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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.

   Visit our Facebook page to see a selection of the best photos of the memorial under construction and the dedication ceremony on July 4th 2013, plus other posts. News and Information at the bottom of this and every webpage.

~ COMBINED OPERATIONS INSIGNIA

SPECIMENS

There are 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. [These images should not be used to validate or otherwise the authenticity of any specimens that may come into your hands.]

WW2 Post WW2 & Modern Further Reading Correspondence Acknowledgments

WW2

1 2 3 4 5 6

1

Unknown.

2

This is the yellow embroidered wartime 'economy' Combined Ops badge on blue felt. The 'Royal Navy' white embroidered title on dark blue felt battledress was worn above the Combined Operations sign (Yellow silk thread was authorised as an economy, instead of gold wire during WW2.)

3

This embroidered Army badge, yellow on dark blue, was worn beneath the shoulder title 3 Contingent OG. More information here http://www.insigne.org/OSS-3OG.htm See also 22 below.

4

A variation of (3) gold wire embroidered on black felt.

5

This is a Royal Navy badge - blue on white felt. It is a printed item and was used on white uniforms. See No 31 below.

6

This is a locally made variation of the Combined Operations badge on felt worn below a 'British Pacific Fleet' shoulder title silver wired on the same material.
7 8 9 10 11 12

7

This is an Army badge - a variation of the normal Combined Operations badge and worn during WW2. They were issued in pairs and worn on the right arm.

8

This is a variation of No 7 but possibly worn by Commandos in the early period. Worn on left arm.

9

This badge was worn by No 9 Commando guard of honour when part of No 2 Commando Brigade HQ in the Mediterranean Theatre in 1945. The No 9 Commando title was red lettering on dark blue above the Combined Operations badge which was the original red embroidered on a dark blue circle.

10

This badge was worn by Commando units.

11

Matching pair (with 12).

12

Matching pair (with 11).
13 14 15 16 17 18
13 A Royal Navy yellow on dark blue Combined Operations badge which was worn below a white embroidered Royal Navy Commando title on dark blue.

Terry Carney writes;
I believe these shoulder titles are post WWII and came in to use much later than the wartime R.N. Commando shoulder titles. The No 13 badges were possibly worn by Commando trained Royal Navy Surgeons. When I was researching the Royal Navy / Commando title I could never find any proof of it being worn with the C.O. Badge. If the person who supplied the illustrations (or anyone else) has any proof that these two items were worn together, including  photographic evidence, if any, I'd be pleased to receive a copy.
14 Similar to 13 above but may have been worn in the immediate post war period.
15 The SBS (Special Boat Section) was, by the nature of their dangerous and clandestine operations, often behind enemy lines, a secretive organisation. Even to this day precise details of their activities are hard to come by. This image was provided by Tom Colville whose late father was in the SBS.
16 Unknown variant.  
17 I am currently (2005) serving with 6 Assault Sqn RM onboard HMS Albion as an LCU Mk10 Cox'n and although we do not officially wear the insignia the ship does. We wear it on t-shirts, rugby shirts, rugby club tie etc. We are very proud to carry on the traditions of the Combined Ops ethos into the 21st century. [Photo and information provided by Sgt Tom Clow RM].
18 This Canadian design was created in consultation with the Dieppe Veterans and Prisoner of War Association to recognise those who participated in the Dieppe Raid on August 19 1942... to be worn on a blue blazer.
19 20 21 22 23 24

19

The prestigious combined Operations Insignia as worn by the Commandos and others in WW2. They were positioned on the upper arm with the gun barrels pointing forward. When displayed, as here, the barrels pointed towards each other. These particular insignia saw "active service" off the Normandy beaches on the arms of an RCAF LAC on board the radar and communications vessel FDT 217.

20

USA variant of the British badge. An article on the American Army Engineering Amphibian Units mentions that the shoulder patch worn by members was approved on June 17th 1942. This patch, embroidered in yellow on a light blue background, was worn at the top of the left arm only.

21

USA variant of the British badge. The American Naval Amphibious forces shoulder insignia is embroidered on a scarlet background of the same colour as the scarlet chevrons of a rating badge. The badge was approved by the Secretary of the Navy in BUPERS Circ LTR-44 on June 15th 1944. It was worn at the top of the left arm only. The authorisation to wear the insignia terminated with the individuals detachment from the Amphibious Forces.

