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Cockleshell Heroes

Discussions about those units who make up the Commando’s.
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MattG15679
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Cockleshell Heroes

#1 Post by MattG15679 »

Heres a link some of you might want to have a look at, its the Cockleshell Heroes movie. Fantastic quality. It streams really quick too....bonus!

http://joox.net/cat/2/id/1290911

Enjoy all!!

Matt....... :drinking:

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#2 Post by MattG15679 »

Any good lads?? did the link work ok??

Lilburne

#3 Post by Lilburne »

yeh the link worked mate, i never watched it though, had to go out shopping for my mum, i will watch soon as i get time, then let ya know !

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#4 Post by vwtam »

great film, never seen that one before, will certainly watch it again,

great post mate

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#5 Post by harry hackedoff »

Great film, for sure.
What you have to remember is that real people volunteered for that Op knowing there was no chance of survival and all but two of them were eventually either drowned or hideously tortured and then shot by the Gestapo.

The use of the word "Heroes" in the title has never been more justified in a film about the Second World War. Both of the Survivors were known to many people on here either casually or personally.
Real people, please try and remember them. :wink:
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#6 Post by vwtam »

true true, brave souls thats for sure

Ste Preece
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Great Movie

#7 Post by Ste Preece »

This is undoubtedly a great movie. The mission (Operation Frankton) played a major part in the turning point of world war two.

In December 1942, twelve men set out to execute a daring and imaginative attack on enemy shipping lying in the docks of Bordeaux. There unfolded a war story of great human sacrifice, courage, danger, tenacity and achievement. The mission was called Operation Frankton and the men involved became known as the legendary Cockleshell Heroes. At the outset of the Operation, a succession of disasters left only four men to continue with the mission. Eventually, after a gruelling, covert, canoe journey at night in the depths of winter, they successfully planted their specially designed magnetic ‘limpet' mines on the enemy ships moored in the harbour of Bordeaux. Just two men came back alive.

A great movie and strongly recommended.


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#8 Post by sneaky beaky »

The movie was awful and a bit of an embarrassment. Particularly in the portrayel of the two officers - Jose Ferrer as Blondie Haslar and Trevor Howard as his so called 2 I/C. But I suppose it added human interest.
Tony Newley was an interesting choice as Bill Sparkes!

You needed to speak to both men who survived, to get the true story. They were very different characters than those portrayed in the film. Different names too!!

You will get a very much better picture from the book of the same name. It is by Paul Brickhill, I think. He also wrote "The Dambusters" and "Enemy Coast Ahead", about The RAF. He seemed to keep to the facts while telling a good story!!

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#9 Post by beardo »

Yeah great film that..remember watching it in training when we were supposed to be doing FX2 on dartmoor...thank fook for the clag!

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#10 Post by Tab »

Sparks if remember rightly was a bus driver out of Hendon garage for many a year then became an Inspector, Met him a few times a nice chap

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#11 Post by Rover »

Danielchristopherlee,

With regards to your remark;
I confess I have not read any material, nor researched, nor do I claim to have any great knowledge of the operation.
Now that is a 'valid point'.

Rover

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#12 Post by Rover »

Daniel,

You seem very keen on your 'valid points' that you miss the obvious one!
I confess I have not read any material, nor researched, nor do I claim to have any great knowledge of the operation.
You are happy to castigate those who planned the operation and conclude that that other options would have been far better.
On what evidence?

Now some of the facts.

In 1941 an initial proposal was done regarding attacking shipping and harbours using both canoes and underwater swimmers. This by a Royal Marine, one Major H Hasler.
These plans where layed to oneside until later a plan was made code name 'Frankton'.The major part of the planning being done by one Lt Commander G P L'Estrange RNVR.
On 21st September 1942 Major H Hasler was called in to give his opinion on the feasibility of the operation. After which he submitted his written plan for Operation Frankton.

Prior to this all other options had been carefully examined, Haslers plan being the one considered to be the best one with any chance of success.
Needless to say during the training various things where fine tuned and revised.

Bombing the targets was ruled out due to the danger to the French civilian population.

Dropping the team in by parachute!
German fighters? Distance to cover? Available aircraft? What about the DZ, location, security, transport???
Canoe 105lbs + stores 60lbs not to mention twelve men?

Resistance?
Remember this is 1942, not as fully organised as in 1944!
How do you contact , not every cell had a radio set or operator!
If the Resistance was informed, perhaps a bigger chance of being compromised! Again look at the parachute option???
The escape plan was to head north 160km towards Ruffec in the anticipation that the Resistance would be on the look out for 'escapers'.

Was the Resistance so organised in Bordeaux that they could have done the job?
Unlikely, plus if they had what would have been the German reaction to the local population?

You see the preperation and planning was done.
Although the 'tide race' was missed.

It is interesting to note that the one person involved from day one in the planning and the execution of Operation Frankton was Major H Hasler aka Blondie.

Have an opinion by all means, but it does help if it is an educated opinion.

I to have also spent time with and spoken with various veterans.

I have even spoken with veterans about Operation Frankton.

That is both Blondie Hasler and Bill Sparks.

Rover

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#13 Post by timex »

Christopher, this is taken off another site, in it you can see Lord Mountbatten had doubts about the raid and the chances of anyone surviving. However when you look at the damage done I suppose that the powers that be thought it was worth the risk.

As to the Parachuting aspect, wasn't one of the reasons for discounting it actually gaining access to the ships alongside which would have been almost impossible from the land side given the amount of security?


