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There are four ways to find the information you seek: 1) click on the subject matter links immediately below where pages are grouped together under headings; 2) click on the country of interest for information of special relevance to the country concerned; 3) click on the A to Z Index where pages are listed alphabetically or use the search link in the page banner above.

 

About Us

Biographies Books Combined Ops (What are) Commandos
Contact Us D-Day to D +30 Documents & Signals FAQs Forthcoming Events
Gallery (Photos & Video) Home Page Insignia Landing Craft Links
Membership Memorials Miscellaneous Notice Boards Poetry
Post WW2 Ops Raids & Landings Re-enactments & Renovations Science & Technology Search the Website
Special Forces Training Wartime Memories Writers Young People

 

A to Z

Canada USA France Norway Holland

 

Background (What is a Combined Operation?)

Combined Operations Explained (Introduction) 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.
Combined Operations Explained (Advanced) Brief description of the principle behind a well organised Combined Operation for those already familiar with the contents of the "Introduction" immediately above. The term Joint Forces Operations is used to describe similar operations today and in 2013 a Joint Forces Command was established in the UK.
Wolfe's Combined Operation. How Wolfe's raid on Quebec in 1759 unwittingly set the ground rules for successful amphibious Combined Operations.

Biographies (Short)

Roger Keyes Churchill's 1st appointment to the post of Director Combined Operations which ended in acrimony just 15 months later in Oct 1941.
Mountbatten Lord Louis Mountbatten was Combined Operations Adviser from 17/10/41 to 17/3/42  and Chief of Combined Operations from 18/3/42 to 10/43.  Despite his youth and relative inexperience he gained the respect and co-operation of the Chiefs of Staff.
 Geoffrey Pyke A wartime Scientific Adviser whose unusual and creative mind knew no bounds. Described variously as a 'One Man Think Tank' and 'not a scientist, but a man of a vivid and uncontrollable imagination, and a totally uninhibited tongue.'
Lt Douglas Adshead-Grant This is a short biography of the man who designed the Combined Operations Badge. On 13/01/42, Lord Louis Mountbatten, Chief of the Combined Operations Command, issued a general invitation for badge designs to be submitted. One of several by Lieut. D. A. Grant, RNVR, of HMS Tormentor, was approved on 19/02/42.

Commandos

No 1  Commando A brief history of No 1 Commando from its formation in July 1940 to disbandment in 1946.
No 4  Commando A brief history of No 4 Commando from its formation on 4 March 1941 to disbandment in July 1945.
No 5 Commando A brief history of No 5 Commando from formation in July 1940 to disbandment in January 1947.
No 9 Commando A brief history of No 9 Commando from their formation in the summer of 1940 to disbandment in late 1946.
No 11 (Scottish) Commando - The Black Hackle No 11 (Scottish) Commando was formed in July 1940. Its members were dispersed to other Commando units a little over a year later. However, much of great interest was packed into this period as this 20,000 word history by Graham Lappin describes.
45 (RM) Commando (1)

This account of the early years of 45 Royal Marine Commando draws heavily on the official publication 'The Story of 45 Royal Marine Commando' written by the 45's officers and published privately for members of the unit and their relatives. The book covers the history of the unit from its formation in August 1943 until it returned from Germany in June 1945. The account here concentrates on the amphibious landings on the beaches of Normandy and the immediate aftermath. Intermingled with this account is the story of Marine Bernard Charles Sydney Fenton provided by his son Bernard.

45 (RM) Commando (2)

This account of 45 Royal Marine Commando  (45 RM Commando) concentrates on the amphibious landings on the beaches of North Africa and Sicily and the immediate aftermath.

Royal Naval Commando (The Beach Commandos) Early amphibious raids by Army Commandos between l940 and l942 proved a need for better intelligence on the landing beaches and better control of the movement of men, vehicles and supplies on the beaches during raids and landings.
Royal Air Servicing Commandos Recruited from RAF service personnel by notices posted at RAF Stations.. 'Volunteers wanted in all trades for units to be formed to service aircraft under hazardous conditions.'  ... i.e. on or near the front line!
Royal Air Servicing Commandos No 3201  Unit An often light hearted account of hazardous duties illustrated with cartoon images drawn by the author.
Sacred Squadron

An elite WW2, Greek Commando style unit operating in North Africa and the islands of the Aegean.

