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An account of one of the most audacious raids from WW2.
on 29 May 2006
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.
Later, when quiet had finally descended on the town, the Germans inspected the ship - completely bemused by what appeared to be a futile attempt to wreck their harbour by simply ramming the gates. But, somewhere in a sealed compartment a clock was still ticking.....
The Press Release issued with this book describes it as "A graphic and dramatic description backed by excellent photographs." I could not have put it better.