- Letter Writer
- WWI operations, Letter to the Editor
- RAN Ships
- None noted.
- March 1999 edition of the Naval Historical Review (all rights reserved)
Your article on the story of the St. Nazaire raid – “[The raid on St Nazaire 1942]” – left me rather amused. In the first instance the ship mentioned should have been HMS Campbeltown, spelt incorrectly in your paper. I do not know why you referred to most of the Force as ’16 armoured patrol launches and a gun boat’.
Most of us who took part in the raid, are proud of the fact that we were in Fairmiles of His Majesty’s Navy, called HMML’s. We had many HMAML’s serving in the Australian Navy. There were quite a number of Australians involved who went to England early in the War and deserved to be mentioned in a story written by an Australian Naval Historical Society. There were Australians, New Zealanders and Canadians, along with United Kingdom sailors in these Fairmiles who took part in this action and all should have earned just a little mention.
Australians involved in these 16 HMML’s, the MGB and MTB, were Lieutenant J.G. Hall, Lieutenant C.W. Wallach, Lieutenant P .W. Landy, Lieutenant N.B. Wallis, AB. P. Brady, and O.D. D.Croft, and there could have been more. Norman Wallis, in HMML 307 and Bill Wallach in HMML 270, each received the Distinguished Service Cross and Patrick Brady, the Distinguished Service Medal.
622 sailors and commandos sailed from Falmouth in Southern England for a 450 mile journey to St. Nazaire. In the short battle which followed in the early hours of March 28th 1942, 168 men were killed outright.
There were 5 VC’s awarded, 4 DSO’s, 17 DSC’s, 11 MC’s, 4 CGM’s, 5 DCM’s, 24 DSM’s, 4 Croix de Guerre, 15 MM’s and 51 were mentioned in Despatches.
Four Fairmiles returned to England; one left early in the voyage with engine trouble, on its own without escort. The other three came through the action and returned unescorted to Falmouth. They were HMML 160, HMML 307 and HMML 443. These Fairmiles, although badly damaged and carrying dead and wounded, shot down an enemy bomber on the homeward voyage to Falmouth.
[Ed. Don Croft’s deserved criticism of the article on the St. Nazaire raid gains authenticity by being submitted by someone who was there! However, in self defence, let us point out that it was not “a story written by an Australian Naval Historical Society”. As stated in the credit, it was taken – with permission – from an RSL branch newsletter. The author was unknown, and therefore could not be contacted for verification. While acknowledging our responsibility to take reasonable care that submissions are accurate, the Society does publish a disclaimer in each issue to the effect that “Opinions expressed by contributors are not necessarily those of the Society”.]