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Part 2: a rebuttal of “A Turn Too Far” and Hr. Ms. De Ruyter

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  • Part 2: a rebuttal of “A Turn Too Far” and Hr. Ms. De Ruyter

    Gents, as started in the previous thread I would like to continue on with a rebuttal of author Jeffrey Cox’s ‘final engagement’ chart for the ending of the Battle of the Java Sea night action with the sinking of Hr. Ms. Java and Hr. Ms. De Ruyter by torpedo’s; in this thread focusing on Hr. Ms. De Ruyter.

    INTRO: See here if you haven't already the intro in the Hr. Ms. Java thread ; i.e. Part 1.

    The below focuses then on Hr. Ms. De Ruyter, who was hit in the starboard side aft by a torpedo, and was the second of the two Allied ships sunk (that night), and as it turns out the second of the two shipwrecks discovered.

    Descriptions of the images in the order they appear at bottom of page (as I could not place them 'in-line').
    IMAGE 1) This image shows Mr Cox’s assumed version of events (although this particular image was scanned from the Java Sea 1942 book, as I do not have Mr Cox’s book at hand, but this chart IS identical to Mr Cox’s chart, so it is one-and-the-same for all intents and purposes). Note the IJN torpedo tracks and the echelon / individual turn away he proposes for the final engagement. As can be shown (and as has been in the historical record for long before Mr Cox’s article) there is no doubt whatsoever that his chart is incorrect in both the firing angle of the IJN torpedo’s and the Allied ships courses in their turn away.

    IMAGE 2) This is an excerpt from a report written approximately three weeks (i.e. first submitted 24 March 1942) after the sinking of De Ruyter by Marvin Sholar, a USN signalman seconded to De Ruyter who survived the sinking, was picked up the next day by a US sub and deposited at Surabaya, and subsequently ‘escaped’ to Australia before the fall of Java itself to the IJA. Given the short interval after the event this report was written and handed up the chain of command (this copy dated 3 April 1942), I think it carries more than a little weight. It not only gives the angle the torp came in at that hit De Ruyter, but confirms the two 90 degree turns away the Allied column made; that is first to the east and then to the south in a column turn.

    IMAGE 3) The red dot is the position the torp struck according to De Ruyter survivors reports and this below schematic marked and sent to me by the son (or realation?) of one of the men lost off De Ruyter (Henk Legemaate, the co-author of the book "HR. MS. KRUISER 'DE RUYTER' 1933-1942").

    IMAGE 4) The actual angle that according to the Japanese themselves Haguro and Nachi fired their torps at, that is 130 degrees True. I drew in the long grey lines paralleling the torp tracks the IJN themselves showed, and as is stated in primary IJN docs re the action, i.e. 130 True. (This chart excerpt comes from the original Sentai 5 AAR, although I have added the arrow showing north, which the IJNPart 2: a rebuttal of “A Turn Too Far” and Hr. Ms. De Ruyter showed themselves in another part of the chart, the longer torp track line angles and the writing at top.)

    IMAGE 5) A painting by Jim Laurier (redone / enhanced from the one shown in the book Java Sea 1942) portraying the torp hit on De Ruyter and showing the angle it came in at (i.e. 130 degrees Relative).

    IMAGE 6) A compass rose showing the direction De Ruyter had to be heading, or thereabouts, for both the 135 degree Relative angle of the torp hit, and the 130 True angle of the torp firing to coincide. I realise this puts DR on a more southerly heading when hit than historically thought, but it is the only course that can match both the torp firing and hit ‘solutions’. Of course, both of those solutions may be out by a few degrees, but I would think not more than 10 degrees plus or minus. So this course for De Ruyter is very much right in the ballpark I believe.

    IMAGE 7) Another image of DR superimposed on a compass rose, showing that both the 130 degree Relative torp hit (red arrow), and the 130 degree True bearing that the torp was fired on (black line) match. Again, I realise this puts De Ruyter on a more southerly heading when hit than historically thought, but it is the only course that can match the torp firing and hit ‘solutions’. Of course, as said above, both of those solutions may be out be some degrees, but I would think not more than 10 degrees plus or minus. So this course for De Ruyter is very much in the ballpark I believe.

    IMAGE 8 ) The wreck site of De Ruyter post salvage from the 2016 survey. The bow would have been at the bottom of the image facing southwest. However, this does not have as much bearing on her heading when struck by the torp as the one in the Java thread does, as De Ruyter stayed afloat for between two and three hours after she was hit, and drifted before foundering. Just the same, it adds to the narrative.

    So, as can be seen from the ‘evidence’ presented in this and the ‘Part 1 Java thread’, it is without doubt that the Allied ships were initially in column heading north (plus or minus 10 degrees say), and then made a column turn away, first 90 degrees to starboard, and then continuing on into another 90 degree turn to starboard again (both turns as reported by the Sholar Report), which would have put the lead ship (De Ruyter) on an almost southerly heading or thereabouts. Of course one has to remember that ships do not make 90 degrees turns on a dime, like a car can as it were, so to make two 90 degree turns away from their northerly heading the Allied ships must arc around in a half circle as it were.

    Hence I would go as far as to say that these two threads conclusively shows that the Allied ship/s were not 1) turning away in Mr Cox’s assumptive echelon / individual turn formation to the east, but in a column turn as historically recorded; and 2) Java had not even entered into the first part of that column turn away when stuck by her torp, but was still heading north or thereabouts, as this is near as well confirmed by how her wreck was orientated on the seabed and her helm pointing dead ahead as photographed on the wreck, and 3) that de Ruyter was further around in the final part of her turn away than was generally thought
    Bijgevoegde Bestanden

  • #2
    Given the recent posting in another thread of the following text, supposedly from a written IJN primary source document (here underlined in italics), i.e. “3) Target Angle (AOB) was 80dg [this misreading by Cox, who mistakes it for a simple bearing, led to many of his errors]" and me relocating a chart I had posted long ago on another forum, then another possibility arises of a different heading for De Ruyter when struck by the torp, which does fit more with the evasive action courses taken by HMAS Perth and USS Houston to avoid colliding with the stricken De Ruyter. (The green line / angle below is supposedly the line of site for the IJN when the saw the explosions, or the resultant fires shortly thereafter, for when the two Allied cruisers were hit). So the angle the torps were fired on / at, and the angle they hit at - according to the Sholar Report - pretty much match the below course for De Ruyter when hit.

    However, as has been emphasized elsewhere, there are still a number of known unknowns, and unknown unknowns (to paraphrase a certain Mr Rummy) to prove conclusively exactly what course De Ruyter was on when hit, except to say that Mr Cox's chart, and hence the one in Java Sea 1942 booklet, is unfortunately dead wrong in several respects, and that it seems De Ruyter was on a course somewhere between SE and S by SSE+/- when hit.