more as I progress through, but essentially the author believes that the loss of the two capital Ships HMS Prince of Wales and HMS Repulse can be laid squarely at the door of Admiral Dudley Pound who wasn't brow beaten by Churchill into agreeing their deployment at Singapore. He also claims that HMS Indomitable was never earmarked for Force Z.....




JeffroK -> RE: The Truth About Force Z? (5/20/2017 10:55:11 AM)

He also claims that HMS Indomitable was never earmarked for Force Z.....

Surely swanning around off Jamaica was on the short cut to Singapore




spence -> RE: The Truth About Force Z? (5/20/2017 11:36:32 AM)

It was her first ever voyage so "swanning around" in the Caribbean may not be exactly an accurate description of her activity. Machines and the men who man them take time to work themselves into working together.




Buckrock -> RE: The Truth About Force Z? (5/20/2017 12:04:34 PM)

The Pound/Churchill responsibility debate isn't exactly new but it would be interesting to hear if the author has found some key piece of evidence
that was missed in previous works that normally end with the meeting on October 20th, 1941.

IIRC, Indomitable was never given orders for Singapore but had been ordered to Trincomlee and to arrive at a time when POW and Repulse should
have still been at Ceylon had their original sailing orders been kept. Official records of Churchill and the Admiralty seemed to make it clear though
that Indomitable was being sent to operate with POW and Repulse as to whatever situation unfolded in the Far East (hopefully nothing much).

Mind you, no-one seemed to have much clue as to what exactly these ships were supposed to do in case of war in the Far East other than look imposing.




warspite1 -> RE: The Truth About Force Z? (5/20/2017 2:11:00 PM)


quote:

ORIGINAL: JeffK

He also claims that HMS Indomitable was never earmarked for Force Z.....

Surely swanning around off Jamaica was on the short cut to Singapore
warspite1

If one is sailing from the UK to Singapore via South Africa, then no, Jamaica is not a short cut - it is in the opposite direction.




warspite1 -> RE: The Truth About Force Z? (5/20/2017 2:15:41 PM)


quote:

ORIGINAL: Buckrock

The Pound/Churchill responsibility debate isn't exactly new but it would be interesting to hear if the author has found some key piece of evidence
that was missed in previous works that normally end with the meeting on October 20th, 1941.

IIRC, Indomitable was never given orders for Singapore but had been ordered to Trincomlee and to arrive at a time when POW and Repulse should
have still been at Ceylon had their original sailing orders been kept. Official records of Churchill and the Admiralty seemed to make it clear though
that Indomitable was being sent to operate with POW and Repulse as to whatever situation unfolded in the Far East (hopefully nothing much).

Mind you, no-one seemed to have much clue as to what exactly these ships were supposed to do in case of war in the Far East other than look imposing.
warspite1

No the debate is not new - there is not much that is 'new' in WWII - but there has become an 'accepted' view (that paints Churchill in the wrong) and he appears to be challenging that - rightly or wrongly.

As to your comment re the 'Official records' and what Indomitable was being tasked to do, the author appears to be saying quite the opposite.

Should be interesting reading [:)].




Buckrock -> RE: The Truth About Force Z? (5/20/2017 3:34:07 PM)

Well if you've read through it sufficient to already comment, the author's evidence regarding Pound and Indomitable would be interesting to hear.

Or will I need to eventually wade through a 10,000+ word Warspite1 essay just to find it?




Alpha77 -> RE: The Truth About Force Z? (5/20/2017 4:35:14 PM)


quote:

ORIGINAL: Buckrock

Or will I need to eventually wade through a 10,000+ word Warspite1 essay just to find it?


That would be great, he should write books himself [;)]




crsutton -> RE: The Truth About Force Z? (5/20/2017 5:26:59 PM)

Nobody's fault really. The common perception of the time was that fast battleships at sea could handle air attacks, and besides the Japanese air arm was only second rate, and not capable of that sort of sophisticated attack. The tactical decisions made rested on false assumptions. But to be fair, 90% of the admirals world wide at that time would have probably done the same. Let's just say it was an education for everyone. Underestimating the opponent was not just a British fault at the time.




Alfred -> RE: The Truth About Force Z? (5/20/2017 6:06:55 PM)

No one was to blame for sending Force Z to Singapore.  The operational deployment of a couple of capital ships to Singapore had been British "doctrine" for a long time.  In essence it had always been a political decision which predated Churchill becoming Prime Minister.  Neither Pound nor /Churchill should be criticised for merely implementing decisions which had been made before their tenures.  Everyone in high office always inherits prior decisions and it is simply unrealistic to expect every prior decision to be reassessed when the personnel changes.

