Naval History and Heritage Command

Naval History and Heritage Command

Commodore W.A.H. Kelly, R.N., Commander, British Adriatic Force, Memorandum on the Bombardment of the Port of Durazzo

MOST SECRET

LOWESTOFT.         

1st October 1918.

No. 72/4 MEMORANDUM

BOMBARDMENT OF THE PORT OF DURAZZO

     1.   A bombardment of the port of Durazzo will be carried out on 2nd October, 1918.

     2.   The operation will be divided into two parts –

     First – The Italian 3rd Division, under Rear-Admiral Palladini,1 accompanied by eight British destroyers, four of whom will act as sweepers during the whole operations, and two Divisions of P.N.T.B’s2 will carry out a bombardment lasting approximately 40 minutes. This bombardment should commence at noon (local time) and will consist of one run on a base of about 5 miles, and at a range of approximately 12,000 metres, to be carried out by the Third Division, from N.W. to S.E. at a speed of eight knots. At the completion of this, the Squadron turns outwards and returns to Brindisi (For details of escort and manoeuvres see orders of Admiral Palladini).

     3.   Half an hour after the Third Division have opened fire a bombardment will be carried out by the three 6” gun Light L Cruisers LOWESTOFT, DARTMOUTH and WEYMOUTH at a range of 11,000 yards. This squadron, escorted by 4 British Destroyers, will approach on a line about 2 points from the normal of the run, and will turn to the normal by a turn of 2 points to starboard in succession. On approaching the open fire position, the port hand destroyers of the submarine screen will drop first to the port quarter of the Cruisers and then astern, moving to the disengaged side when the turn to the normal is made, or before, if they come under fire.

     4.   Under ordinary conditions the firing run of the Light Cruisers will be made at 10 knots, destroyers zigzagging on the disengaged side to act as an anti-submarine screen. During the middle of the run the original port hand destroyers, if not under fire from the enemy batteries, will make a long range torpedo attack on the gate ships of the obstruction at a range of 10,000 yards.

     5.   On completion of the run the Squadron and escort will reform and shape course for Brindisi.

     6.   Whilst these operations are in progress a covering force consisting of 3 ROSSAROL, 3 AQUILA (Flag of Rear-Admiral Mola3 in NIBBIA) and 2 MIRABELLO, supported by GLASGOW,GLOUCESTER and MARSALA, escorted by 4 British destroyers, under the Captain of H.M.S. GLASGOW will be stationed in order to engage any enemy forces leaving Cattaro. With the above force will be the DANTE ALIGHERI escorted by 2 Italian T.B.D’s.4

     7.   Firing arrangements have been drawn up by the Gunnery Committee of the 8th Light Cruiser Squadron.

     8.   This operation has, by alteration, now developed into the nature of a demonstration rather than an attack in force pushed home. Under these circumstances it is to be clearly understood that unavoidable risks are unjustifyable and are not to be undertaken, as the loss of even a small unit would be proclaimed as a victory for the enemy.

     9.   Then necessary arrangements for the destruction of confidential books, or the final destruction of the ship are to be taken by the respective Commanding Officers, who will act according to their discretion in the matter.

     10.  The possibility of an encounter with enemy surface craft will take precedence over all other operations. The protection and removal of disabled ships to a place of safety is of high importance.

     11.  In the event of an unexpected necessity to close the shore during the operation, Commanding Officers are to consider themselves responsible for the safe navigation of their own ships.

W.A.H.KELLY.            

COMMODORE COMMANDING

BRITISH ADRIATIC FORCE.

Source Note: Cy, DNA, RG 45, Entry 520, Box 416. Addressed below close: “Commanding Officers of/all Light Cruisers./Captain (D)/American Submarine Chasers./(copy to each).” Document marked: “Inclosure (G).”

Footnote 1: RAdm. Osvaldo Palladini, I.R.N.F.

Footnote 2: Italian Torpedo Boats.

Footnote 3: RAdm. Vittorio Mola, I.R.N.F.

Footnote 4: Torpedo Boat Destroyers.

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