The Hunters and the Hunted - the Elimination of German Surface Warships around the World, 1914-15, Bryan Perrett

The Hunters and the Hunted - the Elimination of German Surface Warships around the World, 1914-15, Bryan Perrett

At the start of the First World War most of the German navy was in home waters, and was quickly penned in by the British Grand Fleet. A small number of cruisers were on overseas stations, most based around the German colonial Empire but with others overseas on particular missions (including some in the West Indies as a result of instability in Mexico).

Some of these cruisers gained a great deal of short-lived fame - von Spee's squadron for its crushing victory over a British force at Coronel and its later destruction at the Falklands, others for their successful anti-commerce cruises. All of the German cruisers had been sunk or captured by the spring of 1915, but in that first short period of success they frustrated the Royal Navy, attacked outlying posts of the British Empire and inflicted significant damage on Allied commercial shipping.

The main focus of this book is those purpose-built German warships that were in overseas stations at the start of the First World War. Converted merchant ships were also used as raiders, and are the focus of the final two chapters, with one looking at the convert ocean liners used early in the war and the next at the more successful smaller merchant ships, some of which carried out costly raids.

I've studied many of these cruisers individually, but it was still interesting to have all of their stories presented in one volume. This makes it easier to compare the different approaches taken by the German commanders, how they overcame the problems they faced and how they were each run to ground (or in one case mysteriously lost at sea). Most writing on the First World War at sea either looks at the stalemate in the North Sea or the U-boat war, so it is refreshing to read about the exploits of these rather more civilised naval raiders.
1 - Turkish Delight
2 - Lost - Cause Unknown
3 - Atlantic Rendezvous
4 - Pacific Odyssey
5 - Death in Southern Seas
6 - Ghost Ship
7 - The Swan of the East
8 - African Interlude
9 - Queens of the Lake
10 - The End of the Greyhounds
11 - Following On

Author: Bryan Perrett
Edition: Hardcover
Pages: 150
Publisher: Pen & Sword Maritime
Year: 2012

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