Boom Patrol Detachment: Major 'Blondie' Haslar and Captain Stewart in a Cockle Mark 2 canoe c.1943.
Photograph of Major H G Haslar in a canoe of the same type used in the raid on Bordeaux in December 1942. Haslar formed and trained the Royal Marine special force, Boom Patrol Detachment, in Southsea, Portsmouth, in areas such as canoeing, long-distance swimming and shallow water diving for clandestine operations in World War Two. Their most famous raid was Operation Frankton in 1942. On the 7th December 1942 10 men in 5 canoes launched from the submarine HMS Tuna for a raid 90 miles up the Gironde River in the Bordeaux region of France. Their objective was to attach limpet mines to enemy ships blockading the river. It was a highly dangerous mission and of the 10 men only two returned to the UK, the others being killed during the raid or captured and executed by the Germans. Haslar commanded the operation in which only him and his fellow canoeist, Marine Sparks, survived. The men who took part in the raid were coined the Cockleshell Heroes due to the name of the canoes used during this brave mission.