The Cockleshell Heroes (1955) Script

Hello, Hugh. Well, of all things. How are you?

They've roped you in again, have they? Yes, they certainly have.

Up, down! Up, down! Up, down!

Come on, men, get your backs into it!

Up to your standard? They're pretty fair. Are they mine?

Uh, no. Tell me, this, uh...

This Major Stringer... Forget what else you've heard.

I haven't heard anything. I'm open-minded.

You'll need to stay that way.

This officer claims he's a major of marines.

He was arrested by the patrol boat for canoeing in a restricted area.

Good evening, sergeant. I'm Major Stringer, under orders to report here for duty.

I believe a Captain Thompson has been appointed as my administrative officer.

No doubt he could set your mind at rest about me.

Yes... sir.

That's correct, sir.

Oh, I see, sir.

Very well, sir. I'll send the corporal of the guard over with Major Stringer.

Sorry, sir.

Sorry, sir. Would you come this way, please, sir.

Parade... turn!

Close order... turn!

Who are you? Hello, I'm Stringer.

You must be Thompson. How do you do, sir?

I'm afraid my arrival's rather informal. I was stopped by the patrol boat, as a matter of fact.

An orderly will take your kit to your quarters.

Oh, no, this is stuff I shall actually want here.

I see. Uh, which is my desk?

In here.

I suppose I shouldn't have come by kayak, really, but there I was, just up the river, what with the floodtide setting up and the wind just a bit south of west, it seemed the obvious thing to do.

Look, would you like to smoke or something? I'm afraid l...

No, thank you.

How long have you been in the service?

I joined in February, 1918.

Well, good heavens, you're only... I mean to say...

I've been a captain for 11 years.

Well, I hope this isn't going to be too embarrassing for both of us.

You see, I'm only playing at being a marine.

Actually, I joined up in a fit of boyish enthusiasm.

They've been rash enough to make me an acting major, put me in charge of this unit.

Jolly good.

What I'm trying to say is, isn't it going to be awfully difficult for you to get used to taking orders from me?

No. I'm quite used to the normal service chain of command.


Now, how much do you know about all this?

I don't know anything, sir.

Well, in that case, this is all most secret, of course.

It seems German ships are running in and out of Bordeaux, getting past our blockade and bringing vital raw materials to the German war machine.

No one else seems to be able to do anything about it at the moment, so our job is to get all the way up there, try to blow up those ships in the docks.

How do you propose to get there? By canoes.

We'll be travelling at night and hiding in the day.

We'll be dropped out here somewhere outside the minefield, 75 miles to the target, should be able to make it in three or four nights of paddling.


As a matter of fact, I sent in this scheme some time ago and it was thrown out.

Now it's boiled up all over again and here we are.

It's rather a long way to paddle, isn't it?


It's funny, but I've never really thought of a canoe as being particularly invisible.

Neither have I. I'm only hoping the Germans won't notice us.

On the theory that the only time a German looks down is to see if his boots are properly polished.

You're not exactly bubbling over with enthusiasm for this party, are you?

I'm afraid I'm not qualified to comment on the technical possibilities of your plan.

Well, what's the next step?

Forty-three men are due in the morning for training.

What sort of men? Volunteers for hazardous service.

Should be good chaps. Probably dead-beats.

Good men are never encouraged to volunteer.

Right, fall in in three ranks facing me!

Party... attention!

My name's Sergeant Craig.

I've had the misfortune to be put in charge of you lot.

You might as well know that I've got a suspicious nature. I suspect all volunteers.

It happens to be a little weakness of mine. Right, party... stand at ease!

Answer out when your name's called.

Corporal Stevens? Sergeant.

Marine Bradley? Here, sergeant.

Marine Wilby? Here, sergeant.

Marine Clarke? Here, sergeant.

Don't I know you?

I believe we have had the pleasure, yes, sergeant.

2nd Battalion. Yes, sergeant.

I remember you. I remember you too, sergeant.

I'm a sergeant now. That makes a big difference.

