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French destroyer too tall to fit under Tower Bridge is trimmed’

PUBLISHED: 08:00 18 June 2010 | UPDATED: 16:10 05 October 2010

Latouche-Tréville... battling to get up the Thames

Latouche-Tréville... battling to get up the Thames

THIS French naval destroyer was just a bit too tall to get under Tower Bridge when it arrived to celebrate today’s 70th anniversary of General de Gaulle’s historic wartime broadcast on the BBC rallying his country after France fell in 1940

By Mike Brooke

THIS French naval destroyer was just a bit too tall to get under Tower Bridge when it arrived in London yesterday.

The French fleet is in town to celebrate today’s 70th anniversary of General de Gaulle’s historic wartime broadcast on the BBC rallying his country to continue the struggle against German occupation after France fell in 1940.

A flotilla of French warships has berthed on the Thames at HMS President naval base at St Katharine’s-by-The-Tower in tribute.

They include two veteran wartime sailing vessels that dashed across the Channel to Britain to avoid falling into German hands and were later used by Free French forces for secret operations including gun-running to the French Resistance.

The vessels were joined yesterday by the modern-day destroyer Latouche-Tréville.

But its mast was just a tad too high to negotiate the high-level walkway at Tower Bridge.

So French naval engineers back at Brest had to lob off a few feet (in metres) before she weighed anchor for London.

President Sarkozy of France is also in London today to celebrate de Gaulle’s radio address when he visits Broadcasting House.

He later meets Prince Charles to lay wreaths at the statues of King George VI and Queen Elizabeth in The Mall and General de Gaulle at Carlton Gardens where the Free French Government had its wartime HQ, before lunching with the Prime Minister at Downing Street.

In addition, the crew of Latouche-Tréville have been given the honour tomorrow (Saturday) of delivering a barrel of rum to the Constable of the Tower of London.

It is the first time a European ship is taking part in the annual Constable’s Dues ceremony dating back to the 14th century, when conventionally every ship entering the City had to unload a portion of its cargo (usually a barrel of rum) for the Constable, to enjoy the protection of The Tower.


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