The Operational Impact of the Loss of HMS Paragon in the Straits of Dover, 17 March 1917

By Eamonn Welch, published February 2019


In early 1917, the torpedo boat destroyer HMS Paragon was part of the Dover Patrol, then subject to repeated raids by German destroyers. Its history is normally consigned to a few, often inaccurate, short sentences, in which it is implied that it had an almost supine role in the action in which it was lost. This article draws on eyewitness accounts, contemporary records and the standard post-First World War histories by Reginald Bacon and Henry Newbolt, to give the context and detail of the sinking of HMS Paragon on 17 March 1917. It also examines how the conditions were set for its demise and how its loss drove a resolution to chronic deficiencies in the Dover Patrol’s command. Despite wider shortcomings and unfavourable odds the Paragon‘s crew fought with dogged Royal Navy spirit as the fiercely burning ship sank. Only nine of the crew of 85 survived.

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Filed under: WW1 | English Channel | Shipwrecks
Subjects include: Navies

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