Operation Terminal (i)

This was a British naval undertaking intended to prevent the Vichy French navy from scuttling its warships and destroying waterfront installations in Algiers harbour at the time when the ‘Torch’ operation was launched (8 November 1942).

The ships involved in this frontal attack on Algiers harbour were the British destroyers Broke and Malcolm, which carried a landing force provided by the US 135th Infantry. At 03.45 Broke, followed by Malcolm, approached the southern entrance to the harbour but could not distinguish it with certainty against the dark background of hills and the bright flashes of searchlights and gunfire. The same happened on the second attempt, and during the third attempt Malcolm was heavily hit and had to withdraw. Dawn was breaking by the time Broke found the entrance right ahead of her, broke through the boom at high speed, and disembarked her landing party on a nearby quay. The landing party soon secured the power station and oil installations, but was then pinned down by machine gun fire. During the following hours Broke twice shifted berth to shelter from fire of the French artillery and harbour batteries. Eventually, at about 09.20 and after some four hours in the harbour, she came under accurate fire from a battery to which she could not reply.

The destroyer thus had to withdraw hurriedly, leaving 250 of the landing party ashore. On the way out Broke was hit repeatedly. The extent of her damage was underestimated, however, and during the following day, while under tow in a rising sea, she sank at a time when she might have been safely berthed in Algiers harbour.