Explosive Artifact from HMS Campbeltown Resurfaces in French Museum

St. Nazaire, France – A museum near St. Nazaire, France, has recently acquired a significant artifact from the World War II-era destroyer HMS Campbeltown. The hatch, found approximately 100 yards away from the drydock where the ship’s explosive payload detonated in 1942, is now proudly displayed as a reminder of the vessel’s historic mission.

The mission of HMS Campbeltown on March 26, 1942, was to damage the drydock in St. Nazaire, France, ultimately disrupting the German Navy’s repair operations. The ship was specially outfitted with extra 20mm guns on deck and packed with 4.5 tonnes of explosives in her bow. Despite facing heavy fire, the ship successfully rammed the dock gate, detonating her explosives and effectively disabling the drydock for the remainder of the war.

Accompanied by 16 torpedo boats carrying commandos, the raid on St. Nazaire was deemed a success, even though it came at a high cost. Out of the 611 commandos and sailors involved in Operation Chariot, 169 were killed, and 200 were taken prisoner. The survivors managed to destroy crucial dockside installations, fulfilling their mission objectives.

The discovery of the hatch from Campbeltown serves as a poignant reminder of the ship’s heroism during the raid on St. Nazaire. Found during port upgrades, the hatch bears markings that confirm its origin from the vessel. Marc Braeuer, director of the Musée Le Grand Blockhaus, took charge of preserving and researching the artifact, adding to the museum’s collection of historical pieces.

Carefully restored and authenticated, the hatch provides a rare glimpse into the events leading up to the fateful explosion of HMS Campbeltown. Its presence at the museum allows visitors to connect with the bravery and sacrifice of those involved in the daring raid on St. Nazaire, France, during World War II.