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 93-96 -

PARTICULAR OPERATIONS (4)
SECTION XIV.-OPERATIONS OFF AN ENEMY COAST IN DAYLIGHT

CONTENTS

Clause Subject

540
541
542
543
544
545
546-548
549-552
553-554
555-559

General.
Operation orders.
Composition of forces.
The covering force.
Aircraft.
Surprise.
The approach.
The attack.
The withdrawal.


SECTION XIV.-PARTICULAR OPERATIONS (4)

OPERATIONS OFF AN ENEMY COAST IN DAYLIGHT

GENERAL
540.
The object of such an operation may be either to draw out enemy forces for subsequent attack by submarines or surface vesssels; to destroy enemy ships which may be at sea off the enemy's coast; or bombardment of a particular objective.

OPERATION ORDERS
541.
In such an operation, when the circumstances of meeting the enemy can only be forecasted vaguely, the orders must be clear on the following points:-

(a) The exact object of the operation.
(b) The time limit imposed when action with the enemy ceases and the withdrawal starts.

COMPOSITION OF FORCES
542.
The strength of the striking source must be such that it can quickly overwhelm any enemy ships likely to be encountered. Normally the employment of heavy ships is undesirable, as the risk of their disablement in such a dangerous area can seldom be warranted by the limited object of a raid. On the other hand these ships may be used as a covering force to give support if this is needed in an emergency.

THE COVERING FORCE
543.
The object of the covering force is to provide a rallying point for the striking force should it be pursued by a superior force. Its position should be close to the area of operations. During the course of the action, the striking force may find itself in serious difficulties and the support of the covering force in the area of operations may be the only factor to avoid disaster. This contingency nust be given careful consideration when the operation is being planned, so that the Senior Officer covering force may appreciate beforehand what risks are involved in moving to support the striking force and what the proper course of action should then be.

AIRCRAFT
544.
Aircraft should be provided by an aircraft carier rather than any ship of the striking force. The aircraft carrier, which will need protection, should be stationed between ships of the covering force, or well to seaward if no covering force is used.

SURPRISE
545.
The success of an operation of this nature depends entirely upon surprising the enemy, and to effect this, the striking force must arrive unseen by both enemy aircract and surface vessels. On this account the attackers can only hope for success if they approach in the dark, in conditions of poor visibility, or in bad weather conditions when flying is imposible ; in the latter case, however, the enemy's light craft may have left the area to seek shelter in port.

THE APPROACH
546.
Before the approach starts, the Senior Officer should give all ships in the striking and covering forces and the aircraft carrier a reference position, a point of departure and a rendezvous position.

547. The approach should usually be made so that the striking force arrives between the supposed position of the enemy and his base. This has the advantage of encountering the enemy ships from an unexpected direction and intercepting them should they retire to their base adter the initial contact has been made. Furthermore, the striking force will be moving away from the shore batteries and any enemy surface supports, and will be steaming towards the open sea where they can retire at high speed or rejoin the covering force. During the approach, the striking force should be concentrated until the last possible moment, so that all ships know approximately each other's position.

548. The employment of more than one striking force operating from different bases should be avoided, because there will always be a risk of one force being late or out of position and, unless they are operating in separate areas, confusion may result when friendly ships sight each other.

THE ATTACK
549. The striking force.
Once the striking force has moved into the area to attack the enemy, no further guidance from the Senior Officer can be expected. A considerable amount of confused fighting will probably take place and touch between the Senior Officer and other units is likely to be lost. Captains should act in accordance with their instructions to achieve the object of the operation.

550. If any ship is reduced in speed, she should retire from the area at once unless she is successfully engaging an enemy, as it is important that the withdraal of the striking force should not be hampered by the slow speed of any crippled unit.

551. Aircraft. The arrival of aircraft in the area should be timed so that it is not before that of the striking force, as this would put the enemy on his guard and lose surprise.

552. The object of the air striking force should be to sink or reduce the speed of the more powerful enemy units. An important additional duty will be to report the composition and position of enemy forces in or near the area of operations. Recognition may be difficult, particularly at dawn, thus all aircraft must know what forces are taking part in the operation, and the general plan. Special observation aircraft may also be required for reporting the general situation to the Senior Officer and the movements of forces leaving the enemy base.

THE WITHDRAWAL
553.
When the striking force is operating in an area close to an enemy base, from which enemy aircraft and a superior force can be despatched at short notice, it is essential that ship should leave that area at a fixed time, retiring on their supports, or escaping at hight speed to a rendezvous. The Senior Officer cannot rely on W/T communication in such a situation to order the retirement.

554. The object of aircraft during the withdrawal will be to assist the raiding forces to escape, buy the use of aircraft smoke curtains and by reporting enemy forces in a position to cut off units withdrawing. If enemy shore-based aircraft are present, fighter patrols should be flown off to protect the aircraft carrier.

555. (Blank)

556. (Blank)

557. (Blank)

558. (Blank)

559. (Blank)

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