MODEL Jodie Kidd joined former members of the Royal Navy’s elite special forces team to paddle down the Thames in a warm-up for a charity challenge.
They will retrace the route of one the Second World War’s most audacious raids.
The effort to raise cash for members of the special forces injured on duty will celebrate the heroism of the Portsmouth-based Cockleshell Heroes.
After months of training on Canoe Lake and off Southsea beach, in 1942 the ten Royal Marine commandos based at Eastney Barracks were taken by submarine to France for Operation Frankton.They paddled by canoe to attack ships in the German-occupied port of Bordeaux.
The raid, which helped lead to the formation of the Special Boat Service, came at a terrible cost - only two of the men survived their perilous mission.
To mark the 75th anniversary of the operation in September, a team will undertake a sponsored 70-mile paddle along the Gironde River route taken by the commandos.
As they took part in a training day on the Thames they were met by former Liberal Democrat leader Lord Ashdown, who is patron of the SBS Association.
He said: ‘As a former Royal Marine who served in the SBS I am very well aware of the bravery of those who took part in this remarkable operation. The character of these men remains a guiding star for our members today.’
Model Jodie Kidd, who also took part, said: ‘I can speak at first hand about the amazing work the SBSA does supporting soldiers, veterans and their families too.
‘I urge everyone to get behind these special people who give so much to defend our country.’
The training day in London started a series of SBSA events in the build-up to the 75th anniversary.
The heroics of the survivors - raid leader Major ‘Blondie’ Hasler and Marine Bill Sparks - and their comrades who were shot in cold blood after being captured by the Germans, were celebrated in the 1955 film The Cockleshell Heroes.
To donate, visit ch75.org/