Encyclopedia - The Dover Patrol

Watercolour painting of the Dover Patrol The Dover Patrol formed a discrete unit of the Royal Navy based at Dover and Dunkirk for the duration of the First World War.  Its primary task was simple: to prevent enemy German shipping - chiefly submarines - from accessing the English Channel en route to the Atlantic Ocean, thereby obliging the German Navy to travel via the much longer route via Scotland.

In so doing the Dover Patrol - led by Sir Reginald Bacon from 1915-17 - relied heavily upon the initially problematic but ultimately successful Dover Barrage defensive system.  Separately the Dover Patrol was also responsible for escorting Allied shipping throughout its areas of operation.

In order to enforce control over its defined region members of the Dover Patrol - which consisted of aircraft attached from the Royal Naval Air Service in addition to naval vessels - regularly despatched fighting patrols directed against the German-controlled Channel coast, including the daring (but ultimately failed) raid against Zeebrugge in April 1918.

During the course of the war it has been estimated that approximately 125,000 supply ships passed through the Dover Patrol area, of which a mere 73 were lost to enemy German submarines, a remarkably effective record.

A "blimp" was a word applied to an observation balloon.

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