New challenge for Doncaster’s brave Ben

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Heroic Ben Parkinson and a group of other amputee servicemen are getting set for another epic challenge - by retracing a daring World War Two mission.

Nine injured soldiers, including Ben - who suffered devastating wounds including the loss of both legs above the knee and severe brain injuries, while serving in Afghanistan - will retrace Operation Frankton, better known as the Cockleshell Heroes commando raid, which Sir Winston Churchill believed shortened the conflict by six months.

The December 1942 attack on German shipping at the French port of Bordeaux was later immortalised in the movie Cockleshell Heroes, and the team will be working to retrace the gruelling 75-mile journey carried out by a 34-man unit of canoe-sculling Royal Marines.

Ben, who has been training for the event by paddling kayaks, told followers on his Facebook page he’d had a tumble into the water - and with typically dark humour he added: “It may look shallow but if you’ve no legs, it’s deep!”

The idea is the brainchild of the Pilgrim Bandits Charity, an organisation established by a small group of special forces veterans in 2007.

The group have been training and Mike Beard, the charity’s chief operations officer, said: “While we can in no way re-enact Operation Frankton, we can retrace the miles of slog and pay homage to those 34 brave men that made up the detachment.

“Our lads will receive no special treatment – it’s a hardcore, gruelling trip designed to commemorate and highlight the sacrifice of so many.

“If all goes according to plan we will arrive in Blaye, where the original members ditched their clippers for the escape route on D-Day.”

Only two men survived the original mission, in which troops destroyed two German Navy trawlers, 12 E-boats, 12 patrol boats and six M-Class mine sweepers.

Eight commandos were executed by the Germans, and two more died of hypothermia.

The expedition is set to take place next year with the kayaks being donated by Dragon’s Den entrepreneur Duncan Bannatyne.