Home ] Up ] Acknowledgements ] How to use our site ]

Scuttling at Toulon 

Home ] Up ] Aircraft Carriers ] Battleships ] Coastal Defence Ships ] Cruisers ] Torpedo Cruisers ] French Destroyers ] Torpedo Boats ] French Frigates ] French Corvettes ] French Submarines ] French Minesweepers ] French Auxiliaries ] French in China ] [ Scuttling at Toulon ] Other French Photos ]

Choose the navy or section of interest below:

Royal Navy United States Germany France Japan Italy Russia Austria-Hungary
Canada Spain Netherlands Argentina Brazil Portugal Turkey Australia
Norway Sweden Denmark Belgium Chile Uruguay China New Zealand
Malta Greece India Poland South Africa Pakistan Libya Kuwait
Ireland Other Navies Liners   Unidentified Ships Wartime Naval Losses


Customer Helpline (UK) : 01436 820269
Subscribe to our Newsletter!

You currently have no items in your basket

Choose a FREE print if you spend over £220!
See Choice of Free Prints

Payment Options Display
Buy with confidence and security!
Publishing historical art since 1985

Google

 

Web

www.battleships-cruisers.co.uk

 

 

 

 

VIEW SHIP OR CLASS BY NAME

The French fleet at Toulon whose Commander in Chief of the French Navy, Admiral Darlan, had promised the British that the ships would be scuttled if there was any chance of them falling into German hands.  On the 9th November, 1942, Admiral Darlan ordered a cease fire which was countermanded by Vichy Government.  The Toulon fleets were commanded by two admirals, Admiral de Laborde and Admiral Marquis.  Laborde commanded the high seas fleet.  Perhaps Laborde was now regretting that he had answered "Merde!" to Darlan's request to move his ships to Dakar, for the German intent was obvious.  Not only had they made the notable moves about Toulon and at other ports, they were also bringing up a contingent of sailors.  Laborde's fleet comprised the new battleship Strasbourg, 3 heavy cruisers, 2 light cruisers, 10 heavy destroyers and 3 other destroyers; and Marquis commanded the old battleship Provence, a seaplane tender, 2 destroyers, 4 torpedo boats and 10 submarines.  Also, there were the damaged battleship Dunkerque 2 cruisers, 8 heavy destroyers, 6 other destroyers and 10 submarines decommissioned under the armistice terms and crewed by maintenance staff.  Thus there were 64 important warships as well as numerous light craft - chasers, patrol vessels, sloops and mine sweepers, a Navy larger than those possessed by most nations of the world.

     

The Strasbourg after having been scuttled

  The more worthwhile ships were tied up at wharves or adjacent to those tied up.  Dunkerque was one of five ships in the large dry docks, and the naval yards extended over an area more than a mile wide and half a mile deep.  Ashore lay the main arsenal.  There were outposts to be passed by intruders but the main impediment to human movement was a high wall with only two gates.  The Germans planned to take the dockyards with a surprise move by an army group travelling up the Nice road on motorcycles while another three groups, including men from the despicable and cowardly "Das Reich" Division, seized the peninsula and its coastal batteries and the actual town.  When the move did take place the only Frenchman to arrive with the news was a despatch rider sent by a gendarmerie outpost - and he arrived on his motorcycle almost at the same time as the Germans on theirs.  The main alert, however, came when Marquis was captured in bed at 4.30am and his staff were able to alert Laborde who was still naive enough to disbelieve, at first, that the Germans would attack the base.  He ordered steam to be raised in all ships and for all precautions to be taken in case the Germans dare try to board them.  Five submarines got away while German troops were trying to scale the high walls and being shot at in the process.  Then the order to scuttle was repeated again and again to all ships when an enemy tank bulldozed through the main gate.  The French Fleet was about to honour its pledge.  Knowing that it could take up to five hours for most of the ships to work up sufficient steam to move out of the Inner Roads, the Germans were somewhat dilatory about their work and probably didn't know how quickly a ship could be scuttled.  They were in the navy yard after 5am, then it took another hour for the tanks and troops to find their way through the immense area to the larger ships moored at the outer piers.  At last they reached the pier from which the Strasbourg  had floated when her lines were cast off by the crew.  Admiral de Laborde was aboard, as the Germans knew by now, and a tank fired an 88mm shell into a second battery turret, mortally wounding an officer.  The German officer in charge called out to Laborde to hand over his ship undamaged but the admiral, who had ordered the ship's machine guns to cease firing at the tank, replied that the Strasbourg had already been scuttled.  The ship, and its sister ship, Dunkerque, took a lot of water to sink their 26,500 tons displacement and they sank slowly once the sea cocks were opened.  A German called out, "Admiral, my commanding officer sends word that you have his greatest respect," just before any further chit-chat was drowned by the sound of explosions from all parts of the ship : guns were blown up, important machinery was wrecked with hand grenades, and oxy-torches burned through turbine reduction gears.  Slowly she settled, on an even keel, to the bottom, and even then the large tower, reminiscent of the skyscrapers on Japanese battleships, was almost entirely out of the water. 

