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 12, 2021

Rob and Dan, Thank you for a great presentation. So interesting and informative, I was aware of Op Frankton but to hear Rob speak tonight and dispel some of the rumours I had previously heard. Another location to visit to remember the sacrifice of those who did not return.

Avatar for Michael Smith
Michael Smith
Rated 5 out of 5
December 12, 2021

A very technically competent, multi disciplinary tour delivered by Dr Rob who speaks with passion, enthusiasm and undoubted expertise. Hugely entertaining, informative and recommended. Thanks guys.

Avatar for Paul Simcox
Paul Simcox
Rated 5 out of 5
December 12, 2021

Fantastic presentation of an action I had never heard of. Great work by all involved. Keep it up!

Avatar for Ed Fewer
Ed Fewer
Rated 5 out of 5
December 12, 2021

It was great and I learned so much, especially about resistance & “regular folks”.
These are all spectacular & allow you to “travel to” the sites.

Avatar for cola757
Rated 5 out of 5
December 12, 2021

Absolutely riveting telling of a successful but ultimately tragic operation. Highly recommended.

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Dave Clark
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