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Thread: The Most Dangerous Enemy

  1. #1
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    Thumbs up The Most Dangerous Enemy

    I see where this book has been reworked..... anybody have a copy. Looks like an excellent work on BOB !


    http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/076...pf_rd_i=507846


    The Most Dangerous Enemy !
    Last edited by BlueNoser352; 13th July 2017 at 04:58.
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  2. #2
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    I didn't realise it had been reworked with illustrations. The original copy I have of the book is absolutely brilliant. Nobody, with even a modicum of interest in the Battle, should be without it.
    Daren Cogdon

    Spitfire fanatic

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    A very good work, well worth buying.

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    A most excellent read, I thought, and porobably the best history/commentary out there on the Battle of Britain generally. That said, he does fall into the trap of repeating a good few of the old myths, inaccuracies or misconceptions about the battle. Of course, no writer on the subject can probably fail to make the odd error and I wouldn't say it detracts, generally, from the overall excellence of the work. Certainly, I often refer to it!
    Editor: 'Britain at War' Magazine

    A 'Key Publishing' product - Britain's Best Selling Military History Monthly

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    I have just started reading this book. It turns out that Britain is The Most Dangerous Enemy for Germany. And Hitler wanted to negotiate to prevent any further fighting. Perhaps even not wanting to humiliate Britain by destroying the BEF on the beaches of France.(perhaps why there was a window to escape back to Britain).

    But Churchill would never negotiate.

    This, my favourite speech says it all. And I really do love the UK 10 pound bill with him on it. Politically correct people on money never saved Britain.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cRBGfYVOELk

  6. #6
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    It turns out that Goering was addicted to morphine as a result of treatment from a gunshot wound at the beer hall putsch. Apparently this can have serious side effects like making an honest person completely untrustworthy and delusional resulting in criminal actions.

  7. #7
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    Stephen Bungay, the author of this work is also an excellent TV presenter of military history. I believe him to be the best since the time of the late and great A.J.P. Taylor - not many will remember him. We don't see Mr. Bungay often enough on our screens. He has a first rate presentational style; dry, unemotional and coldly factual. I think that he sets a standard to which others should aspire.

    If, as has been commented, his account repeats myths and innaccuracies, if they are with us to this day, as indeed they are, then they form part of the narrative.
    Last edited by John Green; 6th July 2017 at 13:19.

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    I've got the illustrated edition, which I improbably discovered for sale in a bookshop in Borneo. It's a superb book.
    Armchair enthusiast, but also a fan of sofas and recliners.

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    On a similar note - I thoroughly enjoyed this - https://www.amazon.co.uk/Invasion-19...derek+robinson

    Also while I'm at it Joshua Levine's Secret History of the Blitz is an excellent read - £3 in The Works - https://www.amazon.co.uk/d/Books/Sec...ine/1471131017

    Apologies for thread creep - am always looking for good book recommendations and I havent read Dangerous Enemy, will pick up a copy

    ATB

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  10. #10
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    I read "The Most Dangerous Enemy" some years ago and enjoyed its different take on the BoB from anything I'd read before. Then, a couple of years later I read Wood & Dempster's "The Narrow Margin" which I seem to remember dated back to the sixties and felt it had the same feel to it. Probably need to reread them back to back for comparison though. Anybody else noticed this?

  11. #11
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    Gosh I started this thread in 2004 and nice to see it reappear here ! The reviews on Amazon are all outstanding ! Better get with it and order it today ! Wish I could "beam over" Star -Trek like to Duxford this
    weekend for that great air show ! A salute to all who fought for the UK & Common Wealth air forces during the Battle of Britain ! Would love to see a reprint of the Robert Rudhall book on The Making Of The Battle of Britain ! A salute from BlueNoser352!
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  12. #12
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    A re-read a year or so back revealed a considerable number of further errors - however good the read!

    For instance, he talks about Convoy CW9 ('Peewit' to the RAF) being detected by radar as it passed through the Dover Strait at night. This is patently incorrect.

