Admiral Cunningham had supported Operation " Substance " in July by sending the Mediterranean Fleet to sea to show itself, and by having dummy signals made from submarines on its pretended track. His proposal in September appeared in the following signal he made to Admiral Somerville on the 22nd (1050B/22): " I do not intend to follow any hard and fast plan, but will keep Mediterranean Fleet at short notice from 0800 on Day Two [the 26th] with the idea of proceeding to sea and being observed steaming westward as soon as your forces are sighted by enemy; my intention is to prevent German air force turning west from Libya." With this in view he sailed from Alexandria on the 26th with the Queen Elizabeth, Valiant, Barham, and some cruisers and destroyers, returning to harbour next day. He did not
1 Details of Forces " A " and " X " and the Convoys are shown in Appendix E. Only the
Nelson, Ark Royal, Hermione and ten destroyers belonged to Force " H " proper. 23
(SO 36404) C
sight any enemy aircraft, nor was there any sign that the enemy knew the fleet had gone to sea; accordingly, in the night of the 26th-27th signals were made by wireless to ensure that this diversion should have effect.