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#101 healey36

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Posted 30 April 2019 - 02:11 PM

Saving the Braunschweig (October 10, 1914)

After Action Report

 

Finally able to get this on the table...takes up from the premise of the earlier post. The action commences at approximately 1730. Cruiser SMS Prinz Adalbert has taken SMS Braunschweig under tow, proceeding ENE at seven knots. A dense fog shrouds the ships. The sea is glassy. It’s eerie.

 

HMS Formidable is proceeding at 12 knots on an ESE heading. Moments earlier Captain Loxley had been alerted to a possible unknown vessel or vessels approximately 1000 yards dead ahead. He orders a course change ESE, turning slightly away from the sighting. Within minutes the fog lifts a bit, giving a glimpse of two ships, one under tow, approximately 1600 yards to port. The ships are mistakenly identified as a Roon-class cruiser leading a Braunschweig-class battleship.

 

StB A
HMS Formidable spots the German capitals through the mist.

 

Loxley quickly radios his position, knowing HMS London, the nearest ship of Thursby’s flotilla, is nearly twelve miles, or likely some sixty minutes, away. Other friendly ships, or hostiles for that matter, in the area are unknown.

 

The range is murderously close. Noting the time as 1736, Loxley orders his 12-inch to open on the cruiser, which has slipped the hawser and slightly increased speed, opening a gap between itself and the BB. Formidable’s broadside brackets the cruiser, throwing up a vast amount of water at such close range. Prinz Adalbert commences fire as well, with devastating effect, her 8-inchers incapacitating both of Formidable’s 12-inch turrets, carrying away her forward searchlights, and stoving in a forward 3-inch mount just behind and below the bridge. Within minutes Formidable finds herself with only her 6-inch secondaries to defend herself, yet there’s no panic.

 

By 1742, damage-control parties have Formidable’s aft main turret back in action in mercifully short order. The fog has lifted further, visibility now running out to roughly 3000 yards. Loxley orders a speed increase to 15 knots, continuing on an ESE heading. Through his glasses he can see Adalbert has turned ESE on a course that runs roughly parallel to his own, while Braunschweig continues ENE, now at 6 knots. He sees gun-flashes on Adalbert, but the shells pass safely overhead. His own 12-inch aft turret responds, scoring a pair of hits on the cruiser’s hull below and forward of her bridge.

 

StB B
HMS Formidable.

 

Unknown to Loxley, the damage to Adalbert is severe, her hull laid open by a pair of 12-inch shells crushing two bulkheads and flooding a number of her forward compartments. Her speed plummets to 9 knots. Damage control makes quick repairs to the first bulkhead hit, but flooding continues due to the second. At 1748, she returns fire on Formidable, now at a range of 1800 yards, again failing to find the mark.

 

Loxley receives word that A-turret is now back in action, and with both her 12-inchers on line, Formidable unleashes another broadside targeting the wounded cruiser. The German ship is obscured by smoke and flying debris as Formidable scores a number of hits. Adalbert’s forward turret is knocked out, a fire burning down to the magazine deck. Flooding of the forward magazine saves the ship, but she suffers more hull damage, her starboard torpedoes are disabled, and her forward boiler room is flooding (engineering). With the forward half of the ship a wreck, her speed falls to just 4 knots.

 

At 1754, HMS Liverpool, a Town-class light cruiser arrives on the scene. Braunschweig has passed behind Prinz Adalbert, preventing her engagement with Formidable. However, she now observes the arrival of Liverpool, bursting from a fog bank to fly across her stern at 20 knots. A scant 2400 yards off, Braunschweig opens on Liverpool with her aft 11-inch, missing badly.

 

StB C
HMS Liverpool under fire.

 

Formidable resumes a speed of 15 knots, flank speed, and turns NE. At a range of just 2000 yards she delivers yet another broadside onto Adalbert. The British gunners are shooting well this evening, scoring up and down the ship. Additional hull hits are observed, followed by a sharp list to starboard. No fire is returned by the cruiser, and numerous crew are seen going over the side. She will sink in fifty minutes.

 

Loxley looks at his watch. It is six o’clock, but there will be no tea this evening. Continuing on her NE heading, he orders Formidable to turn her guns on the BB. Braunschweig, masked from Liverpool by the wreck that is Prinz Adalbert, is now fighting for her life. She quickly rounds onto Formidable, and the exchange between the two is withering. At 2400 yards, the German lands a hit at the base of Formidable’s bridge, the blast throwing Loxley and the others to the deck while again disabling her forward 12-inch battery. A second shell burrows into the superstructure, bathing the ship in splinters while taking out a port-side 6-incher. Formidable answers in kind, disabling Braunschweig’s forward 11-inch turret, three of her 6.7-inch secondaries, and holing her badly on her starboard side.

 

At 1806, Braunschweig attempts to turn NE to bring her aft main onto Formidable, but she is moving very slowly. Below deck, she’s taking on water again, lots of water, but she manages just enough of a turn to get an angle and fires her last 11-inch salvo, sadly falling well aft of the British BB.