It certainly does, sergeant. What's wrong with your cap badge?

Uh... the wind blew me beret off and it went under a bicycle.


You're coming back to me like a song, you are.

You stand fast when the rest dismiss. We'll have a little talk.

Yes, sergeant. Big head.

Marine Newville? Here, sergeant.

Marine Steadman? Here, sergeant.

Marine Vanner? Sergeant.

Marine Hodgson? Sergeant.

Marine Todd? Here, sergeant.

Parade, attention!

Carry on. Very good, sir. Stand at ease!

Good morning. Morning, sir.

I see the men have arrived. I'm checking their conduct sheets.

Sergeant Craig will give them an hour's drill.

Between us, we should be able to separate the sheep from the goats.

I think I shall want to interview the men myself first.

I've a pretty good idea of the sort of chaps I'm looking for. Let's have them in one at a time, shall we?

Very good, sir.

Marine Bellamy!

Stand easy. Why did you volunteer for hazardous service?

I wanted to see some action, sir. Didn't you get that in 40 Commando?

It's just that I like a change of scenery, sir.

Were you on the Dieppe raid? Missed that, sir. They kept me back.

I was an instructor at the time. Just my luck.

I always wanted to have a crack, sir. Right. Thank you.

Left turn!

Quick march! Wait outside.

Marine Lomas.

Why did you volunteer for hazardous service?

Kids, sir. I need the extra money.

I wasn't getting enough exercise. My mother was killed in an air raid.

I didn't know what I was signing, sir.

With me coming from a long line of natural-born fighting men, I said to meself, "Cooney, me fella..."

It's funny you should ask me that, sir.

Well, uh... I'm not quite sure of the meaning of "volunteer," sir.

Here, George, you know what he said to me?

He said, " I'm curious to know why you volunteered."

He's curious? I'm curious! Why did I volunteer?

What did you say? I said, " I believe the good die young.

And I don't want to disappoint anybody."

If you'll just tell me which men you've selected, I'll start licking them into shape for you.

Aside from the obvious rejects, I haven't quite made up my mind.

I'm looking for a special sort of man.

An individualist. One who can think for himself.

A man who'll do the job for its own sake, rather than because a sergeant shouts at him.

While we're on the subject, I'm not sure I want you licking them into shape.

Try to force them into a mould and you'll destroy the very qualities I'm looking for.

I think I'll just dream up a little test for these men. See what they're made of.

Gentlemen, as you can see, our ranks have thinned somewhat since our first meeting.

Before I make my final selection, however, I want to put you all to a practical test. And it'll be a difficult one.

Tonight we'll be dropped by parachute here, 380 miles away.

Our task will be to get back to these barracks within 48 hours.

We'll be dressed as German soldiers. You'll have no money or identification.

The Home Guard haven't been informed, so watch out for yourselves.

He's barmy.

Don't break the law unless you have to. And if you have to, don't get caught.

Any questions? Right. See you in the aircraft.

Party, attention!

Fall in outside.

I think we've got a good lot of boys. Some may be good material.

Even so, it's not customary to call them gentlemen.

Do you mean to imply that only an officer can be a gentleman?

I mean that in the service, one does not address the rank and file as gentlemen.

I stand corrected.

Eight hundred feet this time, skipper. Twenty men in one stick.

We're nearly there. Get ready for action.

Stringer thinks we're an aerial circus. You're right there. He's nuts.

Stand up and hook up!

Ted, two days' pay I beat you in. I'm not a betting man.

I'll take you on. Bless you, Paddy, darling.

Nine okay. Eight okay.

Seven okay. Six okay.

Five okay. Four okay...

One okay. Stick okay. Action stations.

Action stations.

Red on, stand in the door!

Sure you don't wanna come along? Green on, go!

Change my next of kin from Clarke to Churchill.

What's German for "Me parachute didn't open"?


Trust the RAF to drop you in it.

Todd! Perry!

Todd! Perry!

Here, what are you laughing at? Cut me down!

What are you doing up there? What's it look like? Birdwatching?

