A Brilliant Little Operation: The Cockleshell Heroes and the by Paddy Ashdown

By Paddy Ashdown

The entire tale of the impressive canoe raid on German ships in Bordeaux Harbour – by means of the fellow who himself served within the specified Boat Squadron.

In 1942, sooner than El Alamein became the tide of warfare, the German service provider fleet was once re-supplying its conflict computer with impunity. So Operation Frankton, a bold and mystery raid, was once introduced by way of Mountbatten’s mixed Operations and led via the enigmatic ‘Blondie’ Hasler – to paddle ‘Cockleshell’ canoes correct into Bordeaux harbour and sink the ships at anchor.

It used to be a desperately harmful venture from the beginning – dropped by way of submarine to canoe a few hundred miles up the Gironde into the guts of Vichy France, surviving terrifying tidal races, in basic terms to stand the largest problem of all: escaping around the Pyrenees. Fewer than part the lads made it to Bordeaux; in simple terms 4 laid their mines; simply bought again alive. however the such a lot harm used to be performed to the Germans’ feel of impregnability.

Paddy Ashdown, himself a member of the Royal Marines’ elite specific Boat Squadron shaped due to Frankton, has regularly been enthusiastic about this vintage tale of bravery and ingenuity - as a tender guy even assembly his hero Hasler as soon as. Now, after learning formerly unseen information and tracing surviving witnesses, he has written the definitive account of the raid. the true fact, he discovers – a deplorable story of Whitehall contention and breakdowns in verbal exchange – serves merely to make the achievements of the ‘Cockleshell’ heroes all of the extra heroic.

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The Fw 190 then did a violent snap roll to the right followed by a tight spin. Streamers were coming off his wingtips and tail surfaces and he spun right in, exploding. ' Blue Flight, with Capt Don Bochkay leading, was flying above Green Flight. Just after the four Mustangs dropped their tanks and started to turn, Bochkay looked up into the sun and spotted 'four Fw 190s coming down on us followed by four Me 109s. They went past us and broke into Green Flight, dead astern'. Green leader on this occasion was future triple ace Capt Robert Foy; 'They fired and passed over the top of my flight, making a turn to cut us off.

I saw no parachute'. Jenkins and Perry, now flying at low altitude, then sighted a single Fw 190 flying parallel to a railway track and they dived to intercept. Before Jenkins could fire, however, the Fw 190 pulled up, rolled, clipped a group of trees and crashed into the ground in a ball of fire. The squadron claimed a total of eight kills, with additional victories being credited to future aces Lts John Kirla and 'Chuck' Weaver. In two days the 357th FG had downed 45 enemy aircraft at a cost of seven aircraft, with three pilots killed, two captured and two evading.

It lost a wing while chasing enemy fighters near Naumberg on 2 November 1944, resulting in the death of Giarizzo (Olmsted via Roeder) Mustangs line the airfield at Piryatin folllowing their arrival in the Ukraine during the afternoon of 6 August 1944. Second from the camera is Capt John Pugh's P-51B10 42-106473 Geronimo. He would claim his sixth, and last, kill in this aircraft the following day over Krakow, Poland (Olmsted via Roeder) attack on the Focke-Wulf plant at Rahmel. Nine Fw 190s were spotted just after making landfall, but the German fighters made no move to intercept them.

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