This is the story of the 20th Minelaying Flotilla in World Wars I and II. 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.
Apart from the full operational history of the flotilla this book also includes details of the mines that were used and the special adaptations required to be fitted to the destroyers. Interviews with crew and officers bring first-hand accounts of those lonely dangerous nights at sea.
Peter C. Smith is an accomplished naval and aviation historian and has more then thirty books to his name. This book has been written with much help from the HMS Vernon, the RN's mine school, and includes many first-hand accounts written by various members of crew who saw service with the flotilla.