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  #26  
Old 1st May 2007, 13:20
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barnsey barnsey is offline  
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Split ... yup deadweight ... exactly what you carried on a loaded draft. Described as Short Tons, Metric Tons and Long Tons and never never never never never never ... get me? NEVER tonnes. Grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr !!!

Night matey

Barnsey
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  #27  
Old 1st May 2007, 19:38
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Hugh Ferguson Hugh Ferguson is offline  
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I read with disbelief Barnsey's assertion that U.Boats had lots of problems (doesn't everybody in wartime!), that their torpedoes had a 50% failure rate and that "everything started turning pear shaped for them in 1942", and that they were not really a threat to the nation's survival at all.
When I eventually joined the Blue Funnel Line in 1943 they had just lost their 48th ship, half the fleet & most by U.Boats. If that wasn't a threat to the nation's survival I can't begin to imagine what was. It was the same for most companies.
Initially, attacks on convoys can only be described as a massacre. That was when they got inside the convoy on the surface and reduced the escorting escort vessels to little more than rescue vessels. That tactic had to change when some brave soul decided that the only way to deal with that was to illuminate the convoy; a tactic that had previously been thought of as suicidal. At this stage the U.Boat commanders became a little overconfident and as a result, in the course of a week or so, lost 3 of their aces, Prien amongst them.
It is quite incorrect to assert that Hitler hindered Donitz in his U.Boat strategy. Hitler's major concern rested with the failures of the German capital ships under the command of Grand Admiral Raeder. He was given his marching orders and was eventually superseded by Donitz. The U.Boat crews continued to be regarded as the elite of the elite and every support was offered to them by Hitler, and the production of U.Boats proceeded apace with the realisation that they were the only means available that was capable of breaking that Atlantic supply line.
As Churchill was frequently heard to comment, the U.Boat threat was the only thing that really worried him about the outcome of the war.
I strongly recommend the reading of Cajus Bekker's, Hitler's Naval War, and Jurgen Rohwer's, The Critical Convoy Battles of March 1943.
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  #28  
Old 2nd May 2007, 10:14
jim brindley jim brindley is offline  
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Split View Post
The Liberties had another difference over the Forts in that they were welded.
This was a concept that was to make some them break up in the Arctic convoys. Does anyone know anything about that?

Split
we rivitted a steel band around around our liberties after a few split in to just before the bridge .we called them samboats all ours started with sam . cheers old sinner jim in oz
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  #29  
Old 2nd May 2007, 11:58
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Hugh,

I am not suprised you read with disbelief my assertion. Until I started reading this year the books now available and with an open mind I would have been of the same opinion.

With the greatest respect to you I really recommend you read the two volumes by Clay Blair. They are compelling and factual. Those figures I have quoted regarding the convoys between 1939 - end of 1941 are factual and backed by several different sources.

Yes its agreed that the number of ships lost were horrific, the U-boats sank some 1,125 overall in that period of time but the fact remains and I quote Blair "even in those years 1939 - Dec 1941 the British Commonwealth more than made good on these losses by new construction and by aquisition of shipping from the USA, german occupied nations such as Norway, France, Belgium the Netherlands and Greece. At the end of 1941, the British controlled merchant fleet, including tankers was larger by about 3 million tons than it was in 1939".

Then came the 8 month Dec 1941 - August 1942 when the U-boats attacked the American shipping. Quote again ... "That campaign destroyed about 600 Allied ships for about 3 million tons, but by then American shipyards, employing tens of thousands of people were mass producing "Liberty ships", Tankers and other types at prodigious rates not only making good all Allied merchant ship losses but also swelling the size of the combined Allied fleet to undreamed of tonnages."

Churchill also found out that there was a huge amount of tonnage in ports awaiting simple repairs due to inefficiencies and organised that they be got to sea. That alone produced an enormous effect.

