Beatty "the cad"

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glenn239
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Re: Beatty "the cad"

Post by glenn239 » 28 Jan 2009 19:15

As the entire Grand Fleet was 'passive' during the night, perhaps you need to consider the action of the BCF during these hours too? You will find that they took far less part in the fighting than the rest of the fleet, not even sighting enemy ships.
That’s precisely the point. If Beatty’s ships had spotted the Germans the fight would be on and the Germans lose 2 more BC’s and there is no debate after as to who won Jutland. Jellicoe’s captains? Sat around picking their noses and waving the Germans back to Kiel. Why? Because that’s the attitude that Jellicoe fostered in his command.
As for Beatty being a 'fighting Admiral' then perhaps you can show where he showed inspired leadership at any point, or maybe explain the almost total lack of activity from the fleet once he took charge - as a clue there were less sweeps than Jellicoe ordered.
Hey, we can nit-pick the concept all year. If your navy wants a controlling technocrat trying to create a 400 page engagement rule book to micro-manage every situation, and stifle individual decision-making, then Jellicoe was the man. If you navy wants simple action-principles governing a doctrine of pro-active command at lower levels, then Beatty’s the boy. All I’m saying is that I’d rather have the latter over the former, and I wouldn’t care how many mistresses that guy had.
If they had worked together as a close-knit team, based on mutual honesty, trust, and respect, they would have been unbeatable.
May as well have asked Paul to marry Yoko to keep the Beatles together, I think.

chronos20th
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Re: Beatty "the cad"

Post by chronos20th » 28 Jan 2009 21:34

I think you are being a little unfair , Glenn.

For reasons which are not clear, and did not begin with Jellicoe, the fleet was not trained to fight at night.

Jellicoe had orders not to place the fleet at risk in an engagement. The article posted makes this clear. He was the only man "who could lose the war in an afternoon" and the blockade, which was crucial, would still remain provided the HSF remained confined to the North Sea.

The origin of the detailed orders was in the unfotunat affair of hte camberdown sinking the Queen Victoria, the newly commissioned flagship named after the queen and other collisions of the late Victorian period.

glenn239
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Re: Beatty "the cad"

Post by glenn239 » 29 Jan 2009 00:53

I think you are being a little unfair , Glenn.
The question is which man’s command style was superior and I think the verdict is that it was Beatty’s. In terms of personality, there is but no question that Jellicoe was the better man. But the High Seas Fleet was, it is to be noted, not to be moved by way of the politeness. Beatty’s doctrine was action-based. Simple rules that commanders could understand and act by, and act they were expected to do. Jellicoe’s style was top-down. You wait for orders. Don’t rock the boat. Don’t take the initiative.

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cormallen
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Re: Beatty "the cad"

Post by cormallen » 29 Jan 2009 18:53

Hmmm..not sure you are selling me on this "Beatty-the-heroic-action-figure" thing Glenn...


"Beatty’s doctrine was action-based. Simple rules that commanders could understand and act by, and act they were expected to do. Jellicoe’s style was top-down. You wait for orders. Don’t rock the boat. Don’t take the initiative."

OK

When did and of Beatty's band of brothers act on their own initiative?

(aside from asking to marry his relatives which did not work out too well!)

They did not show much initiative when Beatty got his wires crossed and sent confusing instructions and did not heroically rush off and chase down the germans at Dogger Bank...

alan

glenn239
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Re: Beatty "the cad"

Post by glenn239 » 29 Jan 2009 19:15

When did and of Beatty's band of brothers act on their own initiative?
See Gordon, Rules of the Game. He covers Beatty’s doctrine as commander of the Grand Fleet in considerable detail, and the differences between the differing doctrines between Beatty and Jellicoe. There’s an old saying which goes, “I don’t care if he’s an SOB, so long as he’s my SOB”. Not written for Beatty, but applicable.

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cormallen
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Re: Beatty "the cad"

Post by cormallen » 29 Jan 2009 22:10

Word vs Deed..

He may have claimed that he was using a different doctrine and that this was encouraging his captains...
... but did it work?

Did any of his sub-commanders demonstrably feel liberated enough to DO anything splendidly individualistic?

Did Beatty himself actually and AT THE TIME claim he was doing this or is this just the somewhat revisionist hindsighting of the likes of Gordon?


alan

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Peter H
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Re: Beatty "the cad"

Post by Peter H » 30 Jan 2009 01:01

Gordon also relates that he had no contact with Evan-Thomas(5th Battle Squadron) before Jutland.."shockingly unprofessional..for how long Evan-Thomas would have had to swing around a buoy a few hundred yards from Lion before Beatty bothered to talk to him,is unknown.."

