Hatch from WWI-era HMS Campbeltown Found Near French Museum

St. Nazaire, France – A significant piece of history from the WWI-era destroyer HMS Campbeltown has found a new home in a museum near St. Nazaire, France. The museum now proudly displays a hatch from the starboard side of the Campbeltown’s deckhouse, recovered about 100 yards away from the site where the ship’s explosive payload detonated in 1942.

In a daring mission on March 26, 1942, the HMS Campbeltown departed Falmouth with a mission to cripple the drydock in St. Nazaire, France, disrupting German Navy operations. The ship was loaded with extra armaments and packed with explosives in the bow for the operation.

Facing heavy fire, the Campbeltown successfully rammed the dock gate at high speed, inflicting significant damage upon detonation of the explosives. The raid, known as Operation Chariot, though costly in lives lost, was deemed a success in achieving its strategic objective.

Among the casualties were 169 commandos and sailors lost, with many taken prisoner. Despite the high toll, the mission effectively disabled the dock, rendering it inoperable for the remainder of the war.

Recently, a rare find emerged during port upgrades at St. Nazaire – the metal panel from the Campbeltown’s hatch. Marked with “Door No.6. Collision. Close and Dog Immediately,” the hatch serves as a poignant reminder of the ship’s pivotal role in history.

The artifact, carefully preserved and researched, provides a tangible link to the events of that fateful day in 1942. Museum director Marc Braeuer and his team played a key role in identifying and caring for this significant piece of wartime history, ensuring its preservation for future generations to appreciate.

With the discovery of the hatch, the storied legacy of the HMS Campbeltown lives on, inspiring reflection on the bravery and sacrifice of those who participated in Operation Chariot. The artifact serves as a tangible connection to a pivotal moment in World War II history, offering a glimpse into the courage and determination of those who fought in the face of adversity.