REFERENCE DOCUMENTS & RESOURCES - OFFICIAL ADMIRALTY DOCUMENTS
ADM 239/261: THE FIGHTING INSTRUCTIONS, 1939 (C.B.04027)
Updated 18-Oct-2007

This document is a modern transcription of a portion of Admiralty record ADM 239/261. This lengthy document contains the Admiralty's official fighting instructions. The original file is held at the The National Archives at Kew, London. This Crown Copyrighted material is reproduced here by kind permission of The National Archives.

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(Cover letter for 'The Fighting Instructions')

THE FIGHTING INSTRUCTIONS

(A) The Fighting Instructions are promulgated herewith giving the guiding principles for all arms of the fleet in certain war operations, fleet and minor actions. They are instructions for general guidance and are not to be regarded as orders.

(B) Extensive reference to these instructions should not be necessary on the bridge at sea in time of war.

(C) In the event of war, the Fighting Instructions further defined by supplementary orders, which would depend on the circumstances of the war and the composition of opposing fleets.

(D) It is the duty of Captains to acquaint officers of the rank of Lieutenant and above, and other appropriate officers, with the contents of the Fighting Instructions, in particular as far as they apply to the tactics and duties of their own ships or aircraft in war.

NOTE:-This book may also be communicated to Acting Observers' Mates and Observers' Mates under the supervision of an Officer of Commissioned rank at the discretion of the Commanding Officer. [Paragraph added per Amendement No.1 to this document]

Signed Charles Forbes
ADMIRAL,
Commander-in-Chief,
Home Fleet

 

Signed Dudley Pound
ADMIRAL,
Commander-in-Chief,
Mediterranean Station


(Title page of 'The Fighting Instructions')

SECRET

Attention is called to the penalties attaching to any infraction of the
Official Secrets Acts.

This book is the property of H.M. Government.

C.B. 04027 (39)

THE
FIGHTING
INSTRUCTIONS

(SHORT TITLE- F.I.)


1939


March, 1939


- Page 1 -

PREFACE

(i) The Fighting Instructions are based on the principles of naval warfare as laid down in the Naval War Manual. They are supplemented by the following instructions and orders:-

Protection of Shipping at Sea (C.B.01764(39))
"A"
PRINCIPLES
Naval War Manual
(O.U. 5394)
Submarine Manual
(C.B. 3009)


The Destroyer Fighting Instructions (C.B.01986)

Air Attack Instructions
(C.B. )

Air Defence Instructions
(C.B. )

Instructions for Submarine Operations
(C.B.01913)

Mercantile Convoy Instructions (C.B.1921)

"B"
INSTRUCTIONS
The Fighting Instructions
(C.B.04027(39))



The Signal Manual-
Conduct of the Fleet
(S.P.02200)

The Fleet Signal Book
(S.P.02191)

The Naval Aircraft Code
(S.P.02192)

The Recognition Manual (S.P.02220)

Distribution and Control of Gunfire (S.P.02159)

"C"
ORDERS

Fleet Tactical Instructions
Fleet Gunnery and Torpedo Orders
Destroyer Memoranda
Squadron and Flotilla Orders

"D"
TACTICAL INFORMATION

Tactical Notes (C.B.1847A)
Progress in Tactics (C.B.3016)
Progress in Gunnery (C.B.3001)
Progress in Torpedo, Mines and A/S Weapons (C.B.3002)
Textbook of Torpedo Control (C.B. )
Manual of A/S Warfare (C.B.3024)
Search and Patrol by Surface Craft (O.U.5415/36)
War Vessels and Aircraft-British and Foreign (C.B.1815 and 4016 series)
Aircraft Search Handbook (C.B.1947)


- Page 2 -

SUMMARY OF CONTENTS

Pages   Section   Clauses   (Click on titles in blue to view applicable sections)
1 - - PREFACE
 
  INTRODUCTORY
3-8   I.   1-34   Factors affecting naval operations
 
  CRUISING, RECONNAISSANCE AND SHADOWING
9-28   II.   35-139   Cruising
29-34   III.   140-169   Reconnaissance, search and patrol
35-42   IV.   170-219   Shadowing.
 
  FLEET ACTION
43-45   V.   220-259   Tactical considerations.
46-68   VI.   260-399   Approach, contact and action.
69-73   VII.   400-429   Instructions for the fleet at dusk.
74-79   VIII.   430-459   Night fighting instructions.
80-81   IX.   460-479   Instructions for the fleet at dawn after previous action.
 
  MINOR OPERATIONS
82-85   X.   480-499   General instructions.
86-88   XI.   500-519   Action between differently constituted but approximately equal forces.
89-90   XII.   520-529   Chasing.
91-92   XIII.   530-539   Escaping (as opposed to a retirement).
93-96   XIV.   540-559   Operations off an enemy coast in daylight.
97-99   XV.   560-579   An operation off an enemy coast at night.
100-101   XVI.   580-589   Counter-attacking and enemy daylight raid.
102-104   XVII.   590-604   Counterattacking an enemy night raid.
105-106   XVIII.   605-614   Protection of a damaged ship.
107-108   XIX.   615-624   Attack on enemy convoys.
109-112   XX.   625-649   Convoy defence.
 
113-124   -   -   INDEX
 
  DIAGRAMS
125   I.   -   Example of a cruising disposition with air warning and anti-submarine screens.
126   II.   -   Example of a night cruising disposition.
127   III.   -   Example of a cruising disposition for a convoy escorted by a fleet.
47   IV.   260   Disposition of forces during the approach.
48   V.   263   Form of action "A."
49   VI.   264   Form of action "B."
50   VII.   265   Form of action "C."
51   VIII.   266   Form of action "D."

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