It was the summer of 1914 and Europe was deeply engulfed in war. The German Empire, with a secure foothold on the Belgian coast, could easily deploy U-boats and destroyers across the English channel bypassing the Royal Grand Fleet in the North Sea.
After years of debate, the Royal Navy then decided to launch an all-out attack in an extraordinary naval effort:
Pulling Out a Thorn
Early in the war, Germany captured the Port of Zeebrugge, making it a vital staging area for their U-boat campaigns in the English Channel. Despite countermeasures to mitigate the German Naval Power from Belgium, the U-boats and destroyers have become a painful thorn for the Royal Navy.
As a result, the Royal Navy decided to launch a special operation to disable German ports once and for all.
After years of debate, the Royal Navy decided to combine the different tactics they come with- a three-pronged assault that’s capable of disabling German Coastal Guards, just enough to allow three aging capital ships to reach the canal and shut it off permanently.
Easier Said Than Done
The Royal Navy assembled 17 destroyers, four capital ships, and three block ships. On April 1918, the situation grew more complicated than previously thought.
At first, everything went well, but the massive smokescreen immediately let the Germans know that something was wrong, and they immediately began firing blindly.
Blocking the Canal
As the marines continued to secure the mole, three British block ships made their way into the canal without being detected. The leading boat became severely damaged, while the other two ships rushed to make it inside, managing the pierce the entrance of the canal.
Both ships then activated a large number of explosives, and the sailors abandoned the ship. The two armored cruisers sank, creating an immovable obstacle in the middle of the channel entrance.
Of the 740 men that landed that day, there were 366 casualties. HMS Vindictive came home to Britain as a floating wreck, she would never see combat again.
Also, while Germans managed to get U-boats through the blockade during high tides, the large advantage that Zeebrugge had given them was gone forever.