Somerville's Aggressiveness at Ceylon

Discussions on WW2 in the Pacific and the Sino-Japanese War.
herosrest
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Re: Somerville's Aggressiveness at Ceylon

Post by herosrest » 19 Dec 2019 22:45

Let's reprise.

https://slate.com/human-interest/2013/1 ... idway.html and one of those little things that meant nothing then or now. The Japanese had intercepted radio traffic that suggested another attack on Wake Island and Shōkaku and Zuikaku sailed for Eniwetok to be in a position to intercept any such attack, but no attack occurred. So...... this was 17 October,1943 and one month after the US carrier raid of Tarawa on 18 September.

AF..... Come in, over? :roll: https://web.archive.org/web/20080411142 ... howers.mp4 MacShowers - Wayback Machine :lol:

For those who really love study of Rembrandt's never drying painted wall - Something happened with JN-25 in..... http://www.ibiblio.org/hyperwar/PTO/Mag ... -25.1.html During August and December 1943, transitions to altered code transmissions took place and it is not clear whether Sigint were tearing out hair or scratching heads. Don't go to Davos.

Carl Schwamberger
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Re: Somerville's Aggressiveness at Ceylon

Post by Carl Schwamberger » 03 Feb 2020 14:47

herosrest. Interesting comments on the possible effects of signet on Japanese decisions. Holt comments on the lack of response of the Japanese military to Allied deception ops, 'The Deceivers. Your comments indicate the possibility of some successful deception or self-deception.

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Re: Somerville's Aggressiveness at Ceylon

Post by daveshoup2MD » 01 Mar 2020 05:36

Pips wrote:
25 Jan 2010 00:37
Somerville continued searching for Nagumo until 8 April, when he then had the Fleet return to Addu Atoll for replenishment. At a conference there with his senior officers, among them the rescued captains of Cornwall and Dorsetshire, Somerville finally realized how seriously outmatched he was. It was clear that his fighters would not be able to ward off large-scale attacks like the one that sank his heavy cruisers, that the R-class battleships were liabilities, and that Colombo, Trincomalee, and Addu Atoll were not secure bases. He therefore sent Force B to the east coast of Africa, where it could protect the sea route to the Middle East, and personally led Force A to Bombay. The Eastern Fleet did not move back to Ceylon until September 1943.
A similar realization on Dec. 8 or Dec. 9 by Tom Phillips would have been helpful.

Tom from Cornwall
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Re: Somerville's Aggressiveness at Ceylon

Post by Tom from Cornwall » 05 Jul 2020 14:18

Could anyone suggest good books that cover the entire 1942 raid from a Japanese perspective? Unfortunately I don't read Japanese so English language books would be best.

It's interesting (to me!) that during the first week in April 1942 HMS TRUANT was on patrol in the Malacca straits, returning to Colombo on 12 April 1942. I wonder how many other British submarines had already made it into the Indian Ocean by then, does anyone know?

A quick search led me here: https://www.rnsubmusfriends.org.uk/hezl ... pter12.htm
On 17th December C-in-C Eastern Fleet signalled to the Admiralty that an 'urgent need is submarines and yet more submarines'. At the time the submarines on the Home Station were at full stretch to blockade Scharnhorst and Gneisenau in Brest, and those in the Mediterranean were very busy cutting Rommel's supply line during an important phase of the 'Crusader Offensive'. Nevertheless the Admiralty, as we have already seen, ordered C-in-C Mediterranean to send two T-class east, and Truant and Trusty left Alexandria at the turn of the year.
So it looks like only TRUANT and TRUSTY went east in time to meet the Japanese raid, and were supported by the survivors of the Dutch submarine force? Unfortunately, TRUANT was in the wrong place to intercept the Japanese force that attacked Colombo in April 1942.

Does anyone know who decided on their patrol locations and whether they were based on anything more than guesswork?

