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On This day in World War 1



  • @wittmann:

    Thank you for your time in posting Herr KaLeun. Great work.

    I second Wittmann’s thoughts, great work.


  • 2019 2018 2017

    @ABWorsham:

    @wittmann:

    Thank you for your time in posting Herr KaLeun. Great work.

    I second Wittmann’s thoughts, great work.

    Thank you, gentlemen!
    I just look around a bit on the web, and post things that I find. It’s a nice way to learn more about the Great War.

    We should of course also acknowledge DarthShizNit for starting this thread and for his excellent contributions to it.


  • 2019 2018 2017 2016 2015 2014 '13 Moderator

    I realised this morning that I had not recognised and thanked his work.

    DarthShizNit: my apologies. Thank you very much for starting the thread and posting histories.



  • Save your applause gentlemen, just hoping to educate and honor the brave chaps who served in the Great War  🙂



  • August 22nd.

    Western Front:

    The Battle of Lorriane as the German 6th and 7th Armies under the Crown Prince of Bavaria, Ruppercht, continue to advance against the French along the border. The French 1st and 2nd armies under overall command of Noël de Castelnau continue to fall back. On this day, Castelnau recieved word that his son had been killed in the fierce fighting. As his staff rushed to consol him, he stood silent and firm, before uttering “Nous continuerons Messieurs (We will continue gentlemen).”

    Meanwhile, in the Ardennes forest, the French 3rd(Pierre Ruffey, the lone proposer of heavy artillery in the French army) and 4th(Fernand de Langle de Cary) armies moved forward to strike the German 4th(Albrecht of Württemberg) and 5th(Crown Prince Wilhelm) armies. Unknown to the French due to horrid weather conditions, the Germans heavily outnumbered the advancing French troops.

    The Germans moved to attack the French armies, and both sides stumbled upon each other in heavy fog and dark forests on the 21 of August. unorganized fighting broke out all along the front.  In some places, quickly entrenched German infantry threw back waves of Frenchmen who’s commanding officers though digging in to be beneath a Frenchman. In other, German units wandered blindy into carefully waiting French 75’s, slaughtering entire regiments before they knew what happened. Both sides moved up during the afternoon to prepare for action the next day.

    And of course, the Battle of Charleroi, the most important of all the battle fought that day (tied with Lorraine for the most important battle of the campaign) when the German 2nd(Karl von Bülow) and 3rd(Max von Hausen) attacked the French 5th Army under Charles Lanrezac. The Germans had to attack across a river to get at the French, but instead of digging in, most of the French corps (most…more will be discussed on the 23rd), simply waited by the river unprotected to throw the Germans back with their bayonets. German machine guns and artillery had a field day, and by the end of the night the Germans had 2 immovable bridgeheads, wrecking most of the French III Corps in the process.

    The Great Retreat had begun, even if most didn’t know it yet.

    Eastern Front: The Russian 2nd Army under Samanov beings to advance into East Prussia from Congressional Poland after the 1st Armies victory at Gumbinnen the day earlier. This was pushed from Russian higher command, Yakov Zhilinskiy, more than Samanov, who argued his troops weren’t ready. But Zhilinskiy insisted, despite knowing that the 1st army was yet in no position to support the 2nd Army. The 2nd Army began the advance with no logistics, little supplies, and many units not yet at full strength.

    The Germans, on their part, were preparing a total retreat to the Vistula, despite arguments from most of the divisional commanders at the time.

    Africa: German militia from German Southwest Africa invade South Africa.



  • @DarthShizNit:

    Save your applause gentlemen, just hoping to educate and honor the brave chaps who served in the Great War  🙂

    Your efforts deserve applause.


  • 2019 2018 2017 2016 2015 2014 Customizer '13 '12 '11 '10

    @ABWorsham:

    @DarthShizNit:

    Save your applause gentlemen, just hoping to educate and honor the brave chaps who served in the Great War  🙂

    Your efforts deserve applause.

    Hear, hear!



  • August 22nd:

    Western Front:

    Battle of Lorraine-Possibly the most decisive day of the war in hindsight. The German armies were advancing against the French. Progress was costly, but successful enough that the Bavarian Crown Prince, envisioning a true double envelopment of the French armies instead of the single envelopment envisioned by the Schlieffen plan, asked for permission to launch an all out attack against the French frontier, rather than just regaining the ground lost in the previous days. The German high command (OHL) under Moltke the younger, who already had doubts about the single envelopment, agreed, and the Germans committed themselves to throwing vital reserves into an assault on the fortified French fortress line, rather than putting the maximum amount of men possible into the right wing.

