2015 Zeebrugge Raid Service

The service to commemorate and remember the WW1 raid on Zeebrugge in Belgium on St George’s Day in 1918 took place as usual on the 23 April 2015. The Branch was represented by our two Standards, the Branch carried by ‘Dusty’ Miller, and the GBA by Jimmy Greene. Also attending were ‘Timber' Woods, Gerry Bowers and Mike Conn. Bob Davies laid a wreath on behalf of the Chairman and members, and John Elms laid a wreath for the Downs Branch of the RBL.
The reason for the raid was to use blockships, and to sink them in the canals leading to Bruges in order to prevent German submarines, which were based further along the canals, from being able to leave their bases and enter the North sea to cause havoc in the shipping lanes which were bringing much needed food and supplies to the British Isles. The raid was a success, although of the 1700 who took part, including the 4th Royal Marine Battalion, some 200 were killed and over 400 wounded. Two Victoria Crosses were awarded to the RM Battalion from a total of Eleven awarded that day.

The commemorative service took place in St James’ cemetery in Dover near the Cross of Sacrifice where some 61 members of the Royal Marines and Royal Navy personal who took part in the raid, and were brought back to England, are buried. A party of military and civilians representing the Belgium people were present and laid wreaths on behalf of their country.
Following this, another short service and a parade of Standards was held in front of Dover town hall, where the Mayor sounded ‘Eight Bells’ on the commemorative bell, originally hung at the end of Zeebrugge Mole, and which is now installed on the balcony. This was a gift from the King of Belgium to Dover as a memorial to the sacrifice of so many.

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