During the early years of World War I the existing minelaying vessels in service with the Royal Navy were found to be far too slow to penetrate into the strategically important waters around Holland, Denmark, Germany and Sweden under the cover of darkness and survive. As a result, a flotilla of fast destroyers was created that could be readily converted from their normal role into minelayers. Many of the guns and torpedo tubes could be quickly embarked and mine-rails, mines and sinkers fitted in their place. These specialised ships were then despatched deep into enemy waters to sew their seeds of death. As the war progressed they caused increasing havoc amongst enemy shipping but also suffered greatly as a result of their endeavours. Between the two world wars a new minelaying class was built with dual capability in mind. They were soon called into action at the outset of World War II and laid minefields in the waters around Norway, Germany and occupied Europe. Again, the risks were enormous but the 20th Flotilla undertook their task time and time again.
Author: Peter C. Smith
Title: Into the Minefields: British Destroyer Minelaying 1916-1960
First Published by: Leo Cooper Ltd
Date: 30 August 2005