W Commando

The story of Canada's Juno beach Commandos from training in Scotland to Normandy on D-Day and beyond.

D-Day and its Aftermath

 Coastal Command Coastal Command's Anti-Submarine patrols on the flanks of Combined Operations.
Fighter Direction Tenders (FDTs) The story of the 3 radar, communications and intelligence gathering vessels off the beaches of Normandy in June 1944 - Fighter Direction Tenders (FDTs) 13, 216 & 217.
FDT 216 - Diary of a Leading Aircraftsman These extracts cover the service of  LAC Leslie Armitage on board Fighter Direction Tender (FDT) 216 off the American beaches of Utah and Omaha over a 10 day period from June 5 1944.

 HQ Ships

HQ Ships. The vital Command, Control & Communications role of Headquarters Ships off Normandy and during other amphibious landings. They were technological marvels of the day.

Landing Craft

Most, if not all, accounts of Landing Craft include a description of their role in the Normandy Landings.
Mulberry Harbours The Allies needed secure sheltered harbour facilities within days of the Normandy landings to supply their advancing forces until ports like Cherbourg were captured. How did they erect two harbours, each the size of Dover, in just a few days in wartime, when Dover took 7 years to construct in peacetime?

 Operation Overlord

D Day, June 6 1944! Operation Overlord was the culmination of years of planning and training by Combined Operation planners along with others, notably the USA.
Photo Gallery Photos of veterans taken in recent times mostly at commemoration events.
P.L.U.T.O The Pipeline Under the Ocean was designed to supply petrol from storage tanks in southern England to the advancing Allied armies in France in the months following D-Day. This page tells the story of the planning, development, testing and installation of the pipelines and of the contribution of PLUTO to the war effort.
Poetry Thoughtful poems about aspects of the Normandy landings.
RAF Air Sea Rescue

For a select few serving in the RAF Air Sea Rescue Service, D Day was to find them undertaking an important, top secret task which would improve the chances of survival of thousands of servicemen . It was so secret that they did not know what they were involved in until they were in position off the Normandy beaches.

Royal Observer Corp Seaborne Ops

796 talented people of the ROC participated in the D-Day landings. They were, however, not part of the Combined Operations Command but their uniforms comprised aspects of all three services.

Documents & Signals

Infamous Commando Order [Hitler] As a result of an unfortunate incident on the island of Sark a number of German soldiers were shot with their hands tied behind their backs. This apparent execution by a Commando raiding party incensed Hitler who shortly afterwards issued his infamous Commando Order.
 Western Front Preparations [Hitler] Hitler's Directive 51 - preparations for the anticipated invasion from the west. This ordered the transfer of men and materials from the eastern front because the greater, and more immediate threat, was in the west.
The Gratitude of a Nation [Churchill] An expression of a Nation's gratitude for the role of Combined Operations in planning and training for the amphibious aspects of D-Day.

Combined Operations Insignia

Lt Douglas Adshead-Grant This is a short biography of the man who designed the Combined Operations Badge. On 13/01/42, Lord Louis Mountbatten, Chief of the Combined Operations Command, issued a general invitation for badge designs to be submitted. One of several by Lieut. D. A. Grant, RNVR, of HMS Tormentor, was approved on 19/02/42.
Insignia Design & Development A copy of an article entitled 'The Combined Operations Badge, 1942-1946' by Terry Carney based on research carried out at the National Archive, Kew, London. Includes many drawings of early design ideas.
Insignia Specimens Over 50 images of Combined Operations Insignia from the early 1940s to the present day including some from overseas. Lieut D A Grant, who suggested the design, could not have known how its use would spread around the world and how it would endure over the decades to the present day.
Insignia in Use Old photos of veterans, tattooed arm, ship's funnel, scaled model of craft, Christmas card, Commando certificate etc - all clearly show the ubiquitous Combined Operations Insignia in use. If you have any examples you're happy to share, please send them in with a brief note for possible addition to this page.

