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EvyL

Battle of Dakar

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Been a while badposting but since there was that dev diaries vidya about French destroyers, how about we throw this battle thats chuck full of "okay... WHAT?", "bruuuh" and some essences of grit in. I'll try to chunk it as best I can tho.

 

I PRESENT TO YOU THE BATTLE OF DAKAR

 

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run, gun, and a whole lot of dodging for THREE WHOLE DAYS

 

Known as Operation Menace, this was a rather crazy yet daring run to completely incapacitate what remained of the French Navy, the Marine Nationale, since they're already sort of vanquished by the Germans. To prevent the very VERY real threat of the Germans 'borrowing' French ships, the orders were made loud and clear that started from Mers El-Kebir:

 

either don't shoot us and you can sit this one out by having your ships in a neutral country, or be destroyed where you berth.

 

I won't even say the scary part where the whole French Navy would augment the Kriegsmarine and the Brits still don't have an effective counter post-dreads that are fast as hell and the only fast ships they had are the battlecruisers Hood and the Renown sisters and the available reactive French battleships were still out there: Dunkerque, Strassbourg, Richelieu and Jean Bart... well "available" is cutting it close since Jean Bart actually had to run unfinished to Casablanca from St. Nazaire and Richelieu was quite light when she ran and didnt exactly have a really good shakedown and to ships, a good shakedown is really needed to test the mettle of what the warship can take which Richelieu never had the time.

 

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Welcome to Dakar. We have fun and games... and gun duels.

 

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The French had a LOT of offshore colonies and Senegal was one such of their African colonies. Why this port is actually delishus is the fact that the port of Dakar was in a really good position and is pretty much a natural harbor which helps with things. In a a naval port setting, you actually need to torpedo ships inside and the French pack a lot of AA guns for that reason. Goree even helps with the shore defenses as there are some lumpy 240mm guns on shore installations in there as well as some areas like Bel Air for maximum retaliatory fire.

 

Right after the ultimatum at Mers El-Kebir where Force H proceeded to sucker punch the French forces stationed there, Charles De Gaulle wanted some ships for the Free French forces already thrown in and Richelieu was perfect since as far as the guy knew, Jean Bart wasn't combat capable just yet and apart from that silly thing like the Swordfish squadrons from Hermes punching a hole on the battleship, Richelieu would have been up and over after some tedious repairs. Now Dakar, while a good port it may have been, wasn't really kitted out for Richelieu in terms of munition, spare guns or parts and the worse part was, as I've said, she ran light before coming to Dakar which meant she was basically under armed. AP shells for the main guns? there's a little bit. HE shells for the main guns? HAHA NO. secondary 152mm guns? there are some. AA guns? yeap.

 

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This is Richelieu after Dakar. turret B's right side gun is gone because of munition failure. beside her is likely Montcalm

 

So it happened the battleship was laying low in Dakar tending to her torpedo strike when DeGaulle went "join the French, bois~" which the garrison obviously flat out refused, even if the threat of getting plastered by a British task force was looming. Ships sent in were the carrier Ark Royal, battleships Barham from the Queen Elizabeths and Resolution from the similar Revenges, heavy cruisers Australia, Cumberland and Devonshire, and two light cruisers Delhi and Dragon which was commandeered by the Poles along with a loaded escort of destroyers with a landing force ready to set up and hopefully take the entirety of Dakar by guns and men. the guys running defense at Dakar were the Richelieu, some destroyers, a few armed merch ships and the subs stationed there. Force Y which formed in Toulon was sent in to bolster the defenses afterwards were two light cruisers Montcalm and Georges Leygues and three Le Fantasques that formed the 10th scouting division consisting of the lead ship herself, Le Malin, and Le Audacieux with the shore and harbor defenses of Dakar thrown in by default.

 

This thing took three days of crazy... three days of crazy that didnt exactly do much apart from dakka contests.

 