Go on, do us a favour. I've got a train to catch.

Good luck to you! Wait till I get back to barracks!

Going far? Sorry, I don't speak English.

Pity. Neither do I.

Will you give us a lift, mate? Sure, hop in.

I've hitchhiked all the way from your fine city of Liverpool, and hope and pray that I'll soon be proudly wearing the king's uniform.

What's that uniform you're wearing just now?

Irish Salvation Army.

Of course. I should've known. Very smart. Very smart.

Lovely morning. Morning.

Who is it?


You beast! But, Myrtle, l...

Get out of here, you lousy bum!

You're not a gentleman, so don't think you can come walking in here any time and think you can take up just where you left off.

I've learnt a thing or two since you was last here.

And I don't want to see your dirty face around my door again as long as I live.

I don't have to go with you perishing marines any more. I'm a respectable girl.

So you can just get right back to Queen Street. That's the sort of girl you need!

Only, they're too good for you, you dirty, stinking, rotten, double-faced sidekick!

That's what you are! Get right out of here, otherwise I'll come for you!

I really will!

Queer-looking customer. I was just thinking the same thing.

Away, guard!

All tickets, please. Get your tickets ready.

Your tickets, please.

All tickets, there, please. Just a moment.

Pass it under the door, then, sir, would you.

Thank you.

Next stop, Portsmouth.

Well, this is the end of the line. It's been an exhilarating experience meeting you.

I always say physical fitness is the first bastion of democracy.

My husband wouldn't agree with me on that.

He was a sluggard and he died in his bed. Well, Godspeed.

I only wish I was breasting the tape with you.

Any reports, sergeant? Not yet, sir.

But I've got my fingers crossed.

Just a moment, please. I'm afraid it's me again, sergeant.

Very good, sir.


Yes, sir. Sergeant?

Major Stringer's back. Give me details of all the other men as they arrive.

Very good, sir. I'll tick off the stormtroopers as they come in.

What's going on here? Delivering or collecting?

Delivering. Marine Lomas.

Marine Lomas? He was dead before he left here. What's he got?

It's what he hasn't got. Sign here, please.

He gave four pints of blood and passed out.

How many more does that leave him? I'm gonna do a bit of extracting now.

Lomas! Come here!

I want you back in 15 minutes, dressed. Yes, sergeant.

Carry on. Yes, sergeant.

Keep the change. Thank you, sir.

Good day, sergeant. Good day.

And who do you think you are? 10934, Marine Bradley.

Travelling incognito? Merely carrying out orders.

Then carry out another one. Dress and report back in 15 minutes.

Then write out a statement for me. Not too much to ask... sir?

Not at all, sergeant. I'm quite familiar with statements.

Is here, the garrison commandant? Clarke!

Come here!

So you like to play at soldiers? Yes, sergeant...

Get that uniform off, come back in full kit and we'll both have a game.

Attention! Quick march!

And get your hair cut! Quick march!

Evening, sergeant. You'd be late for your own funeral!

I made it. You're not finished yet, Jesse Owens.

Pick them up, two, three, four! Up, two, three, four!

Pick them up, pick them up! Up, two, three, four!

Close order... march!

Stand at ease!

Stand easy!

Right, pay attention. You've taken some liberties the last few days.

But from now on, you're under King's Regulations and don't forget it.

If you do, I'll read you the riot act in a language guaranteed to make a bishop kick a stained-glass window.

I've got me eye on one or two of you. Bet half a dollar he picks on you.

I'm looking at you, Ruddock! Half a dollar you owe me.

Stop talking. You're having a lecture, so get your ears pinned back.


Squad... wait for it. Attention!

Good morning. Morning, sir.

Let me have the latest reports, would you.

Eleven captured by the Home Guard. Three with gunshot wounds, one serious.

Bad luck. Two under arrest by military police.

One drunken charge, one married. Six still unaccounted for.

I received complaints from police in five counties.

A considerable quantity of equipment has been lost, and we're facing a court of enquiry.