Alfred




m10bob -> RE: The Truth About Force Z? (5/20/2017 6:08:16 PM)


quote:

ORIGINAL: warspite1


quote:

ORIGINAL: JeffK

He also claims that HMS Indomitable was never earmarked for Force Z.....

Surely swanning around off Jamaica was on the short cut to Singapore
warspite1

If one is sailing from the UK to Singapore via South Africa, then no, Jamaica is not a short cut - it is in the opposite direction.




Might not be so distant or out of the way if perhaps intended for the Panama Canal?
The Warspite was there in Bremerton all by it's lonesome and due to exit in a not too distant future?


Just food for thought?




Jorge_Stanbury -> RE: The Truth About Force Z? (5/20/2017 6:16:04 PM)

I read that Phillips was not expecting torpedo bombers so far away from enemy bases. After all, Netties had a range that was double any other nation's torpedo bombers




BBfanboy -> RE: The Truth About Force Z? (5/20/2017 9:09:03 PM)


quote:

ORIGINAL: Jorge_Stanbury

I read that Phillips was not expecting torpedo bombers so far away from enemy bases. After all, Netties had a range that was double any other nation's torpedo bombers

The Japanese had quite a few secrets about their equipment, like the excellent torpedoes they had for both air and sea.

As for what Force Z was supposed to do when war broke out, I think the idea must have been to threaten Japanese invasion attempts from the west while the US threatened from the east, and the Dutch/Australians from the south. The Japanese made Force Z a priority because it was a major threat. With a carrier providing CAP the PoW and Repulse may have made it to Kota Bharu to challenge the invasion. Whether they could last against the Japanese torpedoes there is another question.




dr.hal -> RE: The Truth About Force Z? (5/20/2017 10:20:07 PM)

I believe there were provisional plans for HMS Indomitable to be part of the Repulse and PoW team, it was to be called Force Orange, for somewhat obvious reasons. However she ran aground on a coral reef near Jamaica during her shakedown on 3 November 41 and that made it impossible for her to join the PoW team, which was consequently named Force Z. She made repairs in Norfolk VA and then proceeded to Colombo where she arrived in January, much to late for Force Z. Churchill is blamed for a lot of things, and much is justly deserved but I don't think he wanted to, or did exercise ANY tactical control over Force Z and as Alfred suggests, had few options due to prior planing in terms of strategic deployment.




warspite1 -> RE: The Truth About Force Z? (5/21/2017 6:08:26 AM)

Where had you read of 'Force Orange' please? I've read previously that the Force was originally Force G and later Force Z but never heard it called Force Orange. Just curious.




warspite1 -> RE: The Truth About Force Z? (5/21/2017 6:33:52 AM)


quote:

ORIGINAL: Alfred

No one was to blame for sending Force Z to Singapore.  The operational deployment of a couple of capital ships to Singapore had been British "doctrine" for a long time.  In essence it had always been a political decision which predated Churchill becoming Prime Minister.  Neither Pound nor /Churchill should be criticised for merely implementing decisions which had been made before their tenures.  Everyone in high office always inherits prior decisions and it is simply unrealistic to expect every prior decision to be reassessed when the personnel changes.

Alfred
warspite1

In responding I am taking up the position of the author. He makes some very good points but whether his conclusions are correct I leave to others to judge - I certainly will be reading other works on this subject to get a more rounded picture.

But as I say, for now, in this debate I will post based on the author's position.

1. The operational deployment of a couple of capital ships was not long time doctrine. The position of what to do come war (and assuming Germany, Italy and Japan were the opponents) was debated continually as can be imagined.

The RN was not big enough to meet all three head-on. Discussion ranged from trying to decide where the RN would be offensive and where defensive e.g. the UK and the Far East or UK and the Middle East (with the third defensive) and what the nature of the defensive forces would be. Much later, once the Mediterranean had seemingly won that argument, the problems were compounded by wartime losses, the realisation that many naval assets were obsolete, the position in the Mediterranean, the intentions of the US, and of course, those of the Japanese. In such a fluid situation the debate was never truly settled and only in the last few months of 1941 was firm action to send a force to the Far East (whether Cape Town, Ceylon or Singapore is another question).

As can be seen above, the length of debate and the form it took meant that this was not a case of Pound and Churchill coming into positions whereby firm decisions had already been taken but simply not reassessed. These two individuals had been living and breathing this topic for years - Dudley Pound became first First Sea Lord in June 1939, Winston Churchill had been Prime Minister since May 1940 (and First Lord since the previous September).




warspite1 -> RE: The Truth About Force Z? (5/21/2017 6:43:20 AM)


quote:

ORIGINAL: m10bob


quote:

ORIGINAL: warspite1


quote:

ORIGINAL: JeffK

He also claims that HMS Indomitable was never earmarked for Force Z.....