   

Algerie (left) and Colbert (right) after 27th November 1942

 The cruiser Algerie (full load displacement 13,900 tons) had been extensively overhauled at Toulon and was berthed two piers away from Strasbourg.  The cruiser's sea cocks were opened and she was going down fast when a German hailed her to announce that he had come to take her.  This was Admiral Lacroix's flagship on which he was going the short distance down.  He informed the German that he was a little late, that she was already sinking.  The German had heard and seen the destruction of her guns yet stated that he would go aboard when the Admiral told him that the ship would not blow up, whereupon the Admiral said that if the German did come aboard it would certainly blow up.  A few minutes later the after turret blew apart.  Algerie burned for two days with occasional eruptions as ammunition and torpedoes exploded.  

     

The Jean de Vienne and Galissonniere (left), and the funnels of the Vauquelin (right)

From the high hills around the bay the people of Toulon, and the German troops stationed there, were provided with flame and fireworks display for more than a week, the time it almost took for the Marseillaise, an 8,214 ton (empty) cruiser of the sleek and fast La Galissonniere class, to burn herself out after settling on an angle.  The latter ship was also scuttled, then she was salvaged and used by the Italians until retroceded to the French in 1944.  Not only did the "Suffren" class cruiser Colbert sink, she blew apart when her magazine blew up, almost taking with her some of the enemy who had rushed on board then quickly off when they saw the fuses burning and an officer setting alight to his aircraft on its catapult.  

    

Kersaint and Vauquelin

The same near miss among the Germans happened on the cruiser Dupleix.  The battleship Provence, 22,000 ton sister ship to Bretagne and Lorraine, was almost lost to the enemy by the doddering indecision of her captain who was confused by a message : "Orders have been received from Monsieur Laval that all incidents are to be avoided."  With other ships listing, exploding, settling and capsizing all over the place the captain thought he should follow suit although he was surrounded by armed Germans on his ship.  He stalled for time by sending an officer across the yard to find out what the order actually meant, at the same time as his crew were pulling out the plugs.  The captain and the Germans were still arguing and waiting for the officer to return when the old battleship slowly listed under their feet.  The captain was led ashore smiling.  Dunkerque ended as scrap metal stripped away by Italian dock workers and sent back to Italy to be used in war material.  Her guns had been blown up and turbines destroyed as she lay in the large drydock.  

     

The Marseillaise after scuttling

Of the "2,100ton" type large or "super" destroyers, three of them, Lion, Tigre and Panthere were staffed only with skeleton crews because of repair work; thus they were only partly sabotaged and they went more or less intact to Italy with the destroyer Trombe. The Strasbourg had probably reached the bottom when Laborde, high and dry on the projecting upper works, was refusing to leave his ship, declaring to his German captors that they had broken their oath in encroaching on the French Fleet at Toulon.  The German commander left him there, having theoretically gone down with his ship, until Petain could persuade to him to leave his ship; and when he sent the signal, "I learn at this instant that your ship is sinking.  I order you to leave it without delay.  Philippe Petain," it was picked up by the French naval units in North Africa, giving them their first news of the scuttle or whatever was happening to Laborde and his battleship.  The submarines Venus, Casablanca, Marsouin, Iris and Glorieux started instantly the alarm was given and as soon as crews could get to action stations; they had probably often practiced for this scramble.  Before German tanks could rush their pier they were on their way to crash through the booms with their strong, sharp bows.  The commander of the Glorieux replied with pistol fire to the machine gun fire from tanks and infantry.  The anti submarine net was withdrawn by its tender and when they passed through that barrier the submarines came under shell fire and a bombing and depth charge attack by the Luftwaffe.  Also, the exit channel had been mined.  They certainly were going to the "gates of Hell", as the captain of the Iris called out to the captain of the Venus.  The latter boat was damaged and, to facilitate an easier rescue of the crew, she was scuttled in the outer roads; Iris escaped and, for some unknown reason, her captain took her to Spain and internment - perhaps his idea of Heaven.  The other three submarines that escaped made it safely to Algeria while the four left behind at Toulon were scuttled at their moorings and their crews, like all other personnel at Toulon, were interned until it was decided what to do with them.  The French successfully argued that the scuttling had not been an act of hostility, only an act of destruction legalised by the terms of the 1940 armistice so they were all released and continued to receive their regular pay from Vichy, as indeed, the dependents of Free French sailors also received their allowances from the same source!

