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 Combined Operations - 160 webpages, 2,000 photos, 250,000 visits and 7 million hits each year. The definitive Combined Ops website.

Please show your appreciation of our WW2 veterans by 'Liking' on Facebook what we've done in their remembrance. Facebook has the best photos of the memorial dedication ceremony held on July 4th 2013 and of the memorial under construction plus other posts.  News and Information at the bottom of this and every webpage.

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"On this day in 194?"
(Significant events in the Combined Operations Calendar).

Day Year Event
Feb 19 1942

The Combined Operations Badge design was approved.

Feb 27 1942

Op Biting, Bruneval, France.

Mar 03-04 1941

Op Claymore, Lofoten Islands Raid, Norway.

Mar 28 1942

Op Chariot, St Nazaire, France.

Apr 19-20 1941

Bardia, Lybia, North Africa.

Apr 27-28 1944

Operation Tiger, Lyme Bay, SW England

 May  05-07 1942

Op Ironclad, Madagascar.

 Jun 06 1944

Op Neptune & Overlord, D-Day, Normandy, France.

 Jun 07 1944

Mulberry Harbours. The first markers were positioned to aid construction.

 Jun   09-10 1941

Litani River, Palestine.

Jun 11 1943

Op Corkscrew, Pantelleria, Mediterranean Island.

Jun 17 1944

Op Brassard, Elba, Italy.

 Jul  03 1940

Op Catapult, Mers-el-Kebir, French Algeria.

 Jul  04 2013

Memorial Dedication Ceremony.

 Jul  9-10 1943

Op Husky, Sicily, Italy.

 Jul  17 1940

Keyes appointed Director of Combined Operations.

Aug 12 1944

PLUTO fuel pipelines to France became fully operational.

Aug 19 1942

Op Jubilee, Dieppe, France.

Sep 09 1943

Op Avalanche, Salerno, Italy.

Sep 09 1943

Op Starkey, North West France. "The raid that never was."

Sep 12-13 1942

Op Aquatint, "Omaha" Beach, France.

Sep 15-21 1942

Op Musketoon, Glomfjord, Norway.

Oct 18 1942

Infamous "Commando Order" was issued.

Oct 27 1941

Mountbatten replaces Keyes.

Nov 01-08 1944

Op Infatuate, Walcheren, Holland.

Nov 08-12 1942

Op Torch, North Africa.

Nov 14-18 1941

Op Flipper, Rommel's HQ, North Africa.  

Dec 07-12 1942

Op Frankton, River Gironde, France (Cockleshell Heroes).

Dec 26-27 1941

Op Anklet, 2nd Lofoten Islands Raid, Norway.

Dec 27 1941

Op Archery, Vaagso, Norway.

 

 

 

 

 

Combined Operations Command Memorial

 [Photo by Richard Stimpson.]

On Thursday, July 4th 2013, in the presence of Her Majesty's Lord Lieutenant of Staffordshire, Mr Ian Dudson, CBE and 200 guests including 25 WW2 veterans and 6 Standard Bearers, the Combined Operations Command Memorial was unveiled by General Sir Richard Barrons KCB CBE ADC Gen, Commander of the Joint Forces Command. It was dedicated by the Reverend Prebendary Tony Wood.

No greater honour could be bestowed on the service personnel of yesteryear, than for the Commander of their modern equivalent Force to honour their memory and achievements in this way.

The memorial is on the north bank of the River Tame in the grounds of the National Memorial Arboretum at Alrewas in Staffordshire, England. Click here for the story of the ceremony and over 125 photos of a very special day. The memorial is a 15 minute walk from the visitor centre but electric scooters, wheelchairs (recommend pre-booking to avoid disappointment) and golf style buggies are available for the less ambulant. Entrance to the Arboretum is free but visitors are very welcome to make a donation towards its upkeep and development.

Brief History of Combined Operations

Churchill

Keyes

Mountbatten

Laycock

On June 4th 1940 Churchill sent a memorandum to his Chief Military Assistant and Staff Officer, General Ismay. He was Churchill's main communications link with the Chiefs of Staff. The memorandum warned against the dangers of concentrating on the defence the United Kingdom against enemy attack or invasion. "It is of the highest consequence to keep the largest numbers of German forces all along the coasts of the countries they have conquered, and we should immediately set to work to organise raiding forces on these coasts where the populations are friendly." Two days later he continued on the same theme, "I look to the Chiefs of Staff to propose me measures for a vigorous, enterprising and ceaseless offensive against the whole German-occupied coastline."

On the 14th of June the Chief's of staff appointed Lieutenant-General Alan Bourne to the amply described post of "Commander of Raiding Operations on coasts in enemy occupation, and Adviser to the Chiefs of Staff on Combined Operations." Bourne was 58 and had been in charge of the Royal Marines for about a year. His wide experience on land and sea and attendance at the Imperial Defence and Army Staff Colleges were no doubt factors in his selection for this new and challenging post. [Photo opp by Sarah Slee. General Sir Richard Barrons looks on as the Revd Prebendary Tony Wood dedicates the memorial.]

