The former chairman of St John’s Wood Synagogue took part in a gruelling re-enactment of the World War Two Cockleshell Heroes 1942 commando raid on Bordeaux last week.
Keith Breslauer, an American citizen, who has been in England for 25 years, completed the Frankton 75 Challenge, when he joined around 30 Royal Marines and a team from the Royal Navy, in an 85-mile paddle up the Gironde estuary in France followed by a 100-mile yomp (slow run) to Ruffec.
The only civilian to take part in the challenge, which was also commemorating the 75th anniversary of the raid, Breslauer said: “Completing such a challenge is a huge privilege and not only honours past heroes, but also those who have served or continue to serve in our armed services.
“During the challenge we faced the freezing conditions, battling rain, fog, high winds and muddy paths. But the camaraderie kept us all going through the six days. 75 years ago, without the benefit of sophisticated waterproof and insulated clothing or high-tech navigation equipment, the challenge would have been even tougher. The experience of completing the paddle and pulling our boats out of the water in exactly the same place that the two survivors of the original mission did, is something I will never forget. It was equally touching when we unveiled the new permanent plaque in Blaye.
“The recreation of Operation Frankton provided not only a way to commemorate the Cockleshell Heroes on the 75th anniversary of their endeavour, but was also an incredible opportunity for the wounded, injured or sick servicemen to display their strengths in overcoming immense obstacles – an important part of their rehabilitation. Having heard their stories and seen their tenacity, I was in awe of the team that consisted of people with major injuries and a man with a brain tumour with only a few months to live.
“The work that the Royal Marines do is simply outstanding and I am immensely proud to continue to support the ex-servicemen and women who give so much for us”
The 52-year-old is the Managing Director at Patron Capital, with this event being the latest in a long-running charitable partnership between the Royal Marines Charity and Patron Capital, where the two have been working with the Hasler Naval Service Recovery Centre to help war veterans prepare to re-enter civilian life through donations to fund specialist equipment, respite breaks for them and their families at Patron-owned hotels, and introductions to source relevant internship and career opportunities.