First World War - Despatches
DESPATCH TO ADMIRALTY BY VICE-ADMIRAL R.H. BACON - DESCRIBING THE SEVERAL ENGAGEMENTS OFF THE BELGIAN COAST
Source: Second Supplement to the London Gazette (11th April 1915), No. 29436/page 545. Supplement Published 12th November 1914. Admiralty, January 12th, 1916.
The following despatch has been received from Rear Admiral the Hon Horace L A Hood CB MVO DSO reporting the proceedings of the flotilla off the coast of Belgium between 17th October and 9th November 1914:-
3rd December, 1915
SIR - In the summer and autumn of this year circumstances enabled offensive operations to be undertaken from the sea at certain points on the Belgian Coast. It is unnecessary to enter into the reasons for the various operations or the exact objectives attacked, since these are well known to Their Lordships.
In all cases great care has been taken to confine the fire of the guns to objectives of military or naval importance, so as to inflict the minimum of loss of life and distress on the civil population, the larger number of whom are our allies In order to carry this principle into effect, it has at times been necessary to modify and even postpone projected attacks. The results therefore have been effective rather than sensational.
On the evening of the 22nd August I sailed with H M Ships Sir John Moore (Commander S R Miller R N) Lord Clive (Commander N H Carter R N) Prince Rupert (Commander H O Reinold, R N), and 76 other vessels and auxiliaries and on the following morning attacked the harbour and defences of Zeebrugge. The results were markedly successful all the objectives selected were damaged or destroyed.
It was satisfactory that extreme accuracy was obtained with the gun fire at the long ranges necessary for the best attack of such Defences. This accuracy fully justifies the novel methods used and the careful training in attention to details to which the vessels are subjected. A similar organisation was employed in subsequent attacks.
On the 6th September I attacked Ostende with five monitors including General Crawford (Commander E Altham R.N.) and "M.25" (Lieutenant-Commander B. H. Ramsay, R.N.), and damage was done to sub-marine workshops and harbour works. The enemy returned our fire with heavy guns of calibre probably larger than our own, and with considerable accuracy. Again the shooting on the part of our vessels was remarkably good, and the assistance rendered by the Auxiliary Craft most valuable.
On the same day Westende was subjected to attack by H.M. Ships "Redoubtable" (Captain V. B. Molteno, R.N.), "Bustard" (Lieutenant 0. H. K. Maguire, R.N.), and "Excellent" (Commander G. L. Saurin, R.N.), under the direction of Captain V. B. Molteno, and with results that reflected credit on all concerned.
On the 19th September, with several of the vessels, including H.M.S. "Marshal Ney " (Captain H. J. Tweedie, R.N.), I carried out an attack against certain defences in the neighbourhood of Middlekirke, Raversyde and Westende, which resulted in damaging and silencing the batteries. Valuable co-operation was received from the French batteries in the vicinity of Nieuport.
On the evening of the 24th September, I despatched H.M.S. " Prince Eugene" (Captain E. Wigram, R.N.) and one other monitor and the requisite auxiliary craft to bombard the following morning the coast of Knocke, Heyst, Zeebrugge and Blankenberghe (east of Ostende) while with the other vessels, including H.M.S. "Lord Clive " (Commander G. R. B. Blount, R.N.), on the same day I carried out an attack on the fortified positions west of that place. Again, during these attacks, considerable damage was close.
On the 26th, 27th and 30th September I made further attacks on the various batteries and strong positions at Middlekirke and Westende.
On the evening of the 2nd October I sailed with four monitors, and again attacked with satisfactory results the batteries at Zeebrugge on the morning of the 3rd. The whole coast during our passage was showing signs of considerable alarm and unrest as a result of the previous operations. Our advanced vessels were attacked by submarine boats, but without result.
On the 6th, 12th, 13th and 18th October and 16th - 19th November other batteries or positions of military value have been attacked by the vessels under my command.
Up to the present, therefore, concerted operations of considerable magnitude have been parried out on six occasions, and on eight other days attacks on a smaller scale on fortified positions have taken place. The accuracy of the enemy's fire has been good.
The damage inflicted on the enemy is known to include the sinking of one torpedo boat, two submarines and one large dredger, the total destruction of three military factories and damage to a fourth, extensive damage to the locks at Zeebrugge and the destruction of thirteen guns of considerable calibre, in addition to the destruction of two ammunition depots and several military storehouses, observation stations and signalling posts, damage to wharves, moles and other secondary places. Further, a considerable number of casualties are known to have been suffered by the enemy.
