This is coolbert:
From my blog entry on Zeebrugge and St. Nazaire:
“Both at Zeebrugge and St. Nazaire, British casualties were very high, even catastrophic [??]! One must always balance, in the aftermath, the gains with the losses. THE VERY NATURE OF THESE SPECIAL OPERATIONS MISSIONS USUALLY ENTAILS HEAVY LOSS!!”
Gains versus the losses. That is the question here. Conventional military officers of all services would ask the question - - for what was achieved, was it worth the cost - - and could it have been done another and easier way??!! Especially in the case of St. Nazaire, the commando units going ashore suffered inordinate losses. Very elite troops of the highest caliber expended - - for the necessary gain?
Gains at St Nazaire? YES, definitely! The Normandie dock was put out of commission of the duration of the war. For the remainder of the war, German battleships were unable to sortie directly into the Atlantic to attack allied convoys or obtain repair without returning to a German home port! This is obviously a plus!
Could the St. Nazaire mission have been accomplished in another way? Undoubtedly it was suggested to use mass pinpoint or saturation bombing by heavy RAF bombers. There would have been, however, drawbacks to this approach too. PINPOINT BOMBING DURING WORLD WAR TWO [WW2] WAS NEVER EFFECTIVE! Repeated bombing missions often failed to hit their targets by MILES!! And even when targets were hit, the German was usually pretty good at repairing damage in short order. Churchill ruled out saturation bombing as being too destructive?? Collateral damage to the city of St. Nazaire proper would be excessive and create too much anger and hate among the French people. After all, it was they [the French] the allies sought to liberate!!
As a morale booster, St. Nazaire had a similar effect as did the World War One [WW1] expedition to Zeebrugge. “We are fighting back [this was 1942, after all], we are hitting the enemy where he lives, we are making the enemy keep his head down, we are making him bleed and wonder where we are coming from!!!”
Pinpoint, “surgical strikes” from the air was not possible at the time. You go with what you got and hope for the best. A lot of considerations are taken into account before deciding what to do. St. Nazaire was successful, albeit with heavy British casualties, but the objective was obtained, and the lives of a lot of French save in the process! That was as good as it was going to get? I think so!