 

StB D
SMS Braunschweig taking heavy fire from HMS Formidable.

 

Formidable, her forward turret disabled, engages with just her aft 12-inch, scoring four hull hits in quick order. Braunschweig, staggered by the blows, goes dead in the water, listing severely to starboard, her forecastle once again awash. Unwilling to risk annihilation, her captain gives the order to abandon ship. The old battleship will remain afloat for nearly an hour.

 

No sooner does Braunschweig fall silent, than a light cruiser, SMS Stettin, is observed emerging from the fog some 2000 yards off the sinking BB’s port bow. She churns past Braunschweig at 25 knots, noting the British battleship and light cruiser just 3000 yards to her southeast. Head down, she rips southwest across the table, passing behind the sinking Braunschweig and Prinz Adalbert. At 1818, both Liverpool and Formidable have turned north to pursue Stettin. Six minutes later they have turned due west, while Stettin has turned to the northwest. With the fog having lifted somewhat, Liverpool fires her forward 6-inch at the fleeing light cruiser, scoring a pair of hits (disables one of Stettin’s aft 4.1-inch mounts, and manages a penetrating hit on her aft magazine, safely flooded). At 1830, Stettin returns fire on Liverpool, taking out her forward 6-inch mount before disappearing into a fog-bank.

 

 

StB E
SMS Stettin beats a rapid retreat.

 

Scarcely an hour into the action, it’s over. Liverpool turns back to pick up survivors, as a scarred Formidable zig-zags off while repairing damage. Loxley radios his position and that of the departing German light cruiser, hopeful that Thursby’s force can find her before she turns for home. HMS London arrives on the scene three quarters of an hour later, just after Prinz Adalbert rolls over and sinks and moments before Braunschweig follows her. Liverpool picks up less than 200 survivors of some 1300 crew.



#102 healey36

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Posted 24 May 2019 - 08:56 AM

An impromptu pub-session with the ump and a couple players of Braunschweig this past week. A few beers always seems to loosen up the conversation. A few notes on cocktail napkins was the takeaway.

 

The ump suggested that if and when a replay is contemplated, the opening range between Formidable and the Germans should be ~ 3000 yards (a bit less than two miles). This would introduce more variability into the weather/visibility conditions, as opposed to starting at ~ 1000 yards, where visibility can only improve, at least initially. He noted that no player tried to open the range as visibility improved, which he thought strange. That was likely because the opening exchanges were so deadly, and Braunschweig was moving at snail’s pace. Pushing things apart initially doesn’t reduce gunnery effectiveness noticeably, and it probably doesn’t push the antagonists to open the range either, for fear of losing sight of targets should visibility worsen. Still, one has to think, take a few more chances, which would be good for the game-aspect.

 

Another thing I’ve noticed is when one reminds players about the multiple-battery penalty for gunnery, either for multiple ships or multiple batteries on the same ship, new players seem to move to primary only on single targets, presuming other gunnery would be ineffective. We need to improve our pregame rule run-through so that players don’t make the presumption that multiple-battery engagement is likely ineffective.

 

In hindsight, it was agreed that the single biggest event in the game was Formidable’s damage-control die-rolls following her mains being taken out by Adalbert early on. Temporarily disabling them was brilliant, but to roll a 1 or 2 on a 12-sided die, two turns in a row, was a bloody miracle. Having to fight it out with just her 6-inch secondaries would have presented a significant challenge.

 

Nothing likely to hit the table over the next few weeks. Summer season starts this weekend, so rounding up players becomes more difficult. No worries…lots of ships to paint.

 

Lastly, a mate of mind’s wife, an interior decorator by trade, once told me that every room in your house should include one piece of porcelain. Certainly not the case in my house, but, in keeping with that mantra, I did acquire this for the game room:

 

E9
 

During WWI, various crockery companies in the UK produced souvenir items, and this, by Carlton Ware, is their bone china representation of sub E9, celebrating her sinking of the German cruiser Hela. I believe this was the first confirmed sinking by the British submarine service, but that may bear confirmation. Anyway, up on the shelf she goes…maybe she brings me some luck.

 

And while we all have a bit of fun with this stuff, playing at it is a lot different from living it. Take a moment this Memorial Day to remember.



#103 healey36

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Posted 26 June 2019 - 03:44 PM

The loss of HMS Formidable, Captain Arthur Loxley, and his dog Bruce, sunk by U-24, 1 January 1915:

48134291218_97cf792738_b.jpg

 

 


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#104 healey36

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Posted 04 September 2019 - 12:05 PM

It’s been a long, hot summer, and the game table has been unusually quiet. Other than a brief effort to reacquaint myself with a couple of ACW rule-sets, little has found its way in front of me. I did find a copy of Jason Gorringe and Simon Thomas’ “Smoke on the Water”, a rule set for ACW naval actions, but have yet to crack the spine on those.