    Similarly, although I can't find the reference, he talks about the RAF always having the height advantage and repeated this in a documentary. Again, that wasn't the case.
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    The German 'Freya' radar station at Cape Blanc Nez had 'located' CW9 (Peewit) in the English Channel which had been attacked, initially with E-boats. Later in the day, Ju87's with a little help from others, pitched in.

    Is there an inference that the Freya wasn't operational at this time (7th August) ? If, as seems likely, Freya could not scan at sea level then Seetakt, invented in 1936 and progressively improved could have been responsible.

    Perfection eludes most of us.

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    HMS Sturdy is also said to have been located from Freya situated on Cherbourg peninsula in July 1940. However, I do rather doubt that. Indeed, the question you raise is one that I discussed only two days ago with my Assistant Editor and a contributor; could Freya detect ships at sea from a land-based station? As I understand things, this was not its purpose or function. And I don't know if Seetakt was ever land-based. But doubtless a radar 'techie' will be able to help on that?

    No. CW9 was not detected by radar - even if such equipment was up and running on 7/8 August 1940 in the Pas de Calais. It was merely detected by the Mk 1 eyeball.
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    Maybe not its 'purpose or function' as we know but, was it occasionally possible, and unpredictably so, perhaps with the reflected assistance of 'dense' layers of moving air ?

    If Seetakt was developed primarily as a ship borne radar there would be little to prevent its use on shore.

    There isn't an answer of which we can be certain - not even with the possibility of visual sightings.

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    Yes, we can be certain how CW9 was detected. And it wasn't by Freya.

    I seem to be getting into a habit of replying to your posts, John Green, with inordinately long replies. But I have copied and pasted this from my book 'Convoy Peewit' (now out of print) but I do so in the hope that it may be helpful in dispelling this continuing and oft repeated myth that CW9 went through the Dover Strait 'under cover of darkness' and was 'detected by radar'. Not so. (My sources: Admiralty Reports at TNA and German sources in Bundesarchiv)

    "At 07.00hrs the Convoy Commodore aboard the SS Empire Crusader gave the order “Weigh anchor!” and all 25 vessels immediately got underway sailing on the morning tide down river and jostling in an orderly fashion for their position in the line; down through Sea Reach, The Warp, Oaze Deep and Knob Channel before swinging round in a southerly arc through North Edinburgh Channel and on towards North Foreland. On each bridge, respective captains tore open their sealed orders to fully acquaint themselves with the finer details of the trip; timings, routes, escorts, signals, station-keeping and any special instructions or points of interest. To the Royal Navy this was Convoy CW9; in other words, Convoy Westbound, number nine. (Using the same nomenclature, eastbound convoys became CE convoys, followed by a specific numeric identifier) Away to the north-west of London, deep in the underground Operations Room at RAF Uxbridge, the Naval Liason Officer, signalled by HMS Leigh, notified the Senior Controller of 11 Group RAF Fighter Command of CW9’s departure and of its status, course and speed. Using pre-selected RAF code words for such convoys the Controller chose Peewit, and a WAAF plotter placed a white metal plaque with the word CONVOY in bold red letters onto the situation map just at the mouth of the Thames Estuary. Whilst to the RAF this was only ever Peewit, it was only ever CW9 to the Navy.

    (Note: The codename Peewit was not exclusive to Convoy CW9 on 7/8 August 1940 and was used several times by the RAF for convoys passing through the English Channel during 1940. For example, Peewit was used for a convoy on 21 July and another again on 11 September. Other code names were also re-used, e.g. Booty (25 July,30 July,11 August,8 November and 21November) and Pilot (30 July and 4 August) Other code names used at various times during 1940 were Bacon, Bosom, Totem, Fruit, Table, Minor, Cat, Secure, Agent, Bread, Arena and Topaz – although this is not necessarily an exhaustively comprehensive list. Consequently, it would be inaccurate to label this convoy simply as Peewit, since there were also others by this same name. Convoy CW9 Peewit would be more accurate.)

    As the convoy departed Southend-on-Sea and began its journey down the Thames Estuary, RAF Fighter Command put into place its planned fighter cover over Peewit and it seems likely that at least part of its initial journey was covered by three Hurricanes of 85 Squadron who were on convoy patrol between 06.20 and 07.50. Later, other squadrons would cover the convoy at various stages in its journey around North Foreland, down into the English Channel and as far as Dungeness.