22

A badge worn by some, if not all, of the 125 Jogoslav speaking Americans of 3 Contingent US Operational Group (USOG) under Land Forces Adriatic (LFA) command. This was a locally manufactured version of the British Combined Operations formation sign. It was accompanied by a matching shoulder title embroidered yellow on black (see below). This insignia was very short-lived since 3 Contingent USOG became Company C 2671 Special Reconnaissance Battalion in August 1944. Click on shoulder title to enlarge

23

A facing pair of hand made WW2 Combined Ops badges. There is a little moth damage to one of them. [Photo and information courtesy of Colin Allmark, USA].

24

This USA Combined Operations patch is similar to No 21 above but this time it was worn by Albert Casani of the US  326th Glider Infantry.

 
25 26 27 28 29 30

25

 

26

An original American version. I thought it was faded but behind the backing it was the same colour. (Photo and information courtesy of Colin Allmark, USA).
 
Addendum. This is a British made badge and was the first of three attempts to produce badges for the Americans. When worn on the left arm of the American uniforms the Eagle faced in the wrong direction. The second attempt reversed the Tommy Gun,  These were returned to the manufacturer and the wings were extended. The Combined Operations Head Quarters received a report in 1943 that a Combined Operations Badge embroidered in yellow on blue, believed to be the one worn by the Americans, was on sale in any number of shops in London. Terry Carney. [To see Terry Carney's fascinating account of the history of the Combined Operations badge click here.]

27

Gold thread anchor, gold wire thread Tommy gun with brass cast eagle secured by folding pins on black cloth. This is the third one I have seen  now so its not a "one off " made by and individual but probably part of  a production run. Is this an official issue? If you know anything about this patch please contact us. (Photo and information courtesy of Michael Whittaker).

Hi Geoff, Regarding the status of this badge perhaps the following information will be of interest. During WW2 printed Combined Operations badges were issued and were the official badges. All embroidered Combined Operations badges during this period were considered unofficial. However, it is known that embroidered badges were worn extensively and were available from Military Tailors shops. I do have one of the badges shown as specimen No. 27.  It is of a different construction than any other C.O. Badge I have come across. The Anchor is embroidered in yellow threads and highlighted in gold wire and the Tommy gun is embroidered in gold wire. The Eagle has never been embroidered on this badge and in its place a brass Eagle with two brass wires for fixing has been used. It's possible that this type of brass eagle was originally made for RAF officers' Service Dress cap badges and is the reason the Eagle is facing in the opposite direction or possibly for the Royal Navy Fleet Air Arm officers. I believe that these badges were possibly made for a Royal Navy Fleet Air Arm Unit which operated under the Combined Operations Command. Does any reader know of such a unit?  See the photographs of my badge with the Eagle removed to show how it was made,  Yours sincerely Terry Carney.   

28

Locally made example of the Combined Operations patch believed produced in Yugoslavia 1943 - 45. [Photo and information courtesy of Michael Whittaker].

29

Gold wire on black as worn on the British naval square rig top (No.1 or no.2 dress?) This particular patch was worn by a member of the Combined Ops Bombardment Units who was parachuted in with the airborne units the night before D-Day. [Photo and information courtesy of Michael Whittaker].

30

It was not unknown  for badges to be made locally in remote locations overseas. The history of this rather crude hand-made example is unknown but most likely falls into that category. [Photo courtesy of Michael Whittaker].
 
31 32 33 34 35 36

31

Hand embroidered onto blue cloth then stitched around a cardboard  template. [Photo courtesy of Michael Whittaker].

32

An official  issue example, blue design on white cloth  as worn by Royal Navy service personnel. See No 5 above. [Photo courtesy of Michael Whittaker].

33

This badge, together with the Stars and Stripes of the USA (displayed under no 34), was worn by RAF Servicing Commando Unit 3201 when part of Operation Torch near Algiers in North Africa. The American flag (about 3 inches by 5 inches) was worn by British forces to appease the French. The combined ops badge is about 2 and a half inches in diameter. For more information about Operation Torch click here.

34

See 33 above

35

 

36

Printed on cloth rather than embroidered, this badge is believed to have been worn by a WW2 RAF servicemen. It is approx 2 5/8" in diameter. [Photo and information courtesy of John McIntosh].

