By Paul Oldfield
Operation Frankton is a narrative of ways a handful of decided and imaginative males, utilizing flimsy canoes, completed what hundreds of thousands couldn't by means of traditional skill. The volunteers had enlisted for Hostilities merely and, apart from their chief, none have been in a canoe prior to. in spite of the fact that, with a couple of months education they conducted what one German officer defined as, «the extraordinary commando raid of the war». They grew to become often called the Cockleshell Heroes, having been immortalized in a movie and a ebook of that identify within the Fifties.
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Others were good on the surface, but could not cope with claustrophobia underwater and vice versa. Lieutenant JD ‘Jock’ Stewart became 2IC on 3 July. Known as the ‘Old Man’, he was a pre-war advertising agent, much admired for his administrative abilities and technical skill. On 3 July, Lieutenant Stewart reported as 2IC. The next day Second Lieutenants McKinnon and Pritchard-Gordon joined to command the two sections. Then an administrative team, consisting of Colour Sergeant WJ Edwards as Detachment Sergeant Major, and three Marines arrived on 6 July, the official formation date for RMBPD.
Corporal Laver appears to have injured his foot during the exercise as he had to rest it while on leave. Solly Zuckerman was born in Cape Town to Jewish immigrants. Educated at the University of Cape Town and Yale, he came to London in 1926 to complete studies at University College Hospital and taught at Oxford University 1934-45. The RAF loaned him to the Combined Operations scientific staff to test methods of improving night vision, using RMBPD as guinea pigs. As Scientific Director of the British Bombing Survey Unit he helped persuade Eisenhower to disrupt the French transportation system by bombing the railways and marshalling yards prior to the invasion.
To overcome wartime restrictions he kept some items of uniform on board to make it look official and was usually ignored by patrols; they got used to him. He even kept a Wren’s hat on board for when he took female company along. Haslar constantly had to balance his time between training the unit, trialling equipment and attending meetings with other organisations. On 17 August he attended a meeting about amalgamating RMBPD with SSRF, COPP, SOE, SBS and others. All these units believed they were unique and for the time being the status quo continued, but Haslar was always concerned his unit would be taken over.