BMMHS Evening Meeting: 'Dudley Pound and the decision to scatter convoy PQ17 - July 1942'

Wednesday 14th September; 7:30pm

BMMHS Meeting Venue

Woodcote Village Hall, Reading Road, Woodcote, RG8 0QY

Dudley Pound and the decision to scatter convoy PQ17 - July 1942

Convoy PQ17 is amongst the most famous disasters of WW2, and has usually been attributed to a poor decision by the First Sea Lord, Dudley Pound. In a recent TV programme Jeremy Clarkson was scathing in his criticism of the decision to scatter without ever examining why and how that decision was taken. Like much of the material written about the convoy he concentrated on the stories of the merchant ships and their crews, which is perfectly acceptable as they are remarkable stories. However, to damn the scatter decision without ever really examining why it was taken is irresponsible (if he considers himself to be a historian, rather than a high profile front man). The decision had to be taken on negative intelligence, and one of the key factors was that Bletchley Park was also having to deal with First Alamein for its attention. The story also resulted in a libel action which awarded Captain Jackie Broome the then record punitive libel damages ever awarded. So, there is much controversy and much of interest in this topic. Dudley Pound is not often defended, but I shall do my best to do so!

CONVOYS TO RUSSIA DURING THE SECOND WORLD WAR - CONVOY PQ 18, SEPTEMBER 1942 (A 12022) Convoy PQ 18 at sea. An underwater detonation erupts next to HMS ASHANTI. The destroyer HMS ESKIMO is seen in the foreground. Merchant ships are in the background. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source:
THE SECOND WORLD WAR 1939 - 1945: THE WAR AT SEA 1939 - 1945 (A 8953) Escorts and merchant ships at Hvalfjord before the sailing of Convoy PQ 17. Behind the destroyer ICARUS (1.03) is the Russian tanker AZERBAIJAN. The sea voyage to the north Russian ports of Murmansk and Archangel was the shortest route for sending Allied supplies to Russia. But it was also the most dangerous owing to the large concentration of German forces in northern Norway. The convoy PQ 17 was... Copyright: © IWM. Original Source:
THE BATTLE OF ATLANTIC, 1939-1945 (HU 40267) Sailors of a German U-Boat by an ice-covered gun aboard the vessel in the Arctic Ocean, 17-24 July 1942. The submarine very likely took part in the action against the PQ-17 convoy. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source:

About the Speaker - Robin Brodhurst

Robin Brodhurst was educated at Marlborough College, RMA Sandhurst, Goldsmiths’ College, London and Cambridge Universities. He served for 6 years as an officer in the Royal Green Jackets, and then, after university as a mature student, became a History teacher, ending as Head of History for 22 years at Pangbourne College.

He has published Churchill’s Anchor, a biography of Dudley Pound, and edited The Bramall Papers. He is working on editing a collection of his grandfather’s correspondence with Sir Donald Bradman as well as a volume of documents on Anglo-American Naval Relations between 1939 and 1941. He is a keen cricketer and jazz enthusiast and lives in Newbury.

Robin Brodhurst
Robin Brodhurst

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