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French battleship Bretagne from 1915 history and images

CLASS

BATTLESHIP

ENT/SERVICE 

SEPTEMBER 12th 1915

BUILT

F&CH. DE. LA. MED. / LA SEYNE / FRANCE

WEIGHT

23,230 TONS

LENGTH

554 FEET

WIDTH

88 FEET

SPEED

20 KNOTS - GEARED TURBINES - TWO PROPELLERS

GUNS

10 - 13.4 INCH / 22 - 5.46 INCH / 4 - 17.7 INCH TORPEDOES

ARMOR

10 INCH SIDE / 2.3 INCH DECK / 15.7 INCH TURRET FACES

During World War One, France had a navy consisting of 19 battleships, 32 cruisers, 86 destroyers, 34 submarines and 115 torpedo boats. The Bretagne class battleships were the largest warships in their navy at that time. The other two ships in this class were Province and Lorraine. On October 29th 1914, Turkey joined Germany in attacks on Russian Navy bases in the Black Sea. These attacks gave the Allies no option but to declare war on the Ottoman Empire. Starting February 19th 1915, a combined force of British and French warships bombarded Turkish forts along the Dardanelle’s Strait (the narrow passage that links the Mediterranean Sea to the Black Sea). This action was to pave the way for a land invasion that would involve 480,000 Allied troops at Gallipoli / Turkey.

Battleship Provence image

Throughout the remainder of that war, French warships were mainly used to protect convoys of Allied merchant ships from German submarine attacks in the Mediterranean. Bretagne served with the Mediterranean fleet from 1916 until the end of the war in 1918.

After France surrendered to Germany during WWII, June 22nd 1940, a British taskforce attacked French warships based at Mers El Kebir July 3rd 1940. Several heavy hits from British warships set off massive explosions in Bretagne’s ammunition stores; this led to her capsizing with the loss of 1,012 men. The refusal of the French Commander at Mers El Kebir to join the war against Germany provoked the attack.

Province was one of over 60 French warships scuttled by their crews at Toulon in 1942. The French took this drastic action to stop German forces taking control of their fleet. As the French Navy had no plans for Province after raising her in 1949, she was scrapped in 1951. Lorraine survived both wars only to be dismantled in 1955.

Battleship Lorraine image

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