    Battle of the Ardennes- The first days battles, though characteristically bloody (as every battle in the war was), was merely a series of meetings between disorganized masses of men. By the second day, organization and plans had been made, and all hell broke loose in the still misty and dark woods. Villages such as Vitron, Tintigny, Rossignol, and Neufchateau were the focus points of the battle, with both sides attacking each other rather than digging in.

    It was this day that the infamous “Slaughter of the Colonial Corps”, part of the 4th Army, took place. The bravest and best trained men in the French army hurled themselves into the woods, only to be slaughtered by Germans machine gun positions. The 3rd Colonial Division in particular found itself surrounded by an entire corps of the Crown Price’s army, and fought for 6 hours to the death, their divisional and brigade generals dying with the privates and corporals of the army.

    At Virton, the French Vi Corps hit the a defending German corps in the flank, it’s 75mm unleashing a storm of fire. A French officer that managed to survive the battle recalled the site; “The battlefield afterwards was an unbelievable spectacle. Thousands of dead were still standing, supported as if by a flying buttress made of bodies lying in rows on top of each other in an ascending arc from the horizontal to an angle of 60 degrees.”

    A French sergeant wrote in his diary of the battle that day; “Night is falling and (the artillery) look like old men sticking out their tongues and spitting fire. Heaps of corpses, French and German, are lying every which way, rifles in hand. Rain is falling, shells are screaming and bursting - shells all the time. Artillery fire is the worst. I lay all night listening to the wounded groaning-some were German. The cannonading goes on. Whenever it stops we hear the wounded crying from all over the woods. Two or three men go mad every day.”

    A German officer wrote of his units attack at Tintigny; “Nothing more terrible could be imagined. We advanced much to fast-a civilian fired at us-he was immediately shot-we were ordered to attack the enemy flank in a forest of beeches-we lost our direction-the men were done for-the enemy opened fire-shells came down on us like hail(!)”

    By night fall the reports reached the Crown Prince that the French were breaking. The reports were true. Early that day French Generalissimo Joffre had taken 3 divisions of reserve infantry from Russey’s 3rd Army to form a new army to protect the flank the embattled French 5th army. Though this decision was necessary and a brilliant show of adaptability by Joffre, he forgot to mention it to Russey, who found his whole army committed in intense fighting and his reserves shipping off on trains in the opposite direction! Russey latter claimed that if he had those 3 divisions, victory would have been his, and it may very well have been, so close was the fighting that day.

    Battle of Charleroi-The Germans swarmed forth from their bridgeheads. The French Commander Boe, of the X Corps, was driven past Lanrezac dying of a mortal wound, pleading for someone to tell the General that his corps had held on as long as it could. The III corps was pushed relentlessly back by the forces of two full German armies. On this crucial front, the French 75’ss only had enough ammo for 2 shots a minute, and so were useless.

    The Algerian “Turco’s,” all volunteers, fought viciously as their fathers had at the fateful battle of Sedan half a century earlier. One battalion of 1,030 men charged a German artillery battery with the bayonet. Their attack was successful and gained the French vital time, but only 2 men remained unwounded afterwards.

    It was clear by evening that the battle was being lost, with only one French Corps still holding it’s ground. It’s this day that Lanrezac asked the BEF, now only a few dozen miles on his flank, to attack and help him. The BEF Commadner John French replied that he would hold the Mons canal (where earlier that day the British had made first contact with the enemy, running through some scouting Hussars with their cavalry sabers in glorious fashion) for 24 hours.

    The Balkans Front-The Serbs launch a massive counterattack through eh Drina valley, driving the Hapsburg forces back to the river line in the battle of Cer.


  • 2019 2018 2017

    Thank you for an excellent account of that dramatic day.



  • @Herr:

    Thank you for an excellent account of that dramatic day.

    You wrote as though you were a war correspondent at the front line! Great writing!



