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Part 1: a rebuttal of “A Turn Too Far” and Hr. Ms. Java

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  • Part 1: a rebuttal of “A Turn Too Far” and Hr. Ms. Java

    Gents, I would like to put forth 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. Java’s sinking will be treated here as Part 1, while De Ruyter’s as Part 2 in a separate thread.

    INTRO: In 2011 a Mr Jeffrey Cox published an article entitled “A Turn Too Far” regarding the naval engagement between the IJN and Allied naval forces on the night of the 27th Feb 1942, and which is generally referred to as the ending of the Battle of the Java Sea as related to that particular days events. That is, he specifically focused on the sinkings of Hr. Ms. Java and Hr. Ms. De Ruyter by torpedo from the IJN’s Nachi and Haguro. In the article, he put forth his views on how that particular engagement / sinking occurred and published a chart of his assumptive courses of the ships involved. Then a couple of years later Mr Cox published a book entitled ‘Rising Sun, Falling Skies’, (his first book in what has turned out now to be a trilogy focusing on the naval events in the first two years of WWII). ‘Rising Sun, Falling Skies’ hence covered the first three months or so of the ‘War in the Pacific’. In that book he named a chapter ‘A Turn Too Far’ (the title of his original article) and again included the same reasoning from that article which has the Allied ships making an echelon (or individual) turn away to the east (starboard), not a column (follow-the-leader) turn away as is historically recorded. He also included his highly speculative / assumptive chart on the action / sinking showing both his take on the Allied course, and his highly inaccurate assumption of the IJN torp firing angles. Given Mr Cox’s own statement that “I've studied the battle literally since I was in junior high school 28 years ago” it is then rather surprising that he got it so wrong. (However, most of his sources – in all three of his books - are secondary, not primary, so make of that what you will). Be that as it may, over the years many ‘old hands’ have commented on the incorrectness / inaccuracy of his assumptions and especially his chart, and lamented it falling into the historical record so to speak.

    Now, unfortunately this very thing has transpired in another publication, that is another book published in 2020 (Osprey’s Java Sea 1942) has used the identical chart to illustrate the same action, further muddying / falsifying (however unintentionally) the historical record.

    So with that in mind, and as someone who has also studied the action, and been directly involved in the discovery of, and first dives on, both the Java and De Ruyter wrecks, I would like to submit the following ‘evidence’ that I believe not only proves Mr Cox’s assumption way of course (pardon the pun), but hopefully sets the record somewhat straighter. I of course am open to challenges on my below by all means, but I first ask you to carefully study the ‘evidence’ as photographically presented so to speak.

    I will start in this first thread with Hr. Ms. Java, hit by a torpedo on the port side aft, as she was the first of the two Allied ships sunk (that night) and as it turns out the first of the two shipwrecks discovered. I will then start another thread re Hr. Ms. De Ruyter’s sinking, as each rebuttal is image heavy.

    Descriptions for images in the order the appear below (as I could not place them 'in-line').
    IMAGE 1) The 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 the turn away.

    IMAGE 2) The actual angle according to the Japanese themselves that Haguro and Nachi fired their torps on, that is 130 degrees True, which can be calculated here (I drew in the long grey lines paralleling the IJN torp tracks that the IJN themselves show), 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 IJN showed themselves in another part of the chart, the longer torp track line angles and the writing at top.)

    IMAGE 3) This shows how we found the Java wrecks’ two sections situated when we discovered them. And we know from historical records that, after the torp hit that severed Java’s stern, the main body sank within twelve to fifteen minutes max; so not much time for the hulk to ‘change course’ as it were (and photos of her helm pointer on the wreck shows it pointing directly ahead). So Java’s main section sinking quickly stern first as reported by survivors - after her very stern section dislocated directly after the torp hit and sank immediately, but separately, from the main body of the ship - fits this scenario, with her bow possibly pivoting slightly to port (west) as the main body sunk stern first

    IMAGE 4) The actual bearing / compass heading the wreck of Java was laying at on the seabed (pre-salvage that is) when we discovered it in 2002.

    IMAGE 5) The colour image is from the 2016 survey that found the wrecks ‘missing’ and the dark blue ‘outline’ around my Java main body ‘wreck insert’ is the sonar shadow caused by the ‘hole’ left in the seabed when the wreck was illegally salvaged. My insert of the Java wreck is from my previous image (i.e. exact / identical compass bearing / heading) and as can be seen it matches up perfectly with the angle / bearing of the ‘hole’ in the seabed where the wreck once lay.