Surely swanning around off Jamaica was on the short cut to Singapore
warspite1

If one is sailing from the UK to Singapore via South Africa, then no, Jamaica is not a short cut - it is in the opposite direction.




Might not be so distant or out of the way if perhaps intended for the Panama Canal?
The Warspite was there in Bremerton all by it's lonesome and due to exit in a not too distant future?


Just food for thought?
warspite1

The obvious question to my mind would be why? If Indomitable was earmarked for joining Prince of Wales and Repulse and she needed to work-up ahead of any operational deployment, then in order to maximise time working with the capital ships surely it would make sense to send her to Cape Town/Ceylon as quickly as possible?




Buckrock -> RE: The Truth About Force Z? (5/21/2017 9:24:22 AM)

Perhaps the book you are reading might shed light on this intriguing puzzle.[:)]




crsutton -> RE: The Truth About Force Z? (5/22/2017 2:24:07 PM)

quote:

ORIGINAL: BBfanboy


quote:

ORIGINAL: Jorge_Stanbury

I read that Phillips was not expecting torpedo bombers so far away from enemy bases. After all, Netties had a range that was double any other nation's torpedo bombers

The Japanese had quite a few secrets about their equipment, like the excellent torpedoes they had for both air and sea.

As for what Force Z was supposed to do when war broke out, I think the idea must have been to threaten Japanese invasion attempts from the west while the US threatened from the east, and the Dutch/Australians from the south. The Japanese made Force Z a priority because it was a major threat. With a carrier providing CAP the PoW and Repulse may have made it to Kota Bharu to challenge the invasion. Whether they could last against the Japanese torpedoes there is another question.


A single British carrier would have only been able to put up perhaps half a dozen fighters or so considering the need to rotate aircraft. Maybe ten at the most. British carrier fighters were not the best at the time. Then you have the inexact science of vectoring and interception with unreliable early war radar. It is conceivable that there would have been no intercept at all. And CAP, even if it could intercept, would have probably been overwhelmed by numbers. Only real impact that a single carrier could have at at this stage would have been one less capital ship on the registry...

I know Indomitable carried up to 34 fighters in 1942 (Sea Hurricanes and Martlets) but don't know if that complement was carried in 1941 at the time of Force Z. I am guessing that the fighter compliment may have been boosted as a result of that action but don't really know. Did the Brits have Martlets before the outset of American involvement?




MakeeLearn -> RE: The Truth About Force Z? (5/22/2017 2:25:53 PM)



Books and what's hidden inside...

[image]local://upfiles/55056/ED1FACFB36F94EB9843933372B17B7AC.jpg[/image]




MakeeLearn -> RE: The Truth About Force Z? (5/22/2017 4:15:39 PM)


He was on HMS INDOMITABLE

http://www.royalnavyresearcharchive.org.uk/11_months_INDOM.htm#.WSMOC9xOnb2


Shows a time frame. Would be best not to have a shake down in open seas. The Jamaica incident changed the itinerary.




warspite1 -> RE: The Truth About Force Z? (5/22/2017 4:30:09 PM)

quote:

ORIGINAL: crsutton

quote:

ORIGINAL: BBfanboy


quote:

ORIGINAL: Jorge_Stanbury

I read that Phillips was not expecting torpedo bombers so far away from enemy bases. After all, Netties had a range that was double any other nation's torpedo bombers

The Japanese had quite a few secrets about their equipment, like the excellent torpedoes they had for both air and sea.

As for what Force Z was supposed to do when war broke out, I think the idea must have been to threaten Japanese invasion attempts from the west while the US threatened from the east, and the Dutch/Australians from the south. The Japanese made Force Z a priority because it was a major threat. With a carrier providing CAP the PoW and Repulse may have made it to Kota Bharu to challenge the invasion. Whether they could last against the Japanese torpedoes there is another question.


A single British carrier would have only been able to put up perhaps half a dozen fighters or so considering the need to rotate aircraft. Maybe ten at the most. British carrier fighters were not the best at the time. Then you have the inexact science of vectoring and interception with unreliable early war radar. It is conceivable that there would have been no intercept at all. And CAP, even if it could intercept, would have probably been overwhelmed by numbers. Only real impact that a single carrier could have at at this stage would have been one less capital ship on the registry...