  • I just had to find an excuse to use those great quotes from the Ardennes, absolutely haunting. People fairly criticize the trench warfare for being a meat grinder, but I think people all to often fail to comprehend the sheer slaughter that was open warfare in the days before tanks, effective forms of walking fire, and small unit tactics. When that French officer talked about thousands of bodies in the field, he meant it. Statistically, the battle of the Frontiers was as bloody as the war was ever going to get. Out of roughly 1.25 million men the French put into the field at the start of the month, 320-30,000 would be casualties within a month, with most of the fighting occurring in about 3 weeks from the start of the Battle of the Frontiers to the conclusion of the First Battle of the Marne. The Germans would suffer roughly 310,000 in the same period of time.

    To put that properly in perspective, the Battle of Verdun, which had roughly 299 days of heavy fighting, you had 350-380,000 French casualties to 330-350,000 German casualties over the course of the entire battle.



  • @DarthShizNit:

    I just had to find an excuse to use those great quotes from the Ardennes, absolutely haunting. People fairly criticize the trench warfare for being a meat grinder, but I think people all to often fail to comprehend the sheer slaughter that was open warfare in the days before tanks, effective forms of walking fire, and small unit tactics. When that French officer talked about thousands of bodies in the field, he meant it. Statistically, the battle of the Frontiers was as bloody as the war was ever going to get. Out of roughly 1.25 million men the French put into the field at the start of the month, 320-30,000 would be casualties within a month, with most of the fighting occurring in about 3 weeks from the start of the Battle of the Frontiers to the conclusion of the First Battle of the Marne. The Germans would suffer roughly 310,000 in the same period of time.

    To put that properly in perspective, the Battle of Verdun, which had roughly 299 days of heavy fighting, you had 350-380,000 French casualties to 330-350,000 German casualties over the course of the entire battle.

    John Keegan in The First World War describe a scene where passing French units were questioning a British unit concerning their preparation for the German advance on the Mons Canal by digging in. A British officer, a veteran of the Boer War, spoke up on the effects of mass numbers of men in the open charging Mauser rifles.

    Add the machine gun and faster firing artillery and the scene was slaughter on an industrial scale.


  • 2019 2018 2017

    The Battle of Mons was fought on August 23, 1914. This was when the British Expeditionary Force saw its first action, attempting to hold the east-west canal that connects Mons (Belgium, east) to Condé (France, west) against the German 1st army advancing from the north. The heavily outnumbered British repulsed the initial German attack, but couldn’t stop the Germans from crossing the canal by the end of the day. The British fought bravely, and two soldiers were awarded the Victoria Cross.

    Also on August 23, German forces captured the city of Dinant in Belgium. In response to reported attacks of civilians on German soldiers (so-called “franc-tireurs”), the Germans executed more than 600 of the town’s inhabitants, nearly 10% of its population, in what became known as the Dinant massacre. Occupied Belgium was to suffer many more such atrocities in the years that followed.

    On this same day, Japan declared war on Germany. Japan had allied itself with Britain and intended to obtain the German colonies in the Far East. An ultimatum had been presented to the governor of Germany’s Kiautschou Bay concession on the Chinese mainland, summoning the Germans to surrender the colony to Japan. When no response came, Japan declared war. The Japanese would soon start offensive operations, and they would also capture the Carolines, Marianas and Marshall Islands from Germany in 1914. So if you see those islands as Japanese on the A&A Global 1940 map – that’s how they got them.


  • 2019 2018 2017

    Subsequent to the lost battles of Charleroi and Mons and their deteriorating position in Lorraine, on August 24, 1914, the French and British troops started to fall back in what would later be known as the “Great Retreat”. For a period that lasted over a month, the German army kept pushing forward relentlessly, and the Allies only managed to delay their advance. Despite occasional successes, it was only before Paris that the French and the British finally made their stance.

    In an attempt to help the French and British troops and hinder the German communication lines, the Belgian army advanced from their national redoubt at Antwerp and took control of the city of Mechelen that had seen heavy fighting during the preceding days.

    In the mean time, Austria-Hungary was not particularly successful against the Serbs - the original conflict that started the entire war didn’t go as expected. August 24 was the final day of the Battle of Cer, where the Austrians were soundly defeated. They could, however, bear the loss easier than the much smaller Serbia could afford the cost of victory. On a side note, this battle also saw the end of gentlemanly behavior in the skies: and Austro-Hungarian pilot took a shot at a Serbian pilot with his revolver. After they politely waved at each other, that is.


