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Imperial War Museum War Partnership logoFirst World War - Despatch to Admiralty by Vice-Admiral R.H. Bacon, 29th May 1916 - describing the several engagements off the Belgian Coast and the Channel.

World War 1 soldier at rest

Source: Supplement to the London Gazette (25th July 1916), No. 29860/page 7406. Supplement Published 25th July 1916. Admiralty, July 25th, 1916.

The following despatch has been received from Vice-Admiral Sir Reginald H. S. Bacon, K.C.B., C.V.O., D.S.O., commanding the Dover Patrol, reporting the operations of the Dover Patrol since 3rd December 1915 :-


Dover Patrol,
29th May 1916 Sir,

Since my last Despatch to their Lordships on 3rd December, 1915, the varied duties of this Patrol have been carried out with un-remitting energy on the part of the Officers and men under my command.

During the winter months offensive operations on the Belgian Coast were much impeded by the shortness of the daylight hours and by gales of wind and bad weather. These same factors that impeded offensive action facilitated the work of the enemy in laying mines and in attacking our commerce in these narrow waters, since it assisted them to elude our patrols of protective vessels.
The Services of the Dover Patrol can be best appreciated from the following facts :-

Over 21,000 Merchant Ships, apart from Men-of-War and Auxiliaries, have passed through this Patrol in the last six months.
Of these twenty-one have been lost or have been seriously damaged by the enemy.
The losses in Merchant Vessels, therefore, have been less than one per thousand.
On the other hand, to effect this very considerable security to our Merchant Shipping I regret that over 4 per cent. of our Patrol Vessels have been sunk and the lives of 77 Officers and men lost to the Nation.
No figures could emphasise more thoroughly the sacrifice made by the personnel of the Patrol and the relative immunity ensured to the commerce of their country.

Besides the foregoing the Patrol assists in the protection of the flank of all the sea Transport to and from our Army in France. The number of vessels that have passed and also of the troops that have been carried are known to Their Lordships, but it is well to call attention to the fact that this vast transport of troops has been so thoroughly safeguarded that not one single life has been lost during the sea passage.

The work of the Destroyer Flotilla throughout the winter has been incessant and arduous and thoroughly well carried out.

Certain opportunities have arisen of bombarding the enemy's positions in Belgium. On these occasions the necessary minor operations have been carried out.

In addition to the daily reconnaissance and protective work performed by the Royal Naval Air Service on the coast, eleven organised attacks against the enemy's Aerodromes and thirteen attacks on enemy vessels have been carried out. Nine enemy machines and one submarine have been destroyed by air attack and appreciable damage has been inflicted on military adjuncts.

The services rendered by the Naval Airmen in Flanders, under Acting Captain Lambe, have been most valuable.

It is equally advantageous to maintain the offensive in the air as it is to do so on land or at sea. It is with considerable satisfaction, therefore, that I am able to report that, with only one exception, all the aeroplanes destroyed were fought over the enemy's territory and that all the seaplanes were brought down into, waters off the enemy's coast.

The advent of spring weather has lately enabled me to take measures to limit the extent to which the submarine and other vessels of the enemy had free access to the waters off the Belgian coast.

The success achieved has, so far, been con-siderable, and the activities of submarines operating from the Belgian Coast have been much reduced.

We have destroyed several of the enemy's submarines and some of his surface vessels.

Our losses, I regret to say, were four Officers killed, one wounded; men: 22 killed, two wounded.

It is to the energy and endurance of the Officers and men of the vessels that have been employed, and who are now daily on patrol that the success of these operations has been due. Whether of our Royal Navy, of the French Navy, of our Mercantile Marine or our Fishermen, all have exhibited those qualities most valued at sea in time of war.

My cordial thanks are due to Rear-Admiral de Marliave for the hearty co-operation he has afforded me during the whole of the foregoing period.

During these operations I was afforded much assistance by Commodore R. Tyrwhitt, C.B., Commodore C. D. Johnson, M.V.O., D.S.O., and Captain F. S. Litchfield-Speer, as well as Commandant Excelman, of the French Navy.

Captain H. W. Bowling, D.S.O., acted most ably as Chief of my Staff throughout the operations.

Enclosed is a list of Officers and men I desire to bring to their Lordships notice for distinguished and meritorious services, in addition to those of the Auxiliary patrol and Royal Naval Air Service previously specially forwarded by me during the period under report.

I have the honour to be, Sir,
Your obedient Servant.,
(Sd.) R. H. BACON,
Vice-Admiral Dover Patrol.
The Secretary of the Admiralty.

