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Remembering the St Nazaire raid
The plaque pictured here commemorates one of the most daring raids of World War II. On 26 March 1942 a modified warship carrying more than 600 men left Falmouth on a secret mission.
The aim of the secret raid was to destroy the heavily fortified St Nazaire dock in norther France. This was the only place in the Atlantic that the mighty German battleship 'Turpitz' could enter for repairs.
The massive German vessel was faster and better armed than the very best ships the British forces used. She was vulnerable only because of her huge size. Only a handful of ports worldwide would be big enough to house 'Turpitz'
It was soon realised by the Allied forces that the Normandie dock could only be destroyed by landing a force of men, along with several tonnes of explosives from the sea.
Remembering the raid on St Nazaire
The plan was to ram the St Nazaire dock gates in the early hours of the morning, and for the commandos to attack the port.
Lord Louis Mountbatten was a specialist in mounting the war-time raids during the '40s. He took on the daunting St Nazaire challenge. His mission was to sail a force of men more than 400 miles through hostile waters, land his troops, support them while they carried out their daring demolitions of the dock, and then return the survivors.
St Nazaire docks were located six miles inside an estuary on the River Loire. Lord Mountbatten's massive crew had to endure the narrow and well defended deep water channel before reaching their destination.
Against the odds the daring mission was accomplished but not without several casualties. More than 160 men died and 200 were captured. Five Victoria Crosses were awarded. It has gone down in history as the greatest war-time raid.
The mission became known as Operation Chariot
Several hours later the mission ended as a weary collection of vessels returned back to Falmouth. Over 600 men left Falmouth on 26 March for northern France. Only 225 returned with the ships to the Cornish town.
View from Fish Strand Quay in Falmouth
Today the memorial stands at Fish Strand Quay, a part of Falmouth which also holds an important place in another historic war, as you will soon discover on our online walk.
Now head along the railings with the sea on your right until you reach the Battle Of Trafalgar memorial also on your right. This is the next stage of your walk.
last updated: 04/03/2008 at 10:13