The illuminating of the scene was one thing but more importantly was the change of tactics and the training that reversed the U-boats fortunes. They incessantly chatted to each other and B-Dienst while gathering the 'Wolf Pack", the escorts had very accurate RDF called Huff-Duff and ran down the bearing until they came to the U-boat and either attacked or forced them to submerge ....just one of the changes. By May 1943 it was more or less all over for the U-boats as the tactics and training came to the fore and most importantly long range aircraft and Jeep carriers protected the convoys. From then on out the U-boats were sunk faster than they could be produced and experienced commanders could be found for them.

Hitler was defintely detrimental to Donitz operational plans for the U-boats. Donitz wanted the tonnage war, wolf packs focussing to seek and hunt the convoys in the Atlantic and starve Britain. True Hitler was disgusted with the performance of the capital ships and wanted them laid up but he insisted that precious numbers of U-boats were retained in Norway as he had a phobia that Britain was going to counter attack there. He insisted more were sent to the Medditereanean area again reducing the effectiveness of the Atlantic battle. The U-boats did not have radar, they did not know we had cracked Enigma and were routing convoys around the Wolf packs so they needed every U-boat available to set up the lines to detact the convoys.

Illuminating the convoy was as you say a debateable tactic as by then the escorts had radar, Huff Duff and a variety of other items so anything on the surface was fairly detectable with or without.

I will certainly try to get a copy of the books you offer but in return you must also read the two books I have quoted including these are comparitively modern books using previously Classified material and thus revealing details which make all the difference. A must is Gunter Hesslers book "The U-boat war of the Atlantic" written for the Royal Navy and which was a classifed book. There you will find out the staement that the problems the U-boats had with their boats, equipment and people is quite correct. Thank goodness they did. The statement that they did not stand a chance from the start is not fancy its fact. Granted they made a hell of a fist of it but they were caught at the start with insufficient U-boats and most of what they had were not suitable for the Atlantic Battle. Throughout, just as things were going right for them events changed... be it weather, escort tactics, Enigma, USA entered the war, long range aircraft, hedgehog, Biscay aircraft patrols, Leigh lights. In that time all they could do was produce the same type VII U-boats. Their Milch Cows were sunk. Increasingly experienced commanders and crews were killed or captured. The battle itself was stopped and started by Donitz for various valid reasons.

Hugh the story is terrifying, fascinating and far from simple but with all the facts we now have it has to be realised the U-boats were never going to be able to carry out Donitzs plan ... starve Britain to submission.

Churchill made some masterfull speeches most of which were calculated to have an effect and they did but the one you quoted was I understand made after the war.

A good debate .... now a question ... did you know John Gregson Nav. App. on the Duecalion ?? he is down here in NZ. A fine fellow and much admired.

barnsey
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  #30  
Old 2nd May 2007, 21:21
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Hugh Ferguson Hugh Ferguson is offline  
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David,
Well I'm blowed! Fancy you coming up with that very familiar name, John Gregson, Lloyd's War Medal, and fancy yet another name to add to the list of people I have heard, or known, who have gone to live in New Zealand.
It's only recently that I noted the death of Roger Hill in N.Z., commander of HMS LEDBURY in Pedestal Convoy. I wonder if either of you knew him!?
I don't think I ever bumped into John but it is a possibility.

