Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 18 September 2014

Paddy on a mission with war adventure

Paddy Ashdown
Paddy Ashdown

Co Down-raised former Lib Dems leader Paddy Ashdown returned to Northern Ireland last night on his latest book tour.

Looking more like Charlton Heston than ever, the erstwhile 'action man' of British politics had filled Newtownabbey's Theatre at the Mill with men of a similar vintage and fascination with World War II.

A Brilliant Little Operation is the first complete telling of Operation Frankton, the daring canoe raid on German blockade runners in Bordeaux in 1942.

Lord Ashdown, who served in the Royal Marines' Special Boat Section, communicated his passion for both the men's accomplishment and the project.

Illustrating the talk with rare photos and private letters, his most useful tool was his accounts of meetings with many of those involved, including the eccentric, Dublin-born leader Herbert 'Blondie' Hasler.

He also spoke resignedly about the interdepartmental rivalry and misinformation that had hampered the operation.

But Ashdown wasn't going to give away everything. "You'll have to buy the book," he smirked. Add in a candid Q&A session and this was a brilliant little evening.

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