In late July 1914, with war looming,
twelve ‘Tribal’ class destroyers arrived at Dover to
join the near obsolete destroyers already at anchor
in the harbour, 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 of the First World
The Dover 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. 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
There were many heroic actions involving the men and
ships of the Dover Patrol. On 24 October 1914 the destroyer
‘Falcon’ was hit by a German eight-inch shell, which
killed the captain and 24 members of the 60-man crew.
The ‘Falcon’ was brought back to Dover where she was
repaired. Later in the war the ‘Falcon’ became the command
of Lieutenant C.H.
whose previous claim to fame was as Second
Officer on the ill fated ‘Titanic’.
One of the most memorable officers of the Dover Patrol
was Captain E.R.G.R. Evans who always carried a penguin
mascot nailed to the mast of his destroyer, a relic
from his days with Captain Scott’s ill-fated Antarctic
Expedition. He was promoted to captain after his famous
sea battle with German destroyers on 20 April 1917.
On this occasion he was in command of the Flotilla leader
‘Broke’ and, with the destroyer ‘Swift’, intercepted
and sank the German destroyers G42 and G45.