England Expects More....

On that subject, I do wonder how many sailors (not officers) might be seconded to this special team?
Every door in the land will be open to them, if they can only figure out what it is they need to know -- or even what to ask.
Looking forward to seeing where you take this... and it was not like there was anything shocking and massively disruptive happening in the past seven weeks....
Thank you. And yes, I think half the world is off its feed these days. Working on this is part of my personal recovery plan!
I wasn't even on this site when England Expects came out, which I have read several times, but I am glad to be able to follow this story.
Heavens! I thought I was the only one who read it over and over. (I don't know if I shouuld send a "thank you!" card or a "My Sympathies" card!)
I have found it an enjoyable way to get back into the swing of the times and the characters, and marvel that a technocrat like me could make those guys sound so real.
 
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England Expects More.... CH 1-4
CHAPTER 1 Part 4: England Expects More....

FOUR

“Captain Green? You wanted to see me before I left, and I have the orders for Lieutenant Walke.”

“Of course Commander. I have been waiting for you to come and find me. Let's go out on the wing. Stuck ashore as you have been for the past year and a half, today's moderate breeze will do you good.”

They went out on the windward wing of the bridge – both for the fresh air and so they could converse privately. The two crew members doing maintenance there knew very well why the Captain liked it, and made themselves scarce.

“Commander, I am happy that you have your man. As much as I regret losing a good officer, I think he can do well for himself, for the Navy, and for Britain and he should have every opportunity. I am sure Mr. MacDougall will feel similarly.”

“Sir, I did get the feeling that Mr. MacDougall has taken a rather fatherly feeling toward Lieutenant Walke, quite apart from speaking well of him as an officer.”

“I agree. It has been good for both of them. But Smithy I wanted to speak with you specifically to tell you that Walke is the kind of methodical and rigorous thinker who will be invaluable in your new posting. If what I have been hearing is correct, the true crisis of the naval war will not come from any possible return of the battleships we sank and battered at Jutland but from those damned U-boats.”

“Oh, don't look so surprised, man. I didn't earn command of a battlecruiser with just my good looks. It's becoming obvious to anyone who thinks about it. I am sure MacDougall has it figured out, and lots of others. Look.... You are Jellicoe's man for figuring out a problem – and that has become known to the Admiralty as well following Jutland. And some have recognized that you work by first figuring out a way to properly study and work on the problem. Oh, Admiral Moore led the way forward, but you were always on your own path. And, by the by, I know how you sank your U-boat!” He chuckled. “We'd give up a destroyer to sink each U-boat, if necessary, but before that we have to find the bloody things.

“For many months after Moore took over 5BS you trained us all on your damned FACT tables. Every Captain and Admiral in the Grand Fleet and the BCF that I have spoken with has an odd mixture of frustration and anger, and heartfelt thanks, for the battle problems you had us working through. For the training!” The pitch of his voice rose to express his incredulity. “Imagine that – training senior officers in the Royal Navy who already know everything there is to know about ships and the sea!” He laughed and shook his head.

“So here we are. Less than five months ago we bashed and thrashed the High Seas Fleet, and so the Kaiser has had to go rogue and turn his U-boats to unrestricted warfare. And for the last six weeks our merchant ships have been suffering more every week. They may try to keep it from the public, but the navy knows and seafarers know and everyone will soon. We lose more every week – in numbers we can scarcely comprehend.

“I am sure that Admiral Jackson* is in as deep despair as anyone over this sudden turn in the U-boat campaign, I think you might see him replaced as First Sea Lord soon – as soon as they find a senior admiral who believes he has a way to tackle the U-boats and wipe them from the seas.

“You have been nobbled for this job. It might be impossible, but if there is a way to solve it you will need the best team we have got. I think Walke is one of those – he thinks for himself and sees things in a way that not everyone does. I hope the 2nd Lord's office has a few more. However I don't think it will be a large team that will solve this, it will be someone making a few key insights or discoveries about this completely new problem. Don't forget that everyone in the RN is a professional and once there is an answer, all will fall upon it and turn to. The real problem is knowing what to do.

“Commander Torrance Smythe, I wish you all the good luck you need and all the success you can handle. We need those U-boats stopped.” At that Captain Green ended his lecture and held out his hand.

“Thank you for the words of encouragement, and of wisdom, sir.” Torrance Smythe was thoughtful as they shook hands. “I will keep in mind the bit about fresh insights into a completely new problem. Everyone will help if we can only figure out what it is we have to do.”

“I sincerely hope it is wisdom, and not the ramblings of a weary old sea captain,” Green finished, with a smile, as Smithy turned to leave.

== ==
*Admiral of the Fleet Sir Henry Bradwardine Jackson, First Sea Lord. (OTL May 1915 – November 1916; After Fisher and before Jellicoe.)
 