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Terry Duncan
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Re: Beatty "the cad"

Post by Terry Duncan » 30 Jan 2009 01:30

THe GFBO was not intended to stiffle initiative, simply to offer guidance to commanders for all situations so they could base their actions around a core set of principles, rather like the GGS training in Germany but a lot less formal.. They had the effect of making commanders too reliant on orders from above, but that was not what was intended by Jellicoe and he had always encouraged commanders to show initiative. The Royal Navy was almost entirely traditional though and had spent a hundred years trying to stiffle any free thinking from junior officers, only to expect them to become almost omnipotent when they reached flag rank.

Style of command has to go with the ability to command, and Beatty showed very little ability in this aspect, with the headlong rush being his only preferred tactic. His signalling was theatrical and sometimes almost entirely absent, leading to the fiasco at Dogger Bank when his micro-management threw away an excellent chance of victory (his own verdict was 'everybody thinks it was a victory, if they knew the truth I would be shot!'), and the the lack of information on Iron Duke as the fleet closed at Jutland, the fleets were within ten minutes of each other when a subordinate gave Jellicoe the information he needed to deploy.

Peter is perfectly correct when he mentions Evan-Thomas, especially as Beatty had spent months trying to get these ships assigned to his command only to ignore them and their commander from the moment they turned up, although he did find time to go and play tennis in the afternoons. At Jutland this led to the idiotic decision to rush off and leave half the command (probably nearer 60% of the combat strength in reality) trailing behind without orders, and when they had caught up to allow them to run into the HSF whilst Sir David bravely ran the other way! This could have lost four of the most modern ships in th navy, and all because Beatty neglected his duties as an admiral.

None of this has anything to do with his personal life, as you say, he could have as many mistresses as he wished, its just a shame he spent more time on them (and backstabbing other commanders) than he did on running his fleet efficiently.

If Beatty really was a competant leader, why did he try to rewrite the record of Jutland so heavily??? We are not talking a few minor details, but to write out the entire role played by the battleships - almost all the material damage inflicted om the German ships happened in the two fleet clashes - not the Run to the South or Run to the North phase - see Campbell for details on this. He removed officers who simply tried to record the facts in order to glorify himself, hardly something he would have needed to do if he had played the role he wanted written.

Beatty's record was not outstanding, at Heligoland he sank some old light cruisers almost a tenth of his size and oblivious battlecruisers were present. Hard to see anyone failing here.

Dogger Bank saw him sink a large but obsolete ship, but then throw away the chance to do more when sending a signal to tell the remaining admiral to do exactly as he was doing anyhow! With five ships against four - one of which was not effective - this was hardly a victory to be noted, although the signalling mix up did rob Moore of any chance of gaining one that would have place Beatty in the shade.

Jutland saw him leave half his ships behind, suffer a crushing defeat when having odds of six to five in his favour still, despite having the faster ships that outranged his enemy, then confuse the entire fleet with a pointless signal late in the day, presumably so he was not left out of the action at this point? Turning two to one into six to five, then four to five is hardly great or even mediocre leadership, its pretty dreadful really.

Post Jutland saw some impressive backstabbing, some more tennis, and the fleet swinging at anchor mostly. It would appear that Beatty scored his greatest victories in this part of the war.

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Re: Beatty "the cad"

Post by glenn239 » 30 Jan 2009 19:22

He may have claimed that he was using a different doctrine and that this was encouraging his captains...... but did it work?
Gordon indicates it was the superior approach. To cut to the heart of it, some here are thinking that the British government was not deadly serious when it came to the matter of who was to command their battle fleet.
Did Beatty himself actually and AT THE TIME claim he was doing this or is this just the somewhat revisionist hindsighting of the likes of Gordon?
Not sure what you mean. When Beatty took over the Grand Fleet, he scrapped Jellicoe’s system because Jellicoe’s doctrine was a sprawling mess of over-controlling instructions encapsulated in a 400-odd page rulebook that no commander could possibly have memorized or used realistically. In its place Beatty instituted a far simpler and robust doctrine.

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Terry Duncan
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Re: Beatty "the cad"

Post by Terry Duncan » 30 Jan 2009 22:57

The GFBO was not a rule book, and the review of it started after Jutland, before Beatty took over anything. Trying to blame a book for what went wrong is to ignore the problems of command that went far higher. The 'rule book' did not tell Beatty to hare off after Hipper and forget to signal Evan-Thomas any orders, not did it tell Beatty to waste his range advantage when going into action - the one thing he did correctly at Dogger Bank - so the problems lay somewhere else, even if the book did lead some officers to be too reliant upon it. Beatty obviously did not follow it at all, suffered far worse than any other British commander, and inflicted almost nothing on Hipper in return.