Well, thankyou for your lengthy response to my submission. The first thing that comes into my mind is that I cannot ever recall anybody I ever knew, or whose account I ever read, who ever had any doubt that that the greatest threat to our survival was the U.Boat. It has even been suggested that losing the Battle of Britain would not have been the end, but losing the Battle of the Atlantic would most definitely have been curtains. March 1943 was certainly a defining moment but they didn't give up even then: wolf pack tactics were abandoned and they still still never gave up; losing 200 boats in 1944.
My interest in this subject arose initially in Nov.1945, at the time I had returned from my last wartime voyage and made the acquaintance of Werner Muller P.O.W. who had been the 2nd watch keeping officer in U.190. Another of my friends has been a Bill Holman, 2nd Lieut. HMS VOLUNTEER (Atlantic convoy escort destroyer), and a lady who worked in Bletchley Park breaking the Enigma code. Amongst my 100 or so books on the subject I give pride of place to those by Gretton, Wemyss, Rayner, Macintyre, Roger Hill, and of course the famed and glorious rebel, "Johnny" Walker CB, DSO & 3bars
He was a passed over naval officer who had made the mistake of specialising in anti submarine warfare. It was his persistance in setting up a system of hunting down and sinking U.Boats before they had even got to the convoys which, together with code breaking, American long range Liberators, &, so called Woolworth Carriers, plus of course radar. But none of these tactics got going until we had come within an ace of abandoning the convoy system which would most definitely have heralded the end.
Another of my old friends (and once a colleague) was a Graham Allen, 4th mate of the RHEXENOR who was made captive when his ship was sunk by U.217. He had his 21st birthday whilst there. You can't get more first hand knowledge than that. I can't say I'm all that interested in history rewritten; such a lot of it about these days. Hugh.
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  #31  
Old 2nd May 2007, 22:19
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Hugh,

I am so pleased with your response in many ways. John Gregson was a pilot in Tauranga and we had him aboard many times. He is an exceptional fellow, quiet and genial at all times. He was awarded the George medal for saving the life who was trapped down aft, he swam the pair of them away from the by then fiercely burning and sinking Duecalion. He has been back to Malta for the celebrations often and is much respected down here. Another Malta convoy lad was Dave Lochead, his ship was Rochester Castle. He was master on one of my tankers down here and an Old Worcester, another fine fellow who has now passed on. John may well know of Roger Hill ... HMS Ledbury of course I have read of.

Beyond doubt losing the Battle of the Atlantic would have been the end which was precisely Donitzs objective. But it was all wrecked for him right from the start. Raeder wanted his bloody pocket battleships and such. He would not allow to be build the submarines of the type or quantity that Donitz needed. Then Hitler went to war before they were ready and Donitz had but a "few" ( nowhere near enough ) U-boats to carry out his campaign ... the tonnage war. Throughout Hitler and his high command interfered diverting U-boats to tasks other than Donitzs tonnage war. Hitler interferd in so many things ... the Me 262, the jet. It was meant to be a fighter, he demanded it be a bomber. They ( the allies) reckoned that to assasinate Hitler would be the wrong thing as he was helping the Allies so much with these sort of caper. His biggest blunder of course was to attack Russia. Eventually Hitler was rid of Raeder who spat the dummy and Donitz was able to be more effective. But it was all too late. Make no mistake I am well aware that the U-boat was one of the biggest threats and had they listened to Donitz things may well have been different. His U-boat crews were the elite of their navy, elite in skills, loyalty to Donitz and professionalism. However they, who were there at the end came to realise just how many lies they had been told about new weapons coming and how they had been used as fodder in a hopeless situation.

The new XX1 boats and Schnorkel were nowhere near the threat made out to be as they arrived too late. The Schnorkel needed a lot of developement and those that did reach action were not the be all and end all. Operating them needed much skill which had to be developed and it could be detected by radar ...... I am amazed at just what the Allies could detect with their radar!! Oh yes its a fascinating subject.

I hear what you say about History re written, so much of it about and I agree. However you have to choose and certain books are excellent particularly "Blair", "van der Vat" and "Tarrant" on this subject. But you cannot be that bad as you are fine on the computer and that is modern.

David
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  #32  
Old 3rd May 2007, 18:58
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Hugh Ferguson Hugh Ferguson is offline  
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I still have some further comments to contribute to this fascinating thread (which I note has been awarded a 5* rating. How very astute are those moderators!). However, I will need to do a bit more research to make absolutely certain that the views I express will stand up to the challenges they are receiving.
Meanwhile, may I suggest that anyone who wishes to become well informed about U.Boats goes to the following site. You will need to become a member in order to access all of the information offered: it's a mere formality and costs nothing.
http://www.uboat.net/conningtower

Last edited by Hugh Ferguson; 3rd May 2007 at 21:40.. Reason: Incorrect url
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  #33  
Old 4th May 2007, 00:41
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Smile WW2 Tankers North Atlantic.

