The complete story of the remarkable canoe raid on German ships in Bordeaux Harbour - by the man who himself served in the Special Boat Squadron. In 1942, before El Alamein turned the tide of war, the German merchant fleet was re-supplying its war machine with impunity. So Operation Frankton, a daring and secret raid, was launched by Mountbatten's Combined Operations and led by the enigmatic 'Blondie' Hasler - to paddle 'Cockleshell' canoes right into Bordeaux harbour and sink the ships at anchor. It was a desperately ...
The complete story of the remarkable canoe raid on German ships in Bordeaux Harbour - by the man who himself served in the Special Boat Squadron. In 1942, before El Alamein turned the tide of war, the German merchant fleet was re-supplying its war machine with impunity. So Operation Frankton, a daring and secret raid, was launched by Mountbatten's Combined Operations and led by the enigmatic 'Blondie' Hasler - to paddle 'Cockleshell' canoes right into Bordeaux harbour and sink the ships at anchor. It was a desperately hazardous mission from the start - dropped by submarine to canoe some hundred miles up the Gironde into the heart of Vichy France, surviving terrifying tidal races, only to face the biggest challenge of all: escaping across the Pyrenees. Fewer than half the men made it to Bordeaux; only four laid their mines; just two got back alive. But the most damage was done to the Germans' sense of impregnability. Paddy Ashdown, himself a member of the Royal Marines' elite Special Boat Squadron formed as a consequence of Frankton, has always been fascinated by this classic story of bravery and ingenuity - as a young man even meeting his hero Hasler once. Now, after researching previously unseen archives and tracing surviving witnesses, he has written the definitive account of the raid. The real truth, he discovers - a deplorable tale of Whitehall rivalry and breakdowns in communication - serves only to make the achievements of the 'Cockleshell' heroes all the more heroic.
New in new dust jacket. This mint, SIGNED, FIRST EDITION, hardback, Aurum Press, London, 2012, was the only SIGNED, copy on the top 12 book internet sites at the time of listing. The dust jacket is unclipped and is now protected in an extra, clear, bespoke acid-free slipcover. The book size is 0.3 x 18.6 x 24.2 cm with 4 maps, 57 photographs-black and white and colour. ISBN 9781845137014. "An Idea Born in the Bath. Early in January 1942-and out of the blue-Hasler received the orders which were to change his life and with it, the future of the humble canoe as a weapon of war. On 26 January that year he joined a new unit, the Combined Operations Development Unit (CODU), 1 based at the Royal Marines Barracks at Eastney; its headquarters, in an art deco block of flats called Dolphin Court, overlooked Southsea Park and its Canoe Lake, on which Hasler had first learned to paddle a canoe. CODU's task at the time was to develop new weapons, craft and materiel for amphibious warfare; Hasler's role was to investigate the use of small craft to attack enemy ships in harbour. Almost a year earlier, on 26 March 1941, Italian explosive motor boats (EMBs) sank the British cruiser HMS York and damaged the Norwegian freighter Pericles in the British naval base at Suda Bay in Crete. During a second, failed attack on Valletta harbour in Malta on 26 June, a number of these boats were captured intact. The British were impressed by the technical quality of the new Italian weapon but objected to its 'kamikaze' form of operation, believing that it was contrary to British traditions to ask men to undertake operations from which the best outcome would be capture. Before further consideration could be given to ways of dealing with this new threat, the Italians struck again on 19 December 1941, carrying out successful underwater attacks which seriously damaged two British warships, the Queen Elizabeth and the Valiant, using another completely new weapon-the so-called 'human torpedo'........" ( pg.36 )
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