    Hence I believe that these two threads and the images in them will show 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 that column turn away when stuck by her torp (see also a De Ruyter survivors statement re same in the second thread re De Ruyter’s sinking), and this is near as well 100% confirmed by how her wreck was orientated on the seabed, and her helm observed and photographed to be pointing directly ahead on the wreck.

    Part 2 re Hr. Ms. De Ruyter now starts in the following but separate thread.

    Bijgevoegde Bestanden

  • #2
    On February 27 it will be 79 years ago that the Battle of the Java Sea took place. In this battle alone, a total of about 900 Dutch people were killed, and a total of 2300 men on the Allied side. At the May 4 speech, no reference was made to this battle at the commemoration on Dam Square in Amsterdam. Although it was for a long time considered the best-known Dutch naval battle, the battle is beginning to be forgotten. Despite the 79th anniversary and its commemoration, almost nothing is reported about this in the media. It is to be hoped that more attention will be paid to this battle in the future.
    Vriendelijke groet, Hans.

    "Om de kracht van het anker te voelen moet men de storm trotseren". (Pas als je iets ernstig meemaakt, weet je op wie je kan vertrouwen).

    Reactie


    • #3
      j.sprong schreef Bekijk Berichten
      On February 27 it will be 79 years ago that the Battle of the Java Sea took place. In this battle alone, a total of about 900 Dutch people were killed,........................................... Although it was for a long time considered the best-known Dutch naval battle, the battle is beginning to be forgotten.
      Yes, more lives were lost with the sinking of Hr. Ms.'s Java and De Ruyter than were lost with the sinking of HMS's Prince of Wales and Repulse (but you hear a great deal more about the later). And yes being forgotten it is, although those Java Sea battles never received the 'attention' they deserved, and that I believe was simply because the Allies 'lost' there so to speak.

      j.sprong schreef Bekijk Berichten
      Despite the 79th anniversary and its commemoration, almost nothing is reported about this in the media. It is to be hoped that more attention will be paid to this battle in the future.
      With the wrecks now gone I am afraid even less attention will be paid in the future.

      I must say though, I find itvery very ironic that it was only after the wrecks were found to have been removed / salvaged in 2016 that the governments concerned took any interest whatsoever. We discovered both wrecks in late 2002, and I published many photos on-line of same and wrote several articles that were published internationally in 2003, and in the years directly following, and was in contact with several Dutch survivors of the two ships, and / or their relatives over the years. So there is no doubt whatsoever that some people from both the Dutch government and the Dutch navy where aware of the wreck discoveries long long before 2016, but they choose to do nothing about it until they were gone. And that is a tragedy! They too seem to have wanted them forgotten.

      There are only several known photos showing both ships in the final weapons configuration (that is, with all Bofors guns 'shielded') and two of those are below.

      Hr-Ms-Java.jpg

      Hr-Ms-De-Ruyter.jpg

      Reactie


      • #4
        KevinD schreef Bekijk Berichten

        I must say though, I find itvery very ironic that it was only after the wrecks were found to have been removed / salvaged in 2016 that the governments concerned took any interest whatsoever. We discovered both wrecks in late 2002, and I published many photos on-line of same and wrote several articles that were published internationally in 2003, and in the years directly following,
        The seamen's graves were left untouched after their discovery in 2002 out of respect for the victims, and an investigation was promised by Indonesian authorities. There is currently no easy or unambiguous way to protect sunken warships, which is not entirely illogical given the different angles. The appropriate approach for the protection of sunken warships will therefore be further assessed on an individual basis. So the government had to deal with that. ( Military Law Review ).
        But most of all, the scrap metal dealers should have stayed away from the wrecks ... pure grave destruction.

        Vriendelijke groet, Hans.

        "Om de kracht van het anker te voelen moet men de storm trotseren". (Pas als je iets ernstig meemaakt, weet je op wie je kan vertrouwen).

        Reactie


        • #5
          j.sprong schreef Bekijk Berichten

          The seamen's graves were left untouched after their discovery in 2002 out of respect for the victims, and an investigation was promised by Indonesian authorities. There is currently no easy or unambiguous way to protect sunken warships, which is not entirely illogical given the different angles. The appropriate approach for the protection of sunken warships will therefore be further assessed on an individual basis. So the government had to deal with that. ( Military Law Review ).
          But most of all, the scrap metal dealers should have stayed away from the wrecks ... pure grave destruction.
          With all due respect, nothing whatsoever was done to 'protect' or even aknowledge the wrecks existence by tbe authorities until AFTER they were found to be "missing" in 2016.

