Heroes of Heligoland

Exploits of the 20th Destroyer Flotilla, 1918 – narrated by James Lawson

Midshipman Adam spent his “gap year” between school and university serving with the 20th destroyer flotilla based out of Immingham. He kept a diary at the time, and years later edited it as a manuscript covering his experiences of the war.

The 20th destroyer flotilla were specialist high-speed minelayers. Their modified destroyers could cross the North Sea under cover of darkness, lay mines in German waters then return safely before daylight – or that was the plan.

The flotilla laid a total of 23,136 mines in the course of the war. Adam served on three ships in the flotilla – HMS Vehement, HMS Sandfly and HMS Venturous.

Admiral Beatty acknowledged their role in keeping the High Seas fleet bottled up in harbour by inviting them to the surrender pageant on November 21st 1918.

You can listen to audio accounts of the surrender from Midshipman Adam Lord Cameron, Commodore Tweedie, and his daughter Mona who was eight at the time.

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Heroes of Heligoland


1. A First Appointment

2. Immingham

3. HMS Vehement

4. The 20th Flotilla and its mission

5. Ships of the flotilla

6. A tour of “Vehement”

7. Setting Sail

8. Out to sea

9. Signal flags

10. On watch flags

11. Dangerous Skaggerak

12. Manoeuvres in the dark

13. Minelaying stations

14. Heading for home

15. Transferred to Sandfly


1. A Little Ship

2. First Operation

3. Back in harbour

4. Days in harbour

5. The ZZZ

6. Jutland Bank

7. A deserter!

8. Bighters bit

9. First Explosion

10. Second Explosion

11. A close scrape

12. Ill met by moonlight

13. On tow

14. Scuttle

15. Analysis

16. Memorial service

17. A new type of mine-laying – W.P. Operations

18. More W.P. Operations

19. Magnetic Mines

20. Transfer to Venturous


1. HMS Venturous

2. Mal de mer

3. Try again

4. Leave in London

5. Stopping up U-boats in Ostend . . .

6 . . . and Zeebrugge

7 Damaged by a runaway submarine

8 Blue-eyed boys

9 Leave in Scotland

10 Christening

11 German Army in retreat

12 Armistice

13 Surrender of the German Fleet