COMBINED OPERATIONS

*   UNITED WE CONQUER   *

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~ COMBINED OPERATIONS EXPLAINED ~

After you've read this page you should know why Churchill set up the Combined Operations Command, the duties and responsibilities he bestowed upon it and some of its achievements.

Beyond this page there are over 150 individual stories from the crew members of landing craft, the troops they carried to the landing beaches, Commandos, seaborne radar specialists, pilots and many more, on such subjects as raids and landings on enemy held beaches, joint training exercises, the Mulberry Harbours, the PLUTO fuel pipelines under the English Channel, Hobart's "Funnies" tank adaptations for beach clearance work, not to mention experiments with ice ships! [Photo; Normandy, 60th Anniversary of D-Day on June 6 2004. A US veteran explains to young people the part he played in the D-Day landings.]

Background

Origins

Commandos

Training

D-Day

Background

War with Germany was declared on the 3rd of November 1939 but fighting between the opposing land forces did not start in the west until the following May. As part of the Allied Expeditionary Force, the British Army joined forces with their French counterparts to prepare defensive positions along the French/Belgium border.

The German attack started on the 10th of May using a new, aggressive form of warfare called Blitzkrieg (lightening war). This involved the coordinated use of very mobile ground forces with close quarter air support for which the Allies were ill prepared to resist. Over the ensuing weeks they retreated into a small area around the French Channel port of Dunkirk in Northern France. There was no prospect of an orderly withdrawal, so countless lorries, tanks, heavy guns, stores and ammunition were destroyed and abandoned.

Over 300,000 men were rescued from the beaches of Dunkirk and returned to the UK. It was a great achievement, but Churchill and his military advisers knew it would take years to equip and train an invasion force that could seriously challenge the might of the enemy… and the next time they would need to invade from the sea. Vast numbers of shallow draft craft of many types would be needed to land on beaches but they had yet to be designed and manufactured and their future crews recruited and trained in seamanship and craft control. It was a daunting task on an epic scale.

Origins

The need was urgent and Churchill wasted no time. On June 4th 1940, just hours after the evacuation at Dunkirk came to an end, he ordered the Chiefs of Staff (Army, Navy and Air Force) to set up what became the Combined Operations Command. The Command would concentrate solely on offensive operations against the enemy. It would not be distracted by defensive considerations.

These were anxious times since the country was very vulnerable to invasion. The defence of the country fell to the RAF, Bomber Command, Coastal Command, the Observer Corps, the Home Guard or Local Defence Volunteers, Civil Defence etc. leaving the Combined Operations Command, as Churchill had ordered, to focus on offensive operations.

From the outset, personnel recruited to the Combined Operations Command knew that the Command was different. Gone were the cherished traditional ways that each branch had independently developed and in their place were the best practices from all three services. This helped to avoid endless arguments and paved the way for blue sky thinking unencumbered by the "we did it this way" mentality.

However, it wasn’t all sweetness and light. The Chiefs of Staff did not like "the new boy on the block" and, for a good year, tensions ran high. Eventually, Churchill had no choice but to appoint someone with a highly developed sense of diplomacy to head up the Command. Lord Louis Mountbatten took over from Admiral of the Fleet, Sir Roger Keyes in October 1941.

Commandos

Since large scale invasions were out of the question in the short to medium term, on Churchill's orders the Combined Operations Command undertook small raids along the coasts of enemy occupied countries with friendly populations. The early raids were undertaken by the Small Scale Raiding Force and later by the newly formed Commando units, most of which comprised around 500 officers and men. Admiral of the Fleet Sir Roger Keyes played a vital role in the formation of the Commandos and his son, Geoffrey, was killed serving in them while trying to capture Rommel.

The first of these raids took place on the Channel Islands and Norway, followed by others in France as far south as Bordeaux. The enemy never knew where, or when, attacks would happen, forcing them to commit far more troops to all vulnerable coastal areas than would otherwise have been necessary. This took a little pressure off the Russians who were, by June 1941, where fighting the Germans on the Eastern Front.

Dozens of Commando raids of many sizes were undertaken in the ensuing years (see Raids and Landings Index), but throughout this period the Combined Operations Command did not take its eye off the primary objective to prepare for large scale invasions of occupied Europe.

