Cockleshell tribute for new countryside trail

DESIGNS The Rose Garden
DESIGNS The Rose Garden
The Russian destroyer Vice Admiral Kulakov as seen from HMS Somerset in the Moray Firth

Royal Navy ship shadows a Russian destroyer

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A NEW memorial to the Cockleshell heroes of the Second World War is being planned for Portsmouth.

It will form part of the 50-mile Shipwrights Way trail, which starts off at Alice Holt forest near Farnborough and wends its way south to Rowlands Castle, Hayling Island and finishes at Portsmouth Historic Dockyard.

In total, 20 sculptures will be placed along the route, with the Cockleshell monument being installed in January as long as it is given planning permission by Portsmouth City Council.

The Cockleshell Heroes were 12 Royal Marines whose mission was to paddle tiny canoes up the Gironde Estuary to Bordeaux and attach limpet mines to cargo ships.

Of the 12 who set out, only two returned alive, in a mission which Winston Churchill described as having shortened the length of the war by at least six months.

They prepared for their mission by paddling in the Solent off Southsea, and their base was within Lumps Fort.

Shipwrights Way project officer Cath Hart said: ‘They trained in the part of Lumps Fort which is now the Rose Garden, so that’s why we want to put the sculpture there.

‘It’s one of 20 sculptures that will be put along the Shipwrights Way, either to represent the wildlife there or the history of each point.

‘We ran a series of workshops asking people for their opinions, and this came out of it.’

The sculpture has been designed by artist Richard Perry, and features a cockleshell on top of a plinth, in which has been embedded the shape of a paddle.

The trail has been developed jointly by the South Downs National Park, East Hants District Council, the Forestry Commission, and Hampshire County Council.

‘Oak and other timber was grown in the Alice Holt forest and, particularly in the Tudor and Napoleonic times, it would have been used for ship building.

‘Because the Mary Rose, Warrior and Victory are based in Portsmouth we have finished the trail there. It’s not necessarily the route the timber would have taken, but it’s a nice path through the countryside.’