    Initially, and at least until long after the convoy would reach a position quite some long distance beyond Folkestone, its presence remained undetected by the Germans. Had they seen its assembly over the previous day, and observed the preparations to sail that morning, then the passage between Dover and Calais might have been rather more challenging. With advance notice to organise an attack then an air assault in the Straits might well have been planned. However, even if the Germans had opportunity to plan such a raid the weather was against them. Despite a light SSE wind and a moderate sea, visibility was only moderate to poor – in other words, ranging from two to five nautical miles. Crucially, though, there was also what the Navy described as “an overhead fog” down to 2,000ft and this might well have rendered difficult or impossible any dive-bombing attacks even if the aircraft had been able to locate the ships in the abysmal visibility. As the Admiralty diarist noted; “….it remains to be seen whether the same immunity will be enjoyed under conditions more favourable to the attacker.” As it would turn out, it was a fairly prophetic observation and it seems likely that the diarist had a fair hunch that the rest of the voyage might not be such plain sailing. The forecast for tomorrow, when the convoy would be much further westwards down the Channel and by then its presence probably well known to the Germans, was for rather better weather. In other words, it would be good for any attackers. For the present, however, the weather would be the convoy’s immediate protection. From Calais and its environs the passage of the ships would not be visible in the prevailing conditions. To further hide its presence the barrage balloons were close-hauled so as not to present a beacon above the white cliffs and thereby blatantly advertise the presence of the convoy. In any event, it was rightly adjudged that air attack in such unfavourable conditions was probably most unlikely and although there must have been considerable anxiety on board all the ships as they passed through the straits, no attack came. The dreaded Junkers 87 Stukas stayed away. Overhead, the groups of protective RAF fighter aircraft circled and patrolled intermittently. On the bridge of the Commodore’s ship, though, there was doubtless some frustration at the painfully slow progress of the convoy which was already way behind schedule. The estimated time for the convoy to be off Dover had been 13.00, but it did not reach that position until at least 14.30 due, according to Admiralty reports, to “the tide and the constant precautionary zig-zagging of the vessels” in the long snake of a procession that was CW9. (Exactly why no account had apparently been taken of the tide and the convoy’s zig-zag course in the planning of its timings is not explained in Admiralty records) During its passage around North Foreland, fighter cover had been provided by a section of three Hurricanes of 32 Squadron from 11.00 until 11.30, with more Hurricanes of 615 Squadron covering the dangerous stretch around Dover from 14.25 until 15.25 and 32 Squadron providing cover in two relays of six Hurricanes each between 17.55 and 19.15 and 19.00 and 20.25. These later escorts were for the passage past Dungeness and continued up until dusk when the risk of any concerted air attack on the ships had subsided and the operation of protective groups of day-fighters was no longer viable. During its passage around North Foreland and through the Dover Straits, sections of 501 Squadron’s Hurricanes were also involved in covering the convoy at various times between 14.00 and 17.25.

    By 18.30 hrs, however, the convoy had finally been detected by the enemy in the improving visibility when the observer station at Wissant reported a large convoy, five sea miles south of Dungeness, and heading west. Although CW9 had slid through the straits unseen and escaped any form of interference, and although it was now far too late to organise and mount an immediate air assault, the trap had been sprung. The Germans now knew the course of the convoy and its speed and were thus able to determine where it would later be and when it would be there. The information was immediately signalled to the operational HQ of the already “blooded” 1. S-Flottille (1st S-Boat Flotilla) at Cherbourg under the command of Kptlt. Heinz Birnbacher who ordered boats S20, S21, S25 and S27 ready for sea. (The S20, and her captain, had participated in the 4 July 1940 attack on OA 178) Meanwhile, four naval Motor Torpedo Boats (MTB 5 and 6 of the Royal Norwegian Navy and MTB 69 and 70 of the Royal Navy) of Dover Command were sent in the opposite direction at dusk on “Operation MQ” with orders to ascertain whether enemy motor vessels or other craft were moving along the French coast.