I know Indomitable carried up to 34 fighters in 1942 (Sea Hurricanes and Martlets) but don't know if that complement was carried in 1941 at the time of Force Z. I am guessing that the fighter compliment may have been boosted as a result of that action but don't really know. Did the Brits have Martlets before the outset of American involvement?

warspite1

The British began ordering Martlets in 1940.

By the end of 1941 fewer than half were delivered - and importantly - none of these had the folding wings specified (due to the size of the lifts). The first operational Squadron was 804 based at Scapa Flow (in the absence of folding wings they were initially placed on shore establishments although later used on the escort carrier Audacity where they could be parked on deck).

During Indomitable's work up in the West Indies she had:

800 Sqn (Fulmars)
880 Sqn (Sea Hurricanes)
827 Sqn (Albacores)
831 Sqn (Albacores)





Buckrock -> RE: The Truth About Force Z? (5/22/2017 4:34:40 PM)

quote:

ORIGINAL: crsutton
A single British carrier would have only been able to put up perhaps half a dozen fighters or so considering the need to rotate aircraft. Maybe ten at the most. British carrier fighters were not the best at the time. Then you have the inexact science of vectoring and interception with unreliable early war radar. It is conceivable that there would have been no intercept at all. And CAP, even if it could intercept, would have probably been overwhelmed by numbers. Only real impact that a single carrier could have at at this stage would have been one less capital ship on the registry...

I know Indomitable carried up to 34 fighters in 1942 (Sea Hurricanes and Martlets) but don't know if that complement was carried in 1941 at the time of Force Z. I am guessing that the fighter compliment may have been boosted as a result of that action but don't really know. Did the Brits have Martlets before the outset of American involvement?


Indomitable would most likely have been still carrying her original fighter complement from her time in the Caribbean, 9 Sea Hurricanes and 12 Fulmars.

But Indomitable would never have been at Singapore in time to be caught up in the opening days of the Japanese offensive. The original (pre-grounding)
plans for her joining POW and Repulse in the Indian Ocean were on a fairly leisurely timetable, leaving Kingston on the 22nd Nov to arrive Gibraltar on
the 29th Nov and then, if given the all clear, to sail for Cape Town and on to Ceylon. The likely earliest date she could have made Singapore would have
been late Dec to early Jan.




warspite1 -> RE: The Truth About Force Z? (5/22/2017 4:42:46 PM)


quote:

ORIGINAL: Buckrock

quote:

ORIGINAL: crsutton
A single British carrier would have only been able to put up perhaps half a dozen fighters or so considering the need to rotate aircraft. Maybe ten at the most. British carrier fighters were not the best at the time. Then you have the inexact science of vectoring and interception with unreliable early war radar. It is conceivable that there would have been no intercept at all. And CAP, even if it could intercept, would have probably been overwhelmed by numbers. Only real impact that a single carrier could have at at this stage would have been one less capital ship on the registry...

I know Indomitable carried up to 34 fighters in 1942 (Sea Hurricanes and Martlets) but don't know if that complement was carried in 1941 at the time of Force Z. I am guessing that the fighter compliment may have been boosted as a result of that action but don't really know. Did the Brits have Martlets before the outset of American involvement?



But Indomitable would never have been at Singapore in time to be caught up in the opening days of the Japanese offensive. The original (pre-grounding)
plans for her joining POW and Repulse in the Indian Ocean were on a fairly leisurely timetable, leaving Kingston on the 22nd Nov to arrive Gibraltar on
the 29th Nov and then, if given the all clear, to sail for Cape Town and on to Ceylon. The likely earliest date she could have made Singapore would have
been late Dec to early Jan.
warspite1

....which at first glance perhaps supports the notion that "Indomitable was expected to be part of Force Z" as being written with a degree of wise after the event syndrome.




Buckrock -> RE: The Truth About Force Z? (5/22/2017 4:50:27 PM)

Unfortunately the Japanese never consulted with the British on co-ordinating their timetables.




warspite1 -> RE: The Truth About Force Z? (5/22/2017 5:02:43 PM)

quote:

ORIGINAL: Buckrock

Unfortunately the Japanese never consulted with the British on co-ordinating their timetables.
warspite1

Well quite [&:] but that has nothing to do with certain people saying, after the sinkings, that if only Indomitable hadn't run aground, she would have been with them. The two don't appear to follow given the timings and the lack of proof (unless Boyd is wrong) that she was meant to be.

Whether Indomitable would have been part of a later Far Eastern Fleet - like the R-Class or the Nelsons - is irrelevant to that question.

Maybe she was, maybe she wasn't - I don't pretend to know the answer -but if Boyd is right, she wasn't anything to do with the initial Force Z because her name was never formally mentioned in that connection - although plenty of people mentioned her afterwards.