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cormallen
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Re: Beatty "the cad"

Post by cormallen » 31 Jan 2009 09:08

Hi Glenn

you correctly spot that "Gordon indicates it was the superior approach", which it may be, without even attempting to address the issue of whether BEATTY thought anything of the kind...

Did Beatty scrap "the book" because he understood it was not helping or did he scrap it because he was rather lazy and a little bit stupid (at least compared to Jellicoe) and could not be bothered fully understanding it... Did he just think that the command of the largest battle fleet in the world could be successfully carried out by a few generalised "Engage the enemy more closely" type heroically nelsonic signals that that chap over there would sort out and he could then rely on some sort of pell mell chase where he could return home to write some more carefully edited heroic memoirs and collect his dukedom?

I see no evidence that Beatty was anything more than less well organised...

alan

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Re: Beatty "the cad"

Post by glenn239 » 31 Jan 2009 17:26

Did Beatty scrap "the book" because he understood it was not helping or did he scrap it because he was rather lazy and a little bit stupid.
Conjecture. Beatty scrapped the book and replaced it with something that worked better. Jellicoe’s solution to the problem was a bigger and bigger book.

Tactically, Beatty was ice-cold in battle. Jellicoe was never robustly tested on that score.

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cormallen
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Re: Beatty "the cad"

Post by cormallen » 31 Jan 2009 22:28

Ah..

"Tactically... Jellicoe was never robustly tested on that score..." - Jutland obviously did not involve him at all then? You really must read something other than Beatty's memoirs!


"Beatty was ice-cold in battle" - That may have been the 'stupid' bit I was talking about...

alan

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Re: Beatty "the cad"

Post by ChristopherPerrien » 01 Feb 2009 04:06

Peter is perfectly correct when he mentions Evan-Thomas, especially as Beatty had spent months trying to get these ships assigned to his command only to ignore them and their commander from the moment they turned up, although he did find time to go and play tennis in the afternoons. At Jutland this led to the idiotic decision to rush off and leave half the command (probably nearer 60% of the combat strength in reality) trailing behind without orders, and when they had caught up to allow them to run into the HSF whilst Sir David bravely ran the other way! This could have lost four of the most modern ships in th navy, and all because Beatty neglected his duties as an admiral.

None of this has anything to do with his personal life, as you say, he could have as many mistresses as he wished, its just a shame he spent more time on them (and backstabbing other commanders) than he did on running his fleet efficiently.
On all this I fully agree , and it is totally accurate. Beatty was truely a "cad". Big chips on his shoulder too.

Chris

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Terry Duncan
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Re: Beatty "the cad"

Post by Terry Duncan » 01 Feb 2009 04:40

Tactically, Beatty was ice-cold in battle. Jellicoe was never robustly tested on that score.
No idea where you get this impression of Jellicoe's record? Beatty may have been cool under fire, but that was common amongst the British admirals - Sturdee at The Falklands, Jellicoe at Jutland, especially leading up to the critical deployment of the fleet. It would be interesting to see an account of an admiral that was not cool in action, as I cannot think of a single example?

The thirty minutes leading up to the deployment of the Grand Fleet were probably the most critical of the entire naval war, and Jellicoe had no information from Beatty allowing a decision to be made with any certainty. He never showed the slightest sign of panic, and the deployment was probably the most perfect in naval history - a minor miricle if you look at what was known and the time needed to deploy. The signal 'Equal Speed Charlie London' lacks the direct appeal of 'England expects...' but it was far more precise and ensured naval supremacy for the remained of the war.

The biggest criticism of Jellicoe was that he was cold and did not rise to the chance to chase (over torpedo attacks and mines, not to mention the two extra flotillas that would have been brought into action by such a move) the HSF as it fled the action. The criticism was unfair and cannot withstand detailed scrutiny. The Grand Fleet was unaware the High Seas Fleet had turned about due to the poor visibility, most ships considering the failing visibility had caused the loss of visible targets (Beatty could see nothing at this point and had no idea what was happening either), and to charge blindly into the mst could have risked everything on a gamble that the British did not have to take.

After the war the naval staff regularly 'gamed' this scenario, using the full details now available from the German records and Jellicoe attended almost all of these sessions (Beatty did not), and nobody ever managed to produce a better deployment, or to inflict a greater defeat no matter what tactics were tried in over a decade of trying!

There would seem to be a distinct problem in listing a single thing Beatty did that could not have been done by any other admiral, or indeed any offer of an excuse for the dreadful results achieved by Beatty during the war? If Jellicoe had been served by an officer of the quality Hipper was and not Beatty, there would have been no High Seas Fleet after the morning of June 1st 1916.

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