    Authors note: All previously published accounts of the passage of Convoy CW9 “Peewit” through the Straits of Dover have invariably stated that this passage was under cover of darkness and that the Germans were alerted to its presence by coastal “FREYA” radar at Cap Gris Nez. Further, most other published accounts state that the convoy departed Southend-on-Sea on the evening of 7 August 1940. None of these accounts are accurate and this error of detail has been perpetuated up to the present date in even the most respected accounts and histories of the Battle of Britain. Convoy CW9 certainly left Southend-on-Sea on the morning of 7 August at 07.00 and proceeded at an average speed of 6 Knots. It passed through the Straits in broad daylight, and although the visibility initially precluded its observation it was eventually picked up, visually, by observers at Wissant. Whilst “FREYA” coastal radar was set up by the Germans around Cap Gris Nez it is by no means certain that it was even operational on 7 August 1940."
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    And, to add to the detail, here is a timeline to give better perspective:

    CONVOY CW9 PEEWIT

    TIMELINE OF PRINCIPAL EVENTS 7 – 8 AUGUST 1940


    7 AUGUST 1940

    07.00. Convoy CW9 sails from Southend-on-Sea

    14.30 Convoy off Dover

    18.30 Convoy sighted off Dungeness from Wissant

    19.34 Sunset

    20.00 Four E-Boats depart Cherbourg headed for CW9

    8 AUGUST 1940

    02.00 E-Boats attack convoy off Beachy Head / Newhaven

    SS Holme Force, Fife Coast and Ouse all sunk.

    04.15 E-Boats break off engagement with CW9

    04.34 Sunrise

    04.30 Six merchant vessels leave St Helen’s Road to rendezvous with CW9 off the Isle of Wight.

    06.20 Reconnaissance Dornier 17 spots convoy off Selsey Bill.

    07.18 The six vessels that departed at 04.30 arrive at rendezvous off
    St Catherine’s Point but do not find Convoy CW9 which is some
    hours astern of schedule.

    08.30 Fifty seven Junkers 87 Stukas depart Cherbourg Peninsula en-route
    to attack CW9.

    08.30 Hurricanes of 145 Squadron depart Westhampnett to patrol CW9.

    08.40 Ventnor CH Radar Station picks up raid headed for CW9.

    09.00 Stukas attack the six ships off Isle of Wight that had failed to join
    CW9. Air battle ensues. SS Ajax and Coquetdale sunk, remaing four all damaged.

    09.10 Two RAF High Speed Launches leave RAF Calshot to search for
    downed aircrew.

    10.00 Shore battery on Isle of Wight opens fire on RAF launches.

    11.45 Forty nine Junkers 87 Stukas depart Cherbourg peninsula to attack CW9.

    12.19 CW9 attacked by the Stukas. Barrage balloons all shot down. HMS Borealis hit and badly damaged. SS Empire Crusader sunk. SS Tres, Pattersonian and John M all damaged. Large air battle over CW9.

    14.00 Sqn Ldr Harold Fenton shot down south of Isle of Wight whilst conducting a sea search. Picked up by HMS Basset.

    15.30 Eighty two Stukas depart Cherbourg peninsula to attack CW9.

    16.15 Stukas attack concentration of small naval craft at sea to assist casualties of CW9. HMS Borealis hit again.

    16.30 RAF High Speed Launch 116 shot up by German aircraft.

    16.40 (approx) RAF Blenheim shot down off Cherbourg by returning Me 110 escort fighters.

    16.45 English Channel clear of all significant enemy activity.

    17.15 Bembridge lifeboat launched to assist aircraft in distress.

    17.20 HMS Borealis sinks.

    18.00 (approx) Remnants of CW9 dispersing into Weymouth Bay.
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    Found this on the German Seetakt radar. . . .https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=...page&q&f=false

    Not the only place where it states Seetakt was used on land. Here on page 81 it has early radar sites on Cap Gris Nez and Boulogne.

    Hope this helps?

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    That is extremely interesting. Thank you!

    However, CW9 was definitely by day (not night as so often stated) and was seen not radar-detected.

