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Admiralty Memorandum on Concentration of Destroyers in the North Sea



     1.   In circumstances of extreme urgency it may become necessary for us to concentrate all our available strength of modern Destroyers in the North Sea.

     2.   It must be understood that such a measure can only be justifiable in the case of a great national emergency such as invasion and cannot be exercised, nor can any attempt be made at training the destroyers affected to work as Fleet Flotillas.

     3.   In order that the concentration if it should become necessary may be carried out with the least possible delay and confusion, and without the necessity of a large number of telegraphic orders at a time when the land lines may be congested, the procedure will be observed.

     4.   The Admiralty will telegraph to the Senior Naval officers concerned “CONCENTRATE DESTROYERS IN NORTH SEA”.

     5.   The destroyers affected are the “L” Class at Devonport and Firth of Forth, the “M” class at Davenport and Buncrana and those American destroyers at Queenstown which are armed with 4” guns.

     6.   On receipt of the telegrams, destroyers are to proceed as follows:-

     “L” and “M” class at Devenport will proceed to Harwich, and place themselves under the orders of Rear Admiral, Harwich Force.1

     The American Destroyers at Queenstown and the “M” Class at Buncrana will proceed to Scapa, and place themselves under the orders of the Commander-in-Chief, Grand Fleet.2

     The “L” Class attached to the Scandinavian convoys will join the 13th Flotilla.

     7.   The following procedure as to the sailing of destroyers is to be carried out:-

(1) Those in harbor are to be fueled and dispatched immediately.

(2) Those at sea are to be recalled, fueled and dispatched; except that destroyers which are, on receipt of the order recalling them, escorting loaded troop transports, will complete the escort duty before proceeding in obedience to the recall order.3

(3) Those boiler-cleaning are to close up their boilers immediately and await orders, the Senior Naval officer reporting to the Admiralty when they will be ready for sea.

(4) Destroyers of the classes named refitting are to prepare for sea with the utmost dispatch, Senior Naval officers reporting as in section (3).

All other refits which will interfere with getting the destroyers ready for sea are to be suspended, except those of the Grand Fleet Ships.

     8.   All destroyers are to proceed independently with all dispatch.

     9.   Those destroyers, attached to the Scandinavian Convoys, which are at sea will be given orders by the Commander-in-Chief, Grand Fleet. Failing instructions they are to remain with their convoys.

     10.  The above instructions have been communicated to the Commander-in-Chief, Grand Fleet, Admiral 2nd in Command, Grand Fleet, the Vice-Admiral Commanding, orneys and Shetland, the Commander-in-Chief, Coast of Scotland, the Vice Admiral Commanding Battle Cruiser Force, the Vice Admiral East Coast of England, the S. N. O., Harwich, the Rear Admiral, Harwich Force, the Vice-Admiral, Dover, the Commander-in-Chief, Devenport, the Commander-in-Chief, Queenstown, the Rear Admiral, Buncrana, and a copy has also been sent to the Force Commander, U. S. N.4


28th March, 1918.

Source Note: Cy, DNA, RG 45, Entry 520, Box 414. Document reference below close: “M.02119.”

Footnote 1: RAdm. Reginald Tyrwhitt, Commander, Harwich Force.

Footnote 2: Adm. Sir David R. Beatty, Commander-in-Chief, Grand Fleet.

Footnote 3: This paragraph had been changed at the suggestion of VAdm. William S. Sims. See: Sims to Destroyer Flotillas Operating in European Waters, 29 March 1918.

Footnote 4: RAdm. Osmond de B. Brock, 2nd in Command, Grand Fleet, Adm. Sir Herbert E. King-Hall, Commander, Orkneys and Shetland, Adm. Sir Cecil Burney, Commander, Coast of Scotland, VAdm Sir William C. Pakenham, Commander, Battle Cruiser Force, VAdm. Stuart Nicholson, Commander, East Coast of England, RAdm. G. Cayley, Senior Naval Officer, Harwich, VAdm. Sir Roger Keyes, Commander, Dover, Adm. Sir Alexander Bethell, Commander-in-Chief, Devenport, Adm. Sie Lewis Bayly, Commander, Southern Ireland, VAdm. F. S. Miller, Commander, North Irish Coast, Buncrana, and VAdm. William S. Sims, Commander, United States Naval Forces Operating in European Waters.