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MichaelBully

Zeebrugge Raid

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MichaelBully

Going back to the achievements of The Zeebrugge Raid , I have been wondering was one of the achievements of the action wasin restoring popular acclaim for the Royal Navy? The people seemed to be dejected that there were no 'Trafalgars' as such, and that by most peoples reckoning the Battle of Jutland was not a conclusive result.

Moreover, the Royal Navy had not managed to prevent so much shipping being lost, and had not stopped the east coast of England getting shelled.

But the Zeebrugge Raid seemed to take the fighting right to the enemy as it were.

Regards, Michael Bully

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domwalsh

You're spot on, Michael. Also, with things going badly on the Western Front at the time, it was felt a naval triumph might cheer the British public and lift morale, both at home and in the trenches.

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MichaelBully

Yes I have been increasingly interested in the psychological process of involving public support for Britain remaining in the Great War, and the timing of the Zeebrugge Raid was significant in this respect.

And of course in March and April 1918 there was bad news for Britain and France with the signing of the Brest-Litovsk Treaty taking the Russians out of the War, setbacks on the Italian front, and though American troops were arriving, however dedicated-they were inexperienced.

Regards

You're spot on, Michael. Also, with things going badly on the Western Front at the time, it was felt a naval triumph might cheer the British public and lift morale, both at home and in the trenches.

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MichaelBully

Hello Barry, just found this information about HMS Hindustan on the National Maritime Museum website.

http://collections.rmg.co.uk/collections/objects/67308.html

Regards

Michael Bully

Michael, my Grandad had already transferred from Canada to Hindustan but seeing as these battleships were a fair old size, I imagine he had transferred again to a smaller vessel for the action.... I can't confirm this though as his record does not show any other ships

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bazunitec

Hello Barry, just found this information about HMS Hindustan on the National Maritime Museum website.

http://collections.r...ects/67308.html

Regards

Michael Bully

Michael..... Thank you very much for taking the time to post this for me....

They were certainly formidable looking machines these battleships!!!

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MichaelBully

You're welcome. Michael Bully

Michael..... Thank you very much for taking the time to post this for me....

They were certainly formidable looking machines these battleships!!!

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MichaelBully

Will there be any commemorations in Zeebrugge on Sunday 22nd April 2012? I am doing a talk that day in Hove, which will strongly feature Zeebrugge and would be great to know that something was also going on in Zeebrugge itself.

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MichaelBully

I have been to the NA this week, and have had a look at CAB 45/268 ( ( Admiral Sir Roger Keyes' original letters and comments on the Eastern Mediterranean (Dardanelles and Gallipoli) the Ostend and Zeebrugge raid, and the Dover Straits, 1915-1930). Admiral Keyes seemed to be very critical of Captain Carpenter concerning the position of the HMS Vindictive at the Mole. Admiral Keyes resented Captain Carpenter's involvement with Percival Hislam's book 'How We Twisted the Dragon's Tail' and claimed that Captain Carpenter was selling souvenirs from the Raid in a lecture tour of the United States-for charity it has to be said. Has anyone also noticed this side to the aftermath of the Zeebrugge Raid ? Found this surprising as many accounts praise Captain Carpenter's bravery aboard HMS Vindictive at the time.

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domwalsh

Indeed. It was felt that Carpenter was cashing in on his VC and not quite playing the game somehow.

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MichaelBully

Going through Admiral Roger Keyes' papers, his disquiet with Captain Carpenter carried on well up to 1930 when the official history was being written. Keyes even started to write to officers who had been on HMS Vindictive to see if the could recall how his orders were being interpreted by Captain Carpenter. Really to see if the captain deliberately decided to station HMS Vindictive at a different point or simply missed the position due to an error or confusion due to the conditions of the operation.

The edition I have of Captain Carpenter's 'The Blocking of Zeebrugge' ninth printing) has an introduction by Admiral Earl Beatty, and 'appreciations' by Marshal Fosch and Rear-Admiral Sims,so perhaps Admiral Keyes' concerns were not shared by his contemporaries?

Regards, Michael Bully.

