Friday, June 25, 2010

Cockleshell Raid, by Ken Ford review

Remember that sophisticated British officer in the film Inglorius Basterds who joins Brad Pitt on the commando raid in France? Osprey Publishing's new addition to their "Raid" series highlights the efforts of fourteen intrepid men just like that character (but they're real). The Cockleshell Raid is about the Brits' daring 1942 raid in the German-occupied French port of Bordeaux. Their mission was to blow-up the cargo ships which had been slipping past the British blockade of Europe. The ships supplied the Germans with crucial materials for their war effort. Unable to catch the block-runner at sea and unable to reach the inland port by conventional means, the British developed a commando raid. They sent seven specially developed two-man canoes up the River Garonne. They were to plant their special explosives and flee through France and Spain to be picked-up at British-controlled Gibraltar. Only four men succeeded in their mission. Only two men survived the mission.

Ken Ford presents a detailed and thrilling account of the ill-fated raid on Bordeaux. Osprey offers informative photographs, maps, and two original color illustrations. I have long been aware of the raids made by British commandos in the period before the Normandy invasion. This is the first book I have read on this fascinating subject and I am glad I did. I look forward to reading more in this series.

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