Remembering a remarkable man
A historic plaque has been unveiled in honour of a Hampshire hero who, together with his team, changed the course of World War Two.
The plaque was erected at the former home of one of the nation’s greatest war heroes, Blondie Hasler, in Glamorgan Road, Catherington by Catherington Village Residents’ Association and co-funded by East Hampshire District Council.
Blondie was one of just two survivors from a 10-man Royal Marine Commando unit, from Southsea, Portsmouth, that he led on a daring raid to attach mines to the hulls of German supply ships in Bordeaux.
Hundreds of people, including representatives from the military and dignitaries, attended the ceremony. The plaque was unveiled by Lord Paddy Ashdown, who has commanded a Royal Marines company and a section of the Special Boat Service, and is a trained swimmer canoeist.
Also among the guests was a group of firefighters who recently retraced the paddle strokes of the Cockleshell Heroes to raise £10,000 for charity, recreating the five-day mission which covered 90 miles through the treacherous waters of the Gironde estuary into Bordeaux.
The money raised by the crews will be split between The Fire Fighters Charity, The Royal Marines Charitable Trust Fund, The Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) and The Special Boat Service Association (SBSA).
Cosham firefighter Craig Sadler said: “As part of our challenge each member of the team had to do a charity event. The long and the short of it is we came up and knocked this lady’s door and that is how the ball started rolling, and they got involved in the story. Absolutely lovely couple, supported the charity event at Cosham Fire Station, supported us the whole way and through our route.
“Then it was a partnership; they were doing this part of it - the heritage part - and then we did our charity event recreating the route.
“It was as much of an emotional journey as it was physical. It was an eye-opener and very humbling. They were very brave men.”