During the evening of 7 December 1942 the submarine HMS TUNA surfaced off the mouth of the Gironde, and launched 10 men in 5 canoes5. All was well until they reached tide races at the mouth of the river, where two canoes were lost. Canoeing by night, with the tide, and lying up by day, over several days, two pairs made it to the port (another pair's canoe was wrecked on an obstacle). One of the crews was Maj Hasler with Mne Bill Sparks, the other was Cpl Albert Laver and Mne Bill Mills. Limpet mines were placed on a number of ships, and these two crews then made their way down river, where they destroyed their canoes, and separately made their way cross country north east, through German occupied France, towards Ruffec, to make contact with the Resistance. After many hair raising incidents and much hardship, Hasler and Sparks succeeded in reaching this town, some 100 miles from where they left their canoes, and successfully linked up with the Resistance : they finally arrived home, after crossing the Pyrenees into neutral Spain, some 4 months after the raid. Laver and Mills were caught by the French police and handed over to the Germans: they were executed with 2 others, 3 months later.
The raid was successful in that 5 ships were badly damaged6: perhaps more importantly the success was a much needed tonic for the British, for whom 1942 had been a disastrous year. There was a price to pay: 10 men set off; 2 escaped successfully, 2 were drowned, and 6 were caught or betrayed, and executed by the Germans. Maj Hasler was awarded the DSO, and Mne Sparks the DSM: Cpl Laver and Mne Mills received posthumous Mentions in Dispatches.