I regret that three vessels were lost during the operations:-
H.M. Armed Yacht " Sanda," sunk by gunfire;
H.M. Drifter " Great Heart," sunk by mine;
H.M. Mine Sweeper "Brighton Queen," sunk by mine.
Our total casualties numbered 34 killed and 24 wounded, which, considering the dangers to which the vessels were exposed by gun fire, aircraft, submarine boats and mines on an enemy's coast, may be looked upon as comparatively small in proportion to the number of officers and men taking part in the operations.
It is with regret that, among others, I have to report the death of Lieutenant-Commander H. T. Gartside-Tipping, R.N. of the Armed Yacht "Sanda," who was the oldest naval officer afloat. In spite of his advanced age, he rejoined, and with undemonstrative patriotism served at sea as a Lieutenant-Commander.
I cannot speak too highly of the manner in which the officers and men under my command have carried out the duties allotted to them. The work has been varied, and to a great extent novel, but in all particulars it has been entered into with a zeal and enthusiasm which could not have been surpassed. The gunnery results have exceeded my expectations.
Their Lordships will appreciate the difficulties attendant on the cruising in. company by day and night under war conditions of a fleet of 80 vessels comprising several widely different classes, manned partly by trained naval ratings but more largely by officers of the Naval Reserve, whose fleet training has necessarily been scant, and by men whose work in life has hitherto been that of deep sea fishermen.
The protection of such a moving fleet by the destroyers in waters which are the natural home of the enemy's submarines has been admirable, and justifies the training and organisation of the personnel of the flotilla. But more remarkable still, in my opinion, is the aptitude shown by the officers and crews of the drifters and trawlers, who in difficult waters, under conditions totally strange to them, have maintained their allotted stations without a single accident. Moreover, these men under fire have exhibited a coolness well worthy of the personnel of a service inured by discipline. The results show how deeply sea adaptability is ingrained in the seafaring race of these islands.
It is to the excellent work done by the destroyers under Commodore C. D. Johnson, M.V.O., and the drifters under Captain F. G. Bird, that I ascribe our immunity from loss by submarine attack. The mine sweepers, under Commander W. G. Rigg, R.N., have indefatigably carried out their dangerous duties.
Throughout these operations attacks have been made on our vessels by the enemy's aircraft, but latterly the vigilance of our Dunkirk Aerodrome, under Wing-Commander A. M. Longmore, has considerably curtailed their activity.
I wish specially to mention the cordial assistance always tendered to me by the Vice-Admiral Favereau, Commanding the French Second Light Cruiser Squadron, whose patrol vessels under Commander Saillard have assisted to protect our ships from submarine dangers. In doing this, I regret to say, their patrols have lost three vessels and several gallant lives.
I would also bring to Their Lordships' attention the great assistance rendered to me by Brigadier-General T. Bridges, C.B., attached to the Belgian Mission.
Captain H. W. Bowring, throughout these operations, has acted most ably as my Chief of the Staff.
I have the honour to be,
Your obedient Servant, R. H. BACON,
Vice-Admiral, Dover Patrol.
The Secretary of the Admiralty.
Officers Specially Recommended.
Commodore C. D. Johnson, M.V.O., 6th Flotilla.
In command of the Destroyer Flotilla, and has performed much valuable work during the whole of the operations, and directly responsible for the efficiency with which the patrol was conducted.
Captain E. Wigram, H.M:S. "Prince Eugene."
Commanded the detached squadron during a successful attack on Zeebrugge on 6th September, which caused considerable loss and inconvenience to the enemy.
Captain F. G. Bird, Dover Drifter Patrol.
In personal charge of the drifters during five of the major attacks, and contributed materially to the success of the operations.
Flag Captain H. W. Bowring, Dover Patrol.
Acted as Chief of my Staff during all the operations and afforded me most. valuable assistance.
Commander W. G. H. Bickford, Dover Patrol.
In charge of the forward observation party under the close fire of the batteries during two attacks, and largely assisted in correcting the fire of the guns.
Mr. L. Scarlett, Skipper, R.N.R., H.M. Drifter "Hyacinth."
On 25th September, off Zeebrugge, exhibited great coolness in action, remaining and completing his task though exposed to heavy gun fire.
Lieutenant L. F. Robinson, H.M.S. "Lord Clive."
Gunnery Lieutenant of "Lord Clive," the excellent shooting of which ship has contributed materially to the damage done.
