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Saturday, July 28th 2018, 11:55am

10 Downing Street, Whitehall, London, Saturday 9 October
Attlee had seen the morning papers and slammed them down on the baize-covered desk. He picked up the red telephone in front of him and spoke to the operator to make his call.
"Morning James. I trust you've seen the papers?"
On the other end of the phone, the Home Secretary Chuter Ede picked up his copy of The Times, "Morning Clem. It take it you mean the Channel business? Yes i have."
"How did the press get this past the D-Notice Committee?" Clem asked sharply.
Chuter Ede "From what I hear the daily papers have largely made up the stories. Apparently last night half of Fleet Street rushed down to the south coast hoping to see something but in the absence of news they called in phoney stories, mostly gossip from over-wrought housewives or men who had too many down the pub. The Committee is designed to censor sensitive news, not to proof read fiction."
Attlee grunted a little and flicked over his copy of the Daily Mirror, "Wedgie will make a statement today outlining the facts. Do you think the press barons deliberately put these stories out to discredit the government?"
"Its a possibility, but they will look foolish when their stories are proved false. Do you want me to call the Secretary?" Chuter Ede asked,
"Yes, as soon as you can. I want it impressed on the Press Association representative that air force operational movements and exercises remain firmly under the D-Notice and that reporting on foreign military movements must be cleared with the FO and WO before publication will be allowed. We can't afford a repeat of this."

Admiralty, Whitehall, London, Saturday 9 October
Alexander, the First Lord looked up from his cup of tea, "I can't make out their intentions. Its almost as though it was deliberate provocation."
The First Sea Lord, Admiral of the Fleet Bruce Fraser, examined the map on his desk of the plot of the aerial events of the previous day. "It was a plain enough signal for us to keep off the grass."
"But we did," Alexander sighed, "we didn't interfere with their recent naval exercises, the second provocative exercise this year. They have stalked our coasts with submarines, sortied almost the entire German battlefleet and now have conducted joint exercises with the French and Russians, even intercepting merchant traffic in the North Atlantic. We sat back and yet four of our planes over the Channel get up half the French air defences."
Fraser put the map down, "True it seems an ominous chain of events. But the Wolverine Incident was ample opportunity for them to make a big deal of it if they had wished to, but they didn't. They seem very defensive to whatever we do. They seek confrontation with us."
"What do you expect us to do?" Alexander asked "If we do nothing we look weak, they will push and push."
Fraser smiled, "sometimes its better to walk softly with a big stick. They know we have a big stick. We still have one advantage. Every exercise tips off their war planning, their operational dispositions, their inter-operability, they try to probe our reactions of course, we have adopted several different responses to keep them guessing. My advice it that next time we don't react and make our response somewhere else." He jabbed his finger on the map.
"Perhaps, your right. The Cabinet have no appetite to get into an arms race with the continent. During this session of Parliament the proposed maritime zone changes will come up for discussion, there could be political repercussions, although the French raised the possibility first." Alexander put his cup down and looked at his watch.
"I'm sure all this will blow over, the blue boys got their bit of fun and while they may have felt harassed by us at least they missed observing our latest exercise." Fraser picked up the file on Exercise WASHTUB."
Alexander smiled, "From the initial reports it seems to have gone very well. Are you pleased."
Fraser nodded, "It went perfectly , Plans are drawing up a report on the conclusions and how we might apply them."


Sunday, July 29th 2018, 6:50pm

The North Sea, 51 dgs 45 min North 2 dgs 54 min East, Saturday, 9 October 1948

It was not long after local dawn that the Dornier 330 J-for-Josef spotted the four British destroyers trailing the Alliance task force, which was busily assuming its three-column formation, there being sufficient sea room to do so. J-for-Josef closed with the British formation and assumed a racetrack course above them, keeping a respectful altitude and distance – close enough to make observation easy, far enough to reassure the British that they were not under attack. Moments after taking up its position, J-for-Josef was joined by several of its mates from Marine-Aufklärungsstaffel 241 – B-for-Bruno, G-for-Gustav, V-for-Viktor. Below them the crews of the British destroyers might have wondered what the Germans were up to.


Saturday, August 4th 2018, 7:27pm

The North Sea, 52 dgs 10 min North 3 dgs 16 min East, Saturday, 9 October 1948

The Dorniers continued to fly their racetrack pattern above the British destroyers as the latter continued to follow the track of the Alliance task force to the northwest. Several hours after their arrival the navigator in Dornier 330 J-for-Josef notified the pilot that they had passed the three-degree east of Greenwich mark. The pilot noted the fact but took no immediate action, waiting for the morning’s weather to fully clear. Eventually he picked up the aircraft’s wireless telephone.

