Influential Wargames in History by John CurryNeville Lake was an ex- World War One Submarine Captain who found himself helping to fight the war against the U-boats. He had an active mind and submitted 50 papers to admirals on various tactical matters.
He was running a wargame to explore what the effect of the Admiralty forming three support groups in the Atlantic. Would they be able to support any convoy under attack?
The escorts forming these mythical support groups were those actual under construction. The convoys in the game were the actual convoys at sea at that time and the weather was simply the real Atlantic weather. The game was played in real time, so the Wrens updated the actual situation map, then updated the wargame situation map.
Although the Wrens referred to the game as Lake’s folly, the other duty captain kept the game going when Lake was off duty.
The conclusion of the game was that 15 escorts distributed between three groups could provide cover for any convoy that came under attack. Two of the three groups could always be at sea, while the third was refuelling, taking on more depth charges etc…
At the meeting of the Anti-Submarine Committee, the PM asked Admiral Horton what he was going to do about the critical U-boat threat. He replied, ‘give me 15 more destroyers and we shall beat the U-boats.’ The PM, demonstrating his superb communication and man-management skills, thumped the table and replied that admirals always wanted more and still things got no better. The admiral showed the PM the result of the wargame.
The PM stopped the Artic convoys to Russia temporarily and gave the destroyers for the support groups.
The impact was that any convoy threatened by U-boats received reinforcements from support groups and this was one of the critical steps in defeating the U-boats.
This was an example where a wargame changed a piece of history. Does anyone know of any other examples?
Source Middebrook M. (1976) Convoy p316, republished by Cassell Military Paperbacks.