  • 2019 2018 2017 2016 2015 2014 Customizer '13 '12 '11 '10

    @Herr:

    Subsequent to the lost battles of Charleroi and Mons and their deteriorating position in Lorraine, on August 24, 1914, the French and British troops started to fall back in what would later be known as the “Great Retreat”.

    In 1915, a popular legend sprang up around this retreat: the story of the “Angels of Mons”, supernatural beings who allegedly appeared in the sky over the British troops and protected them as they fell back.  The story caught the imagination of the British public but, alas, turned out to be the military equivalent of an urban legend.  Its source was traced back to a short story published in late September 1914 by a Welsh author named Arthur Machen, in which the ghosts of the English bowmen who fought at Agincourt are called back from the beyond by a British soldier and destroy a large German force during the retreat from the Mons.


  • 2019 2018 2017 2016 2015 2014 Customizer '13 '12 '11 '10

    On August 24, 1914, Lt. Harry Colebourn, a Canadian veterinarian and soldier with the Royal Canadian Army Veterinary Corps, was travelling in a troop train, which stopped in White River, Ontario.  There, he met a hunter who had shot a female black bear.  The bear had a cub, which was almost certain to die without its mother.  Colebourn offered the hunter $20 for the cub, whom he named Winnipeg Bear to commemorate the city where he had lived before the war. The name was soon shortened to Winnie.  Winnie accompanied Colebourn to England, where the cub played with Canadian soldiers during their off-hours in their encampment on the Salisbury Plains. Colebourn later donated Winnie to the London Zoo, where the bear inspired the creation of A.A. Milne’s famous children’s book character, Winnie the Pooh.

    Source: http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/manitoba/winnie-the-pooh-saga-turns-100-years-old-1.2745104


  • 2019 2018 2017

    Thanks for the nice anecdotes, Mark!

    During the evening of August 25, 1914, there was some sort of incident at Leuven (Louvain), Belgium, then in German hands. Shots were fired, and while it’s unclear what exactly happened, the Germans reacted with an eruption of violence and destruction that would last for days, would take hundreds of lives and cause widespread destruction. On the night of the 25th, they set fire to the Lakenhal, which was the library of Leuven’s university. More than 300,000 books were lost, among them some 800 from the Middle Ages.

    Austria-Hungary enjoyed an initial success, defeating the Russians in the Battle of Krasnik.

    Japan called upon Austria-Hungary to retreat its cruiser SMS Kaiserin Elisabeth (named after the famous empress “Sisi”, aka “Sissi” when the films were made in the 1950’s) from Tsingtao. The Japanese request was refused, and Japan now also declared war on Austria-Hungary.



  • Sorry lads, was away for a few days. Thanks for keeping it alive!

    Anyway, August 26th

    Western Front-The Great Retreat continues, even as the French armies on the frontiers continue to stand off repeated and fierce attacks by German armies on the frontier.

    The Battle of Le Cateau takes places when 2 divisions of the BEF under General Horace Smith-Dorrien make a stand at a small French village in order to halt the fast approaching German forces of the German general Von Kluck. At first the Germans thought it was a simple rearguard action instead of a defiant stand. The initial German troops attacked with no real organization, and were decimated by British artillery. By midday however the Germans realized what they were up against and put their superior numbers into full play, and by late afternoon the British flanks were broken. At the last moment a French cavalry division arrived to screen the British retreat, which was carried out in a highly organized way. The  Germans had lost 5,000 men, but inflicted over 7,000 casualties on the British. Nevertheless, the Germans were given pause and forced to reorganize. This allowed the British 5 days free of harassment as they continued to retreat (out of the country, or so believed it’s commander John French).

    Eastern Front-

    The great Battle of Tannenberg begins. Since the 23rd, Samsonvo’s 2nd Army had been pushing the German XX Corps of the 8th army back. Despite their success, the Russians had by this point in time effectively run out of food, ammunition was scare, and communication completely broken down, forcing the Russians to communicate over open airwaves, allowing the Germans to effectively map their movements. Pushed on by theater commander Zhilinsky despite the fact that the 1st Army was in no position to cover his flanks, Samsonvo nudged his men forward…right into a German trap.

