~ COMBINED OPERATIONS ~

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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~ COMBINED TRAINING CENTRE ~

HMS BRONTOSAURUS - CASTLE TOWARD

HMS Brontosaurus, Castle Toward, Dunoon, Argyll was the No 2 Combined Training Centre informally known as CTC Castle Toward (pronounced as in coward). It trained officers and crews to operate major landing craft in preparation for amphibious landings including those on the beaches of Normandy on D-Day. All photos, unless otherwise stated, are courtesy of Lt Col D.B. Peyman. Based on research material supplied by Phillip C Jones.

Training Photo Gallery Reminiscences Centre Staffing Further Reading Correspondence

Training

Initially the Centre provided basic Royal Navy training for the officers and crews of major landing craft. In November 1942 the ground force element from HMS Dundonald was transferred to Castle Toward and Inveraray about the time the Commandos and Infantry Battalions were being trained in amphibious operations.

The school's remit therefore expanded to include the training of officers and men of the Royal Navy, Army, RAF Regiment and ground crews in combined amphibious operations. The trainers used a variety of  assault landing craft such as Landing Ship Infantry (LSI), Landing Craft Tank (LCT) and Landing Craft Personnel (LCP).

The training of officers and men of the ground forces included the skills and procedures of loading tanks, vehicles and personnel followed by the disembarkation of men and machines in mock landings on 'assault' beaches in the area.

All the training and practice was in preparation for future raids and landings such as those at Dieppe, N. Africa (when a large contingent of U.S. forces was trained at both Castle Toward and  Inveraray), Sicily, Salerno, D-Day and Walcheren.

Photo Gallery

1 2 3 4 5 6
1 Castle Toward.
2 CTC permanent staff on terrace outside the bar. Major John Shaw standing on the right.
3 Permanent staff with partners on terrace outside the bar. Summer dance 1942. Major Shaw, centre back; Lt CS Douglas, far left, with his wife.
4 Communication between the CTC and landing craft was by Morse code using Aldis lamps. Signallers of the Women's Royal Naval Reserve (WRNS) were located at the top of the castle tower protected by a wooden weather-proof shelter. (Not shown on castle photo).
5 Fire fighting training in the grounds of the castle.
6 RAF Instructors from Toward. See caricatures at No 32.
7 8 9 10 11 12
7 WRNS and WRAC staff.
8 US officers on a 1943 training exercise in Crinan Bay. The mid-day mess truck has just arrived with 'haversack' rations. The road is on the north side of the Crinan inlet and leads to Duntroon Castle.
9 The photographer revisited the road after 53 years and noted little change.
10 This 1943 photograph shows US officers passing through Lochgilphead on exercise. The sign on the right wall reads 'Argyll Hotel.'
11 Against a background of the Island of Bute there is a Sherman tank on the right and a Churchill tank on the left.
12 A Landing Craft Tank off Toward Point. The entrance to the castle is visible on the shoreline and the castle buildings in the trees behind.
13 14 15 16 17 18
13 Training in loading vehicles onto an LCT at Castle Toward with the island of Rothesay in the background.
14 Combined Operations training in the Kyles of Bute... 1943.
15 Assault landing exercise on the beach adjacent to the entrance to Castle Toward.
16 Training exercise on the beaches near the entrance to Castle Toward. In the background is Rothesay on the Isle of Bute.
17 Lt Keith Hathaway RN.
18 Combined Ops training in the Kyles of Bute 1943.
19 20 21 22 23 24
19 Landing craft infantry (large) on the beach at Castle Toward.
20 In addition to training land forces Castle Toward also carried out training of submarine crews in the waters off the Isle of Bute. These were centred on the base-ship 'Cyclops' and often involved joint exercises between the RN and the Army.
21 Exercise in the Kyles of Bute.
22 Mooring site for the LCTs in the bay by the entrance to Castle Toward.
23 Daimler armoured car.
24 Training drivers to load a Daimler armoured car onto an LCT.
25 26 27 28 29 30
25 Swimming training off the jetty at Castle Toward. Each soldier was provided with an inflatable Mae West.
26 Same location in the year 2000.
27 Coming ashore after swimming practice.
28 Same location in the year 2000.
29 Assault landing exercise 1943.
30 HT (Hired Transport) Ettrick seen here moored off Inveraray. It was used as a base ship from which many amphibious training exercises were launched. It later took part in Operation Torch - the invasion of French occupied North Africa and was sunk at the start of the return journey to the UK.
31 32 33 34 35 36
       
