World War Two ‘Cockleshell Hero’ to have train named in his honour by Great Western Railway

Wednesday 14th October 2020

One of the famous ‘Cockleshell Heroes’ from World War Two will today have a train named in his honour by Great Western Railway.

Cpl George Sheard, from Plymouth, was among a group of young Royal Marines who volunteered for hazardous service planting mines on enemy ships off southwestern France. He drowned in the daring mission, aged 27.


‘Cockleshell Hero’ Cpl George Sheard

GWR is marking 75 years since the end of World War Two by naming seven of its Intercity Express Trains after remarkable people involved in the conflict.

Last week the train operator added D-Day veteran Harry Billinge MBE to its list of #greatwesterners in an emotional ceremony at Penzance station. The 95-year-old from St Austell said having a train named after him would remind people of the fine men who fought on 6 June 1944, many of whom never returned home.

In December 1942, Cpl Sheard was among those Royal Marines who volunteered to canoe up the River Gironde from the Bay of Biscay to plant limpet mines on enemy ships in Bordeaux Harbour. Of the 10 men who went on the daring mission only two survived.

Six were executed and two drowned, but its significance reportedly led Winston Churchill to say he believed the raid could have shortened the war by six months.

Cpl Sheard’s name will feature on Intercity Express Train number 802010 and form the 1116 service from Plymouth to London Paddington following the ceremony.

Major General Matt Holmes CBE, Commandant General Royal Marines, said:

“It’s a great honour that GWR has decided to name a train after Cpl George Sheard for his sacrifice and for us to enjoy the freedoms of travel in memory of his service.”

Sarah Holmes, Great Niece of George Sheard.

"We are incredibly proud of George Sheard and the other brave men of Operation Frankton. To have a train named in his honour is a great accolade. We hope that passengers will learn of the mission and that it may serve as an inspiration to others."

GWR Regional Station Manager West Mark Chorley said:

“There is no doubt these fine young men showed a huge amount of audacity and courage and we are proud to be naming one of our Intercity Express Trains after Plymouth’s own Cpl George Sheard.

“The ‘Cockleshell Heroes’ would have known the huge risks involved and Cpl Sheard was one of those who paid the ultimate sacrifice for the freedoms we enjoy today.

“We at Great Western have a long history of naming trains after #greatwesterners, the past and present heroes from across our network. It is fitting we can now add Cpl George Sheard to that illustrious list.”

With more people starting to use trains again operators are reminding passengers to:
  • plan ahead – travel at quieter times where they can, buy a ticket online and in advance, and book ahead if you need travel assistance
  • consider others – wear a face covering unless you’re exempt, not travelling if you have Covid symptoms and consider others, not all disabilities can be seen
  • stay safe – maintaining your distance wherever possible; wash your hands and carry hand sanitiser, paying contactless where you can
GWR has been providing rail services throughout the pandemic and has worked to ensure that these are as safe as possible. This includes increased cleaning regimes and the use of a virucidal spray; extra staff at key stations to offer help and guidance; and processes in place to help customers maintain a safe distance where possible such as restricting the number of reservations available.

Notes to editors
GWR is marking 75 years since the end of World War Two by commemorating seven remarkable individuals involved in the conflict.

At a train naming ceremony in March, GWR honoured Odette Hallowes, a French citizen who lived in London and on the Devon/Somerset border.

Odette became a Special Operations Executive (SOE) and the most highly-decorated spy of the war.

Alongside Harry Billinge MBE and Cpl George Sheard, others who will have an Intercity Express Train named after them are:
  • Wartime leader Sir Winston Churchill, widely considered one of the 20th century’s most influential figures
  • Wing Commander Ken Rees from Wales, a Wellington Bomber pilot who was imprisoned in Stalag Luft III and played a vital part in the Great Escape
  • Alan Turing from London, who led Hut 8 at the Government Code and Cypher School at Bletchley Park, responsible for the breaking of German ciphers
  • Tul Bahadur Pun VC of the 3rd Battalion of the Gurkha Rifles, one of only 13 Gurkha's to receive the Victoria Cross.
Great Western Railway (GWR) provides high speed, commuter, regional and branch line train services. We help over 100 million passengers reach their destinations every year - across South Wales, the West Country, the Cotswolds, and large parts of Southern England.

We’re currently seeing the biggest investment in the network since Brunel so we can offer more trains, more seats, and shorter, more frequent journeys and continue the network’s heritage of helping connect more businesses to new and prosperous markets. Through a series of initiatives we aim to be a good neighbour to the communities we serve and are committed to making a positive social impact in those regions. Learn how we're Building a Greater West at GWR.com. GWR is a FirstGroup company.