French contre-torpilleur (Destroyer) Jaguar

Photograph of the French contre-torpilleur (destroyer) Jaguar, signed by the Captain, Commandant Adam, during a visit to Dublin in 1939.

One of three destroyers to set sail from Cherbourg on the 22nd May 1940 on a mission to bring the necessary equipment and explosives to allow the demolition of the port facilities of Dunkirk, Calais and Boulogne. Breaking radio silence, the Jaguar messaged Dunkirk that she would be arriving at 12.20am on the 23rd May. The signal was intercepted by German Naval Intelligence and two E-boats, S21 and S23, were waiting as the Jaguar passed Boulogne. Shortly after midnight, the Jaguar was hit by a torpedo fired by S23, commanded by Leutnant Christiansen. The vessel was fatally damaged and although taken under tow, she was eventually beached off Malo-le-Bains, with casualties of 17 dead or missing and 30 wounded.


The 150 surviving sailors were subsequently allocated to the maintenance of naval guns of the Ouvrage l'Ouest at Dunkirk. On the night of June 3, the fort was abandoned and the sailors were among 500 French personnel and civilians evacuated by the French auxiliary minesweeper "Emile Deschamps". They were some of the last troops to be lifted off on what was to be the final night of the Dunkirk evacuation. However, fate was to deal these men a cruel blow. Lost in the fog, which by that time had descended, "Emile Deschamps" hit a magnetic mine some five miles off the North Foreland and sank within half a minute, with only some 85 being saved. She was the 243rd and last vessel to be lost in the Dunkirk operation. Many of the survivors were subsequently treated for blast injuries in the Margate Royal Sea Bathing Hospital.

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