The 74th anniversary of the raid on the French port of St Nazaire was commemorated in Falmouth on Sunday with veterans, service personnel and civic dignitaries paying their respects to the 169 men who died and remembering all those who took part.

Ahead of the parade and service, a delegation attended a wreath laying ceremony at the graves of Bill Savage, Tom Parker and Johnny Johnson at Falmouth Cemetery. A little while later the parade formed on The Moor and led by Kernow Pipes and Drums, made its way down to Prince of Wales Pier.

Included in the parade were eight Royal Marine Commandos representing 42 Commando, crew members from HMS Severn, standard bearers from veterans' associations, cadets and councillors, including the mayors of Falmouth and Penryn, John Body and Mark Snowdon.

At the memorial on the pier, the service was led by RNAS Culdrose padre, the Rev Tudor Botwood with Lt Cdr James Reynolds, commanding officer of HMS Severn, reading Sir Francis Drake's Prayer and Captain AG Tulett, Adjt 29 Commando, read a tribute to Operation Chariot. Also taking part were the mayor's chaplain, Father Ian Froom, and Eric Dawkins, representing the St Nazaire Society, who helped organise the event.

After the service, the parade reformed and marched down through the town centre to the Watersports Centre where there was a reception for all those involved.

The St Nazaire Raid, or Operation Chariot, was a successful British amphibious attack on the heavily defended Normandie dry dock at St Nazaire in German-occupied France. The operation was undertaken by the Royal Navy and British Commandos under the auspices of Combined Operations Headquarters on March 28, 1942.

St Nazaire was targeted because the loss of its dry dock would force any large German warship in need of repairs to return to home waters rather than having a safe haven available on the Atlantic coast. The obsolete destroyer HMS Campbeltown, accompanied by 18 smaller craft, crossed the English Channel and was rammed into the Normandie dock gates. The ship had been packed with delayed-action explosives, well hidden within a steel and concrete case, that detonated later that day, putting the dock out of service for the remainder of the war and up to five years after.

A force of commandos landed to destroy machinery and other structures. Heavy German gunfire sank, set ablaze or immobilised all the small craft intended to transport the commandos back to England so the commandos had to fight their way out through the town to try to escape overland. They were forced to surrender when their ammunition was expended and they were surrounded.

Of the 622 men who left Falmouth, 228 returned to Britain, 169 were killed and 215 became prisoners of war. To recognise their bravery, 89 decorations were awarded to members of the raiding party, including five Victoria Crosses.