Posted 26 April 2012 - 06:13 PM
Good to see Dover keeping their memory alive:
Daring raiders of the Dover Patrol are remembered
26 April 2012
East Kent Mercury
THE bravery of the men of the Dover Patrol was honoured on Monday at annual ceremonies in the town.
The Mayor, Cllr Ronnie Philpott, led the town's commemoration at St James' Cemetery, where many of those who served in the Dover Patrol are buried, and then at Dover Town Hall where she rang the Zeebrugge Bell.
Following the outbreak of the First World War in 1914, Germany swept through Belgium routing the country's army and capturing the Belgian coast.
There they commandeered the ship canal at Bruges as a base for submarines (U-boats), as it provided outlets to the North Sea at Zeebrugge and Ostend.
The German intention was to force Britain to surrender by the destruction of shipping on which we depended for food and other supplies. It was in order to protect supply lines that the Dover Patrol was formed.
Although the German blockade was reduced in April 1917, about 875,000 tons of British and Allied shipping was destroyed and the subsequent food shortages led to the introduction of rationing.
The Admiralty proposed a daring raid on the Zeebrugge and Ostend outlets of the Bruges U-boat base and Vice-Admiral Roger Keyes was appointed to formulate a plan.
He proposed to sink blockships in the canals leading to Bruges in order to prevent the German submarines getting out.
The raid took place on April 23 1918.
Vice-Admiral Keyes commanded the mission from his flagship Warwick. Vindictive was the main cruiser and the flotilla included the destroyer Faulkner, commandeered Mersey ferries, two submarines, 34 motor launches, 16 motorboats and 10 assorted vessels.
Three concrete-filled blockships, Thetis, Intrepid and Iphigenia, were towed across the Channel.
The mission was successful although of the 1,700 men who went, 200 were killed and 400 wounded. Of those killed, 156 were brought back to Dover and 66 were buried in St James' Cemetery.
In recognition of the Zeebrugge Raid, King Albert I of Belgium presented Dover with the bell that had hung at the end of the Zeebrugge Mole and it now hangs outside the town hall, where it is rung at noon on April 23 each year.
On Monday, it was preceded by the traditional service and wreath-laying ceremony at St James' Cemetery. A band from Belgium came to Dover for the commemorations.