Men of Pitton – Talk on ‘The Raid on St Nazaire’
The next Men of Pitton event will take place at the Silver Plough on the 17th Jan 2019 starting at 8.00 pm.
John Inman will be giving a talk on “The Raid on St. Nazaire”.
Please note that no arrangements for food have been made but of course you are free to make your own arrangements with the Pub.
Please let Roy Forder (712455) know by the 11th Jan 2019 if you would like to come along.
On the night of 27th March 1942, a single, elderly destroyer accompanied by an unlikely flotilla of small wooden boats sailed up the mouth of the Loire to the heavily defended port of Saint Nazaire. The vessels were crammed with over 600 sailors and commandos, as well as improbable quantities of high explosive. The port contained new U boat pens which the Germans were very keen to protect. That day, Admiral Doenitz himself had just finished an inspection of the facilities and had been assured that nothing could threaten his submarines. After all, the base was heavily defended by artillery shore batteries with dozens of light, medium and heavy guns, along with searchlights and radars, all there to protect the port against raids by sea or air. Moreover, the town and adjacent area were strongly garrisoned by thousands of military personnel and there were German warships stationed in the harbour or patrolling nearby. You would have to be mad to try.
Mad or not, the British were not deterred; nor were they were interested in the U boat pens. They had something else in mind: the biggest drydock in the world. The ‘Normandie’ dock (pictured) lay in the heart of the port, barely 200 metres from the pens. They were determined to put it out of commission for the rest of the war – one way or another.
The raid has been described as audacious by some, foolhardy by others. It may well have been both; it was certainly very well planned and executed with enormous courage, flair and determination. Many of the port facilities and shore batteries are still as they were, including the great drydock itself and the massive U boat pens, so join me as the boats sail up the Loire estuary. We shall follow the path of the commandos and the sailors who carried them there and you can make up your own minds.
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