Do I detect a faint note of disapproval?

This ridiculous exercise, which seems to have given you so much satisfaction, has caused me more trouble than five years' ordinary service.

All right, Thompson, let's clear the air a little.

Ever since we met, you've given me a hard time. What the hell is eating you?

It's just that I'm a professional marine.

I don't like temporary officers. I don't like volunteers for hazardous service.

I don't like musical-comedy operations designed to win the Victoria Cross for somebody.

I suppose I just don't like heroes.

Well, I hope that makes you feel better.


Party present, sir. Thank you.

Stand at ease! Stand easy! Sit down.

Now, then, out of the original group of volunteers, you eight men are the final selection.

Together with Sergeant Craig and me, you will constitute the operational team.

You have been selected for your enthusiasm and initiative, and because you've indicated that you can think for yourselves.

This is exactly what I was looking for. We are now going to start intensive training on the job itself.

I think you will find it interesting. To begin with, let me introduce you to the two-man canoe.

I've never seen such an appalling exhibition in my life. I'm going back to the office.

Very good, sir.

Watch it, fellas. Watch it. Shh!

Watch my heels, Jock.

Party... halt!

Corporal Stevens.

Do you usually let your men slouch about?

No, sir. We just finished an exercise. I'm not interested.

Sergeant Craig, these men want smartening up. Give them an hour's drill.

Very good, sir.

Left, right, left, right, left!

Right... turn! Turn, pause, swing!

Clarke, if you knew the difference between your left and right, you'd be a good marine! Right... turn! Turn, pause, swing!

Turn. Lift up. Hold your heads up!

Left... turn!

Left... turn! Turn, pause, pause, swing!

Keep your arms swinging! Left, right, left, right, left!

Sergeant Craig...

Squad, halt!

Just in time.

Yes, sir? What are you doing?

Close-order drill, sir. That wasn't on my training programme.

No, sir. Why are you giving them drill?

Captain Thompson's orders, sir. I see.

Dismiss the men. Very good, sir.

Squad, dismissed!

Come into my office, please.

I understand you ordered Sergeant Craig to drill the men.

Yes, sir, I did.

Why? Because I think they need it.

The ability to present arms and advance in column of threes won't help these men when they try to creep into the docks of Bordeaux in canoes full of high explosives.

Your men are an ill-disciplined rabble and they'll never get to Bordeaux that way.

Thompson, I'm training these men, not you.

I'm the one responsible for the success or failure of this project, so we'll do it my way.

It may not be the right way or the marine way, but it is my way and that's the way I want it.

Is that clear? Now, understand this.

In future, no disciplinary action is to be taken by anybody except me.

We'll go through this narrow channel and up the river.

Each canoe will proceed independently to get to the objective at Deptford.

All the defences have been alerted, so if you're challenged, use the code word "water babies" and give yourselves up.

Actually, I'm confident you won't have to do this.

This is our chance to prove we can penetrate a heavily defended river.

Combined Operations Headquarters will be keeping an eye on us, so our future depends on the outcome.

I know you won't let me down.

Carry on, Sergeant Craig.

Halt! Who goes there?

Halt or I'll fire!

What are you doing? Paddle towards us. Don't try anything!

The password's "water babies."

I don't know anything about that. Just do as you're told!

Halt! Who goes there? Water babies.

Water babies, eh? That's right.

We've been waiting for you. Come on.

Hello? This is Stringer checking in. Any news?

I'm afraid you've had it.

Your other four canoes were arrested before midnight. Your entire force is wiped out.

I see. Right.

Thanks very much. We better call the whole thing off.

"Water babies."

Well, it's my turn to listen to you for a change.

What do you mean by that?

I mean, let me have it. What did I do wrong?

You did everything wrong.

You made just about every mistake it's possible to make.

You're a rotten leader. In fact, you're no leader at all.

You don't begin to understand your men.

You think they're enthusiasts. They're not. They're not in the least bit interested in this.

They're like schoolboys with a lenient master, really not doing any work at all.