    

A German tank at Toulon, and the seaplane tender Commandant Teste.

Extract from "The Fleet Without a Friend", John Vader

 

Valuations

Classified Ads Terms and Conditions Shipping Info Contact Details

 

 

Click here to go to our naval history forum

 

AVIATION PRINTS

Click above to see all of our aviation art index - Eight random half price aviation items are displayed to the right.

Some Current Half Price Aviation Art Offers

A Lysander of 161 Squadron from RAF Tempsford banks to port as it circles a field somewhere in France 1943. These missions only took place on or around the full moon period to pick up or drop off SOE agents with the help of the Resistance. 161 Squadron, the most secret of all RAF squadrons, had in its flight, Lysanders, Hudsons, and Halifaxes which carried out parachute operations. Two of 161s top pilots Hugh Verity and Lewis Hodges both received the DSO & bar and DFC & bar, and from France the Legion dHonneur and the Croix de Guerre.

Lysander Pick Up by Graeme Lothian.
Half Price! - £50.00
Hurricane LK-M of No.87 Squadron piloted by Flt Lt Alex Thom DFC limps over the south coast of England on 19th August 1942. While supporting troops on the ground at Dieppe, the Hurricane was hit by ground fire and lost oil pressure. Alex Thom got the damaged aircraft back to Britain, making a forced landing at East Den. Ferried back to 87 Sqns airfield, he immediately set off once more for Dieppe in Hurricane LK-A.

A Welcome Shore by Ivan Berryman.
Half Price! - £75.00
 A Focke-Wulf 190 claims another victim, a lone B17 in the skies over the Western front in 1944.

Focke Wulf Supremacy by Ivan Berryman.
Half Price! - £70.00
 The Douglas Dakota was undoubtedly one of the most important allied aircraft of the Second World War. The aircraft served in a variety of roles including paratroop-dropping, glider-towing, casualty evacuation to transporting all sorts of materials from food to weapons of war. It did it all and in doing so, helped win the war.
Together we Stand by Philip West. (Y)
Half Price! - £65.00

 Watched by keen eyes, an Upkeep bomb arrives on the threshold to be loaded onto the special cradle beneath a Lancaster of 617 Dambusters Squadron on the eve of their perilous journey to the Ruhr Valley on the night of 16th May 1943 when the Möhne and Eder dams were breached under the codename Operation Chastise.

Bombing Up by Ivan Berryman. (P)
Half Price! - £850.00
 Douglas C47 Dakotas fly into the landing and drop zone at Renkum Heath, September 17th 1944.

Arnhem by Simon Smith (Y)
Half Price! - £30.00
 A tribute to Sir Thomas Sopwith and British Aerospace.  BAe Harrier GR.5 ZD346 and Sopwith Pup N5195 at the Biggin Hill air fair June 1988.

Now and Then by Peter Westacott.
Half Price! - £50.00
 Under the watchful eye of his more experienced tutor a trainee pilot gets his first taste of the Spitfire Mk.IIa, airborne from Tangmere early in 1941. the nearest aircraft is P7856 (YT-C) which enjoyed a long career, surviving until 1945.

The Fledgling by Ivan Berryman. (D)
Half Price! - £90.00

 

NAVAL PRINTS

Click above to see all of our naval art index - Eight random half price naval items are displayed to the right.

Some Current Half Price Naval Art Offers

B103AP.  HMS Royal Sovereign and HMS Warspite departing Malta by Ivan Berryman.

HMS Royal Sovereign and HMS Warspite departing Malta by Ivan Berryman (AP)
Half Price! - £25.00
 During a patrol on 6th July 1918, Christiansen spotted a British submarine on the surface of the Thames Estuary. He immediately turned and put his Hansa-Brandenburg W.29 floatplane into an attacking dive, raking the submarine C.25 with machine gun fire, killing the captain and five other crewmen. This victory was added to his personal tally, bringing his score to 13 kills by the end of the war, even though the submarine managed to limp back to safety. Christiansen survived the war and went on to work as a pilot for the Dornier company, notably flying the giant Dornier Do.X on its inaugural flight to New York in 1930. He died in 1972, aged 93.