Training

In practice the Command ran a vast training programme in amphibious warfare for many major landings that took place in North Africa, Sicily, Italy, Normandy (D-Day), Southern France and Walcheren in Holland.

In all these locations there were no friendly ports to disembark the many thousands of troops, their transport, tanks, big mobile guns, ammunition, food, medical services, fuel, reinforcements and general supplies. All ports suitable for Allied use were heavily garrisoned by the enemy and set to be blown up in the event of the Allies taking control.

Everything required to supply and equip the invading force had to be landed on beaches in specially designed shallow draft, flat bottomed boats. Over 40 types were developed to meet all requirements. Thousands of Royal Navy Volunteer Reserve personnel were recruited to man the craft. They undertook training in the operation of the craft which proved to be more difficult to manoeuvre than conventional keeled craft.

Throughout the four years from June 1940 to June 1944, each of the three services undertook their own training programmes to keep their personnel fit and skilled in their particular aspect of warfare. The Combined Operations Command added another layer of training, where these respective skills were brought together to form a unified fighting force. A good football team does not only need eleven fit and skilled players but players who work together as a team to defeat the opposition. "United We Conquer" applies in any team activity.

When the RNVR crews reached an acceptable standard in seamanship and craft control, they undertook joint training exercises with Army units in places like Loch Fyne in the west of Scotland. Here, the Army and Navy learned to work together, embarking troops, sailing in convoy in open waters and landing on "enemy" beaches… procedures repeated over and over until they became second nature. In a similar fashion, larger landing craft embarked and disembarked lorries, tanks, fuel, munitions and stores while specialist craft, such as those designed for firing rocket bombs, spigot bombs and anti-aircraft shells, honed their skills in less busy waters.

Near the end of each of the 6 week courses, 516 Squadron from RAF Dundonald in Ayrshire, provided smoke cover, dropped small bombs on the landing beaches and strafed the beaches with machine gun fire. On the ground, mortars were fired onto the beaches. This provided the landing craft crews and the assault troops they carried, with a good sense of what to expect when they landed on enemy held beaches. Deaths and serious injury did occur during these realistic training exercises.

The Combined Training Centre’s administrative and training staff formed the core of the training operation but amongst the landing craft crews and the troops they carried, there was a constant turnover as they made way for others on completion of their own training courses.

Training then continued in many different locations throughout the UK, and by this means, our armed forces became ready to embark upon the largest amphibious invasion in history – D-Day, June 6th 1944.

D-Day

The print below was taken from a painting by military artist, David Thorp. It depicts the initial assault phase of the invasion at the height of opposition from the enemy. Further down this page, action points are explained by means of a numbered version of the painting. The legend below the painting reads;

* COMBINED OPERATIONS – A NORMANDY BEACHHEAD *

Normandy, early D-Day morning, June 6 1944. The co-ordinated sea, land and air operation to establish a beachhead from which to liberate Europe was gaining momentum, but the beaches and their approaches remained extremely hazardous.

Painting

Scene Setting

The Action

Subtext Notes

Further Reading

Acknowledgements

Painting

The painting measures 750 mm by 550 mm and is set on the eastern flank of Sword beach early on D-Day morning between Riva Bella (Ouistreham) and Lion sur Mer. It does not portray a particular event but all the actions described did take place in the area over the space of a few hours. With the skill of the artist they are brought together in a seamless montage which is fully explained in a monochrome copy of the painting that bears a numbered legend with links to descriptions of the most significant elements.

It is impossible in a single painting to show the vast extent of Operation Neptune, the amphibious part of Operation Overlord, since its 5 landing beaches stretched around 50 miles (80k) to the west of Lion sur Mer. While British and Canadian forces were attacking Gold, Juno and Sword beaches, American forces faced major challenges of their own on Omaha and Utah beaches, the former because of the strength of German defences and cliffs at either end of the landing area and Utah because of the terrain inland of the beaches that favoured the defenders. The landscape was a maze of narrow lanes bordered by thick hedgerows and embankments. Although the painting, of necessity, concentrates on a small area of one beach the painting honours the memory of all land, sea and air forces from the UK, USA, Canada and all who served the Allied cause.

