The St Nazaire Raid or Operation Chariot was a British amphibious attack on the heavily defended Normandie dry dock at St Nazaire in German-occupied France during the Second World War. The operation was undertaken by the Royal Navy and British Commandos under the auspices of Combined Operations Headquarters on 28 March 1942. St Nazaire was targeted because the loss of its dry dock would force any large German warship in need of repairs, such as Tirpitz, sister ship of Bismarck, to return to home waters by running the gauntlet of the Home Fleet of the Royal Navy and other British forces, via the English Channel or the GIUK gap.

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dbo:abstract
  • The St Nazaire Raid or Operation Chariot was a British amphibious attack on the heavily defended Normandie dry dock at St Nazaire in German-occupied France during the Second World War. The operation was undertaken by the Royal Navy and British Commandos under the auspices of Combined Operations Headquarters on 28 March 1942. St Nazaire was targeted because the loss of its dry dock would force any large German warship in need of repairs, such as Tirpitz, sister ship of Bismarck, to return to home waters by running the gauntlet of the Home Fleet of the Royal Navy and other British forces, via the English Channel or the GIUK gap. The obsolete destroyer HMS Campbeltown, accompanied by 18 smaller craft, crossed the English Channel to the Atlantic coast of France and was rammed into the Normandie dock gates. The ship had been packed with delayed-action explosives, well-hidden within a steel and concrete case, that detonated later that day, putting the dock out of service until 1948. A force of commandos landed to destroy machinery and other structures. German gunfire sank, set ablaze or immobilised virtually all the small craft intended to transport the commandos back to England. The commandos fought their way through the town to escape overland but many surrendered when they ran out of ammunition or were surrounded by the Wehrmacht defending Saint-Nazaire. Of the 611 men who undertook the raid, 228 returned to Britain, 169 were killed and 215 became prisoners of war. German casualties included over 360 dead, some of whom were killed after the raid when Campbeltown exploded. To recognise their bravery, 89 members of the raiding party were awarded decorations, including five Victoria Crosses. After the war, St Nazaire was one of 38 battle honours awarded to the Commandos. The operation has been called The Greatest Raid of All within British military circles. (en)
dbo:causalties
  • 13Motor Launches
  • 169 dead *
  • 1Armstrong Whitworth Whitley
  • 1Bristol Beaufighter
  • 1Motor Gun Boat
  • 1Motor Torpedo Boat
  • 215prisoners of war*
  • HMS Campbeltown
dbo:commander
dbo:date
  • 1942-03-28 (xsd:date)
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dbo:notes
  • * Does not include aircraft crews
  • ^ Includes civilians on board HMS Campbeltown when she exploded. ^ The numbers of German troops killed during the raid are not known.
dbo:place
dbo:result
  • British victory
dbo:strength
  • 5,000 troops
  • 346 Royal Navy
  • 265 Commandosref|Sources differ on the numbers. In the London Gazette account of the raid the Admiralty states there were 353 Royal Navy and 268 Commandos.|group=nb
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  • The St Nazaire Raid or Operation Chariot was a British amphibious attack on the heavily defended Normandie dry dock at St Nazaire in German-occupied France during the Second World War. The operation was undertaken by the Royal Navy and British Commandos under the auspices of Combined Operations Headquarters on 28 March 1942. St Nazaire was targeted because the loss of its dry dock would force any large German warship in need of repairs, such as Tirpitz, sister ship of Bismarck, to return to home waters by running the gauntlet of the Home Fleet of the Royal Navy and other British forces, via the English Channel or the GIUK gap. (en)
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  • St Nazaire Raid (en)
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  • St Nazaire Raid (en)
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