37 38 39 40 41 42

37

These three badges show stages in the British attempts to produce badges for the Americans. When 37 was worn on the left arm the Eagle and Tommy gun faced in the wrong direction. The second (38) attempt reversed both. These variants were returned to the manufacturer and the wings were extended as in 39.  Combined Operations Head Quarters received a report in 1943 that the combined Operations Badge embroidered in yellow on blue, believed to be that worn by the Americans, was on sale in any number of shops in London.  [Terry Carney]

38

39

40

Embroidered version of the American badge obtained from a well known American collector who informed me that this badge had been manufactured in Germany. [Terry Carney]

41

Gold coloured wire version of the American badge. [Terry Carney]

42

Amphibious Force - US Atlantic Fleet. [Tom Bryan]. http://www.history.navy.mil/library/guides/rosters/amphib_atl.htm

Post WW2 and Modern Badges

1 2 3 4 5 6

1

The Combined Operations device comprised of the anchor, tommy gun and eagle was used by Canadian forces during WW2. In 1998 use of the device was revived with the development of a Canadian amphibious warfare establishment badge by Naval Lieutenant Karl Gagnon, a noted military heraldry designer, of a design by Major R.D. Bradfiord, the Canadian Armed Forces' amphibious warfare officer. This insignia remains in the approval process and is still in use.

2

In 2005, the basic device was adopted as an expedient, temporary logo for the new Standing Contingency
Task Force (SCTF), a rapid-response, seaborne, sea-based tri-Service formation. It was intended that this be superseded by a new badge, but the retention of the Combined Operations device for the specialist amphibious elements was intended. 

3

In 2006, the officer commanding the Amphibious Reconnaissance & Clearance Squadron, Lieutenant-Commander D. Hopkie, arranged for the acquisition and issue of temporary badges for the Maritime Amphibious Unit (MAU) a new unit comprised of reconnaissance, clearance, landing craft and naval beach party elements. This patch entered service unofficially in 2006 and remained in use until the unexpected disbandment of the new force and the Maritime Amphibious Unit in 2007.

4

This badge is a desert-coloured version of badge 10. It could very well have been worn by helicopter crewman serving in Iraq, or anyone else who had served with the UK JFACHQ as cadre staff or by attachment prior to the adoption of the new badge (No 8) in the latter half of 2005. Information provided by Neale Dewar. [Images provided by Glynn Roberts a member of the Military Heraldry Society].

5

As for 40 above.

6

Commander, United Kingdom Amphibious Forces. May be worn by Royal Marines and possibly other forces. Any information about this badge would be very welcome. Neale Dewar further explains, "This is simply a subdued version of badge 9, to be worn on DPM rather than used on letterhead. (See Contact Us at the bottom of this page). [Images provided by Glynn Roberts a member of the Military Heraldry Society.]
7 8 9 10 11 12

7

Badge used by the United Kingdom Permanent Joint Headquarters, known as PJHQ, based in Northwood. It is UK's senior operation military command, responsible for all the joint contingency operations outside UK's shores.  The staff of the HQ have a strong affinity with their Combined Operations forbears and wear the same badge with pride. [Image provided by Glynn Roberts, a member of the Military Heraldry Society and the information provided by John McIntosh].

8

UK JFAC(HQ) badge introduced on 1 Apr 2006 in its triangular format in order to differentiate it from the JTFHQ and other force elements, who had adopted the Combined Arms centre elements and a green outer/base replacing only the text, hence all looking remarkably similar. It replaced the circular badge numbered 25 above. (AK). Neale Dewar further explains; "Badge 8 was introduced to stop confusion with the JTFHQ or other CO-based badges. (At any distance the script on the green border was impossible to discern.)  The triangular shape recalls the colour patch of the WW1 Australian Flying Corps (without the CO badge!), with colours charged to be more indicative of the RAF, which provides the vast majority of JFACHQ staff."

9

The Commander United Kingdom Amphibious Forces (COMUKAMPHIBFOR) is the very high readiness deployable 2 Royal Marines HQ embedded within the Fleet Battlestaffs. COMUKAMPHIBFOR is a permanently constituted 2 HQ held at very high readiness to command joint and combined operations at the operational level. It is commanded by a Royal Marine Major General, and located in the Fleet Battlestaff buildings on Whale Island in Portsmouth. Commander United Kingdom Maritime Forces (COMUKMARFOR), commanded by a Royal Navy Rear Admiral, is co-located. Collectively COMUKMARFOR, COMUKAMPHIBFOR, COMATG, COMUKTG and HQ 3 Cdo Bde RM comprise the "Fleet Battlestaffs". (9/06)

10

This shoulder patch is currently (May 05) used by the UK Joint Force Air Component Headquarters, based at High Wycombe. The JFACHQ was formed in Apr 2000, adopting a variation of the Combined Operations badge as already used by the deployable Joint Force Headquarters at Northwood. Since formation, the JFACHQ has deployed on operations including PALLISER (Sierra Leone), ORACLE/VERITAS (Afghanistan) and TELIC (Iraq).  A new patch, more recognisable as unique from the JFHQ, is under development however, although it will retain the Combined Operations badge as its centrepiece. See 33 below. [N.D.]

