My history hero: ‘Blondie’ Hasler (1914–87)

Chosen by Paddy Ashdown, Liberal politician and diplomat

Herbert 'Blondie' Hasler (left) pictured with Bill Sparks and Mary Lindell. It was "his ability to take ordinary men and give them the confidence and skills to do extraordinary things" that made him a hero, says Paddy Ashdown. (Photo by Keystone/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

This article was first published in the October 2012 issue of BBC History Magazine 

Herbert george ‘Blondie’ Hasler is most famous for leading the ‘Cockleshell heroes’ in Operation Frankton, a daring commando raid on the French port of Bordeaux in December 1942. Ten Royal Marines undertook the treacherous task of canoeing up the Gironde estuary and planting limpet mines on German ships in the port. Of the ten men, only two made it back to Britain alive – escaping over the Pyrenees to neutral Spain – one of them Blondie Hasler.

Want to read more?

Become a BBC History Magazine subscriber today to unlock all premium articles in The Library

Unlock now