His Majesty the King has signified his approval of the promotion of Acting Vice-Admiral Roger R.B. Keyes, C.B., C.M.G., M.V.O., D.S.O., to be a Member of the Second Class, or Knight Commander, of the Most Honourable Order of the Bath, (Military Division), in recognition of his distinguished service in command of the operations against Zeebrugge and Ostend on Tuesday, April 23 ,1918.
The board of Admiralty have approved the promotion of Commander
(Acting Captain) Alfred. F.B. Carpenter,R.N., to Captain, to date,
April 23 1918, in recognition of his services in command of HMS
Vindictive on the same occasion.
Captain Alfred Francis Blakeney Carpenter entered the Royal Navy in September, 1897, was promoted Commander in June, 1915, and was appointed for the War Staff course in 1913. He holds the silver medal of the Royal Humane Society.
Captain A.F.B.Carpenter was born into a Naval family on the17th
of September 1881. His Grandfather was Commander Charles Carpenter
who joined the Royal Navy in 1810. He was involved in the capture
of the American privateer, Rattlesnake, in 1814.
His father was Lieutenant Alfred Carpenter of the Royal Navy. He would later be promoted to Captain. He was married to Henrietta Maude, (nee Shadwell). At that time they were living at Byfield Cottage, Barnes, London. The father had won the Distinguished Service Order whilst serving in Burma and a life saving medal.
Captain A.F.B. Carpenter distinguished himself in the assault on the port of Zeebrugge on St George's Day, (22nd/23rd April 1918), where he was in command of the HMS Vindictive. He was awarded the Victoria Cross by ballot, elected by his fellow Officers in the assault, under Rule 13 of the Royal Warrant of the 29th January 1856. (See www.victoriacross.co.uk).
He had a private education before going on to join the Royal Navy in 1896 at HMS Brittania. Two years later he saw active service in Crete; first as a Midshipman and then as a Sub-Lieutenant. He was the recipient of the China Medal for his service during the Boxer Rebellion (1896-1900).
Seven years after enlisting in the Royal Navy he was promoted to Lieutenant on October 3rd 1903 and then specialised in navigation. Like his father, he also won a Royal Humane Society medal for life-saving. He married Maude, in this year, the daughter of the Reverend Stafford Tordiffe. A daughter, named Iris was born to them. Unfortunately, in 1923, his wife died.
He remarried four years later to Hilda Margaret, daughter of Mr. W Chearnley-Smith
He served under Admiral Jellicoe for just over a year, after which he served as a Navigation Officer on board the Emperor of India..
After the war, in 1918-19, he went on a lecture tour of the United States Of America and Canada. On his return, he was put in charge of the War Course that trained Junior Officers.
In 1921 his book The Blocking Of Zeebrugge was published giving his own account of Operation ZB' and the way the blocking operation was carried out. As his position was one of a front row seat', this must probably be the most authentic version of the action.
In 1921-23 he was assigned to the command of a light cruiser, HMS Carysfoot, and served with the Atlantic Fleet. The following three years were spent between being the Director of the Senior Officers Technical Course at Portsmouth, The Captain of the Dockyard and the King's Harbour Master at Chatham. During this period, in 1926 he commanded HMS Benbow and in 1928 he was in command of HMS Marlborough.
He was promoted Rear-Admiral on retirement on the 3rd of August 1929 and in 1931 was promoted to Vice-Admiral whilst on the retired list.
It was during his retirement that he became a JP whilst living in Gloucestershire in 1936.
He became very interested in the Merchant Navy and whilst he was a Director of the Saint Line he was involved in the selection of and the training of Cadets for the training ship St Briavel' where they were taught seamanship and practical sailing.
Forever an active man, he became the Commanding Officer of the 17th Gloucestershire Battalion of the Wye Valley Home Guard. This he did almost from the beginning of 1940 until 1944.
In 1945 he went to the Admiralty as Director of Shipping.
He died at his home on the 27th December 1955, at the age of 74, following an operation. His house had been named after his training ship; St Briavel, Lydney, Gloucestershire.
