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Brand: Paul Kendall

Zeebrugge Raid 1918

by Paul Kendall

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Voices from the Past: Zeebrugge Raid 1918

Approximately a third of all Allied merchant vessels sunk during the First World War were by German boats and submarines based at Bruge-Zeebrugge on the coast of Belgium. By 1918 it was feared that Britain would be starved into surrender unless the enemy raiders could be stopped. A daring plan was therefore devised to sail directly into the heavily defended port of Zeebrugge and then to sink three obsolete cruisers in the harbour in the hope they would block German vessels from reaching the English Channel.

The cruisers were also to be accompanied by two old submarines, which were filled with explosives to blow up the viaduct connecting the mole to the shore, whilst 200 Marines were to be landed to destroy German gun positions at the entrance to the Bruges Canal. On 23 April the most ambitious amphibious raid of the First World War was carried out, told here through a huge collection of personal accounts and official reports on the bitter fighting which saw more than 500 British casualties from the 1,700 men who took part, and saw the awarding of eight Victoria Crosses.

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