Alfred -> RE: The Truth About Force Z? (5/22/2017 5:52:57 PM)

The Flying Squadron "doctrine" whose genesis (early 1920s) dates from almost the beginning of the Singapore base "doctrine" when it became obvious there was no spare capital ship fleet to base at Singapore, did not rely upon carrier support.  It was never intended that the Flying Squadron would be able to defeat the Japanese fleet.

The Flying Squadron doctrine was always a political, not a military, decision.  There was no military value in having so many troops in Malaya except for protecting the airbases.  The airbases were there only to (a) protect the Singapore naval base and (b) destroy the enemy fleet before it could make contact with the RN based out of Singapore.  The Singapore base was there to reassure Australia and New Zealand that they could send off their military to fight elsewhere and they would be "protected" by Singapore.  To provide a justification for all this, some level of RN presence at Singapore was required.  Hence the Flying Squadron.

Alfred




warspite1 -> RE: The Truth About Force Z? (5/22/2017 7:25:23 PM)

I am surprised that you say the Flying Squadron "doctrine" dates from the twenties. No doubt different names are given for various plans and studies but as far as I was aware the term 'Flying Squadron' in this form was first used in an official planning document only as late as 1939.

In addition, the global situation in the twenties - no German Navy and no Italian Navy to speak of - meant that only the Japanese Navy (of those countries reasonably likely to be hostile) was a threat, and of course whilst the treasury would not want a large battlefleet overseas for any length of time, the deployment of such a fleet (with maybe an advance force in the vanguard) in the event of war would not prove difficult given the lack of other threats closer to home. The very real, some would say insurmountable, problems of overstretch came later.

A Flying Squadron, and what that composed of, or indeed where it would need to be based, was never properly identified (for the reasons set out in post 16). It was one of the options considered during the first two years of war as a means of deterring Japan and, as you say, re-assuring the Dominions. But there was no hard and fast "doctrine" that meant a Flying Squadron had to be sent (as opposed to something larger if circumstances permitted - or indeed nothing at all if, god-forbid, things had really turned pear-shaped) that was set in stone pre-Pound and Churchill and that they were unwittingly wedded to.

Of course a Flying Squadron was never meant to be able to defeat a Japanese fleet, but then until a volte-face in policy - R-Class? Really? - the RN were not supposed to fight north of Singapore until a proper, balanced fleet was available.







Buckrock -> RE: The Truth About Force Z? (5/22/2017 7:39:43 PM)

quote:

ORIGINAL: warspite1
Well quite [&:] but that has nothing to do with certain people saying, after the sinkings, that if only Indomitable hadn't run aground, she would have been with them. The two don't appear to follow given the timings and the lack of proof (unless Boyd is wrong) that she was meant to be.

Whether Indomitable would have been part of a later Far Eastern Fleet - like the R-Class or the Nelsons - is irrelevant to that question.

Maybe she was, maybe she wasn't - I don't pretend to know the answer -but if Boyd is right, she wasn't anything to do with the initial Force Z because her name was never formally mentioned in that connection - although plenty of people mentioned her afterwards.


So we're finally getting to the author's arguement.

I assume because there was no mention of Indomitable in the October meetings and no orders were actually issued for her to sail for the Indian
Ocean, the author is therefore suggesting that there is no evidence that Indomitable was to be part of Force G and by default, Force Z.

The initial Force Z was created when the original members of Force G put to sea on Dec 8th. Several authors (including Middlebrook&Mahoney's
"The Sinking of the Prince of Wales and Repulse") have pointed out there was an agreement between Churchill and the Admiralty that a "fast
carrier" would be part of the "deterrent force" (Force G) being sent to operate in the Indian Ocean and that the Admiralty had already put
plans in place for the Indomitable to head there once her working up period was completed in November.

Other factors then intervened but if these authors are correct then Indomitable was very much earmarked for the original Force G and by
association, would likely then have been part of Force Z had the Japanese not had such a rushed timetable.

Pick your author.

IMO, even if Indomitable not run aground at the start of November, the loss of the Ark Royal later that month would likely have put any
immediate plans on hold for her to head Far East, at least till the Japanese attacked anyway.




Orm -> RE: The Truth About Force Z? (5/22/2017 7:50:15 PM)


quote:

ORIGINAL: warspite1

Of course a Flying Squadron was never meant to be able to defeat a Japanese fleet, but then until a volte-face in policy - R-Class? Really? - the RN were not supposed to fight north of Singapore until a proper, balanced fleet was available.



And what, at that time, would have been considered a proper, balanced fleet ? I suppose that definition would have changed as the war progressed.




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