Cockleshell heroes are remembered with plaque

Ron Locke, chairman of the southern region of the Royal Marines Association and Royal Marines historian Mark Bentinck in front of the blue plaque in Spencer Road where the Cockleshell raid was planned ''''Picture Mick Young: (123282-03)
Ron Locke, chairman of the southern region of the Royal Marines Association and Royal Marines historian Mark Bentinck in front of the blue plaque in Spencer Road where the Cockleshell raid was planned ''''Picture Mick Young: (123282-03)
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THEY risked their lives by sinking German warships in Bordeaux during the Second World War.

Now 10 heroic men famously known as the ‘Cockleshell Heroes’ have been remembered in Portsmouth.

Portsmouth City Council leader Gerald Vernon-Jackson and members of The Royal Marines Association (RMA) revealed a plaque on a house in Spencer Street, Southsea, where officers Lieutenant John MacKinnon and Major Blondie Hasler stayed prior to their mission.

The blue monument was commissioned by the council because the RMA wanted something special to be done to mark the 70th anniversary of the raid in December 1942.

A plaque will also be revealed later on a building in Worthing Road, Southsea, where the rest of the men lived.

David Evans, monuments and memorials officer for the council, attended the unveiling ceremony this afternoon.

‘We hope this will raise the profile of this important part of history,’ he said.

‘People will now be able to walk past and find out more about the lives of these men.’

The Cockleshell Heroes left their submarine HMS Tuna off the coast of France and headed to Bordeaux Harbour in pursuit of enemy warships in canoes.

When the men arrived they sank one Nazi ship and severely damaged four others using mines.

Two of the men drowned after attempting to escape afterwards and six others were captured by the Germans and executed.

Two others – Major Blondie Hasler and Marine Bill Sparks, made it back to the UK unharmed. Ron Locke, chairman of the RMA Southern Region, said: ‘This is something that needed doing. It fits in well with our other plans for the anniversary of the raid.’ Elizabeth Printer, 47, who lives in Spencer Road, added: ‘This is an amazing part of history. These men should be an inspiration to the youth of today.’

On November 4 the RMA will place a memorial near the Royal Marines Museum, Eastney, in memory of the men. Lord Paddy Ashdown will be the guest of honour.