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''COCKLESHELL HEROES'' TV PROGRAMME TONIGHT -9PM -ENGLAND-11-20 -SCOTLAND BBC 2

Discussion in 'Western Europe 1939 - 1942' started by Duns Scotus, Nov 1, 2011.

  1. Duns Scotus

    Duns Scotus Member

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    Tonight(Tuesday, November 1st) on BBC 2 there is a documentary on BBC 2 on the ''Cockleshell Heroes'' .The Royal Marine Commandoes attack by kayak on merchant shipping in the French port of Bordeaux. They placed limpet mines on the hulls of the docked ships in what today, looks like a suicide mission.
    The programme goes out in England, Wales and, I presume, Northern Ireland, at 9pm. Although we in Scotland will have to wait until 11-20pm tonight to see it.
    It will be interesting to those like myself, who are old enough to recall watching the film ''COCKLESHELL HEROES'' in 1956 on its first U.K. cinema release.
    This movie starred Trevor Howard and American Jose Ferrer and Tony Newley before he became a big 1960's singing star and married ''DYNASTY'S'' JOAN COLLINS AKA ''ALEXIS COLBY''.
    The majority of those R.M. Commandos caught post-raid were shot summarily under Hitler's ''Commando Raiders' edict although some escaped to Spain.
    The blurb in one British newspaper for this programme quotes Churchill as saying that the raid shortened the war by six months but -no disrespects to the gallant participating Marine Commandos-but I doubt disabling/sinking a handful of Axis merchasnt ships in Bordeaux harbour would have achieved that?.
     
  2. leccy1

    leccy1 Member

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    Seems the French had planned a raid for the same day but the RM charges went off before they were due to place theirs.
     
  3. Duns Scotus

    Duns Scotus Member

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    Absolutely correct Leccy!-now I've watched this BBC 2 programme presented by former British Liberal Democratic party leader and and former Special Boat Service member, Paddy Ashdown, you are right. In fact, Ashdown called the operarion ''A cock up '' between the British S.O.E. -who withheld the information from Blondie HASLAR AND HIS Royal Marines that they were going to execute the same raid on the same merchant ships in Bordeaux harbour . at the same time, on the same date!.
    Only -the leader of the SOE operation was already in Bordeaux and only had to walk 100 metres with his team to the tied up ships which were the target from their shore based hiding place-thus rendering Haslar and his men's epic. gallant row up the River Garonne for 30 miles utterly superfluous.
    Consequently , although Haslar and only one other kayak laid Limpet mines on several ships hulls they failed to sink any of them as the low tide meant all he ships had was a hole in the hull which was quickly repaired.
    Thus only two out of the 12 men who left the submarine to paddle up the Garonne River survived-the others being drowned or shot by the German under the Hitler Commando edict.-what a waste of brave men!.
    Also, the truth presented in this programme showed up the 1956 film-''Cockleshell Heroes'' as being misleading in the extreme although Haslar and his companion did escape from Occupied France .
    Paddy Ashdown also seemed to blame Lord Louis Mountbatten. Suggesting that he knew about the S.O.E. operation but said nothing about calling off the really quite futile mission of Haslar and his canoe crewmen.
     
  4. 4th wilts

    4th wilts Member

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    I too thought it was a great show,quite brilliant in places,but,and only a tiny but thought "Paddy"was being just a bit political when blaming S.O.E,and Combined Ops,for not knowing of eachothers Ops.Sounds like he was talking about the current government,I mean Tories and Liberals don't normally share the same bed,except in wartime perhaps. It was however very poinient indeed and i would not hesitate in recommending the programme to Our friends,all over this good earth.cheers,Lee.
     
  5. Carronade

    Carronade Ace

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    Many years ago I read one of those "Great Stories of World War II" books which claimed that the ships targeted were going to deliver German radar sets to Japan and that that would have been a considerable benefit to them; not sure how Churchill or anyone calculates the six months though...... I haven't seen that confirmed anywhere else, and the raid seems to have been more of a general blow up anything useful to the enemy. Planning and training started a couple of months in advance, seems unlikely they could have specific information that far ahead. It seems more plausible that they conceived a way to damage the enemy, launched the operation when ready, and attacked whatever they found. Apparently the SOE were doing the same thing.

    As often comes up in Pearl Harbor discussions, putting holes in ships in shallow water in harbor has mainly transient effects.
     
  6. Duns Scotus

    Duns Scotus Member

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    Carronade-the programme said that the ships targeted were blockade runners okay. But the picture that emerged was of a botch up between the British SOE and the Commando people like Blondie Haslar whose eight men who were killed could have spared had the lan based planned S.O.E. operation gone ahead provided that Haslar and his men had been told about the simultaneous timing of both operations.
    One must admire the gallantry and dedicaton of Haslar and his men but the reality of the whole situation was lot less gloriuos than the 1956 Jose Ferrer , Trevor Howard film had us all believe.
    But even the Nazis botched up too, for we were told by narrator Paddy Ashdown that one of the Royal Marines broke under Gestapo torture but they mistook his account to mean that the operation had already takern place 24 hours before so the Germans didn't even bother to check theb merchant ships or search for Haslar and the other duo who then placed the Limpet mines on the ship's hulls -with, frankly, disappointing effects.
    Okay it's hindsight on my part -but given the very limited inconvenience they would actually cause to the Axis war effort somebody higher up should have said that eight lives was too high a price to pay for such a dodgy operation.
    But, with hindsight, was breaching the Moehne and Eder dams in May 1943 worth the lives of 56 R.A.F. Aircrew?
     
  7. the_diego

    the_diego Member

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    Frankton didn't shorten WWII by several months. It was, quite simply, one of the most devastatingly successful commando operations of the war. in terms of men and material involved, it was small change compared with st, nazaire or gran sasso.
     

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