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England Expects More.... CH 2-1
CHAPTER 2 Part 1: England Expects More....

ONE

By chance, Walke and Torrance Smythe entered the conference room together, where the half-dozen officers waiting around the table got to their feet.

“Good morning gentlemen, Please sit down.” Commander Torrance Smythe remained standing as they resumed their seats and Walke moved to a vacant chair. “I'm Commander Louis Torrance Smythe, and as you all know I will be leading this little group of ours. At least this is what I have been led to believe as we await more explicit orders from the Admiralty.

“Most of you arrived in the last 48 hours and are wondering what your job, our job, is to be here. Indeed you may be wondering where 'here' is, officially. We are within HM Dockyard Portsmouth, and officially attached to it. Our little group has, as yet, no name. Perhaps by the end of today we will have been given one, or can make one for ourselves and get it accepted. For the time being we are a quiet little administrative unit – but working on the U-boat problem.

“Our mandate is not yet well defined, but as I see it we are to do whatever it takes to come up with a way, or ways, to sweep the U-boats from the seas around Great Britain and get ships safely to our shores. Yes, others are working on the problem from their specific operational viewpoints, we are to start with a blank slate.”

Walke interjected: “I suppose one could say that we can make out own viewpoint as we need to.”

Torrance Smythe nodded: “From what I have been told, that is probably a good way to think of it. We have a senior officer coming shortly to tell us what the Admiralty says on that score. In addition, he will brief us on the scope of our mission. We will have a lot to discuss.

“I've spoken with each of you individually, if even for a few minutes last night or this morning. After this morning's meeting I will sit down with each of you to clarify assignments, if and as required. I presume you've been introducing yourselves just now, but let's review.

“Lieutenant Leonard Walke, whom we have just heard from, arrived with me last night from Rosyth. He's spent the war in the gunnery department of HMS New Zealand, and played a part in gunnery reforms for the Grand Fleet. He is also a mathematician, and his role here with us will be analytical and mathematical depending on what we find.

“Lieutenant Commander John Barker* has spent the last few years in submarines, commanding of two of them on a number of active patrols. It is two, I believe?”

“Yes, sir,” Barker spoke up in his gravelly voice.

“Lieutenant Commander Barker,* 'Barky' in the submarine service, is to be our adviser on matters of submarine operations. More on that on a moment, because – our job is to do with the submarine menace.”

Several heads nodded at this. Submariners were a new group of specialists for the RN, and it made sense to have one in a group looking at countering enemy submarines.

“Lieutenant Commander Wilson Imrie,* is our expert for mine laying and sweeping matters, as well as inshore navigation. If required he will assist the other RNR officers in their key task.

“Lieutenant Robinson, RNVR,* comes from his peace time job as a barrister, and he will be our administrative coordinator when required, as well as joining all of us in figuring out what to do about U-boats. I hear he is a masterful chess player, so be warned.”

Robinson laughed at this. “I never play for drinks – with my own colleagues. I reserve that for other people's colleagues.” This produced some chuckles from the others as Torrance Smythe went on.

“Lieutenants Cabot,* Parker,* and Weldon,*” each nodded in turn, “are all experienced merchant mariners. They will be finding out everything they can about every encounter our ships have had with U-boats. Gentlemen, as necessary you will be going out to interview ships' Captains or others for first-hand information.

“And, you will have help with that. We can have five or six fresh green RNVR subbies assigned to us – they are actually to be selected by you. The Sub-Lieutenants are all straight from their commissioning ceremony this morning, and so this afternoon you will be picking those you believe will be most useful: three assistants for you in reviewing reports or interviewing others for useful data, and two or three more to help with analysis. So it's up to you but a bit of seaman-like knowledge might possibly be helpful for the first, but an ability to think logically and ask pointed questions might be much more important for the others. Perhaps Walke or Robinson can go along to help with that part of it? Both?”

Walke nodded at this, and Robinson spoke up: “There may be some intelligent or experienced heads in the RNVR group if we can grab them quickly. I think it could be a good investment of our time, sir.”

“Good idea. See what they are made of. Just remember some are quite inexperienced and we'll not want to frighten them unduly!” Smithy warned as he saw the gleam in Walke's eye.

“Aye, aye, sir.”

“I know I have been droning on, but there's one more thing and then we will take a short break before we see the man from the Admiralty. Our little establishment has a number of other ranks to handle the flow of reports from all sources, and transferring that into useful tables of information. Key among them are four POs that I was able to Shanghai from my time running the Fleet Analysis and Control Tables at Scapa. CPOs Davies* and Jones,* and POs Cooper* and MacPherson.* They were vital engines in the machinery that ran that place, and that experience will be useful to us here.

