The next special number did not appear until 1918.
Germanys U-Boat fleet had been steadily growing throughout the war and
the Kaiser’s decision in 1917 to open an unrestricted sinking
campaign led to terrible British losses. During the last five nonths
of 1917, sinkings of British ships had averaged 37 per month. In February
1918 it jumped to 105 and in April to 127. Normal antisubmarine methods
were ineffective and it was decided to strike at U-Boats where they
were most concentrated, in their bases. The chief base for their operations
in the North Sea and the Atlantic was the inland part of Bruges in Belgium,
from which they made their way to open water down two canals, issuing
at Ostend and Zeebrugge. Early in 1918 the Admiralty began work on plans
to close those two exits and in April a carefully prepared force set
out from Dover and Harwich to tackle this task. The plan was to bring
five old light cruisers, filled with cement, into the narrow tidal channels,
explode charges in their bottoms and so sink them in the fairway. Just
before midnight on April 23rd, Admiral Keyes’ Squadron approached
its targets. At Ostend the blockships grounded offshore, but at Zeebrugge,
led by the amphibious headquarters ship, H.M. S. ‘Vindictive’,
the mission was largely successful. The gallantry of the attack was
carried out so bravely that no less than eleven Victoria Crosses were
awarded to participants.
On May 4th 1918, the ILN published a special issue entitled,
‘Naval Raid Number: the Great Zeebrugge and Ostend Attack’
(Appendix list no. 73).
The objectives and the result of the raid are fully illustrated with
a special emphasis on the Zeebrugge mole attack and the role played
by the ‘Vindictive’ and her crew.
The cover of this issue has the framed silhouettes of a destroyer against
a red sky on either side of the title-display rectangle.
It is issue number 4124, vol. 152 (pages 509—540) measures 30
x 42 cm and cost one shilling.
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