Six days after the events described in the painting, Churchill and his military advisers visited the Sword, Juno and Gold beaches. On returning to Downing Street Churchill sent a signal to Mountbatten, by then in Burma. It readily acknowledged the vital role he and Combined Operations had played in the operation and expressed the Nation's gratitude. David Thorp's painting captures the essence of what Churchill described as "this remarkable technique".

Today we visited the British and American Armies on the soil of France. We sailed through vast fleets of ships with landing-craft of many types pouring more men, vehicles and stores ashore. We saw clearly the manoeuvre in progress of rapid development. We have shared our secrets in common and helped each other all we could. We wish to tell you at this moment in your arduous campaign that we realise how much of this remarkable technique and therefore the success of the venture has its origin in developments effected by you and your staff of Combined Operations.

(Signed) Arnold, Brooke, Churchill, King, Marshall, Smut.

Scene Setting

The painting depicts a landing on Sword beach between 7.30 am and 8.30 am (5.30 am to 6.30 am local time), an hour or so after the first assault troops ducked and dived as they tenaciously fought their way up the Normandy beaches that D-Day morning.

The German defences are still holding out  and the beach and its approaches are extremely hazardous as the lines of machine gun bullets striking the water, the huge explosion farther out to sea, the stretcher bearers going about their life-saving work and the blood stained water lapping the shore all testify. It was not a place to tarry unless your name was Bill Millin who, against HQ orders, piped Lord Lovat and his No 4 Commandos off their landing craft and then proceeded to march up and down the beach to the tune of "The Road to the Isles." The Germans could easily have shot Millin dead but they had no wish to kill someone who had clearly lost his mind!

There were five landing beaches, Sword being the most easterly, with Juno, Gold, Omaha and Utah stretching out to the west for a distance of around 50 miles (80k). On D-Day alone around 6000 vessels crossed the Channel and over 100,000 men with their supplies and equipment were transported to Normandy. Around 800 RAF and USAF bombers dropped their payloads on selected targets inland of the beach areas and 13,000 paratroops were dropped behind enemy lines. All the while Allied fighters patrolled the skies in support of the invading force and to harass the enemy. 

The Action

Click on the numbers for an explanation of the key events and actions or just scroll down the page and let the story unfold. [Print Friendly Version of Text. Print Friendly Copy of Numbered Painting].

This was the largest Combined Operation in history and is unlikely to be surpassed or repeated because of changes in the conduct of war since WW2. The objective was to land assault troops with their supplies and equipment in pre-planned designated places at the right time and in sufficient numbers to overwhelm the enemy. All other activity on land, sea and in the air was in support of this.

Because of the landing craft chosen to appear in this painting, the honour of representing the hundreds of thousands of Allied troops which landed on the Normandy beaches has fallen to the men of the 2nd East Yorkshire Regiment of the 8th Infantry Brigade of the 3rd British Division and the Royal Marines.

The assault infantry are moving off the landing beach supported by a Bren Gun carrier [25] while a colour sergeant is holding aloft the battle flag [26] of the regiment. To carry the flag was neither expected nor required by regulations because of the risk of attracting the attention of snipers. Whatever motivated the colour sergeant that day his action was unselfish and courageous and no doubt promoted a spirit of camaraderie amongst the troops of the EYR.

At the water’s edge [18] further infantry are dashing ashore from LCAs (Landing Craft Assault), small flat bottomed craft with a capacity to carry about 35 troops. They had been lowered from the troopship SS Empire Battleaxe earlier that morning. Nearby, a Sherman tank [19] momentarily takes up a position in support of the landing troops before leaving the beach area. Meanwhile, more LCAs [10] from the ship are making their way to the beach. She carried in her davits the 18 craft of 537 LCA Flotilla each with a crew of 4 and space for 36 assault troops - a total of around 650 men on each full deployment of the craft. Her total capacity was 1195 fully equipped men. The Empire Battleaxe and many others ships destined for Sword beach that morning, set out from Spithead the previous evening arriving at their planned position at 5.30 hrs, two hours before H Hour. This was the time of the initial assault landings for a particular beach. The times varied a little to allow for the progress of the tide along the Normandy coast. At the appointed time she lowered her LCAs into the water much as a modern ship would lower her lifeboats during an emergency at sea.

