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Remembered Today:

Participated in Zeebrugge VC ballot.......or perhaps not


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All Royal Marines who took part in the Zeebrugge Raid on St George's Day 1918 were deemed to have participated in a ballot for the Victoria Cross. Those marines, whether unscathed, wounded or killed in action, were entitled to have their record of service annotated to show participation in the ballot as follows: "Participated in ballot for award of Victoria Cross granted for operations against Zeebrugge & Ostend 22-23 April 1918".

In reality, the ADM 159 records of service of those who took part in the raid do not always carry the ballot annotation, although the vast majority of those that don't carry it at least carry then following confirmation: "22-23 April 1918 - Took part in attack on Zeebrugge, Belgium". Indeed, many ADM 159s carry both statements.

There is a list of 21 members of the 4th RM Battalion where the situation is not quite so straightforward. These men are all noted on a sheet in the RM Museum records in Portsmouth as follows: "List of NCOs and men who did not embark for the operations." All 21 missed going on the raid due to injury, mostly during training. Some 19 are listed as being in Deal Infirmary, one is noted as being in the Military Hospital, Mile End, while a third is at RN Hospital Chatham. Despite this clear evidence that these men did not take part (their ADM 157 records fail to mention Zeebrugge at all), the majority have the shorter "Took part in attack on Zeebrugge, Belgium" on their ADM 159s. Clearly, an Admiralty clerk got a bit carried away and decided to annotate (most) ADM 159s for members of the 4th Battalion.

Until now, I had assumed that none of the ADM 159s of the non-raiders carried the longer annotation bearing the VC ballot. But I was wrong. The ADM 159 of CH.19438 Pte RF Day - as you can see from the first image - claims he took part in the VC ballot. The other image is from the ADM 159 of CH.16989 Sgt PA Ford and shows the shorter "Took part in...." annotation. Yet both men were tucked up in Deal Infirmary on St George's Day.

Of course, there is a possibility that some of these men recovered in time for a last-minute dash to embark on the Vindictive or Iris. 





Edited by domwalsh
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