Twelve commandos left Portsmouth 80 years ago to complete Operation Frankton under the cover of darkness in Bordeaux Harbour. Their mission was to canoe 70 miles up the River Gironde to Bordeaux. and use limpet mines to sink ships preparing to take the latest German equipment to Japan.
There were only two survivors, Major Herbert ‘Blondie’ Hasler and Marine Sparks. The attack struck a significant blow to German shipping in France, helped prove to Germany that no installation was safe from enemy attack and helped boost the morale of the British. The raid was made famous by the 1955 film ‘The Cockleshell Heroes’, which the VCC were honoured to have a cameo appearance in.
Portsmouth City Council marked the anniversary in conjunction with the National Museum of the Royal Navy, the Royal Marines Association and No6 Cinema. A service at Eastney Barracks was held before an unveiling of a new interpretation panel at Lumps Fort and wreath laying at the cockle statue in the Rose Gardens.
VCC Cadet Sergeant Jack McNeill had the honour in reading aloud the Roll of Honour at the service attended by a number of servicing officers, ratings and veterans of the Royal Navy and Royal Marines including Brigadier Sean Brady – Deputy Director of Shipbuilding Programme, who said “It’s a great pleasure and honour to be here today to pay tribute to the extraordinary men who just over 80 years ago executed Operation Frankton, which we all know is arguably the most memorable and daring of the commando raids in the Second World War.
‘The raid was the epitome of a commando operation…the plan was for a small team to push through enemy territory to covertly access the port of Bordeaux – a vital link for sustaining the German war effort logistically.”
The VCC is very proud of our history and connection to the Cockleshell Heroes throughout the years.