Last night there was issued an official account of the great Naval attack on Zeebrugge and Ostend on the morning of St. George's Day. It gives for the first time, the names of the principal officers who took part in the enterprise, and announces that Vice-Admiral Keyes directed the operation from the destroyer Warwick.
HMS Vindictive was fitted, along the port side, with a high
false deck from where the 18 brows, or gangways that would carry
the stormers and demolition men across to shore.
The men were gathered, in readiness, on the main and lower decks, whilst Colonel Elliott, who was to lead the marines, waited abaft the bridge on the false deck. The bluejacket commander, Captain H. C. Halahan. was waiting amidships.
As the Vindictive rolled alongside the Mole the gangways were lowered. They banged, scraped and, as they hit the Mole, they rebounded. The word was awaited for the assault to begin.
Before the order was given, both Colonel Elliot and Captain H.C. Halahan were killed almost immediately the Vindictive pulled alongside the Mole.
Colonel Elliot was standing on the false deck that had been built especially for this attack when he was hit and killed by a shell from the shore. The same shell devastated the Stokes Mortar battery up forward.
Captain Halaran was still standing amidships when the deck was machine-gunned and he was hit and killed.
The landing on the Mole itself was perilous, to say the least, it involved crossing splintered gangways and then drop on to a parapet that was being swept with machine-gun fire along its length. This was followed by a further drop of fifteen feet or so on to the Mole itself,
As they made their way along the crowded gangways, several were killed and even more were wounded; nothing could stop these men as they made a disciplined and speedy landing from all gangways..
Lieutenant H.T.C. Walker lay on the upper deck, his arm shot away, as men clambered over, some treading on him, as they rushed ahead. The Commander recognised Lieutenant Walker and pulled him aside. Thanking him, he raised his remaining arm, and shouted 'Good luck to you'' as they hurried to get ashore and he wished good luck to those who followed.
As Commander Carpenter toured his ship, he found the lower deck in a terrible state. He continued on his way, giving words of encouragement and setting a fine example of bravery, the dying and wounded managed to raise a cheer for their leader.
A Howitzer that had been mounted forward had all of its crew killed in the action and when they were replaced and, in turn, killed, a third crew took over. Such was the bravery that night.
In a cabin, at the stern, a man, a former employee of Brock's fireworks, worked feverishly to show up the lighthouse on the end of the Mole, using giant rockets. This man had never been
to sea in his life. The idea was to set a landmark for the Blockships and their escorting vessels.
Having difficulties on landing, the Vindictive had to be pushed into place by the tug Daffodil prior to her landing her own contingent. Commander Carpenter, however, decided that he needed the Daffodil to keep pushing Vindictive against the Mole. She then began to disembark her men over the Vindictive.
It was reported that the Daffodil, whose normal steam pressure was 60psi. This particular task required more; thanks to Artificer Engineer Sutton managed to maintain a fantastic 160psi for the duration of the time she was required to help Vindictive..
Hidden, as she was, behind the cruiser her casualties were small, one man killed and eight wounded. One of the wounded was the ships skipper Lieutenant H. Campbell. He'd been hit in the
eye with a shell splinter.
The second tug, H.M.S. Iris. had no easy task either. She failed to make fast in front of the Vindictive, as planned, her grapples not being long enough to get across the width of the parapet.
Two officers, Lieutenant Commander Bradford and Lieutenant Hawkins, under heavy fire, clambered ashore and straddling the parapet tried to get the grappling hooks into place. Both men were killed, and their bodies fell into the sea between the wall and ship
Commander Valentine Gibbs lost both of his legs and died the following day. Although wounded, Lieutenant Spencer RNR, took over and refused to be relieved.
The Iris, under heavy fire, was forced to seek protection behind the mother ship, Vindictive. A single heavy shell had burst below decks where marines had been awaiting their turn to go to the gangways. 49 of them were killed out of 56, the remainder being wounded.
The ward-room, which was being used to house the wounded, also received a shell, killing four officers and 26 men. The Iris' total casualties were eight officers and 69 men killed and three officers and 102 men wounded.