The Americans respected their seamen and took care of them however they could while British sailors were off pay as soon as they were torpedoed.

Split

I too thought that was true for many years Split, but from a book that I have it appears that is not to be the case.

In "Survivors" 'British Merchant Seamen in the Second World War' by BH & R Bennet. Hambleton Press 1999, it states in the chapter "Safe at Last"
".............................it is not correct to suppose that survivors received no payment for the time they spent in lifeboats or awaiting repatriation. In December 1939 the Ministry of Shipping accepted a proposal from the shipowners that the pay of survivors should continue for one month after the loss of a ship or until they returned to the United Kingdom, whichever was the longer."

It goes on to state that there was a scale of recompense according to rank or rating for loss of clothing, carpenters tools, navigation aids such as a sextant etc.

For instance 100 pounds for a Captain and 50 pounds for ticketed officers, eventually increased to 150 and 100 pounds respectively with 90 pounds for a carpenter, 25 and 20 for AB's, Firemen, and boys.

I did sail soon after the war was finished with many men who had been torpedoed and survived time in lifeboats but I don't recollect the subject of pay ever coming up. As a matter of fact, in retrospect my recollections are that most men were quite reticent in talking of their wartime experiences and this at a time when it was all fresh in everyone's mind.
I did sail with a man that was taken prisoner early in the war and spent many years a prisoner of the Germans. I never did think to ask him if he was on pay all that time as would be an armed forces serviceman.
Maybe somebody here will know the answer.........Peter
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  #34  
Old 4th May 2007, 00:46
K urgess K urgess is offline
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According to the 1943 edition of "The Shipmaster's Business Companion" -

"Under the Merchant Shipping Act a seaman's wages terminate in case of wreck or loss of the vessel, but this has now been overruled by the Merchant Shipping (International Labour Conventions) Act, 1925, which reads as follows in Section I of that Act."

"Where by reason of the wreck or loss of a ship on which a seaman is employed his service terminates before the date contemplated in the agreement, he shall, not withstanding anything in Section 158 of the Merchant Shipping Act 1924, but subject to the provisions of this section, be entitled, in respect of each day on which he is, in fact, unemployed during a period of two months from the date of termination of the service, to receive wages at the rate to which he was entitled at that date."

This can, of course, only be applied to survivors. There was no obligation to pay wages to the next of kin of those who did not survive. This may have led to some confusion because widows and families were left with nothing from the date the ship sank.
Cheers
Kris
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  #35  
Old 4th May 2007, 01:10
Bernard McIver Bernard McIver is offline  
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Barnsey, Why are you basing your assertions on the statistics for selected "Principle" homeward bound convoys, and how do they differ from any other convoys in the same period? What about the ships lost in outward bound convoys and the potential cargoes lost? One point that appears to have been overlooked in these discussions is that shipping was now required to maintain the total war effort, not just feed Britain.
I agree with Hugh that a lot more research is needed to fuel this interesting debate.
Bernard
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  #36  
Old 4th May 2007, 01:18
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Hugh .... You are right the http://www.uboat.net website is excellent however you are not quite correct in that the membership side "Conningtower" is not free it costs US$45.

Looking forward to the next posts .... very interesting.

Barnsey
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  #37  
Old 4th May 2007, 05:26
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jim brindley View Post
we rivitted a steel band around around our liberties after a few split in to just before the bridge .we called them samboats all ours started with sam . cheers old sinner jim in oz
Now that you mention it, I remember hearing about that, although I never sailed on one, myself.

