The Cockleshell Heroes! The Cockleshell Heroes raided Nazi-occupied Bordeaux in 1942. The Cockleshell Heroes target was the harbor in Bordeaux. They succeeded in sinking one ship and severely damaging four others and doing enough damage to greatly disrupt the use of the harbor for months to come. Such was the significance of the raid, that Winston Churchill said that it helped to shorten to World War Two by six months.
For a number of months during the war, merchant ships had used Bordeaux to supply the German military that was stationed in that part of France. German U-boats used the area as a base. Any supply ships that came through the English Channel could be dealt with but plenty of merchant ships were willing to sail to Bordeaux harbor via the Mediterranean and there was little the British Navy could do about it. A raid by bombers would have led to many civilian casualties so this was excluded.
The task of the Cockleshell Heroes was simple destroy as many ships in the harbor as was possible so that the harbor itself would be blocked with wreckage, thus rendering it incapable of fully operating as a harbor. This was to be called Operation Frankton.
The Cockleshell Heroes were Royal Marine Commandos. These men got their nickname as the canoes they were to use were nicknamed cockles. After months of training, they were ready to set-off for their target except that none of them knew what their target was. This was only made known to them once the submarine HMS Tuna had surfaced off of the French coast.
Tags: The Cockleshell Heroes, Dangerous Missions, Operation Frankton, Royal Marines, Nazi Europe, Bordeaux, Mission, Gestapo, Raid, Gendarmerie, Betrayed, Executed, Failed, Death
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