Apart from the hazardous gun-fire, the storming and demolition parties, that landed on the Mole, met with little or no resistance from the enemy. They knew exactly what they had to do, its layout being known to them. The demolition set about their appointed tasks calmly and efficiently.
The buildings began to suffer from their work, fires, explosions and falling debris. They moved along the Mole taking action against the enemy as they met with resistance. Several machine-gun emplacements were destroyed. There were no prisoners around to take.
It seems that on the approach of the ships, they had moved away to the shore end of the Mole, where they had been satisfied to set up some machine-guns.
Whilst all this action ensued, the star shells put up by the Germans made out the dark shapes of the Blockships making their way to their positions.
The Thetis sailed in first taking a battering from the shore batteries. She only had a small crew, the rest having been taken off. In spite of this, these few kept four guns blazing at the shore. It was she who led the way for the Intrepid and Iphigenia to follow. Thetis managed to clear the barges that protected the tip of the Mole, but she fouled her propellers on the net that defended the shore side flank. She became almost unmanageable as the net became further tangled.
The shore batteries opened up on her the moment she was sighted and was continually pounded with shell and machine -gun fire. She collided with the bank but she edged off and found the channel again. She was still some distance from the mouth of the canal and she was almost sinking.
Thetis managed to signal valuable information to the other two blockships as she lay almost helpless. Then Commander R.S. Sneyd, DSO blew the charges that sank her. Lieutenant H. Littleton, commanding a motor-launch, came alongside and took off the remaining crew. She had lost five men killed and five wounded.
Thetis was followed by the Intrepid billowing smoke and putting up all the fire power she could. Her motor-launch had been unable to come alongside, before she got to this position, to remove the crew; so she was still manned.
She steamed on, her billowing smoke blinding her follower, Iphigenia. Being blind, the Intrepid careered wildly, ramming into a dredger with a barge moored to it. This was at the western side of the canal. She managed to get through, pushing the barge before her, on into the canal. A shell hit the steam connection to her whistle. The escaping steam helped clear some of the smoke enabling her to see what was happening.
The Intrepid, commanded by Lieutenant Stuart Bonham-Carter nosed her way on to the mud of the western bank. He ordered his crew off and then, using the switches in the chart room, blew her up. The only sound it made was four dull thuds. The engineer, who had been in the engine room, came up on deck and reported that all had gone to plan.
Meanwhile, the Iphigenia, under the command of Lieutenant E.W. Billyard-Leake, was successfully beached, in accordance with the plans, on the eastern side. He saw her settling nicely after being blown up. Lieutenant Billyard-Leake left her with the engines running so that she would hold her position until she bottomed.
It was seen from the air that the two, concrete laden, blockships were across the canal in a rough v-shaped position. It was probable that the blocking was a success.
Lieutenant P.T. Dean, in command of a motor-launch, had followed in order to bring off the crew, waiting further up towards the mouth of the canal on the western bank.
Having sent away his boats, Lieutenant Bonham-Carter was left with only a Carley Float, which was nothing more than a glorified raft with a grating deck. As it hit the water, it automatically ignited a calcium flare. This unfortunately illuminated him, showing him clearly to a German machine-gun; which concentrated its fire on him. It is likely he was saved by the smoke still emanating from the sunken Intrepid. Nobody had deemed it necessary to turn it off before scuttling.
Lieutenant Bonham-Carter was lucky enough to be able to grasp a rope trailing from a motor-launch and was towed until he was spotted and picked up by those on board.
Another officer had jumped ashore and ran along the bank of the canal to a waiting launch. On the way he was slightly hit by a stray machine gun bullet and when he ran down the bank to board the launch he was attacked by a sailor with a hammer.
The harbour was full of small busy craft to-ing and fro-in between the shell splashes. When the launch reached the main body they could see the actions taking place. At the shore end of the Mole an old submarine, the C3 under the command of Lieutenant R.D. Sandford RN. Loaded with explosives he ran her into the piles of the viaduct. After her crew had left by boat she was blown up.