Split
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  #38  
Old 4th May 2007, 19:41
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Smile WW2 Tankers North Atlantic

I was on "Corabank" ex "Samfleet" and I do remember that she had two steel bands each side, port and starboard, running all the way fore and aft, and two under the bottom running fore and aft all the way. They were 1ft wide and 2" inches thick. These were fitted after she was built.
I remember them well because when we drydocked in Auckland we were hired to paint her for the princely sum for those days of 7 shillings an hour. A small fortune in those days for us when I was making 12 pounds ten shillings a month.
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  #39  
Old 4th May 2007, 23:53
Bernard McIver Bernard McIver is offline  
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Barnsey, The more I read your postings the more questions come to mind.
Your comment that magnetic mines and contact torpedoes had a 50% failure rate simply implies that they had a 50% success rate! Not a bad result. Incidentally how would you be able to judge the effectiveness of a magnetic mine? As for only having 30% of U-boats on patrol, surely this is just a logistic problem which would exist no matter how many were in the fleet.
If your quotes are accurate, and not out of context, then it would appear that there is a fair amount of bias in these books. Will certainly try to obtain them. Thanks for opening up this topic.
Bernard
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  #40  
Old 5th May 2007, 03:06
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Bernard .... like Hugh, I will do more study. No the books are not biased, just uses a lot more information a lot of which was classified when early accounts were written. Clay Blairs books are fascinating as are Tarrants and Hessler. All are objective, without trying to pull the wool over anyones eyes. As they say "The truth hurts".

Hugh made a very good point about how effective Convoy was .... yet at the beginning of WW II the RN were very slow to get their act and reluctantly at that, to get Convoying organised in spite of the fairly recent lessons of WW I and the statistical evidence from that war regarding the effectiveness of Convoy. Convoys in WW I although not nearly as efficient as WW II proved they worked. The WW I escorts had virtually no way of detecting or attacking a submerged U-boat and there was only 1 case of a U-boat being sunk by an aircraft.


WW II became a very different matter as Escorts were fitted with evermore effective weapons in Asdic, Huff-Duff, Radar, Depth charges, Hedgehog and Squid. Then Aircraft to assist the escorts in Convoy protection and became increasingly the major killers of U-boats. So why in the hell the RN procrastinated over getting them set up in WW II beggars belief.

Regarding the failures of the torpedos both Magnet and "Contact Pistol" ( for the want of the correct description at the moment ) and without opening a book to be exact, one of the 3 aces ... lets say Prien was in a Norwegian Fjord and fired 5 (?) torpedos at a few ships who had anchored. Both Prien and the ships were stationary .... not one of the torpedos worked. Dontiz and those commanders bitterly complained about the ineffectiveness of their torpedos and it took until well over a year into the war to get them right ... its a subject in itself ... I'll look up the correct details later today..... just suffice to say thank God they were deficient. The contact pistol was only put right when they captured one of our submarines off Aalborg and studied her torpedos.....and used the pistol design in their own torpedos !!!

I'll come back with a properly put together post ....just didnt want you to think you had been ignored.

Barnsey
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  #41  
Old 5th May 2007, 09:50
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Ok ... back again Bernard ... German torpedos. The torpedos were subsequently found to have been passed for service after only roughly a couple of test runs in peacetime. The torpedo staff were courtmartialled and 3 "Patsies" were jailed for 6 months and returned to their posts...the ones higher up got away with it of course.

There were basically 3 reasons for the failure ... depth control, the torpedo developers knew of the fault but did not think it significant. The magnetic pistol was overly sensitive and so the area of use ie Narvik in high latitudes, large magnetic anomalies and the inaccurate depth control all rendered them susceptable. The Contact pistol required the topedo to hit at right angles so if the torpedo hit at an angle or curve it more often than not failed.

Figures give 25% failures leading to 41% misses.

Reverting to Prien in U47 during the Norway campaign ... he fired 4 torpeods while submerged...they all failed. He surfaced and fired 4 more, 1 exploded against a rock wall having had a gyro failure the others failed.

It was 2 years before the Germans had reliable torpedos. Donitz's report of June 1940 was damming of the torpedo supply arm. The capture of the British Submarine HMS Seal and the examination of her torpedos let the Germans copy the contact pistol and use it on their own torpedos.

I wouldnt know about the magnetic mine I am only quoting the magnetic torpedos .... but I believe there were similar problems with the magnetic mine. The deguassing of ships was very successfull in conteracting both. remember the huge coils of copper wire running around the ship along the deck edge? The magnetic torpedo was very much more liable to sink a ship than the contact as it exploded under the keel and broke the back of the ship.

