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The German battleship 'Tirpitz' posed a serious threat to Britain’s maritime supply lines should she succeed in breaking out into the Atlantic. To prevent this a daring raid codenamed ‘Operation Chariot’, was launched against the French harbour of St Nazaire to destroy the port’s dry dock, which was the only one on the Atlantic coast large enough to accommodate the 'Tirpitz'. A Combined Operations force carried out the hazardous mission on the dock five miles up the River Loire. The obsolete destroyer HMS 'Campbeltown', packed with high explosives, rammed the gates or caisson of the dock and assault parties and demolition teams went to work in the face of determined German resistance. The dry dock was rendered useless for the remainder of the war and 'Tirpitz' never ventured into the Atlantic.
The Raid on St Nazaire, 28 March 1942
oil on canvas
H 96.5 x W 152.4 cm
gift from The St Nazaire Society, 2003