In the best interests of the United Kingdom

Western historians, listing the largest naval battle of World War II, the Battle of Mers-el-Kebir shamefully bypassed. And there are reasons for this: 3 July 1940 off the coast of North Africa came together in a fierce battle, the British and French squadrons. What happened, for whatever reason, yesterday's allies in the fight against Nazi Germany became mortal enemies?

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Prelude 

May 10, 1940, Wehrmacht troops set foot on the territory of Belgium and Holland, violating thus the neutral status of these powers. May 13, Wehrmacht troops crossed the Franco-Belgian border. The French army was pushed in a few days and by the end of May, has ceased to exist. Paris surrendered at discretion. June 14, German troops entered the capital of France and triumphant marched down the Champs-Elysees. Hitler forced France to drink a full cup of shame. Was revived to life carefully stored by the French trailer, which, in 1918, General Foch to accept the surrender of Germany. Museum exhibit re-filled people in military uniforms, but this time signed the capitulation of France. Third countries, including the heart of France — Paris, was occupied. On the remaining territory was organized by the so-called "Vichy regime" (named after the resort town where the government has accommodated the "free zone").

The French navy does not have to be German!

At the disposal of the Vichy regime, which was considered formally independent, but in practice controlled by the Nazis, were colonial troops and the fourth in the world in terms of power navy. Ships stationed at various ports in North and West Africa, and some — in Toulon, about 200 ships were in various ports of Great Britain. In London, fears that the these ships at any time can become part of the Kriegsmarine. If that happens, the combined Italian-German fleet would be the rightful owner of the Atlantic, not to mention the Mediterranean. British Prime Minister Churchill believed that the French ships to disarm and intern, and in case of resistance — to sink. The operation was named "Catapult".

Throw "Catapult"

For the implementation of the operations of the Royal Navy was isolated group, which received the name of "Compound H", which included 2 battleships, 1 line and 2 light cruisers, 11 destroyers, and one aircraft carrier. The British set out to fight with his ally seriously: ships out to sea with full ammunition. The surgery was scheduled for July 3.

On the night of July 3 in English ports, where there were French ships arrived commando squads. Under the cover of darkness, they seized vessels and captains were presented with an ultimatum demanding the court to hand over custody of the British authorities. Captains claimed the protests, but it has solved nothing. The French team captured the ship chafing on the shore, on the mast ascended the British flag. This phase of the operation took place without incident, but in Portsmouth on a submarine "Surcouf" managed to raise the alarm and resisted. In the shootout killed a French officer and three British. During the day some 200 ships have changed their nationality. The British Navy added two battleships, 10 destroyers, 7 submarines.

In the port of Alexandria all was resolved by mutual agreement: battleship "Lorian", four cruisers and several destroyers leaked fuel was removed from the guns locks and handed them over to the British. In Dakar, the Senegalese, where there were new battleship "Richelieu", 3 cruisers, 3 destroyers and several submarines, everything was not so peaceful. On the French ultimatum refused. Then a British aircraft carrier torpedo bombers took off, talking gun turrets. "Richelieu" was damaged, the keel was bent over 25m, has failed one of the propellers. Having found his mission done, the British ships withdrew. The battleship was torn down and continue to be used only as a floating battery.
But the most tragic events took place in the naval base of Mers-el-Kebir, where this sea battle erupted.

1377141948_md_image22

Prelude 

May 10, 1940, Wehrmacht troops set foot on the territory of Belgium and Holland, violating thus the neutral status of these powers. May 13, Wehrmacht troops crossed the Franco-Belgian border. The French army was pushed in a few days and by the end of May, has ceased to exist. Paris surrendered at discretion. June 14, German troops entered the capital of France and triumphant marched down the Champs-Elysees. Hitler forced France to drink a full cup of shame. Was revived to life carefully stored by the French trailer, which, in 1918, General Foch to accept the surrender of Germany. Museum exhibit re-filled people in military uniforms, but this time signed the capitulation of France. Third countries, including the heart of France — Paris, was occupied. On the remaining territory was organized by the so-called "Vichy regime" (named after the resort town where the government has accommodated the "free zone").

The French navy does not have to be German!

At the disposal of the Vichy regime, which was considered formally independent, but in practice controlled by the Nazis, were colonial troops and the fourth in the world in terms of power navy. Ships stationed at various ports in North and West Africa, and some — in Toulon, about 200 ships were in various ports of Great Britain. In London, fears that the these ships at any time can become part of the Kriegsmarine. If that happens, the combined Italian-German fleet would be the rightful owner of the Atlantic, not to mention the Mediterranean. British Prime Minister Churchill believed that the French ships to disarm and intern, and in case of resistance — to sink. The operation was named "Catapult".

Throw "Catapult"

For the implementation of the operations of the Royal Navy was isolated group, which received the name of "Compound H", which included 2 battleships, 1 line and 2 light cruisers, 11 destroyers, and one aircraft carrier. The British set out to fight with his ally seriously: ships out to sea with full ammunition. The surgery was scheduled for July 3.

