Calls to recognise Canvey war hero after memorial error

Echo: The errors on the plaque are clear to see The errors on the plaque are clear to see

CALLS have been made to honour a Canvey war hero locally after a memorial recognising his efforts was criticised for containing errors.

Bill Sparks was one of the Cockleshell Heroes who defied logic by canoeing 75 miles into Nazi-occupied France to destroy German ships in December 1942.

He was one of only two of the ten men to survive the attack, which saw them plant bombs on German merchant ships, but a memorial marking the 70th anniversary of the daring raid has been criticised.

The memorial plaque in Eastney, Portsmouth, reads the Cockleshell Heroes embarked on a ‘canoe-bourne’ attack, when it should be spelled ‘canoe-borne.’ It also describes the raid as having taken place in WW11, instead of WWII.

Those mistakes have led to calls for Bill, who became a bus driver on Canvey after the war, to be remembered closer to home.

Gary Foulger, who is an auxiliary lifeguard on Canvey, said his father used to canoe alongside Bill in Benfleet Creek after the war and only learned what a hero he was once Bill had died in December 2002, aged 80.

Mr Foulger said: “He was just a normal man who wouldn’t say boo to a goose. He was the sort of person who really put great into Great Britain and I am sorry to hear of the mistake on the plaque. I am sure it wasn’t intentional but more care should have been taken.”

He added: “He is a local hero so why not honour him here. His actions were courageous in the extreme and he was one of the nicest men you could hope to meet.”

Bill escaped the raid in Bordeaux with canoe partner Herbert “Blondie” Hasler while six of their colleagues were captured and two died from hypothermia. Bill went on to become an advisor of a film made in 1955 about their exploits.

John Rawlinson, the Honorary Secretary of the Royal Marines Historical Society, which put up the plaque in Portsmouth, said: “The memorial is a superb design and long overdue. It is unfortunate that these proof reading errors have slipped through and they are annoying to everyone.

“However, they shouldn't be allowed to detract from how important it is that the men who took part in the raid are now commemorated close to where they did so much of their training.”

Comments (8)

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12:10pm Wed 16 Jan 13

Leighdweller says...

Is this a monumental ****-up?
Is this a monumental ****-up? Leighdweller

12:57pm Wed 16 Jan 13

J_blond says...

Did they contract the Echo to write it?

Pot - kettle - black...
Did they contract the Echo to write it? Pot - kettle - black... J_blond

1:31pm Wed 16 Jan 13

John T Pharro says...

Well done Gary for bringing attention to what Bill Sparks did. Actually when the memorial was unveiled on the Garonne in France not long ago Bill never even got a mention on the BBC news which considering only he and Major Hasler survived was poor. I have been reading Bill's book recently which to anyone interested in reading his own story is called "Cockleshell Commando".
Well done Gary for bringing attention to what Bill Sparks did. Actually when the memorial was unveiled on the Garonne in France not long ago Bill never even got a mention on the BBC news which considering only he and Major Hasler survived was poor. I have been reading Bill's book recently which to anyone interested in reading his own story is called "Cockleshell Commando". John T Pharro

3:04pm Wed 16 Jan 13

jancanvey says...

The Canvey Community Archive, were running a campaign regarding Bill, his life and putting up a plaque on the Island. (see http://www.canveyisl
and.org/category_id_
_184_path__.aspx) This was originally hoped to be a blue Plaque but this was not tenable.

The Bay Museum offered to host a plaque and it was hoped to unveil it in time for the anniversary in December. Unfortunately the manufacturers (who are donating the plaque FOC) have had a problem with the machine needed for this type of plaque, I understand a different kind was considered but rejected. It was decided to wait until the equipment was repaired (part to come from America) and having seen the type of plaque this produces I am certainly in agreement.

The Bay Museum already houses memorabilia presented to them by Bill’s daughter and the museum will make a great place to house the plaque. It will be unveiled around Springtime.
The Canvey Community Archive, were running a campaign regarding Bill, his life and putting up a plaque on the Island. (see http://www.canveyisl and.org/category_id_ _184_path__.aspx) This was originally hoped to be a blue Plaque but this was not tenable. The Bay Museum offered to host a plaque and it was hoped to unveil it in time for the anniversary in December. Unfortunately the manufacturers (who are donating the plaque FOC) have had a problem with the machine needed for this type of plaque, I understand a different kind was considered but rejected. It was decided to wait until the equipment was repaired (part to come from America) and having seen the type of plaque this produces I am certainly in agreement. The Bay Museum already houses memorabilia presented to them by Bill’s daughter and the museum will make a great place to house the plaque. It will be unveiled around Springtime. jancanvey

3:13pm Wed 16 Jan 13

upset says...

jancanvey wrote:
The Canvey Community Archive, were running a campaign regarding Bill, his life and putting up a plaque on the Island. (see http://www.canveyisl

and.org/category_id_

_184_path__.aspx) This was originally hoped to be a blue Plaque but this was not tenable.

The Bay Museum offered to host a plaque and it was hoped to unveil it in time for the anniversary in December. Unfortunately the manufacturers (who are donating the plaque FOC) have had a problem with the machine needed for this type of plaque, I understand a different kind was considered but rejected. It was decided to wait until the equipment was repaired (part to come from America) and having seen the type of plaque this produces I am certainly in agreement.

The Bay Museum already houses memorabilia presented to them by Bill’s daughter and the museum will make a great place to house the plaque. It will be unveiled around Springtime.
I'm surprised one of the Echo's investigative journalist did not find this out!!!!!
Thanks for the info, it will be right and proper to recognise one these men did especially one of our own.
[quote][p][bold]jancanvey[/bold] wrote: The Canvey Community Archive, were running a campaign regarding Bill, his life and putting up a plaque on the Island. (see http://www.canveyisl and.org/category_id_ _184_path__.aspx) This was originally hoped to be a blue Plaque but this was not tenable. The Bay Museum offered to host a plaque and it was hoped to unveil it in time for the anniversary in December. Unfortunately the manufacturers (who are donating the plaque FOC) have had a problem with the machine needed for this type of plaque, I understand a different kind was considered but rejected. It was decided to wait until the equipment was repaired (part to come from America) and having seen the type of plaque this produces I am certainly in agreement. The Bay Museum already houses memorabilia presented to them by Bill’s daughter and the museum will make a great place to house the plaque. It will be unveiled around Springtime.[/p][/quote]I'm surprised one of the Echo's investigative journalist did not find this out!!!!! Thanks for the info, it will be right and proper to recognise one these men did especially one of our own. upset

4:41pm Wed 16 Jan 13

jancanvey says...

I was surprised too as they helped us with the campaign.
I was surprised too as they helped us with the campaign. jancanvey

5:14pm Wed 16 Jan 13

John T Pharro says...

jancanvey wrote:
I was surprised too as they helped us with the campaign.
Well done to the "Echo" for helping out.
[quote][p][bold]jancanvey[/bold] wrote: I was surprised too as they helped us with the campaign.[/p][/quote]Well done to the "Echo" for helping out. John T Pharro

7:12pm Wed 16 Jan 13

soul man says...

Leighdweller wrote:
Is this a monumental ****-up?
nice one
[quote][p][bold]Leighdweller[/bold] wrote: Is this a monumental ****-up?[/p][/quote]nice one soul man

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