World Battlefronts: BATTLE OF BRITAIN: Through The Strait

It was almost a greater humiliation than Singapore. No enemy had even dared such an exploit since 1690, when the French Admiral Tourville defeated the British and the Dutch off Beachy Head and then triumphantly swept along the English coast. The humiliation was not distant; it took place in the Channel itself, named for the homeland, in the Strait named Dover's.

The little German Fleet—the battleships Scharnhorst and Gneisenau, the heavy cruiser Prince Eugen, their destroyers and minesweepers—got proudly through the Channel, 700-odd miles from Brest to their home base in Germany.

The Germans ran a super-gantlet: the British Home Fleet, the...