‘IN WAR HEROES WAKE’
ROGER AND SANDRA DOWNTON
Traveller's Joy Publishing
OUR 75 MILE TREK ECHOES ‘COCKLESHELL HEROES'
DARING WARTIME MISSION
MARKING THE 60th Anniversary OF THE END OF W.W.II
In December 1942, twelve men set out to execute a daring and imaginative attack on enemy shipping lying in the docks of Bordeaux. There unfolded a war story of great human sacrifice, courage, danger, tenacity and achievement. The mission was called Operation Frankton and the men involved became known as the legendary Cockleshell Heroes. At the outset of the Operation, a succession of disasters left only four men to continue with the mission. Eventually, after a gruelling, covert, canoe journey at night in the depths of winter, they successfully planted their specially designed magnetic ‘limpet' mines on the enemy ships moored in the harbour of Bordeaux. Just two men came back alive.
This is not only the story of the Cockleshell Heroes and their famous Second World War raid, but the tale of two ordinary civilians, Roger and Sandra Downton from Poole in Dorset who, in July 2004, inspired by the heroism and daring exploits of the Cockleshell Heroes, retraced, with very little knowledge or experience of canoeing, the course of the daring mission. This absorbing account of Roger and Sandra's research, oddball training programme, adaptation of more ‘economic equipment' and clothing, and their quest to raise sponsorship are all lightheartedly explained and delicately interwoven together with the gripping story of the original men of Operation Frankton. Paddling in the wake of those commandos, our intrepid married couple set off up the perilous River Gironde. In a canoe, lovingly called ‘Sardine', follow their frightening struggle with the ferocious currents, the uncertainty of where they would stop over night, and the peregrination that took them past the famous, picturesque wine regions of France, eventually culminating in their triumphant arrival at the scene of the attack in the splendid harbour of Bordeaux. Their challenging and enlightening experiences make interesting and exciting reading. Truly a display of great stamina and fortitude.
BACK COVER CAPTION
The true wartime story of a daring attack in 1942 by canoe on enemy shipping in the docks of Bordeaux. This courageous deed by fearless men who showed contempt for the German occupation of France is cleverly interwoven with the present day escapade by Roger and Sandra Downton. Like the men on the original raid who became the legendary Cockleshell Heroes, Roger and Sandra were subjected to the unpredictable mood swings of the giant, rapid flowing River Gironde. Following the same course and bivvying in the same locations as the commandos, they recaptured the tension the Heroes had felt precariously hiding under the noses of the enemy. A present day adventure with the thrill of a real war story.
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