    I forget the date, but I think the first cross-channel guns fired around 21 or 22 September - although that is not to say that the radar was not established before that date.
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    Is it possible that the convoys air escorts were detected by radar and over the years this has come to be accepted that the convoy itself was thus detected?
    Martin

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    It is of course possible if Freya as an air defence system was up and running.

    I think it likely, though, that the 'detected by radar' version may well have come about because every previously published account talks of the convoy going through the Dover Strait at night - including Bungay. Which it certainly did not. The latter also gets the account of the convoy attacks and losses wrong. Unfortunately, the more one looks at Bungay's overall factual account of specific episodes within the battle the more errors appear.

    His overall assessment of the battle is good, but he falls down on quite a lot of factual detail.
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    The first long range guns were moved into position in July 1940. The first reported firing for them I found was shells hitting Dover and nearby on August 12 1940.
    Not seen a date for radar arriving. The gun sites needed huge protective positions and foundations. Radar hardly any.

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    Yes, you are probably correct but my notes on that are in the loft. I think, though, that it was the heavier naval guns which were not installed until September?

    I have also found reference to the associated radar (presumably some kind of gun laying radar?) as being DeTeGerät radar. But I'm not sure exactly what that was, and it doesn't seem to have been in place until September with the bigger guns, anyway. Unfortunately, my grasp of German isn't good enough to work out all that my document says.
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    They had four 11 inch and three 12 inch coastal guns emplaced and ready by mid August. It would be an incredible oversight to move these guns, mounts, magazines and optical sighting apparatus and yet omit to transfer their search and ranging radar as well?

    DeTeGerat is just the German generic code term for "radar". German radar development started different to the UK, in that their Navy was interested in using it to sight ships first. It was noticed during the development that aircraft could also be spotted. So the development of Freya was effectively a side shoot of the earlier Seetakt. (Possibly why the mix up in names) Graf Spee was sunk with that system in 1939. As already pointed out by others above, Seetakt development started quite early.

    Would be interesting to know if there are any dates in that document.

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    Raided my book box. Here’s what Bungay says in The Most Dangerous Enemy…”One of the first things the Germans did was to set up a mobile Freya radar station of their own on Cap Blanc Nez to track their main target: shipping. It was operational from the end of July, complementing the reconnaissance flights sent out every morning to locate convoys.”

    He references The Narrow Margin as his source. This is what Wood and Dempster had to say…”Among the first Officers to be sent to the Calais area that June was general Major Kurt von Doring. He also set up headquarters on the cliffs near Wissant with a w/t station., one of von Doring’s other assignments was to supervise the installation of a maritime radar observation system – Freya – but it was not until the end of July that it came into operation on the cliffs of Wissant to detect Channel shipping.”

    Found mention also in Bergstrom’s , Battle of Britain….”24 July…….On that day Oberst Fink was furnished with then latest technology in the shape of a radar installation of the model Freya, which was installed on Cap Blanc Nez on the French Channel coast at the strait of Dover. With this the Germans were able to detect British ships in the Channel in good time to launch an air attack.”

    Curious amount of detail in the second reference, and an exact date in the third.

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    That's pretty much as I understand it. The effective ranges of the radars involved were quite adequate at the locations mentioned.

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    From looking into the loss of HMS Delight in late July it would appear that the German radar was not properly calibrated until 'some weeks' after that event. (ie into August) However, that does not preclude the possibility that it was operational to some extent.

    Whilst this would have been a radar set much further west, and it is entirely possible the set(s) in the Pas de Calais were operational earlier, there are several things which all previously published accounts of 7/8 August 1940 get wrong.