Landing Craft

Landing Craft Assault Landing Craft Assault (LCA).  These small troop carrying craft were usually carried on mother ships to the landing beaches and lowered into the water with their crew of 4 and up to 36 fully armed troops on board. This first hand account includes a landing early on D-Day morning when death and destruction were constant companions.
9th LCT Flotilla Landing Craft Tank Flotilla. In Oct 1944 6 LCTs foundered off Lands End while under tow with the loss of over 50 lives. This is the tragic story of "The Lost LCT Flotilla."
601 LCM Flotilla Landing Craft Mechanised Flotilla. 601 LCM  not only battled against the enemy as they ferried supplies and ammunition from ship to shore for 6 weeks from D-Day - they also battled against the elements with tragic consequences.
814 HMLCV(P) Flotilla Landing Craft Vehicle (Personnel) Flotilla [814 HMLCV(P)] Flotilla took part in the D-Day landings. These are the recollections and impressions  of  former Royal Marine Roy Nelson.
HDML 1301 Harbour Defence Motor Launch. The role of Harbour Defence Motor Launch 1301 in Operation Brassard, the invasion of Elba, and its subsequent service and return to Holland for restoration.
HM LCG 19 Landing Craft Gun number 19, (LCG 19) was one of a class of converted landing craft that provided supporting fire in the area of landing beaches during amphibious assaults in WW2. It was to be home to linesman Harold Dilling for over two years and it would take him into many very hazardous situations both natural and man made.

HM LCV (P) 1228

Landing Craft Vehicle (Personnel), LCV(P) 1228  was a relatively small flat bottomed boat whose main function in WW2 was to deliver assault troops onto enemy held shores. Collectively there were many hundreds of these craft but, even so, they were just a small blip in the great sweep of events beginning June 6th 1944.
HM LCT(R) 363 Landing Craft Tank (Rocket). The Allies had a few secret weapons to surprise the defending German forces on the beaches of Normandy in June 1944. One such was the Landing Craft Tank (Rocket) or (LCT(R) which, in just a few seconds, fired dozens of rockets carrying high explosives on to the landing beaches in advance of the first wave of assault troops. The aim was to destroy, disable, disrupt and disorientate the enemy forces. This is one story told by stoker Frank Woods, DSM.
HM LCT 318 Landing Craft Tank. This is the story of one Landing Craft Tank seen through the eyes of the craft's electrician. It saw action off Dieppe, North Africa, Sicily, Italy and Normandy. After such an illustrious wartime service the end came from an unexpected source. This Mk3 HMLCT 318 was built by Teesside Bridge and Engineering Company and launched on February 14th 1942.
HMLCT(4) 749 Landing Craft Tank 749 - HMLCT(4) 749 was involved in the first assault wave onto Gold Beach on the morning of D-Day. It was part of the 28th LCT Flotilla D LCT Squadron. Its cargo included specially adapted tanks (known as Hobart's Funnies) for the clearance of beach obstacles in advance of troop landings. This was hazardous work undertaken before enemy resistance in the area of the landing beaches had been cleared.
HM LCT 795 Landing Craft Tank. HMLCT 795 from early training to D-Day and beyond seen through the eyes of the craft's electrician. From the hazardous work off Normandy, where experiences shared bonded the crew together, to an unexpected event that dispersed them without ceremony. The author never met any of them again.
 HM LCT 821 Landing Craft Tank. On D-Day Signalman Eric J. Loseby served with His Majesty's Landing Craft Tank 821 of the 42nd Flotilla of I Squadron Landing Craft. This is his story. From training and over-wintering in the cold waters around Scotland's northern shores to undertaking running repairs while stranded on a Normandy beach, there were many hardships and dangers. The common purpose of these non specialised landing craft was to transport the Allied armies, their weapons, equipment and supplies across the English Channel.
 HM LCT 861 Landing Craft Tank. HMLCT 861 was a unit of the 38th Flotilla of Assault Group S3 Support Squadron. Their task on D-Day was to support the first assault wave by providing withering fire onto enemy targets on or near to the landing beaches and thereafter to discharge their cargo of tanks and men onto the beaches.
HM LCT 979 Landing Craft Tank. LCT 979 saw action on the Normandy beaches but took on a much more hazardous task a few months later against the island fortress of Walcheren. Against the odds they survived, battered but not broken.
 HM LCT 980

Landing Craft Tank. HMLCT 980 was one of hundreds of similar vessels that saw action on the Normandy beaches in June 1944 and again at Walcheren in Holland in Nov 1944. It gives a good description of the vessel, its specifications, life onboard after the action was over including an ignominious end on the Thames.

