The Spider Web

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    The navy did have a ‘Y’ station at Mudros, supposedly listening for Zepps, but more probably picking up sub radio traffic.


    Newbolt Vol V/p79 confirms that there were DF stations at Port Said & Alexandria also.

    On 1.5.1917 it was decided that the Allie would replace the patrolled route system in the Med with convoys & patrolled coastal routes. Although the French had the primary role in the Med, it was decided that the Royal Navy should take on responsibility for ASW. This included the use of aircraft, KBs, and an emphasis on the Otrano Barrage (including hydrophones from 1918). ASW seaplanes were based at Taranto from the Spring of 1917.

    From mid-Oct 1917 British convoys were introduced from Britain to/from Port Said, with outward and home convoys leaving every 16 days, consisting of 16-20 ships capable of 10 knots+.

    On 9.2.1918 Godfrey to Henderson, “The real trouble is that submarines are now attacking in close vicinity to the convoy ports.” In April 1918 u-boat attacks continued to be successful. The reason that convoys were not as successful in the Med as in the Atlantic was because the shipping was concentrated already.

    The need to move troops from the Middle East to France following the German Spring Offensives (e.g. 52nd & 74th Divs), led to an increase in troopship movements, and thus an increase in the number of important targets.

    It would seem logical to assume that airborne ASW measures would be increased at the same time. The North Sea Spider’s Web patrol area would seem applicable to similar situations in the Med; though it may be that the pilot concerned merely regarded all ASW work as Spider Web patrols ?

    The lack of detail information may be because aircraft did not, directly, sink U-boats in the Med at this time, and the deterrent factor was linked to the use of KBs (ref Godfrey to Bearrell 16.9.1918).


    The North Sea Spider Web anti-submarine patrol area is well known.

    I have just found mention of “Port Spider Web” in the log book of a pilot flying from Port Said, Egypt. He was ex- East Indies and Egypt Seaplane Squadron, RNAS, at the time of writing, May 1918, 431/2 Flight RAF.

    There is the single mention of Spider Web but many Patrol Area (port) and (starboard) in the log book, starting in 1917.

    War in the Air mentions patrols and convoy escort in Vol 6, but does not provide specifics.

    Can anyone provide details of anti-submarine patrols from Port Said?


    Thanks Nick,
    The Naval Air Service, Vol.1, 1908-1918 by The Naval Records Society, pp.712/15 has part of a report on RAF in Med 1918. It appears to discuss anti-submarine patrols, but the relevant pages are not reproduced. I may have to get it from TNA.

    Regarding ‘the pilot concerned merely regarded all ASW work as Spider Web patrols ?’
    Possible, as he did a lot of them and there is only this single mention of Spider Web. The patrols often turned into convoy escort so a strict Spider Web patrol does not really fit.

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