Kapitanleutnant zur See Friedrich Christiansen by Ivan Berryman. (Y)
Half Price! - £37.50
 HMS Hood readies to fire off a what proved to be the final salvo against the Bismarck before a shell from the German battleship penetrated the magazine of HMS Hood, tearing apart the British ship in an enormous explosion.

The Final Salvo - HMS Hood by Anthony Saunders. (P)
Half Price! - £3300.00
Originally constructed as a Home Fleet Repair Ship, HMS Cyclops was later converted into a submarine depot ship and enjoyed a long career, both in the Mediterranean and in home waters.  Here she prepares to receive HMS Sceptre.  Another S-class submarine is already tethered alongside.

HMS Cyclops Prepares to Receive HMS Sceptre by Ivan Berryman (P)
Half Price! - £500.00

 Besstrashniy (meaning Fearless) 434 heavy rocket ASW Destroyer is shown swinging to the port side of Pyotr Velikiy (meaning Peter the Great) a Kirov Class Cruiser as they clear a path for the carrier Minsk.

Arctic Waters by Randall Wilson.
Half Price! - £50.00
  Type 42 HMS Southampton (D90), Type 22 Beaver (F93), Type 42 Manchester (D95) and Type 21 Amazon (F169) formate during a World cruise on which they visited 17 countries in 9 months.

Around the World by Ivan Berryman (P)
Half Price! - £500.00
HMS Ark Royal after a recent refit, rejoins the fleet in 2001.

HMS Ark Royal by Ivan Berryman (AP)
Half Price! - £25.00
 Between 24th may and 4th June 1940 an extraordinary armada of craft, large and small, naval and civilian, embarked on one of the greatest rescue missions in history. the evacuation of 330,000 British and French troops from the beaches of Dunkirk in northern France. the destroyer HMS Wakeful dominates the foreground here as troops pour onto the beaches and harbour moles in search of salvation. Both Wakeful and distant HMS Grafton were lost during the evacuation.

Dunkirk by Ivan Berryman (AP)
Half Price! - £25.00

 

MILITARY PRINTS

Click above to see all of our military art index - Eight random half price military items are displayed to the right.

Some Current Half Price Military Art Offers

Lieut. George Cairns of the South Staffordshire Regiment at the Battle of Pagoda Hill, Burma, 13th March 1944, along with the 3rd/6th Gurkha Rifles.
Lieutenant George Cairns VC, at the Battle of Pagoda Hill, Burma 13th March 1944 by David Rowlands (GL)
Half Price! - £280.00
<b>One ex-display print with slights damage to the border, and light dents and scratches which would be unnoticeable once framed.</b>
The Wounded Cuirassier by Theodore Gericault. (Y)
Half Price! - £25.00
 Often called the Last Patrol, the painting depicts a scene from the Boer war, showing a party of Lancers bringing a riderless horse back from patrol. Art prints reproduced by kind permission of the 9th / 12th Lancers.

The Empty Saddle by J P Beadle. (Y)
Half Price! - £25.00
Terence Cuneo has depicted a scene of street violence.  The angry mod hurls abuse, missiles and petrol bombs at the soldiers who are outnumbered and restricted in their ability to repsond.  Rioting of this sort became less prevalent through the increased efficiency of the Police and Army in containing it, but Terence Cuneos reconstruction typifies the dangerous situation the secuirty forces in Ulster faced during the 1970s.  Published in 1977 by the Army and Navy Club, Pall Mall, London.

The Tragedy of Ulster 1976 by Terence Cuneo. (B)
Half Price! - £80.00

 After the fall of the stronghold of Alesia in 52BC, Vercingetorix was the last Gallic Chieftain to submit to Caesar. Vercingetorix is shown arrivng on horseback at the gate of the Roamn fort, with Caesar shown a distance away in the fort. Henri Motte studied under Jean-Leon Gerome, and most of his works were shown at the Salon des Artistes Francais in Paris. His major works were of historical pieces such as this one and Hannibal Crossing the Rhone, both of these receiving a bronze medal at the 1900 Universal Exhibition in Paris. He was awarded Chevalier de la Legion dHonneur in 1892.

