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
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 ...
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 ...
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 ...
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 ...
block ships at the canal entrance
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.
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
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