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Saint-Nazaire: Operation Chariot - 1942: Battleground French Coast [Paperback]

James G. Dorrian
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (28 customer reviews)
RRP: 12.99
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Book Description

16 Mar 2006 Battleground Europe
In early 1942, shipping losses in the Atlantic threatened Britain's very survival. In addition to the U-Boat menace, there was real concern that the mighty German battleship Tirpitz be unleashed against the vital Allied convoys. Yet only the 'Normandie' Dock at St Nazaire could take her vast size in the event of repairs being required. Destroy that and the Tirpitz would be neutralised. Thus was born Operation CHARIOT, the daring Commando raid that, while ultimately successful, proved hugely costly. Using personal accounts, James Dorrian describes the background and thrilling action that resulted in the award of five Victoria Crosses. In a dramatic final twist of events, once the battle was over, the converted former US warship Campelton blew up wrecking the dock gates and killing many Germans who thought the battle was won.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Leo Cooper Ltd (16 Mar 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1844153347
  • ISBN-13: 978-1844153343
  • Product Dimensions: 21.6 x 16.5 x 1 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (28 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 141,933 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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Product Description

From the Author

This, my second book on the subject of Operation CHARIOT, is designed to act as a comprehensive guide of equal value both to those who wish only to read about this amazing feat of arms, and to those whose intention it is to one day visit Saint-Nazaire and follow in the footsteps of Colonel Charles Newman's gallant Army Commandos. Largely based on the personal testimony of the soldiers and sailors who were actually there, the extensively illustrated text is supplemented by essential travel information and a detailed tour encompassing all the primary Commando targets, the CHARIOT memorial and the awe-inspiring U-Boat pens.

As demonstrated by Jeremy Clarkson in his moving documentary 'The Greatest Raid Of All Time' - for which I acted as programme consultant - many of the major features of the 1942 battlefield remain to the present day, the giant 'Normandie' dock still welcoming some of the largest ships in the world.

About the Author

James Dorrian is the Foremost authority on the St. Nazaire Raid, respected by veterans and readers alike.


Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
14 of 16 people found the following review helpful
By Ned Middleton HALL OF FAME TOP 50 REVIEWER
Format:Paperback
After the Bismarck was sunk in May 1941, the Tirpitz posed the greatest threat to Allied shipping in the Atlantic by any surface vessel. In order to become that threat, however, like the Bismarck, first she had to get there. Both sides were aware of how the Bismarck's attempt had been a close run thing. Had her steering gear not been jammed by a fortunate torpedo strike - just as the great ship was executing an emergency turn, she would easily have made it to safety.

Whilst stopping the Tirpitz was, therefore a high priority for the British, the ship was also proving to be most elusive. Then came a plan with a very different approach altogether. The Tirpitz was a massive 45,000 tonnes and, in those days, there were not very many docks able to take such a large vessel. If ever she did break out, she would need to have a safe refuge somewhere for those eventual repairs and engine overhauls that are an essential part of running any big ship. The only suitable dockyard outside Germany was at Saint Nazaire.

In a daring raid in which no fewer than 5 VC's were won, this is the story of how one of HM Ships was disguised to look like a German Destroyer in order to get close to the gates at the entrance to Saint Nazaire harbour - the very gates through which any big ship would have to pass. The plan was simple enough; A large compartment in the bows of the ship were packed with high explosives and then sealed shut. With the ship thus transformed into a time-bomb, she was driven at full speed into those gates where she became firmly wedged. This was followed by fierce fighting as the British tried to withdraw their now stranded crew and protective Commando troops from the harbour.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Family History "A Sailors Tale" St. Nazairre. 18 Aug 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
My father was on that raid . He was a Chief Petty Office in the RN. and was in the support group that attacked the radar installation that as controlling the shore gun batteries ( near Batz-sur-Mer ). My wife and I took him back there many years later, and, with the help of some locals we found the bunker. In the hand to hand fighting that ensued her was knocked unconsious and recieved a bayonet through his knee. One of his companions got him back to the beach where luckily their landing craft was still awaiting their return. End of story was he ended up in Battle Hospital, Reading. His leg was saved (ironically by a German Surgeon) although it left him with a limp and sometimes collapsed on him when he was walking, he returned to active service until the end of the war, when he was then invalided out from the navy "With Honour". He never spoke of any other engagements during he war, but I remember going to vsit him in Scotland, sometime in the war, ( I have o photo of myself when I was about 4-5 years old on the beach at Lieth, Edinburgh were we stayed with one of his shipmates family.
It was not until his death and funeral. My cousin Raymond read an Eulogy tom my father, Raymond was an artificer on HMS Ark Royal, Whilst he was in the RN Raymond researched the archives on my father`s war record. What came to light was a remarkable story. Here I will keep it short.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Exciting reading 7 Jan 2014
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Any person interested in the history of WWII would find this a great book. It shows both the true heroism in dark days of British sailors and soldiers and also the moving inspiration of their civilian allies.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Lots of Interesting Content 12 Oct 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
This was very readable and full of interesting details as well as setting the context of this critical and decisive engagement
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the best about it 21 Jan 2013
By Nuno
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
All that i've read this is one of the best about operation chariot, with a lot of maps, foreground, images, real and back in the time, all that you need to know.
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A splendid account in both words and pictures 2 Feb 2007
Format:Paperback
This excellent publication, detailing the daring British commando raid on the French, Atlantic coastal port of St Nazaire , is the latest title in the superb Elite Forces Operations series of books from specialist military book publisher - Pen and Sword,

