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Helfrich & Doorman

December 15 2010 at 10:24 PM
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Melmoth the Wanderer  (no login)


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Hello,

This characterization of Helfrich is consistent with--altho' more bluntly put--the opinions of many USN officers who served in the NEI.
ADM Hart, it should be noted, was always quite restrained and discrete; he rarely if ever said a harsh word about Helfrich, nor did Glassford, AFAIK.

The lower ranks, including junior officers, were not so polite; particularly those men who lost friends in the final days of the campaign in what they considered useless and wasteful operations. Enlisted personnel reactions have generally been far more savage, but these were guys who ended up POWs, and suffered the most intensely, I suppose.

In fairness I must note almost all USN officers spoke well of Karel Doorman, or at least sympathized with his predicament: being thrown a mixed command with no joint/combined operations experience whatsoever, and then expected to produce results with them on the shortest possible notice, etc. They were also quite aware of the shortcomings of their own combat operations, and the deficiencies of training and doctrine the Asiatic Fleet ships suffered from during the surface engagements, as well as severe materiel problems (as in the defective 5"/25cal projectiles supplied to HOUSTON, which were well-known to a handful of her officers, and caused great consternation to her crew on 4 February in the Flores Sea aerial attacks, and after the Timor Convoy engagements in which they fired off all of the replacement 5"/25cal shells they'd taken from BOISE at Tjilatjap.)
Surviving USN officers also noted that American propaganda of the time was counter-productive, such as the SecNav Frank Knox's statements in the press re Nazi Germany as priority number one, which--in conjunction with British reverses in Malaya--did real harm to our men's morale.

FWIW,

Don

 
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  • Re: Helfrich & Doorman - Arnout Van A. on Dec 17, 2010, 3:57 AM
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