Although the raid failed – the blockships did not stop U-boat traffic – and cost the attackers heavily (of the 1,700 sailors and Royal Marines taking part, more than 580 were casualties, 227 of them killed for just 24 German casualties), it was hailed as a success thanks to a well-orchestrated propaganda campaign by the Admiralty and the award of eight VCs to participants.

Centenary events begin with two of those Victoria Cross winners being honoured in their home towns: Capt Alfred Carpenter in Richmond, Royal Marine Capt Edward Bamford in Haringey on April 16 and 17.

All eight medals, plus three awarded following the subsequent, more successful raid on Ostend, have been collected for an exhibition at Bruges’ historic Provincial Hall which begins on April 20.

On Saturday April 21, senior VIPs, ships and military personnel from Britain, Germany and Belgium will attend the formal commemoration in Zeebrugge, concluding with the dedication of a memorial to Lt Cdr George Bradford VC, killed leading a storming party on the mole. The day closes with a concert by a combined British-German-Belgian military band.

Across the Channel on the anniversary day itself, there will be acts of remembrance at the Zeebrugge Monument in Dover’s St James’ Cemetery followed by a parade through the town.

And just along the coast in Deal, an exhibition on the history of the RM in the town will be opened in the civic museum followed by a parade by 42 Commando… exercising the Freedom of Deal awarded by civic leaders several years ago.

And finally… rugby players will remember Lt Cdr Arthur Harrison at a dinner in HMS Nelson, Portsmouth, on April 27.

Harrison lead the assault teams aboard HMS Vindictive and died in the assault. He’s the only England rugby player to have been awarded Britain’s highest military decoration.

 

Royal Marines Commando

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