From the day you started, they've been laughing at you behind your back.

So now what do I do? What do you do?

You become an officer. You take this sloppy lot and whip them into a team.

You pitch into them until they do exactly as they're told, whether they like it or not.

You told me once that I was a military machine with no feeling for the men.

Well, you've just killed the whole lot off. Not a man would've survived.

Not a man would've reached his objective if this exercise had been the real thing.

That's where your kindness has got you, and the men despise you for it.

Well, that tells me what I want to know.

And there's just one more thing. It concerns me.

I'm not accustomed to being associated with this kind of a mess.

I want you to know that I'm thoroughly ashamed to be a member of your unit.

Every one of you is guilty of the faults I've listed here.

This wasn't just a small exercise gone slightly wrong.

This is a prize example of a complete and total bog-up.

We not only failed to reach our objective, theoretically, we were wiped out a few hours after the start.

I blame myself.

I failed you just as surely as you failed me.

I credited you with some intelligence, so I treated you with kindness and you let me down.

I'm not going to fail you again, and you're not going to let me down any more.

In future, any man guilty of any breach will be brought before me on a charge.

Who's he think he is? Clarke, Lomas... stand up.

Straighten up, there. When I'm talking, I want your undivided attention.

Sergeant Craig. Sir!

These two men are to be given one hour's close-order drill after working hours this evening.

Sit down. We'll start training again. This time, we're going to do it right.

You're going to work and think twice as hard as you ever did before.

Get moving! The last man up buys a round, and I'm thirsty!

Now I'll show you the quickest way down, bar one.

Crews, attention! Quick march!

Pick up canoes!

Quick march!

This is the limpet mine.

Four powerful magnets are attached to the outer frame so that with a steel plate such as this...

Our job will be to attach these bombs to the hull of ships below the waterline like this.

The mine is detonated by this fuse, which goes in like this.

To start the fuse, you...

Here you are, sergeant. Pass it around.

By the way, that's not a dummy. I wanted you to get used to the feel of the real thing.

We'll dispose of it at sea. It's set for 15 minutes, so we've plenty of time.

Here you are, Clarke. Hang on to this for 15 minutes.

Thank you, sergeant.

I hope your clock's right, sir.

Go on, take it.

Hey, steady!

You hold it, I've seen it. He's mad.

Sergeant, just a little token of our respect and admiration.

You've got just 12 minutes to get rid of that thing, Cooney.


Let's go!

Clarke! You again?

Kneeling position!


One... two...

Catch it!



We've only got a minute to go, boys! Clarke, give it to me!

I bet you nothing happens. I'll take you on a dollar.

Your dollar and up 2.

This man's plumb crazy. I'm getting out of this lot.

Urgent, sergeant.

Confidential, sir.



let's get drunk.

All marines, our family. Right back to the 18th century.

My father was a general, and so was his father.

When I was a boy, I couldn't wait to get into action to show I was as good as any of them.

In 1918, I was with the 1 st Battalion.

We got up to the front line in time for the Battle of Cambrai.

I was a brand-new officer in a brand-new uniform with a platoon of trusting young men behind me.

When the big advance started, I was ordered to capture what I was told was an isolated German machine-gun post on the right flank.

The fog lifted early that day, and we hadn't got halfway there before we began to get pasted good and proper.

It suddenly dawned on me that my intelligence was all wrong and that the Boche position was far too strong to be taken by my platoon alone.

We were just getting wiped out without doing any good.

The funny thing was I wasn't really frightened.

I knew that the job I'd been given was impossible, so I used my common sense, got my men behind cover and sent a runner back to company headquarters with a report on the situation.

That's when everything went wrong. My runner got hit and the message never got there.

My commander didn't like me much.

When he got hauled over the coals for not reaching his objective, he passed most of the blame on to me.

He said I should've pressed on regardless of casualties.

"You don't seem to realise, Thompson, that in the Royal Marines, we don't grovel on the ground the moment someone points a rifle at you."

Well, what was I to say? For all I knew, he was right, I couldn't tell.