Indeed. It was felt that Carpenter was cashing in on his VC and not quite playing the game somehow.

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simonharley

Was Carpenter forcibly retired in 1929 upon reaching flag rank, or did he go at his own request? Wykes-Sneyd, who commanded "Thetis", was dumped on the retired list at the same time.

Simon

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MichaelBully

Hello Simon, have just had a quick look at Paul Kendall's The Zeebrugge Raid 1918-'The Finest Feat Of Arms' Carpenter retired in 1934. Regards

Was Carpenter forcibly retired in 1929 upon reaching flag rank, or did he go at his own request? Wykes-Sneyd, who commanded "Thetis", was dumped on the retired list at the same time.

Simon

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simonharley

Kendall is wrong. Carpenter was promoted to Rear-Admiral on 3 August, 1929, and placed on the Retired List on 4 August. He was advanced to the rank of Vice-Admiral on the Retired List on 31 July, 1934.

Simon

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MichaelBully

Thanks Simon, I was at the National Archives on Saturday, tried to locate Captain Carpenter's records, to no avail. Have also found CAB 45/272 has more material showing Roger Keyes disquiet in respect of Captain Carpenter. Regards, Michael Bully

Kendall is wrong. Carpenter was promoted to Rear-Admiral on 3 August, 1929, and placed on the Retired List on 4 August. He was advanced to the rank of Vice-Admiral on the Retired List on 31 July, 1934.

Simon

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MichaelBully

Going back to the question of achievements of the Zeebrugge Raid , I am trying to work out whether or not U boats could operate from the port at any time or were dependant on tides ( before the blockships were in position). The way I understand it is that U Boats were leaving Zeebrugge and timing it so that they would try and pass through the Dover Straits at night. Obviously there would be considerations concerning times of daylight hours, but were U Boats also having to wait for specific tides? Regards, Michael Bully

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Freddy01

U-bootsdidn’t have to wait for specific tides when they were in the harbor ofZeebrugge, but coming from their base in Bruges (via canal Bruges – Zeebrugge)they have to pass a lock (located in the hinter port of Zeebrugge) to access tothe sea.

Regards,

Captain.

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MichaelBully

Thanks Captain, that has been a help. Regards, Michael Bully

U-bootsdidn't have to wait for specific tides when they were in the harbor ofZeebrugge, but coming from their base in Bruges (via canal Bruges – Zeebrugge)they have to pass a lock (located in the hinter port of Zeebrugge) to access tothe sea.

Regards,

Captain.

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MichaelBully

Just looking at my notes again from last trip to NA re Zeebrugge. One set of documents ADM1/8525/142 had texts of messages that British authorities had intercepted.

One such intercepted message refers to a Dutch newspaper correspondent claiming that '4 German torpedo boats' left Zeebrugge on the Tuesday night of 23rd April 1918. Interesting when considering how effective the action was in military terms.

The Dutch were still neutral but there was a wave of anti-Allied feeling in The Netherlands at the time so may have wanted to play down any impact of the Raid. ( In March 1918 Dutch ships in the ports of the Allies and USA had been requisitioned by these Powers).

Michael Bully

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MichaelBully

Have only just seen this information about Zeebrugge commemoration in Dover via Facbook

The 94th Anniversary of the Dover Patrol’s heroic and historic raid on Zeebrugge on St George’s Day 1918 will be commemorated on Monday 23rd April 2012 with ceremonies at St James’ Cemetery and The Zeebrugge Bell at Dover Town Hall.

The parade participants, accompanied by the Town Mayor of Dover, the Mayors of Deal and Folkestone and a civic party including serving members of the Armed Forces, local ex-service organisations and representatives from Belgium, will proceed to St James’ Cemetery for a short service and placing of the wreaths at the Zeebrugge Memorial, near to the grave of Admiral Lord Keyes, who planned and led the daring raid, and the graves of many of the gallant Marines and Sailors who lost their lives. This year we will be honoured to include a band from Belgium of some 70 members who will play at St James Cemetery and before the War Memorial outside the Town Council office, Maison Dieu House.