11

This modern badge was for the Commodore Amphibious Warfare. The title was changed on December 1 1997 to Commodore Amphibious Task Group (COMATG) in recognition of the growing importance of amphibious warfare. The group comprises several assault and Royal Fleet Auxiliary vessels.

12

The recent commissioning of HMNZS CANTERBURY (LSL-421) has allowed us to use the Combined Operations symbol as the basis of the ship's unofficial badge (as opposed to official crest) and as a headmark for the development of a future ad hoc capability. In addition, in recognition for the ship’s mission, the motto is Kotahitanga which means Unity. [HMNZS Canterbury on U-Tube].

13 14 16 16 17 18

13

Logo of the United Kingdom Permanent Joint Headquarters, known as PJHQ, based in Northwood. It is the UK's senior operation military command, responsible for all the joint contingency operations outside UK shores. For more information click on the link. See also No 43.

14

Buckle of a Joint Operations stable belt, showing the three single service colours and a buckle with the Combined Ops badge. This particular belt pre-dates PJHQ (see 43 above) since I received mine when working in the JHQ, High Wycombe, established for the 1990 - 91 Gulf War. [Image and  information provided by John McIntosh].

15

The 1990/91 Gulf War Medal showing the Combined Ops badge with an SA80 rifle replacing the Thompson sub-machine gun. The colours at the edge of the medal ribbon, bordering the desert yellow, are those of the three Services. [Image and  information provided by John McIntosh].

16

Belt buckle from the Senior Non Commissioned Officer in Charge of HF / TX  HMS Bushrincon  J.C.U.F.I  (Joint Communications Unit Falkland Islands Dec 88 - Apr 89. [Photo and information courtesy of Michael Whittaker].

17

The badge of the LST and Landing Craft Association. The Association was founded in 1987 by Shipmate WJ (Bill) Chalk with the aim of promoting and maintaining fellowship between members of a similar service background. It also serves to give moral support to members in case of need and to provide financial assistance to less fortunate members, as funds may allow, at the discretion of the Management Committee.

18

The next deployment of UK forces in Afghanistan is due to take place in April 2011. The UK’s current framework Brigade in Helmand, 16 Air Assault Brigade, will be replaced by 3 Commando Brigade. The badges at 18 and 19 will be worn by the Theatre Logistic Group and the Joint Force Support HQ. [Images courtesy of Si Soley]. (12/10) 

19 20 21 22 23 24

19

The next deployment of UK forces in Afghanistan is due to take place in April 2011. The UK’s current framework Brigade in Helmand, 16 Air Assault Brigade, will be replaced by 3 Commando Brigade. The badges at 18 and 19 will be worn by the Theatre Logistic Group and the Joint Force Support HQ. [Image courtesy of Si Soley]. (12/10) 

20

I found your valuable website while researching the British Combined Ops/American Amphibian Assigned Personnel patch.  I enclose a scan of the United States Army 1st Engineer Brigade shoulder insignia for your Specimens page. According to The Institute of Heraldry The insignia was re-designated for the 1st Engineer Brigade and amended to update the description and add a symbolism on 20 July 2007.
 
The scanned patch is the ACU (Army Combat Uniform) variation, but the traditional gold on a blue background is worn on dress uniforms. There is possibly an ACU variation with a black border also.

My father was a member fo the 348th Engineer Combat Battalion, 5th Engineer Special Brigade and in April 1944, while training near Swansea, Wales, received their amphibian patches and painted the front of their helmets with the amphibian assigned personnel insignia underneath a white arc.
 
Tom Bryan, Nebraska, USA

21

USA Naval Amphibious Forces Base, Little Creek, Norfolk, Virginia. Dept of Defense Police shoulder patch. The DoD Police are civilian military base staff. More information from the Global Security.org website. [Images courtesy of Terry Carney]

22

ditto

23

Canadian Amphibious Warfare tactical patch, adopted in 2009 for wear by Amphibious Warfare staff officers/NCOs and members of amphibious augmentation teams assigned to field operations.  The purpose is to increase the visibility of amphibious warfare personnel in joint formations and units during amphibious operations. [Major R.D. Bradford, Canada].

