REFERENCE DOCUMENTS & RESOURCES - OFFICIAL ADMIRALTY DOCUMENTS
ADM 239/261: THE FIGHTING INSTRUCTIONS, 1939 (C.B.04027)
Updated 31-Mar-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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- Pages 3-8 -

INTRODUCTORY
SECTION I.-FACTORS AFFECTING NAVAL OPERATIONS

CONTENTS

Clause Subject
460
461
462
463
464
465
466-469
General
Information required.
Air reconnaissance.
Concentration of the fleet.
Reorganisation.
Action against the enemy.
 

INSTRUCTIONS FOR THE FLEET AT DAWN AFTER PREVIOUS ACTION

GENERAL
460.
The following instructions apply to the situation when the fleet has been in action with enemy forces during the previous day or during the night, and is not in a position immediately to engage the enemy battlefleet at dawn. Touch with the enemy may have been lost ; units of the fleet may have become separated due to enemy action or navigational errors ; a rendezvous previously signalled may be impracticable ; the general situation may be obscure to the Admiral : and some ships may be damaged and unfit for further fighting.

INFORMATION REQUIRED
461.
The Admiral's first requirement will be information about his own and the enemy's forces. It is essential that all units are in touch with the enemy or are able to gain touch as visibility increases, should retain it. Full enemy reports should be made as soon as possible.

AIR RECONNAISSANCE
462.
During the night, the Senior Officer, aircraft carriers, should report the state of the aircraft carriers and the numbers of aircraft fit for reconnaissance and air striking duties. Similar reports are required from ships carrying serviceable catapult aircraft. The Admiral will then order an all round reconnaissance at first light to locate and report enemy forces and all detached friendly units in the vicinity. If practicable, reports should be relative to the position of the British battlefleet. Negative reports will be of great value at this stage. In these conditions W/T may be used freely, as the rapid gaining of information is all important.

CONCENTRATION OF THE FLEET
463.
No attempt will be made to concentrate the fleet before daylight, as this might lead to chance encounters between friendly ships and might disclose the presence of the fleet to the enemy. Destroyers and detached ships should join any formed unit in their vicinity at daylight. Based on the information received, the Admiral will signal the necessary instructions for the fleet to concentrate. Ships in touch with the enemy, which are ordered to rejoin the Admiral, should ignore the order to concentrate and should continue to shadow the enemy.

RE-ORGANISATION
464.
On rejoining the Admiral, ships should report their state of fitness, cruisers and above indicating the percentage of ammunition remaining, the number of guns intact and speed available. The Admiral will direct the Senior Officer of destroyers present to re-organise the flotillas. (See Signal Manual, Chapter XV.) It is important that a reference position is passed to all ships as they rejoin the main force.

ACTION AGAINST THE ENEMY
465.
If the position of the enemy battlefleet is known and provided aircraft surplus to reconnaissance requirements are available, the Senior Officer, aircraft carriers, should despatch an air striking force to attack the enemy fleet at dawn, when conditions are favourable for surprise. The Admiral will manoeuvre the fleet to bring the enemy to action as soon as practicable.

466-479. (Blank)

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