Their expedition, supported by funding from BAE Systems, will see them kayak 80 miles across France before completing a 100-mile hike. 
Operation Frankton saw 10 men, known as the Cockleshell Heroes, take part in an extraordinary commando raid using kayaks to plant mines and attack enemy ships in German-occupied France in December 1942. They managed to damage six vessels in the port of Bordeaux, leading to wartime Prime Minister Winston Churchill claiming their mission shortened the war by six months. 
Only two men returned from the heroic operation but the legacy they created was enduring, as it’s widely recognised this operation resulted in the formation of the Special Boat Service (SBS) branch of the Royal Navy.
The team retracing the Cockleshell Heroes’ mission have named themselves ‘Cockleshell 22’, and have raised £25,000 so far. This will be split between three charities which support the Armed Forces: Help for Heroes, the Royal British Legion and the RMA - Royal Marines Charity. The largest sponsor, BAE Systems, has also provided £5,000 of funding to the team. BAE Systems’ employees were alongside the Cockleshell team in the water to support their mission departure today, in the very latest military small boat, the StormBlade® 850. 
Steve Martindale, Cockleshell 22 team member and former Royal Marines Commando, said:
“This mission will test us in every way. As we are all former Royal Marines or connected to 3Commando Brigade, the anniversary and history of the Cockleshell Heroes is instilled from the start of our life in the Corps. We felt it had to be marked in this way and will never forget what the team of 10 men, 8 of whom made the ultimate sacrifice, did for our country 80 years ago and how their ingenuity and bravery created what we know as the SBS today. We wanted to raise whatever funds we could, to give back to three brilliant charities that do such amazing work for the Royal Marines and the wider Armed Forces community. 
“I can’t believe what started out as a bit of a chat between three old friends turned in to a fully planned expedition with support from the Royal Marines family. We also can’t thank BAE Systems enough for their donation and for giving us major support getting the word out. Without them, we would not be able to do it.”
The Cockleshell 22 team will use collapsible kayaks, similar to the originals used back in 1942. They will paddle overnight through France for five nights as the Cockleshell Heroes would have done. They will then follow a 100-mile extraction route from Blaye to Ruffec on foot over six days, attending commemorations in Bordeaux in between.
Scott Jamieson, Managing Director, Maritime Services, BAE Systems, said:
“For decades, we have proudly supported the Royal Navy and its fleet from Portsmouth, including as suppliers of their small boats. It’s only fitting that we support the Cockleshell 22 team as they commemorate the heroic acts of those who served and protected our nation.” 
Mark Elliott, Chief Advocacy Ambassador at Help for Heroes, said:
“Eighty years ago, a small group of brave heroes undertook one of the most heroic operations of World War Two. To commemorate this extraordinary operation, to remember this incredible courage and bravery, an inspirational group of former servicemen are going to trace their extraordinary journey.  
“There can be no better way of honouring the original Cockleshell Heroes than raising money for fellow servicemen and women, who have also served their country. To ensure that those who return from conflict, or suffered as a result of their service, are looked after is of vital importance. I salute both those heroes who did their duty and never returned 80 years ago, and those who once again take up this incredible challenge to help others, thank you.”
Simon O’Leary, Director of the Poppy Appeal at the Royal British Legion, said:
“Operation Frankton was one of the most audacious and intrepid operations of the Second World War and this recreation is a wonderfully imaginative way to honour those brave individuals whilst raising funds for several armed forces charities.
“The Royal British Legion is delighted to have been chosen as one of the organisations to benefit from this expedition, particularly as we have been directly involved in supporting some of the people taking part. We wish Cockleshell 22 every success and we salute those men who faced incredible danger and made the ultimate sacrifice on our behalf 80 years ago, risking everything to accelerate the end of the War.”
In wishing the Cockleshell 22 team good luck for their epic challenge, RMA – The Royal Marines Charity Fundraising Manager, Vicki Drinkwater, added:
“On behalf of the whole Royal Marines Family, you make us so proud – and we can’t thank you enough for including us in your fundraising. Without such dedicated support, the Charity would not be able to continue its vital work. We wish you fair weather and will of course be following you every step of the way.” 
You can follow the progress of the Cockleshell 22 expedition on their Facebook page throughout their mission from December 2 to 18.

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