Op MERMAID May 1916copy .pdf
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By Order of His Majesty the King
Operation Order: 564
Copy: 1 of 9
To: Maj. xxxx, MCR 12 Det.
From: Col Crosby MC, Officer Commanding MCR
Cc: His Lordship, The First Sea Lord, Admiralty Building; CO London
District; DNI; DMO, CO HMS GOLDCREST
Date and Place of Issue: May 30, 1916, London District
TEMPORARY DUTY ORDERS: OPERATION MERMAID
1. Proceed immediately: using stealth, clandestinely infiltrate the NORDHOLZ
2. At all costs - locate and sabotage, disable or destroy as much as possible
of the Zeppelin reconnaissance force moored at NORDHOLZ and create as
much confusion as possible at this enemy base
3. As a secondary objective: gather, assess and report intelligence relating
to the quality, number and composition of military units of all echelons;
the quality of troop morale; characteristics of tactics, leadership,
weapons, defensive works and revetments and other war fighting assets at
CUXHAVEN and NORDHOLZ
4. Maintain an effective fighting capability and return to England by
whatever means are available or unite with Allied military forces in
France or Belgium if escape to England is not immediately possible
5. Create or exploit opportunities to confound and confuse the enemy
6. You must create and expedite your own exfiltration route and
7. If capture seems imminent: destroy secret papers and equipage of use to
the enemy and attempt to escape and evade. Surrender only if all other
options are exhausted. Regardless of your choice of outer clothing: wear
your combat fatigues underneath. This will help protect you from being
shot a spies and preserve your status as Prisoners of War
OPERATION BACKGROUND AND FURTHER INSTRUCTIONS
Secret W/T intelligence obtained from Room 040 and HMS Goldcrest shows
that Admiral Franz HIPPER, Flag Commander of the German High Seas Fleet,
has requested reconnaissance support from the Zeppelin force at NORDHOLZ.
We understand that a great proportion of the German High Seas Fleet is
preparing to make sail for the North Sea and is both equipping and
preparing for combat.
The indications are that the intensity of these preparations is irregular
and uncharacteristic of a routine sortie to harass the East Coast. It
appears that the German High Seas Fleet to be making ready for a decisive
military encounter with the Royal Navy in the North Sea.
There is also anxiety that this naval activity may be a prelude to a
large scale German invasion.
As a consequence the Sea Lords and the CID expect an imminent general
Fleet Action between forward squadrons of the Royal Navy and
corresponding vessels of the German High Seas Fleet.
This encounter is likely to be of critical and vital importance to the
belligerents. The outcome will be decisive and the importance of
Operation MERMAID in making the outcome favourable to the Royal Navy
cannot, therefore, be underestimated.
We understand from DNO that the Royal Navy is hoping to meet this
martial challenge with maximum available force and is preparing to lay a
trap for the German High Seas Fleet. The Royal Navy enjoys supremacy in
the numbers of surface warships and submarine boats available and can
rely on superior firepower: for example - HMS Agincourt alone can outgun
an entire squadron of German Light Cruisers.
However, the German High Seas Fleet uses Zeppelin airships to carry out
scouting of our coastal defences and report on our naval deployments;
perform reconnaissance of mine-laying and co-ordinate minesweeping; coordinate High Seas Fleet movement and assist with directing fire of
It is vital to success of the imminent encounter that the Royal Navy
achieves and maintains tactical and strategic surprise. The element of
surprise will be lost if the aerial Zeppelins screen spots, identifies and
reports the disposition of Royal Naval squadrons while underway to meet
the threat of the High Seas Fleet.
The Zeppelins must, therefore, be removed from the fray.
At all costs: you must use whatever means are at your disposal or can
exploit to achieve this objective.
Aerial attacks imitating the raid by elements of the Royal Naval Air
Service in December 1914 are deemed impractical as the presence of Royal
Navy carrier warships will frustrate and disrupt wider Royal Naval
deployments, remove the element of surprise and alert the German High
Command to our intentions.
A stealthier and discrete raiding assault has been selected as the
tactical deployment most suitable to achieving the object.
MCR 12 has previous expertise with demolishing Zeppelin installations
and this prior experience has recommended your Detachment for this
Operation COBALT intelligence indicates that the active forward echelon
Zeppelin Force at CUXHAVEN comprises the following vessels:L
All these Zeppelin aircraft are modern – having being constructed in
1915. They have all participated in reconnaissance missions over the
North Sea and carried out lethal bombing raids across England. The
veteran crews are expert and highly motivated. L 14, in particular, is
known to be the most successful craft of the whole Zeppelin Fleet –
having carried out more reconnaissance and bombing missions than any
These Zeppelin’s can be reinforced by airships from the recently
constructed NORDHOLZ Naval Air Base (Latitude: 53 deg North; Longitude:
008 deg East). NORDHOLZ Airbase is well defended by anti-aircraft
artillery batteries. NORDHOLZ is a few miles to the south west of
CUXHAVEN, close to the coast and between the ELBE and WESER estuaries.
Other Zeppelin bases are at TODERN, Denmark and
The German Navy has an overall inventory of 15 functioning Zeppelins. An
almost permanent patrol station over the North Sea is carried out by two
Zeppelins. Your approach by sea may be observed by these patrols. Be
Royal Flying Corps and Royal Naval Air Service reconnaissance flights
indicate that a flotilla of six German warships is presently harboured at
CUXHAVEN. These vessels have anti-aircraft capability and will probably
act in support of nearby military forces if alerted. These craft may also
dispatch landing parties to reinforce the CUXHAVEN guard force.
Intelligence reports indicate that these surface ships may be supported
by at least one U-Boat which loiters on station to protect CUXHAVEN
The military strength at CUXHAVEN is estimated to be XXX and of the
following Order of Battle
Ground crew strength =
The CUXHAVEN facility is also a primary factory to construct and repair
Zeppelin craft. The CUXHAVEN facility also houses a vital gasometer and
a DLEAG gas producing plant.
Operation COBALT intelligence indicates that there are currently XXX
Zeppelin sheds and hangers in operation at CUXHAVEN. A map is attached.
CUXHAVEN is a small town in Saxony located at the west bank of the mouth
of the ELBE RIVER: latitude 53 deg North; longitude 41 deg. East.
CUXHAVEN has a peacetime population of an estimated 7,000 - though the
naval detachments and garrison will have swollen this number for the
duration. The town has strong cultural and practical associations with
HAMBURG which is 71 miles distant by rail.
There is a new harbour facility at CUXHAVEN and prior to the
commencement of hostilities the port was a primary point of departure for
passengers travelling to the United States from Germany. The harbour is
well equipped with the very latest machinery and can support commercial
fishing, commercial passenger transports and military vessels.
The harbour is well fortified with bastions, emplacement and, several
minefields to protect the approach to CUXHAVEN harbour. There is also a
lighthouse at CUXHAVEN.
The geography of the region is characterised by numerous small coastal
fishing communities and large expanses of mudflats.
The ZEPPELIN works are located between BREMERHAVEN (an important
harbour for the High Seas Fleet) and are some 12 miles from CUXHAVEN.
The North Sea in this region of the Heligoland Bight is prone to patches
of mist. This meteorology may be to your advantage and conceal you from
observation: but require excellent navigation to ensure accuracy of