Sinking of the Falaba1915

Noel F. Jones

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Welcome to the fray, Michael.

“And yet...you felt it important enough to comment on it.”

I can only refer you to the response I gave earlier, viz.: “…. I merely pointed out a conflict … and … left it up to others to pursue that conflict ….” The history of the ‘Kreigsmarine and Unterseeboot’ is not my primary area of interest. I do however have a passing interest in the Falaba, initially as an Elder Dempster superannuitant and latterly as a research colleague of James Cowden and the late John O.C.Duffy.

“May I ask why? When there's a point in controversy...and it appears that it is...it seems a good idea to check the available sources to try and resolve it does it not?”

By reason of the response I gave earlier - no it does not. Why should I laboriously traverse the same search paths as Cowden and Duffy in order to flush out a possible marginal error in detail? Others are better placed to do that and I am quite amenable to being educated in that regard (as, undoubtedly, is the surviving author).

What I do take exception to is being gratuitously badgered and lectured at from a distance and on an apparent pretext. Jim Kalafus is someone whose contributions elsewhere I have appreciated and valued over the years, particularly his graphics contributions. It is in deference to that that I’m going to this trouble to address his decidedly frigid and overly circumspect response to what I took to be an interesting by-line of the Falaba story.

Let this be an end of the matter. If anybody wants the last word, they're welcome to it.

Noel
 
Dec 2, 2000
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>>Why should I laboriously traverse the same search paths as Cowden and Duffy in order to flush out a possible marginal error in detail?<<

To do exactly that...flush out that error in detail. Shucks, it seemed important enough for you to comment on it so it occured to me that it might be important enough for you to actually find out.

But...if it isn't...then all I can say is "Fair enough."

>>What I do take exception to is being gratuitously badgered and lectured at from a distance and on an apparent pretext.<<

With all due respect, get over it.

As I've pointed out many times over the past five years, to post in a forum is to invite response, discussion, debate, and questions. Especially among historians who live for answering some of the questions.
 

Jim Kalafus

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>What on earth is your issue with me?

Let's begin this by saying up until this point there has been nothing of a personal attack in my postings- my issue has been with your one line post. However, since you chose to introduce the concept of getting personal, here goes:

>“…. I merely pointed out a conflict … and … left it up to others to pursue that conflict …

In other words, you are admitting that this was yet another example of irritating nitpicking on your part and did not stem from any great desire to get an answer.

>To do exactly that...flush out that error in detail. Shucks, it seemed important enough for you to comment on it so it occured to me that it might be important enough for you to actually find out.

For someone who uses "ver1tas" as one's code name, your response seems a bit odd. Mr. Standart is entirely correct. If it was important enough for you to offer comment, then certainly it is important enough for you to spend ten minutes on the phone verifying that the article exists in the form that Senan says that it does.

>What I brought into question was a detail; I merely pointed out a conflict between the Cowden/Duffy exposition and the cited reportage. I left it up to others to pursue that conflict or to let it lay. For my own part it does not loom large in the scheme of things. I did take provisional exception to Senan’s implicit reiteration of the cited press report. In the chronology I perceived this to be either negligently redundant or possibly mischievous; hence my “no further”￾.

My, you packed a lot of subtext into "Which gets us no further." Albee would be proud. And having pointed out the conflict between the two accounts without having verified either of them, you left the point open to debate.

>By reason of the response I gave earlier - no it does not. Why should I laboriously traverse the same search paths as Cowden and Duffy in order to flush out a possible marginal error in detail? Others are better placed to do that and I am quite amenable to being educated in that regard (as, undoubtedly, is the surviving author).

Then call the surviving author and ask him to clarify this point, or better yet ask him for copies of his notes. Then post them.

Perhaps 'suspiramus' is a better word to use after reading that paragraph than is 'ver1tas.' What you cited is NOT a marginal error in detail, and if you perceive it as such then why did you see fit to introduce it to what is, after all, a discussion about Craig Stringer's article? I can venture a guess, and it leads back to a certain discussion about Lusitania memorials and another 'debate' which led to nothing other than irritation and the eventual closing of the thread.
 

Noel F. Jones

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“An argument over U-28's command at the time descends almost to the realm of pointlessness.”

Quite.

“Is the actual agenda here to invalidate the German account?”

Not guilty. Perhaps it lost something in the translation.

“All this while maintaining an outrageous and totally unlawful starvation blockade on the whole population of Germany.”

This sounds like the kind of argument one sees rehearsed in the contemporaneous émigré partisan press, such as the New York Gaelic American.

Surely, if one wages war then one must expect war to be waged against oneself and blockade is a legitimate instrument of war not an escalation of it. If one’s citizens are reputedly starving to death as a result of blockade then it is incumbent upon one to seek some ameliorating accommodation with the enemy. That initiative presumably rested with the Kaiser or his cabinet. An alternative initiative would be to attempt succour via neutral ports. In any case, some civilian deaths from starvation have to be weighed against other civilians being blasted to pieces by bombs dropped from Zeppelins and shells fired from cruisers etc. Who did what to whom first, one might ask?

