By Gordon Williamson, Ian Palmer

The German destroyer fleet of global conflict II consisted of 9 periods: the Diether Von Roeder type, the Leberecht Maas classification and the wartime periods Z23, Z35, Z37, Z40, Z43, Z46 and Z52. those vessels, even though fewer in quantity than the British destroyer fleet, tended to be a lot greater and extra robust than their allied opposite numbers. They served their nation good in operations within the Channel, North Sea, the some distance North and within the rescue of civilians from East Prussia through the ultimate days of the struggle. This identify describes their layout, improvement and operational use from the fjords of Narvik to the ultimate days of the battle.

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Some were killed in the war; some at odd intervals I still hear from. The will to succeed was driving me on, and scholastically I was a brilliant success: at the end of my first year at Caius College I was elected an exhibitioner; in my final examinations, in 1913, taking four sciences instead of the usual three, I passed the Natural Sciences Tripos with first-class honours. I mention this point, not in a spirit of braggadocio, but because my precocity played an important part later on in my wartime advancement at a very early age to a position of great importance.

In December 1914, I was gazetted a second lieutenant in the Royal Field Artillery, and was appointed to the brigade of a division, then in the process of formation at Ewshot. I thoroughly enjoyed the four months of training we went through. Most of the subalterns were overseas Englishmen, who had hurried home at the outbreak of the war. There were men from India, China, South America, and other parts of the globe – an interesting group who were excellent company. The remaining officers were mostly ‘dug-outs’ – retired officers whom the exigencies of war had once more called to active service – and, as the training proceeded, we received a few ‘regulars’, chiefly recovered wounded, and a few ‘rankers’.

He swung around in a swivel chair to look at me – a grey-haired man of about sixty, in naval uniform, and short in stature. After a few preliminary remarks, he suddenly came to the point: I know all about your past history. You are just the man we want to join T in Rotterdam, leaving tonight via Harwich and the Hook. Our train-watching service has broken down completely in Belgium and in north-eastern France – we are getting absolutely nothing through. It is up to you to reorganise the service.

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