Officers Recommended.
Captain F. S. Litchfield-Speer, D.S.O. Carried out several important operations under difficult circumstances off the enemy's coast.
Commander George Louis Downall Gibbs. Commanded a Division of Destroyers with marked ability and dash in action against the enemy.
Commander Henry Gerard Laurence Oliphant, M.V.O. Commanded a Division of Destroyers in action and on patrol duties off the enemy's coast.
Commander Reginald Lionel Hancock. Carried out surveying operations of considerable importance under heavy gun fire off the enemy's coast.
Lieutenant Henry Forrester. Carried out dangerous patrol duties with marked ability.
Lieutenant Rudolf Henry Fane De Salis. Commanded a detached Division on several occasions in close proximity to the enemy's coast.
Acting Lieutenant James Towrie Muir, R.N.R. In command of a Division of Drifters during several operations off the enemy's coast.
Skipper Robert George Hurren, R.N.R. Distinguished conduct which led to the destruction of an enemy Submarine Boat.
Chief Artificer Engineer Thomas Robson Hall, R.N.
Exceptional services during War operations.
Commander Edward Ratcliffe Garth Russell Evans, C.B., R.N.
Lieut.-Commr. John Stewart Gordon Fraser, R.N.
Lieut.-Commr. Mountague Robert Bernard, R.N.
Lieutenant John Cracroft-Amcotts, R.N.
Lieutenant James Douglas Godfrey, D.S.C., R.N.
Sub-Lieutenant Robert Don. Oliver, R.N.
Skipper Isaac Lilly Manthorpe, R.N.R.
Chief Gunner John. Steel, R.N.
Artificer Engineer William George Jackson, R.N.

Men Recommended.
Yeoman of Signals A. W. Harding, O.N. 229905.
Chief Stoker J. Brown, O.N. 290363.
Leading Signalman J. Wise, O.N. 222824.
Petty Officer, 1st Class, C. W. Moore, O.N.179983.
Chief Engine Room Artificer R. Sheppard, O.N. 270663.
Chief Petty Officer H. ,Barber, O.N. 165446.
Chief Engine Room Artificer Robert Shires, O.N. 271126.
Engine Room Artificer, 1st Cl., H. Robertson, O.N. 270936.
Chief Engine Room Artificer, 1st Cl., G. F. Cockrell, O.N. 268235.
Acting Chief Petty Officer Wm. Ewles, O.N. 154421.
Stoker Petty Officer A. A. Bradley, O.N. 300678.
Stoker Edward Madden, O.N.(K.) 25097.
Chief Petty Officer Charles Darton, O.N. 187656.
Ch. Armourer J. T. Lewis, O.N. 340703.
Ch. Armourer H. Goodwin, O.N. 345418.
Petty Officer J. Hailstone, O.N. 181161.
Electrical Artificer, 2nd Cl., H. A. Hughes, O.N. 347720.
Ldg. Seaman C. H. Holmes, O.N. 191648.
Chief Petty Officer T. A. W. Collard, O.N. 133361.
Signalman J. C. Duley, O.N.J. 13042.
Chief Petty Officer Jas. Southwood, O.N.117014.
2nd Hand J. Gardiner, R.N.R., O.N. 1431 S.A.
2nd Hand F. W. Saunders, R.N.R., O.N. 910 S.A.
2nd Hand W. J. Sutton, O.N. 891 S.A.
Chief Motor Boatman G. Culverwell, M.B. 242.
Chief Engine Room Artificer G. Barrowman, O.N. 269387.
Leading Signalman G. V. McKenzie, O.N. 233487.
Leading Signalman C. W. Lumley, O.N. 226962.
Leading Signalman R. Giddings, O.N. J.4044.
Chief Engine Room Artificer J. E. Pother, O.N. 270497.
Chief Engine Room Artificer A. Matthews, O.N. 271000.
Leading Signalman T. Young, O.N. 223558.
Engine Room Artificer L. C. Boggust, O.N. 271134.
Petty Officer Charles Nason, O.N. 191247.
Leading Seaman Albert Mercer, O.N. 235474.
Petty Officer William Foley, O.N. 209001.
Acting Chief Petty Officer W. J. Brown, O.N. 160889.
Able Seaman William Austin, O.N. 194423:
Petty Officer W. A. Osborne, O.N. 235133.
Ldg. Seaman E. Savage, O.N. J. 8986.
Yeoman of Signals W. C. Chapman, O.N.213631.
Able Seaman 0.J. Broers,.O.N.J. 9965.
Petty Officer, 1st CL, G. Arlingham, O.N. 174787.
Petty Officer G. J. L. Staff, O.N. 237841.
Petty Officer J. Penman, O.N. 231159.
Engineman J. Berry, R.N.R., O.N. 1715
E.S. Stoker (Acting Engineman)
D. B. Knowles, R.N.R., O.N. 2557 T.
Able Seaman W. J. Hunt, R.N.R. O.N.J. 19181.
Deck Hand James Latta, R.N.R., O.N. 2364 S.D.
Leading Deck Hand William Wigg, O.N. 2722 S.D.
Deck Hand, R.N.R., Francis William Beamish, O.N. 3239 D.A.

Admiralty,
25th, July, 1916.

The KING has been graciously pleased to give orders for the following appointments to the Distinguished Service Order and for the award of the Distinguished Service Cross to the undermentioned Officers in recognition of their services as mentioned in the foregoing despatch :-

To be Companions of the Distinguished Service Order.
Commander George Louis Downall Gibbs, R.N.
Commander Reginald Lionel Hancock, R.N.
Commander Henry Gerard Laurence Oliphant, M.V.O., R.N.

