Bretagne Class Battleship
The Bretagne class battleships were the first "super-dreadnoughts" built for the French Navy during the First World War. The class comprised three vessels: Bretagne, the lead ship, Provence, and Lorraine. They were an improvement of the previous Courbet-class battleship, and mounted ten 340 mm (13.4 in) guns instead of twelve 305 mm (12.0 in) guns as on the Courbets. A fourth was ordered by the Greek Navy, though work was suspended due to the outbreak of the war. The three completed ships were named after French provinces.
The three ships saw limited service during World War I, and were primarily occupied with containing the Austro-Hungarian Navy in the Adriatic Sea. After the war, they conducted training cruises in the Mediterranean and participated in non-intervention patrols off Spain during the Spanish Civil War. After the outbreak of World War II, the ships were tasked with convoy duties and anti-commerce raider patrols until the fall of France in June 1940. Bretagne and Provence were sunk by the British Royal Navy during the Attack on Mers-el-Kébir the following month; Provence was later raised and towed to Toulon, where she was again scuttled in November 1942. Lorraine was disarmed by the British in Alexandria and recommissioned in 1942 to serve with the Free French Naval Forces. She provided gunfire support during Operation Dragoon, the invasion of southern France, and shelled German fortresses in northern France. She survived as a gunnery training ship and a floating barracks until the early 1950s, before being broken up for scrap in 1954. Bretagne and Provence were scrapped in 1952 and 1949, respectively.
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“There is a struggle between the Oriental and the Occidental in every nation; some who would be forever contemplating the sun, and some who are hastening toward the sunset. The former class says to the latter, When you have reached the sunset, you will be no nearer to the sun. To which the latter replies, But we so prolong the day.”
—Henry David Thoreau (18171862)