German Navy Tactical Orders

(source: Public Record Office ADM 186/55: CB1548 German Navy Tactical Orders)

Commander-in-Chief, High Sea Fleet.
Gg. 2399 O.
1st April 1918.
Alterations and Additions, No. 43

Most Secret.


Aerial Escort Service.

1. The object of the aerial escort service is to protect Squadrons during daylight in the German Bight against submarines, and, as much as possible, against mines.

2. It is run under "the Command of the aerial escort service" by the seaplane stations Borkum, Norderney, Heligoland and List, in accordance with para 3 and the number of aircraft available. The distribution and relief of the seaplane stations is regulated by K. d. Flieg. F.

3. The sphere of the aerial escort service extends from the mouth of the rivers to the circumference of a circle, having Heligoland as its centre and a radius of 100 miles. When forces are sailing, provided there is time to do so, the estuaries and inner Bight will be previously reconnoitred for submarines.

4. It is essential for the reliable working of this escort service that the K. d. Flieg. F. be kept informed in good time of the intended movements of the squadrons, mentioning the time of departure from the mouth of the rivers and the route chosen; or, on return from sea, the time, the position square and the route chosen. When leaving the Bight the information is to be sent to K. d. Flieg. F., if possible by telewriter, and should be worded approximately as follows:-

"SSD to K. d. Flieg. F.: 1 G. [1st Squadron- transl], 5pm departure from Jade, route X."

When returning from sea it should be made by W/T approximately in the following form:-

"W/T to K. d. Flieg F., all air stations: 1 A. G. [1st Scouting Group - transl] 4 pm Square N along route Adalbert to Elbe."

5. The carrying out of this escort service depends on the number of planes available. During this escort the planes of the escorting flight must be ahead and abeam of the squadrons escorted. A plane fitted with W/T for sending and receiving will take up a position 3-4 miles on the part and starboard bow of the leading ship, remaining in sight of that ship if possible. (Planes without W/T are always to remain in sight of their squadron.) Other planes distribute themselves at regular intervals between a position abeam of the squadron, and one about 4 points before the beam of the rear ship. Distance one mile. These positions are maintained by flying large circles which facilitates the look-out at the same time. Flying is to take place at a height of not more than 1,640 ft, according to the object in view, and in order to facilitate the sighting of submarines.

Should the squadrons change their formation, the individual planes must at once take up their stations independently, placing themselves at the van and flank of their squadron.

6. Signals and W/T reports from Escorting Machines.

(a) On sighting a submarine:- Several white single stars, making of rapid and noticeable small circles (Kreiselschlagen). W/T machines report by W/T. Bomb dropping according to circumstances. Buoy to be dropped where submarine dived.

(b) On sighting mines:- Make MMM by W/T and Morse lamp. If possible, a steep volplane toward mine area; if necessary to attract attention quickly, drop a bomb besides dropping a buoy.

(c) On sighting enemy forces:- Several double green stars and W/T report. Fly in direction of enemy.

(d) The relieving Flight Leader establishes his identity by means of Recognition Signals (E. S.) as his Flight approaches. A double Recognition signal (E. S.) from the Flight Leader's machine orders the Flight which has been relieved to part company.

W/T and Light Signals are to be reduced to a minimum, as all such signals are embarrassing to the Flight.

7. W/T organisation for escorted Forces, etc. In order to receive aircraft W/T signals from Seaplane Escort Service, cruisers and the Flagship of the Squadron escorted are to keep watch in the Reserve Station or on the 3rd Aerial; also such Battleships as are fitted with these.

On Route:- "White,", "Blue" and "Red" the M. W. O.

On Route:- "Middle,", "Blue" and "Red" the N. W. O.

On Route:- "Yellow,", "Blue" and "Red" the M. W. O.

On Route:- "Green" (and "Black") "Red" the G. W. O.

During Fleet exercises inside the line Norderny-Heligoland-Amrum- (Inner Heligoland Bight) the M. W. O. The escorting machines may communicate direct with the Flag or Senior Officer's ship of escorted formations, except in the outer area of the German Bight, in which Naval Forces are not allowed to send by W/T.

8. It may be necessary to sacrifice machines damaged on Escort Duty (Submarine danger).

9. Observations are to be reported by the Seaplane Stations and ships to C. O. Aircraft (Fliegerkommandeur).

Last Updated: 21 November, 1999.

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