....... and so it goes ... the ups and downs of both sides. The winters in the training grounds of the Baltic and the German yards effected things. Always the German high command demanding the U-boat arm to supply boats to do things other than sink ships....one instance to provide 4 U-boats to escort a raider was successfully refused by Donitz but in many instances he was ordered to supply boats against his plan ..... which was all to the good for the allies. The Norway campaign in 1940 caused the withdrawal of U-boats from the Atlantic and again in 43-45 Hitlers paranoia with the Allies trying to regain Norway diluted Donitz's Atlantic efforts. by which time of course the Allies had more or less complete air coverage, superior A/S capabilities including detection and weapons. The U-boats were still the same basic type VII.

Barnsey
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  #42  
Old 5th May 2007, 12:37
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At the moment I am deep into TARRANT'S, The U.Boat Offensive, 1914/45; a book I'd forgotten I had. Meanwhile a comment about 50% torpedo failures. I simply cannot accept that that was of much concern to Der U.Boot Waffe.
Whenever I scan through the 73 pages of the lists of ships torpedoed (53 ships of all nationalities on each page) there must have been an awful lot of torpedoes that did not fail, especially when you take into account the fact that, more often than not, more than one was needed to sink the victim.
Let us not forget that it was not only the British who suffered this appalling onslaught:you would be astonished at the number of times the letters sw (for Swedish) appear next to the name of the ship, and then there were the Norwegian, the Dutch, Greek, American, French, Danish, Panamanian, Egyptian, Russian and many others who had the misfortune to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.
Of interest to those following this thread would be a site dedicated to Captain Johnny Walker R.N., CB, DSO & 3 bars, (god bless his soul),
http://www.mikekemble.com/ww2/walker.html
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  #43  
Old 5th May 2007, 13:42
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Hugh .... thats great that you have Tarrants book its excellent ....

See Torpedo failures (German) pages 83, 87-9 110 ... I think you will see that contrary to your ..... "I simply cannot accept that that was of much concern to Der U.Boot Waffe"......Donitz was exceptionally concerned to the extent he had a full enquiry and the armaments people were really torn up for fodder.

Anyway read on .... its a gerat work.

best regards

David
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  #44  
Old 5th May 2007, 18:05
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Quote:
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Hugh .... thats great that you have Tarrants book its excellent ....

See Torpedo failures (German) pages 83, 87-9 110 ... I think you will see that contrary to your ..... "I simply cannot accept that that was of much concern to Der U.Boot Waffe"......Donitz was exceptionally concerned to the extent he had a full enquiry and the armaments people were really torn up for fodder.

Anyway read on .... its a gerat work.

best regards

David
Well,he (Donitz) would be concerned wouldn't he, but the crews knew what to expect from a new weapon and took the necessary precautions.
Here is Jost Metzler's-U.69's commander-account of how they went about their business.
"We did not consider the new E.torpedoes sufficiently developed for one to rely on them in serious circumstances. The ship carried 8 torpedoes of the old type, compressor driven (G.VII.a), a developement of the G.VII.v of the 1st w.w., and in addition 4 new G.VII.e torpedoes,electrically driven. The G.VII.a had the disadvantage of leaving a trail of bubbles----------. On the other hand, the G.VII.e was invisible. Obviously there were not enough of the new type to equip a boat on operations with them alone. Before departure the captain was told exactly how many torpedoes of each type his boat would be carrying. It was then entirely up to the captain how, when and for what purposes he used the different types."
Metzler then goes on to describe his first victim which he dispatched with two old type torpedoes. What he didn't know at the time was that the ship, the SIAMESE PRINCE, went down with all hands amongst whom was one of the survivors, Wilbert Roy Widdicombe, from the ANGLO SAXON. He and Robert Tapscott had spent 70 days drifting across the Atlantic in a "jolly" boat . They were the sole survivors and spent many weeks in Nassau recovering from their terrible ordeal. Widdicombe recovered more quickly than Tapscott and was sent up to New York to take passage home as a DBS in the SIAMESE PRINCE. Tapscott survived the war but never really recovered and eventually ended his life whilst still in his 40s.
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  #45  
Old 5th May 2007, 20:40
James MacDonald James MacDonald is offline  
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My Dad, who was torpedoed 3 times during the war, said Churchill promptly stopped the war bonus Merchant Seaman earned straight after V day. Such was his gratitude to the brave me who kept Britain from starving.
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  #46  
Old 5th May 2007, 21:09
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How long do you think that the war bonus should have been paid after the war was over? I'd say that a good pension for seamen disabled in the war is a better argument, but a lot of National Servicemen were much in the same boat, don't you think? If they got a war bonus then certainly, the MN was entitled to the same.

