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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SECTION XV.-PARTICULAR OPERATIONS (5)
AN OPERATION OFF AN ENEMY COAST AT NIGHT

CONTENTS

Clause Subject

560-561
562
563
564
565-566
567
568
569
570
571-579

General.
Choice of weapons.
Identification.
The approach.
The attack.
Speed.
Bombardment.
Enemy reports.
The withdrawal.


SECTION XV.-PARTICULAR OPERATIONS (5)

AN OPERATION OFF AN ENEMY COAST AT NIGHT

GENERAL
560.
The object of such an operation at night may be either the destruction of enemy surface vessels or the bombardment of the enemy coast, or both.

561. Small cruisers and destroyers are the most suitable vessels for this type of operation, owing to their speed, handiness and small silhouette. Success will depend primarily on surprise provided by darkness. When more than one force takes part, the ares in which they will operate must be separate and distinct, in order to avoid encounters between friendly forces. To avoid confusion, the approach, attack and withdrawal must be worked out to a timed programme.

CHOICE OF WEAPONS
562.
Both guns and torpedoes should be used. The latter is the more effective weapon against destroyers or larger ships because it is difficult to sink a ship by gunfire, even at short range, in an engagement lasting a very short time. Except in a desperate situation the ram should bot be used, as this may result in the ramming ship being do damaged that she will have insufficient speed for clearing the area and closing her supports.

IDENTIFICATION
563.
Special consideration must be given to the methods of recognition and identification and the use of fighting lilghts.

THE APPROACH
564.
The striking force should proceed at any convenient speed either separately or in company to a point of departure ; a reference position must be known by all forces. If enemy ships are sighted during the approach they should be avoided, unless discretion had been given to the striking force on this point in the operation orders.

THE ATTACK
565.
Each striking force should be closely concentrated so that the rear ships do not lose touch and become separated. Should this happen before the enemy are engaged, detached ships should leave the area, keeping clear of the tracks of other friendly forces.

566. Any ship sighted during the attack should be engaged ; during action due regard should, however, be paid to identification signals. It is probable that units will become separated in the confused action, Captains must then use their judgement, being guided by their knowledge of the general plan of operations. Unless in action, a ship should not move into an area in which another force is operating.

SPEED
567.
Surprise is more likely to be achieved at moderate speed, as it obviates funnel smoke, a large bow wave and wake, all of which are visible on a dark night. Moderate speed will assist effective offensive action to be taken.

BOMBARDMENT
568.
Detailed instructions for bombarding should be issued in operation orders. It must be realised that the effect will be principally psychological, as little material damage is likely to result at night.

ENEMY REPORTS
569.
Unless the Commander-in-Chief requires reports of the progress of the striking force, it is better that W/T should not be used at all.

THE WITHDRAWAL
570.
At a time given in the operation orders, all units of the striking force should retire at high speed to pass through a known position. No attempt should be made by ships which have become scattered to concentrate before daylight or before returning to their rendezvous.

571. (Blank)

572. (Blank)

573. (Blank)

574. (Blank)

575-579. (Blank)

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