Operation Frankton was a commando raid on shipping in the German occupied French port of Bordeaux in the Bay of Biscay during the Second World War. The raid was carried out by a small unit of Royal Marines known as the Royal Marines Boom Patrol Detachment (RMBPD), part of Combined Operations.
The plan was for six canoes to be taken to the area of the Gironde estuary by submarine. They would then paddle by night to Bordeaux. On arrival they would attack the docked cargo ships with limpet mines and then escape overland to Spain. Twelve men from no.1 section were selected for the raid; including the commanding officer, Herbert ‘Blondie’ Hasler, and the reserve Marine Colley the total of the team numbered thirteen. One canoe was damaged while being deployed from the submarine and it and its crew therefore could not take part in the mission. Only two of the 10 men who launched from the submarine survived the raid: Hasler, and his no.2 in the canoe, Bill Sparks. Of the other eight, six were executed by the Germans while two died from hypothermia.
The British Prime Minister Winston Churchill believed the mission shortened the war by six months. The words of Lord Mountbatten, the commander of Combined Operations, are carved into a Purbeck stone at Royal Marines Poole (current headquarters of the SBS): Of the many brave and dashing raids carried out by the men of Combined Operations Command none was more courageous or imaginative than Operation Frankton.