It was a most inspiring episode in recent British and Belgian history. Despite the terrible loss of life, the history books show that the Zeebrugge Raid had a significant influence in hastening the end of the First World War.

After the ceremony at St James’ Cemetery, the parade will return to Dover Town Hall, where a brief service will take place, including the ‘time-honoured’ ringing of the Zeebrugge Bell at noon.

“Remembering those who took part 94 years ago reminds us all of the sacrifices the armed services and civilian branches made on our behalf down the years in other parts of the world. It is fitting that we should remember them and continues to remember them in this way”.

As in previous years, residents of Dover and other members of the public are welcome to observe the commemorations, in particular the ringing of the Zeebrugge Bell at noon. The bell was a gift to the people of Dover from the King of Belgium (see further details below).

http://www.dovertown.co.uk/article/zeebrugge_raid_commemoration__2012.aspx

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MichaelBully

I have started to return to the question of the success of the Zeebrugge Raid: Noticed from looking again at Philip Warner's 'Zeebrugge' , there is a mention of an account written by Captain Ion Hamilton Benn, who was responsible for clearing the harbour once the Germans had retreated in October 1918:

"The two blockshops that got into the canal on the 23rd April completely blocked it and several German submarines that were inside fell into our hands when the Germans retreated from the area. The canal had been used as their base; several little docks had been cut in the side of the canal and roofed over with corrugated iron which was covered by a foot or two of turf, so as to be quite invisible from the air" (page 28)

The writer maintains that Captain Benn's account was 'only written for his family', so not published.

But I was thinking that it would be helpful to trace the official report of the clearing of Zeebrugge harbour. Anyone got any ideas how to do this ?

Regards, Michael Bully

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hen190782

Michael

If you are interested, I have several clippings from the Belfast News-Letter about the Zeebrugge & Ostend raids.

Nigel

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MichaelBully

Hello Nigel, I certainly am interested- will PM you. Many thanks , Michael

Michael

If you are interested, I have several clippings from the Belfast News-Letter about the Zeebrugge & Ostend raids.

Nigel

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MichaelBully

Noticed some interesting footage of Zeebrugge on Pathe News website

http://www.britishpathe.com/search/query/Zeebrugge

Something I am trying to work out regarding the scaling ladders: Was the HIMS Vindictive and HIM Iris higher or lower than the Mole? I had always assumed that they were higher, so men were descending the ladders to get on the Mole. But saw a drawing in 'The Blocking of Zeebrugge' by Captain Carpenter in which the men were ascending ladders.

Regards, Michael Bully

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domwalsh

The Vindictive was lower than the Mole (and Iris was moored on the Vindictive and was lower than her) so the "brows" used to get the men ashore had to go up. Blumberg's history of the Royal Marines tells us the scaling ladders were taken ashore and used as follows: "No 7 Platoon under Lt de Berry got the heavy scaling ladders ashore and enabled the men to get down on to the platform of the Mole from the raised pathway. In this work, Sgt Major Thatcher was largely instrumental in getting these ladders carried ashore ably assisted by Cpl B Wells. No 7 Platoon then formed up in support of No 9 and 10 Platoons. One man relates that when he got to the bottom of the ladder, there was a heap of bodies of Germans who had tried to knock down the ladders."

Hope that clears it up Michael. The situation the men found themselves was unimaginable. I am proud to say I have the medal groups of Lt de Berry (MID) and Cpl Wells (DSM) in my collection of all things Zeebrugge.

Cheers,

Dom

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MichaelBully

Thanks very much Dom. Always welcome your insight.

Hope you don't mind me raising another point :

From looking at Paul Kendall's 'The Zeebrugge Raid 1918'.....it seems that there were men from HMS Vindictive on the Mole when HMS Iris made the unsuccessful attempt to secure a berth, but they did not assist HMS Iris.

I agree that as you say, 'the situation the men found themselves in was unimaginable.' and in the sheer mayhem going on the best co-ordination attempts stood a risk of failing.

But because I have a great interest in Ltn Claude Hawkings from HMS Iris, I am curious about this.

Regards

Michael

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