Honour - ZEEBRUGGE 1918
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.
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.
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.
|Lord Clive||M21||M24||M26||Marshal Soult|
This page last edited -
26 April, 2013.
Copyright © Ian M King, except where otherwise indicated.