The build-up of troops and equipment was relentless and overpowering as LCAs 770, 429 and 778 [14] poured more troops onto the landing beach. Progress was made but at considerable cost in lives. Further east along the water's edge, lie the bodies of men [21] caught in a hail of gunfire as they landed. The bodies of others, who drowned or were fatally wounded before they reached the landing beach, are washing back and forth with the tide. No beach was free of such gory images and in places the sea turned red. The wounded on the beach are receiving attention from regimental medics [20] as a chaplain kneels in prayer over a man close to death. Stretcher bearers [24] are transporting casualties to the relative safety of cover provided by an embankment and parked vehicles.

Overhead, Lancaster bombers [01] are making their way inland from the beaches to bomb heavy gun emplacements, enemy strong-points, fuel and ammunition dumps, troop concentrations, radar and communications facilities and HQ buildings; mostly targets in support of the advancing land forces. In the run up to D-Day their primary purpose had been to destroy rail and road routes into Normandy to delay the arrival of enemy reinforcements, although their area of operation was more extensive than necessary to confuse the enemy. In this way the Allied plans for the invasion of Normandy were not compromised. After D-Day the heavy bombers increasingly returned to operations against strategic targets with the exception of the largest fixed defensive installations that impeded the Allied advance in the battle grounds.

Air cover was provided by the RAF and USAF. The patrolling Spitfire [02] is one of hundreds of Allied fighter aircraft of many types that took to the air that day. Once the beachhead had been secured and the Allied Armies had moved inland, fighters operated in support of the troops using the 'cab rank' arrangement described below. As it happened the Luftwaffe were conspicuously absent for much of D-Day and when they finally made an appearance they were very few in number.

The versatile Mosquito light/medium bomber [03] was used in many different roles. Here, it is responding to a request from the advancing troops for support to clear an enemy strong point, successfully avoiding the flashes of anti-aircraft flak in the process. Later, when Army and RAF "Forward Air Controllers" were operating on or near the front line with RAF radio equipment, requests for air support were channelled through them. 'Mossies' were called upon so regularly that they circled in the forward areas like taxi cabs cruising for a fare to allow them to respond very quickly to any request for assistance.

Barrage Balloons [04] were attached to many craft to deter low level strafing and bombing attacks by enemy planes. Although not clearly visible in the painting, the tethering cables were lethal obstacles to low flying aircraft. However, not everyone aboard the landing craft felt they were a power for good. Some believed the balloons could be used by enemy observers to pin-point the location of their craft thereby increasing the accuracy of the enemy's fire.

On the horizon far out to sea [05] battleships, cruisers and destroyers had completed their shelling of the beach area but they remained on station to shell predetermined targets inland of the beaches or specific targets identified by observers and the advancing troops. LCT(R)s (Landing Craft Tank Rocket) had fired salvos of rocket propelled bombs onto the landing beaches in advance of the assault troops to soften up the enemy defences and salvos of spigot bombs had been fired from LCA(HR)s (Landing Craft Assault Hedgerow). Hedgerow was the code for spigot bombs launched in salvos while fairly close to the shoreline onto the landing beaches. The pressure wave they created detonated mines blocking exit routes from the beaches.  HQ ships of many types also occupied these waters at varying distances as they received information on the progress of the invasion and intelligence on enemy activity. Much of the information came from the three Fighter Direction Tenders, converted LSTs (Landing Ship Tanks). These craft were close to 400 ft long and normally carried heavy tanks and large lorries. However, instead the above deck area of the FDTs bristled with radio aerials and rotating radar gantries. The main HQ ship off Sword, HMS Largs, used the information from the FDTs to call on the support of the RAF and the Navy's big guns while the smaller HQ craft controlled the flow of landing craft to and from the beaches according to need and priorities .

The 2nd East Yorkshires were supported by ‘swimming tanks’, more properly called DD or Duplex Drive tanks [13]. They were Sherman tanks of ‘B’ Squadron of the 13th/18th Hussars of the 27th Armoured Brigade carried by Mk3 LCTs of the 14th LCT Flotilla of E Squadron Landing Craft under the command of Acting Commander Kenneth Sellar RN. Prior to launching, their floatation skirts were raised and secured in place to provide sufficient buoyancy for the tanks to ‘swim’ ashore under their own power transmitted through two propellers. They were launched about 5000 metres from shore and on reaching the beach the propeller mechanism was detached and the tank proceeded along the beach in the conventional manner.

