Operation Chariot


None The Wiser
Jul 24, 2003
Inspired by the thread on Operation Sealion, I thought I’d follow up with what I think is (and many historians agree) the greatest Commando action if all time. My grandfather was a Commando but didn’t take part in Operation Chariot. One thing I learned from him: those that contribute don’t always want to talk about it. And so, let this thread be a voice for the many brave souls who took part in one of the most outstanding actions of WW2. And, if you don’t believe me, consider this. In the one night of Operation Chariot, 89 decorations were awarded - five of which, were the Victoria Cross.

5 Victoria Crosses for one engagement tells its own story of how hazardous it must have been. Not only was it highly effective in putting the dock out of action, it also caused Hitler to order other harbour defences to be upgraded, taking valuable resources away from other areas.

It's easy to forget at times that Commandos weren't just elite troops, they were sons, fathers and grandfathers; ordinary men pushed to extra-ordinary feats of bravery and ingenuity in service of their country. And when you consider that any Commando taken prisoner was supposed to be executed on the spot...
I think the story of the 23 year old Sergeant Durrant on a motor gun boat (HM Motor Launch 306) who was wounded sixteen times and fought on until he succumbed to blood loss is just incredible....as did a German destroyer captain who, after the battle, sought out the highest ranking Commando officer and said 'this man deserves your Victoria Cross'. Twice Durrant was asked by the captain to surrender and twice he replied with a long burst of machine gun fire.

A list of St Nazaire VC winners and their actions