31

The RAF Regiment are ready to strike when the time is ripe for the invasion of Europe. Here, in the summer of 1943, RAF "soldiers" are practising a landing from the sea during a Combined Operations Command Training Centre exercise at Castle Toward.  The RAF Regiment is tough, its training severe and its personnel carefully selected, both mentally and physically. ( Photo courtesy of Ian Young). See Ian's message below.

32 These caricatures of RAF trainers include Wing Commander Gem (with the handlebar moustache!) and F/Lt John Gordon Laurie. No 6 above are the same characters in real life. More information may be added in due course. ( Courtesy of Ian Young)
33  
34  
35  
36  

Reminiscences

Visit of Vice Admiral Lord Louis Mountbatten 16 December '42.

I remember this occasion very clearly. It was a typical Scottish winter's day blowing a howling gale, pouring with rain, and bitterly cold. Mountbatten was due to visit Castle Toward at mid-day. Like every good WO the Chief Petty Officer got the men of the establishment on parade at least half on hour before the V. Admiral was due to arrive. 12 o'clock came and went and we still awaited the illustrious inspecting officer, all the time getting wetter and wetter and colder and colder. Finally after a delay of one and a half hours Mountbatten appeared. By then the ratings and soldiers had been on parade for two hours.

The parade was drawn to attention and the commander invited Mountbatten to carry out the inspection. So far as I remember the parade consisted of what the navy call divisions, and what the army would describe as companies or squads. In both cases about 30 men each. Mountbatten first inspected the naval divisions and as soon as he had inspected a division the officer in command ordered the men to' Right Turn - Quick March', and off they went through the Scottish mist and rain, back to their Nissen huts.

When Mountbatten had inspected the fourth naval division, he turned to the parade commander and asked him why authority was being given, without his permission, for the men to be marched off parade once they had been inspected. I do not recall what sort of a reply the unfortunate officer gave though I am sure he would have liked to have said something like "You arrogant sod, it's because the men have been on parade for two hours, are wet through, and frozen stiff.

What ever the parade commander may have said he got short shift from Mountbatten who ordered all the men to be brought back on parade. I don't need to tell you that the Noble Lord was not greatly loved that day.

Centre Staffing

C.T.C. Castle Toward was under the command of a Captain R.N. with tri-service instructors. Below there is a 1942/43 list of training and support staff and their duties which provides a good indication of the diverse nature of the training undertaken.

Naval Commanding Officer - Commander B Dean (Retired) DSO RN
Replaced by :- Commander R A Cassidi RN
Replaced by :- Commander N N Whatley RN Commander in Command Nov '43

Name Rank Name Rank
Captain J D Harvey RN Chf Naval Staff Officer Aug '43 Major W Marjoribanks DAA & QMG
Major D Alexander RA GSO 2 Captain E Spickett-Jones Messing Officer
Lt CS Douglas KOSB Instructor Infantry Major J M Shaw MC RFus Instructor Infantry
2/Lt A Denholm RA  Instructor RA Capt E Brasier-Creagh MC RA DAA & QMG
Lt C Adams Admin Officer Captain P B Peyman GSO 3
Lt R Findlay R Sigs Instructor Sigs Captain W Leigh Taylor RASC Instructor RASC
Lt Harwood RN Gunnery officer Lt Fairhurst RTR Instructor RAC
Major J Kelway RA GSO 2 Captain F Fairhurst RTR Instructor RAC
Lt R Galloway RNVR Beachmaster Lt B Burrage REME Instructor REME
Sub Lt Howarth Beachmaster Lt (QM) J A Dunlop QM
FI Lt C B Savory RAF Air Staff Officer Captain Radcliffe Staff Captain (A)
Capt A Denholm RA Instructor RA Lt Wright Asst Camp Comdt
Lt L Edgar RE Instructor Lt K Hathaway RN SO (N) (posted Sep '43)
Captain T G Lewis Chaplain Brigadier A W Lee Com'dt CTC Castle Toward I
Colonel H Clark Colonel Commandant Lt Col A F Young OBE Brigade Training Officer
Lt Colonel D Macfie Camerons GSO 1    

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.