To receive the Distinguished Service Cross.
Lieutenant Henry Forrester, R.N.
Acting Lieutenant James Towrie R.N.R.
Skipper Robert George Hurren, R.N:R.
Chief Artificer Engineer Thomas Robson Hall, R.N.

The following awards have also been made:-

To receive the Distinguished Service Medal.
Chief Petty Officer Harry Barber, O.N.165446.
Chief Petty Officer Thomas Arthur William Collard O.N.133361 (R.F.R.Ch.A.1300).
Chief Petty Officer Charles Darton, O.N. 187656.
Chief Petty Officer James Samuel Southwood, O.N.117014 (R.F.R.Po.A.1166).
Acting Chief Petty Officer William Ewles, O.N.154421.
Petty Officer Jesse Hailstone, O.N.181161.
Petty Officer, 1st Class, Charles William Moore, O.N.179983.
Leading Seaman Charles Henry Holmes, O.N.191648.
Yeoman of Signals Alfred William Harding, O.N.229905.
Leading Signalman Joseph Wise, O.N.222824.
Signalman Joseph Charles Duley, O.N.J. 13042.
Chief Engine Room Artificer, 1st Class, George Frederick Cockrell, O.N.268235.
Chief Engine Room Artificer' 2nd Class, Richard Sheppard, O.N.270663.
Chief Engine Room Artificer, 2nd Class, John Robert Shires, O.N.271126.
Engine Room Artificer, 1st Class, Harry Robertson, O.N.270936.
Electrical Artificer, 2nd Class, Harold Archibald Hughes, O.N.347720.
Chief Stoker James Brown, O.N.290363.
Stoker Petty Officer Arthur Alfred Bradley, O.N.300678 (R.F.R.B.6874).
Stoker, 1st Class, Edward Madden, O.N.K. 25097.
Chief Armourer Harry Goodwin; O.N.345418.
Chief Armourer James Thomas Lewis, O.N. 340703.
Chief Motor Boatman W. Cr. Culverwell, O.N. M.B.242.
Second Hand, R.N.R., John Gardiner, O.N. 1431SA.
Second Hand, R.N.R., Florence Westgate Saunders, O.N.910SA.
Second Hand, R.N.R., Walter James Sutton, O.N. 891 S.A.
Deck Hand, R.N.R., Francis William Beamish, O.N. 3239 D.A.

The following officers and men are commended for service in action:-
Captain Frederick Shirley Litchfield-Speer, D.S.O., R.N.
Commander Edward Ratcliffe Garth Russell Evans, C.B., R.N.
Lieutenant Rudolf Henry Fane De Salis, R.N.
Lieutenant-Commander John Stewart Gordon Fraser, R.N.
Lieutenant-Commander Mountague Robert Bernard, R.N.
Lieutenant John Cracroft-Amcotts, R.N.
Lieutenant James Douglas Godfrey, D.S.C., R.N.
Sub-Lieutenant Robert Don. Oliver, R.N.
Skipper Isaac Lilly Manthorpe, R.N.R.
Chief Gunner John Steel, R.N.
Artificer Engineer William George Jackson,
Acting Chief Petty Officer William Joseph Brown, O.N. 160889.
Petty Officer, 1st Class (O.S.), George Alling-ham, O.N. 174787.
Petty Officer William Foley, O.N. 209001.
Petty Officer Charles Nason, O.N.191247.
Petty Officer William Arthur Osborn,. O.N. 235133.
Petty Officer James Penman, O.N. 231159.
Petty Officer George John Louis Staff, O.N. 237841.
Leading Seaman Ernest Savage, O.N. J.8986.
Leading Seaman Albert Mercer, O.N. 235474.
Able Seaman William Charles Austen, O.N. 194423.
Able Seaman Oliver Joseph Broers, O.N. J.9965.
Able Seaman William Joseph Hunt, O.N. J.19181.
Yeoman of Signals Wilfred Cubit Chapman, O.N. 213631.
Leading Signalman Robert Giddings, O.N.J.4044.
Leading Signalman Charles William Lumley,O.N. 226962.
Leading Signalman George Victor Mackenzie, O.N: 233487.
Leading Signalman Thomas Young, O.N. 223558.
Chief Engine Room Artificer, 2nd Class, George Dunsmuir Barrowman, O.N. 269387.
Chief Engine Room Artificer, 2nd Class, Arthur Matthews, O.N. 271000.
Chief. Engine Room Artificer, 2nd Class, John Ernest Pether, O.N. 270497.
Engine Room Artificer, 2nd Class, Limbrough Charles Boggust, O.N. 271134.
Deck Hand, R.N.R. (Special Service), James Latta, O.N. 2364S.D.
Leading Deck Hand, R.N.R. (Special Service), William Wigg, O.N. 2722S.D.
Engineman, R.N.R., John Berry, O.N. 1715 E.S.
Stoker, R.N.R. (Acting Engineman), David Bannerman Knowles, O.N. 2557T.