During the afternoon of June 22, 1940, the French destroyer Hardi was off the northwestern coast of Morocco. On board was the Commander in Chief, Naval Forces Western France, Admiral de Laborde. At 1530 he ordered the signal hoisted: “Show your colors.” An hour later as his small flagship stood in toward the approaches to Casablanca, the Admiral had another run up: “Make best of way to anchorage.”
The signals were answered by two other destroyers, the Épée on the starboard bow and the Mameluk abeam to starboard. In the center of the DD screen, about 1,000 yards off the Hardi’s quarter, the hoists were repeated by a battleship flying the tricolor of France. This was the Jean Bart, and although she showed a good bow wave as an indication of her anxiety to reach the Moroccan port, to a seaman’s practiced eye she presented a strange appearance.