The Forshaw Group’s manging director, Liam Hanlon, was honoured to recently attend the WWII Operation Frankton Memorial Parade on Sunday 5th December 2021 at Woodside promenade Birkenhead, overlooking the River Mersey.
Operation Frankton was a commando raid on ships in the German-occupied French port of Bordeaux during the Second World War. The raid was carried out by a small unit known as the Royal Marines Boom Patrol Detachment (RMBPD). This would later form the Special Boat Service. The men became known as the Cockleshell Heroes and included Cpl Albert Laver from Birkenhead, who sadly did not survive the mission.
The memorial was unveiled by Lord Paddy Ashdown in 2012 who said: “This was one of the most dangerous and daring raids of World War II”.
The plan was for six canoes to be taken to the area of the Gironde estuary by submarine. 12 men would then paddle by night to Bordeaux. On arrival they would attack the docked cargo ships with limpet mines and then escape overland to Spain. Skilled men were selected for the raid, including the commanding officer, Herbert ‘Blondie’ Hasler, and with the reserve Marine Colley the team was thirteen in total. One canoe was damaged while being deployed from the submarine and it and its crew of two therefore could not take part in the mission.
Only two of the 10 men who launched from the submarine survived the raid: Hasler, and his number two in the canoe, Bill Sparks. Of the other eight, six were executed by the Germans, and two died from hypothermia.
Speaking of the memorial event, Liam said: ‘’It is part of my commitment as a former Royal Marines Commando to remember the lives that have been sacrificed for our freedom during times of conflict. Our support of The Armed Forces Covenant also recognises the huge contribution our serving service personal, and veterans make to society, business and wider community.
“We are continuing to strive towards attaining The Armed Forces Covenant Gold Award status, to provide the very best apprenticeships, training, and career opportunities for our serving and former men and women of the Armed Forces community from across the region.”