On the night of July 3 in English ports, where there were French ships arrived commando squads. Under the cover of darkness, they seized vessels and captains were presented with an ultimatum demanding the court to hand over custody of the British authorities. Captains claimed the protests, but it has solved nothing. The French team captured the ship chafing on the shore, on the mast ascended the British flag. This phase of the operation took place without incident, but in Portsmouth on a submarine "Surcouf" managed to raise the alarm and resisted. In the shootout killed a French officer and three British. During the day some 200 ships have changed their nationality. The British Navy added two battleships, 10 destroyers, 7 submarines.

In the port of Alexandria all was resolved by mutual agreement: battleship "Lorian", four cruisers and several destroyers leaked fuel was removed from the guns locks and handed them over to the British. In Dakar, the Senegalese, where there were new battleship "Richelieu", 3 cruisers, 3 destroyers and several submarines, everything was not so peaceful. On the French ultimatum refused. Then a British aircraft carrier torpedo bombers took off, talking gun turrets. "Richelieu" was damaged, the keel was bent over 25m, has failed one of the propellers. Having found his mission done, the British ships withdrew. The battleship was torn down and continue to be used only as a floating battery.
But the most tragic events took place in the naval base of Mers-el-Kebir, where this sea battle erupted.

1377141948_md_image22

One of the biggest naval battles of World War II

At the naval base of Mers-el-Kebir were the most significant forces French Navy: the latest high-speed battleships "Dunkirk" and "Strasbourg", 2 old battleship "Brittany" and "Provence", 1 aircraft carrier, six destroyers, minesweepers and other vessels . They were the main purpose of the "Connections H". Around 9:30 am on July 3 British ships came to the base of the French navy. Brits here obviously did not wait. French ships were locked in a tight cove. By battleship "Dunkirk", the mast which flew the flag of Admiral Zhansulya squadron commander, went to the boat with the officer, who was entrusted to deliver an ultimatum. French people were invited to choose from:
1.Prisoedinitsya to the British fleet and join the fight against Germany.
2.Uyti under the escort of British ships in England and interned there.
3.With reduced crews under British escort to go to the French West Indies or in U.S. ports and interned there.
4.Zatopit ships.
Term ultimatum — 6:00.

Awaiting Response Commander "Connections H" Vice Admiral Somerville raised the binoculars and could see the French sailors uncover gun. It is not waiting for a boat with an officer returns to the battleship, the Admiral ordered the military to play the alarm.

Bombers took off from an aircraft carrier. The British ships brought down on top of his French naval guns. French ships, coastal artillery fired back. The battleship "Provence" by getting a hole, stuck his nose in the bank. Caught fire and exploded, "Brittany" in the black cloud of smoke ascended to heaven the soul 977 French sailors. Serious damage was "Dunkirk". The destroyer "Mogador" received a shell in the stern, from which depth charges detonated. The crew was able to throw almost left without a stern destroyer aground. French ships (those who remained afloat) have gone on break. At the head came with a flaming poop "Strasbourg" on the go firing all weapons. Somerville ordered to put a smoke screen and move away from the bay. Burning battleship torpedo attack. The first wave of the attack, the second. "Strasbourg" snapped anti-aircraft fire and shot down three aircraft. Together with the leader to break through the barrier and were able to leave the harbor five destroyers. July 4 black with soot, the crippled, but proud "Strasbourg" led his small squadron entered the port of Toulon, where the remnants of the French fleet came together.

Repeat visit

July 6 "Compound H" again arrived at Mers-el-Kebir. At this time the main striking force was the British aircraft. 12 torpedo bombers attacked the "Dunkirk". One of the torpedoes hit the patrol standing next to a load of depth charges. The bombs detonated, the consequences were terrible. "Dunkirk" was damaged almost bringeth him out of action. At this point, took off from the coastal airfields French fighter jets. Even yesterday, the brothers-in-arms, the British and French pilots are now looking at each other through the net sight. One after the other fell into the sea thousands of British and French aircraft. "Dunkirk" was on fire. In 1942, he was still able to leave the harbor, but its value as a battleship, battleship lost forever.

The results

In general, the results of "Operation Catapult" in London were satisfied: the UK secured undisputed domination of the sea space. 7 French battleships, four cruisers, eight submarines, in addition to other ships, one way or another have been taken out of the game. The Royal Navy is filled with new fighting ships. And all this — without losing a single ship! When Churchill reported on the results of the operation in Parliament, MPs gave him a standing ovation.

Vichy regime after the events of July 3-6, broke off diplomatic relations with London and strengthened anti-British propaganda. General de Gaulle denounced the British attack on the French fleet, but the more he could not afford, in their struggle for the liberation of the homeland he is entirely dependent on the support of the UK. Ordinary French event on July 3-6, was seen as a betrayal of the former allies. The number of collaborators and volunteers who wish to serve in the Wehrmacht troops.

In his memoirs, Churchill wrote: "It was a cruel but necessary hit by yesterday's allies." History has not confirmed the fears of the British. November 26, 1942, when German tanks entered Toulon, French sailors scuttled ships were in the harbor. At the bottom left three battleships, seven cruisers, 32 destroyers, 16 submarines, 18 patrol boats and other vessels — only about 77 ships. No French ship is not got Nazis.

But the British have never questioned the feasibility of the operation "Catapult" and the deaths of more than 1,300 French sailors, British and French pilots attributed to the unavoidable costs for the triumph of the best interests of the UK.

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