Much of the success of the evacuation of the B.E.F. from Dunkirk was due to Vice-Admiral Jean Abrial, commander of the French Naval forces. He was 61 years of age and entered the French Navy as a cadet in 1896. His success in hunting submarines during WWI led to his appointment as director of submarine warfare. Before the war he was C-in-C in the Mediterranean, but in December 1939 he was appointed to the Northern Command.