Regards

Tom

Carl Schwamberger
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Re: Somerville's Aggressiveness at Ceylon

Post by Carl Schwamberger » 05 Jul 2020 17:47

daveshoup2MD wrote:
01 Mar 2020 05:36
Pips wrote:
25 Jan 2010 00:37
Somerville continued searching for Nagumo until 8 April, when he then had the Fleet return to Addu Atoll for replenishment. At a conference there with his senior officers, among them the rescued captains of Cornwall and Dorsetshire, Somerville finally realized how seriously outmatched he was. It was clear that his fighters would not be able to ward off large-scale attacks like the one that sank his heavy cruisers, that the R-class battleships were liabilities, and that Colombo, Trincomalee, and Addu Atoll were not secure bases. He therefore sent Force B to the east coast of Africa, where it could protect the sea route to the Middle East, and personally led Force A to Bombay. The Eastern Fleet did not move back to Ceylon until September 1943.
A similar realization on Dec. 8 or Dec. 9 by Tom Phillips would have been helpful.
It looks to me like he realized the extent of the overmatch as early as 6th April, yet continued on the higher risk course for two more days.

Tom from Cornwall
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Re: Somerville's Aggressiveness at Ceylon

Post by Tom from Cornwall » 05 Jul 2020 18:23

Tom from Cornwall wrote:
05 Jul 2020 14:18
So it looks like only TRUANT and TRUSTY went east in time to meet the Japanese raid, and were supported by the survivors of the Dutch submarine force? Unfortunately, TRUANT was in the wrong place to intercept the Japanese force that attacked Colombo in April 1942.

Does anyone know who decided on their patrol locations and whether they were based on anything more than guesswork?
Found the instructions for TRUANT's first patrol here:

http://www.naval-history.net/xDKWD-EF19 ... tation.htm

Which is a fantastic resource!
Thursday 19th March 1942
[…]
TRUANT was ordered to sail for patrol in N. part of Malacca Straits. Her orders were as follows:
“1). TRUANT is to be sailed to carry out a patrol in the Northern Part of the Malacca Strait as soon as she is available.
2). Patrol should not be ordered south of the line Tanjong Hantu (004-19N, 100-33E) and the mouth of the Deli River (003-50N, 098-45E).
3). Object to attack enemy forces and report any important enemy forces sighted.
4). Priority of targets to be (A) Aircraft Carriers (B) Capital Ships (C) Large Transport
5). C.O. is to be given wide discretion in the conduct of the patrol.
6). Duration of the patrol to be 7 days apart from passage.
T.O.O. 0635/19th March”
Lt Commander Balston was ordered to take command of TRUANT as Lt Commander Haggard, DSO, DSC, was in need of a rest.
Regards

Tom

EwenS
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Re: Somerville's Aggressiveness at Ceylon

Post by EwenS » 06 Jul 2020 13:22

Details of her actual war patrols can be found here
https://uboat.net/allies/warships/ship/3494.html

Most other RN subs can be found there as well.

cstunts
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Re: Somerville's Aggressiveness at Ceylon

Post by cstunts » 06 Jul 2020 19:48

If you examine her actual patrol movements at that time, she was out of position rather consistently, so it's unsurprising she was unable to intercept Nagumo KdB.
However, allied sigint/intell had estimated the Japanese attacks against Ceylon would come earlier, and I do not know if that was a factor in her positioning.

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Re: Somerville's Aggressiveness at Ceylon

Post by Eugen Pinak » 06 Jul 2020 19:49

Tom from Cornwall wrote:
05 Jul 2020 14:18
Could anyone suggest good books that cover the entire 1942 raid from a Japanese perspective? Unfortunately I don't read Japanese so English language books would be best.
You can find short story from the Japanese side here: https://cortsstichtingen.nl/publications/147-ss26-en

Tom from Cornwall
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Re: Somerville's Aggressiveness at Ceylon

Post by Tom from Cornwall » 06 Jul 2020 20:18

Eugen Pinak wrote:
06 Jul 2020 19:49
You can find short story from the Japanese side here
That's great, many thanks.

Regards

Tom

Tom from Cornwall
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Re: Somerville's Aggressiveness at Ceylon

Post by Tom from Cornwall » 06 Jul 2020 20:29

cstunts wrote:
06 Jul 2020 19:48
If you examine her actual patrol movements at that time, she was out of position rather consistently, so it's unsurprising she was unable to intercept Nagumo KdB.
However, allied sigint/intell had estimated the Japanese attacks against Ceylon would come earlier, and I do not know if that was a factor in her positioning.
Hi,

I'm not sure how much how positioning was controlled from shore. I didn't think the Nagumo force passed through the northern Malacca Straits did it?

