Cockleshell Heroes are island inspiration

The Cockleshell Heroes, a group of Portsmouth based Royal Marines, are the inspiration behind the winning name for an island especially constructed for overwintering birds as part of the North Portsea Coastal Scheme.

A competition to name the newly constructed roost island near Eastern Road was launched in July and attracted more than 240 entries – with Cockleshell Island named as the winner.

The name is a tribute to the Cockleshell Heroes who trained for months around Southsea and Langstone Harbour before setting off in December 1942 to a daring raid, using kayaks (nicknamed cockles) to blow up enemy ships in occupied France.

The common cockle is present in tidal flats located in bays and estuaries all around Europe, including Langstone Harbour, and a major source of food for crustaceans, fish, and wading birds.

Numerous entries were received in the naming competition: There were humorous suggestions such as Slappy Slappy Honk Honk Island, Flutterton and Birdie Island, references to local personalities with a link to the area, names honouring historical events, and many references to birds and other marine species found in Langstone Harbour.

Leader of the Council, Councillor Steve Pitt, said:

‘We were pleased to see so many residents showing an interest and suggesting a wide range of names, representing everything Portsmouth is about. The winning name not only honours our Royal Navy and the Cockleshell heroes who lost their lives during this courageous WW2 raid, it also represents cockles as a popular species found in Langstone Harbour. With the water sports centre to the North and memorial to the South of the island, the name could not be more suiting.’

Caroline Timlett, Project manager for the North Portsea Coastal Scheme, said:

‘We want to thank all residents who took part to help us find such a fitting name. Our Cockleshell Island will be attracting a range of wading birds who feed on cockles and there will no doubt be many shells found on the island once our overwintering birds use this roosting site.’

The competition saw four Portsmouth residents submitting the name Cockleshell Island: Mr. Grant Bradshaw, Mr. Michael Froggatt, Mrs. Carole Hill and Mrs. Sue Dewey. All four winners will be invited to the official naming ceremony later in 2024.

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