Split
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  #47  
Old 5th May 2007, 23:39
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In reply to oldbosun regarding wages being stopped with the loss of a ship..
I was in VIKING STAR - sunk by three torpedoes from U 130 when we were 180 miles SW of Freetown on 25th August 1942..Captain Mills and seven crew were killed..17 survivors were on 3 rafts for 12 days and made the coast of Liberia in 12 days - of 4 lifeboats on the ship,3 were demolished by explosions and I was in the only sound boat with 35 other survivors...We sailed to the coast of Sierra Leone in 5 days . a few days walking through jungle,escorted by natives and sleeping overnight in mud huts until we reached Sherbro and eventually Freetown..
All hands had a spell in hospital suffering malaria and other diseases.Myself and some of the others returned to UK in OTRANTO .
Our pay had stopped on day of sinking and if you had survived as myself,I reported myself as being alive at the Shipping Federation office Tilbury and my pay was backdated from day of sinking to day of arrival in UK..
Only the pay from Blue Star Line was paid.The War Bonus of £12 per month ceased on the day of sinking ....Dependants of seamen who lost their lives received no payments - they had to go on the RO..
Seamen were recompensed at £10 - Bosun £12 and Carpenter £15..it was increased later in the war...
VIKING STAR was expected in Fretown on day after her loss and 4 days after that my parents received a telegram - Ship missing crew presumed dead...
They believed this until my arrival home ...I wrote 2 letters while in Freetown but they were deliverd some days after my homecoming...
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  #48  
Old 5th May 2007, 23:42
stan mayes stan mayes is offline  
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To James MacDonald ..The War Bonus did not end on VE Day - we were still at war with Japan..
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  #49  
Old 6th May 2007, 00:00
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barnsey barnsey is offline  
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Cool The German torpedo crisis 1939-1942

Hugh,

You cannot just dismiss the matter like that ..."Well,he (Donitz) would be concerned wouldn't he" it wasnt only him it was Raeder and the whole High Command. The matter was really serious, thank goodness or we ( the Allies ) would have been in an even worse pickle. As for this statement ..."but the crews knew what to expect from a new weapon and took the necessary precautions." ... they tried all sorts of things and they DID NOT KNOW WHAT TO DO.

The G7 torpedo propulsion was not the problem, whether electrically or compressed air/petrol driven. It was a) the magnetic pistol b) the contact pistol and c) the depth control.

You quote Metzler as an example in this torpedo debate. Well he did not do his first patrol until AFTER the failures were recognised and some corrective measures had been put in place. Metzler ... from U-boat.net ... "After seven months of training he commissioned U-69 in November 1940. On his first patrol, sailing from Kiel to St. Nazaire, he sank three ships for a total of 18,576 tons.

The torpedo crisis of late 1939 -- early 1940 is one of the less popular stories about the elite German U-Bootwaffe which is probably why its a suprise to you Hugh. Although this was the period during which some of the most outstanding U-boat successes were scored, it was full of bitter disappointments and equally resounding misses as well.

It is a common notion among those interested in the U-boat war that the magnetic firing pistol of the German torpedoes was the 'cause of all evil.' This, however, is only partially true.