“Right now they are working with the carpenters to design and build for us a large table, and one or two small ones, all of which we will use to illustrate and examine anti-submarine tactics. This was a very useful device for us in developing and training the communications and command procedures of the Grand Fleet, and I hope will be useful to us here. We can lay out scale diagrams or even use small models to trace out what happened. Or we can work through how things work out, or how we hope they will work out, in practice. Barky, you will have to get involved in setting up how submarine attacks take place. Maybe check with them this afternoon to ensure they build in anything you need.”

“Aye, aye, sir.”

This brought a quiet murmur of curiosity and a raised eyebrow or two, but before there could be any further discussion, there was a quick knock and the door opened. CPO Davies came in followed by a steward carrying a tray with a large coffee pot and mugs which he took to a side table. Davies whispered to Smithy. “Sir, we've been warned there's an Admiral coming along the street, heading this way. MacPherson will guide him here in about two minutes, sir.”

Smithy turned back to the room. “Steward: a cup for whomever wants it, smartly if you please. We have two minutes – the Admiralty seems to have made up it's mind, so we'll be getting our orders from the top. I'll move over there, leave the chair here at the head for the Admiral. Take a deep breath gentlemen.”

== ==
*All of these officers are ficticious. The four Petty Officers are all ficticious and are veterans of England Expects that Every Man.
 
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Good update.
By chance, Walke and Torrance Smythe entered the conference room where
I think you're missing 'together' between 'room' and 'where'?


Our little group has, as yet, no name. Perhaps by the end of today we will have been given one, or can make one for ourselves and get it accepted.
Part of me wants you to come up with ASDIC but have it really mean something, unlike in OTL. Another part of me wants an acronym which means something different in OTL (Lead Admiralty Section for Experimental Research, or something like that - your ideas are bound to be better than mine:rolleyes: ). Yet another part wants something which is impossible to make into an acronym at all. In summary...ignore my wayward musings.
 
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An excellent update, i'm curious to see what they're going to come up with against the U-boat. The problem is that depthcharges were introduced in what..1917? Prior to that you had two options.

1 - guns if you caught the u-boat on the surface
2 - Ramming.

I'm not sure about hydrophone technology at the time and they'd probably have to do what the Soviets did. One ship stops to listen with its sonar/hydrophones and the other keeps moving towards a possible target to engage.
 
Would they be working with the ASDIC division? IOTL they finished a prototype in 1917 but weren't able to mount one on a warship until postwar.
 
Would they be working with the ASDIC division? IOTL they finished a prototype in 1917 but weren't able to mount one on a warship until postwar.
I also recall reading the RN experimented with ahead throwing DC launchers, a sort of proto-hedgehog but gave up on it some time in the 20's after actually developing and testing it. They then put too much faith in ASDIC and thought that normal DCs would be enough.
 
I also recall reading the RN experimented with ahead throwing DC launchers, a sort of proto-hedgehog but gave up on it some time in the 20's after actually developing and testing it. They then put too much faith in ASDIC and thought that normal DCs would be enough.
Given that sonar won't get anywhere near useful levels until the war ends, having a contact-fuzed ASW mortar/rocket launcher combined with hydrophones might be better for confirming kills since they won't explode unless they hit something. Wasn't there a huge issue with overclaiming kills? Then again, I'm not sure how the "suppression" effect of depth charges helped with driving away subs.
 
Good update.



Part of me wants you to come up with ASDIC but have it really mean something, unlike in OTL.
An excellent update, i'm curious to see what they're going to come up with against the U-boat. The problem is that depthcharges were introduced in what..1917? Prior to that you had two options.

1 - guns if you caught the u-boat on the surface
2 - Ramming.

I'm not sure about hydrophone technology at the time and they'd probably have to do what the Soviets did. One ship stops to listen with its sonar/hydrophones and the other keeps moving towards a possible target to engage.
Might they pull in some aviation help? At least close to the British Isles.
Would they be working with the ASDIC division? IOTL they finished a prototype in 1917 but weren't able to mount one on a warship until postwar.
I also recall reading the RN experimented with ahead throwing DC launchers, a sort of proto-hedgehog but gave up on it some time in the 20's after actually developing and testing it. They then put too much faith in ASDIC and thought that normal DCs would be enough.
Given that sonar won't get anywhere near useful levels until the war ends, having a contact-fuzed ASW mortar/rocket launcher combined with hydrophones might be better for confirming kills since they won't explode unless they hit something. Wasn't there a huge issue with overclaiming kills? Then again, I'm not sure how the "suppression" effect of depth charges helped with driving away subs.
Sorry shipmates, but you are all misunderstanding the mission.

It is NOT how to kill U-Boats underwater but to PREVENT Merchant ship losses.