“Kühlbox Leader to all Kühlbox aircraft. Execute Anton Einz. I repeat, execute Anton Einz.”

To an outside observer, nothing much happened. Below the circling Dorniers though the operators of the Type 278 radar on the Vigo, Albuera, Barrosa, and Mons all faced a most unexpected prospect.

Electronic noise blanketed their position-plan-indicator scopes.


Wednesday, August 8th 2018, 8:17pm

HMS Albuera, North Sea, 52 dgs 10 min North 3 dgs 16 min East, 9 October 1948

The operator fiddled with the cathode ray controls. "It makes no difference, every sector is the same."
The Chief Petty Officer picked up the telephone to the bridge "Direction room to bridge, we are still being jammed. Yes Sir, we've tried but it made no difference. No, we can't pick out any echos. Yes, Sir, right away."
The CPO hung the phone up and walked across to another console and flicked some switches, bringing another tube alive with spikey traces."

On the bridge Captain Johns looked at the bridge repeater over the shoulder of one the Lieutenants on duty.
"Its a fine mess. No hope of seeing anything through that fuzz. Must be some form of aerial jamming from an aircraft."
"Should we counter-jam?" the Lieutenant asked.
The Captain shook his head. "No we will monitor the signal and signal the flagship for instructions."

HMS Vigo
"HMS Vigo to C-inC Channel Command repeated Admiralty.
Am encountering heavy RDF interference at position 52 dgs 10 min North 3 dgs 16 min East. Interference from German DO330 type aircraft. Will continue to comply with current orders unless advised otherwise."


Monday, August 13th 2018, 3:03pm

The North Sea, 52 dgs 11 min North 3 dgs 19 min East, Saturday, 9 October 1948

The quartet of Dorniers maintained their position above the British destroyers for some time before there was an overt reaction from the trailing ships. As the Alliance task force continued its course to the northeast, the destroyers made a course change, first to the north-northeast and thence turning back to the west, heading in the general direction of Harwich. The Dorniers adjusted their own track to maintain position above them until the British ships had completed their course change.

“Kühlbox Leader to all Kühlbox aircraft. Cease Anton Einz. I repeat, cease Anton Einz.”

The position-plan-indicator scopes on the destroyers suddenly cleared, and after a few moments more, one by one the Dorniers broke from their racetrack and headed northeast towards their home base. Admittedly, in sending the message to the British shadowers, some disclosure of the Marineflieger’s capabilities had been revealed. But that was a price to pay to convey the news that Britain’s dominance at sea had been tested.


Saturday, August 18th 2018, 1:33am

Aircraft Carrier Wallenstein, 54 dgs 8 min North, 5 dgs 10 min East, Sunday, 10 October 1948

Signal flags fluttered at the mastheads of the flagship, and with well-drilled precision the task force split into two; the French and Russian vessels continued on their now easterly course, heading for Brunsbüttel and the entrance to the Kaiser Wilhelm Canal. They would be returning to the Baltic to resume their part in the Grand Alliance joint training scheme. The two aircraft carriers and their escorts shaped a course for Wilhelmshaven, where they would re-join the main striking force of the Atlantic Fleet.

In his cabin Admiral Engel began the lengthy process of composing his report on the successes, and disappointments, of Pegase. In some days’ time the commanders and senior staff would gather to assess the results, the lessons learned, and begin development of new tactics and techniques to overcome any significant failures. This Engel looked forward to, for despite the achievements of the task force he wished to hear the opinions of his Russian and French subordinates as well as the shore-based staff – any intelligence they may have gathered during the exercise was, of course, still unknown to him – and that knowledge would inform the ultimate success of their efforts.

And it would be good to return home, where no doubt a warm welcome awaited.


Saturday, August 18th 2018, 2:30pm

The Foreign Office, Whitehall, London 11:00am, Monday 11 October

Ernest Bevin looked at the letter on his desk. He adjusted his spectacles and skimmed the letter.


Therefore His Majesty's Government must protest in the most strongest terms possible at the blatant attempt to electronically interfere with navigational devices of ships belonging to His Majesty's Royal Navy in the vicinity of busy shipping lanes where there was nearby traffic in international waters whilst the ships were going about their lawful and peaceful occasions and threatening to cause incidents with possible collision and liable to cause damage.

Bevin turned to his Private Secretary and the two Under Secretaries of State seated before him.
"Remember Clem wants to keep this low profile. The letter you have drafted up is acceptable. At the very least we should seek a formal apology. The question is can we prove this if it ever comes to an international case?"
One of the Secretaries nodded and opened his paper file "One of our destroyers made a film recording of the cathode ray tube output and we have tracks taken by Chain Home of the German aircraft racetrack pattern. The jamming was picked up from our shore stations and cross-located as well. There is no doubt."