The explosion of the C3 was heard by every single person engaged in this action; both British and German. It was described later by officers as the biggest and loudest they had ever witnessed. The explosion shot flames several feet into the air, splitting the jetty in two, leaving a 100 feet gap.
One launch claimed to have sunk a torpedo-boat that had been moored alongside the viaduct. This claim was supported by witnesses on the Vindictive who claimed to have seen it's funnel and mast disappear under water.
During the action, the destroyers, Phoebe, North Star and Warwick, whose task it was to protect the Vindictive from enemy destroyer attacks, did their share in the raid on Zeebrugge. The North Star, under the command of Lieutenant Commander Helyar RN, lost her way in the smoke. Emerging into the light of the star-shells, she was immediately fired upon and was sunk. (A German communique stated that only a few members of her crew could be saved. This was a detail of unusual accuracy.)
The PhoebeLieutenant Commander H.E. Gore Langton RN, came up under heavy fire to rescue most of the North Star's crew.
Throughout the whole operation, monitors and the siege guns of Flanders, manned by the Royal Marine Artillery, kept up a heavy bombardment against the batteries.
THE ATTACK ON OSTEND
The wind that blew the smoke screen at Zeebrugge troubled
the Naval Force at Ostend even more so. It prevented the success
of the operation which was ably directed by Commodore Hubert Lines
The coastal motor-boats created a smoke screen that effectively hid the calcium flares
that they had set on the ends of the piers and the approaches. However the wind change revealed the blockships, Sirius and Brilliant. who were already past the Stream Bank bouy
The enemy quickly put out the flares with gun-fire. The Sirius was already in a sinking condition, by the time the two ships found the entrance and had grounded. They had no choice but to sink themselves around 400 yards east of the piers.
Their crews were taken off by motor-launch under the command of Lieutenant K.R.Hoare RNVR and Lieutenant R.Bourke DSO. M.P. RNVR
From Zeebrugge to Ostend the Germans had 120 heavy guns. These were capable, in daylight, of aiming and hitting retiring ships up to 16 miles away. This was a major factor in the Zeebrugge and Ostend raids.
The Kaiser, On April 23 visited Zeebrugge, the scene of the frustrated English coup de main. He went to see the Mole, where he convinced himself that the damage caused by the blowing up of the railway bridge had already been temporarily repaired, and that the final bridging of the gap can be carried out in a few days. He also satisfied himself of the perfectly good condition of all our structures and installations on the outer part of the Mole, which was the objective of the attack.
The Kaiser then went to the canal lock, where the two cement-laden cruisers lie, and at the place where the night battle occurred he obtained, once again, an exact account from several officers who had taken part in the fight.
The Kaiser got a captured English Captain of marines, who happened to be brought past, to explain the battle. The captain admitted that the destruction of our installations on the Mole and the cutting off of our U-Boats from the bases of Zeebrugge and Ostend were a long prepared enterprise, carried out on a big scale. A surprise attack had already four times been prepared and started, but had each time failed in view of the vigilance of our outpost boats.
Not until last night did the thick mist render the raid possible, without, however - as the British officer said, Not until last night did the thick mist render the raid possible, without, however - as the British officer said, unfortunately - its obtaining the success aimed at.----Reuter.
Amsterdam, April 24.----A Berlin official Telegram says:-
During the night of April 22/23 an enterprise of the British Naval forces against our Flanders bases, conceived on a large scale and planned regardless of sacrifice, was frustrated.
After a violent bombardment from the sea, small cruisers, escorted by numerous destroyers and motor-boats , under cover of a thick veil of artificial fog, pushed forward near Ostend and Zeebrugge to quite near the coast, with the intention of destroying the locks and harbour works there. According to the statements of prisoners, a detachment of four companies of the Royal Marines was to occupy the Mole of Zeebrugge by a coup de main', in order to destroy all the structures, guns and war material on it and the vessels lying in the harbour. Only about 40 of them got on the Mole. These fell into our hands, some alive, some dead. On the narrow high wall of the Mole both parties fought with the utmost fierceness.
