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David Irving

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The PQ.l7 Libel Action, 1970

Captain J E Broome, vs. Cassell & Co Ltd and David Irving

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PQ.17 bookCaptain J E Broome, DSO, RN, the escort commander in this 1942 North Russian convoy disaster, sued David Irving in libel after the publication by Cassell and Co. Ltd. of this book in October 1968. The case came to trial in February 1970; after seventeen days the Jury awarded Broome what was then one of the largest sums of damages, including punitive damages, in history.



David Irving reader's letter about the July 4, 1942 British Admiralty Board meeting.


At this crucial meeting the fateful decision was taken to scatter Convoy PQ.17.

13th March 1970



None of the dozen or so officers I questioned about the Naval Staff meeting at which Admiral Pound decided to scatter convoy PQ.17 gave me the impression that he was in any way incapable. Perhaps the most vivid recollection was that of the late Vice-Admiral J.A.S. Eccles, then a Captain:

"His eyes were shut and his face was expressionless". Pound leant back in his chair, and after a minute or so Eccles nudged his neighbour, Captain Lambe, and jokingly whispered "Look -- Father's asleep!"

But the Admiral's posture of deep concentration was familiar to them all. Pound "suddenly sprang to life again and gave his decision: Disperse. As he did so, he made a gesture to everybody as though to indicate that this was . . . entirely his decision and responsibility."

I would add that I consider Pound's decision to have been correct on the evidence before him -- a grade A2 report from a "Most Secret Source" (apparently obtained by reading coded German wireless traffic) stating :

"(German) warships are expected to move from Trondheim and Narvik (?36) hours before convoy reaches meridian 50 East. Main attack to be concentrated during passage between 15th and 30th meridian."

This was amplified by an appreciation given him (not by the then Commander Denning) in the Operational Intelligence Centre.[*]

Yours faithfully,

(David Irving)

The Editor,
"The Daily Telegraph".


[ *This was an allusion to the role of Commander Rodger Winn, later Lord Justice Winn, commander of the Submarine Tracking Room.]


[Extract from]

Notes during Interview with Vice-Admiral J.A.S. EccIes, 3.35 p. m., 8 April 1963.

Remembers clearly way in which Pound decided to scatter convoy. His eyes were shut and his face was expressionless. He leant back in his chair. Capt. Eccles and Capt. Lambe were junior officers then. Eccles nudged Capt. Lambe, pointed to Pound, and whispered, "Look, Father's asleep." Not seriously, but he could almost feel the different possibilities arousing and re-crossing Adml. Pound's face and mind. It was a dramatic and almost unbearable pause.

Then he suddenly sprang to life again and gave his decision: disperse. As he did so he made a gesture to everybody else present, as though to indicate that this was a decision he was taking alone -- it was entirely his decision and responsibility. (Eccles) admired him immensely for his courage in indicating his responsibility for this.



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