Perhaps you can tell us in what way the blockade contravened the articles of the Declaration of Paris 1856 as reiterated in the Declaration of London 1909. Well prior to hostilities both belligerents had ratified the former instrument as had most if not all of the neutrals affected [The Declaration of Paris in Modern War, H.A.Smith, Law Quarterly Review, London, vol.55 (1939) p.237 et seq.].

“A very effective blockade that in time did starve to death many thousands of German civilians.”

It was expressly stipulated in the Paris Declaration that a blockade had to be effective to qualify as such, in equitable consideration of those who would observe it against those who would seek to run it. Be that as it may, let’s turn the argument around by asking were the Swiss (and other contiguous neutral states) short of foodstuffs at the time? I doubt it. Germany as a nation could have made it back across the border with a basketful of groceries any day of the week but that would not have served any German propaganda agenda.

“Clearly Britain wanted to provoke Germany into no-warning U-boat sinkings of anything and everything. We can see who that would benefit, particularly in the propaganda war at which the British have always been most adept.”

Rather than the issue being clear, I would conjecture that the law of unintended consequences intervened and that a running hiccup ensued (I cleaned that up). The Cruiser Rules, first formulated by the likes of Grotius had long been rendered obsolete by technical developments in naval hardware. Submarines patently cannot embark the complements of the ships they wish to sink and those complements would understandably be concerned at being abandoned on the open ocean without visible chance of rescue. Shipmasters would feel compelled to act accordingly and the commandeering authorities would prefer their bottoms to arrive complete with cargo, passengers, crew and hull intact.

You have the right to remain silent but it may harm your defence if you fail to mention when questioned anything you later rely on in the Great Court In The Sky (sorry for the formality but it behoves us to be highly circumspect around here).

Noel
 

Senan Molony

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Eh, Maigret - it's emigré
Grey, grey like warship grey
wars are wars and rules are grey
Were before, and are today.


Hi Noel:

The British were turning away neutral ships laden with food bound for Germany - including American vessels. A systematic breach of international law at the time.

Britain was not at war with these neutral countries, but she simply ignored all the various protests about her restraint of commerce. Even though Britain herself had long trumpeted in the loudest voice that the seas should ever remain free to trade!

In time of war she was allowed to search neutral ships, but if a cargo was just foodstuffs, she was supposed to let it through.

Surprise, surprise - when it suited her, Britannia waived the rules!

There were protests to the US President about the RN behaviour and I believe a number of companies sought redress through the courts. Fat chance.

But that's war, innit. As Jackie Fisher wrote to Von Tirpitz, Britain would have commenced unrestricted submarine warfare from the start if she had been in Germany's position.

That's what the man said. The First Lord of the Admiralty didn't shed any crocodile tears for the 'moral issue' of the Lusitania, so perhaps it would be rather rich for any prosecutor of hostilities to shake their heads unduly over the Falaba.

As to that vessel and Britain's undoubtedly propagandist version of what happened -

I personally don't like to accept one side's account of an action without hearing the other...

Hence the clipping of the German account.

I am personally comfortable with learning as much as I can about this sinking... then I can adjust for certain biases of origin.

And I would still like to know what Craig Stringer says about the circumstances of the Falaba's demise.
 

Noel F. Jones

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Hello Senan,

'Maigret' was foisted on me by Microsoft Word; I thought it looked peculiar at the time but let it go nevertheless. French as she is spoke in Silicon Valley, I presume.

If Britain was pursuing a declared Commercial Blockade, as defined, she was entitled to close off enemy ports against foreign commerce, provided reasonable time was given to enable neutral vessels to get clear.

If Britain was pursuing a declared Military Blockade, as defined, she was entitled to close off enemy ports to all succour by way of food, water, arms, ammunition ‘and other supplies’ with a view to forcing surrender.

In both cases the requisite constraint of trade or succour can take place at any location on the navigable seas, be that remote from the intended port(s) of destination.

Thus I cannot see that under the articles of the Declaration of Paris neutrals had any actionable cause for complaint in public international maritime law.

In the interests of objectivity perhaps we should consult Eric W. Osborne — Britain’s Economic Blockade of Germany, 1914-1919 (Cass series: naval policy and history), 2004, ISBN: 0-7146-5474-4.

This is (reputedly) the first book to offer a synthesis of the naval and political aspects of the blockade and makes a strong claim for the economic blockade to be the principle reason for the eventual German defeat in World War I

Jackie Fisher seems to have been of the same stamp as Douglas MacArthur and, like MacArthur, was, opinion notwithstanding, subject to political restraint.

Noel
 

Senan Molony

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Hello Noel,

Yes I could agree with your chap Osborne -

that the British economic blockade [most often portrayed, in astounding contrast, as a penning-in of the German High Seas fleet!] could well have been the principal reason for the eventual German defeat. I don't think principles came much into it!


So much for the Kaiser shopping in Switzerland.

Britain was enforcing an economic blockade from the get-go.

And yet, while everyone knows about marauding U-boats, very few people today are actually aware of the British naval tactics - against which the German efforts were ultimately puny.

