Sailors from HMS Tyne and Royal Marines from 42 Commando have marched through the cobbled streets of Falmouth to honour one of the greatest raids in naval history.
In March 1942, a flotilla of destroyers and small boats left the Cornish port to blow up the dock facilities at St Nazaire.
They succeeded, ramming a former American destroyer – under the White Ensign as HMS Campbeltown – into the lock gates and blowing her up, while commandos destroyed dock installations.
Operation Chariot as it was codenamed was later dubbed ‘the greatest raid of all’, but a high price was paid by the sailors and Royal Marines.
Of the 621 men who took part in the raid, a quarter were killed and three out of five were casualties. Upwards of 400 Germans were killed and the port was never again used by German capital ships.
Taking a break from her patrols around the UK to protect fishing stocks, HMS Tyne sailors and today’s commandos attended a short service of commemoration and wreath laying in Falmouth Cemetery at the graves of Leading Seaman William Savage – awarded the Victoria Cross for his part in the raid – and Leading Motor Mechanic Tom Parker.
Tyne’s marching platoon then formed up outside Falmouth municipal buildings alongside the 42 Commando men and, led by the Kernow Pipes and Drums Band, marched to Prince of Wales Pier.
There a memorial service was conducted by Naval Chaplain the Reverend David Wylie.
“We don’t take part in that many parades being at sea so much of the time,” said Leading Chef David Britten.
“I felt really proud to be in uniform marching through the town, especially with so many veterans making the effort to attend.”
Lieutenant Commander Matthew Warren, Tyne’s Executive Officer, added: “It was very moving to see so many people from the town turning out to remember the sacrifices made during this most audacious of operations.
“I am delighted Tyne was invited to represent the Royal Navy in commemorating this occasion.”
His ship is now resuming her patrols around the UK.