Tuesday 23 February 2016

The Dover Patrol in the First World War

During the First World War, The Dover Patrol was based at Dover and Dunkirk with the task of blocking the way through the British Channel of German submarines trying to get through to the Atlantic, Mediterranean and Irish Sea.   They also had to try to protect and escort the enormous amount of shipping that crossed the Channel every day, taking passengers, troops, supplies and post to France and Belgium and bringing the wounded home in Hospital Ships.  They also had to sweep for mines and destroy German submarines.

The large German submarines were able to remain away from port for 25 days, while the smaller ones could remain away for 14 days.

In the early days of the war, the Dover Patrol consisted of old Tribal Class Destroyers with a motley group of vessels – trawlers, minesweepers – many of them paddle steamers – armed yachts, submarines, planes and airships.   By the end of the war, Britain had a fleet of modern Torpedo Boat Destroyers and a mined barrage was placed across the Channel that was illuminated at night.

The work and the men of the Dover Patrol is commemorated on memorials in Britain (St. Margaret’s Bay, Dover), France (Cap Griz Nez) and America (Fort Hamilton, New York)

Source:  ‘The Years of Promise’, Cecil Roberts, published by Hodder & Stoughton, London in 1968.