I was reading this David Pryce-Jones article when I came across the reference to Mers El-Kebir and a peculiar WWII episode where the British fired on and sank French naval vessels so that they would not fall into the hands of the Germans.  I say peculiar, but the history of the war is filled with all sorts of unusual stories and one could probably spend a lifetime reading all of them.  Mers El-Kebir is the Francophone transliteration of the Arabic al-mers al-kabeer, which means “the big harbor”.  The Wikipedia article has a good account of the battle. More here.