    However, it was a trap that almost never sprung. Ludendorff and Hindenburg had arrived hours before, were poorly briefed on the situation, and to be honest most of the credit of the battle belongs with Max Hoffmann, who had given the exact orders of attack that Ludendorff eventually agreed to, setting the 8th army into motion for the attack before the famed duo even arrived at the front.

    Once again, equal praise must be given to German general, Hermann von François, of the XVII corp which had been so instrumental to German operations in East Prussia up until this point, for having the gigantic balls necessary to tell Ludendorff to take a long walk off a short pier, that he was waiting for his heavy artillery to arrive before doing anything. This proved the correct decision, when the XVII corps was able to catch the Russian VI Corps in disordered marching position and drive it back to the border. On the Russian right, the German XX corps continued to block the movement of the Russian forces.

    The Russian right flank was now open. Samsonvo recognized this, and ordered the Russian I corps to hold the line against the advancing XVII corps.

    Battle of Galicia-The real action on the Eastern Front beings, as the Hapsburg armies advance from the city of Lemburg to attack Russian forces, even though they were heavily outnumbered, with over half the army still facing the Serbians. The battle of Komarow as it would come to be called, on paper was a stunning Hapsburg success, crashing into the flank of the Russian 5th Army, taking 20,000 prisoners, and seeming to push the Russian back and poise the Hapsburg armies for a clean push into Poland. But at the end of the battle, the Hapsburg flank was left wide open, inviting disaster.


  • 2019 2018 2017

    August 27, 1914, saw a particularly heroic stand of the 2nd Royal Munster Fusiliers in the Battle of Etreux. About 800 British soldiers were attacked and surrounded by a German force outnumbering them six to one. The British kept fighting until they had lost three quarters of their strength, and the 200 survivors only surrendered by nightfall as they ran out of ammunition. Their bravery bought the British Expeditionary Force precious time that they needed to escape from the Germans, who had been in full pursuit.
    A detailed and illustrated account of this dramatic battle can be found here: http://www.britishbattles.com/firstww/battle-of-etreux.htm

    The Imperial Japanese Navy started their blockade of German-held Tsingtao on the Chinese mainland.

    In Africa, the German colony of Togoland had capitulated on the 26th, but Kamerun, EastAfrica and Southwest Africa were holding on for now, and would do so for years to come.



  • Belated August 26th: The German Battlecruiser SMS Madeburg (sister ship to the game Breslau. While patrolling the Estonian coastline, she ran aground and was unable to be dislodged. While her crew was evacuating, two Russian cruisers (the Pallada and the Bogatyr) sailed out and attacked the German ship. 15 Germans were killed, the ship was taken, and most importantly the Russians laid claim to 3 copies of German naval codes, one of which they would pass onto the UK. This would allow the UK to ambush several German ships over the course of the war, most notably in the Battle of Jutland.

    August 27th-

    Eastern Front

    Battle of Tannenberg-As the XV and XIII corps of the Russian Army pushed back German units forming in their front, the Francois’s XVII German corps managed to shatter the Russian I corps through their massive artillery superiority, thus putting itself into the Russian rear. Due to an abysmal communications situation, Samsonvo didn’t find out about the shattering of the I corps until late in the day, when it was far to late to send proper reinforcements.

    Galicia-On the 26th, three corps of the Hapsburg III army advanced towards Tarnopol near the border. By the end of the day - and into the 27th- these three Hapsburg corps blundered into no less than eight Russian corps! The Russian 8th and 3rd Armies (Under command of Brusilov and Nikolai Ruzsky respectively) smashed into the outnumbered and outgunned Hapsburg’s advancing into open ground. By the 27th, the Hapsburg’s were in full retreat.

    Luckily for them the Russian had to reorganize their forces, but due to massive Russian air superiority, the Russians were able to track the Hapsburg’s every step
    of the way.

    August 28-
    Naval Front- The Battle of Heligoland Bight. The first general naval battle involving large fleet units (single ship actions had been occurring all over the world since the war started). A large fleet of British Battlecruisers, light cruisers and destroyers ambushed a German raiding fleet. Hopelessly outnumbered and outgunned, 714 Germans died and 5 ships sunk, to a mere 35 killed and one ship lightly damaged on the British side.