 

Made a visit to Historicon back in July, which moved to a new venue in downtown Lancaster, Pa. Things seemed a bit off, but I guess that’s to be expected whenever a venue change takes place. Seemed to me there were fewer games and fewer attendees, although the vendor area was jammed. If ODGW was there, I missed them, which is unfortunate as I enjoy checking in with the guys to see what’s up. I am always a bit surprised at the lack of 1/285-1/300 scale micro-armor games that appear on the HMGS event-list. Perhaps the scale has passed from favor as the average age of historical gamers seems to continue to march north.

 

In August, we headed down to Chattanooga for the IPMS Nationals. There’s nothing more humbling than looking over a couple thousand museum-quality plastic models, all brilliantly presented. I used to come away inspired to take yet another crack at it, but now I just concede my inadequacy and enjoy them for what they are.

 

While in Tennessee, we did have a walk of the field at Chickamauga. Unlike most of the ACW battlefields in Virginia, Chickamauga is well marked and contains numerous monuments from both sides. The topography reminded me of the field at Chancellorsville/Wilderness (albeit without the markers and monuments)…predominantly wooded with only the occasional clearing or field. In this case, a few missed or misinterpreted orders and the Union army faced near certain rout, save for the action of one Major General George Thomas.

 

Labor Day weekend saw me Upstate to visit family, and while there I managed to squeeze in a visit to Mt. McGregor to see the cottage where U. S. Grant spent the last six weeks of his life while suffering from terminal throat cancer. Upon arriving he reportedly said "I propose to fight it out on this line if it takes all summer." There are few places in this country more sobering than this small house on a mountain overlooking the Hudson Valley and the events that occurred here:

 

48671000173_1fa8204609_c.jpg

 

48673372613_d9c77ec78a_b.jpg

 

48673372633_01752e6fff_b.jpg

 

If you haven't read Grant's memoirs, it's a worthy effort. Often credited as among the best of the Presidential memoirs, Grant, like everything else, finished them here, dying just days after setting down his pencil.

 

So now September is upon us, summer is in the books, and there is a faint clamor to return to the table. Coming away from Historicon, there was interest in some WWII Pacific action. A check of my inventory of completed units yielded little in the way of the USN, so I acquired a few pieces. First up is a 1944 version of heavy cruiser San Francisco, which being the masochistic person I am, calls for a Measure 33 scheme. I guess we’ll see if I can pull that off in 1/2400. The dynamics of a New Orleans-class cruiser facing off against a Myoko-class cruiser intrigues me…three turrets of three tubes vs. five turrets of two tubes strikes me as somewhat of a disadvantage.

 

Meanwhile, a friend has flipped me a few write-ups that could yield a plausible cruiser action for WWI. To entice me, he sent along a GHQ Wiesbaden, a lovely little ship and a terrific little model. Who makes 1/2400 trawlers? Viking Forge, I think. The wheels are turning.

 

Healey



#105 healey36

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Posted 07 October 2019 - 03:03 PM

I’ve been doing some reading lately, a lot. I recently picked up a copy of Graeme Cook’s Silent Marauders, a small book from 1976 covering British submarine operations during the two World Wars. Being nearly 40 years old, it’s a bit dated, and there are better accounts out there now, but it hits all of the high points regarding the Royal Navy’s sub fleet during both wars, including the midget operations. It has me interested in running down a few of his other books.

 

There are any number of books covering German submarine operations during the First World War. Gordon Williamson’s U-boats of the Kaiser’s Navy, published by Osprey as part of their New Vanguard series, provides a good, albeit condensed, recap of German operations in the Atlantic and the Mediterranean. A personal favorite is Edwyn Gray’s The U-boat War: 1914-1918, which provides a better glimpse of the ebb and flow of the campaign and the technological developments that eventually provided the Allies the upper hand. I am, however, repeatedly drawn back to Raiders of the Deep, Lowell Thomas’ highly romanticized account of the U-boat battles from the German perspective, first published in 1926. As I said in an earlier post, if nothing else, after reading Thomas’ book you come away with a strong craving for bananas, black coffee, and English marmalade.

 

Both the British and the Germans conducted extensive operations in the Baltic during the war, and there were a number of successes on either side. Navigation was a challenge then, and remains so today. Seems like every ten years or so there’s a Russian Federation submarine piling up ashore somewhere, typically in territorial waters not its own.

 

Of course, the North Sea was the great battleground for the surface fleets of the King and Kaiser during the war. The decisive engagements, both those executed as well as those contemplated, would take place there. Few in number, the great long-range slug-fests tended to be rather indecisive, tempered by an overwhelming fear of defeat, rather than the pursuit of a knock-out victory. The same was true, perhaps even more so, for operations in the Mediterranean.

 

There was, however, another terrible war fought in the North Sea for the duration, and that was the German Navy’s mine campaign. When reviewing the casualty logs of the naval war, it seems likely that more ships were sunk by mines than the combined losses by guns and torpedoes. The North Sea, rough, dark, and relatively shallow, was ideal for mine-laying operations. Those same features made it hell for mine-sweeping.

