WW2 land, sea and air forces of the Allied Nations planning, training and operating together as a unified force on amphibious raids and landings against the enemy.

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Raids & Landings ranged from Commando style "hit & run" attacks, designed to inflict damage on the German war machine and to tie down German forces in areas that might otherwise be lightly defended to major amphibious landings such as Italy and Normandy.

04 Jul 40 Mers-el-Kebir (Catapult)

Operation Catapult aimed to secure the immobilisation of a squadron of the French Naval Fleet to prevent it falling into German hands. Although not a Combined Operation this naval action is included in this website because it provides useful background to British concerns about Vichy French military resources and foreign held territories. These concerns subsequently resulted in actions involving Combined Operations such as those in North Africa (Torch) and the Litani River.

03-04 Mar 41 Lofoten Islands (Claymore)

Operation Claymore was the 1st Lofoten Islands raid off the Norwegian coast just north of the Arctic Circle. It achieved a good measure of destruction of German ships and fish factory oil and it gave free passage to the UK to over 300 Norwegian volunteers and a few Germans and Quislings. It was, however, most notable for giving a great boost to flagging morale within the ranks of the Commandos and later the country as news of the raid was made public. Land forces - 3 & 4 Commandos. Sea Forces -  HMS Queen Emma, Princess Beatrix & 5 Destroyers.

20-21 Apr 41 Bardia, North Africa

This land/naval raid took place at a time of rapid changes in the fortunes of war - usually in favour of the Axis forces. The objective was to disrupt enemy lines of communication and to inflict as much damage as possible to their installations and equipment. Land Forces - A Battalion (ex No 7 Commando). Sea Forces - HMS Glengyle, a RN submarine and supporting gun ships.

09-10 Jun 41 Litani River, Palestine

[Land] C Battalion (ex 11 Commando). [Sea] HMS Glengyle.

14 Nov 41 Rommel's HQ, N Africa (Flipper)

[Land] Middle East Commando. L detachment, No 11 Commando & G(R) Branch

26-27 Dec 41 Lofoten Islands 2nd Raid (Anklet)

[Land} 12 Commando. [Sea] HMS Arethusa & 8 destroyers in support.

27 Dec 41 Vaagso, Norway  (Archery)

[Land] 2 & 3 Commandos [Sea] HMS Prince Leopold & Prince Charles + HMS Kenya & 4 Destroyers. [Air] Bomber Command & Coastal Command.

27 Feb 42 Bruneval, France. (Biting)

[Air] 1 Whitley Squadron. [Sea] Landing Craft & Escorts. 

28 Mar 42 St Nazaire, France (Chariot)

[Land] Nos.1,2,3,4,5,9 & 10 Commandos. [Sea] HMS Campbelltown.

05-07 May 42 Madagascar (Ironclad)

This brief account of Operation Ironclad, the invasion of Madagascar, is taken from the viewpoint of a member of No 5 Commando. Combined Operations Command was not the principal player in this operation against the Vichy French regime - more of an assistant. The total campaign lasted 6 months but the bulk of the special work of Combined Operations and the Commandos was concentrated into a few days in early May 1942. [Land] No 5 Commando.

19 Aug 42 Dieppe, France (Jubilee)

[Land] Nos 3 & 4 Commando with 50 US Rangers, the Canadian 2nd Division. [Sea] 230 ships with 3000 men. [Air] 65 RAF Squadrons (fighters, fighter/bombers and bombers).

12-13 Sep 42 'Omaha' Beach (Aquatint)

[Land] 12 Commandos of the Small Scale Raiding Force (SSRF). [Sea] MTB 344 the Little Pisser under the command of Freddie Bourne.

15-22 Sep 42 Glomfjord, Norway (Musketoon)

[Land] 2 Captains, 8 other ranks from No 2 Commando & 2 Corporals from Norwegian Forces attached to SOE. [Sea] Free French Submarine Juno.

08 -12 Nov 42 North Africa (Torch)

Full listing of all services on page

07 Dec 42 River Gironde, France (Frankton)

[Land] 10 Royal Marines - "The Cockleshell Heroes." [Sea] Sub. HMS Tuna.

11 Jun 43 Pantelleria (Corkscrew)

[Land] Infantry [Sea] ? [Air] ? 

10 Jul 43 Sicily (Husky)

[Land] US 7th Army British 8th Army [Sea] 2760 ships of the RN and US Navy [Air] ?

09 Sep 43 Salerno, Italy (Avalanche)

A brief account of the advance from Sicily to Rome. More detailed accounts of the individual landings listed below will be added in due course.

06 Jun 44 Normandy, France (Neptune & Overlord)

170,000 assault troops, 5000 ships and 820 aircraft mainly from Canada, UK and the USA.

17 Jun 44 Elba, Italy (Brassard)

In this account of this French led invasion of Elba the emphasis is on the role of the RN Commandos (Beach Commandos).

1-8 Nov 44 Walcheren (Infatuate)

Infatuate 1[Land] 155th Infantry Brigade - 4th & 5th Bn. KOSB, 7th/9th Bn The Royal Scots. Infatuate 2 4 Special Services Brigade - 41, 47 & 48 RM Commando with attached No 10 (Inter Allied)

Jan 1945 Burma (Romulous

This account covers the landings on the north east coast of Burma - Akyab, Myebon and Kangaw. There were set-piece battles and cat and mouse manoeuvrings on both sides with danger and death constant companions while on operations. The author's father, Sgt Alexander Pirie, MM, served  in 3 Troop, Royal Marine Engineering Commandos, whose heroic efforts in clearing beach obstacles and preparing roadways are, deservedly, well documented.

To be written

1941 Spitzbergen (Gauntlet)

03/09/43 Reggio, Italy

11/09/43 Taranto, Italy

22/01/44 Anzio, Italy (Shingle)

15/08/44 Anvil, France

19/08/44 Southern France (Dragoon)

21/01/45 Ramree, Arakan Peninsula

26/01/45 Cheduba, Arakan Peninsula

16/02/45 Ruywa, Arakan Peninsula

Apr 45 Comacchio, Italy

02/05/45 Rangoon. Burma

Sep 1945 Malay Coast (Op Zipper)

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.

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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.


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.

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


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Legasee Film Archive

As part of an exciting social history project, the film company Legasee has recorded interviews with veterans from any conflicts. These  films are now available on line. www.legasee.org.uk


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