Midnight, 31st December 1939. The ships comprised the strongest force the Royal Navy had deployed in the North Sea since the First World War - 3 aircraft carriers, 3 battlecruisers, 6 cruisers and 16 destroyers, illuminated by a 3/4 full moon. "Very well, gentlemen, the plan goes ahead without any changes from yesterdays briefing. To summarise, the first wave will be 42 Swordfish from Formidable, Victorious and Courageous, plus 30 Dive bombers. Flight leaders will carry flares to illuminate the harbour. Half of the Swordfish will carry torpedoes, the other half 500lb bombs. You will launch at 0045, with an expected attack time of 0230. The Second wave will be 30 Swordfish, 12 with torpedoes, the rest with 500lb bombs again. You will launch at 0120, with an expected attack time of 0300. The second waves is expected to land back on board by 0430. If you have a problem that stops you from landing, don't hang around - signal the guard destroyer and ditch, we won't be waiting around. Recovery will be by beacon and IFF - remember, don't turn your IFF on until you are on your way home after the attack, we don't know if the Germans can detect it, but lets not take any chances. Only flight commanders are authorised to use their radios until the attack starts -after which, we expect them to realise we have arrived!" There was a considerable amount of grins and muffled laughter at that, and the Commander was glad to see his crews in good spirits. Not that he had doubted that, but it was always good to end a briefing on a good note. "Now, get to your planes and get ready. We've been planning this for a long time, and this is our first chance to hit the German fleet with a heavy blow. Go and make the FAA proud of you!" It was the 31st December 1939. What was officially known as Operation Cormorant, and (very unofficially) to the Fleet Air Arm as the Happy Hogmany Raid was about to begin.