Wednesday, 16 July 2008

One of the dedication plaques making up the new Chariot memorial
(Image copyright Scott Van Osdol, 2008)


On Friday 11th July the Duke and Duchess of Cornwall visited Prince of Wales Pier, in Falmouth, to unveil an augmented Chariot memorial. Now located in a portion of the pier specifically set aside to commemorate the raid, the original granite 'rock' is surrounded by inscriptions recalling the observations of some of the veterans. The only downside to an otherwise moving ceremony was the Media Information pack distributed to journalists, which was, in places, wildly inaccurate. It gave the journey from Falmouth to Saint-Nazaire as 250 miles, when it was in fact closer to 420, and claimed as fallen far more than the actual total of Commandos and sailors present. Specifically, 624 men left Falmouth, not 322: and as regards casualties, the Royal Navy lost 102 men killed (with 90 POW), not '31 Officers and 751 ratings', while the Commandos lost 66 killed (and 124 POW), as opposed to the claimed '34 Officers and 178 other ranks'. I should also point out that many of the captured Commando officers were held in Spangenberg Castle (Oflag 1X A/H). not 'Spannenburg Castle'.

In spite of this, the visit could hardly have gone better, and sincere thanks are due to the town of Falmouth for hosting such a memorable event. Prior to the unveiling a number of raid veterans were presented to their Royal Highnesses - Leading Seaman Fred Catton, ML270; Leading Stoker Frank Pritchard, HMS Campbeltown; Sub-Lieutenant Hugh Arnold, DSC, ML446: Lieutenant Corran Purdon, MC, 12 Cdo; Captain Bob Montgomery MC, RE, attached 2 Cdo; Second Lieutenant Bill 'Tiger' Watson, MC, 1/2 Cdo; and Lance-Corporal Eric de la Torre, MBE, 3 Cdo, long time Hon Sec of the St-Nazaire Society. (Ranks given are those in force at the time of the raid)