UK: HMS Campbeltown Marks 69th Anniversary of World War II Battle with Royal Navy Veterans
The Plymouth-based Royal Naval frigate HMS Campbeltown has marked the 69th anniversary of a World War Two battle with two Royal Navy veterans.
The ship sailed from Falmouth to St Nazaire, in western France, scene of the ship’s main battle honour, at the end of March with veterans Bill “Tiger” Watson (MC) and Stephen Barney on board.
Also present were a contingent from 131 Independent Commando Royal Engineers and 29 Commando Royal Artillery whose units share the battle honour for the St Nazaire Raid, also known as Operation Chariot.
The raid involved the former obsolete destroyer HMS Campbeltown packed with delayed-action explosives and rammed into the Normandie dock gates on 28 March 1942. The action put the dock out of service for the Nazis for the rest of the war. At the same time a force of commandos landed to destroy machinery and other structures.
The current ship’s commanding officer, Commander Keri Harris, said:
”It is humbling to think that St Nazaire was very heavily bombed by the Allies and had to be rebuilt after the war but they still venerate the memory of the first HMS Campbeltown and the audacity of Operation Chariot.”
“This turned the tide in the Battle of the Atlantic and gave the French hope in 1942. Their remarkable gratitude and bonhomie is still evident today.”
The name of HMS Campbeltown has a distinguished record of Royal Navy service during World War Two, with honours for the Battle of the Atlantic 1941-1942 and Operation Chariot at St Nazaire 1942.
The ship conducted a seven-gun salute on her departure from St Nazaire. The town was HMS Campbeltown’s final port of call under the White Ensign before she decommissions in Devonport tomorrow afternoon.
Source: royalnavy, April 8, 2011