Winston Churchill called the raid on Zeebrugge ‘the finest feat of arms of the Great War’. This brief, but bloody, action resulted in the highest number of Victoria Crosses ever awarded for a single action. Approximately one thousand officers and men of the Royal Navy and Royal Marines stormed the most heavily defended U-Boat base in Occupied Europe. German submarines based in Zeebrugge were responsible for a third of all allied shipping losses during the First World War.
During the Passchendaele offensive of 1917, the Allies attempted to capture these U-boat bases by means of a land-based attack. The failure of the Battle of Passchendaele made it clear that a naval assault was the only solution. As a result, on 23 April 1918, a small force of fighting vessels, towing three blockships, set out across the North Sea...