  • 2019 2018 2017

    On August 29, with the French Army and the BEF still in full retreat before the advancing Germans, the French commander-in-chief Joseph Joffre ordered general Lanrezac of the fifth army to counterattack towards the city of St Quentin, which had already been captured by the Germans and was to the west of the French position at the time. The fifth army had just suffered defeat at Charleroi, and it took Joffre a personal visit to convince Lanzreac. Unfortunately for the French, their plans fell into German hands, and they were pushed back across the Oise river, which runs between St Quentin and the town of Guise. The French were not wholly unsuccessful though, because hey did capture Guise and cause another much-needed delay to the general German advance.
    Who actually won this battle, remains a matter of dispute even today. The German wikipedia lists it as “Schlacht bei St. Quentin”, and the result is “deutscher Sieg” (German victory); the French version mentions the “Bataille de Guise” and a “Victoire tactique et strategique francaise” (French tactical and strategic victory).

    No such uncertainty on the eastern front, where the multi-day engagement raged that has been somewhat dubiously named the “Battle of Tannenberg” (the fighting never actually reached Tannenberg and was named after that town at the request of the victorious German commander Paul von Hindenburg, possibly to eradicate the memory of a German defeat against the Polish there in 1410). August 29 was a day of major disaster for the Russian second army, the main body of which was surrounded by German forces near Neidenburg. Relentless artillery fire killed many Russians, and the Russian first army, further to the north, never came to the rescue. While lack of clarity and lack of information definitely played a role in the Russian failure here, the personal animosity between the generals Rennenkampf of the first army and Samsonov of the second army certainly didn’t help either.

    An expeditionary force from New Zealand occupied German Samoa without a fight.

    The Women’s Defense Relief Corps was founded in Britain, for both civil and military aims.



  • The German Far East Cruiser force , under Admiral Graf Spee, unite in the German Caroline Islands around this date. This force consists of two armored and three light cruisers.

    Von Spee considered recapturing German Samoa, but decides its importance in the War limited.



  • I have always thought the German Fleet in WWI should have attempted to get warships out in the Atlantic for commerce raiding. How would a German Battlecruisers team have done? The Allies would get forced to place many units able to match a Battlecruisers in speed and firepower in the Atlantic. This could have upset the British numerical advantage allowing for a more favorable Jutland style battle for Germany.


  • 2019 2018 2017 2016 2015 2014 Customizer '13 '12 '11 '10

    @ABWorsham:

    I have always thought the German Fleet in WWI should have attempted to get warships out in the Atlantic for commerce raiding. How would a German Battlecruisers team have done? The Allies would get forced to place many units able to match a Battlecruisers in speed and firepower in the Atlantic. This could have upset the British numerical advantage allowing for a more favorable Jutland style battle for Germany.

    Germany’s battlecruisers were unsuited for commerce raiding in the Atlantic for several reasons.  First, like all German capital ships, they had very poor crew accommodations.  Intended only for short excursions into the North Sea, their living space had been pared down to a minimum (as a design trade-off for features that were considered more useful) and their crews normally lived in barracks ashore.  This contrasted with the British design philosophy of providing decent (or at least adequate) crew accommodations, since Royal Navy ships had world-wide responsibilities and thus could be away from their home ports for extended periods.

    Second, all of Germany’s battlecruisers had coal-fired engines.  For long-range commerce raiders which need regular support by a network of supply ships, coal is very problematic.  It’s extremely time-consuming and labour-intensive (and messy) to load aboard a ship even when it’s just sitting in a port, so re-coaling a ship at sea – especially in the often-turbulent Atlantic – would have been even more difficult and perhaps even impossible.  To make matters worse, coal delivers less thermal energy than oil, so coal-fired ships need more frequent refuelleing than oil-fired ships.

    There’s also the problem of how the required German supply ships themselves could have kept operating for long in an Atlantic Ocean controlled by the RN and to a lesser extent by the French and American fleets.  Britain maintained a blockade of the North Sea throughout the war (taking advantage of the fact that the North Sea can only be entered or existed via a small number of passages) – so it would have been difficult for the supply ships to return to Germany for restocking, and probably impossible for them to obtain coal and other supplies in foreign ports (most coal sources being, I think, on the Allied side).



  • Great information, thank you for the information.

    Based on this information Germany best option for raiding would have been the light cruisers or converted merchant ships such as Wolf.


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