Doncaster’s Ben Parkinson set to honour commandos

Ben Parkinson at the Operation Frankton memorial in France
Ben Parkinson at the Operation Frankton memorial in France
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Wounded Doncaster war hero Ben Parkinson is set to retrace the footsteps one of World War Two’s most famous missions.

Ben, of Bessacarr, is one of a number of amputee servicemen who are set to mark the 75th anniversary of the famous commando raid which was made famous in the film The Cockleshell Heroes.

They will kayak down the Gironde River in France to mark the raid, which happened on November 30 1942.

The Gironde river expedition, the second undertaken by the charity and its amputee soldier patrons, will commemorate the dangerous kayak mission that was widely recognised and credited by Winston Churchill to have shortened the war by six months.

Ben is one of eight injured ex servicemen who, along with Sarah Holmes, the great niece of George Sheard, one of the original commandos, will retrace the journey from the Bay of Biscay up the fast-flowing waters of the Gironde estuary and river to the busy port of Bordeaux between May 27 and June 2.

The raid, called, Operation Frankton was a strategic attack on German shipping in the French port of Bordeaux in 1942, carried out by a small unit of canoe-sculling Royal Marines as part of Combined Operations.

With the arsenal of limpet mines they had carried, the commandos successfully destroyed two German naval trawlers, 12 E boats, 12 Patrol boats and six M-Class mine sweepers.

Just two men survived the mission.

Eight were executed by the Germans and two more died of hypothermia.

The Pilgrim Bandits expedition is designed to honour all the fallen of WW2 and commemorate the achievement and the war-winning contribution made by all those that took part in Operation Frankton.

It is designed to provide a demanding, confidence-building excursion for severely injured serving soldiers, veterans, and a small number of fee-paying members of the public who are contributing to the cost of the expedition.