All I knew was that the next time, I wasn't going to stop for anything.

No matter what they put me up against.

But there never was a next time.

They pulled me out of the battalion, and then suddenly the war was over and it was too late.

I was just Lieutenant Thompson, the promising young officer who couldn't be trusted under fire.

That was 22 years ago.

Since then, I've been promoted just once.

I've been handed every lousy administrative job in the Corps, and I've done them well.

Now it's too late for me to have a second chance.

Perhaps it's just as well. I probably wouldn't know what to do with it if I did.

In a way, I suppose I should hate you for having something which I no longer can have.

In another way, I'm trying to say good luck to you.

This is your chance.

It doesn't come to all men, but it's come to you.

Don't fail yourself.

Come along, hero.

If she touched me, I'd know what, eh, George?

What's the matter with your friend? Don't worry about him, he's in love.


If you marines were responsible for getting the army out of Dunkirk, what are you doing here?

Yes, you should be somewhere getting covered in glory.

We're on a special mission. What? Chaperoning the Free French?

If you must satisfy your idle curiosity, we're the Boom Patrol.

So you're one of the jokers who paddle around the harbour looking like the Swiss navy?

Hey, everybody, we got the mermaids with us!

Hey, mister. What's your name? Uh, Claridge. Why?

I never hit strangers. Up, the marines!

Hey, watch it.

Chair, sonny!

Here, take him home, it's past his bedtime.

Go and get them, boys.

Now, on this glorious occasion of the splendid defeat and complete victory over the Royal Navy by Stringer's can... I mean, care-free canoeists, we are gathered here to say farewell to some of our fellow marines before they depart for foreign shores.

I want the following marines to step forward when I call their names. Marine Bradley!


Marine Cooney, who came to us from the IRA.


Marine Lomas. Sir!

Order of the, uh, Belch. Marine Innes.

Sir! Our member for West Glasgow.

Marine Ruddock, better known as Atlas because of his mighty...

I say again, Marine Ruddock!

Oh, cor blimey, where's Ruddock? He's ruining me act.

He's blown. Gone. Absent without leave.

Stand by your beds! Attention!

Well, one of you must have some idea. Where's Stevens?

Yes, sir? Stevens, you were his friend.

I said, you were his friend. Where's he gone?

Don't know, sir.

Bradley, do you know anything? No, sir.

You realise what this means, don't you?

All the training, the planning and the sweat will all go for nothing.

We're not only fighting a war, we're fighting time.

Now, one of you must have some idea where he's gone, and I want to know.

I've reason to believe he's got trouble at home, sir.

Oh, you have reason to believe. Don't you know?

You've time to fight with the navy but not to look after your own kind!

Sergeant Craig, confine them to barracks until further orders. Escort them to and from the mess.

Very good, sir. Stand easy!

Sergeant, I'm not going to mince matters, because you and I talk the same language.

We've both been dealing with a CO who doesn't know King's Regulations from the telephone book.

I can't be everywhere. It was up to you to get wind of anything like this.

It's a big enough bog-up already.

I shall go after Ruddock. I want you to cover for me. And no repetition of what's happened.

If there's a single trouser button missing from any of those men when I get back, I'll carve you up.

There won't be, sir. Grab me a car. I'll drive myself.

Very good, sir.

Has he been here? You can't come in here!

Where is he? Who? What are you talking about?

Don't let's waste time. Have you seen your husband in the last 24 hours?

My husband? Well, of course not, he's not on leave.

I don't need you to tell me that. If you don't go, I'll call the police...

I'm waiting. What business is it of yours?

You don't have to say anything. You can keep quiet.

Oh, I'm not in the army. I don't have to take orders.

We don't know nothing. Go away. Satisfied, soldier?

You make me sick. Both of you.

If he's deserted and comes here, I shall have to turn him in. I'm a good citizen.

Relax, he's probably in some pub getting stinky.

That captain's got a nerve. Anyone'd think there was a war on.

Relax, you'll tear my dress. So what? I paid for it, didn't I?