          And it was only AFTER 2016 that the Indonesians were 'forced' (by international pressure) to get involved - promised you say - in any investigation, and then only begrudgingly I would assime given some Indonesian authorities were aware of said salvadge before it was brought to the worlds attention in 2016.

          And you say "The appropriate approach for the protection of sunken warships will therefore be further assessed on an individual basis.​​​​​​" Well, given there is basically nothing left to protect in the Java Sea, what good is that? Typical government / official dithering! Wait till all the wrecks are gone to 'make an assesment.' Really? A liitle late isnt it, as as I said above, there is next to nothing left there to "assess".

          Reactie


          • #6
            As a former merchant navy officer and relative of a Royal Dutch Navy man, I say : "may the souls of the victims rest in peace". I am not saying this to avoid the discussion.
            Vriendelijke groet, Hans.

            "Om de kracht van het anker te voelen moet men de storm trotseren". (Pas als je iets ernstig meemaakt, weet je op wie je kan vertrouwen).

            Reactie


            • #7
              KevinD schreef Bekijk Berichten

              And you say "The appropriate approach for the protection of sunken warships will therefore be further assessed on an individual basis.​​​​​​" Well, given there is basically nothing left to protect in the Java Sea, what good is that? Typical government / official dithering! Wait till all the wrecks are gone to 'make an assesment.' Really? A liitle late isnt it, as as I said above, there is next to nothing left there to "assess".
              It is poignant to see how little attention there is for those who also fought for the Dutch cause. The Grebbelinie, the battle of The Hague, the role of the merchant fleet and, last but not least, the battle of the Dutch East Indies are examples of events in which Dutch people, albeit outside the borders, died and sometimes went through hell. During the war, the Netherlands was confronted by the Germans and Japanese. How this was done, or what successes were achieved, rarely get into the media. Due to the lack of attention to these matters, an attitude is noticeable in the Netherlands that the Dutch armed forces were nothing in the war. Whether this is true or not, we must not forget the hard fought. It is significant how little information can be found in recent literature about the battle for the Dutch East Indies, let alone that anything about it appears in the media.

              traces of war.jpg

              Bron (kaart): Traces of war.


              Last edited by j.sprong; 15th February 2021, 16:19. Reden: Toevoeging kaart.
              Vriendelijke groet, Hans.

              "Om de kracht van het anker te voelen moet men de storm trotseren". (Pas als je iets ernstig meemaakt, weet je op wie je kan vertrouwen).

              Reactie


              • #8
                Mr. Sprong, I think it is vital to the cause that we start acknowledging the efforts of the Dutch forces right here. On this forum, and other fora where former military actors/authors are active.

                And I think, if we state things like: "Whether this is true or not, we must not forget the hard fought." we do (probably unknowingly) 2 things at the same time: we try to point towards the efforts brought by our military, but at the same time we keep alive the doubt about those efforts: ("whether this is true or not"). No, this is NOT true. Let's be clear about these things. More clear. What's with the soft approach? We should get rid of "politically correct" statements like the above. We must not keep options open for others less connected to read things we don't mean to say into them.

                If and where we failed as a military throughout history, this has mostly not been caused by the military itself, because of a lack of stamina, effort or strength, it has been caused by a lacking backing of the political powers that were at those moments. Every single one of them. There is more than enough proof about the character of our military in those circumstances. I just need to point towards our marines who defended the afsluitdijk during WW2. And that's that. I don't even have to go to our National heroes of the Seas, like The Ruyter, Tromp or Doorman.

                Our political system is systematically raising the tasks given to our military, whilst at the very same time limiting the resources given, thus increasing tension in the military apparatus whether it be the navy, ground forces or air force. It is seen as "merely a cost" since back to the time of Admiral Michiel Andriaanszoon de Ruyter. A "cost" that needs to be surpressed. It is only seen as a means to insure our safety and freedom in times of desperate need of it. Only to drop the efforts once more after peace has been established, or when the latter is not at risk that much.

                We need to stand up to those political efforts with a clear and countering attitude. No politically correct statements, but clarity, stance and a clear argumentation to back it up.

                If we can't even do that, what do we expect from the political powers in this country?

                Reactie


                • #9
                  KevinD schreef Bekijk Berichten

                  With all due respect, nothing whatsoever was done to 'protect' or even aknowledge the wrecks existence by tbe authorities until AFTER they were found to be "missing" in 2016.

                  And it was only AFTER 2016 that the Indonesians were 'forced' (by international pressure) to get involved - promised you say - in any investigation, and then only begrudgingly I would assime given some Indonesian authorities were aware of said salvadge before it was brought to the worlds attention in 2016.