HM LCT 1171 & HM LCH 75 Landing Craft Tank & Landing Craft Headquarters. LCT 1171 survived the Normandy landings but broke her back, split in two and sank on a routine return trip to UK shores. LCH 75 was a HQ vessel fitted out for Far East Service. The atomic bombs halted her journey in the Middle East. A remarkable trip to the USA followed when this US owned vessel was returned to its owners.
HM LCT 2304 Landing Craft Tank. D-Day. Two views of the same events from the perspectives of a British Navy landing craft crew and their 'cargo' of US Army soldiers.
HM LCT 2331

- ditto -

HM LST427 Landing Ship Tank. A Photo Gallery of 49 rare photographs of 427 in action off Sicily, Italy and Normandy. The photographs were taken by Temporary Acting Lieutenant Commander W.G.E. Rawlinson RNVR who commanded 427 during 1943- 45.
HM LCF Landing Craft Flack bristled with gun turrets to provide anti aircraft cover for other vessels off enemy held landing beaches. On first seeing his craft the author mistook her for local bomb damage! A light-hearted and humorous style belies the very dangerous situations he found himself in and the death and destruction he witnessed.
HM LCF 7 Landing Craft Flack. The author faced death on many occasions and witnessed much carnage. But, as he walked down LCF7s gangplank for the last time with the thanks of the Captain and his fellow officers ringing in his ears, he gave the customs officer a deferential wink and stepped ashore with a heavy heart.
HM LBK 6 Landing Barge Kitchen. (HMLBK 6) provided hot food off the Normandy beaches and continued in Navy use into the 21st century. On the LBK web page it is seen departing Portsmouth Naval Base at 13.30 hours on May 10th 2007 under tow of a marine tug out of Itchen. Read on to find out what happened next.
Landing Craft Support Squadron Landing Craft Support Squadron. Support landing craft in the form of LCGs, LCFs and LCRs (guns, flack and rockets) provided fire power to soften up entrenched enemy positions on and near the beaches in advance of troop landings. This account provides an insight into the establishment of a support flotilla and its deployment.
Landing Craft Tank Squadron Landing Craft Tank Squadron. This is an incisive and often amusing account of a Landing Craft Tank Squadron from early training in the harsh, cold winter of 1943/44 in the Moray Firth in Scotland to the hazardous landings on the Normandy beaches on D-Day June 6 1944. It's told by the late Lieutenant Commander of the squadron, MOW Miller, RN, later Commander.
LCA, LCM & LCI (L) Landing Craft Various. Canadian Kendal Kidder trained and served on different types of small landing craft; Landing Craft Assault (LCA) Landing Craft Mechanised (LCM) Landing Craft Infantry Large LCI (L). Their purpose and functions are described on the web page.
LCS(M)s of the 524 LCA Flotilla LCS(M)s were manned by Royal Marines. Their primary task was to assist in the establishment of beachheads for the oncoming waves of regular troops about to land. Until the beaches and their environs were cleared of the enemy the Royal Marines were exposed to heavy fire.
LST HMS Misoa Taken from the shallow waters of Venezuela's Lake Maracaibo in South America, Misoa saw service off  N Africa, Pantellaria, Sicily, Italy and Normandy. These are the wartime memories of a young Royal Navy seaman who served on her. Although his ship didn't have the sleek lines and style of a cruiser, it came through many actions relatively unscathed.
HM LST Thruster HMLST(1) Thruster was built by Harland and Wolf, Belfast, Northern Ireland and launched on September 24th 1942. She later took part in the invasions of Sicily, Salerno, Anzio and Southern France. The photographs on this page are a rare record of those times when the taking of such photos was banned.
HMS Royal Ulsterman An ex English Channel Ferry used to carry tanks, lorries, men and equipment directly onto the beaches. Saw action off North Africa, Pantellaria, Sicily, Italy and Normandy.
HMS Empire Battleaxe The 'Empire' ships were built to carry eighteen LCAs [Landing Craft Assault] and to accommodate about one thousand troops. The LCAs were lowered over the side with troops and their light equipment already on board. Interestingly, US procedures lowered the LCAs empty with troops going over the side of the mother ship using scrambling nets.
HMS Glenearn

HMS Glenearn was a class of vessel known as Landing Ship Infantry (Large) LSI(L). She and vessels like her formed the majority of the infantry carrying ships in the three British invasion forces formed for the Normandy landings.- G (for Gold), J (for Juno) and S (for Sword), the last included HMS Glenearn, a converted 16 knot cargo liner of about 10,000 tons carrying two Landing Craft Assault (LCA) Flotillas of twelve craft each.