    First, that the convoy sailed at dusk on the 7th and through the Dover Strait under cover of darkness. It didn't. It sailed early on the morning of the 7th and went through Dover in broad daylight. As it did, the barrage balloons were close-hauled to limit the visibility of the convoy from France. Whilst visibility that day was not excellent, there was sufficient cause to bring down the balloons during the passage past Dover. Great reliance (unwisely) was placed on the 'protection' of the balloons, and thus it seems unlikely this action would have been taken if there was thought the Germans could not see the convoy. It also resulted in some disquiet among the company of shipping that day about this move. However, it looks as if RAF fighter cover was stepped-up for this part of the passage. And, of course, any threatened interference from the Luftwaffe would have been detected by CH or CHL radar. However, the vertical visibility was not sufficient for a dive-bombing attack in any event. The Commodore vessel's log, despite the visibility, noted: 'French coast visible some of time through haze. No aerial activity except our own. Passage still orderly.' So, if the they could see France then anyone watching from France might well have seen them at this time. However, it was the observer station which definitely spotted the convoy later in the evening, and also saw the balloons against the setting sun in the west. This was a visual observation. The time of this observation ties in with the signal for the S-Boot Flotille to be despatched to intercept the convoy in the Beach Head/Newhaven area.
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    Some of the stats do not appear to add up. Depending on which of the navigation channels one goes thru' on a voyage to Dover from Southend, the distance of about 55 nautical miles at the convoy speed of the stated 6kts plus the added time restrictions of a foul tide at some point on passage plus the requirement to 'zig-zag' would increase the distance travelled to about 80 miles. Time to cover this distance at 6kts would be about 13 or 14 hours.

    Starting from Southend at about 7.00am would mean an arrival at Dover about 8.30pm not 2.30pm. To get to Dover at the stated time of 2.30pm would mean a departure time of around 2.00am. or sooner. This ties in with one historians observation that the convoy was seen by the Germans during the pre dawn twilight, perhaps by a reconnaissance aircraft as previously mentioned.

    Approaching North Foreland, the convoy would still be out of range of the German radars whether Seetakt, Freya or Wurtzburg at Caps Cris Nez, Blanc Nez or, Wissant.

    I know very well the sea area in question. Navigation, even to-day with Sat-Navs is a precise business. How much more careful would navigators have to have been in those days. Taking extreme care takes time and this would count against a swift passage by CW9 (Peewit).

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    The sailing orders from the assembly area (somewhere off Shoeburyness) was shown as 40nm, sailing time at 07.00 and the ETA off Dover as 13.00 sailing at 6 - 8kt. (I'd need to check, but I think they reduced to 5kt at night)

    In the event, the convoy was off Dover at 14.30 according to their own reports.

    The Admiralty report states that it was late "due to the tide and the constant precautionary zig-zagging of the vessels." The convoy was later delayed following the S-Boot attack at night and this further delay resulted in six ships attempting to join the convoy the next day but not finding CW9 where it was expected to be. As a result, those ships sailed on ahead of CW9 and were later found by Stukas who assumed this group to be all that remained of CW9 and gave it a bad mauling sinking SS Ajax and SS Coquetdale.

    The timings and positioning of the elements of 32, 501 and 615 Sqn on Convoy Patrol corresponds with the position of CW9 at the relevant times.

    I can only tell you what numerous Admiralty and RAF contemporary reports tell us.
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    I used the relevant Admiralty charts of the Thames Estuary and the Dover Straits. Measured from Southend not Shoeburyness, the sea voyage to Dover is circa 55 nautical miles; the ships of the convoy would have had to sail from their start point Southend to Shoeburyness, so that bit of distance has to be factored in.

    Without reference to the tide tables for that period, it isn't possible to comment with any accuracy as to the duration of the flood tide running in opposition to the direction of the convoy which they would normally expect to encounter. This much I can confirm; the tide can run in that area up to about three or four knots which, if you're staggering along at six knots, will mean that you should think about taking a lot of sandwiches - it'll be a while before you'll get into port !

    Zig zagging a vessel at sea will mean that you are practically doubling the ordinary straight line distance to your destination. That isn't guess work, it is a fact. So, I repeat, taking those two factors into account there has to be some error attached to the time of departure and arrival of the convoy.

    If the Admiralty confirm that the convoy was late due to the tide and precautionary course alterations, then it follows that it would have been impossible to leave and arrive at the times your 'timeline' shows.

    Someone has got it wrong. My conclusion is that this is another example of the 'fog of war'. Usually with the best of intentions, the participants in these matters can and do get it wrong. An account might have been written up in error at the time or, just after. Others read and perpetuate the error. Times and dates become confused. Contemporary reports should reflect reality but, sometimes do not.

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