Brest Harbour
Brest was one of the major ports of occupied France in World War Two. The German Navy favoured it because of its protected location. Extensive ship repair and maintenance facilities existed for refitting large battle ships such as the Scharnhorst, Gneisenau and Prinz Eugen.

In addition the Germans had a large U- boat base for their Battle of the Atlantic operations there.

This and the centuries old heritage of shipbuilding and use as a military port made it the ideal base for the Scharnhorst, Gneisenau and Prinz Eugen to be repaired while they waited for their next patrol.

Gneisenau in drydock at Brest
(click to enlarge)

U Boat pens in WW2
(click to enlarge)

RAF Bombings
Unfortunately for the Germans, Brest was easily reached by the RAF heavy and medium bombers and was frequently attacked. All the three ships including Prinz Eugen suffered frequent damage over the next year as well as many dozens of their crews killed while stationed ashore.

By February1941, the situation was becoming intolerable and the Germans had to do something.

Adolf Hitler decided that the ships should be brought home to their base in Wilhelmshaven, Northern Germany. From here they could repulse any attempt to invade Norway which he felt was very likely.

In addition they could wreak havoc among the convoys supplying the Russians, who Hitler had attacked the previous year.

Scharnhorst and Gneisenau under attack (click to enlarge)

The north German ports (click to enlarge)

Help & About

Thanks must go to those who gave support to this project and include;

Kent County Councillors
Eileen Rowbotham
Mike Eddy
Mr McKenna
Mr Neaves
Mr Birkby

and the Dover Harbour Board.

This site is owned by the Channel Dash association, registered charity number 1139128.

Copyrights are property of their respective owners . No part of this site may be copied or used with permission. E&OE.


Jim Williams

Jim Williams - Coordinator of the Memorials and Project Leader of Schools IT Project.

Peter Nixon

Peter Nixon - Chairman of Channel Dash Memorial Trust.

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For teachers

This site covers the section "challenges for Britain, Europe and the wider world 1901 to the present day" as defined by the History programmes of study:key stage 3 National curriculum in England (Reference: DFE-00194-2013).

The key area covered is the Second World War and the key historical event is the Battle of The Atlantic.

Study notes are based on understanding the individual events in the context of the consequence of these events to the Battle of The Atlantic.