But getting back to the "morality" of war, if there can be such a thing, it should surely be clear now in hindsight that Britain did not go to battle in 1914 because of German frightfulness in "little Belgium."

She did so in her own self-interest.

Britain was always strategically determined to confront German expansionism before the Germans took the Continent.

They remembered what Napoleon did a hundred years earlier, when he conquered Europe and closed it off completely to British trade.

Needless to relate, that drove the "Nation of Shopkeepers" quite demented for a time!

* I have now got the Falaba article, with many thanks to Mike Poirier, and there are two references to German sailors enjoying the drownings...
In that respect, what I posted about the German assertion that this claim is untrue should be borne in mind.
The British complaint about the Falaba has always been that it was not necessary for a single life to be lost. They did not contest the right to sink the ship.
The German version gives a reason for their firing a torpedo before the ship had been completely evacuated, and is at least worthy of consideration.
 

Noel F. Jones

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“…that the British economic blockade … could well have been the principal reason for the eventual German defeat. I don't think principles came much into it!”￾

Perhaps I ought to explain that I occasionally resort to such logic bombs just to ensure people are giving my postings the attention they deserve.

Noel
 

Mike Poirier

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...Perhaps I ought to explain that I occasionally resort to such logic bombs just to ensure people are giving my postings the attention they deserve...

Well Noel, instead of doing that- perhaps you should get yourself a copy of Craig's article and read it. After all, this is what the thread is REALLY about.
 

Noel F. Jones

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“……. perhaps you should get yourself a copy of and read it. After all, this is what the thread is REALLY about.”￾

Well Jim, you must concede the topic had been expanded somewhat, what with the fog of war (not to mention some knockabout fog of debate) having being introduced. Senan gave his interpretation of the contemporaneous public international maritime law and I think I responded with a commensurate rejoinder.

And where pray does one get a link to Craig Stringer's article? I don’t wish to subscribe to the hard copy journal mentioned; I’m drowning in a sea of papers as it is.

The Falaba was rated at 14 knots; does anyone know the surface speed of the U-28? More than 14 knots presumably. From the accounts I get the impression the U-boat remained on the surface throughout.

Incidentally, Falaba is the name of a town in Sierra Leone some 40 miles from the source of the Niger. Elder Dempster assigned the name to a new motor vessel, one of a class of six, in 1962. This successor served until 1978 when she was sold out and was eventually broken up at Chittagong in 1978.

Noel
 

Mike Poirier

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Actually it was I who said you should get yourself a copy. I would also call it a fog of a debate as you don't want to do anymore than put forth an opinion without supporting evidence. Are you right? Are you wrong? Who is to say unless you actually do some research on it, versus trying to formulate 'rejoinders.'
Perhaps if you appeal to the Titanic International thread- a member will send you a copy of Craig's article. We all have a sea of papers, but this is certainly an article to add to things to read.
 

Senan Molony

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99480.jpg


British propaganda "photo" of the rescue of Falaba lifeboats. The latter are artistically close together, with many nice touches of distress.

First casualty: truth.
 

Noel F. Jones

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"Actually it was I who said you should get yourself a copy.

Oh, sorry about that. Delete 'Jim', insert 'Michael'. And...

" I would also call it a fog of a debate as you don't want to do anymore than put forth an opinion without supporting evidence. Are you right? Are you wrong? Who is to say unless you actually do some research on it, versus trying to formulate 'rejoinders.'

Chuck it, Mike.

-----------------

Noel
 

Noel F. Jones

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May 14, 2002
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"British propaganda "photo" of the rescue of Falaba lifeboats. The latter are artistically close together, with many nice touches of distress."

Senan, are we to infer the photograph was staged after the event?

If so, and since we seem highly inclined to circumspection in this thread, may we know where, when and by whom? Or are you going to take refuge in the 'fog of war'?

You have the right to remain silent etc.

Noel
 
Dec 2, 2000
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>>Chuck it, Mike.<<

Why? The man has a point. If you wish to debate something, it helps to know exactly what it is that's being debated, and actually reading the article in question goes a long way towards achieving that.

If you wish to ofer a copy of Voyage 53, in which this article appears, just click on http://www.titanicinternationalsociety.org/backissues.html

You'll need to run off the form on your printer and remit your order by mail but you'll at least get a copy of what's being discussed.
 

Noel F. Jones

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Never a dead horse unflogged...

Michael (Poirier) is labouring under the delusion that - and I quote - I "don't want to do anymore than put forth an opinion without supporting evidence.".

"The man has a point."

With respect, he has no point. As the record clearly shows, I fed some pertinent information into the stack for the consideration of the array. Nothing I gratuitously appended thereto or thereafter can realistically construe as turning it into an opinion. As the negation of an opinion it required - and still requires - no further qualification from me.

Perhaps I should give more consideration to those contributors whose first language may not be English.

Thank you for the link. I shall take it under active consideration.

Noel
 

Mike Poirier

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Noel-
Again, this is supposed to be about Craig's article. Put down your 'sea of papers', like you find time to when posting reasons as to why you won't do research or read the article, and either research what you quoted or read the article. In the time that you've taken to protest why you have cannot or will not, you could have done so already!

Mike