Home

Honour - ZEEBRUGGE 1918


Date - 23 April
Type - Fleet or Squadron Actions
Conflict - World War 1; 1914-18

 
Description The award covers two actions. The first, a raid on the German held port of Zeebrugge and the second, a raid on the port of Ostend. These two ports provided sea access to the inland port of Bruges which was the base from which U-boats and small warships had a safe harbour for training and repair.

The plan was to sink three converted obsolete cruisers at Zeebrugge and two at Ostend which would block the channel from the port to the sea, deny the use of Bruges to the German's and immobilize the 40 or 50 U-boats refitting there.

Zeebrugge

The raid began with a diversionary attack on the mile long mole which was led by HMS Vindictive and the two ex-Mersey ferries Daffodil and Iris II. Marines from these ships would land at the mole, and overpower the German gun positions while two submarines C1 and C3 which had 5 tons of explosive in their forward ends would be driven into the viaduct connecting the mole to the shore. The three blockships would then be sunk blocking the entrance to the Bruges Canal.

The raid was only partially successful.

The attack on the mole failed when the landing marines sustained very heavy casualties and were unable to take the German gun positions. Only one submarine made it Zeebrugge the other C1 parted with her tow and arrived too late to take part in the operation.

As a result the three blockships came under heavy fire and Thetis did not make it to the canal entrance and was sunk prematurely. Intrepid and Iphigenia were sunk at the narrowest point of the canal.

Ostend

Strong winds swept a smoke screen into the face of the attackers and allowed the German defenders to open fire on the British inshore ships. The two blockships increased speed and searched for the buoy which directed shipping into the canal. This was passed first passed by Brilliant which struck and was made fast to mud, well outside the harbour entrance. The closely following Sirius had no time to manoeuvre and struck Brilliant's port quarter. Both wrecked ships settled into the mud.

Having failed to achieve the raid's objectives the remaining ships returned to port.

The failure was caused by the German's moving the buoy 2,400 yards east of the canal entrance at night. Fatally decoying any attacking force.

 

 
 
HM Ships
Zeebrugge         
Attentive  C1  C3  Daffodil  Erebus 
Intrepid  Iphigenia  Iris II  Lingfield  Manly 
Mansfield  Melpomene  Moorsom  Morris  Myngs 
North Star  Phoebe  Scott  Stork  Teazer 
Termagant  Terror  Thetis  Trident  Truculent 
Ulleswater  Velox  Vindictive  Warwick  Whirlwind 
Ostend         
Afridi  Brilliant  Faulknor  General Craufurd  Lightfoot 
Lord Clive  M21  M24  M26  Marshal Soult 
Mastiff  Matchless  Mentor  Prince Eugene  Sirius 
Swift  Tempest  Tetrarch  Zubian   
CMB's
Zeebrugge         
15A 16A  17A 
21B  22B  23B  24A  25BD 
26B  27A  28A  29A  30B 
32A  34A  35A     
Ostend         
10  12  19A 
20A         
ML's
Zeebrugge         
79  110  121  128  223 
239  241  252  258  262 
272  280  282  308  314 
345  397  416  420  422 
424  513  525  526  533 
549  552  555  557  558 
560  561  562     
Ostend         
11  16  17  22  23 
30  60  105  254  274 
276  279  283  429  512 
532  551  556     
         
 
This page last edited - 26 April, 2013.

Copyright Ian M King, except where otherwise indicated.