On Demand Tour: Cockleshell Heroes – Operation Frankton – 1942

Rated 4.9 out of 5
4.9 out of 5 stars (based on 19 reviews)


Battlefield Guide – Dr Robert Lyman

Tour Manager – Dan Hill

Tour length about 75 min

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On a freezing night in December 1942 twelve Royal Marines began to extricate themselves from the Royal Navy submarine HMS Tuna, a few miles off the coast of France. The men’s mission was to travel by night up the river into the heart of Bordeaux, using home-made canvas canoes designed by the mission leader, Major ‘Blondie’ Hasler. Once in the port, they would place limpet mines on the ships they found, many of which were running the Allied blockade to travel as far afield as Japan, carrying military supplies between the Axis partners.

Once the carefully planned attack was over, plans for Phase Two were somewhat thinner. The men were expected to use their own wit and a big dose of luck to escape overland to Spain. In this extraordinary story, only two men survived the raid: Hasler, and his canoe partner, Marine Bill Sparks. Of the others two ripped their canoe when exiting their submarine and returned to the UK in HMS Tuna, two died from hypothermia when their canoe capsized in a vicious tide race at the entrance to the Gironde and six were caught and executed by the Germans under the outrageous terms of Hitler’s Kommandobefehl.

Winston Churchill suggested the mission shortened the Second World War by six months and the commander of Combined Operations, deemed the raid ‘the most courageous and imaginative of all the raids ever carried out by the men of Combined Operations.’ We can agree that although Churchill was exaggerating for effect, the audacity of the raid, and the bravery of those who undertook it, was extraordinary, a lasting tribute to the men of Combined Operations. Long before the Western Allies were able to deploy the weight of their armies on French shores, these men took the war to the enemy, as unflinchingly as David against Goliath.

19 reviews for On Demand Tour: Cockleshell Heroes – Operation Frankton – 1942

Rated 4.9 out of 5
4.9 out of 5 stars (based on 19 reviews)
Very good5%


Rated 5 out of 5
December 29, 2021

Operation Frankton; Really excellent tour, very well presented

Avatar for Garsham Robertson
Garsham Robertson
(verified owner)
Rated 5 out of 5
December 16, 2021

Wonderful story telling. Thank you.

Avatar for neil.davies.OBE
Rated 5 out of 5
December 14, 2021

Well narrated by a man of some presence. In the “ olde school style” this gave some deference to these brave individuals and the incredible story. Great use of tech gave the narrative a realism which enriched the story. I enjoyed the notion promoted by doctor Rob about France being at war with itself. Something which I would like to see explored further. Thank you guys. Much appreciated.

Avatar for John McGeoghan
John McGeoghan
Rated 5 out of 5
December 14, 2021
Avatar for Mickn4
Rated 5 out of 5
December 12, 2021

A superb presentation by Dr Rob Lyman of a raid that I had heard of, having seen Paddy Ashdown’s documentary a few years ago. Rob clears up Paddy’s assertion that SOE were about to blow up the ships. Very useful to see the extraction routes as well.

Avatar for Christopher Netherclift
Christopher Netherclift