The Raid on Zeebrugge

On the night of 23rd April 1918 HMS Vindictive landed an attack force on the sea wall at Zeebrugge harbour in an operation to disrupt German u-boat attacks on British shipping

The Mole

Zeebrugge stands at the end of the canal connecting Bruges with the North Sea; the canal was completed in 1908 with lock gates at the Zeebrugge end

The Mole (seawall) was built to create a harbour around the canal entrance. A viaduct carried a railway track and the electricity supply to the Mole and a light house was constructed at the far end read more ...

U-boat in Brugge canal

In August 1914 the Germans invaded Belgium giving their submarines direct access to the North Sea via Zeebrugge

The submarines travelled to the coast via the Zeebrugge and Ostend canals and on into the North Sea, the English Channel and the Atlantic read more ...

Plan of attack

The Royal Navy realised that a sea bourne attack was too ambitious. Instead they decided to block the canal by sinking three old cruisers across its entrance. A storming party from Vindictive would neutralise the guns on the Mole whilst the crews from the blockships would be rescued by motor boats read more ...

The 76 vessels of attacking fleet

On the evening of 22nd April 1918 a fleet of 76 vessels led by HMS Vindictive carried 1700 men crossed the Channel. Vindictive was towing the passenger ferries Iris and Daffodil commandeered from the River Mersey to carry the Royal Marines contingent for the assault on the Mole. Smoke screens, a relatively new invention, were laid in front of the Mole by fast patrol boats read more ...

Vindictive under heavy fire alongside the Mole

The angle of the ramps was much steeper than had been expected and the attacking troops were met by a hail of fire from the guns on the Mole and from German ships in the harbour read more ...

the damaged Vindictive in Dover after the Raid

Vindictive's superstructure had taken a huge battering but she made her way back across the Channel to Dover and arrived at 8am the following morning read more ...

block ships at the canal entrance

Although the objective was to prevent German submarines from using the canal this failed as they could manoeuvre around the blockships read more ...

Albert McKenzie's Victoria Cross

No fewer than eight Victoria Crosses were awarded following the Raid on Zeebrugge. Two were awarded to Royal Marines and six to members of the Royal Navy. Two were awarded posthumously.

Royal Navy

Commander Alfred Carpenter - Captain of the Vindictive leading the attack fleet

Lt-Command George Bradford - killed securing the Iris to the Mole

Lt-Commander Arthur Harrison - killed leading the assault team on the Mole

Lt-Commander Percy Dean - Captain of Motor Launch 282 rescuing the blockship crews

Lt Richard Sandford - Captain of submarine C3 which destroyed the viaduct

Able Seaman Albert McKenzie - Lewis gun team engaged in fierce fighting on the Mole

Royal Marines

Captain Edward Bamford - led assault team engaged in fierce fighting on the Mole

Sergeant Norman Finch - Lewis gun team firing from the Vinctive's masthead