Of the English naval forces which participated in the attack the small cruisers, Virginia (? Iphiginia), Intrepid, Sirius and two others of similar construction, whose names were unknown, were sunk close off the coast. Moreover, three torpedo-boat destroyers and a considerable number of torpedo-boats were sunk by our artillery fire. Only a few men of the crews could be saved by us.
Beyond damage caused to the Mole by a torpedo hit, our harbour works and coast batteries are quite undamaged. Of our naval forces only one torpedo boat suffered damage of the lightest character. Our casualties are small. (Signed)
Chief of the Admiralty Staff of the Navy.
The above was printed in The Times' on April 25 1918.
The destruction of the viaduct at Zeebrugge was essential because
it carried a railway line that could bring supplies and reinforcements
to the Mole. At first the idea ,of Vice-Admiral Roger Keyes, was
to use raft of explosives secured to the viaduct. He changed his
mind and decided on two old submarines the C1 and C3. They would
be manned by crews who were bachelors and all would be volunteers.
The submarines, to enable them to be directed to the target without danger to the crew, were fitted with a gyroscopic steering device. This would enable them to put the vessel on a set path and then abandon it safely.
They were towed to the area and then they would make their own way to the designated point. Unfortunately the C1, commanded by Lieutenant Aubrey C. Newbold, suffered a malfunction and was unable to participate any further.
The C3, under Lieutenant R.D. Sandford was able to undertake the allotted task. She had approached under a smoke-screen, but on her emergence from its cover she was soon illuminated by star-shells. Picked up by searchlights, she was a sitting duck to the enemy guns, but for some reason they never fired on her.
Lieutenant Sandford decided against using the gyro-steering, opting instead for manual operation. The crew came up on deck for an easy get away and awaited the order to go. The C3 hit the viaduct at just under 10 knots which caused her force the boat half way through the other side, an excellent position for the demolition job she was there to do. It was about 12.15 am. Sandford ordered the men into the skiff and set the explosives fuses for a 12 minute delay..
Unfortunately, the engine on the skiff wouldn't start, so they set out to paddle their way clear. It was then that the enemy came alive and began firing at them as they made their escape. Sanford and two of his men were hit but they rowed quickly to avoid being killed by their own work.
They had managed to get 300 yards away by the time the C3 went up. The explosion so loud that anyone who took part in that operation, on both sides, would remember it for the rest of their lives. It created a gap of over 100 feet in the viaduct ensuring that the job was done to plan.
By coincidence Lieutenant Sandford and his crew were picked
up by a picket boat commanded by his brother, Lieutenant Francis
Sandford. From this boat they were transferred to HMS Phoebe
Lieutenant Sandford, and the others of the crew, were decorated for this bravery.
Lieutenant Richard Douglas Sandford RN was awarded with the Victoria Cross.
His award and Deeds were Gazetted on 23 July 1918. It reads:
This officer was in command of Submarine C3, and most skilfully placed that vessel in between the piles of the viaduct before lighting his fuse and abandoning her. He eagerly under-took hazardous enterprise, although well aware (as were all his crew) that if the means of rescue failed and he or any of his crew were in the water at the moment of explosion, they would be killed outright by the force of such explosion. Yet Lieutenant Sandford disdained to use the gyro steering, which would have enabled him and his crew to abandon the submarine at a safe distance, and preferred to make sure, as far as was humanly possible, of the accomplishment of his duty.
Richard Douglas Sandford was born on the 11th May 1891 to the
Venerable Ernest Grey and Gabriel (née Poole) Sandford,
15, The Beacon, Exmouth, Devon. His father was Archdeacon of Exeter.
Richard attended Clifton College; from there he joined the Royal Navy and went to HMS Britannia. He was promoted to Lieutenant on 30th August 1913 and transferred to submarines in 1914 (February). He served as a submariner until his death, seven months later, from typhoid fever, in Cleveland Hospital, Grangetown in Yorkshire, on 23rd November 1918. He was buried in the nearby Exton Cemetery. On his death, his family received a multitude of letters; from people all over the country, expressing their sympathy at the passing of a hero.