LCT(A) 2433 [12] was part of the 100th LCT(A)(HE) Flotilla (Landing Craft Tank High Explosive). These were tank carriers adapted to allow the leading tanks to fire onto the beaches on the approach.     She was hit by an errant rocket fired from a LCT(R) further out to sea. 2433's bow door sustained damage but she still managed to successfully unload her cargo and withdraw from the beach. One DD tank was sunk after being rammed by an LCT while those on LCT 467 were landed directly onto the beach after the leading tank damaged its flotation skirt and could not be launched.

The  Mk 5 LCT(A) (Landing Craft Tank Assault) 2052 [16] and 2191 [17] were built in the USA and crewed by the Royal Navy. The could carry a couple of heavy tanks and field guns that were mounted on the bow to fire on the enemy as they approached the beach. They were also part of the 100th LCT(A)(HE) Flotilla of Assault Group S3 Support Squadron out of Portsmouth. There were originally 8 craft in the Flotilla but only 6  reached their destination, including 2052 and 2191, the other two having broken down. They were transporting the 5th Independent Battery of the Royal Marine Armoured Support Group with their Centaur and Sherman tanks. Both LCTs received direct hits from an enemy mobile 88mm gun and became total losses. Fortunately, in both cases their tanks had already been off-loaded.

LCT(A) 2191 lost half her crew with others severely wounded. LCT(A) 2052 did not fair much better. Their coxswain was killed at his station in the wheelhouse and other crew members were also severely wounded. The dead from both craft are buried in Hermanville cemetery. Full story here.

Mk4 LCT 947 (Mk 4 Landing Craft Tank) [15] was the mainstay of the Royal Navy in ferrying troops, tanks, lorries and supplies from the UK to the landing beaches. Over 800 were built. 947 led the 45th LCT(AVRE) (Landing Craft Tank Armoured Vehicle Royal Engineers). They were LCTs adapted to carry Hobart's "Funnies", tanks adapted for beach clearance work. Only one tank managed to disembark LCT 947 that morning.

The second tank in line carried Commander Royal Engineers, Lt Col ADB Cocks. As the tank moved forward the LCT took three direct hits in her bows. The tank lurched sideways and stopped in its tracks blocking the exit. Despite frantic efforts by engineers and the forecastle party, it proved impossible to move the tank out of the way so the remaining tanks on board could not disembark. A greater explosion soon followed when pipes packed with dynamite on board a neighbouring AVRE 'Carpet–Layer'(k), exploded. The blast killed Lt Col Cocks and the tank commander. Despite the damage, LCT 947 turned about and returned to England with most of her original cargo and the bodies of the men who had been killed aboard that morning.

LCI(S) 519 [08]  Landing Craft Infantry (Small) could carry up to 96 fully equipped troops. 519 was ‘Leader’ of the 200th LCI(S) Flotilla out of Warsash on the River Hamble. She carried the 200th Flotilla Officer, Lt Commander Rupert Curtis and Commandos of the 1st Special Service Brigade. Amongst them were the Commanding Officer of No 4 Commando, Brigadier Lord Simon Lovat and his piper Bill Millin.[22] Both of them waded ashore, Millin wearing his kilt and playing the bagpipes and Lord Lovat wearing a ‘Tam o' Shanter’, a Scottish bonnet, often tartan with a pom pom at its centre, with his white Commando sweater under his battledress tunic, although, on the day, his tunic would, undoubtedly, have been fastened!

Another craft of the 200th LCI(S) Flotilla was the LCI(S) 524. [06] She had beached under fire and took casualties after landing her Commandos. Having successfully withdrawn from the beach she received a direct hit in her high octane tanks. The craft disintegrated and the fuel ignited setting the sea ablaze. Survivors struggling in the sea were picked up by a US Navy coastguard cutter but despite this 8 members of her crew were lost.

Also in view are LCI(S) 506 [09] and nearby LCI(S) 531 lying on her side. Although originally part of the 201st Flotilla these craft were assigned to the 200th LCI(S) Flotilla on D-Day. 506 was badly damaged but managed to take off the crew of LCI(S) 531 which was sinking.