D-Day Landings A general overview of the role of landing craft off the 5 landing beaches of Normandy. Includes many of the above plus Landing Craft Tank (Armoured) [LCT(A)], Landing Craft Tank (High Explosives) [LCT (HE)], Landing Craft Tank (Rocket) [LCT(R)], Landing Craft Assault Mortars [LCA(HR)]. Also includes individual harrowing stories.
D-Day Assault Convoy G6 A routine enquiry about RN Able Seaman Norman Kenwood, recorded lost at sea on June 6th 1944 from Landing Craft Assault 591 (LCA 591) led the LST and Landing Craft Association into uncharted waters. The end result of was a correction to the Commonwealth War Grave Commission's records.
Landing Craft from a Canadian Perspective A comprehensive, often humorous account of life on a Landing Craft in the UK, Africa, and Europe from the perspective of a young Canadian volunteer. Lloyd Evans packed more experience of life into just a few years than most young people today pack into a lifetime. Although there were times of rest and relaxation always present was the next unknown mission with moments of great danger.
Operation Tiger The Disaster in Lyme Bay. A pre D-Day landing craft training exercise which was to culminate in the loss of 749 American lives.
New LCAs Rare photographs of newly completed Landing Craft Assault (LCAs) being handed over to the Royal Navy by builders Elliotts of Reading, Berkshire, England. It is believed the photographs were taken in September 1944.
US LST 28 The story of a United States Landing Ship Tank and a crew member.
US LCT (R) A first hand account of the use and deployment of United States Landing Craft Tank (Rocket) vessels in WW2 as told by a Group Commander. These craft were most effective in launching hundreds of explosive projectiles onto enemy held beaches just minutes ahead of Allied troops landing. Timing and accuracy were of the essence.
US LCT (R) 439 This is an account of WW2 United States Landing Craft Tank (Rocket) 439 - USLCT(R) 439. This specialized landing craft carried 2896 5" x 4' explosive rockets (127mm x 1.2m) designed to soften up enemy coastal defensive positions immediately prior to the landing of the main Allied invasion force.
US LCI(L) 502 US LCI(L) 502 carried 196 Officers an men of the Durham Light Infantry to Gold Beach on the wild and windy morning of June 6th 1944. This account is based on the writings and recollections of John P Cummer and information from the craft's Deck Log.

Memorials & Plaques

Combined Ops Memorial Sub-Web A single click to the Combined Operations Memorial sub-web where you'll find all you need to know including the latest photos of the memorial under construction and donations to the memorial fund including an impressive painting called "Combined Operations - A Normandy Beachhead."
Memorials and Plaques See a diverse range of existing Combined Operations memorials and plaques world-wide.
Roll of Honour Family and friends of veterans who died in action or training while serving in the Combined Operations Command are welcome to add veteran's details to this page in the way of a personal tribute.
They Also Served Family and friends of veterans who served in the Combined Operations Command are welcome to add veteran's details to this page in the way of a personal tribute. We owe a debt of gratitude to those who served the Allied cause in Combined Operations and who were fortunate to return home after the conflict.

Miscellaneous

ROC - Royal Observer Corp Although not part of Combined Operations The Royal Observer Corp provided vital early identification of approaching enemy ships and planes for Allied gunners.
HMS COPRA The name of HMS COPRA is often used in pay records and even grave stones. The significance of the term is explained here.
Table of Contents List of website pages, photos and files.

Notice Boards

Operations and Units. Appeals for information about specific operations, Commando and other units.
Veterans. Appeals for information about individual Combined Operations veterans.
Other. Appeals for information of a general nature.

Poetry

Poetry Page 1). 5 thoughtful poems about aspects of the Normandy landings.
  2). Commando Memorial. In memory of the 1,700 Commandos who died in action.

Post War Combined Operations

Suez The Suez landing was the first Combined Operation to use helicopters. One Regimental Signaller with the Royal Artillery remembers.
Training in Germany 1947 - 1950 A photo gallery of  24 photos. All the photos were taken on Combined Operations manoeuvres at Ekernforde in Schleswick Holstein in northern Germany in early 1948.