Petty Officer Walter Harner
Engine-Room Artificer Allan Gordon Roxburgh,
Leading Seaman William Gladstone Cleaver
Stoker 1st Class Henry Cullis Bindall
Their Awards and deeds were Gazetted on 23rd July 1918. It stated:
William Glover Warren
A Marine who was there.
William Glover Warren was a Private in the Royal Marine Light Infantry, his service number was 2115(s) He volunteered as a member of the 4th Battalion RM, specially formed for the attack on Zeebrugge. Like the rest of the Battalion, he was in theballot for the Victoria Cross and this was entered on his records.(Gazetted 23rd July 1918)
He was reported missing, believed killed, after the battle because he had put his great-coat over a wounded comrade and had left it there. He, was himself, wounded in the foot and was sent to hospital. He appeared in a photograph taken on board ship, at the time, sitting down because of his injury.
He was discharged from the RM in March 1919.
He joined the Derbyshire Police in February 1922 doing service in Ilkeston, Ripley, Mellor, Dovedale, Doveholes, Starkholmes, Matlock, Darley Dale, Somercotes and Milford.
He married a widow, Mrs Ann Renshaw, whose husband had been killed at Arras and had two children, one aged three and one of four years. They had another child in 1925 called Mary. They celebrated their Silver Wedding before Ann died in 1953.
He remarried long enough to celebrate his second Silver Wedding
During his police service he was commended 12 times for outstanding police work.
His daughter Mary (Now Mrs. Twells) has several items of interest, photographs, a commemorative badge, booklets on Zeebrugge including one book given, by his old school, in recognition of his part in the battle.
Copy of letters sent to and from Captain Grant to Admiral R.W.Bacon on the subject of Zeebrugge, April 22/23rd 1918. The letters are copied verbatim including mistakes and punctuation (both marked thus * ie xd means crossed out) .
I have read your paper on Zeebrugge, which I return herewith. Of course R.K. (Roger Keyes) had no brain worth talking about.
You must remember that blocking Zeebrugge or destroying the lock gates was useless as the Germans could pass submarines and destroyers from Bruges to Ostend by the canals. The only way to block Ostend was the method pointed out with (three ships) in my book, but this of course could only last three weeks. I warned the Admiralty that the blocking could never block the channels. I certainly should have instructed the first ship to ram the lock gate (as suggested by Tyrwhitt) if there was no searchlight on the cassoon. It was this very precaution that made me doubtful of a ship's getting up the channel.
The scheme I proposed for the mole landing would I think have succeeded. The ship must be brought on bow on. It was useless to bring her broadside to the mole. The Vindictive was too small. A monitor should have been used with a centre splinter-proof bulkhead, the side acting as a bursting screen.
I have never served with Keyes, I see no reason why he should have hated me except that he must have known that he was supplanting me under false pretences.
You seem to have had a rocky time. I was very sorry about Parsons.
I owe you an apology for never having acknowledged the receipt of your letter* (letter is xd out) paper. It arrived safely, but for the moment I am so snowed under with Jellicoe's life that I have no time to devote to reading it carefully, so I put it away carefully and forgot all about it. In another ten days I hope to be fairly free and if I may keep it so long I willgo* through it and return it but at present I have more to do really than I can get through and it is no use reading a paper like yours without giving it full attention. Ihope* you are well in spite of this bad summer. I have been a bit off colour but I hope I am all right now,
At last I have been able to read your remarks on Zeebrugge. Tthe* question that at once occurs to meis* "For what purpose have you written it* this"?* Is it to leave on record. Of course you could not print it in its present form - The Official Secrets Act and not improbably the law of Libel would prevent that. I think - to be candid - that the remarks on Keyes in the early portion rather spoil the whole - All the way through you show so much animus against him that an ordinary reader would look at the whole production as biassed you would make out a far stronger case if you eliminated the majority of your remarks about him and then dealt judicially with the raid and its failures, and in doing so point out his weak spots. I agree of course that ramming the dock gates should have been an essential feature - Tyrwhitt proposed this and most certainly the first block ship would have had a free hand to do this (if at the moment it appears feasible) that is in my plan for blocking.
