PBS salutes Cockleshell Heroes

Wednesday, June 12th, 2019

In the dark days of 1942, with the Nazis dominating Continental Europe, and Allied plans for a full-scale invasion still far from fruition, Winston Churchill encouraged audacious schemes to hit back by any means possible.

One such undertaking was Operation Frankton, which saw a small group of young marines employ specially designed ‘Cockleshell’ canoes to infiltrate the heavily defended port of Bordeaux on a sabotage mission. One enemy vessel was destroyed and four more severely damaged. However, the cost was high and many marines were lost. Only two men survived.

The late Lord Ashdown, who served as a Special Forces Commando, looks back at this daring wartime exploit, and also examines the institutional rivalry that rendered the raid somewhat controversial. The programme airs on PBS at 9pm on Thursday June 13th.


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