Battle of Ushant (1944)
The Battle of Ushant, also known as the Battle of Brittany, occurred on the early morning of 9 June 1944 and was an engagement between a German
The Kriegsmarine was the name of the German Navy during the Nazi regime . It superseded the Kaiserliche Marine of World War I and the post-war Reichsmarine. The Kriegsmarine was one of three official branches of the Wehrmacht, the unified armed forces of Nazi Germany.The Kriegsmarine grew rapidly...

In naval terminology, a destroyer is a fast and maneuverable yet long-endurance warship intended to escort larger vessels in a fleet, convoy or battle group and defend them against smaller, powerful, short-range attackers. Destroyers, originally called torpedo-boat destroyers in 1892, evolved from...

A flotilla , or naval flotilla, is a formation of small warships that may be part of a larger fleet. A flotilla is usually composed of a homogeneous group of the same class of warship, such as frigates, destroyers, torpedo boats, submarines, gunboats, or minesweepers...

, and an Allied destroyer flotilla off the coast of Brittany
Brittany is a cultural and administrative region in the north-west of France. Previously a kingdom and then a duchy, Brittany was united to the Kingdom of France in 1532 as a province. Brittany has also been referred to as Less, Lesser or Little Britain...

. The action came shortly after the initial Allied landings in Normandy. After a confused engagement during the night the Allies sank one of the destroyers and forced the other ashore where she was wrecked.


On 6 June 1944, the day of the first landings in Normandy, the remnants of the German 8th destroyer flotilla, consisting of the Type 36A Z24 and Z32, and the ZH1, were ordered by Vizeadmiral Theodor Krancke
Theodor Krancke
Theodor Krancke was an admiral with the Kriegsmarine during World War II and a recipient of the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves...

 to sail from the Gironde
For the Revolutionary party, see Girondists.Gironde is a common name for the Gironde estuary, where the mouths of the Garonne and Dordogne rivers merge, and for a department in the Aquitaine region situated in southwest France.-History:...

 to Brest
Brest, France
Brest is a city in the Finistère department in Brittany in northwestern France. Located in a sheltered position not far from the western tip of the Breton peninsula, and the western extremity of metropolitan France, Brest is an important harbour and the second French military port after Toulon...

. The order was intercepted by the British which detailed Canadian Bristol Beaufighter
Bristol Beaufighter
The Bristol Type 156 Beaufighter, often referred to as simply the Beau, was a British long-range heavy fighter modification of the Bristol Aeroplane Company's earlier Beaufort torpedo bomber design...

s from RAF Coastal Command
RAF Coastal Command
RAF Coastal Command was a formation within the Royal Air Force . Founded in 1936, it was the RAF's premier maritime arm, after the Royal Navy's secondment of the Fleet Air Arm in 1937. Naval aviation was neglected in the inter-war period, 1919–1939, and as a consequence the service did not receive...

 to attack the German ships as they sailed through the Bay of Biscay
Bay of Biscay
The Bay of Biscay is a gulf of the northeast Atlantic Ocean located south of the Celtic Sea. It lies along the western coast of France from Brest south to the Spanish border, and the northern coast of Spain west to Cape Ortegal, and is named in English after the province of Biscay, in the Spanish...

. In the ensuing raid, the destroyer Z32 was slightly damaged. The German ships made port at Brest, where Z24 and Z32 had their anti-aircraft armament
Anti-aircraft warfare
NATO defines air defence as "all measures designed to nullify or reduce the effectiveness of hostile air action." They include ground and air based weapon systems, associated sensor systems, command and control arrangements and passive measures. It may be to protect naval, ground and air forces...

 increased. They then put to sea again on 8 June in company with T24, the sole survivor of the 4th torpedo boat flotilla, bound for Cherbourg under the command of Theodor von Bechtolsheim, where they would reinforce German positions.

The Allied forces remained aware of the German intentions through Ultra
Ultra was the designation adopted by British military intelligence in June 1941 for wartime signals intelligence obtained by "breaking" high-level encrypted enemy radio and teleprinter communications at the Government Code and Cypher School at Bletchley Park. "Ultra" eventually became the standard...

 intercepts, and detailed the 10th destroyer flotilla to intercept the German ships as they sailed up the English Channel
English Channel
The English Channel , often referred to simply as the Channel, is an arm of the Atlantic Ocean that separates southern England from northern France, and joins the North Sea to the Atlantic. It is about long and varies in width from at its widest to in the Strait of Dover...

. The 10th destroyer flotilla was at this time under the overall command of Captain Basil Jones, who had his flag aboard the Tribal class
Tribal class destroyer (1936)
The Tribal class, or Afridi class, were a class of destroyers built for the Royal Navy, Royal Canadian Navy and Royal Australian Navy that saw service in World War II...

 destroyer . With him were , and , the Canadian ships and , and the Polish vessels ORP Piorun
ORP Piorun (G65)
ORP Piorun was an used by the Polish Navy during the Second World War. The name is Polish for "Thunderbolt".-History:The ship was built by John Brown & Company of Clydebank, Glasgow. She was laid down in July 1939, launched on 7 May 1940 and completed on 4 November 1940...

 and ORP Błyskawica. Jones decided to split his flotilla in two; the 19th Division consisted of the Eskimo, Javelin, Piorun and Błyskawica, the 20th Division consisted of Tartar, Ashanti, Huron and Haida.


The British flotilla were moving westward down the Channel when the German ships were detected by radar just after 01:00 on 9 June. Jones turned his force to meet the Germans, who were by now 30 miles east-northeast of the Ile de Batz
Île de Batz
The Île de Batz is an island off Roscoff in Brittany, France. Administratively, it is a commune in the Finistère department of Brittany in north-western France.-Population:...

. The two flotillas clashed intermittently thereafter, exchanging gunfire and salvoes of torpedoes. Tartar was struck several times, but was able to put out fires and restore her speed. ZH1 was then engaged by both Tartar and Ashanti, with Ashanti launching two torpedoes at point-blank range. One struck ZH1, blowing off her bows. With the ship crippled, her captain, Klaus Barckow gave the order to abandon ship, then scuttled her with depth charges at 02:40. Barckow was among the 39 killed. Twenty-eight managed to reach France, the remaining 140 were picked up by the British.

Haida and Huron had meanwhile been pursuing Z24 and T24 until the German ships ran into a British minefield. The Canadians attempted to detour around it, but eventually lost the Germans. Z24 and T24 regrouped, with the intention of returning to engage the British, but finding they were not being followed, they left the area. Haida and Huron returned to the scene and came across von Bechtolsheim's Z32, which had received a heavy pounding and lost contact with the rest of the Germans. There was some confusion over establishing each other's identity, but when the Canadians discovered she was a German ship they opened fire. von Bechtolsheim fled at high speed, but Z32—having sustained heavy damage—was driven ashore on Ile de Batz and wrecked.
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