 

After a rocky start, the Royal Navy would come to rely on the country’s vast fishing fleet as a component, perhaps the largest, of its mine-sweeping operations. Crews were given rudimentary training and many of the trawlers and drifters were armed with various weapons, the most common being a 6-pounder quick-firing piece, both for defense and the destruction of floating mines. This was all done simultaneous with their primary task, that of harvesting the vast migrating shoals of herring present at various times during the year.

 

For their part, the Germans targeted the trawlers and smacks throughout the war. Nearly seven hundred were lost in all theaters:

 

48860941618_189e0889e0_z.jpg
From the outset, the German High Command made the drifter fleet a target of their operations in and around the British Isles. The U-boats took a heavy toll on them, many more were lost to German surface forces, not to mention the mines. Attacking the trawlers was not without risk…U-boats occasionally tangled in their nets, some forced to the surface where a few were dispatched posthaste. A number of trawlers were torpedoed, which lends credence to the wariness the submarines held for them.

 

Primrose
British trawler Primrose, out on the fishing grounds.

 

The Royal Navy did develop and build a class of naval trawler, a bit larger and stouter than the majority of the drifters and smacks that comprised the commercial fleet, but they were far fewer in number. Being larger, they had a range of operation considerably greater than that of smaller fishing boats, venturing farther out into the Atlantic. By war’s end, some had been armed with depth charge racks and were actively operating against the submarines.

 

Perhaps all of this is more suitable for a ruleset geared toward coastal, small craft operations. Last I checked, there are no fishing smacks listed in the FAI ship logs, although they'd be easy enough to develop. It could, however, provide background for a varied series of actions out on the fishing grounds of Dogger Bank when the herring run. (Edit::Small craft rules are included in FAI...see 7.14, Small Craft)

 

Healey



#106 healey36

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Posted 02 December 2019 - 09:27 PM

Dogger Bank – 24 January 1915

 

First, a correction from the prior post. FAI does indeed include both rules for small craft (7.14 Small Craft) as well as a capabilities table titled “WWI Small Craft” (Part 10 of the rules book). I had up until now completely overlooked this section, but a quick read reveals it would seem to cover operations of the trawler/drifter fleets of various nations. Apologies for the confusion.

 

A dreadfully cold and rainy day here in Maryland provided a sudden opening in our calendar to explore the January, 1915, dust-up that has become known as the Battle of the Dogger Bank. This too would prove to be yet another in a seemingly never-ending series of encounters that were substantially inconclusive in the struggle of the High Seas Fleet with its British counterpart.

 

The battle, as it turns out, grew out of Franz Hipper’s frustration with his fortunes during the first five months of the war. With the fleet beaten at the Bight, and his own difficulties at Yarmouth and the closely run raid on Scarborough, Massie and other historians write that Hipper grew increasingly convinced that the British knew in advance of his movements, and that he laid this at the feet of the fishing fleet working the shoals off the Dogger Bank. To rid the HSF of this nuisance, Hipper proposed a low-risk limited action aimed to sweep the drifters out of the area.

 

Hipper sailed on the evening of 23 January, 1915, his force comprised of 1st Scouting Group (Seydlitz, Moltke, Derfflinger, and Blücher) and 2nd Scouting Group (Kolberg, Stralsund, Rostock, Graudenz), along with a dozen destroyers/torpedo boats. Unfortunately, the British knew he was coming, and it had nothing to do with observations by the trawlers out on the fishing grounds. The boys at Room 40 at the Admiralty had intercepted German dispatches, and Beatty and his battlecruisers (1st Battlecruiser Squadron, Lion, Tiger, Princess Royal, and 2nd Battlecruiser Squadron, New Zealand and Indomitable) along with William Goodenough’s light cruisers (1st Light Cruiser Squadron, Southampton, Nottingham, Lowestoft, and Birmingham) put to sea nearly simultaneous with Hipper. They would meet up with elements of Reg Tyrwhitt’s Harwich Force (light cruisers and destroyers), then proceed south toward The Bank.

 

Dogger N
HMS Nottingham, 1st Light Cruiser Squadron, one of Goodenough's light cruisers.

 

Light cruiser HMS Aurora, one of Tyrwhitt’s charges, ran headlong into Hipper’s cruiser screen around 0720 on the morning of 24 January. By 0735, Hipper, having correctly guessed that his light cruisers had encountered the screen for a larger British force approaching from the north, made the decision to take no risks and head for home. Meanwhile, Beatty had his battlecruisers pursuing at flank speed, which allowed him to slowly reel in the Germans. The battle soon evolved into a running engagement between Hipper’s heavies and Beatty’s battlecruisers, and it’s there we decided to explore what happened.

 

Reg W
Commodore Reginald V. Tyrwhitt.

 

Getting starting positions lined up was a bit confused, but we knew that Beatty opened on the Germans when the range reached roughly 20,000 yards at 0800, so we made the decision to start there. After a bit of maneuvering, the two forces, unlike what they did historically, formed battlelines with Hipper running nearly due south. Beatty hotly pursued, but it quickly became obvious that even with their 2-3 knot speed advantage, the Brits were going to struggle trying to overtake the Germans. The light cruisers and destroyers proved themselves largely superfluous, much as they did during the actual battle.

