-History of H.M.S. Hood-
Efforts to Return French Mers El-Kebir Dead to France
Updated 07-May-2014

In July 1940, the Royal Navy was forced to carry out a highly distasteful act- the destruction of the French Fleet at Oran/Mers El-Kebir, Algeria. This controversial action left over 1,300 Frenchmen dead and buried in Algeria. Now, their relatives want to bring them home.

In July 1940, the British government were very concerned by the recent French surrender to Nazi Germany. They felt betrayed at what was believed by many to be essentially a surrender without a fight. They were also concerned about the disposition of French military assets- most notably their fleet. If the fleet followed the Vichy governments lead, it could possibly surrender itself to Germany. This would give the dreaded Kriegsmarine a significant number of warships to use in its war against Great Britain.

Though highly unlikely, this possibility was unacceptable to the British government. They decreed it necessary to either bring the ships over to the Allied cause, have them sent to a neutral port or destroy them. The Royal Navy dispatched "Force H" led by Hood to present the French with the choices via an ultimatum. The attempt to resolve the situation via forced diplomacy failed. In the end, over 1,300 Frenchmen lost their lives. The event has remained an ugly spectre which has overshadowed UK-French relations ever since.

Remembering the Lost
The survivors and families of the lost men eventually formed the Association Mers El-Kebir de 03 July 1940. Upon visiting the cemetery in Algeria, they found it to be in a shockingly deplorable state. It was in disrepair overall with many of the graves damaged/desecrated. The situation was truly appalling.

The Association then began to clean up the site plus start a drive to get the French government to remove the bodies and re-inter them in Brittany, France. Members of the Association have since created a new organisation, L'Association des Anciens Marins de Mers-el-Kébir. Our Association believes in the aims of the L'Association des Anciens Marins de Mers-el-Kébir and hopes that others will do their part in helping them attain their goals. Please visit their website by clicking here.

Also, please see the following video: Mers-el-Kébir profantion 2005

Assorted Photos of the Cemetery
More photos are available on the MEK Association website

Photos of French Sailors, crewmen of the Bretagne...all were lost at Mers El-Kebir    Photos of French Graves in Mers El-Kebir taken in 1961    Photos of French Graves in Mers El-Kebir today    Photos of French Graves in Mers El-Kebir today    Photos of French Graves in Mers El-Kebir today    Photos of French Graves in Mers El-Kebir today