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Lawrence Hogben

Lawrence Hogben was the first Royal Naval Instructor Officer ever to win a DSC. Subsequently, his forecasts helped persuade Eisenhower to postpone D-Day from the stormy 5 June to the more clement 6 June (an episode he recounted in the LRB in 1994).

Diary: Sinking the ‘Bismarck’

Lawrence Hogben, 19 April 2001

The map which illustrates this article is adapted from Ludovic Kennedy’s ‘Pursuit’ (1974). It is too detailed to render successfully on this website, but can be viewed as an Adobe Acrobat file [ available here ]

Sixty years ago, on Sunday, 18 May 1941, Admiral Lutjens took the battleship Bismarck, the pride of the German Navy, out to sea from Gdynia in the Gulf of Danzig,...

‘Everything on the Normandy beachhead will hang on your weather,’ said the D-Day planners, assuming that we meteorologists had total control of the elements. ‘Just name us five fine, calm days and we’ll go.’ A hundred years of weather records suggested there was no hope of their getting this. They limited their demand to ‘a quiet day with not more than moderate winds and seas and not too much cloud for the airmen, to be followed by three more quiet days.’ On top of this, the military insisted on a late full moon for the parachutists, plus a tide that would be high three hours after pioneer forces had landed at dawn to clear paths through the beach mines and other obstacles. Tides and moon being fully predictable, they would determine possible dates. July would be too late, and May too early. That left just four possible days: 5, 6, 19 or 20 June. We worked out the odds on the weather on any one of these four dates conforming to requirements as being 13 to one against. So meteorologically, D-Day was bound to be a gamble against the odds.

Letter

Der Tag

26 May 1994

J.M.C. Burton (Letters, 23 June) is quite right to find excuses for the German D-Day meteorologists because Zentralwetterdienstgruppe data for the period, whose existence Burton denies and which I have examined, demonstrate that their short-range forecasts of the weather elements were reasonably accurate. But for operational success, more than this was needed – the implications of a forecast...
Letter

Planetary Sparks

19 December 1991

The Pocock idea (LRB, 19 December 1991) of a New Zealander taking hold of a small globe and being unable to see further than Australia, Antarctica and water is the sort of conception that would normally be ventilated only by a wall-eyed geographer. New Zealanders, while inheriting the insular ego of the English and the Scots, have also their smug, avuncular universality, and ‘overseas’,...
Letter
SIR: There are only three million of us New Zealanders. So our writers presumably wish their communications to reach a wider audience than their home country. But why do they persist in writing English which requires you to supply a glossary to enable it to be understood by your readers? Anyone appreciates new words which introduce a new idea, or a new way of looking at an old idea, or a new organisation...
Letter

X marks the snob

17 May 1984

SIR: Your stern reviewer of Paul Fussell’s Caste Marks (LRB, 17 May) is evidently trying to prevent the emergence of an X-cult on this side of the Atlantic. Too late! It already exists here in France where an X is a polytechnician to whom no one would dare deny the other X-qualifications enumerated. But problems of definition will still exist. Last week, bedbound, I found that the only way to...

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