 

Dogger B
SMS Blücher bracketed as the British battlecruisers find the range.

 

One of the extraordinary things about the actual battle was that it was the first time that the two sides had engaged at such long ranges. No matter, the British battlecruisers, despite their notoriously poor gunnery reputation, seemed to begin finding the mark with some considerable effectiveness. It didn’t play that way for us – each salvo seemed a hail-mary with a diminished effectiveness for penetration. Over the course of two scale hours, HMS Lion managed four hits on SMS Derfflinger, all made at 20,000-21,000 yards with negligible effect. HMS Tiger, much as occurred historically, scored her first hit on Blücher at 0930 followed by three more over the next 20 minutes. By 1000, Blücher had lost three hull-boxes and her forward 8.2-inch was gone. Her speed down to 11 knots, the British BCs would likely pound her to bits in short order. Over the course of two scale hours, the Germans didn’t score a single hit (as seems to happen so often here, German gunnery proved abysmal). It was there we stopped.

 

In the actual battle, Beatty would soon make a tactical error. He, and apparently he alone, thought he saw a periscope looming up in front of them and directed the BCs to pull up, then veer sharply onto a course oblique to that of Hipper’s battlecruisers. It gave the German the opportunity to sharply open the distance between himself and his pursuers (while leaving the mortally wounded Blücher behind) and the battle effectively ended. No one knows precisely what Beatty saw, but it was unlikely a U-boat. The moment reminded me somewhat of Meade’s failure to pursue Lee after Gettysburg. Both Meade and Beatty had damn good reasons, but they would be pilloried for them none the less.

 

Dogger L
HMS Lion under fire. She, like the rest of Beatty's battlecruisers, would emerge this day unscathed.

 

The table result was much like that of the historical engagement. Other than the assured loss of Blücher and some scarred paintwork on Derfflinger, not much happened. Lion did not take the beating she did that January day in 1915. Another hour and the range was unlikely to have diminished substantially enough to raise the likelihood of inflicting some serious damage. In fact, it might have been more effective for the British to have allowed the range to lengthen slightly, raising the likelihood of more serious damage from plunging-fire.

 

Had we begun with both the German and British battlecruiser groups in a quarter-line formation as some contemporary accounts indicate, it's likely the range could have been significantly shortened with some skillful maneuvering. This, together with Hipper's speed being limited to accommodate the slower Blücher, would have allowed Beatty a few more minutes at a more suitable/effective range (albeit still penalized with d20 die-rolls for his BCs). Forming up into battleline formation, as we played it, cost the British both valuable time and distance, neither of which did they overcome. 

 

I pulled out my copy of Castles of Steel this evening and reread Massie’s account of the battle. Hipper, ever-cautious, and the aggressive Beatty, seemingly forever prone to the fateful misjudgment. The war at sea would go on.



#107 healey36

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Posted 06 December 2019 - 10:22 AM

This weekend we will remember two events in naval history, one being the Japanese attack on the USN base in Hawaii (December 7, 1941), and the other being the Royal Navy’s great victory at the Battle of the Falkland Islands (December 8, 1914).

 

One can probably count the truly pivotal moments in American history on one hand, and the events that occurred that Sunday morning, just 18 days before Christmas, 1941, has to be near or on top of the list. Nearly everyone I ever knew from my father’s generation could describe for you the exact moment they heard the news. All of the angst in the country that had been building for two or three years as to whether the U. S. should take a hand in fighting the firestorm that was sweeping the world was instantly wiped away. While it would ultimately prove a glancing blow for the USN, it did, as Yamamoto supposedly feared, “awaken a sleeping giant and fill him with a terrible resolve”.

 

When one mentions the British victory at the Falklands, folks of my generation immediately think back to 1982, Maggie Thatcher, and the great crusade to throw the invading Argentinians off the archipelago. But that was actually the second time the British had sent a great force south to settle scores, the first being in December, 1914, following their defeat at Coronel a month earlier. At the Falklands, on a blissfully clear, calm 8th of December, Von Spee and his East Asian Squadron would reap the whirlwind, with all but two of his ships hunted down and sunk by Vice Admiral Doveton Sturdee’s Royal Navy squadron. Admiral Cradock and the dead of Coronel had been avenged.

 

So we’ll fly the Stars and Stripes and the White Ensign and hoist a pint proudly this weekend, recalling those heady days, so very long ago.

 

Healey



#108 simanton

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Posted 07 December 2019 - 01:24 AM

I will drink to the memory of von Spee, Cradock and their men.  Honorable professionals who did their duty to the bitter end.



#109 pyruse

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Posted 09 December 2019 - 09:51 AM

My grandfather was chief gunnery officer on HMS Carnarvon and was in action at the battle of the Falkland Islands. I have his eye-witness account of the battle and indeed a photo of Invincible at full steam with great clouds of black coal smoke billowing out. I have his naval sword hanging on the wall and his logbooks from when he was a midshipman, plus photos of him with his gun crews.