Churchill was not consulted about the appointment during these frenzied and anxious times. Whilst he held Bourne in high regard he felt he was too close to the Admiralty to be able to operate without undue influence from them and he lacked the seniority and authority to deal with the three Ministries. On the 17th of July 1940, Churchill appointed Admiral of the fleet, Roger Keyes to the newly named post of Director of Combined Operations. He was succeeded by Lord Louis Mountbatten who held the redefined post from 27/10/41 until he moved to Burma in October 1943. Major General Robert Laycock then held the post until 1947.

Combined Operations made a huge contribution to the successful outcome of the Second World War by planning, equipping and training for offensive amphibious operations after the evacuation at Dunkirk in June 1940. In the ensuing years there were many raids and landings mostly against the Axis forces from Norway in the north to Madagascar in the south and from the Mediterranean in the west to the Far East, culminating in the D-Day Invasion on the beaches of Normandy on the 6th of June 1944.

The Command drew on the best practices and expertise the Royal Navy, the Army and the Royal Air Force had to offer to create a  unified force. Many of their top planners and experts formed the nucleus around which the Command was formed and, as the requirements of offensive operations took on an international dimension, the service personnel of many Allied countries proudly wore the Combined Operations badge.

The 'All Pages Index' (above left) has brief descriptions of around l50 pages about this amazing and ubiquitous WWII organisation whose auspices included such diverse subjects as Commando Raids and Major Landings, Landing Craft Training for hundreds of thousands, Mulberry Harbours, the PLUTO Pipeline project and even top secret experiments on an unsinkable "Ice Ship" in the Rocky mountains.

It's a testimony to the enduring nature of the Combined Operations concept that the Combined Operations Badge, designed by Lt D A Grant, RNVR, in 1942, is still in use to this day in a number of countries worldwide. [Photo by Harriet Calfo. Lord Lieutenant Dudson with WW2 Veteran Kenneth Howes.]

Further Reading

There are over 200 books listed on our 'Combined Operations Books' page which can be purchased on-line from the Advanced Book Exchange (ABE) whose search banner checks the shelves of thousands of book shops world-wide. Type in or copy and paste the title of your choice or use the 'keyword' box for book suggestions. There's no obligation to buy, no registration and no passwords. Click 'Books' for more information.

Combined Operations Facebook page with 'slide show' photos and descriptions of the dedication ceremony and the construction of the memorial. Just click on the icon opposite.
The Gazelle Squadron Display Team. The Gazelle Squadron is a unique team of ex-British Military Gazelle helicopters in their original military colours and with their original military registrations. The core team includes four Gazelles, one from each service; The Royal Navy, The Royal Marines, The Army Air Corps and The Royal Air Force. A fifth Gazelle in Royal Marines colours will provide intimate support for the Team. Their crest, opposite, (click to enlarge), includes the Combined Operations badge. The last, and possibly, only time the badge was seen on an aircraft was in the early mid 40s. A photo of the Hurricane concerned is included in the 516 Squadron webpage.
Thames River Cruiser FARMAR. Do you know what this craft did in WW2? More background information on our Notice Board. (uppermost entry).
Video of Dedication Ceremony. We'd like to make video sequences available to website and Facebook visitors. If you have any video you're happy to share with the wider world please contact us. Thank you.
Newsletter. The latest occasional newsletter can now be read here.
Print too small or large? Easy solution when browsing. I) PC. To increase hold down Ctrl and shift and press +. To decrease hold down Ctrl and press -. 2) MAC. To increase Command + and to decrease Command -.
Combined Ops Memorial Dedication Ceremony was held on July 4th 2013. The memorial sub web has links to the dedication ceremony as well as the history of the project, archive photos, limited edition prints, the memorial fund raising wall, donations to the memorial fund and more.
Follow in the footsteps of the Commandos. Exclusive guided tour of the places in Tunisia with advice from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and Steve Hamilton of Western Desert Battlefield Tours.
New to Combined Ops? Visit Combined Operations Explained for an easy introduction to the subject.
Normandy 2014 - 70th Anniversary of D-Day. Book accommodation early to avoid disappointment. See "Forthcoming Events."
Legasee Film Archive. As part of an exciting social history project, the film company Legasee is looking for veterans from any conflict who would like to have their stories filmed for posterity. Films are now available on line.
Remember a Veteran. Add names to our Roll of Honour and They Also Served pages and read the Combined Operations prayer.
Find Books of Interest.  Search for Books direct from our Books page. Don't have the name of a book in mind? Just type in a keyword to get a list of possibilities... and if you want to purchase you can do so on line through the Advanced Book Exchange (ABE). 5% commission goes into the memorial fund.

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