Injured paratrooper takes to water to recreate war mission

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WAR hero Ben Parkinson is joining other wounded soldiers for his next challenge reenacting a dangerous mission which Winston Churchill credited for shortening the Second World War by six months.

The paratrooper from Doncaster, who lost both legs above the knee in a bomb blast in Afghanistan, is taking part in the charity group Pilgrim Bandits’ 2014 expedition to trace the 75-mile route taken by Royal Marines in canoes into German occupied France to plant mines on docked ships in Bordeaux.

The bravery of the marines in the December 1942 attack on German ships in Operation Frankton inspired the film The Cockleshell Heroes.

Now the Pilgrim Bandits, a charity was formed in 2007 to help wounded soldiers to live life to the full, is recreating it by paddling the route taken by the marines up the Girande Estuary.

The team will complete a parachute jump from Royan Airfield on the West coast of France before attempting to complete a five-day kayak up the choppy waters of the Girande Estuary.

They hope to arrive at the port in Bordeaux on D-Day, June 6.

Lance Bombardier Parkinson joined other members of the charity to formally launch the expedition at the House of Lords with Lord Paddy Ashdown and MP Caroline Flint this week.

The 29-year-old injured in 2006, is raising money to help other wounded soldiers.

He posted on the social networking site Facebook: “2013 was amazing but 2014 will be better and I hope it is for everyone else too. Waterborne in 2014. Training everyday for Cockleshell.”

His mother Mum Diane Dernie, 55, said: “I think he found it hard going at first because obviously his centre of gravity is much higher up and there were choppy waters.

“It is going to be a challenge for the double amputees but particularly for Ben because has had trouble controlling his swallowing. But he has improved so much.

“It will be a worry for us that he is doing this on the open water but Ben will be Ben. He is so determined and he will achieve what he wants to do. We are so proud of him.”

He is one of the Pilgrim Bandit charity’s patrons and has been supported by them for several years.