Correspondence

70th Infantry Brigade 1939 – 1944.

I run a Memorial Website on 70th Infantry Brigade 1939 – 1944 under the auspices of a Registered Charity, the North East War Memorials Project.

The Brigade and its supporting units spent some considerable time at Castle Toward, training in amphibious operations, especially in 1943 when it was expected that they would be part of the initial D-Day Assault.

In the event, their “parent” Brigade, the151st, got that honour. The 49th Division was reclassified as a follow-up Division when Montgomery chose the 50th Division as his spearhead instead.

The Website contains the full set of the War Diaries for these units. It can be found at www.newmp.org.uk/70brigade

Regards

John L Dixon

Lead Researcher
 


Victor Frederick Golder ex RN, aged 83yrs. Service Number was C/JX 548491. Rank of AB LC/SIG.

Dear Geoff,

I’ve just made a donation to the Combined Ops Memorial Fund, having been prompted by a chance conversation with my Father about his National Service training.

Dad is Victor Frederick Golder ex RN now aged 83yrs. His Service Number was C/JX 548491 and held the rank of AB LC/SIG.  He has some memories of his time at HMS BRONTOSAURUS and remembered that it was a Combined Ops training establishment, but didn’t recall that it was at Castle Toward.  He was there for signals training. He spent his War Service drafted to minesweepers and LCTs and was one of many that embarked troops who landed on D-Day beaches.

I have found your web-site exceptionally useful and informative, not least of all because I am preparing for Dad a summary account of his Service life, brief though it was (he volunteered at age 17 in 1943 and was demobbed in late ’46).  When I have tidied up a few of the photos that I have of Dad and his mates on board LCTs, I will pass them across in case they stimulate memories in others.  In the family he was known as Joff, maybe that was carried into the Service.  Do you have an appropriate tag within the website to post these (all too brief) details of my Dad at Castle Toward.  I would love to find out if there is anyone that remembers him.

Thanks in anticipation. Stay safe, Regards, Steve.


Sub Lt Islwyn Vaughan RNVR

This photo includes my father and I'd love to hear from anyone in the photo or anyone who has any information about it. My father was Sub Lt Islwyn Vaughan RNVR. He served as follows in combined ops; i) 5th LCP (L) Aug 1942 - Deippe, ii) 520th LCA July 1942 - Point De Hoc, Normandy & iii) Nov 1944 509th Flotilla at E Schelts & Holland

Many thanks in anticipation. Rob Vaughan.
 


Charles Carmichael

My grandfather, Charles Carmichael, served in the RAF Regiment as an AC2 with No. 2777 Squadron. The squadron operations record book is very brief but contains the following entry concerning training courses.

Gosport 25.6.43 a.m Lecture to squadron by Lt.Col. Young
  26.6.43 p.m. Squadron proceeded to Castle Toward for CTC course
Castle Toward 1.7.43 a.m. Squadron witnessed landing craft demonstration, Inveraray
  2.7.43 a.m. Squadron in exercise PRUNE I
  2.7.43 p.m.  Swimming instruction in full kit. PO Joels arrived from Compton Bassett
  3.7.43 a.m. Squadron in exercise PRUNE II
  3.7.43 p.m. Squadron in exercise Straddle
  4.7.43 Squadron completed exercise Straddle
  6.7.43 a.m. Squadron leaves for Gosport"

In August 1944 my grandfather was transferred to No. 2742 Squadron RAF Regiment. That squadron was also at Castle Toward in 1943 from 18-24 May for what was designated as No. 12 Combined Operations Course.

 

 Ian Young

If you have any information or book recommendations about HMS Brontosaurus at Castle Toward please contact us.

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.

Events and Places to Visit

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Facebook

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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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