Zeebrugge Raid Commemorated

  World War 1

St George’s Day service in Dover on April 23, 1923, a fine postcard by J.G. Whorwell, of Bench Street, commemorating the epic raid on a canal and dry dock at the enemy occupied Belgian port of Zeebrugge in the First World War. The service, which became an annual one, was held outside St Mary’s Church, Cannon Street, Dover for a number of years following the Armistice. Picture postcards record these tributes to the fallen, featuring the Zeebrugge bell which the Belgians presented to Dover Patrol leader Sir Roger Keyes, to mark the heroism of the British troops who went on the raid – their object being to bottle up German submarines in the waterway, and stop them attacking our ships. The heroic action of the Royal Navy and Royal Marines in their attacks on lock gates, gun positions and enemy ships, after landings under extremely heavy gunfire from defenders, were in the best traditions of our brave forces. Later the bell was found a permanent position on the front of the Town Hall, looking down on the main street. Every year the bell is rung by way of tribute to those who gave their lives for their country. The photo depicts Dover mayor W.G. Lewis ringing the bell, supported by Canon W. Elnor, Town Sergeant J. Chapman, together with the town’s portly Chief Constable, Charles Green, right. The mayor struck the bell eight times to signal the start of a special tribute to the gallant naval seamen who took part in an action which, said the Dover Express brought on the end of the First World War. The eight bells of the parish church pealed a grand salute to seamen from Dover who fought at Zeebrugge. For many years afterwards St George’s Day became simply Zeebrugge Day.