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 102-104 -

SECTION XVII.-PARTICULAR OPERATIONS (7)
COUNTER-ATTACKING AN ENEMY NIGHT RAID

CONTENTS

Clause Subject

590
591
592
593
594
595-596
597
598-604

General.
Composition of counter-attacking forces.
Separate areas of operations.
Reports of enemy movements.
Action on receipt of an enemy report.
Action on sighting the enemy.
Action when touch is lost.


SECTION XVII.-PARTICULAR OPERATIONS (7)

COUNTER-ATTACKING AN ENEMY NIGHT RAID

GENERAL
590.
When an area under our control is threatened or attacked by enemy light forces, confusion and failure will ensue unless all forces in the area work to a pre-arranged plan.

COMPOSITION OF COUNTER-ATTACKING FORCES
591.
Small cruisers or destroyers are the most suitable vessels with which to form counter-attacking forces for despatch to the area. The ideal unit is a division. Co-operation between all ships is particularly important in this form of action ; whenever possible the unit should consist of ships which have previously worked together.

SEPARATE AREAS OF OPERATIONS
592.
The general principle of all night fighting that any ship sighted is known to be an enemy, particularly applies to counter-attacking at night. Each unit must therefore be given a separate area inside which no other friendly units may normally patrol. Smaller vessles previously on patrol in the area should be withdrawn or, if this is not possible, ordered to retire in a give direction when an enemy report is received.

REPORTS OF ENEMY MOVEMENTS
593.
A knowledge of the enemy's movements is vital to success at night. Accuracy in receiving as well as in making enemy reports is of great importance.

ACTION ON RECEIPT OF AN ENEMY REPORT
594.
Counter-attacking forces should be ordered to raise steam and proceed as units to their allotted areas without delay. Their action on arrival in their areas of operation will depend on the reported positions of the enemy. If gunfire, starshell or searchlights are seen in an area in which another counter-attacking unit is known to be, counter-attacking forces should not proceed to its assistance unless identification lights are shown by the opposing forces, which leaves no doubt as to which is friend or foe. A signal should be made ordering identification lights to be switched on, if none are showing. However, a unit already in action with the enemy may leave its area in order to continue the engagement.

ACTION ON SIGHTING THE ENEMY
595.
The action to be taken on sighting the enemy should be determined before contact is made. Unless the enemy is sighted on a parellel and similar course, there is a risk of touch being lost in the darkness. If the enemy is on an opposite course it will usually be best to fire torpedoes and then turn to close the enemy at full speed, in order to continue the engagement.

596. Both guns and torpedoes should be used but the latter is the more effective weapon as it is difficult to sink a ship by gunfire, even at short range, in an engagement lasting a very short time. The ram is invaluable at night in an action close to our own base and no opportunity to use it should be missed.

ACTION WHEN TOUCH IS LOST
597.
If forces become scattered in the confusion of action, and touch is lost, immediate steps should be taken to regain touch with the enemy and continue the action. The Senior Officer present should order all units in his vicinity to spread and carry out a search. In order to avoid delay W/T and visual signalling methods should be used freely. At such a time security is less important than ensuring that all friendly forces at sea are informed of the action intended, and that the enemy is located once more.

598. (Blank)

599. (Blank)

600. (Blank)

601. (Blank)

602. (Blank)

603. (Blank)

604. (Blank)

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