Commandos will bring huge rock to island

An artists impression of the COPP memorial on Hayling Island

An artists impression of the COPP memorial on Hayling Island

Naval reservist and teacher AB Emma Cutler helps Isobel Turner, 11, to salute.   PHOTO: Royal Navy

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IT IS a fitting tribute to a team of crack commandos who risked life and limb to set in motion the allied landings in the Second World War.

Robin Walton

Robin Walton

Now preparations are under way to bring the 12-ton block of stone which will commemorate the heroics of the Combined Operation Pilotage Parties (COPP) from its Cornwall quarry to Hayling with the help of the Royal Engineers 24 Regiment.

COPP was an elite unit set up in 1942 at Hayling Island Sailing Club and some of those chosen to join were from the Royal Engineers.

Robin Walton, chairman of the COPP Heroes Memorial Fund, pictured, said he was delighted when 24 Commando agreed to help out. He said: ‘The delivery in itself is going to be fairly awesome because the stone is so big.

‘COPP was mostly made up of Royal Navy and Royal Engineers.

‘That’s why there is such a close connection with the Royal Engineers and why they were so pleased to help us out.

‘It’s going to be a military exercise to bring it to Hayling.

‘The civil engineering firm Marsh Plant Hire has offered the use of a huge crane to lift the stone into place once it arrives.’

The members of the secret unit were trained as frogmen and canoeists for covert beach reconnaissance and other essential clandestine operations.

Only 10 surviving members have been traced and now, all in their 90s.

‘They have been invited to the dedication service in September of the permanent memorial to the team set up by Lord Louis Mountbatten.

His daughter, the Countess Mountbatten, will dedicate the granite monument on behalf of Prince Charles, the patron of the COPP Heroes Memorial Fund.

The stone has been donated by a quarry on Prince Charles’ Duchy of Cornwall estate by an independent stonemason.

Chichester Works Organisation will prepare the base of the large monument.

But more funds are needed to pay for a crane to move it from the quarry, down a rocky road and on to the large lorry provided by the Royal Engineers.

The dedication will be at the end of September and will tie in with the opening of the World War Two heritage trail.

Mr Walton said: ‘People have been very generous indeed but, because of the scale of the project and the number of people involved during the big week, we are concerned that more funds will be needed.’

If you would like to donate please send a cheque payable to the COPP Heroes Memorial Fund to Hayling’s BEST, PO Box 30, Hayling Island PO11 9UD.

Alternatively go to coppheroes.org

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