Given that up to 1916/17 most such merchantman losses are
  • ships sailing alone in mid-ocean
    and
  • to a single U-Boat on the surface
the key step solution is known and very well-proven ... in fact, obvious to any student of Naval History
Sail in the Trade ships in escorted convoys

(It worked from the Spanish Flotas to the RNs own West Indies in the Napoleonic era and beyond)

No new technology needed to initiate that
Nor really for many more ships than available
(though pretty soon more will be needed as the convoys scheme is expanded to all areas)

Let's hope the TTL team does better than OTL in recognising the simple mathematics

I'm worried that like RL they will be distracted by the damage from the other mission of the U Boats in the Great war
and waste time looking for a means of protecting warships from submerged attacks
 
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It is NOT how to kill U-Boats underwater but to PREVENT Merchant ship losses.
Fully agree. I wrote a paper on this subject some time ago (although it was actually about the Battle of the Atlantic in the 2WW and, no, it's not in the public domain, for various reasons). I think I ruffled a few feathers by writing that the true measure of effectiveness of each part of the RN/RAF campaign (later with the USN/USAAF) in that battle was not the number of U-boots sunk, but the number of our ships which were not. It's amazing how many charts showing the success/failure of various things just show how many U-boots were sunk whilst partly or even wholly ignoring the figures for ships sunk during the same periods (even in quite prestigious journals).
Sorry - went down a bit of a rabbit hole there - wrong measures of effectiveness are a bug-bear of mine...
 
IIRC the RN was almost violently opposed to convoys, Jellico disliked them due to them pulling DDs away from the Grand Fleet. But ITTL the High Seas Fleet's suffered more at Jutland and shouldn't really be an issue. So this would free up more DD's. The trial convoys were very successful and as you said it was because ships were sailing alone, if they're in convoy it basically cuts down on the number of ships in any dispersed area that the U-Boat's hunting in. And if it does run across a convoy, they might get one, but can't reposition to get another like they could with individual sailing vessels.
 

Stenz

Monthly Donor
An excellent update, i'm curious to see what they're going to come up with against the U-boat. The problem is that depthcharges were introduced in what..1917?
Might they pull in some aviation help? At least close to the British Isles.
Would they be working with the ASDIC division?
I also recall reading the RN experimented with ahead throwing DC launchers, a sort of proto-hedgehog
Maybe this is the committee that develops the “new” technology the RN will use to fight U-boats ITTL. As well as convoys.

The Hedgehog Committee
 

Driftless

Donor
Might they pull in some aviation help? At least close to the British Isles.
Sorry shipmates, but you are all misunderstanding the mission.

It is NOT how to kill U-Boats underwater but to PREVENT Merchant ship losses.
I was thinking more of using planes, blimps, airships, to locate and keep submarines submerged. The threat of destruction by those airborne resources would much more theory than reality in WW1. Just locating surfaced U-boats or even the difficult task of identifying periscope trails is useful. Then, keeping them down, where their limits of underwater speed, battery power, and clean air reduces their fighting role some.

Just one more set of tools is all, not wunderweapons.
 
One problem regarding the use and availability of DD's post-TTL Jutland is the belief that the Kaiserliche Marine won't use the destroyers more aggressively. With their own capital ships in port, the need to use torpedo boats & destroyers, as well as u-boats, grows. While raids on British coastal & North Sea shipping & fishing fleets by surface forces, for instance, can be somewhat negated by the convoy system, raids on British ports by DD's, & even cruisers, (ala Scarborough,Hartlepool & Whitby) are still a possibility. Pickets & patrols by RN destroyers will be needed to detect & deter these. DD's will also be needed to raid German coastal & North Sea shipping & fishing fleets in turn. Thus the OTL resistance to release DD's will still be there.

However, given the far slower speed of u-boats in WW1, especially underwater, armed sloops and/or trawlers could be used as escorts. They were used in this role OTL, even in WW2. If partnered with towed observation balloons and air patrols by either airships or aircraft, this enlarges the protective bubble of the convoy escorts as it will force the u-boats to submerge and they are far less capable of closing with a convoy while underwater.
 
A submarine that can’t attack is just as good as one sunk. Doesn’t matter if it’s a destroyer depth charge, underwater mine, deck gun, anything that makes it dive or retreat works. You don’t have to sink it to mission kill it.
 
Bearing in mind the comments above, it feels like the story hinges on quite how the Admiral phrases his orders and how Smithy and the group interpret those orders.

An instruction to 'protect trade from the U-boat menace' is very similar to 'How do we combat the U-boats' but would yield very different results. The OTL responses leaned heavily to the latter until things got serious, so I suspect the former as the Admiralty presumably know they have several groups already looking at the offensive side. Plus I think that appraoch has more story potential in it. ;)
 
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