Regards

Tom

cstunts
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Re: Somerville's Aggressiveness at Ceylon

Post by cstunts » 06 Jul 2020 20:47

1) I don't think I said she was positioned exclusively based on shore intell. but of course positions could be shifted according to info rec'd. from shore.
My point is that she was at times quite close, but just off in timing...by a day or so, here & there, apparently. Whether this was because British-American intell believed the raid would take place a week earlier than it did is not something I know one way or the other.

2) Nagumo KdB ret'd via the Straits of Malacca. But that was not where the British submarine was during most of "C" operation...Take a look at the map that is linked for her war patrol positions; it's pretty useful to get a feel for her movements. But it won't make much sense if you do not understand where Nagumo KdB was in the same timeframe.

3) By far the best English-language work done recently on the "C" operation is by Rob Stuart. However, there are many Japanese accounts that flesh it all out in more detail, but have not been published yet in English. They are much more helpful for understanding what the IJN was thinking at the time & why...

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Re: Somerville's Aggressiveness at Ceylon

Post by Rob Stuart » 07 Jul 2020 13:07

Tom from Cornwall wrote:
05 Jul 2020 14:18
Could anyone suggest good books that cover the entire 1942 raid from a Japanese perspective? Unfortunately I don't read Japanese so English language books would be best.
Senshi Sōsho, Volume 26, "The Operations of the Navy in the Dutch East Indies and the Bay of Bengal", was translated and edited by Willem Remmelink, Leiden University Press (LUP), in 2018 and can be accessed at https://openaccess.leidenuniv.nl/handle/1887/65910.

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Re: Somerville's Aggressiveness at Ceylon

Post by Rob Stuart » 07 Jul 2020 14:11

Tom from Cornwall wrote:
05 Jul 2020 14:18
Could anyone suggest good books that cover the entire 1942 raid from a Japanese perspective? Unfortunately I don't read Japanese so English language books would be best.

It's interesting (to me!) that during the first week in April 1942 HMS TRUANT was on patrol in the Malacca straits, returning to Colombo on 12 April 1942. I wonder how many other British submarines had already made it into the Indian Ocean by then, does anyone know?

A quick search led me here: https://www.rnsubmusfriends.org.uk/hezl ... pter12.htm
On 17th December C-in-C Eastern Fleet signalled to the Admiralty that an 'urgent need is submarines and yet more submarines'. At the time the submarines on the Home Station were at full stretch to blockade Scharnhorst and Gneisenau in Brest, and those in the Mediterranean were very busy cutting Rommel's supply line during an important phase of the 'Crusader Offensive'. Nevertheless the Admiralty, as we have already seen, ordered C-in-C Mediterranean to send two T-class east, and Truant and Trusty left Alexandria at the turn of the year.
So it looks like only TRUANT and TRUSTY went east in time to meet the Japanese raid, and were supported by the survivors of the Dutch submarine force? Unfortunately, TRUANT was in the wrong place to intercept the Japanese force that attacked Colombo in April 1942.

Does anyone know who decided on their patrol locations and whether they were based on anything more than guesswork?

Regards

Tom
Tom,

The six Ceylon-based RN and RNN subs were under the command/operational control of the C-in-C Eastern Fleet. This was Layton from 10 December 1941 to 26 March 1942, when Somerville took over. (Layton arrived at Colombo on 21 January.) The employment of Trusty and Truant to patrol the Malacca Strait was made at a high level, per the following entries from Layton's war diary, which is at http://naval-history.net/xDKWD-EF1941ChinaStation.htm:

21 February: Commander in Chief Eastern Fleet asked ABDAFLOAT when TRUANT and TRUSTY would be available for the vital Malacca Straits patrol (0604Z/21). The First Sea Lord made similar enquiries (1719A/21).

23 February: [Combined] Chiefs of Staff Washington directed ABDACOM, in message 1945/23, to transfer TRUANT and TRUSTY to Commander in Chief Eastern Fleet to watch Malacca Straits.

