A memorial in honour of Cockleshell Hero and Royal Marine James Conway has been unveiled in his hometown of Stockport on Sunday 10th December at Mount Tabor.
The emotional ceremony was attended by James Conway’s relatives, Kenneth Brotherhood – who was the original campaigner of the memorial and a member of the Manchester and Salford Royal Marines Association –, members of the Armed Forces and special guest speakers including the Mayor of Stockport, Cllr Linda Holt, and Major General Martin Smith, CB, MBE.
James Conway took part in one of the most daring commando raids of World War Two, where he was one of the 12 men who paddled more than 80 miles in canoes up the Gironde to plant limpet mines on shipping in the German occupied French city of Bordeaux in 1942.
Only two men survived the raid
James was captured and executed whilst making his escape over the border into neutral Spain. These brave men ultimately became known as the ‘Cockleshell Heroes’.
Luke Perry of Industrial Heritage Stronghold designed and created the memorial, which is a bronze sculpture with a steel armature of James’ torso and paddle to depict his hard paddle on the Gironde between the HMS Tuna and the enemy occupied shore.
The form captures the strength, energy and context of Operation Frankton and the Cockleshell Heroes mission. It wouldn’t be appropriate to represent the two-man Mark II ‘cockle’ canoe named ‘Cuttlefish’ without his comrade Lieutenant John Mackinnon, as the memorial is to Stockport-born James Conway. The figurative piece of the torso and face mounted from the paddle is an iconic form in itself.
The Council would like to give special thanks to George Cox, Hardscape and Wilde Consultants for their time, materials and labour which they have kindly donated to the memorial, free of charge.
Councillor Kate Butler, Stockport Council’s Cabinet Member for Economy and Regeneration, said:
“The unveiling ceremony was a fitting and moving recognition of the bravery of our local ‘Cockleshell Hero’ James Conway. It’s such a beautiful sculpture and a credit to everyone who worked on this to make it happen, including Ken Brotherhood, James Conway’s family, Council officers and our partners for donating their work to this memorial.”
The Mayor of Stockport, Councillor Linda Holt, said:
“I believe I can speak on behalf of Stockport residents when I say that we are very proud of James Conway. I hope that, as the James Conway Memorial takes up residence at Mount Tabor, we can all be reminded of and appreciate the bravery of this young man who at the age of 20 paid the ultimate price for this nation.”