Hatch from Explosive-Laden Ship Found Near French Drydock

St. Nazaire, France – A significant piece of history has found its way back to the surface near St. Nazaire, France. The Museum Le Grand Blockhaus is now the proud owner of a hatch from the HMS Campbeltown, a warship that played a crucial role in a daring mission during World War II. The hatch, recovered about 100 yards from where the ship’s explosives detonated in 1942, provides a tangible link to the past.

The HMS Campbeltown embarked on a mission on March 26, 1942, departing Falmouth with a strategic goal to damage a drydock in St. Nazaire, France. The ship was armed with extra weaponry and packed with 4.5 tonnes of explosives in her bow, aiming to disrupt German naval operations. The vessel successfully navigated through enemy defenses and carried out a heroic ramming maneuver to detonate its payload, significantly impairing the enemy’s capabilities.

Despite facing heavy opposition during the operation, the crew of the HMS Campbeltown, accompanied by torpedo boats carrying commandos, managed to carry out a successful raid. The mission, known as Operation Chariot, achieved its objective but at a significant cost. Many lives were lost, and a majority of the crew were either killed or taken prisoner, underscoring the sacrifices made during wartime.

The recovery of the hatch, bearing the markings “Door No. 6. Collision. Close and Dog Immediately,” serves as a poignant reminder of the bravery and determination displayed by those involved in the mission. The artifact, carefully preserved and researched by museum director Marc Braeuer and his team, offers a glimpse into the harrowing events that unfolded during the daring raid in St. Nazaire.

As the museum continues to honor the legacy of the HMS Campbeltown and its crew, the recovered hatch stands as a symbol of resilience and valor in the face of adversity. The artifact’s significance lies not only in its historical value but also in its ability to inspire future generations with tales of courage and sacrifice during one of the most challenging periods in modern history.