Special battle for me!


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#110 healey36

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Posted 09 December 2019 - 10:01 AM

The word "awesome" seems greatly overused in this day and age, but I would submit that would be the case for you, pyruse. That's quite a piece of history embedded in your family's story.


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#111 simanton

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Posted 09 December 2019 - 12:59 PM

I understand that on the centennial, members of the von Spee, Cradock and Sturdee families were together in the Falklands for a joint memorial observance.


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#112 healey36

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Posted 13 December 2019 - 05:26 PM

Hard to believe it's already been five years since the centennial; had trouble finding any mention or photos of the ceremony in 2014. I know the anniversary of the battle is still rightfully a big deal in the Falklands. Somewhere around here I have a copy of Mayfair's War in the Falklands, which covered both the 1914 and the 1982 engagements. I should dig that out sometime, as I have no recollection of ever playing the 1914 scenario.

 

A final thought on Dogger Bank. We've all seen the famous picture of Blücher as she capsized and sank during the closing stages of the battle. In the course of reading up on this engagement I found it again, this time as published by London's Illustrated War News a month after the battle:

 

49193166143_1a901b978f_c.jpg

The paper's sentiments would seem to validate the notion that total war, not a gentlemen's war, had come to Europe.

 

Healey



#113 healey36

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Posted 03 February 2020 - 07:00 PM

A quick game this past weekend, intended as another proof-of-concept for HMS Dreadnought when confronted by German pre-dreadnought classes. It wasn't much of a game, really, as the British BB and some exemplary gunnery made quick work of a pair of Braunschweig-class BBs. Preussen was sunk by two blistering salvos early on, while Lothringen managed to limp away, nearly completely wrecked top-side.

 

The OB was pretty simple. Dreadnought, with her eight 12-inch broadside, along with three destroyers, matched up against Preussen and Lothringen, sporting a combined eight 11-inch broadside, along with four destroyers, seemed relatively equivalent in terms of tubes and caliber. Scenario time limitations prevented intervention by the destroyers, so it was just a slug-it-out-at-decent-range affair. Having played so many games featuring the British BC gunnery penalty, it felt right going back to d12s, and the British player made good use of them. 

 

Search For survivors

HMS Mansfield picks up survivors from Preussen, sunk by Dreadnought in the early hours of a clear February day.

 

Dreadnought is gaining quite a reputation here, exhibiting an uncanny ability to roll 1s on the gunnery chart. She has made hash of a half-dozen lesser foes. Might be time to test her against one of the early German dreadnoughts.

 

Dreadnought
Dreadnought on the move through a cascade of near-misses.

 

Wondering if the Nassau-class, all laid down after Dreadnought's launch, is a capable opponent, or just move up to the Helgolands.

 

Healey



#114 healey36

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Posted 21 February 2020 - 05:08 PM

A hazy photo taken from Illustrated War News, August 5, 1915, titled "Cricket on the Quarterdeck":

 

49567085817_1ccf454b16_z.jpg

 

Waiting for the Germans.

 

Healey

 

 

 

 



#115 Kenny Noe

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Posted 22 February 2020 - 08:05 AM

Cool.  Pitch and yaw of the ship must played havoc while trying to hit the ball!!


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#116 healey36

healey36

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Posted 27 March 2020 - 07:00 PM

I’ve never had a good grasp of the game, even though I’ve been out on the pitch a few times with Indian and British friends of mine. It’s interesting, especially playing the field without a mitt.

The current virus crisis has put a cabash on getting folks together around the game table. It’s okay, for now, as sticking around the house yields a good opportunity to knock down the lead-pile a bit more.

Stay well out there.

Healey


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#117 healey36

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Posted 06 May 2020 - 03:22 PM

Scheer Folly (April 21-24, 1916)

 

A turn of the calendar brought dramatic change to the German navy. In January, 1916, it was revealed that Admiral Hugo von Pohl was mortally ill with liver cancer and would step down, replaced by the more offensive-minded Reinhard Scheer as commander of the High Seas Fleet. Unlike von Pohl, Scheer was eager for a fight, and circumstances would soon present themselves.

 

In February he dispatched a force comprised of a number of light cruisers, destroyers, and torpedo boats intending to drive off British minesweepers operating in and around the Dogger Bank. This was accomplished in short order, and the Germans were safely on their way home long before Beatty arrived in the area with his battlecruisers.

 

Later in the month, the zeppelins doubled down on their night bombing campaign on Britain. Operating as an arm of the German navy, this intensified effort by the airships was in response to calls for support from the German Imperial Staff who was suffering a number of difficulties, not the least of which being the slaughterhouse at Verdun. In recognition of this request, the Kaiser gave Scheer his somewhat reluctant consent to begin operations intended to destroy the Grand Fleet incrementally. What followed was a series of thrust-and-parry actions that continued for nearly two months, concluding in late-April with the raid on Lowestoft.

