As the German soldiers and sailors prepare to board the warship, the officer in charge shouts, "Surprise! Surprise! Surprise Admiral De Laborde, you must turn your ship over to us immediately! There is nothing you can do that will keep us from claiming it for Der Fuhrer, Adolf Hitler!" The Admiral shouted back gleefully, "Surprise! Surprise! Surprise! To you too! My warship was scuttled over an hour ago! Der Fuhrer will have to get along without it! The hold is about three-fourths full of water and the TNT charges will explode any minute!" A German officer called out, "Admiral, my commanding officer sends word that you have his greatest respect." Then the Germans hastily retreated, as the sound of explosions came from different parts of the ship! Slowly the Strasbourg sank, on an even keel, to the bottom of the bay. Finally, only the main mast and part of the super-structure still remained above the water.
Admiral Laborde, high and dry in the captain's cabin, refused positively to leave his warship, so the German commander, Johannes Blaskowitz, decided to leave him there, for technically, he had gone down with his ship. Finally, the French Prime Minister, Henri Phillipe Petain, ordered him to leave with this message: I have learned at this instant that your ship is sinking. I order you to leave it without delay. So, the Admiral goes ashore to surrender, with a big smirk on his face.
The French submarine Iris dives and escapes to the seaport of Barcelona, Spain. The French submarine Glorieux escapes to the seaport of Oran, Algeria. Likewise, the French submarines Casablianca, Fresnel, and Marsouin all escape to the seaport of Algiers, Algeria in North Africa. Meanwhile, back in the seaport of Toulon, it is an incredible sight to behold. The towns-people are clapping and cheering, while the German troops are dismayed and dumbfounded! Despite their orders, all they can do is stand around and watch the spectacle. All over the large harbor, warship after warship is scuttled and blown up.
Here is the incredible list of the scuttled French warships: Battle cruisers (battleships), Strasbourg, Dunkerque, and Provence. One seaplane tender: The Commandant Teste. Heavy cruisers: Duplex, Foch, Colbert, and Algerie. Light cruisers: Marseillaise, Jean De Vienne, and La Galissonniere. Destroyers: Cassard, Aigle, Gerfaut, Lion, Linx, Mogador, Tigre, Tartu, Vauban, Vautour, Indomptable, Kersaint, Valmy, Vauquelin, and Guepard. Torpedo boats: Casque, Bison, Fourdroyant, Siroco, Mars, Palme, Hardi, Mamelouk, Bourdelais, Bayonnaise, Trombe, Poursuivante, and Cyclone. Submarines: Redoutable, Diamant, Sirene, Vengeur, Pascal, Acheron, Venus, Caiman, Alatee, Eurydice, Thetis, Naiade, and Espoir. Sloops (a sloop is just a little smaller that a torpedo boat): Eparagne, Chamois, Impetuese, Grant, Iberville, Yser, Curieuse, and Dedaigneuse. Also, 19 unnamed auxiliary ships, 1 school ship, 28 tugboats, and 4 cranes were also scuttled. Oil polluted the harbor so badly; it was two years before it was possible to swim there.
From the high hills around the bay of Toulon, people are provided with flames and fireworks for at least 10 days. General Charles De Gaulle, head of the French government in exile, heavily criticized the French admirals for not ordering the whole fleet to Algiers, but it would have taken almost 5 hours to work up a sufficient steam to move out. This was indeed one of the most fantastic, heart rending, and yet heroic deeds the French sailors achieved during World War II! This act certainly shortened the length of the war considerably! "Vive La France" (Long Live France) "Appareillage" (Set Sail)
Book of Knowledge The Children's Encyclopedia Grolier Inc. Vol 10
H.S. Stuttman Inc. Vol 2-18-13
Scuttling of the French Fleet in Toulon
Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia
The Fleet Without a Friend John Vader