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Battle of Jutland
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Harley



Joined: 23 Oct 2005
Posts: 131
Location: Great Britain

PostPosted: Thu Feb 07, 2008 8:25 am    Post subject: Battle of Jutland Reply with quote

I'm ripping apart the article on Wikipedia, quite simply because every Tom, Dick and Harry has been making unsourced statements and it looks like a family hatchet - new heads, new hafts &c. when a chainsaw is better. I'm working on the chainsaw now :wink:.

Some things intrigue me though. A lot has been made of Room 40 intercepting the German plans, but in the Official German report reproduced in the Official Despatches a "decoding" station at Neumunster is mentioned. Does this actually mean that the Germans could decode British signals?

Harley
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bargami



Joined: 11 Dec 2007
Posts: 75
Location: Richmond, Virginia

PostPosted: Fri Feb 08, 2008 5:28 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

There's an essay in the GWPDA which contains a paragraph on Neumunster and the work there. Not much info. but something to start
with...

bargami
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bargami



Joined: 11 Dec 2007
Posts: 75
Location: Richmond, Virginia

PostPosted: Tue Feb 12, 2008 3:53 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Something interesting in Mike Edinger's essay in GWPDA regarding Neumunster. He refers to two sources in saying that the famous bogus message to Jellicoe that the HSF was still in the Jade was the result of a deliberate ruse on the part of the German cryptographers which was spectacularly successful.
Now I had understood that this mistake resulted from the DNO, Sir Thomas Jackson, equiring of Room 40 where "DK" was and failing to understand the meaning of "in Wilhelmshaven;" the decoders didn't elaborate and Jackson didn't ask. I wonder which version is right?
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tone
Site Admin


Joined: 29 Oct 2004
Posts: 479
Location: Boston

PostPosted: Tue Feb 12, 2008 4:24 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Gordon explains the DK thing this way:

Scheer was in the practice of handing his callsign of DK to the harbormaster when leaving to sea. I'm not sure if the intent was ever to deceive, but at any rate, the practice was well understood by the people in Room 40. However, Jackson came in and asked a very literal question (where is DK) and received a very literal answer from people with whom he had a terrible working relationship. Has Jackson asked, "Where is Scheer?" or "is there any sign that the HSF has sailed?", a more helpful exchange may have resulted.

tone
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bargami



Joined: 11 Dec 2007
Posts: 75
Location: Richmond, Virginia

PostPosted: Thu Feb 14, 2008 11:51 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

And what a catastrophic blunder that was! Going back to Harley's start of this thread, Britain really had the advantages in cryptanalysis vs. Germany in this war; the code books acquired and the cipher key. At Jutland this advantage was squandered more than once through ignorance and arrogance (Jackson, who himself had been DNI a few years before), failure to transmit "accurate" intelligence to Jellicoe, or failure to act upon intelligence received (granted that that first message,
which "shouldn't" have gone out, spooked Jellicoe thereafter, another unfortunate effect).

Incredibly I see that Captain Jackson was promoted shortly after Jutland.

The battle got started late in the day, and it could have been otherwise.

Speaking of DNIs, though, I wonder where Admiral Hall was during these events?
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Harley



Joined: 23 Oct 2005
Posts: 131
Location: Great Britain

PostPosted: Fri Feb 15, 2008 6:10 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

To be fair to Jackson, technically he was overdue for promotion to Flag Rank and by Jutland he would have been by far one of the most senior Captains in the Navy. The Board obviously retained its confidence in him otherwise he'd have been forcibly retired when he became Rear-Admiral - as it was he retired in 1923 as a Vice-Admiral.

Good question about King-Hall (I assume it is he you are mentioning, former DNI). He seems to have had a dry period between being C-in-C Cape of Good Hope in 1915 and becoming ACOS in 1918.

Harley
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bargami



Joined: 11 Dec 2007
Posts: 75
Location: Richmond, Virginia

PostPosted: Fri Feb 15, 2008 8:56 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Harley I found a bit more on your original query re. German codebreaking. Google "Codes and Codebreakers in World War One;" this will take you to it. The writer explains why we know so little of German efforts during the First War and seems to answer your question. Could they decipher British codes? They could!

bargami
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Harley



Joined: 23 Oct 2005
Posts: 131
Location: Great Britain

PostPosted: Fri Feb 15, 2008 10:31 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks for that, it's proving interesting reading! And after slapping myself severely I realised which Hall you were referring to. Not going to live that one down...

Harley
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bargami



Joined: 11 Dec 2007
Posts: 75
Location: Richmond, Virginia

PostPosted: Fri Feb 15, 2008 10:56 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I should have used the familiar "Blinker." Just seems strange, as Room 40 was within his territory, that I see no mention of his presence or influence during Jutland. He might have caught Jackson up before that message went out and elaborated on what Jackson had been told.