By late 1941 the constraints on mercantile movement, particularly by sea, were imposing severe hardships on both the British and the Germans. Neither country possessed sufficient natural resources to wage a war at the scale then being carried out, and both were dependent on external sources of supply. In particular the Germans needed oil, rubber and tungsten, and certain other essential metals and alloys. Vital supplies of these products from the Far East were reaching the Germans by "blockade runners" using the port of Bordeaux1,2.

Major HG "Blondie" Hasler Royal Marines was at this time serving in the Combined Operations organisation, the head of which was Lord Mountbatten. A keen sailor, with an inventive mind, he was working on methods of attacking shipping while in harbour. He developed a suitable canoe for this task, which was able to carry 2 men with 75 kg of stores, and which would fit through the fore hatch of a submarine. The organisation of some 34 men, that was set up to train with these canoes and develop the necessary techniques, was given the cover title of The Royal Marines Boom Patrol Detachment, and in September 1942 took on the task of attacking shipping in Bordeaux3,4. Whilst this was not the first time canoes had been used to attack German shipping, the mission had invariably been carried out in one night. This was something quite different: an attack on an enemy port, some 60 miles from the sea, with an escape route overland. Although he approved the plan, Lord Mountbatten had his doubts that any of them would return.
During the evening of 7 December 1942 the submarine HMS TUNA surfaced off the mouth of the Gironde, and launched 10 men in 5 canoes5. All was well until they reached tide races at the mouth of the river, where two canoes were lost. Canoeing by night, with the tide, and lying up by day, over several days, two pairs made it to the port (another pair's canoe was wrecked on an obstacle). One of the crews was Maj Hasler with Mne Bill Sparks, the other was Cpl Albert Laver and Mne Bill Mills. Limpet mines were placed on a number of ships, and these two crews then made their way down river, where they destroyed their canoes, and separately made their way cross country north east, through German occupied France, towards Ruffec, to make contact with the Resistance. After many hair raising incidents and much hardship, Hasler and Sparks succeeded in reaching this town, some 100 miles from where they left their canoes, and successfully linked up with the Resistance : they finally arrived home, after crossing the Pyrenees into neutral Spain, some 4 months after the raid. Laver and Mills were caught by the French police and handed over to the Germans: they were executed with 2 others, 3 months later.

The raid was successful in that 5 ships were badly damaged6: perhaps more importantly the success was a much needed tonic for the British, for whom 1942 had been a disastrous year. There was a price to pay: 10 men set off; 2 escaped successfully, 2 were drowned, and 6 were caught or betrayed, and executed by the Germans. Maj Hasler was awarded the DSO, and Mne Sparks the DSM: Cpl Laver and Mne Mills received posthumous Mentions in Dispatches.

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#14 Post by timex »

Perhaps the local resistance were having security problems of their own? It was a very diffficult time for the various networks operating in France at the time and a lot were compromised.

The following sites in France are associated with the raid:
St Georges de Didonne (near Royan). Adjacent to the lighthouse on the headland, overlooking the mouth of the Gironde, there is a memorial to the raiders.

Bordeaux.. On the quayside (Quai des Chartrons), near the permanently moored cruiser "Colbert" (about 500 m downstream from it), is an exhibition centre, called "Hangar 14": outside it is a memorial to the raid9, unveiled by the Duke of Kent and the Mayor of Bordeaux in December 2002 - easy walking distance from the centre of town.

Blanquefort. Just outside Bordeaux. The Château du Dehez, also known as Château Magnol, and the head office of the wine company Barton & Guestier, was the location of the German WW2 naval HQ, and the site of the execution of Sgt Wallace and Mne Ewart. There is a plaque on the bullet scarred wall10 where they died. This is private property, and permission needs to be obtained to visit. There is a ceremony here annually around the anniversary of the raid - 12 December.

Plaques / monuments at places associated with the raid have recently been unveiled as follows:

Napres - The "Fiery Woodman's" cottage (see "Cockleshell Heroes" by CE Lucas-Phillips). June 2002. About 5 mins by car south of St Preuil, past a cemetery on the left, at the crest of a hill, a track leads off to the left. Private property, but the plaque can be viewed on the outside wall

Ruffec - The Toque Blanche restaurant. At the end of their 100 mile cross country escape, Maj Hasler and Mne Sparks were lucky to meet up with French people who put them in touch with the Resistance. Plaque to the left of the door unveiled 2002.

Pointe de Grave, plaque on the lighthouse, and on monument (face lighthouse entrance door, take path to right, 200m). These commemorate the site where Sgt Wallace and Mne Ewart came ashore, and were subsequently captured. Plaque dates from 2003.

St Vivien du Medoc. From town square drive to the beach at St Vivien: memorial with plaque stands at the end of the road to the beach in the car park. Site of the first day's hide for the two successful pairs of canoeists. Plaque 2003.

Montlieu la Garde (about 60 Km NE of Bordeaux on the N 10 Bordeaux - Paris road). Names of Cpl Laver and Mne Mills added to the war memorial in the town centre11. 10 Jun 04.

Chez Ouvrard. The farm building where Cpl Laver and Mne Mills spent their last night of freedom - they were arrested the next day in Montlieu. Plaque unveiled 10 Jun 04 by the sisters of Cpl Laver, and brother of Mne Mills. To find this site you will need a detailed map. Leave the N 10 at the exit for Montlieu - this is the D 730 road., and fork right onto the D258 at Les Cuisinères. Follow it south passing a memorial to the crew of a Flying Fortress bomber that crashed nearby, and turn left on the D 259. Pass Les Barres , and take the track right at Pt 111. The building is on the right after about 250 m.

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#15 Post by timex »

The info about Frankton is open source on the net, usually from one of the RM sites, (Type in Op Frankton on your search engine), as to the methods of insertion etc it would be very difficult of you, me or your French SAS mate to critique tactics used over 67yrs ago.

Shaun

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