Raids & Landings

Raids & Landings Index Raids & landings in chronological order from Operation Catapult at Mers-el-Kebir on 4/7/40 to Operation Infatuate at Walcheren 1-8 November 1944.
 Landing Craft All the landing craft operations listed above were involved in raids and landings. Just click on the link opposite to see the web pages concerned.
Operation Starkey The invasion that never was. The war years are littered with stories of deception designed to confuse the enemy.  Systematic bombing of selected targets over several weeks in late August and early September 1943 and an invasion armada of empty ships were the key elements.
Small Scale Raiding Force (SSRF) They specialised in "pinprick" raids on the coast of Northern France and the Channel Islands. They were designed to demoralise German troops as well as tying up enemy resources that would otherwise be used more effectively on other fronts.

Re-enactments & Renovations

HDML 1301 The role of Harbour Defence Motor Launch 1301 in Operation Brassard, the invasion of Elba its post war service and return to Holland for restoration.
No 3 Commando The No 3 Commando Re-enactment Group is based in the south west of Scotland. It has an educational bias in addition to participating in re-enactment (living history) events and displays. The group aims to inform and educate people of all ages about one of the most critical periods in our history - the Second World War.
No 10 Inter Allied (IA) Commando. Click on the link to visit their website in Holland.
 Scottish Military Re-enactment Society  SMRS is based in the south and east of Scotland. Units within SMRS include: a Combined Operations Section in particular the Small Scale Raiding Force, the Special Operations Executive, Airborne (British and American), Infantry, Royal Navy, Home Guard and the Auxiliary Territorial Service.

Science & Technology

DD Tanks DD Tanks were designed to make their own way to the landing beaches after disembarking from their Landing Craft a mile or two offshore. Each was fitted with twin Duplex Drive screws (hence DD) and an inflatable floatation screen. Whether they swam, sailed or motored this remarkable amphibious craft and their brave crews were early arrivals on the Normandy beaches.
Fighter Direction Tenders (FDTs) The story of the 3 radar, communications and intelligence gathering vessels off the beaches of Normandy in June 1944 - Fighter Direction Tenders (FDTs) 13, 216 & 217.
Mulberry Harbours The Allies needed secure sheltered harbour facilities within days of the Normandy landings to supply their advancing forces until ports like Cherbourg were captured. How did they erect two harbours, each the size of Dover, in just a few days in wartime, when Dover took 7 years to construct in peacetime? It was a civil engineering project of immense size and complexity.
PLUTO The Pipeline Under the Ocean was designed to supply petrol from storage tanks in southern England to the advancing Allied armies in France in the months following D-Day. This page tells the story of the planning, development, testing and installation of the pipelines and of the contribution of PLUTO to the war effort.
PLUTO Manufacture Many companies were involved in the manufacture of machines which, in turn, would manufacture the pipeline. This page provides information on some of the major players.
PLUTO Salvaged The recovery of PLUTO from the depths of the English Channel was the mother of all salvage operations - dangerous, arduous and huge! There were 21 pipelines and after two years work almost 800 miles were recovered for recycling.
PLUTO in Fawley PLUTO, the WW2 Pipe Line Under The Ocean, had a sizeable network of storage tanks, pumping stations and pipelines in southern England to ensure an adequate supply of fuel could be pumped to the Allied armies as they advanced across occupied mainland Europe and into Germany. This is an account of one tiny part of that network as remembered by a local resident, then a young boy.
Navigational Aids Navigational aids helped landing craft locate their target beaches especially at night. Accurate navigation was vital to all amphibious Combined Operations otherwise well researched and rehearsed plans would disintegrate into chaos with potentially disastrous consequences. This account by Commander Philip Noel tells of his involvement in navigational experiments while based for 5 years at HMS Saunders, a RN base that was part of the Combined Training Centre Middle East at Kabret on the Little Bitter Lake, Egypt.
Ice Ships in the Rockies! The improbable but true story of a top secret WW2 project to build ships from a mixture of ice and sawdust. Behold ye among the heathen, and regard and wonder marvellously: for I will work a work in your days, which ye will not believe, though it be told to you. So reads a biblical quotation from the book of Habakkuk ... a name adopted by the top secret project to build ice ships.

