Cockleshell Raid by Paul Oldfield

By Paul Oldfield

Operation Frankton is a narrative of the way a handful of decided and creative males, utilizing flimsy canoes, completed what millions couldn't via traditional potential. The volunteers had enlisted for Hostilities in simple terms and, aside from their chief, none have been in a canoe sooner than. although, with a couple of months education they performed what one German officer defined as, «the notable commando raid of the war». They grew to become referred to as the Cockleshell Heroes, having been immortalized in a movie and a publication of that identify within the Nineteen Fifties.

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According to Sparks, Fisher was also accident-prone. On one canoe exercise they were to drop a 5 lbs charge overboard. Fisher crimped the fuse to initiate it, dropped the pliers overboard and the charge into the bottom of the canoe; a mad scramble followed to jettison it before it exploded. Sparks was pleased to join Haslar while Fisher teamed up with Ellery. After these initial teething problems, the crews settled down fairly quickly. Gradually they became fitter; Stewart and Laver paddled 34 miles in a single night.

The establishment was also amended; each section was reduced by two Marines and a Maintenance Section of a Sub Lieutenant and 11 Royal Navy ratings was added. The total strength was 46 all ranks. Haslar threw himself into a programme of self-training. Night after night he went out in a canoe or dinghy and was arrested twice, but on 4 June he managed to get inside the harbour unchallenged after an all night patrol. He also had a myriad of details to contend with – varnish for the canoes, camouflage cream, fluorescent paint to find items in the dark, paddles showing the smallest silhouette but able to push a canoe off a beach, how to navigate and many others.

Most did not know CODC had moved, enabling Haslar to demand all sorts of stores. Ironically when he needed a boat he turned to the Army and for cars the Navy. Colour Sergeant WJ ‘Bungy’ Edwards, a Regular pensioner recalled on the outbreak of war, stood no nonsense from the youngsters, but also did everything he could for them. Haslar went to see Lieutenant Colonel Joseph Picton-Phillipps for advice. He was training the first Royal Marines Commando on the Isle of Wight at the time and was killed a few months later on the Dieppe Raid.

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