Officers Commended for Service in Action.
Lieutenant R. J. B. Drew, H.M.S. "General Crawford."
Lieutenant-Commander (now Commander) F. H. L. Lewin, 6th. Flotilla.
Sub-Lieutenant D. V. S. Watson, R.N.R., Drifter, "Devon County."
Mr. James Peck, Skipper, R.N.R., W.S.A. 869, Drifter "Fearless."
Engineer Sub-Lieutenant W. Wilson, of H.M. Yacht "Sanda."
Lieutenant-Commander R. H. B. Hammond-Chambers, H.M.S. "Tartar."
Flight Commander F. K. Haskins, R.N.A.S., Dunkirk.
Mr. Alexander Buchan, Skipper, R.N.R., W.S.A. 1315, Drifter "Violet May."
Sub-Lieutenant Malcolm N. English, R.N.R., Elea Messenger 41.
Petty Officers and Men Specially Recommended.
R. Spiers, E.R.A., O.N.M.10941, "Lord Clive."
A. Wynn, Chief E.R.A., 1st Cl., O.N. 269218, "Sir John Moore."
U.J. White, E.R.A., 4th Cl., O.N. M.12159, "Prince Rupert."
A. H. Woodgate, Ldg. Signalman, O.N. 239957, "General Cranford."
P. G. Hayward, E.R.A., 4th Cl. (Act.), O.N. M.11920, "Prince Eugene."
S. T. Smith, Blacksmith; O.N. M.2725, "Marshal Ney."
D. P. Foley, Ch. Yeo. Sig., O.N. 191303, "Arrogant."
C. Joughin, A.B. (mercantile rating), Fleet Messenger 42.
S. Morriss, Cpl. R.M.L.I., Po., 15842, "Attentive."
T. J. Prior, 2nd Hand, R.N.R., O.N. 1089 S.A., "Hyacinth."
F. Comber, Seaman, R.N.R., O.N. 1622D., "Violet II."
E. Stowe, Petty Officer, O.N. 182402, "Viking."
Wm. Smith, Ldg. Sig., O.N. 213714, "Crusader."
H. J. Tree, Ldg. Sea., O.N. 224325, "Tartar."
G. Wickwar, Ldg. Sig., O.N. 191551 "Cossack"
J. P. Champion, Chief Petty. Officer, O.N. 155570, "Mermaid."
J. Paterson, Chief E.R.A., O.N. 269167, M. 25.
S. W. J. Spooner, Ldg: Tel., O.N. 222998, "Nubian."
J. Tait, Chief E.R.A., 2nd Cl., O.N. 279687, "Lord Clive."
F. H. Banks, Ldg. Sig., O.N. 229772, "Sir John Moore."
T. A. S. Thomson, E.R.A., 3rd Cl., O.N. M.12164, "Prince Rupert."
W. H. White, Yeo. Sig., O.N. 224985, "Arrogant."
W. Ritchie, 2nd Hand, R.N.R., O.N. 1461 S.A., "Chrysanthemum."
C. Parker, Ch. Yeo. Sig., O.N. 161007 "Arrogant."
J. Slee, Chief Petty Officer, O.N. 177228, "Arrogant."
S. A. Quinlan; Boy, 1st Cl., O.N. J. 30847, "General Crawford."
P. Inkson, Petty Officer, O.N. 215564, "Prince Eugene."
P. G. W. Hill, Stoker Petty Officer, O.N. K.3472, "Marshal Ney."
M. D. Phillips, A.B., O.N. 198932 (R.F.R. Dev. B. 3848), Fleet Messenger 43.
F. Jones, Chief Petty Officer, O.N. 170433, "Attentive."
A. Thacker, Engineman, R.N.R. O.N. 1770E.S., "Fearless."
E. Rixon, Sig. R.N.V.R., O.N. Wales Z.876.
R. G. Greening, Pte. Po., 13744 (R.F.R., B.1080).
R. Sheriff, Engineman, R.N.R., O.N. 393E.S., "Chrysanthemum."
S. J. Pack, Deck-hand, R.N.R., O.N.3870D.A., "Rosemma."
R Watson, Deck-hand, R.N.R , O.N. 4152D.A., " Violet II."
A. Tushaw, Sergt., R.M.L.I., Ch.F.12651, "Lord Clive."
R.H. L. Macey, Petty Officer, O.N. 164791, "Sir John Moore."