First day which had crap weather in the form of fog had the Brits attempt to negotiate/surrender with the Dakar garrison that started with Swordfishes dropping leaflets and then direct attempt of words which ended with rounds fired their way and gun runs started happening which resulted in Cumberland eating a 240mm shell, destroyer Inglefield reporting she got hurt bad, and ORP Dragon taking a hit from the guns at Cap-Manuel while Richelieu herself becoming momentarily silenced when her main tower got thwacked and the two La Galissonieres stalking near the shoreline of the Hann bay right behind the anti-sub and anti-torpedo nets installed on the outlying areas were hit but only caused light damage . They tried to land troops at Rufisque because trying to land IN the harbor was arguably a stupid move which Le Audacieux who was near the isle of Goree at that time to see them and, much to the surprise of the French and British who were expecting the populace to hopefully NOT shoot them, actually shot them with 90mm AA guns direct fire and MG's which caused the French marines to back the hell up to their ships as the area they wanted to drop wasnt deep enough for British gear and stuff to be set up as the two cruisers still dodging and shooting were now rushing to Rufisque in an attempt to interdict with the landing ops, spoiling the amphibious attack in the hope of capturing Dakar by men and dakka. two of the stationed subs, Ajax and Persee, tried to sortie and attack but failed, Persee getting seen and blasted by responding British destroyers and Ajax was under aerial assault by Swordfish and had to run with damage. Le Audacieux was struck when she got a wee bit forward that Australia, who was beading the crap out of her, finally managed to score a hit that blew up the French destroyer's torpedoes and just bathed her in fire with British destroyers Fury and Greyhound trying to blast the shit out of her since, while she was burning and likely out of control, she could probably still fire back that had her run aground in the night of the first day.

 

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Richelieu may have been hit by Hermes, but she still lobbed rounds

 

Second day was no better when the day started with dakka boogaloo with the two British battleships targeting the battleship Richelieu that was sporadically firing which actually was a severe matter on her because remember when I said she ran to Dakar light? well she wasn't as heavily loaded and her AP shell are considered "enough" for the task at hand which was good, but the powder? Few of that on her and she had to fire half-charged-ish because she had to make do with the powder that was for Strassbourg and some madman ideas of the 13 inch AP shell the Dunkerques lugged to be fired by Richelieu because why not. Ajax again tried to attack but was discovered by Fortune, depth charged until she was forced to breach to the surface, then finished off. wasn't really helping that both British battleships are getting overrun with targets: there's Richelieu still being a big ass threat, there's the shore batteries at Cap-Manuel, the isle of Goree and Bel Air to deal with, and to top it off, there are those lumpy La Galisonnieres which are already being shot at by their heavy cruisers and the French destroyers that are blisteringly fast as hell laying smoke. Ark Royal's Swordfish attempted another strike along with an earlier Skua run which both wings getting repulsed by heavy AA gunfire. It wasnt exactly helping that a neutral merch ship, Tacoma, was loaded with peanut oil, was hit and started to hail fire. Whats more daring was how the destroyer Le Hardi, who was laying smoke to cover Richelieu at the time, conducted a snatch of a British pilot in the water WHILE BEING SHOT AT.

 

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This is Le Hardi, a Torpilleur d' Escadre aka a "torpedo first, dakka second" destroyer

 

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... and this is her being chased by brackets WHILE SMOKING.

 

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oh and she was firing AND maneuvering on HALF A BOILER.

 

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imagine a tiny ass destroyer laying a heavy smokescreen (note: the Le Hardis cant lay smoke most contemporary destroyers can by injecting fuel in the funnel to make dark clouds of smoke. they instead run smoke dischargers from canisters aboard) getting shot up by everyone, EVEN A BATTLESHIP. makes the Clemson Edsall proud.

 

Third day was when crazy reached pinnacle. By this point DeGaulle was already going "nope nope nope" at the prospect of even trying to hammer Dakar into submission but Churchill decided to bite his cigar harder with "Having begun, we must go on to the end. Stop at nothing!" and keep the guns singing which resulted Barham getting hit by Richelieu in the bow but also ate Barham's own AP shell which caused secondary damage like fires, Australia getting hit by Richelieu's secondaries that were really active sending shell after shell and the remaining French sub Beveziers scoring a torpedo strike on Resolution when they saw the signals of turning which pretty much made Sir Cunningham, the Force lead, to just get the hell out of dodge.

 

All in all, this op was a total failure and is pretty much the Vichy France's gigantic middle finger to the British Forces, ironically after the latter blasted the living hell out of the French fleet at Mers El-Kebir because of the "join us and fight, sit this one out or die" ultimatum.

 

if people mock that the French destroyers lack smoke and are insteed dakka purists, remember that they made the Brits into literal Imperial Stormtroopers, Le Hardi made them even moreso when doing a snatch n grab on a downed pilot.

 

GIVE MY GIRL LE FANTASQUE THE SMOKE SO I CAN DAKAR MEMES

 

derp.exe has crashed

Edited by EvyL
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334
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Super Tester_
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On 7/11/2019 at 7:36 AM, IroncladSnake said:

Thank you for posting this was awesome  to learn about :)

 

its actually one of the battles that I went "wait what? WHAT?!" at the sheer crazy of it all.

 

I mean tell me, can you have the same balls of steel as Le Hardi's crew who braved gunfire to snatch a downed pilot while smoking Richelieu?

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Dakar, Dakar, Dakar, Dakar, Dakar, Dakar, . . . :cap_haloween:

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