New Monument for Cockleshell Heroes
|4:45:01 PM, Friday, April 01, 2011|
"A memorial to Second World War heroes who canoed almost 100 miles into occupied France to blow up enemy ships was unveiled yesterday after a Telegraph-backed fund-raising campaign.
The raid by the "Cockleshell Heroes" in December 1942 was so important that Winston Churchill reportedly claimed it could have shortened the war by six months.
But despite their actions being immortalised in film just over a decade later, there has until now been no public monument to recognise the bravery of the ten men.
In October we reported how Maj Malcolm Cavan, former head of the Special Boat Service, had begun raising money for a memorial at La Pointe de Grave, at the mouth of the Gironde river where the mission code-named "Operation Frankton" took place.
The appeal had stalled somewhat short of its £70,000 target, but thanks to a magnificent response from Telegraph readers the remaining £20,000 was delivered within a matter of days, allowing the project to go ahead.
The memorial is a fitting tribute to the men, all of whom had responded to an advertisement for "volunteers for hazardous service" but only two of whom survived the ordeal.
On December 7, 1942, five canoes launched from His Majesty's Submarine Tuna and headed through the night for the French coast, carrying the team who became the forerunners to the SBS.
Their mission was to plant limpet mines on a group of merchant ships 100 miles upstream in the harbour of Bordeaux, which were used to ferry supplies between Germany and Japan.
To succeed they would have to paddle through several nights, spending the days concealed on the isolated riverbank while negotiating the treacherous currents of the Gironde..."