Bevin grunted, "Very well, contact the Embassy and arrange an appointment for Prince von Bismarck." He scrawled his signature on the bottom of the letter.


Saturday, August 18th 2018, 6:25pm

The Foreign Office, Whitehall, London 7:00 PM, Monday, 11 October 1948

Otto, Prince von Bismarck had expected a summons to the Foreign Office for the last several weeks – in some respects he was surprised that the English had not raised objections to the latest Alliance naval exercises sooner. The thought of foreign warships calmly sailing through waters the English considered to be their own was no doubt a blow to their amour-propre.

The usher opened the door to admit him to the Foreign Secretary’s office, and closed it behind him. Bevin did not bother to rise but glowered from behind his desk. Bismarck made a mental note of the lack of courtesy but sat, uninvited, in the chair placed opposite Bevin.

“I am given to understand that His Majesty’s Government has a letter it wishes to convey to the German Government.”

“Yes, we do.” Bevin’s voice was laced with distaste – as if he wished to come right out and speak his mind instead of limiting himself to the language of diplomacy. He took from his desk an envelope and offered it to Bismarck. “I haven’t an idea what your Government is up to but we will not be played with.”

Bismarck casually opened the envelope and scanned its contents. It held little in the way of surprises. The ambassador folded up the letter and returned it to the envelope, which he then placed in the inner pocket of his coat.

“I shall convey to my Government His Majesty’s Government concerns in this matter, and shall return with their answer upon its arrival. If there is nothing further, I will take my leave.”

“Please do.”

Bismarck arose and left Bevin’s office. He considered the letter remarkably restrained in its language, and wondered how the Wilhelmstraße would react. He could cable a precis of the note tonight and perhaps receive preliminary instructions by mid-morning.


Tuesday, October 2nd 2018, 3:56pm

After Action

Berlin, The Admiralstab, Thursday, 11 November 1948

It had taken some days to prepare for the formal after-action review of Operation Pegase – the number of reports filed by the participants required considerable time to prepare, review, collate, and analyse was but one hurdle. Senior officers were called from important duties to deliberate on and contribute to the Alliance’s first major operational exercise. The recently concluded Exercise Shaka contributed its own delay. Nevertheless the conference room now saw gathered many of the most important officers of the Alliance navies, and Generaladmiral von Fischel called the meeting to order.

“Gentlemen, as you know, Operations Pegase marked a major step forward in obtaining the strategic objectives of the Alliance. While not all of these were fulfilled at this juncture, I believe that in the main satisfaction can be taken in what has been achieved. Let us begin by examining the details.”

He thereupon turned the briefing over to Kapitän zur See Karl-Friedrich Merten, Director of Naval Operations.

“The principal objective of Operation Pegase was to test the ability of a unified Alliance squadron to carry out maritime warfare against an opposing force, rather than a mere table-top exercise. Over the past year Operation Wachsame Entschlossenheit has permitted the development of tactics and procedures, and the training of crews, that would allow Alliance vessels to operate in an effective manner. This objective was achieved.”

He thereupon called upon Vizeadmiral Siegfried Engel, the commander of the Alliance task force, denominated as Force Bleu, and Contre-amiral Ernest Bailly, commanding the opposing FO Bayard, to summarize their respective plans and initial movements relating to the exercise, setting the stage for the detailed commentary that would follow.

Merten interjected. “The deployment of FO Bayard from its normal station at Dakar to Casablanca was permitted by the exercise umpires, simulating as it would a British force operating from Gibraltar. Otherwise, FO Bayard would have been severely hampered in reaching the exercise area in a timely manner.”

Further summary followed, covering FO Bayard’s initial deployment to the central portion of the North Atlantic, and Force Bleu’s passage through the Denmark Strait.

“The Analysis Team commends Admiral Bailly for his foresight in choosing a position where Force Bayard could limit the scope of activity of Force Bleu whichever course it might take.”

It was at this juncture that Kapitän zur See Heinrich Gerlach, Director of Naval Intelligence, stood to speak to one of the imponderables that had intruded on the exercise.

“The apparently and surprisingly swift movement of the Home Fleet led us to believe that the British were over-reacting to the exercise, and this information was conveyed to Admiral Engel, which may have unduly limited his freedom of action. We now know that the movements of heavy units from Portsmouth was partially linked to the Royal Navy’s own planned exercise in the North Atlantic, and also with its long-anticipated redeployment to its northern bases.”

Capitaine de Vaisseau Honoré d'Estienne d'Orves, commander of the cruiser Marseillaise and a participant in the exercise, then picked up on the surface operations that marked the middle part of the exercise.

