war memorial at dusk, photographed by Michelle Cooper

Dover Patrol Remembrance


Images of the Dover Patrol Book of Remembrance are here, and transcriptions are here

the tall obelisk, in the late spring evening sunshine, by Simon Chambers
The Obelisk at St Margaret's Bay
Transcription of words from the two introductory pages in the Book of Remembrance
The Dover Patrol

In his forward to Admiral Sir Reginald H Bacon's "The Concise Story of the Dover Patrol", Admiral of the Fleet Earl Jellicoe wrote, in 1932, "Unquestionably the work of the Dover Patrol was of the utmost importance ... It involved safeguarding the passage of our troops, munitions, and stores across the Channel, and protecting the ships of the Mercantile Marine which, to the average number of one hundred, passed Dover daily, carrying food, etcetera, to the Thames and ports on our East Coast ... A very important part was the denial of the passage of the Straits of Dover to enemy submarines ... Admiral Bacon's ladder minefield with its patrol led to the destruction of twelve German submarines during December 1917 and the year 1918, and to the partial closing of the Straits of Dover to vessels of this type ... He gives a striking picture of the unending work of gallant fishermen who laboured day after day and year after year to keep the anti-submarine barrage efficient and who were so constantly exposed to attack by an enemy at whom they could not hit back. It should never be forgotten that it was largely upon these men that the real stress of war lay. They were commanded by officers who were second to none."

Admiral Bacon wrote, "At the outbreak of war the Dover Flotilla formed part of the East Coast Command, with Harwich as headquarters. Its chief function was to prevent German ships breaking through and passing down Channel. It soon became apparent that Dover and the Narrows of the Channel were destined to become of greater importance. The Dover area was, therefore, made a separate command ... I was summoned to London in April, 1915, to see Mr Churchill, who asked me to take command of the Dover Patrol." Admiral Bacon remained in charge until the end of 1917. Vice-Admiral Keyes succeeded him on New Year's Day, 1918. It was Admiral Bacon who planned and put into operation the notable anti-submarine net-mine barrage across the 20 miles of the Dover Straits.

In his "Naval Memories", 1936, Admiral of the Fleet Sir Roger Keyes said:-"The activities of the Dover Patrol were immense, and Admiral Bacon had built up an enormous organisation which carried out its daily duties with great regularity and efficiency ... The vessels of the patrol numbered over 300, including large and small monitors, the light cruiser "Attentive", Flotilla leaders, destroyers, P-boats, trawlers, drifters, minesweepers of various types, MLs, CMBs, and submarines. On a normal night it was possible to concentrate above the minefield four of the older destroyers or P-boats, burning searchlights, 14 trawlers, burning flares, at least 60 drifters, about four motor launches, and two large minesweepers."

"But," wrote Joseph Conrad, "that which in the instance kept the German forces from breaking disastrously on any dark night into the Channel and jeopardising the very foundations of our resisting power, were not the wonderfully planned and executed defences of nets and mines, but the inimitable hearts of the men of the Dover Patrol"

Resulting from the initiative of the Mayor of Dover and the action of Lord Northcliff in collecting money through The Times newspaper, three noble commemorative obelisks were built in the 1920s. One is near this spot- at Leathercote Point, St Margarets; the second can be seen across the Straits of Dover, on the summit of Cap Blanc Nez; the third is at the entrance to New York Harbour.

Dulce et Decorum est pro Patria Mori  



looking out to sea from the cliffs, over a field of rape, late spring, by Simon Chambers
View to the Straits of Dover from the St Margaret's obelisk
The obelisk at St Margaret's is surrounded by a lawn and stands on the edge of the coast, whereby there is a clear view to open sea. There are inscriptions on the monument:
This monument to the Dover Patrol was erected in the years 1920 and 1921 by public subscription, together with those at Cap Blanc Nez, France, and New York Harbour, America This stone was laid by HRH Prince Arthur of Connaught, KG
19th November 1919
and the memorial was unveiled by HRH the Prince of Wales KG
27th July 1921
The names of those who gave their lives serving their king and country in the Dover Patrol are recorded in the Book of Remembrance in the Town Hall, Dover, a copy of which is kept at the Parish Church, St Margaret's at-Cliffe

Chairman: A C Leney Esq JP
President Sir Edwin W T Farley MBE JP CH LDH 
Hon Treasurer H A Vasse Esq

Prince Arthur laying the foundation stone, courtesy Dover Express

Above - Prince Arthur laying the Foundation Stone

right: the level used when laying the foundation stone of the Dover Patrol Memorial at St Margaret's.

left: the square used when laying the foundation stone of the Dover Patrol Memorial at Cap Gris Nez.

The level and the square belong to Corinthian Lodge No 1208, and after their use silver plaques were placed on them.

The plaque on the square reads:
This square was used by Marshal Ferdinand Foch, Marshall of France and Great Britain, President of the International Military Council, GCB, OM, when laying the foundation stone of the Dover Patrol Memorial at Cap Gris Nez, 26 January 1920

The plaque on the level reads:
This level was used by HRH Prince Arthur of Connaught, KG, KT, FC, GCVO, CB, when laying the foundation stone of the Dover Patrol Memorial at Leathercote Point, Dover, 19th November 1919, Corinthian Lodge No 1208

photos of square and level by courtesy of David Gavin

Below - 50 years on. February 1968, commemorating the sinking of blockading fishing boats. Rear-Admiral Leslie drops a wreath into the channel

wreath throwing, courtesy Dover Express

Images of the Dover Patrol Book of Remembrance are here, and transcriptions are here


Copyright 2006-14 © Marilyn Stephenson-Knight. All Rights Reserved