Possibly he was out sick at the time; at all events seems like the missing man in the accounts I have read.

bargami
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Harley



Joined: 23 Oct 2005
Posts: 131
Location: Great Britain

PostPosted: Fri Feb 15, 2008 2:25 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Still, Hall should have had two Captains (Assistant DIDs), Nugent and Wardle, both capable officers who surely would have been able to act on his behalf?

Harley
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bargami



Joined: 11 Dec 2007
Posts: 75
Location: Richmond, Virginia

PostPosted: Mon Feb 18, 2008 11:56 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

That's true re. Hall's assistants, but then apparently Jackson dipped in quickly to make his enquiry and then made his "own" analysis and went off to send the message. Now one problem here: partly in the interests of preserving the secret of what Room 40 did and how they were assisted in doing it (those captured books), what was common knowledge in Room 40 was not necessarily known elsewhere in the Building, even by the D.O.D, for instance Scheer's practice with his call sign.
Another problem, personalities...an issue to which I frequently return although these men are all supposed to be professionals, especially in wartime. For a start, Hall was not popular in the Building, although (and possibly because) he was extremely effective and successful. He ended up building an intelligence empire which extended beyond the navy into the political and diplomatic fields (making him even more unpopular!).
Now let's look at Hall's co-equal Thomas Jackson, the D.O.D. As tone points out, he had a bad working relationship with the occupants of Room 40,
in his case going back to the whole idea of these assorted "odd" civilians being there at all, although that was the work of Oliver and Ewing, not Hall. Who might he encouter as he dipped in on a given day?: a man operating out of a bathtub or a woman smoking a cigar! He probably wouldn't hang about.
Finally, a word about the Admiralty operation on Jutland night in general. As I read different accounts I get an impression of lack-of-urgency and almost slow-motion. This regime, under Balfour and
Sir Henry Jackson, is the polar opposite of Churchill/Fisher, all tension and
stress. Here there seems to be the lack of a whip hand somewhere (and neither Balfour nor Jackson would even claim to be one).
Interestingly, Admiral Hall did not take direct control of Room 40 until after Jutland. Possibly the misuses of intelligence there helped to bring this to pass.

bargami
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Harley



Joined: 23 Oct 2005
Posts: 131
Location: Great Britain

PostPosted: Mon Feb 25, 2008 4:30 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Ah well, I ordered a cheap copy of "The Rules of the Game" today for $22. When I get it on Wednesday I will then proceed to tear it apart line by line. Hopefully have a much better understanding of the Battle and also hopefully I'll have some anti-Gordon materiel too.

Harley
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bargami



Joined: 11 Dec 2007
Posts: 75
Location: Richmond, Virginia

PostPosted: Wed Feb 27, 2008 12:38 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Harley you have "forced" me to order a book (never requiring much force).
I ordered it through Amazon, at about the same price as you are getting it,
and so may finish it later, although I am a notable "devourer" and "re-reader" of basic references, as I expect this will be.
Now, for tone, I note that you praise this book in your "Sources" as a truly phenomenal history book. This is interesting. After I ordered this book based upon Harley's post I was fishing around the web for other essays about Jutland, and happened upon one from Louis D. Rubin in the Virginia Quarterly Review (UVA). A very sound account of the events (in my view; tell me what you think) and, lo and behold, he ends his account with a glowing review of Gordon's "Rules of the Game!", very much in the vein of yours. The one caveat he has (and you have read it) is the last-chapter retrospective.
I hope you will hunt up this article and give your response to Rubin's review of Gordon.

By-the-bye-regarding Jutland- my first resource, as a twenty-something getting my grounding-and a sound and entertaining account I still refer to : Hough's "The Great War at Sea." Basic account from a period historian;
not hugely-detailed but very sound, I think; and the sober and grounded opinions of the author come through. I still like it.

bargami
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Harley



Joined: 23 Oct 2005
Posts: 131
Location: Great Britain

PostPosted: Wed Feb 27, 2008 9:03 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I may as well stick on record why I'm having to read this book, before I actually do read it!

Everyone seems to have given it a wonderful review and praised its "imaginativeness". The only imaginative history book I've ever read was "Let the sea make a noise" about the history of the pacific ocean, and that was way too general for its own good.

From what I've gathered Gordon just slates everyone in the pre-war RN. I would be interested to see his face is someone wrote an imaginative damning indictment of the Royal Navy from when he was a Reserve Officer in it. But that's just sour grapes on my part.

Perhaps the most damning thing though is what I read in a review of the book by Paul G. Halpert, eminent historian that he is. "This book does for signals what Sumida did for fire control". This should be interesting then...

Harley
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gmeugens



Joined: 26 Mar 2007
Posts: 6

PostPosted: Wed Feb 27, 2008 5:28 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

As someone listening to your back and forth I just want to say how much I enjoy it. Its nice to come across every few days

Thanks
Gord
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