Mainland France had been under Nazi occupation for almost two years as the Spring of 1942 approached and as successive months passed, the enemy seized the opportunity to reinforce its foothold in the region further by building up its defences against a possible allied invasion.

St Nazaire's excellent location and unique, vast dry dock facility at the mouth of the Loire, afforded Germany's Kriegesmarine the opportunity to operate and maintain the largest of warships in it's fleet (including the infamous Tirpitz), whilst at the same time, being able to monitor and subsequently attack Allied shipping, carrying crucial cargoes of personnel and supplies, as it entered the Western Approaches from the Atlantic Ocean.

Under the code-name "Operation Chariot", the large-scale commando raid, aimed at destroying the port's famous Normandie Dock was launched. Making use of HMS Campbletown - a converted US Navy destroyer, loaded with high-explosive as a battering ram, their target was reached successfully at the dead of night. As the ship deliberately hit the dock, our elite forces, swarmed over the surrounding port area, destroying key installations and facilities, causing the maximum damage possible. The determined efforts of this group of exceptionally brave men (five of whom were subsequently to be awarded the coveted Victoria Cross) paid off and the mission was deemed - successful, however the cost was high, resulting in many of our troops being killed, wounded or captured.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars st nazair raid
Haven't quite finished this book yet, about three quarters, but is a book so full of information and detail it is sometimes difficult to take it all in in one go, but thats... Read more
Published 7 days ago by bowler
5.0 out of 5 stars excellent account of an amazing raid.
It is remarkable and humbling to read of the courage of those young men. What they went through is truly inspirational. Read more
Published 28 days ago by Colin Mckellar
5.0 out of 5 stars Superb!
Don't let the price fool you, - This is a truly superb book, - You will not be able to put it down.

It provides an excellent description of events during the raid, - The... Read more
Published 1 month ago by Brian Steven
5.0 out of 5 stars A tale of true grit
I visited St Nazaire a few years ago to see the submarine pens and the Normandie dock, I wish I could have read this book first, it shows what an incredible undertaking Operation... Read more
Published 2 months ago by Bob
2.0 out of 5 stars They did what they had to do and did it well
I did find that this book started of slow but when it got in to the raid I enjoy it you do feel that when our military do something like this raid we do it well .
Published 2 months ago by paul coleman
5.0 out of 5 stars A very good read. A comprehensive account of the raid including the...
It shows clearly how much well trained brave men can achieve against the odds and it also shows how much detailed planning was required for future raids. Read more
Published 2 months ago by Bill
5.0 out of 5 stars A Tribute to such Bravery
Now as a British Expat living in France not far from this site brings a whole new perspective to todays attitudes, At least the French still pay homage to the bravery of these men.
Published 3 months ago by don in france
5.0 out of 5 stars A good read
I met a chap who was a gunner, on one of the gun boats, who took part on this raid. A lovely chap and I have been fascinated about it ever since. The book is a ripping read. Read more
Published 3 months ago by M. Stokes
5.0 out of 5 stars Heroism At It's Best
This is a good book about the raid on St Nazaire. It gives quite a detailed account of the raid and it's aftermath. Read more
Published 3 months ago by Guernsey Donkey
5.0 out of 5 stars Very readable
I found this account of the attack on Saint-Nazaire well written and filled with useful facts. I recommend it as a gripping read.
Published 4 months ago by M. Garey
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