23rd-25th, Dakar Expedition, Operation ‘Menace’ - Because of Dakar’s strategic importance to the North and South Atlantic shipping routes, an expedition was mounted to acquire the port for Allied use. Free French troops led by Gen de Gaulle were carried in ships escorted and supported by units of the Home Fleet and Force H under the command of Vice-Adm John Cunningham. They included battleships Barham and Resolution, carrier Ark Royal, three heavy cruisers and other smaller ships including Free French. Naval forces at Dakar included the unfinished battleship “Richelieu” and two cruisers recently arrived from Toulon (see below). Attempts to negotiate on the 23rd soon failed and as Vichy French ships tried to leave harbour, shore batteries opened fire, damaging heavy cruiser Cumberland and two destroyers. Shortly afterwards, the Vichy submarine “PERSEE” was sunk by gunfire and large destroyer “L’AUDACIEUX” disabled by cruiser Australia and beached. A Free French landing was beaten off. Next day, on the 24th , Dakar was bombarded by the warships and “Richelieu” attacked by “Ark Royal’s” aircraft. Vichy submarine “AJAX” was sunk by destroyer “Fortune”. The bombardment continued on the 25th , but battleship “Resolution” was torpedoed and badly damaged by submarine “Beveziers”, and “Barham” hit by “Richelieu’s” 15in gunfire. At this point the operation was abandoned and the Anglo-Free French forces withdrew.