Special Units and Forces

574 Field Security Section It's likely that Field Security Section of 3 Special Service Brigade did not operate directly under the Combined Operations Command. However, where 574's activities involved amphibious landings, or raids, Commando support was often provided... as in the case of the main 'snatching' operation described on this page.
 SSRF The Small Scale Raiding Force specialised in "pinprick" raids on the coast of Northern France and the Channel Islands. They were designed to demoralise German troops as well as tying up enemy resources that would otherwise be used more effectively on other fronts.
COPPs

Combined Operations Assault Pilotage Parties. They risked their lives to gather information about proposed landing beaches and in-shore waters usually under the noses of enemy coastal defences including land and sea patrols.

Training

UK Training Establishments Combined Operations training in WW2 was primarily concerned with preparing allied forces for the amphibious invasion of mainland Europe. There were 45 separate establishments listed, mainly in the west of Scotland and the south of England, all of which served to fill particular training needs.
No 1 Combined Training Centre Around 250,000 personnel passed through the portals of the training centre from 1940 to 1944. At any one time up to 15,000 service personnel were billeted in the area. The impact on the small community of 500 can only be imagined!

CTC Middle East

The Combined Training Centre (CTC) Middle East at Kabret, on the Egypt's Little Bitter Lake, was the first Combined Operations Training Establishment located outside the United Kingdom. Its purpose was to train RN personnel in the operation of landing craft and together with the troops of many Allied nations, to practice amphibious landings prior to operations against the enemy in the Mediterranean. Its associated naval base, HMS Saunders, was commissioned in March 1941 (under the name of HMS Stag (Division K) with Commander RKC Pope DSO, RN in command.

Middle East Signals Training

Signals Training in the Middle East was undertaken at HMS Saunders a Royal Navy shore base which formed part of  The Combined Training Centre (CTC) Middle East at Kabret on Egypt's Little Bitter Lake. It was the first Combined Operations Training Establishment located outside the United Kingdom. Its purpose was to train RN personnel in the operation of landing craft and, together with the troops of many Allied nations, to practice amphibious landings prior to operations against the enemy in the Mediterranean. This page concentrates on Signals Training.

HMS Brontosaurus

This page provides information about HMS Brontosaurus, Castle Toward, Dunoon, Argyll, otherwise known as the No 2 Combined Training Centre and CTC Castle Toward (pronounced as in coward). The centre was located at Toward Point 6mls south of Dunoon on the Clyde. Includes many photos.
516 Combined Operations Squadron RAF air support for Combined Operations training in amphibious landings was provided by 516 Sqd. Both the training and the squadron were located at Dundonald, Ayrshire  in the south west of Scotland.
1st Canadian Corps This account of Combined Operations training at the No 1 CTC Inveraray is presented in two parts; the first a report from official Canadian war records and the second the personal recollections of a Canadian war artist.
 Small Landing Craft One Canadian volunteer's training in small landing craft operations. Thousands of landing craft of many different kinds, together with a well trained force of Navy personnel to operate them, were essential for any major seaborne landing against entrenched enemy positions.

Wartime Recollections

COHQ - Memories of a Secretary Joyce Pitchford, nee Rogers, was employed in Combined Operations Headquarters (COHQ) in WW2.  She worked with both Keyes and Mountbatten before moving to the War Cabinet after the main work of Combined Operations was over following the D-Day landings.
516 Squadron RAF - Memories of a pilot 516 Combined Ops Squadron was attached to Combined Operations to provide air support during amphibious training exercises, calibration of radar etc. These are the memories of New Zealander, Doug Shears.
US Ranger to British Commando

How the war of 20 year old USA citizen G W McCurdy was changed by a late night in a Belfast city pub!

Inveraray in Wartime In the early to mid 1940s the small Scottish town of Inveraray was host to an estimated quarter of a million men undergoing Combined Operations training in amphibious landing techniques on the shores of Loch Fyne. These are the personal recollections of these times compiled by three local residents.
Occupation of Walcheren  Jan H. Wigard of Walcheren, Holland was a small boy when he lived through the trauma of the German occupation. This is his story.

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.

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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.

About Us?

Background to the website and memorial project, and a look to the future; plus other small print stuff and website accounts etc. Click here for information.

 

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 -.

 

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