It is the night of 28 March 1942. Royal Navy and British commandos are poised to assault the German-held port of Saint-Nazaire in what will be one of the most audacious and daring raids of the Second World War. The plan is simple: to drive an old destroyer, packed with three tons of explosive, at full speed into the outer gate of the Normandie dock.
Destroying this would deny the formidable Tirpitz battleship, currently lurking menacingly in the Norwegian fjords, a base from which it could inflict devastation upon the convoys supplying Britain from the United States. ‘Operation Chariot’ was to be dramatically successful, but at a great cost. Fewer than half the men who went on the mission returned. In recognition of their valour, eighty-nine decorations were awarded, including five Victoria Crosses.
Into the Jaws of Death is the true story of how the decisive courage of a small group of men changed the course of the war.
I saw men burn alive in the petrol that covered the surface, while others sank in bloody foam as they succumbed to their wounds. With the screams of the dying ringing above the noise of gunfire, and the fierce glare of the flames lighting up the harbour, it was a scene from the worst of nightmares. What made it different was that we ourselves were inside the nightmare.
– Ordinary Seaman Ralph Batteson