 

In early March, Scheer sent two battle squadrons and a screen of light cruisers on a North Sea sweep which Room 40 failed to detect until the Germans had turned for home. Two weeks later, the British sent a seaplane carrier, together with a sizable escort, intending to attack the zeppelin sheds at Tondern. As Scheer sortied with the HSF intent on deflecting/destroying the British effort, Beatty was dispatched unsupported to head them off. As Beatty’s battlecruisers closed on Scheer’s heavier units, the weather went to hell and Scheer turned away, choosing not to engage during a howling gale.

 

Three weeks ticked by before the HSF would put to sea again. On April 21, with faulty intelligence in hand, Scheer ordered elements of the fleet out to intercept what he had been led to believe was a second attempt to attack the zeppelins at Tondern. This time his movement was detected and reported by Room 40, and Jellicoe was dispatched along with Beatty’s battlecruisers. Again the weather was poor, with Beatty turning back after two of his BCs collided in dense fog. Scheer, flummoxed at having encountered nothing, presumes the British raid on Tondern has been postponed and turns for home. Jellicoe, with his own weather-related difficulties, returns with the balance of the fleet to the Orkneys three days later.

 

Some one hundred years on, reading through these accounts, one realizes that any number of circumstantial changes could have led to decisive actions, or at least the opportunity for such. A combination of luck, good or bad, poor maneuvering, together with a fear of a costly catastrophic clash, prevented many blows from being landed. It certainly didn’t have to be that way, it seems to me, which opens the door to the realm of possibility.

 

April 23, 1916

 

Without having in hand the time of the British fleet’s departure, Scheer decides to take the HSF northwest before conducting a great arcing sweep back toward Tondern, hoping to catch the presumed raid on its approach or, worst case, on its return. He departs the Jade and slips the minefields, breaking out into the open sea late on the 21st. By 0930 the next morning, the leading light cruisers of 4th Scouting Group are 150 nautical miles out and begin their turn to the east. Alternating periods of rain and fog lead to poor visibility, and other than a few hastily retreating fishing smacks, no sign of British naval units has been detected. Messages report all is quiet at Tondern. Scheer sends Hipper and his battlecruisers east-southeast while he continues due east with the main body.

 

Jellicoe, now 125 miles west of Thyboron on a southerly course, decides to detach Sturdee’s 4th Battle Squadron and send it southeast in an effort to expand the search along the Danish coast. Jellicoe will continue south with the main body. With the slowly withdrawing Beatty now moving off to his northwest, and Tyrwhitt’s cruisers 300 miles due west of his position, Jellicoe figures Scheer is boxed in on three sides. Yet by 2300 on the 22nd, neither side has made contact.

 

At 0300, April 23, Sturdee decides to split his force to widen his search. He sends Rear Admiral Alexander Duff with Bellerphon, Superb, Temeraire, and Dreadnought, along with a few destroyers from 11th Flotilla south-southeast, while he continues east-southeast with Benbow, Emperor of India, and Canada. At their current speed, Sturdee presumes they’ll reach the Danish coast by mid-morning while separated by no more than 25-30 miles of open water.

 

The day dawns with a low cloud ceiling but generally good horizon-to-horizon visibility. The seas have come up, along with a stiff breeze out of the northwest. Le Mesurier’s 4th Light Cruiser Squadron, some forty miles west of Sturdee’s position, radios they are turning back due to the heavy seas. At 0730, Sturdee likewise gives Commander Dundas and his pitching destroyers permission to break off, their use as a screen greatly diminished due to their difficulties in the poor conditions.

 

Unbeknowst to Scheer, Jellicoe is only sixty miles (roughly three hours) to his northwest, now on a southwesterly heading which he will abandon within the hour. Having seen nothing for nearly two days, Scheer orders all but the 1st Battle Squadron and 4th Scouting Group to return to base. Engelhardt’s squadron, with Posen, Westfalen, Nassau, and Rheinland, is directed to join 4th Scouting Group and continue to the Danish coast before turning south to return to port.

 

At 1006, a lookout standing along the rail on Nassau’s port side reports smoke off the bow to the northeast. Captain Kuehne confirms the report and has the sighting radioed to Engelhardt on Posen, who orders his column to increase speed to 17 knots while maintaining course. There is a moment of confusion between Engelhardt and Capt. Lange, supposing this might be 4th Scouting Group running south to meet them, but the tall masts which soon come into sight preclude that possibility. Within minutes the ships are reported as three Bellerophon-class battleships with Dreadnought the last ship in the line.

 

Minutes go by before Duff’s column spots Engelhardt. The stiff breeze blowing in from astern is enveloping the British overhead spotting and fire-direction positions in funnel smoke, occasionally obscuring their view. Duff orders the column to turn 30 degrees to the east, somewhat alleviating the funnel smoke problem but still on a course that will close with the Germans. He radios Sturdee the enemy’s position along with his intentions, then orders speed be increased slightly to 16 knots. Visibility is a bit more than 18,000 yards.

