Naval History and Heritage Command

Naval History and Heritage Command

Patrol Squadron Based on Gibraltar, Orders

GIBRALTAR PATROL ORDERS

MOST SECRET.

No.32.

          Austria-Hungary appears to be about to conclude a separate peace1 in which case it is anticipated that the 17 German Submarines now in the Adriatic will attempt to make for Germany at high speed.2

     2.   The following dispositions will come into force at Gibraltar forthwith :-

     SUBMARINE AREA “A” Between Lats. 36.00 N. and 36.30 N. and                         Longitudes 03.00 W. and 04.00 W.

     SUBMARINE AREA “B”  Between Latitudes 35.30 N. and 36.00 N.                         and Longitudes 03.00 W. and 04.00 W.

          Friendly submarines will be operating in these two areas.

     KITE BALLOON SHIP “A”    30 miles from Europa Point North                                of Latitude 36.00 N.

     KITE BALLOON SHIP “B”    30 miles from Point Almina South                                of Lat. 36.00 N.

          Support Destroyer for Kite Balloon ships will be about the parallel of 36° N., and 20 to 30 miles East of the Straits.

          As dusk falls the Kite Balloon ships are to close within 10 miles of Europa Point and Point Almina respectively.

          They are to be in their daylight positions by dawn.

     EA LINE.  i.e., the line joining Europa Point and Point                    Almina. Two Divisions for four Trawlers each                    spread at equal distances apart will be on the EA                line by night. At dawn the Southern Division is                 to move West to a line joining Guadalmesi Tower                    and point Cines (CG Line), & spread equal                      distance apart along that line, and the Northern                    Division is to open out and cover the whole                       length of the EA line. By sunset both Divisions                   are to be in their night stations.

     TA LINE.  i.e., line joining Tarifa Point and Point Alcazar                will be occupied by Hunting Flotilla and all                    available Torpedo Boats.

     CM LINE.  i.e., line joining Point Camarinal and Point                     Malabata will be occupied by all available                      Drifters day and night.

     TS LINE.  i.e., joining Cape Trafalgar and Cape Spartel                    will be occupied by one Torpedo Boat Destroyer                   and any available Sloops spread out at equal                    distances apart.

     3.   When the weather permits a Seaplane will make a reconnaissance as far to the West as possible at daybreak and as far East as possible before sunset.

     4.   IMPORTANT. If an enemy submarine is seen or heard a rocket is to be fired, and the nearest ship with W/T is to make an ALLO signal.

     5.   The vessels on the EA and CM lines should keep clear of the Hunting Flotilla or stop engines when in their vicinity, unless in action with the enemy.

     6.   The Senior Officer in each Line will be in command of the line. The Commanding Officer Afloat will be Commander Ward Hunt, R.N., or Commander M.K.Burgess, R.N., in a Torpedo Boat on the TA Line

          His W/T Call Sign will be K.P.I.

     7.   Torpedo Boats have only 300 Metre wave and signals for them should be passed through Gibraltar.

     8.   Documents PQ and RS, containing Recognition Signals for use with submarines, will be in force from 1800, 29th October, 1918.3

29th October, 1918.

Source Note: DT, DLC-MSS, William S. Sims Papers, Box 76. These orders were issued as result of a “conference” presumably between RAdm. Albert P. Niblack, the American commander at Gibraltar, and RAdm. Heathcoat S. Grant, British commander at Gibraltar. See: Niblack to William S. Sims, 20 October 1918. There is a handwritten note at the top of the first page: “For/DECATUR/LUCE/GREGORY.” These were American destroyers serving with the Gibraltar Patrol.

Footnote 1: Austria-Hungary surrendered on 31 October.

Footnote 2: Between 29 and 31 October, nine German U-boats sailed home from their base at Pola and three from Cattaro. Two other boats, then at sea, were also ordered home and one operating off the coast of Asia Minor was ordered to head for Spain to be interned. The Germans blew up or scuttled seven boats off Pola, one at Fiume/Ragusa, one at Trieste and one off Cattaro. Two other U-boats (A-82 and A-51) were also scuttled. Halpern, Naval War in the Mediterranean, 567-68.

Footnote 3: Despite these preparations, the command at Gibraltar did not capture or sink any German submarines.