1918: The Zeebrugge and Ostende Raids.
The ports of Zeebrugge and Ostende in Belgium had been a thorn in the side of the Royal Navy for a long time. Both ports were linked by a series of canals to the inland port of Bruges, widely used by German light forces, particularly submarines, where they were practically invulnerable to Allied attacks. Plans to block the exits to these canals at Ostende and Zeebrugge had been developed as early as 1915 but had never been proceeded with due to the highly precarious nature of the operations. Hoever, once Vice-Admiral Roger Keyes was appointed to command of the Dover Patrol, the plans were resurrected and acted upon. April 23rd 1918 was chosen as the date of the first attacks, simlutaneously on Ostende and Zeebrugge, the channels at both to be blocked by old cruisers transformed into blockships. The Ostende Raid was fairly straightforward but the Zeebrugge Raid was difficult in the extreme. Zeebrugge Harbour was protected by long concrete mole which had been heavily fortified by the Germans. Any blockships would have to sail past this formidable obstacle and so it was essential that this should be in British hands before the blockships arrived. Plans were developed to assault the mole and to blow a breach in the landward end of it to prevent German reinforcement. The chances of survival among the raiders were slim and so all of the British personnel were volunteers. Both raids were a gallant failure. A further failed raid using a blockship was carried out at Ostende on May 9th, 1918. I have a large number of cards of Zeebrugge and Ostende and I am not certain which ones depict the raids and their aftermath and which depict general war damage and so I have included all of them and apologise now for any that are wrongly included.These pictures are published for pleasure/information/research purposes only and are not for sale or copy under any circumstances. Information in captions has been researched as thoroughly as possible but it accuracy cannot be guaranteed.Read More