When I Noticed Deceit Prevailed

Author Interview
Gregory Bathgate Author Interview

What was the idea, or spark, that first set off the need to write Masterly Misled A History of Deceit?

I was intrigued by the Eldridge story, which was conveyed to the Admiralty to explain the HMAS Sydney sinking in early 1942. In particular, that this story was told by only 3 people, including Detmers, the commander of the Kormoran (there were a total of 326 survivors). In other words, the ships were sailing along at 14 knots when a torpedo from one of the above-water tubes all of a sudden slammed into the Sydney – a highly unlikely story, this because Captain Burnett of the Sydney was acutely aware that the so called Straat Malakka was not plotted on his VAI (vessels in area) received twice daily. He would have challenged the SM well beforehand.

How much research did you undertake for this book, and how much time did it take to put it all together?

I have been following this same story for 25+ years, and it definitely doesn’t ring true. I’ve undertaken considerable research to the point of the latest inquiry released in 2009, when I noticed deceit prevailed (I reckon it was limited to those at the top of the RAN). My second book, Oversight, released in 2014, is really a sequel to Masterly Misled because it gave the parameters of the battle site. Thus, the latest MM tells the story in depth, but to confirm the bona fides, it has taken me since 2009 to complete the story.

Did you find anything in your research of this story that surprised you?

Nothing surprises you when it’s downright deceit (an everyday occurrence), especially from an inquiry which had been given carte blanche.

What is one thing that people point out after reading your book that surprises you?

I’ve had very few comments from people about the book, although I expect that Royal Navy involvement will be a shock that had unintended consequences.

In 1999, a Parliamentary (Senate) Inquiry in Australia had found that “a strong case can be made that the Kormoran’s underwater torpedo played a major role in the defeat of the Sydney”, whereas in 2009 the Commission of Inquiry had found that “the Sydney had been struck by a torpedo from the above-water tubes of the raider Kormoran while both vessels were sailing along at close quarters at a speed of some 14 knots”.

These diverse rulings mean one or both are not correct.

In fact, the latest inquiry has been eroded by more recent revelations from ordinary crewmen, but this inquiry took no notice of them.

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Posted on December 14, 2022, in Interviews and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.


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