Do you fancy an 85-mile paddle followed by a 100-mile hike?

If yes, then you should join the Royal Marines Charity and the Naval Service Recovery Centre Hasler in their impressive fitness challenge this December.

Seventy-five years ago, a group of British commandos, forever immortalised as the Cockleshell Heroes, pulled off one of World War Two’s more epic feats.  Operation FRANKTON was a raid against the Kriegsmarine’s base in the German-occupied port of Bordeaux. The mission involved thirteen commandos in six kayaks from the Royal Marines Boom Patrol Detachment (RMBPD), which was later incorporated into the Special Boat Service (SBS).

The plan envisioned a submarine insertion followed by stealthy paddle into Bordeaux.  The raiders would then place limpet mines on every potential target and then escape and evade in neighbouring neutral Spain.

But things quickly turned sour.

One of the kayaks was damaged during the submarine phase.  Nonetheless, the rest of the raiding force decided to press on.  They managed to damage six German ships, but the price was high: of the ten men that reached Bordeaux, only two survived (Major Herbert ‘Blondie’ Hasler and Marine Bill Sparks). Of the remaining eight, two died of hypothermia whilst the other six were caught and executed by the Germans under Hitler’s infamous Commando Directive, which authorized the impromptu killing of any captured Allied special operations soldier or intelligence agent.

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As this December marks the 75th anniversary of the raid, the Royal Marines Charity will be re-enacting Cockleshells’ epic feat.  The 85-mile paddle will trace the Gironde river to Bordeaux followed by an overland 100-mile hike.  If you wish to participate or support the event, you should contact the Royal Marines Charity.

Funds raised will support veteran charities.

Featured image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.