On September 17 1939 Kapitänleutenant Glattes of U-39 spotted the HMS Ark Royal in his patrol area and was able to close in on her unnoticed. And there occurred the first major disappointment of the U-boat war. Glattes fired a salvo of three torpedoes with magnetic pistols at the carrier, all of which exploded prematurely. Worse yet, the failed attack revealed the boat's position to the escort and the destroyers quickly sank U-39. The crew was saved.

On October 30th 1939 Kapitänleutnant Wilhelm Zahn of U-56 sighted in his area a truly juicy formation: the battleships Rodney, Nelson, the battle cruiser Hood and a dozen destroyers. With great daring and skill, Zahn eluded the destroyer screen and struck Nelson with a salvo of three. The impact pistol torpedoes clearly slammed against the ship's hull and…simply fell apart. The commander was so depressed by this misfortune for which he was not to blame in the least that Dönitz took him off active duty for a while.

The real torpedo crisis unfolded during Operation Weserübung - the largest amphibious operation in German history, the invasion of Norway. Late on April 15 1940 Gunther Prien of U-47 ( Of Scapa Flow fame ) arrived at Bydgenfjord and spotted three large British transports (some 30,000 GRT each) and several smaller ones disembarking troops in fishing boats. Immediately the Raging Bull fired 8 torpedoes with impact pistols at the stationary and overlapping targets, but all of them failed.

Again on April 19th 1940 Gunther Prien closed in on the Warspite and lobbed in a salvo of two. Those, too, were failures, which robbed the Kriegsmarine of a much-needed respite. What were the causes for these stupendous failures?

Admiral Dönitz vehemently set out to track down the reasons for the torpedo disaster and to lend a helping hand to his talented men as fast as possible. After an emergency conference with representatives of Naval High Command and the Torpedo Department, Dönitz concluded that magnetic interference from the fjords did, after all, affect the magnetic torpedoes. It was also found that the essential problem with the impact-pistol torpedo Mark G7e was that its depth-keeping gear ran off base, causing the torpedo to run 6 feet deeper than set depth and simply pass beneath its target. Thus, writes Dönitz, "we found ourselves equipped with a torpedo that refused to function in northern waters either with contact or with magnetic pistols." The compromise decision was to use magnetic firing (Mark G7a) except when near to fjords, where the magnetic pull was considerable and often caused premature detonations.

A commission was set up in mid-April 1940 to investigate the case thoroughly. The commission came out with a comprehensive report in late July 1940, which placed a considerable blame on the Torpedo Department. The TD, it was found, had supplied the boats with the new magnetic firing pistol with four-blade propellers before it had undergone the necessary trials. Consequently, the personnel of the Torpedo Experimental Institute responsible for that SNAFU were court-martialed and sentenced to prison terms.

Although the negligence of the Institute had been established, it was not until February 1942 that the U-Bootwaffe got to the heart of the matter.

On January 30 1942, the crew of U-94 made a little extra effort and conducted an on-board examination of their torpedoes in mid-Atlantic. They thus discovered an excess pressure in the torpedoes' balance chambers, where the hydrostatic valve controlling the depth at which the 'fish' ran was located. When they radioed back their findings, the Inspector of the Torpedo Department ordered a check on board all submarines in port. Half of the torpedoes were found to have the same problem, and the mystery of the torpedoes' deeper-than-set-depth run was finally fathomed. The results of this and later investigations were summed up into a Memorandum by Grand Admiral Raeder on Feb 9, 1942. The torpedo crisis was thus ultimately brought to an end, though by that time it was too late. In July 1942, the Allied shipbuilding capacity for the first time surpassed the U-boats' rate of sinking (which was then particularly high). The U-Bootwaffe never caught up again.

Barnsey
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  #50  
Old 6th May 2007, 01:01
Bernard McIver Bernard McIver is offline  
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The War Bonus was actually described as War Risk Money. I signed off my last voyage in November 1945 and was paid this up to that date. Incidentally I received 10 Pounds per month Risk Money. Seems I was shortchanged! For VJ day I received a Bonus of 5days pay, 13/4d.
Bernard
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