                  And you say "The appropriate approach for the protection of sunken warships will therefore be further assessed on an individual basis.​​​​​​" Well, given there is basically nothing left to protect in the Java Sea, what good is that? Typical government / official dithering! Wait till all the wrecks are gone to 'make an assesment.' Really? A liitle late isnt it, as as I said above, there is next to nothing left there to "assess".
                  It is very sad, but I must agree with you on this one. It is typical for how our country treats these things. Sadly. It is ashaming, isn't it. I can feel where your obvious and heart felt anger came from whilst you wrote this.

                  Reactie


                  • #10
                    j.sprong schreef Bekijk Berichten
                    During the war, the Netherlands was confronted by the Germans and Japanese. How this was done, or what successes were achieved, rarely get into the media. Due to the lack of attention to these matters, an attitude is noticeable in the Netherlands that the Dutch armed forces were nothing in the war. Whether this is true or not, we must not forget the hard fought. It is significant how little information can be found in recent literature about the battle for the Dutch East Indies, let alone that anything about it appears in the media.
                    When my parents returned from the Dutch East Indies in 1946 (Submarine Service Hr. Ms O19), my father in the Netherlands could not tell his story about what had happened in "the East". For "them" the war had only taken place in Europe. The Royal Navy did not have enough warships to effectively defend the vast area. In addition, a considerable part of the fleet that the Royal Navy could deploy on September 3, 1939 was outdated. Still, the Dutch fleet at that time had about 85 ships ranging from minesweepers to light cruisers. The main attack units were the Dutch submarines. The technical advantage over a number of important components allowed the most modern Dutch submarines to withstand the comparison with their foreign counterparts with flying colors. Also in other technical areas, notably fire control and stabilization of anti-aircraft machine guns, the Royal Navy was ahead of the competition and the crews were very well trained, both European and local people. In the early 1930s, the fleet plan was approved by Deckers - then Secretary of the Navy. A building program for a light cruiser, two naval leaders, four destroyers and some submarines. Not all ships from this plan could be realized before the war. The Royal Navy went to battle (begin of the war) with three light cruisers, two flotilla leaders, eight destroyers, also a small number of torpedo boats and gunboats and about twenty submarines. For example, in the early weeks of the war, a small number of submarines stationed in Western Australia sank more Japanese ships than the British and American navies combined. Despite all this, the Dutch navy could not prevent the Netherlands from being occupied by the Germans and the Dutch East Indies had to capitulate to Japan. Especially in the first half of the Second World War, the Dutch naval forces suffered considerable losses. Only with the help of the British allies in particular, the Royal Navy was able to hold its own in the second half of the war. Before the Battle of the Java Sea, the Japanese seriously held on to submarine attacks. So the Western Invasion Fleet initially had sixteen destroyers and the Eastern fourteen. As the Allied cruisers were present to their surprise, they reinforced their fleets with heavy cruisers and some hunters. SBN Doorman, which attacked the Eastern Fleet on February 27, 1942, dealing with sixteen destroyers and not fourteen, as is often claimed. Allied submarine attacks failed to materialize. Only five Dutch boats were available and they were split by Helfrich: Hr. Ms. K XIV and K XV against the Western Fleet, Hr. Ms. O 19, and the old Hr. Ms. K VIII and K X to the east. Without a good division relationship and aerial reconnaissance, they achieved nothing.
                    Last edited by j.sprong; 23rd February 2021, 12:55. Reden: taalfout verbeterd.
                    Vriendelijke groet, Hans.

                    "Om de kracht van het anker te voelen moet men de storm trotseren". (Pas als je iets ernstig meemaakt, weet je op wie je kan vertrouwen).

                    Reactie


                    • #11
                      j.sprong schreef Bekijk Berichten
                      It is poignant to see how little attention there is for those who also fought for the Dutch cause................. It is significant how little information can be found in recent literature about the battle for the Dutch East Indies, let alone that anything about it appears in themedia.
                      A book I can highly recommend re the naval side of the NEI campaign - for anyone who may not have already read it - is Don Kehn's "In The Highest Degree Tragic", published in 2017. It is written from the US point of veiw so to speak, but the authour does not seek to conceal that fact as the sub-heading states "The Sacrifice of the U.S. Asiatic Fleet in the East Indies during World War II". It pulls no punches and is certainly the most up to date account in the English language - with an emphasis on recent historical research and primary source material - of those early months in the NEI and immediate surrounds.

                      https://www.amazon.co.uk/Highest-Deg...s=books&sr=1-1

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