At the rear of LCT(A) 2433 is the American built LCI(L) 269 [11] (Landing Craft Infantry Large). It could carry 190 troops below deck with room for 50 more above deck when the weather permitted. She was fitted with communications and radar equipment and re-designated LCH 269 (Landing Craft Headquarters).  Her role during the assault was to direct the flow of landing craft to and from Queen Red beach.

Because of their considerable experience of recovering downed pilots and air crew, particularly from the waters around the south coast of England, the RAF Search and Rescue Launch 2687 [07] patrols off the beach in search of men in the water.

The beaches were heavily defended by gun emplacements, pill boxes and beach obstacles, the latter designed to obstruct and impede the progress of landing craft as they approached their predetermined landing areas or, in the case of those obstacles primed with powerful mines, to destroy or disable the craft. Other obstacles placed above the waterline had a similar purpose but were aimed at tanks and other mechanised vehicles and the assault troops. An armoured bulldozer [23] is clearing an area of the beach of steel tetrahedron shaped girders.

The Royal Marine sniper [27] may well have had a German officer in his sights whose elimination would add to the confusion and bewilderment spreading amongst the German troops defending the landing area. The Royal Marines were reputed to be amongst the best of snipers since they had a tradition of sniping from the cross trees of sailing ships centuries before. They had continued with sniper training when most warring nations abandoned it during periods of peace.

Makeshift signs [28] to warn of mine fields and other hard to see dangers were hastily erected. The skull and crossbones captured the attention of passing troops and vehicle drivers, while the direction and distance of the danger, scrawled underneath, provided the vital information they needed, in this case about mines.

Further Reading

There are around 300 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. 

WW2 Combined Operation

D-Day

D-Day Assault Convoy G6

Acknowledgements

Grateful thanks to David Thorp for donating his painting and giving his consent to produce prints in aid of the Combined Operations Memorial Fund and to Tony Chapman, erstwhile archivist and historian of the LST and Landing Craft Association for his advice on the content of the painting.

 

News & Information

 

Memorial Maintenance

We have a small band of volunteers who take turns to visit the memorial each month, particularly during the growing season, to undertake routine maintenance such as weeding keeping the stones and slabs clear of bird dropping, lichen etc. and reporting on any issues. If you live near the National Memorial Arboretum and would like to find out more, please contact us.

Remember a Veteran

You can pay a personal tribute to veterans who served in, or alongside, the Combined Operations Command in WW2 by adding their details and optional photo to our Roll of Honour and They Also Served pages on this website.

Read the Combined Operations prayer.

Forthcoming Events

To organisers: Reach the people who will be interested to know about your Combined Operations or war related event by adding it to our forthcoming events page free of charge.

To everyone else; Visit our forthcoming events page for things to see and places to visit. If you know of an event of possible interest, that is not listed, please let us know.

To notify an event click here.

To visit the webpage click here.

Facebook

Why not join the thousands who visit our Facebook page about the Combined Operations Command in appreciation of our WW2 veterans.

See the 'slide shows' of the dedication ceremony and the construction of the memorial plus the 'On this day in 194?' feature where major Combined Ops events are highlighted on their anniversary dates with links to additional information.

You are welcome to add information, photos and comment or reply to messages posted by others.

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.

WW2 Combined Operations Handbook

This handbook was prepared for Combined Operations in the Far East. It illustrates the depth and complexity of the planning process necessary to ensure that the 3 services worked together as a unified force.

Restoration of Geoffrey Appleyard's  Memorial 

Click on the image if you'd like to contribute to the improvement of the memorial to Geoffrey Appleyard, DSO, MC and Bar, through the purchase of a limited edition print of a book about him. Geoffrey achieved so much in service with No 7 Commando, No 62 Commando, the Small Scale Raiding Force and the Second SAS Regiment. He was posted Missing in Action in July 1943, aged 26.

www.bramleywarmemorial.com/major-geoffrey-appleyard-book-now-available-for-purchase/

The Gazelle Helicopter 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 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.

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. www.legasee.org.uk

New to Combined Ops?

Visit Combined Operations Explained for an easy introduction to the subject.

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