19 March: TRUANT was ordered [by Layton] to sail for patrol in N. part of Malacca Straits. Her orders were as follows:

“1). TRUANT is to be sailed [from Colombo] to carry out a patrol in the Northern Part of the Malacca Strait as soon as she is available.

2). Patrol should not be ordered south of the line Tanjong Hantu (004-19N, 100-33E) and the mouth of the Deli River (003-50N, 098-45E).

3). Object to attack enemy forces and report any important enemy forces sighted.

4). Priority of targets to be (A) Aircraft Carriers (B) Capital Ships (C) Large Transport

5). C.O. is to be given wide discretion in the conduct of the patrol.

6). Duration of the patrol to be 7 days apart from passage.

T.O.O. 0635/19th March”

Lt Commander Balston was ordered to take command of TRUANT as Lt Commander Haggard, DSO, DSC, was in need of a rest.


Truant sailed from Colombo on 23 March for this patrol.

Churchill relates in his memoirs that, in a 5 March message to Roosevelt, he expressed the hope that, with Ceylon-based British and Dutch submarines watching the Malacca Straits and US submarines patrolling the Sundra Straits and other exits between NEI islands, “we should not only get notice of, but be able to take a toll of, any Japanese forces breaking out into the Indian Ocean. The next fortnight will be the most critical for Ceylon, and by the end of March we ought to be solidly established there, though by no means entirely secure.”

I would say that KdB's passage toward Ceylon was missed because it passed through the Malay Barrier via the Ombai Strait, which was not being watched by any Allied sub, and that it was missed during its return to Japan through the Malacca Strait because Truant had been ordered to stay on station for only seven days and had already departed for Colombo. (Trusty arrived in the northern approaches to the Malacca Strait on 18 April.)

I'm surprised that Truant's patrol was limited to seven days on station, as were her next two patrols. The T-class was supposed to be the RN's long range submarine with a nominal range of 8,000 nm. It seems that it ought to have been able to spend longer than seven days in a patrol area located only 1400 nm from its base.

Tom from Cornwall
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Re: Somerville's Aggressiveness at Ceylon

Post by Tom from Cornwall » 07 Jul 2020 19:36

cstunts wrote:
06 Jul 2020 20:47
1) I don't think I said she was positioned exclusively based on shore intell. but of course positions could be shifted according to info rec'd. from shore.
My point is that she was at times quite close, but just off in timing...by a day or so, here & there, apparently. Whether this was because British-American intell believed the raid would take place a week earlier than it did is not something I know one way or the other.
Thanks, I'll try to get hold a full copy of her patrol report (when I can get back to the UK National Archives in Kew) and see what that says about her positioning. I've got a copy of some Med based submarine patrol reports from this period and they do talk about receiving signals from shore and redeploying.
Rob Stuart wrote:
07 Jul 2020 14:11
Truant sailed from Colombo on 23 March for this patrol.

Churchill relates in his memoirs that, in a 5 March message to Roosevelt, he expressed the hope that, with Ceylon-based British and Dutch submarines watching the Malacca Straits and US submarines patrolling the Sundra Straits and other exits between NEI islands, “we should not only get notice of, but be able to take a toll of, any Japanese forces breaking out into the Indian Ocean. The next fortnight will be the most critical for Ceylon, and by the end of March we ought to be solidly established there, though by no means entirely secure.”

I would say that KdB's passage toward Ceylon was missed because it passed through the Malay Barrier via the Ombai Strait, which was not being watched by any Allied sub, and that it was missed during its return to Japan through the Malacca Strait because Truant had been ordered to stay on station for only seven days and had already departed for Colombo. (Trusty arrived in the northern approaches to the Malacca Strait on 18 April.)

I'm surprised that Truant's patrol was limited to seven days on station, as were her next two patrols. The T-class was supposed to be the RN's long range submarine with a nominal range of 8,000 nm. It seems that it ought to have been able to spend longer than seven days in a patrol area located only 1400 nm from its base.
Rob,

Thanks, that's great information. It seems that either the Japanese got lucky or they had good intelligence on Allied submarine deployments at this point in time. I'll see if I can dig out any information about these short T-class patrols and what led to the limited time on station.

Regards

Tom

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