Falmouth – Operation Chariot Memorial

What’s the collective noun for Victoria Crosses, I wonder, because we appear to have a scattering of them here,…

This is the memorial, on what is now the Prince of Wales Pier in Falmouth harbour, to the men who participated in Operation Chariot, the raid on St. Nazaire on 26th March 1942.

This being primarily a Great War website, I do not intend to go into the actual raid in much detail, but suffice to say that the obsolete British destroyer H.M.S. Campbeltown, packed full of explosives, was rammed into one of the St. Nazaire dock gates on the French Atlantic coast in order to prevent the dry-dock facilities there being available to German ships such as the Tirpitz who were roaming the Atlantic for Allied shipping at the time.  That’s basically it.

Not only did the British lose 168 men killed during the raid, but over two hundred were captured, only 228 making it back to Britain afterwards; of the eighteen ships who set sail alongside the Campbeltown, just four returned.  The Germans lost over 360 men killed, quite a few of whom died when the Campbeltown (eventually) blew up.  Eighty nine decorations were awarded, including the five Victoria Crosses we have already seen.

The boulder and its plaque are surrounded by seven oval granite blocks,…

…one of which displays the rededication tablet,…

…five of the others, recollections of the raid,…

…and one with a tribute from the French.  And despite the dreadful number of casualties, the raid would see the St. Nazaire dry-dock put out of use for the rest of the war, which was, after all, the object of the exercise, and is why, if you were to Google (other search engines are available) ‘The Greatest Raid Of All’, you will find pages and pages about the St. Nazaire raid (including Jeremy Clarkson’s documentary which, from memory, was rather good).

And finally, two stone memorials, the first of which commemorates the pier’s construction, the first stone of which was laid, by another Prince of Wales, in July 1903,…

…and the second of which commemorates the pier’s opening in May 1905.

This entry was posted in Cornwall, U.K. Churches, Memorials & Cemeteries - Back in Blighty. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.