24

Joint Forward Air Control Training and Standards Unit (JFACTSU). This version of the badge is worn on their uniform. When Close Air Support (CAS) is called upon it's vital that aircrew can communicate directly with the ground force. The man calling the shots is known as the Forward Air Controller (FAC) who is skilled in directing combat aircraft to the precise co-ordinates of troublesome enemy positions. (Images courtesy of Craig Flewitt). Nov 2012.
25 26 27 28 29 30

25

JFACTSU official unit insignia. See 24 above. (Image courtesy of Craig Flewitt). Nov 2012.

26

Battle Group B, 1st Pulk Specjalny Komandosow (PSK), Polish Special Forces, International Security Assistance Forces in Afghanistan. [Courtesy of Tom Bryan].

27

Coloured version of 1st Engineer Brigade, US Army.  Except for the modern construction techniques and materials, essentially the same as the WWII version.  [Courtesy of Tom Bryan].

28

Amphibious Force, U.S. Atlantic Fleet.  [Courtesy of Tom Bryan].

29

Joint Forces Command (JFC) ‘Combined Operations’ gold on black formation flash  "standard" version. For use on MTP (Multi Terrain Pattern) clothing. The flash utilises the WWII Combined Operations design and measures 60mm x 60mm. Generally for use in a tactical environment such as HQ and barracks. Images and badges provided by Tolley Badges at www.tolleybadges.co.uk

30

JFC ‘Combined Operations’ "subdued" formation version of 29 above. This version complements MTP camouflage and therefore befits the tactical environment on specific occasions or operational deployments out of the HQ / barracks environment.

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.

On this website read about the design and development of the Combined Operations Insignia and Insignia in Use

Correspondence

Photos of British Army and Royal Marine Cloth Badges in use on Uniforms. I am completing a book which tells the story of the many cloth badges worn on battledress, khaki drill and jungle green uniforms by the British Army and Royal Marines between 1939 and 1967. I'm looking for original clear photos of such badges being worn - especially from the period 1946 to 1947.  If possible I would like to borrow original photos which will be scanned and returned by Royal Mail Special Delivery within a few days. I am happy to pay any postage incurred. Scans at 600 dpi are fine for my purpose if you would prefer not to send originals. If you can help please contact me on the e-mail link opposite. Many thanks in anticipation. Jon Mills.


Royal Naval Commando Uniforms. I've just joined Combinedops by paypal and already I have some questions which you might be able to help me with. All are about Royal Naval Commando uniforms. Firstly were green berets worn by ranks and ratings and if so what sort of cap badge was worn by other ranks? Secondly, did Royal Naval Commandos wear the yellow thread tombstone Combined Operations insignia on their battledress or was it for dress uniform? For those Commandos trained as parachutists, were the wings worn above or below the combined operations insignia on the right arm?... and finally what colours of lanyards did each Naval Commando wear as I believe each "letter" wore a different colour.

Many thanks for any help you can give. Simon Moore.


I enjoyed reading your web site and I found the design of the insignia very interesting. The combined Operations insignia bears a striking similarity to the Chinese character (Opposite), which means coincidentally, to strike, attack, or hit. I wonder if the designer of the insignia, and the ancient Chinese who designed that ideograph, went thru similar thought process when looking for a symbol to represent strike or attack, and came up with similar designs. Bo (1/06)
 


I believe that Combined Ops flashes were round and not square [this changed in the 1970's] - certainly in 148 Commando Forward Observation Battery. This was the only regular unit of the British Army to wear the combined ops flashes until the more recent exponential integration of different arms. I recently saw a 'Crab Air' officer in the Gulf theatre wearing them! BENZENIA@telefonica.net (12/03)


The RN cap tally below, and a similar "COMBINED OPS" one may have been approved by the naval authorities or were they unofficial? Either way does anyone know if they were worn? A photo of the tally in use would be very helpful.

If you can shed any light on this please contact us (link at bottom of this page). Many thanks. (10/04)

Acknowledgments

We are especially indebted to The Military Heraldry Society for most of the images of WW2 Combined Operations cloth insignia which are displayed on this page. The Society is a gathering of collections of cloth formation signs i.e. shoulder & sleeve insignia, shoulder titles, regimental and unit flashes and similar items.

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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