 

By 1018 the range has closed to roughly 18,000 yards. At 1024, Engelhardt orders Capt. Lange and Posen to open fire on the lead British ship. At a range of 17,200 yards, Posen misses with her first 11” broadside, sailing long over the head of Duff on Bellerophon.

 

Duff’s column responds at 1030 with all of the ships in his column opening on the German BBs. At a range in excess of 17,000 yards, Superb manages a jarring 12” hit on Westfalen’s 11.5” armor belt, causing some minor flooding. Temeraire similarly scores a hit on Nassau, but this fails to penetrate and results in no damage. Salvos from Posen and Westfalen again sail long.

 

SF A
Opening salvos on Duff's column.

 

The exchange of fire continues as the range slowly closes. At 1036, Dreadnought and Rheinland, the ships bringing up the rear of each’s columns, exchange non-penetrating hits at 17,200 yards. Over the next twelve minutes, Engelhardt’s column manages a further four hits with minor damage to Bellerophon and Superb. A 12” hit on Nassau results in some minor flooding. Engelhardt, realizing that the unwavering Duff will likely cross his tee shortly, orders a twelve degree turn to the southeast.

 

Posen’s guns momentarily fall silent as she starts into her turn, while Westfalen, Nassau, and Rheinland maintain their fire. Both Superb and Temeraire suffer hits, with Superb experiencing increased flooding on her starboard side, dropping her top speed to 17 knots. Dreadnought manages another near miss on Rheinland with no damage.

 

With the Germans having completed their turn, the two columns proceed on a roughly parallel course, exchanging fire at a bit more than 13,000 yards. A 12” round strikes Posen’s searchlight platform, bathing the ship in shell splinters while taking out a number of 3.4” mounts. At 1112, Duff decides to make a slight southerly course change in an attempt to resume closing on his enemy.

 

The range quickly drops to 12,000 yards, Posen landing a pair of hits on Bellerophon, her flooding situation becoming more serious and her speed dropping to a 13 knot maximum. Capt. Rohardt of Rheinland hears a great explosion above his head as a 12” round from Dreadnought slams into the fire control platform, disabling the directors and taking out the forward searchlight position. Duff messages Superb, Temeraire, and Dreadnought to reduce speed and maintain position behind the slowing Bellerophon.

 

By 1136 the range has closed to 10,000 yards. Damage from long-range fire is accumulating. Superb and Rheinland have both suffered additional hits resulting in continued flooding. Bellerophon takes a hit amidships from Posen’s 11” battery, carrying away a number of lifeboats and damaging her forward funnel.

 

Engelhardt, under orders not to unduly risk his ships, considers a turn south, but relents to his staff and Capt. Lange, all of whom want to continue. Against his better judgement, he agrees to a quarter-hour at this range before any effort to disengage. Duff, despite the battering Bellerophon is taking, has no thought of retreat.

 

By 1154, the lead ships of both columns are in lethal range of each other. Posen puts another hull hit on Bellerophon, dropping her speed to nine knots as the aft engine room floods. Superb has her ‘A’ turret disabled by a salvo from sharp-shooting Westfalen (has scored hits on seven consecutive fire rounds). For her part, Superb lands a 12” round into Westfalen amidships, taking out a 5.9” mount.

 

Despite the willingness of Capt. Bruen and his crew to continue, Duff orders Bellerophon out of line at the head of the column to allow Superb, Temeraire, and Dreadnought to continue, reluctantly ceding command to Capt. Hyde-Parker of Superb.

 

SF B
Bellerophon turns out of the line as Superb sweeps past, under fire.

 

At Noon, Engelhardt followed through on his decision to begin disengaging. He orders a six-degree turn southeast in an effort to begin opening the range while maintaining fire on the British column. Bellerophon is rocked by three hits from Posen and Westfalen, taking out ‘A’ turret and holing her bow at the waterline. Superb and Temeraire both have their main battery reduced by one turret, as does Posen and Rheinland. The final blow comes at 1218 when Bellerophon, creeping along at six knots, takes an 11” round into the bridge with ghastly effect. Rear Admiral Duff, Capt. Bruen, and most of their combined staff are lost.

 

By mid-afternoon the Germans were long gone and the British were left to sort out what was left. Bellerophon, a wreck from stem to stern, was barely making three knots. Less than 125 miles northwest of Cuxhaven, there was little chance of her successful return to a friendly port and she was scuttled after her surviving crew were taken off. Superb had been torn up topside, three of five main batteries out of action, and she’d suffered numerous hull hits resulting in some minor flooding. Temeraire and Dreadnought had come through relatively unscathed, but would still require repairs.

 

Walter Engelhardt had escaped in reasonable shape, proving these first German dreadnoughts capable against their contemporaries. Posen and Rheinland had both lost a single main battery, while Westfalen had suffered hull damage resulting in some significant flooding. Otherwise, damage was light. The admiral was left to ponder what might have been had the weather been better.







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