- Winter, Barbara
- Naval Intelligence, History - WW2
- RAN Ships
- None noted.
- March 1991 edition of the Naval Historical Review (all rights reserved)
Australia: According to WIT traffic, cruiser Adelaide was in the vicinity of Australia and New Zealand on 22.11.
Cruiser Achilles was in Sydney from 12 to 13.11, where Perth is supposed to have been for two weeks. (Attaché, Rome)
[X]-B 47/41: 28 November: East Indies: According to an Italian report, the Dutch submarine K 12 with English officers on board was in the Straits of Malacca on 11.11.
B 48/41: 5 December: Indian Ocean: On about 18.11 the Australian cruiser Sydney was sunk by a German auxiliary cruiser west of Australia.
Australia: at 1252 on 24.11., WIT station Sydney requested an unknown vessel (probably steamer) to report by W/T details of a battle and the name of the ship from which it had picked up survivors.
[X]-B 48/51: 5 December: East Indies: Convoy US 13 – Queen Mary (81235 t) and Queen Elizabeth (85000 t) left Sydney (Australia) about 2.11, presumably bound for the Middle East.
Australia: From an Admiralty Report of 26.11: Cruiser Sydney has been overdue in Fremantle [sic] for.6 days. It was on the return journey from convoy escort. It is believed that it was sunk by an enemy ‘Raider’, but there is no definite information. A British tanker picked up German sailors from a craft, others were sighted in lifeboats, 2 came ashore in Western Australia. Sydney was said to be burning when last sighted by the Germans.
B 49/41: 12 December: East Indies: According to Attachés report, there were on 20.11 in Trincomali (Ceylon) the following: Prince of Wales, Repulse and Revenge, Eagle and Hermes, as well as 9 cruisers and 6 destroyers. The group is supposed to have left on 25.11 and to have reached Singapore on 2.12.
Mediterranean: On 2.12. Reuter reported the loss of the escort ship Parramatta (1060 t). 141 to 161 officers and men are missing.
[X]-B 49/41: 12 December: Report on German Auxiliary cruiser: According to a report by the Australian Admiralty, the battle between Sydney and the German merchant raider took place 300 nautical miles west of Carnarvon (Western Australia). According to an Admiralty report of 30.11, an extensive search for survivors of Sydney was unsuccessful. According to statements by survivors of the merchant raider., the battle lasted 2 hours.
B 50/41: 19 December: Indian Ocean: The presence of King George V in the Indian Ocean has not been confirmed. [While Japan was claiming to have sunk this ship, German W/T monitoring placed it in Scottish waters. This report also compares, without comment, Japanese and American claims concerning losses of ships at Pearl Harbour.]
[X]-B 50/41: 19 December: [There is a lengthy report on what the British Admiralty reported the Japanese fleet was doing on 6 December.]
Anyone with the patience and resources to compare the reports with the actual situation, will find that the B-Dienst did not always get things right nor, when it was right, did it necessarily get them right quickly enough to be of use, but between its intercept service and cryptanalysis on one hand, and its agents in Spain, South Africa and Colombo at least, it got more things right more often than would have allowed the Royal Navy to feel happy and confident, if their Lordships had known.
(1) F.M. Hinsley: British Intelligence in the Second World War Vols. 1, II, III. (HMSO, London, 1979, 1981, 1984)
(2) Nigel West: G.C.H.Q. The Secret Wireless War 1900-86. (Coronet. 1987)