Who's Who - Sir Roger Keyes

Sir Roger Keyes Sir Roger John Brownslow Keyes (1872-1945) devised the British raid upon Zeebrugge in 1918, which proved a highly successful propaganda exercise, if not especially successful in military terms.

Keyes joined the Royal Navy in 1885 and, prior to World War One, saw action during the Boxer Rising of 1900-01.

From 1912-15 Keyes was commander of the British submarine service with the honorary title Commodore.  However his enthusiasm for anti-submarine measures against the German U-boat threat was undermined by technical weaknesses in available equipment.

In late August 1914 Keyes was responsible for devising the successful plan that led to British success at the Battle of Heligoland Bight.

1915 brought Keyes an appointment as Chief of Staff to Admiral Carden for the planned Dardanelles naval offensive, and then, upon Carden's retirement on account of illness, to Admiral de Robeck.

An aggressive, restless personality, Keyes lobbied hard to persuade de Robeck to repeat a naval assault upon the Dardanelles following a first setback on 18 March 1915, but to no avail: for the most part Keyes' contemporaries were more inclined to caution than otherwise.

Nevertheless Keyes believed that de Robeck's failure to immediately renew operations lost a golden opportunity to force Turkey out of the way at an early stage (a view he shared with First Lord of the Admiralty Winston Churchill).

Back with the Grand Fleet in home waters in June 1916 in command of a battleship, Keyes was promoted Rear-Admiral and handed command of the Fourth Battle Squadron in 1917.

In October 1917 Keyes was appointed Director of Plans at the Admiralty in London.  In this position Keyes devised the Zeebrugge raid that was launched - with some success - on the night of 22/23 April 1918 to block the exits from the Zeebrugge and Ostend ports.  Touted as a huge success in Allied propaganda it resulted in Keyes' ennoblement.

Following the armistice Keyes commanded the battle cruiser squadron from 1919-21; served as Deputy Chief of the Naval Staff from 1921-25; and was Commander-in-Chief of Mediterranean forces from 1925-28.  Subsequently Commander-in-Chief at Portsmouth from 1929-31 Keyes was promoted Admiral of the Fleet in 1930, retiring five years later.

With the advent of the Second World War Keyes was recalled to serve as liaison officer to Belgian King Leopold in 1939, and was appointed Director of Combined Operations from 1940-41 before his second (and final) retirement.

Becoming Baron Keyes of Zeebrugge and Dover he died in 1945.

The Parados was the side of a trench farthest from the enemy.

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