BBC2: PQ17: An Arctic Convoy Disaster - Thursday, January 2nd 2014 - 21:00

jaggers

Lantern Swinger
Pound was a loon, but slightly in his defence he did have a brain tumour at the time which was impairing his judgment. Part of that impaired judgment may explain his refusal to resign beforehand when it was diagnosed. Seems to me there's at least some culpability for "dear old Winnie" in not *forcing* him to resign beforehand. Hindsight is a wonderful thing, of course....

I'd go with that, Pound had a brain tumour which affected his judgement and was worn out from years of constant pressure with his immense wartime responsibilities. Someone should have made him step aside. Not necessarily Churchill who can't be expected to micromanage naval appointments but whoever was above him in the chain of command or perhaps his medical officers. The old boys network again? Or just the human angle, hard to tell a man you'd known for decades and fought German battleships with at Jutland that he was now past it?
That said his remark "We've decided to scatter the convoy and that is how it must stay" is an attitude often encountered in both history (Tom Phillips springs to mind) and in my personal experience by people who don't have any of Pound's excuses. By contrast Gradwell seems to personify very best in naval tradition. How incredibly spiteful for him to be denied a DSO! The scene where the old sweat talks about them successfully escaping in the lifeboat only to add matter of factly 'and then we began to die' from hypothermia was heartrending.
I always had the impression that the Russians didn't honour the Arctic convoys, that they aways played down the Allies support for them and liked to think they did it all by themselves. Wonder how the battle of Moscow would have gone for them without 75% of their tanks? That said it's disgusting that it took nearly 70 years for an Arctic campaign medal to be awarded when most of those entitled to one would be dead (and Bomber Command the same).
 
I'd go with that, Pound had a brain tumour which affected his judgement and was worn out from years of constant pressure with his immense wartime responsibilities. Someone should have made him step aside. Not necessarily Churchill who can't be expected to micromanage naval appointments but whoever was above him in the chain of command or perhaps his medical officers. The old boys network again? Or just the human angle, hard to tell a man you'd known for decades and fought German battleships with at Jutland that he was now past it?
That said his remark "We've decided to scatter the convoy and that is how it must stay" is an attitude often encountered in both history (Tom Phillips springs to mind) and in my personal experience by people who don't have any of Pound's excuses. By contrast Gradwell seems to personify very best in naval tradition. How incredibly spiteful for him to be denied a DSO! The scene where the old sweat talks about them successfully escaping in the lifeboat only to add matter of factly 'and then we began to die' from hypothermia was heartrending.
I always had the impression that the Russians didn't honour the Arctic convoys, that they aways played down the Allies support for them and liked to think they did it all by themselves. Wonder how the battle of Moscow would have gone for them without 75% of their tanks? That said it's disgusting that it took nearly 70 years for an Arctic campaign medal to be awarded when most of those entitled to one would be dead (and Bomber Command the same).

My bold - which was actually Churchill, in his double hatted role as Minister of Defence. When he appointed himself to that role in 1940, he turfed the three service ministers out of the Cabinet and made them his subordinates so that only he at Cabinet level was responsible for the actions of the fighting services. AV Alexander served under him as First Lord of the Admiralty, but was a Labourite who'd spent most of the 1920s leading the charge within the Admiralty for disarmament. Perhaps as a result, he was not classified up to Most Secret, nor allowed in the War Room; Churchill pretty much continued to run the show for the Navy in particular (including overruling Pound to insist on the deployment of Force Z, among other highlights....).

So for the First Sea Lord in particular, I would absolutely expect Churchill to be micromanaging naval appointments (see also his replacement of Auchinleck with Alexander for an example from the brown jobs).
 

Ninja_Stoker

War Hero
Moderator
Hindsight is obviously easily applied but the damage the Admiral did with regard the unnecessary loss of life, loss of shipping and the stinging loss of reputation is irrepairable. If the Admiral wasn't responsible, then who was? The Doctor who diagnosed the condition, perhaps?
 
Oh there's little doubt that Pound was responsible, and rightly so - but it's questionable how far he can be blamed given how much doubt there can be about his mental faculties at the time. It's a nice distinction, but you can make the case for PQ17 being manslaughter on the grounds of diminished responsiblity rather than murder for example (not that it was either of course, but the point's valid).
 

jaggers

Lantern Swinger
My bold - which was actually Churchill, in his double hatted role as Minister of Defence. When he appointed himself to that role in 1940, he turfed the three service ministers out of the Cabinet and made them his subordinates so that only he at Cabinet level was responsible for the actions of the fighting services. AV Alexander served under him as First Lord of the Admiralty, but was a Labourite who'd spent most of the 1920s leading the charge within the Admiralty for disarmament. Perhaps as a result, he was not classified up to Most Secret, nor allowed in the War Room; Churchill pretty much continued to run the show for the Navy in particular (including overruling Pound to insist on the deployment of Force Z, among other highlights....).

So for the First Sea Lord in particular, I would absolutely expect Churchill to be micromanaging naval appointments (see also his replacement of Auchinleck with Alexander for an example from the brown jobs).

I stand corrected, it seems that he was referred to as 'Winston's Anchor' so you're right, if they were that close then Churchill does bear greater responsibilty, Pound only leaving after suffering not one but two strokes.
 

Pvivax

Badgeman
Ah cheers Soleil

I loved the quote" The american ship did what could be called a handbreak turn to bring its guns to bare".

Westminster looked impressive when doing the manouver thought Clarkson was going to fly overboard.


Almost as funny as the time US Airforce took him up in an F-15 and he barfed into a bag.
 

Seaweed

RIP
Book Reviewer
With seventy years of hindsight it is clear that Winston should have had Pound invalided long before. He sacked plenty of others - Auchinleck, Wavell etc.

I was very impressed by the way Clarkson handled it all and with proper respect. The only missing bit for me was the distinction between the destroyers of the escort and the smaller fry, which latter would have remained with the convoy when the destroyers absolutely correctly concentrated on the cruisers.

In my day there was a clear difference of meaning between 'disperse' and 'scatter'.
 

Flagdeck

War Hero
With seventy years of hindsight it is clear that Winston should have had Pound invalided long before. He sacked plenty of others - Auchinleck, Wavell etc.

I was very impressed by the way Clarkson handled it all and with proper respect. The only missing bit for me was the distinction between the destroyers of the escort and the smaller fry, which latter would have remained with the convoy when the destroyers absolutely correctly concentrated on the cruisers.

In my day there was a clear difference of meaning between 'disperse' and 'scatter'.

my bold.........I've always liked the American version.........'Lets get the hell outa here !' :usa2:
 

triskele

Midshipman
if I may just add, we were the tanker in support with HMS London who went to Murmansk in 1991. I can assure you those Russ were adamant they wished to thank the seafarers, Stalin would not tell the country of any of this, but the locals who saw the damaged ships and cared for the wounded have certainly not forgotten and were extremely thankful, my liver has only just re-grown.
 
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