Good evening. Whisky, please. No whisky, only gin.

That'll do.

You home for long? No. Just clearing up some business.

It's neither one thing nor the other, is it. Three and six, please.

Good evening, Ruddock. Good evening, sir.

Care to join me? Yes, sir.

Well, Ruddock?

Well, sir, it's a bit of a liberty, I know, but there's a celebration on at home.

A big family do. What you might call a free-for-all.

I just dropped in here to get a couple of bottles because I didn't want to go empty-handed.

It's my grandmother's golden wedding, I should have said. Forget me own name next.

I didn't want to miss it because she thinks a lot of me, and I do of her.

And you never know in wartime, do you?

And as after the do the other night it seemed likely we'd all be splitting up, I thought maybe I could chance it.

Well, I chanced it. Like, took a chance. Yes, well, that's me lot, isn't it?

It's not quite your lot, as you put it.

I know why you're here, Ruddock. I've been home before you.

I know what you're gonna do, and I'm not gonna stop you.

Beg your pardon, sir?

I said, I'm not going to stop you.

This sort of situation is not uncommon, you know.

It once happened to me, not that that's of any consolation to you.

How long will you need? About three minutes, sir.

That's not long enough, you fool. I'll give you 15 minutes, and make a good job of it. That's an order.

That's very generous of you, sir. Have a drink?

No, I don't need a drink, sir. Let's go, then.

Have you got your key? Yes, sir.

Then what are you waiting for?

Oh, and give my regards to Morris.

Good evening, officer.

What's going on in there?

Oh, one of my men's having a little trouble with the lodger.

Pity to break it up too soon.

He's acting under orders, I take it. Oh, yes, strictly under orders.

What I mean to say is, he can't possibly disobey orders, can he?

No, that would be very tricky.

No way of hurrying him, I suppose?

Oh, stop it!

No. No, I suppose not.

Well, can't stop here chatting all night.

Time for me to check in at the station. Anything doing tonight?

No, very quiet.

Well, he won't be such a popular boy with the girls for a while.

Feeling better, Ruddock? Yes.

But it doesn't solve anything, does it, sir? But I feel better.

All ready, sir.

All right, boys, all out.

Come on, hurry it up, now.

How do you do? I'm Stringer. I'm Grieves. This Lieutenant McClory.

This is Captain Thompson. He's come along to see us safely off.

Right, let's have it.

At the moment, we're passing Land's End. From now on, we're on our own.

We'll be diving during daylight to avoid enemy air reconnaissance.

The submarine will drop us here, right at the edge of the minefield.

It's roughly 75 miles from there to the Bordeaux docks.

This is a lighthouse at the mouth of the river.

As far as we know, they only switch it on to let ships go in and out of the harbour.

Expect rough water about here, caused by the tide running over the shallows.

It's called a tide race. Just like the rapids in a river, really, but be prepared for it.

Each canoe will carry six limpets. One on an enemy ship will be enough if you attach it in the right place.

Now, about this thing. Each canoe will carry one of these. I call it Little Nell.

It goes off 15 seconds after you start the fuse.

It has to be fast because its purpose is to blow up the canoe and its cargo if capture becomes inevitable.

Now, 15 seconds will give you time to get clear of the explosion, so don't imagine that I'm suggesting that anyone commit suicide, because I'm not.

After it's over, we will withdraw to a quiet part of the river here and make our escape in pairs, travelling across country northeast towards Ruffec.

The French Resistance have been warned to expect us and will pick us up, I hope.

They'll know the best way of getting us home.

Now, there's just one more thing.

Any canoe getting itself into trouble will have to work out its own salvation.

The other canoes will not stop for it.

They will press straight on up the river.

Only one thing matters on this job: Blowing up enemy ships. That's what we've come here to do.

Action stations!

What's up? No idea.

Shut off for depth charge attack. Shut off for depth charge attack.

Coming in fast, sir. Silent routine.

Silent routine.

All compartments shut off for depth charge attack, sir.