“Our initial actions to intercept merchant shipping was aided by poor weather conditions, that degraded the search capabilities of both FO Bayard and the British force which, as we had been advised, had be deployed to ‘observe’ our activities. On the twenty-sixth of September a detachment of Force Bayard made contact with surface elements of Force Bleu, but quickly broke contact.”

Kontr-Admiral Giorgi Abashvili raised an objection. “Do you believe that a British force would have been so quick to retreat in the face of a force of which it would have had incomplete intelligence?”

“No, Admiral, I do not. However, the umpires ruled the action prudent at that point in the exercise.”

Capitaine de fregate Jean des Moutis took up the presentation of the Analysis Team at this point. “The first carrier contacts on the twenty-seventh proved to be illuminating. The first strike was successfully broken up by the Force Bleu combat air patrols. The dradis equipment on the air defence cruisers was able to pick up the incoming aircraft at extreme range and vector fighter aircraft to totally disrupt the incoming strike. Admiral Engel then exploited the superior electronic warfare capabilities of his ships to first, disorient the incoming strike commanders at a critical moment and then, deploy his escort vessels in a most effective manner and inflict heavy losses on the second FO Bayard strike.

Admiral Abashvili again stood. “From the perspective of the Russian Federation Navy we find that Admiral Engel’s use of the electronic warfare and antiaircraft capabilities of his ships was one of the most important lessons to be learned from this exercise. Admiral Engel should be commended, and I recommend that he draw up a handbook covering operational procedures for the joint use of Alliance forces.” His words were followed by a murmur of approval.

Des Moutis continued to review the second day of carrier contacts. “By judicious use of his more numerous air assets Admiral Bailly was able to achieve significant damage to Force Bleu, completing FO Bayard’s strategic objective of denying it the uninterrupted ability of pursue the guerre de course. The cost to his own air groups was heavy, and had the exercise not ended shortly thereafter it is possible that the strategic balance could have been reversed.”

Kapitän zur See Heinrich Bramesfeld, Director of Plans picked up the thread at this point. “One of the premises of the exercise was that the opposing force, in the case FO Bayard, would be constrained to act in a manner consistent with the Royal Navy. From our observations we deduced that the opposing force would not avoid a surface engagement – the British having shown a proclivity to engage in them during their own exercises.”

“I chose not to do so. Having achieved the overall strategic objective for FO Bayard to do so would have risked victory conditions for no great benefit. As Capitaine des Moutis has noted, the strategic balance could have been reversed.” While at sea Bailly had long discussions with the exercise umpires on this very point, and had convinced them to permit him the freedom to avoid a night action through manoeuvre.

“Yes,” Bramesfeld admitted. “Our knowledge of what a potential adversary might do in certain circumstances is imperfect. A similar question arouse regarding the proposal from Capitaine de corvette Grosjean regarding a night strike by FO Bayard’s aircraft. Here the umpires came down on the other side of Occam’s Razor.”

The return of Force Bleu to the North Sea covered in a brief manner and kept to the point. The assembled officers awaited the closing summary and recommendations, which Merten rose to deliver.

“Point One. As Admiral Abashvili has noted, development of a formal handbook for employment of electronic warfare, antiaircraft batteries, and coordinated ship-handling should be developed as rapidly as feasible. Admiral Engel has agreed to that he and his staff will undertake this.”

“Point Two. The lessons of Operation Wachsame Entschlossenheit should be disseminated throughout the Alliance naval forces to support inter-operability of ships and crews.

“Point Three. That an exercise of similar nature be scheduled at a point in the future once procedures and doctrine have been coordinated to further test the ability of Alliance naval forces to act in a cohesive manner. We recommend that for this exercise a non-German senior officer be selected to command the Blue Forces for the event.”

There was a murmur of surprise among those assembled. The expected technical criticisms were not highlighted in the presentation; perhaps they would appear in the formal written report.


Tuesday, October 2nd 2018, 4:51pm

Well written. :) Thank you!


Tuesday, October 2nd 2018, 6:40pm

Well written. :) Thank you!

Thank you!

I am sorry to have taken so long to produce it but real life of late has been more hectic than usual, and inspiration somewhat lacking thereby.


Tuesday, October 2nd 2018, 9:36pm

I am sorry to have taken so long to produce it but real life of late has been more hectic than usual, and inspiration somewhat lacking thereby.

I resemble that remark...


Wednesday, October 3rd 2018, 9:58am

That's a nice write up and a fitting conclusion to this storyline.


Wednesday, October 3rd 2018, 1:06pm

That's a nice write up and a fitting conclusion to this storyline.

Thanks! I hope you found it entertaining.