As I went through official Admiralty files looking for many things on many subjects, I came across a question and answer letter to and from Admiral Tovey in 1946, when he was C in C Nore shortly before his retirement. This was an attempt to tie up loose ends on the Bismarck affair, and to assist in the preparation of the second official account that was published in 1952.
After reading the file it became obvious that Tovey was satisfied with Leach and Wake Walker's performance. It was also obvious that he felt the matter was closed, and had NO wish to discuss it any more.
In a quite different file, (from memory, an HW), I found the explanation as to why Tovey had searched in the wrong sector after Wake-Walker had lost contact with the Bismarck; The chief navigating officer on Tovey's flagship had not been informed as to the correct number of H/F D/F shore stations taking bearings on Bismarck's transmissions. It was the standard practice at the time to send the bearings and then to leave the plotting of the fixes to the on-board officer. KGV's officer had only five H/F D/F stations listed, whereas the actual number taking bearings was seven. All of these stations were located in the UK.
1941 was a period when the number of 'Y' and D/fing stations were rapidly increasing. By the end of the year, H/F D/F stations were operating in Iceland and the Maritimes. In May 1941, H/F D/F stations were operating from Gibraltar, Malta and Egypt, however ir appears from the various papers and official histories that none of Bismarck's signals were D/fd on by these three stations. This may have been because of the mountain ranges that ring the area.
As an aside, after going through a mountain of documents dated before, during and long after the Bismarck episode, I found nothing that remotely suggested a Courts Martial for ANY of the RN commanders. Not that this will mean anything to the two 'Gentlemen' from the Mediterranean with their unstated and hidden agenda.
The only note of criticism was that made of Captain Ellis; it was suggested that he should have kept his ship nearer to the Bismarck so as to maintain type 284 radar contact at all times. These remarks were tempered though by follow up statements that this was the very first occasion of shadowing by radar, also
, there being NO established procedure for same. Could you please put these notes up for me?
Thank you Phil.