Vercingetorix Surrendering to Caesar by Henri-Paul Motte. (Y)
Half Price! - £35.00
 Icy rain adds its misery to the bitter conflict on Drumossie Moor. In the shadow of the Black Isle, two English ships on the waters of the Moray Firth, await the outcome of the decisive battle. Pounded by Cumberlands gunners and raked by steady musketry, the Princes brave men can make no headway. Although the Irish and French regulars refuse to give ground, the Jacobite lines gradually disintegrate. Tired, cold and hungry men flea past Culloden House for the relative safety of Inverness. On the Scottish right the Argyll Militia, supported by Hawleys Dragoons, tear down the walls of the Culwiniac and Culchunaig enclosures in an outflanking attack. Avochies men offer some resistance but Major Gillies McBean stands alone on the breach. He cuts down more than a dozen Argylls, including Lord Robert Kerr, who lies mortally wounded, but his foes are too many. The hero eventually falls to a vicious cut to the forehead, his thigh bone is also broken. Despite the cries of a mounted officer to save that brave man, the major is ruthlessly bayonetted, his back against the wall. The victory is complete and nothing more can be done. In the distance, the Young Pretender is forced to abandon the field and Scotlands hope of claiming the British Throne.

Battle of Culloden by Mark Churms.
Half Price! - £50.00
 OT34 Flamethrower tank and men of Col. Krickmans 6th Guards Tank Brigade take part in the Soviet counter attacks of 13th-27th September in defence of the southern factory district of Stalingrad before the final offensive in October.

Motherland, The Battle of Stalingrad, September 1942 by David Pentland.
Half Price! - £95.00
Military art print of the Franco-Prussian war showing French Infantry defenders at the fortifications of Champigny.
The Defence of Champigny, November 30th 1870 by Edouard Detaille.
Half Price! - £20.00

 

SPORT PRINTS

Click above to see all of our sport art index - Eight random half price sport items are displayed to the right.

Some Current Half Price Sport Art Offers

 A product of United's magnificent youth policy, Nicky Butt has become an invaluable player in the most successful side in the club's history.  Gary Keane's portrayal of Nicky Butt captures the tenacity, determination and power of one of the country's leading midfield players.

Nicky Butt by Gary Keane.
Half Price! - £50.00
 Peter Deighan has superbly captured Jimmy White, John Parrot, Stephen Hendry, James Wattana, John Higgins, Ken Doherty, Ronnie OSullivan and of course the centrepiece, a magnificent study of former World Champion Steve Davis as he Ponders his next shot.  A must for all snooker rooms, clubs and players of this wonderful game.

Kings of the Baize II by Peter Deighan
Half Price! - £80.00
MC0042P. Tomahawk by Mark Churms.

Tomahawk by Mark Churms. (P)
Half Price! - £1000.00
 Twickenham, March 16th 1996.  England return to the running game to clinch victory in style over Ireland and retain the Five Nations Championship.

In Full Flight by Keith Fearon.
Half Price! - £80.00

 Ferrari F310.  1996.
Eddie Irvine by Michael Thompson.
Half Price! - £25.00
 Jenson Button.  Reanult R202
Young Gun by Michael Thompson.
Half Price! - £30.00
 Valentino Rossi on his way to a seventh Moto GP World Championship in the 2009 season on his Yamaha, scoring thirteen podium finishes, including six race wins, leaving him 45 points clear of his nearest rival.

Valentino Rossi by Ivan Berryman. (P)
Half Price! - £525.00
SFA7.  Galileo by Stephen Smith.

Galileo by Stephen Smith.
Half Price! - £70.00

Everything we obtain for this site is shown on the site, we do not have any more photos, crew lists or further information on any of the ships.

COPYRIGHT NOTICE. ALL IMAGES DISPLAYED ON THIS WEBSITE ARE PROTECTED BY  COPYRIGHT  LAW, AND ARE OWNED BY CRANSTON FINE ARTS OR THEIR RESPECTIVE OWNERS.  NO REPRODUCTION OR COPYING ALLOWED ON OTHER WEBSITES, BOOKS OR ARTICLES WITHOUT PRIOR AGREEMENT.

This website is owned by Cranston Fine Arts.  Torwood House, Torwoodhill Road, Rhu, Helensburgh, Scotland, G848LE

Contact: Tel: (+44) (0) 1436 820269.  Fax: (+44) (0) 1436 820473. Email:

Return to Home Page