The Greatest Raid of All

Christopher Sandford

The dramatic story of the 1918 Zeebrugge raid and the men who volunteered in the hundreds for this suicidally dangerous mission, based on first-hand accounts.
Date Published :
May 2018
Publisher :
Illustration :
32 pages of black and white illustrations and photos
Format Available    QuantityPrice
Binding. : Hardback
ISBN : 9781612005041
Pages : 272
Dimensions : 9 X 6 inches
Stock Status : In stock
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The combined forces invasion of the Belgian port of Zeebrugge on 23 April 1918 remains one of Britain’s most glorious military undertakings; not quite as epic a failure as the charge of the Light Brigade, or as well publicized as the Dam Busters raid, but with many of the same basic ingredients.

A force drawn from the Royal Navy and Royal Marines set out on ships and submarines to try to block the key strategic port, in a bold attempt to stem the catastrophic losses being inflicted on British shipping by German submarines. It meant attacking a heavily fortified German naval base. The tide, calm weather and the right wind direction for a smoke screen were crucial to the plan.

Judged purely on results, it can only be considered a partial strategic success. Casualties were high and the base only partially blocked. Nonetheless, it came to represent the embodiment of the bulldog spirit, the peculiarly British fighting élan, the belief that anything was possible with enough dash and daring.

The essential story of the Zeebrugge mission has been told before, but never through the direct, first-hand accounts of its survivors – including that of Lieutenant Richard Sandford, VC, the acknowledged hero of the day, and the author’s great uncle. The fire and bloodshed of the occasion is the book’s centerpiece, but there is also room for the family and private lives of the men who volunteered in the hundreds for what they knew effectively to be a suicide mission.

Zeebrugge gives a very real sense of the existence of the ordinary British men and women of 100 years ago – made extraordinary by their role in what Winston Churchill called the ‘most intrepid and heroic single armed adventure of the Great War.’

About The Author

Christopher Sandford is a successful author and journalist. His highly acclaimed books include The Final Over (2014), and the New York Times bestseller Masters of Mystery: The Strange Friendship of Arthur Conan Doyle and Harry Houdini (2015). He has worked as a film and music writer and reviewer for over 20 years, and frequently contributes to newspapers and magazines on both sides of the Atlantic. He divides his time between Seattle and London.


“…a gripping new history of the British naval raid in April 1918 on the German-held Belgian port of that name… Very few people would assert that Britain in the era of World War I was a better place and time to live in than our own. But it would be difficult to deny that it forged better men. Christopher Sandford’s fine contribution to battlefield literature is a testament to that fact.”

- Chronicles, August 2018

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