S. T. Pepperell, Shipwright, 2nd Cl., O.N. M.7016, Prince Rupert."
Admiralty, 12th January, 1916.
His Majesty 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.
Commodore Charles Duncan Johnson, M.V.O., R.N.
Captain Ernest Wigram, R.N.
Captain Frederic Godfrey Bird, R.N.
Captain Humphrey Wykeham Bowring, R.N. Commander William George Hastings Bickford, R.N.
To receive the Distinguished Service Cross.
Lieutenant Lionel Frederick Robinson, R.N. Skipper Laurence Scarlett, R.N.R.
The following awards have also been made:-
To receive the Distinguished Service Medal.
Chief Petty Officer Jesse Philip Champion, O.N.155570.
Petty Officer Edgar Stowe, 0.N.182402.
Leading Seaman Herbert James Tree; O.N. 224325.
Seaman Francis Comber, R.N.R., O.N. 1622 D.
Second Hand Thomas John Prior, R.N.R., O.N.1089 S.A.
Able Seaman (Mercantile Rating) Charles Joughin.
Chief Yeoman of Signals Daniel Paul Foley, O.N.191303. .
Leading Signalman Arthur Henry Woodgate, O.N.239957.
Leading Signalman William Smith, O.N. 213714.
Leading Signalman George Wickwar, O.N. 191551.
Leading Signalman Francis Herbert Banks, O.N.229772.
Leading Telegraphist Stanley William John Spooner, O.N.222998.
Chief Engine Room Artificer, 1st Class, James Paterson, 0.N.269167.
Chief Engine Room Artificer, 1st Class, Albert Wynn, 0.N.269218.
Chief Engine Room Artificer, 2nd Class, John Tait, O.N.270687
Engine Room Artificer, 4th Class, Robert. Spiers, O.N.M.10941.
Acting Engine Room Artificer, 4th Class, Edmond Stuart Joseph White, O.N.M. 12159.
Acting Engine Room Artificer, 4th Class, Percival Charles Hayward, O.N.M.11920.
Blacksmith Stephen Thomas Smith, O.N.M. 2725.
Corporal Sidney Morriss, R.M.L.I., O.N. Po./15842.
The following Officers and men are commended for service in action:-
Flight Commander Francis Knox Haskins, R.N.
Lieutenant Commander Robert Herbert Borgnis Hammond-Chambers, R.N.
Lieutenant Commander (now Commander) Francis Hutchinson Laprimaudaye Lewin,. R.N.
Lieutenant Reginald James Blakeney Drew, R.N.
Sub-Lieutenant Malcolm Nickle English, R.N.R.
Sub-Lieutenant (Acting Lieutenant) David Victor Spence Watson, R.N.R.
Engineer Sub - Lieutenant William Taylor Wilson, R.N.R.
Skipper Alexander Buchan, R.N.R. (W.S.A. 1315).
Skipper James Peck, R.N.R. (W.S.A.869).
Chief Petty Officer Frank Jones, 0.N.170433.
Chief Petty Officer John Slee, 0.N.177228.
Petty Officer Peter Inkson, 0.N.215564.
Petty Officer Stephen Henry Lawrence Macey, O.N.164791.
Able Seaman Maurice David Phillips, O.N. 198932 (R.F.R. Dev.B.3848).
Boy 1st Class Sidney Archibald Quinlan, O.N. J.30847.
Second Hand William Ritchie, R.N.R., 0.N. 1461 S.A.
Deck Hand Samuel John Pack, R.N.R., O.N. 3870 D.A.
Deck Hand Robert Watson, R.N.R., O.N.. 4152 D.A.
Chief Yeoman of Signals Charles Parker, O.N. 161007.
Yeoman of Signals William Henry White,. O.N.224985.
Signalman Edmund Rixon, R.N.V.R., O.N. Wales Z/876.
Engine Room Artificer, 3rd Class, Thomas
Andrew Stewart Thomson, O.N.M.12164. Stoker
Petty Officer Percival George William Hill, O.N.K/3472.
Engineman Robert Sheriff, R.N.R., O.N. 393 E.S.
Engineman Archibald Thacker, R.N.R., O.N. 1770 E.S.
Shipwright, 2nd Class, Samuel Tolcher Pepperell, O.N.M.7015.
Sergeant Arthur Tushaw, R.M.L.I., Ch. IF.. 12651.
Private Richard George Greening, R.M.L.I., Po/13744 (R.F.R./B.1080).