Rendez-vous at Dover Patrol Memorial - Sangatte
A walker on the cliffs of Cap Blanc-Nez cannot help but notice the obelisk erected in 1922 to honour 'the glorious cooperation and frank comradeship of the French and British Navies during the Great War'. As with its counterpart on the English side of the Channel, at Leatercote Point near St Margaret's Bay, the memorial is dedicated to the Royal Navy command which defended the Strait of Dover during the First World War.
From the outset of the war, in 1914, German submarines turned the Strait of Dover into a veritable battlefield. The U-boats passed through the Strait to carry out attacks on the military and merchant navies of the Allies as they sailed across the Channel and the Atlantic Ocean. British forces on the Continent relied on these shipping routes to carry supplies and reinforcements from the faraway Dominions of the Empire to the French ports of Boulogne, Calais and Dunkirk.
Comprised of a mixture of ships, from armed yachts to destroyers, and supported by air and submarine forces, the Dover Patrol was entrusted with keeping the Strait of Dover and the North Sea navigable. Its duties entailed escorting merchant, hospital and troop ships, clearing the sea of German submarine mines and maintaining a barrage of mines between the coasts of England and France. In what was probably its finest hour, the Patrol carried out a raid on 23rd April 1918 to block the ports of Zeebrugge and Ostend which were harbouring the German submarines. Despite its limited success, the raid greatly contributed to the fame of the Patrol.
With bases in Dover and Dunkirk, the Patrol received precious help from the French Navy in its fight against the German U-boats and its mine-sweeping operations, and it is for this reason that complementary monuments were erected on Leatercote Point and on Cap Blanc-Nez. A third obelisk was later erected at the entrance to the port of New York in honour of the Patrol's combined actions with the American Navy in the Atlantic Ocean.