The huge caisson gates which capped the north and south entrances to the 'Normandie' dock, could be filled with water to increase their strength, or emptied to allow them to be wound into sockets on the dock's western side. As the dock is still in use today, the sockets and winding machinery remain pretty much as they were when the Commando parties disembarked from the Campbeltown in March, 1942. At the western extremity of each socket is a winding house, and the complex machinery contained within the southern facility is shown in the image above. This winding house, only a few metres from where Campbeltown struck home, was the target of Lieutenant Chris Smalley and his four-man team. The charges laid initially did not fire, and Smalley risked all to remedy the fault and ensure the explosion took place.
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The St. Nazaire Society