I feared a search light on the side of the cassoon - that is why I did not try it as Tyrwhitt proposed, as a separate manoeuvre - the defence against such an attack was so obvious that tit* (1st t xd) appeared certain that it would have been adopted. I also agree that too many ships were used in the attempt - But then Keyes never had any brain.
1) I disagree entirely with taking Vindictive alongside broadside on.
2) In taking her near the battery - it was far too risky and left much to chance. the landing *party (party was omitted) should have been in a monitor - brought on - and the port side protected with screen bulkheads to burst the shell and protect the men from splinters. The Vindictive was too cramped destroyers should have engaged the battery if the smoke screen failed Blowing up the causeway was as*
(s xd) good touch -
But wher* /I (e was missed) I especially join issue with you is that Ostend should have been blocked the same night -
There was no difficulty in finding the entrance if the taut wire system had been used - To trust to a light bouy was futile mad (sad?) - I have had lately letters from the Keeper of the Official Archives in Berlin which state that both S.MS and destroyers used the Bruges Ostend canal while the passage past the blockships was being dredged
The system that should have been used was that originally prosed by me (?) in 1916, of three ships Vide the Dover Patrol -
Of course I pointed out to the Admiralty no blocking could remain sufficient for more than three weeks. I even asserted that in three weeks it would be prepared to remove a stone wall thrown across the channel.
There are parts of your remarks after the blocking, that I should like to keep with a view to publishing, when my life is written - If you have no objection..
If you agre*e I will copy these and (*send) them to you for approval - the whole operation was sadly botched - because essentials were not placed above all secondary interests -
I have just finished my life of Jellicoe - it has taken me every day and almost al (*l) day since last November and should now be out in October - This accounts for me having kept your papers so long as I could not concentrate on these while employed on theothers*. I think you wouls do well to revise what you have written, on the lines I have suggested at once. You had an interesting but a disappointing time (*and) have my sympathy,
(answered 18.9.36 and told he could take extracts.)
I hope you are having a successful land cruise - At all events you have fine weather - I have been re-reading your account of the **** at Dover -
I hope you have no objection to my sending it to E.R.J.R. Evans the C in C the Nore to see? As he is going to write my life at some future period and it would be of advantage if he read your side of the ***** episode - it will of course be most carefully treated and ***** in transit. There is much that gives food for thought in what you have written.
31, Rodney Road,
Dear Admiral Bacon
By all means send Evans my depositions for his perusal. I rely
on you(*&/? xd) and him not to lay me open to trouble under
either the Official Secrets Act or the Law of Libel! Perhaps you
will let him know this when you send. Evans is a good friend of
mine and, after the war, I told him much of the gist of the Dover
happenings, one day that I went to see him in London.
Had Evans been 1st Sea lord, as I hope he may be one day, I myself would have sent him a copy. He can't do much where he is now. I think a great many naval officers ought to get together to consider whether the means employed for finding these suitable for high command in the Navy are or are not satisfactory.
There might be a second Punic War.
P.S. I am thinking Admiral Phillimore is one that I might perhaps like to show my depositions to.
31, Rodney Road,
Dear Admiral Bacon,
Your letter of the 16.9.36 raised some interesting points, that I think I might put on recc*ord.
The question "For what purpose have I written it".
After the Zeebrugge & Ostend operations, I collected my papers & diary and, whilst the incidents from Jan. to May ISIS(?) were clear in my memory, I wrote most of what I term my deposition or confession. My object primarily was to leave a record, in the event of a subsequent enquiry into the operations. At the time, and after *aring the strictures of Admirals Wilson and May, and the opinions of many other officers, I thought there must be some public opinion that would force an enquiry, and I wished to be prepared.. From my knowledge of Keyes, I felt certain that whilst the matter was thought a success, he would claim most of the credit, but if it turned out a failure, he would distribute blame with a liberal hand.
To my regret there has been no enquiry; I suppose one could surely expectit,* with the Wemyss and Beatty, Keyes cronies, as First Sea Lords. Others I have spoken to, seem to consider theNavy* is best served by hushing such matters up. Soon it will be known as the "Great Hush Up Navy" instead of the "silent service". That is loyalty to the service, I suppose, but is it loyalty to the country?