Better sit down before you get knocked down.

H.E. Forward, sir. Getting fainter. Good.

Fresh H.E. Coming in on port beam, sir.

How is he? I'm afraid he's no use to us, sir.

Right, that's over. Prepare to surface.

Enemy action over. Canoe launching must be completed in 15 minutes.

Ruddock can't manage alone in his canoe. We'll have to leave Coalfish behind.

The rest of you, get ready to start. Four canoes instead of five.

Let me take his place. Let me take Lomas' place.

That's out of the question. May I ask why?

You haven't been trained for this job. I could pick it up easily.

Ruddock's a good man, he could carry me along.

We can't afford to lose a canoe now, before we even start.

I'm prepared to sit behind Ruddock and take my orders from him.

Ruddock! Sir!

Get Lomas' gear ready for Captain Thompson. He's going as your number two.

Stand by to surface. Stand by to surface. Check main vents.

Glad you're coming along, sir. I hope you enjoy the trip.

Thank you.

Alan? We're now in launching position.

We'd better start.

Okay. Right.

Open hatch! Up canoes!

Conger crew away.

Crayfish crew away.

Cuttlefish crew away.

Coalfish crew away.

Goodbye. Very best of luck. Thanks, Alan.

Swim to another canoe!

We'll have to let you go here.

Sorry we made a mess of it, sir. God bless you.

Good luck, sir. Good luck.

How's it going? Fine, thank you, sir.

Craig? We're all right, sir.

Cooney? It's okay, sir.

Todd? All right, sir.

I'll take the first watch. The rest of you, try and get some sleep.

Who are you?

I ask you again, who are you?

How many were you?

I should like to remind you, you can be treated as saboteurs, and as such executed by firing squad.

Now, do you still refuse to answer my questions?

But I was forgetting, it isn't done, is it, for an Englishmen to split in front of his friends.

I have here a questionnaire.

You will each be conducted to a separate room where you can fill in these forms.

I give you my word, no man shall know what the other man has written.

In return for this cooperation, I shall give instructions that you are to be treated as bona fide prisoners of war.

Take your time, there's no hurry. We are winning the war.

Take them out.

I'm going over there. Cover me just in case, huh?

I wonder what he's saying. He's telling them not to give us away.

All right. They'll be all right.

Keep your fingers crossed.

Here are the questionnaires, sir. Ah.


Okay. Craig? All right, sir.

Ruddock, Cooney? Let's go.

When the tide went out, someone forgot to put the plug in.

I'll go through first. Craig, you bring up the rear.

Right, sir. Single paddle.

Away you go.

Come on. Come on.

Here's a present for you!

Let's go.

Glad we're in the balcony.

Now you know why they called you "water babies."

Down, sir!

Think he's looking for us, sir? Yes, they're looking for us, all right.

Cooney and Todd, you go first. We'll follow at five-minute intervals.

I'll come along last in case of complications. See you soon.

Right, sir.

If they get Stringer and the others, the whole thing goes up the spout.

Start your Little Nell and we'll make a dash for it.

Come on.

Yes, sir, at once.

Muller, Hoffmann! I want the search intensified at once.

Saturate the area. They must be after those ships lying in the inner basin.

The ones carrying the secret radar equipment. We must stop them at all costs.

Drop dead, Adolf. Whew!

All clear, come on. Over here, quick.

Hurry up, now. Change into your frogman suits.

Fuse your limpets.

Start your fuses.

They should go off at 7 a.m.

Sir, urgent message from area commandant:

"British frogmen must be taken alive."

Go down!

Look. There's a juicy, fat cargo boat.

We'll follow that through the lock into the basin.

Captain Thompson, I have warned you.

If you do not tell me the full facts, you will be shot with the others at 7 a.m.

Lf, on the other hand, you give me a complete statement, your lives will be spared.


Halt! Halt!

Good luck.

Captain Thompson, I am sorry you will not cooperate.

Do you wish to change your mind?

Firing squad, present!

Keep the line straight, boys.

Aim! Fire!

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