Author Topic: Battle of Trafalgar... Time to move on?  (Read 32491 times)

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Offline E.R. Campbell

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Re: Battle of Trafalgar... Time to move on?
« Reply #50 on: April 25, 2016, 07:52:59 »
Yes she did. She was part of the HMS INDOMITABLE escort: a British task force. Individual Canadian ships may have served, but only as assigned to a British group. No Canadian task force, escort group or flotilla was ever assigned to the Murmansk run.

None of the Tribal class destroyers of Canada served under Canadian command in WWII: They all served in Royal Navy groups or fleets. The British were too chintzy to affect high end destroyers like the Tribals to mere mid-ocean escort tasks, regardless of the fact they would have been damn useful, and the Canadian Regular force "British" bent meant that they also looked down at the escort fleet as lower  class to be left to the RCNVR. They wanted action with the real fleet, meaning with the Brits, and in fleet destroyers, cruisers and aircraft carriers.


This is my sense of it, too ... as it was told to me, when I was a young boy, by a couple of people who had very "close up and personal" insights.

There was a deep, personal and professional animus between VAdm Percy Nelles, an able administrator but, generally, regarded as an indifferent sailor and a downright poor strategist, and RAdm Leonard Murray who was highly regarded as both a seaman and as a leader who understood the strategic imperatives. Murray, and his boss, Adm Sir Max Horton in the UK, were fighting a HUGE and, arguably, decisive battle ~ a strategically decisive campaign, really ~ and they believed that the only really important tools were the frigates (improved corvettes) and light aircraft carriers and, later, Lancaster bombers. Nelles wanted to build a Big Navy of real destroyers and cruisers while Murray (and Horton) wanted more and More and MORE frigates (and merchant ships). Both Nelles and Murray got what they wanted, the latter because Churchill, above all others, shared the Horton/Murray view of the strategic situation.

The convoys to Russia were important, Russia had to be kept in the war; that too was a key strategic imperative. But most of what went to Russia had, first, to make it to Britain from North America and Horton and Murray were responsible, as commanders, for making that happen.

Neither Horton nor Murray were liked, at all, by their respective political leadership groups ... which, partly, explains why RAdm Murray was "thrown under the bus" for the Halifax riots, but, I was assured, both were happy with their status ... as long as no-one in London or Ottawa was able to interfere with their command decisions and as long as new ships and crews continued to arrive.

The RCN, as a service, expanded far too much and too quickly in 1940 and 41. the RCNR and, especially the RCNVR simply could not cope and many (most) Canadians warships had to be pulled from convoy duty in 1942/43 for retraining: the captains and crews were not up to the job of mid-ocean escorts; it required levels of seamanship, ship handling and tactics that could not be learned "on the job." This is not, in any way, to denigrate the courage or abilities of those men ... they were, just, inadequately trained because the need for "throughput" overwhelmed the system. In 42/43 Murray was given more and more British ships and his Canadian ships were sent to special British squadrons, organized by Horton, specifically for training. It worked; it was, in a way, akin to the "battle schools" the Canadian Army used in the same time frame to turn uniformed civilians into soldiers.
It is ill that men should kill one another in seditions, tumults and wars; but it is worse to bring nations to such misery, weakness and baseness
as to have neither strength nor courage to contend for anything; to have nothing left worth defending and to give the name of peace to desolation.
Algernon Sidney in Discourses Concerning Government, (1698)
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Offline FSTO

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Re: Battle of Trafalgar... Time to move on?
« Reply #51 on: April 25, 2016, 09:41:34 »

The RCN, as a service, expanded far too much and too quickly in 1940 and 41. the RCNR and, especially the RCNVR simply could not cope and many (most) Canadians warships had to be pulled from convoy duty in 1942/43 for retraining: the captains and crews were not up to the job of mid-ocean escorts; it required levels of seamanship, ship handling and tactics that could not be learned "on the job." This is not, in any way, to denigrate the courage or abilities of those men ... they were, just, inadequately trained because the need for "throughput" overwhelmed the system. In 42/43 Murray was given more and more British ships and his Canadian ships were sent to special British squadrons, organized by Horton, specifically for training. It worked; it was, in a way, akin to the "battle schools" the Canadian Army used in the same time frame to turn uniformed civilians into soldiers.

Just finished this book:
https://www.amazon.ca/Mobilize-Canada-Unprepared-Second-World/dp/1459710649

Great read on how woefully prepared Canada was for the upcoming war. You are almost yelling at the pages "Can't you idiots see what is coming?"
That Canada was able to get to some level of competency by 1942 was a incredable achievement.

Offline Oldgateboatdriver

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Re: Battle of Trafalgar... Time to move on?
« Reply #52 on: April 25, 2016, 09:56:59 »
To be fair FSTO, the British, from whom our Prime Ministers still took their cue in those days, also either didn't see it coming - or did not want to see it coming - "exiled" Winston Churchill's preaching in the desert to the contrary notwithstanding.

Offline FSTO

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Re: Battle of Trafalgar... Time to move on?
« Reply #53 on: April 25, 2016, 14:40:26 »
To be fair FSTO, the British, from whom our Prime Ministers still took their cue in those days, also either didn't see it coming - or did not want to see it coming - "exiled" Winston Churchill's preaching in the desert to the contrary notwithstanding.

True, the appeasement sentiment was strong in Whitehall, I would argue it was doubly prevalent in Langevan Block.