When I saw some of Keyes articles in the D.T. I got out my depositions, went over them & had them typed; a very distasteful job, but (I felt I could not go hence & leave the job un* xd out)
I felt I could not go hence & leave the job undone. From the foregoing ***nions my view is, that Keyes would be most unlikely to feel either shame or contrition for what I consider a uselesss* loss of life.
I wish some public spirited minister of the Government, say a First Lord of the Admiralty, could read my account and consider what could be done in the public interest, and whether the Historical section of the Admiralty should preserve* (written above) a copy.
To turn now to other matters.
Of course I do not know what exact operation you had in view, that called for the use of a monitor, bows on. I know it would not have done for what I had in view. Briefly this:-)* Failing a major operation, with a large bombarding fleet & one or more Army Corps, I was connvinced that the construction of the lock gate was the only feasible inconvenience that could be compassed.
Vindictive was as* feint only
A landing party was totally unnecessary, unless circumstances made it easy, for whichone* should or might be prepared. What object is there in landing to lose a lot of men and then leaving? Vindictive needed only to steam along the Mole, playing flammenwerfer and Stokes Mortars. Glare of flammenwerfer would hide the attack of the C.M.Bs., or distract notice from them. Mole anchors, gangways, howitzers etc. only if we had quieted the Germans.
Speed was essential.
Vindictive 16-17 knots. Monitor 4-5 knots.
Vindictive steers, monitors don't.
Marines quite unnecessary.
Overcrowding, also unnecessary.
The striking force really:-
6 C.M.Bs., one boom breaker & Vindictive.
Might have been done with 250 men or less - the number killed
I haven't my notes to give exact figures. My great object,I* felt, was economy of life. How many lives was the lock gate worth? It depended on the probable interference with S/M activities, a problem for a higher mathematician. As to Ostend; on both occasions great difficulty was encouuntered in finding the place.
Compare the conspicuousness of Zeebrugge Mole and Ostend piers. Conspicuous lighthouse at end of former will show up under lowlying ****
Berlin may tell you that both S/Ms (Submarines) and destroyers used the Bruges canal. It would be interesting to know:-
1) Tonnage and draught of S/M.
3) How often used.
4) Time taken.
Asa*(a xd) a rough guess, I should say thetime* via Zeebrugge 1 hr., by Ostend 7 to 8 hours, during which latter time they would be exposed to our? attack. I doubt if S/Ms ., even the smallest, could dive in that canal (Bruges - Ostend). I have an idea, but may be wrong, that the minimum depth wasabout* 8ft., so must still be of the opinion that Zeebrugge was the easiest, safest, & quickist* (e +d) way, even after blocking! I can quite imagine the Germans would have no wish to crab the operation now, though at the time they said it was of no military value. They may hope we will fight the next war with the same degree of stupidity. What principally worries me is the good men, in my opinion uselessly thrown away in the Vindictive feint.
Wise After the Event ?
Excerpt (Not known from what.-- Possibly a book}
Captain H.C.Grant who was intelligence officer on the staff
of Roger Keyes pointed out to that officer on several occasions
that channel existed on ( on xd) either side of the blockships
that enabled S/Ms and destroyers to pass at all times except two
to three hours before and two to three hours after low water,
and that at least one of the/ channe*(channe xd) channels could
be dredged to allow such vessels to pass at all states of the
From his diary he summed up the results of the raisd as follows -
a) Two ships in midchannel at Zeebrugge with a channel on either side; that to Eastward 50ft. wide, that to Westward at least 76ft. wide.
b) A hole in the clair voie, bridged over again* almost at once,
c) Moral effect.
d) Two old cruisers ashore on the Belgian coast* having mined Ostend.
e) The Vindictive quite uselessly lying at the bottom nearly fore and aft to channel at Ostend.
230 killed 442 wounded
The lock gates at Zeebrugge protected by the blockships against
any further attack.
Note subsequent official German information giving the German loss as 10 killed, wounded.
Questions left to Jury,