British commando raid to St. Nazaire
St. Nazaire was one of 5 German U-boats basses at the Brittany Atlantic coasts; it was a heavily fortified concrete submarine`s shelter. Much more than fortified U-boat enclosures, the pens were more like complete naval bases under concrete.

On June 30, 1941, Admiral Dönitz and Doctor Todt received the U-302 in the first submarine pen of the St. Nazaire`s bunker. In 1942, the construction of the repair pens was finished allowing U-boats to be careened and repaired. The concrete hangar sheltered the 6th and 7th U-boat flotillas.

The Saint Nazaire bunkers were the largest with pens for 14 submarines. The RAF flew 30 missions against them during March 1942. Direct hits were scored 18 times but they caused minimal damage and fail to penetrate the six meters of concrete shielding the submarines. Sixty two aircraft were lost in the attempt. The Royal Navy fared somewhat better against the Germans’ surface operations. The Scharnhorst, Gesenienau and Prinz Eugen had a close call while returning to the North Sea following an overhaul at Brest in March 1942.
The Tirpitz became operational later that month. The Admiralty began a determined effort to prevent the battleship from getting into the Atlantic and recreating the havoc caused by the Bismarck. Plans were drawn up for Operation Chariot. Chariot would destroy the only facility on the Atlantic large enough to berth the dreadnought, the Normandie lock at Saint Nazaire. HMS Campbellton, an aging lend lease destroyer, was packed with explosives and sent to ram the lock. In the early morning hours of March 28, 1942, the Campbellton entered the mouth of the Loire. The ship managed to evaded detection by the port’s defenders long enough get up to full speed before ramming its target. The ship plowed 36 feet into the closed lock. The commandos set about causing as much damage as possible before being forced to withdraw. The Germans managed to sink all but three of the small launches that were supposed to take the raiders to another destroyer which was waiting to return them to Plymouth. A quarter of the 600 man force was killed and most of the survivors taken prisoner. Just before noon the following day, a delayed charge detonated the Campbellton’s explosive cargo and destroyed the lock. At the time, a large contingent of high ranking Germans was on board inspecting the ship. All were killed. The repeated explosions cause a panic in the German ranks. They opened fire killing several hundred of their own and a number of French dock workers. Shortly after, Admiral Dönitz returned to Paris. The Lorient headquarters seemed too vulnerable in the wake of the St. Nazaire raid.

Image Country Year Description
France 1947 British commando raid on navel base St' Nazaire.U-Boat shelters
France 1947 British commando raid on navel base St' Nazaire.U-Boat shelters
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