Dover Patrol

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The Dover Patrol was a Royal Navy command based in Dover and Dunkirk.

It operated continuously through the end of the war, with its strength primarily comprised of the Sixth Destroyer Flotilla, the Fifth Submarine Flotilla, the Downs Boarding Flotilla, and at times a collection of monitors. Its primary mission was to monitor barriers and defences at the eastern end of the English Channel to prevent U-boats from gaining access to western areas.

It also harrassed German fortifications on the coast of occupied Belgium.

History

Following the extra strain thrown on the Admiral of Patrols (Rear-Admiral George A. Ballard) and his staff caused by the beginning of minelaying and the evacuation of Antwerp, the Admiralty decided to create a separate command encompassing the patrols from the naval base at Dover, the naval base itself, and the Downs Boarding Flotilla. Command was transferred to Rear-Admiral The Honourable Horace L. A. Hood on 11 October, and he hoisted his flag on 13 October. He was given the title of "Rear-Admiral Commanding the Dover Patrol and Senior Naval Officer, Dover", with the short title "Rear-Admiral, Dover Patrol." His command consisted of the Sixth Destroyer Flotilla, Captain (D) Charles D. Johnson, the Third and Fourth Submarine Flotillas, the Downs Boarding Flotilla, and other vessels at Dover.[1]

Hood's tenure in command was difficult, owing to growing pains and shifting demands upon his patchwork force. His initial orders were to maintain sea lanes across the channel, to lay and sweep mines to preserve the integrity of that passage, and to enforce the blockade of Germany by boarding and inspection operations. However, these commitments were soon augmented by increasing demands for naval bombardment employing whatever forces – destroyers, cruisers, obsolete battleships or monitors – could be made available by the Force. These demands vexed Hood, who doubted their necessity and the degree to which serious military efforts would accompany the noise and fury he visited upon the enemy, or at least the enemy terrain. Moreover, the Admiralty kept sending him battleships, which he had trouble mooring and protecting in the poorly sheltered waters of Dover Harbour. This placed him in an uncommon position for a naval commander: asking that people stop sending him reinforcements.[2] Despite this tension, the Force was effective at least on occasion, as on 27 October, 1914 when its bombardment was so effective that it denied 4th Ersatz Division of III Reserve Corps control of the locks at the mouth of the Ijezer, which Belgian engineers were attempting to open so as to flood the surrounding country to hamper the German advance.[3]

Reports of undiminished U-boat access to the Channel which were later found to be exaggerated prompted Churchill to replace Hood in mid-April 1915 with Vice-Admiral Reginald Bacon. Bacon commanded the force through January, 1918 and enjoyed ever-increasing numbers of monitors with which to finally meet bombardment needs.

In March 1919, the Dover Patrol was renamed the Dover Patrol Force,[4] and it rapidly frittered away from there, losing its destroyers and submarines, leaving only a collection of minesweepers and "P" Boats by May.[5]

The command was dissolved when Vice-Admiral Dampier hauled down his flag on 15 October, 1919.[6]

In Command

The Patrol was re-established on the outbreak of World War II.

Footnotes

  1. Naval Staff Monographs. Volume XI. pp. 114-115.
  2. Securing the Narrow Sea. pp. 66-78.
  3. Sheldon. pp. 78-79.
  4. Supplement to the Monthly Navy List. (March, 1919). p. 13.
  5. Supplement to the Monthly Navy List. (May, 1919). p. 14.
  6. "Admiral C. F. Dampier" (Obituaries). The Times. Thursday, 13 April, 1950. Issue 51664, col F, p. 7.
  7. Supplement to the Monthly Navy List. (December, 1914). p. 6.
  8. Hood Service Record. The National Archives. ADM 196/43. f. 114.
  9. Supplement to the Monthly Navy List. (September, 1917). p. 4.
  10. Bacon Service Record. The National Archives. ADM 196/42. f. 262.
  11. Supplement to the Monthly Navy List. (November, 1918). p. 3.
  12. Keyes Service Record. The National Archives. ADM 196/43. f. 291.
  13. Keyes Service Record. The National Archives. ADM 196/43. f. 291.
  14. Squadrons and Senior Naval Officers in Existence on 11th November, 1918. f. 36.
  15. Dampier Service Record. The National Archives. ADM 196/42. f. 497.
  16. Day of month not legible in free preview of document. Murdoch Service Record. The National Archives. ADM 196/49/16. f. ?.
  17. Murdoch Service Record. The National Archives. ADM 196/49/16. f. ?.

See Also

Bibliography

  • Naval Staff, Training and Staff Duties Division (1924). Naval Staff Monographs (Historical): Fleet Issue. Volume X. Home Waters—Part I. From the Outbreak of War to 27 August, 1914. O.U. 5528 (late C.B. 917(H)). Copy at The National Archives. ADM 186/619.
  • Naval Staff, Training and Staff Duties Division (1924). Naval Staff Monographs (Historical): Fleet Issue. Volume XI. Home Waters—Part II. September and October 1914. O.U. 5528 A (late C.B. 917(I)). Copy at The National Archives. ADM 186/620.
  • Sheldon, Jack (2010). The German Army at Ypres 1914 and the Battle for Flanders. Barnsley: Pen & Sword Military. ISBN 978-1-84884-113-0.