In late July 1914, with war looming, 12 Tribal-class destroyers arrived at Dover to join the near obsolete destroyers already at anchor in the harbor, most of them built in the late 1800s. These destroyers formed the nucleus of the fledgling Dover Patrol, which, from its early beginnings as a modest and poorly equipped command, became one of the most important Royal Navy commands during both World Wars. At its bases in Dover and Dunkerque, France, the patrol assembled cruisers, monitors, destroyers, armed trawlers and drifters, paddle mine-sweepers, armed yachts, motor launches and coastal motor boats, submarines, seaplanes, aeroplanes, and airships.
|Dover Patrol Memorial|
With these resources it performed several duties simultaneously in the southern North Sea and the Dover Straits: carrying out anti-submarine patrols; escorting merchantmen, hospital, and troop ships; laying sea-mines and even constructing mine barrages; sweeping up German mines; bombarding German military positions on the Belgian coast; and sinking the ever-present U-boats.
Admiral R.H. Bacon commanded the Dover Patrol from January 1915 until 31 December 1917. He had been one of the prewar Royal Navy's ablest officers, director of ordnance, an ally of Jackie Fisher, and ironically one of the founders of Britain's submarine service. His open-mindedness and willingness to work with General Haig helped to initiate and almost to pull off one of the most innovative concepts of the Great War. Vice Admiral Roger Keyes replaced Bacon and was charged with the special duty of blockading the German-held Belgian ports and the U-boats based there. This was to culminate in what was the Patrol’s "finest hour", the raid on Zeebrugge and Ostend on 22/23 April 1918.
Source: Dover England Website