Offline E.R. Campbell

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Re: Battle of Trafalgar... Time to move on?
« Reply #54 on: April 25, 2016, 18:42:38 »
At the risk of dragging this even father off track ... two factors prevailed, especially in Britain:

     1. Horrible memories of World War I ~ think of "SuperMac" (Harold Macmillan) returning to Oxford to find that he was the only survivor from his class in his college ... a certain segment of British, especially English society paid a
         disproportionate price for some outdated ideas about gentlemen and "service;" and

     2. As in Canada, the impact of the Great Depression was especially severe in Britain ~ worse than in France or Germany because of the structure of the British economy. It was especially vulnerable to market failures.

That doesn't excuse appeasement but I think it helps to explain why it was so politically popular, as it was in America, too, by the way.
It is ill that men should kill one another in seditions, tumults and wars; but it is worse to bring nations to such misery, weakness and baseness
as to have neither strength nor courage to contend for anything; to have nothing left worth defending and to give the name of peace to desolation.
Algernon Sidney in Discourses Concerning Government, (1698)
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jollyjacktar

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Re: Battle of Trafalgar... Time to move on?
« Reply #55 on: April 25, 2016, 19:12:56 »
One cannot fault them for not wanting to get into another major war with Germany, however, once they could plainly see the writing on the wall they should have charged ahead faster and further than they did.

Offline Chris Pook

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Re: Battle of Trafalgar... Time to move on?
« Reply #56 on: April 25, 2016, 20:06:09 »
...

     2. As in Canada, the impact of the Great Depression was especially severe in Britain ~ worse than in France or Germany because of the structure of the British economy. It was especially vulnerable to market failures.
...


I am not sure I can agree with you on your second point E.R.  My families survived the Great Depression in Britain in reasonable condition.  The Scots side worked in the Co-Op in coal mining parts of Ayrshire and the English side sold dairy equipment across Scotland.  There are no family legends of people starving.  There are tales of having to put a car up on blocks and reducing the maid staff to one that came in to work rather than living-in.   There are tales of flying to Skye on business in a deHavilland Dragon Rapide. 

The Jarrow March of 1936 happened but I never got any sense that the Depression in Britain was as generalized a disaster as it was in Canada and the US.

Indeed someplaces, like the Birmingham and the Midlands were booming building electrical products, cars and houses.

The Tyneside and the Rhondda were very badly hit.


"Wyrd bið ful aræd"

Offline Pusser

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Re: Battle of Trafalgar... Time to move on?
« Reply #57 on: April 26, 2016, 16:32:36 »
I am not sure I can agree with you on your second point E.R.  My families survived the Great Depression in Britain in reasonable condition.  The Scots side worked in the Co-Op in coal mining parts of Ayrshire and the English side sold dairy equipment across Scotland.  There are no family legends of people starving.  There are tales of having to put a car up on blocks and reducing the maid staff to one that came in to work rather than living-in.   There are tales of flying to Skye on business in a deHavilland Dragon Rapide. 

The Jarrow March of 1936 happened but I never got any sense that the Depression in Britain was as generalized a disaster as it was in Canada and the US.

Indeed someplaces, like the Birmingham and the Midlands were booming building electrical products, cars and houses.

The Tyneside and the Rhondda were very badly hit.

In retrospect (largely because of The Waltons I could argue), we have a tendency to look upon the Great Depression as a period of universal poverty, but that wasn't really the case.  Although unemployment got as high as 25-35% (depending on the country), that also means that 65-75% of the population remained employed. Both of my grandfathers remained employed throughout the Great Depression (although one did lose every last dime he had had in the bank), so starvation was never a possibility.  Nevertheless, that's not to say things were rosy.
Sure, apes read Nietzsche.  They just don't understand it.

Offline E.R. Campbell

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Re: Battle of Trafalgar... Time to move on?
« Reply #58 on: April 28, 2016, 13:01:37 »
It's true that Britain entered the Great Depression later and (officially) existed it sooner than America and the overall "loss" to the economy was less than in America, but ...

The British economy had, already, taken a big hit from the First World War and the American economy, which has blossomed in that war, had farther to fall.

Britain lost, worst, in those so called "invisible exports:" banking and shipping and insurance. That had a "rolling" impact as the British recovery was always weak ... the Second World War damn near did them in. By 1946, when Dean Acheson, for example, expected Britain to intervene in the Greek civl war he was shocked to be told, by Ernest Bevin, the British Foreign Secretary, that the UK could not afford to send an infantry division, not even a brigade, to Greece; the cupboard was bare ~ Britain was broke. (That, the understanding that both allies and former enemies were broke, was part of the impetus for the Marshall Plan.)

It is ill that men should kill one another in seditions, tumults and wars; but it is worse to bring nations to such misery, weakness and baseness
as to have neither strength nor courage to contend for anything; to have nothing left worth defending and to give the name of peace to desolation.
Algernon Sidney in Discourses Concerning Government, (1698)
----------
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Offline Chris Pook

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Re: Battle of Trafalgar... Time to move on?
« Reply #59 on: April 28, 2016, 14:28:28 »
I think that most Brits of a certain age would define the economic crisis as continuing through the war to the end of rationing in 1954, two years after Her Majesty took the throne.

But the crisis/crises probably depended a lot on who you were and where you lived.  Britain is a small island and the locals moved to find work, or emigrated.
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Offline Old Sweat

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Re: Battle of Trafalgar... Time to move on?
« Reply #60 on: April 28, 2016, 14:45:58 »
I think that most Brits of a certain age would define the economic crisis as continuing through the war to the end of rationing in 1954, two years after Her Majesty took the throne.

But the crisis/crises probably depended a lot on who you were and where you lived.  Britain is a small island and the locals moved to find work, or emigrated.

A British officer I once worked with remarked that in many ways the post-war period was worse than the war as the sense of purpose had ended but the rationing, shortages and misery seemed unending.