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HMS Quebec

The great contribution of the No 1 Combined Training Centre (No 1 CTC) to the war effort, is a matter of public record. Its key role was to train army and navy service personnel in small landing craft amphibious warfare, with RAF support as required. [Photo left; the original HMS Quebec badge].

Around 250,000 services personnel passed through the training centre from 1940 to 1944, of which up to 15,000 were billeted in the area at any one time. The impact on the small community of 500, in nearby Inveraray, can only be imagined!

The navy base, HMS Quebec, was part of the No 1 Combined Training Centre  The name was chosen because of Captain Wolfe's Combined Operation to capture the Abraham Heights at Quebec. [Photo of HMS Quebec with Loch Fyne in background. Imperial War Museum © IWM (A 29892)].


Churchill and his planners knew the invasion of Europe would need a well trained and equipped amphibious invasion force, of overwhelming strength, that drew on the resources of all three services. The magnitude of the  training task, in terms of the numbers to be trained, the diversity of the training and the procurement of equipment, was such, that around 45 Combined Operations Establishments were set up, mainly in the west of Scotland and the south of England. Information on each of these establishments is available by clicking here and their locations can be found on the maps below. This was undoubtedly one of the largest training operations in history.

Setting Up

'CTC Inveraray' as it was commonly called, was set up in October 1940 and continued in regular use, almost without interruption, until July 1944, a month after D-Day. [Click on the maps to enlarge].

Training was provided for commandos, brigade groups in the assault role, formations in follow up and building up, port operating companies, squadrons of the RAF Regiment and RAF servicing commandos.

The conduct of war, and the technology of warfare, had changed greatly since the Great War of 1914 – 1918. It was, therefore, a time of experimentation, innovation, evaluation and redesign as lessons were learned in the course of training. To an extent, the training manual was being rewritten as they went along.

Over the years the training provision changed as required and new training establishments were opened elsewhere to meet specific needs. An example of this was the provision of RN Beach Signals/Section training. At the instigation of Mountbatten, the Combined Signals School (CSS) was formed at HMS Quebec on the 1st of November 1941. This was a very early example of a Combined Unit. It must have been unusual to see personnel from all three services, parading together, and reporting to a Signals Duty Officer, who could be from any one of the three services! [Photo left; Inveraray street 1940s. Click to enlarge].

The CSS taught signalling procedures and assisted in the development of new techniques and procedures. They were also involved in early forms of navigational aids involving radio and other devices which were designed to help landing parties locate their designated landing beaches. In 1942 the school moved to Troon (HMS Dundonald 2).

It was noticeable that the effectiveness and efficiency of the training delivery, and the training itself, improved over the years.



The Army presence comprised four Wings viz; Brigade Group, Army Tank, RE (Tn) & REME. The Army Tank and RE (tn) Wings provided training for their own personnel. They were allocated craft, accommodation and lecture rooms according to their needs and availability, and their participation in exercises was independent of the Brigade Group Wing.  [Photo; troops practicing beach landing from LCA (Landing Craft Assault) on  Loch Fyne. Imperial War Museum © IWM (H 14572)].

The Royal Navy

The Royal Navy presence at Inveraray took the form of a Naval Staff, under a Captain RN, working directly to the Commandant. A few miles to the south, was a large naval establishment called HMS Quebec also under a Naval Captain who, by virtue of his seniority, was also Naval Officer in Charge (NOIC) Inveraray. HMS Quebec’s primary role was to provide and maintain craft for training operations and to accommodate personnel drafted in for the training of units at the CTC.


There was a small RAF presence of two Officers on the staff of the Commandant. The CTC also had a call on 614 Squadron RAF, for the provision of aircraft for training purposes in addition to 516 Squadron attached to Combined Operations.

HMS Quebec was the naval part of the No 1 Combined Training Centre. There was a second part to this establishment in the Hollywood Hotel, Largs and for the sake of clarity they were designated HMS Quebec I and HMS Quebec II respectfully. 

At HMS Quebec II, a training course for staff officers in WW2 Combined Operations, was established. Visit the website of the Combined Arms Research Library (Digital Library [Slow Link] for details of the course content. The courses were held from July 1943 to March 1944. A total of 1158 officers completed the intensive course including 153 from the Royal Navy and Marines, 379 from the British Army, 122 from the Canadian Army, 351 from the RAF and 153 Allied. [Thanks to Martin Briscoe of Fort William, Scotland for the link].

Aspects of Training

Landing troops on beaches, under live fire in the later stages of training, was one training aim, but another was of an entirely different magnitude, requiring larger craft and a range of different skills. [Photo; tank commanders and their crews practicing beach landing from a TLC (Tank Landing Craft) on  Loch Fyne. Imperial War Museum © IWM (H 14572)].

Training Under Fire. In the more advanced stages of training, mock landings took place under realistic war conditions. 516 Squadron, based at RAF Dundonald in Ayrshire, strafed the beaches on low level attacks, and provided smoke cover while landings were in progress. Mortar shells fired from nearby positions and small arms fire completed the hazardous effects.

Injuries, and even deaths, were not unknown during these exercises, but the overriding need, was to give the men a sense of the realistic battle conditions they would experience.

In 1992, on a training beach at Gortenfern, Kentra on the Ardnamurchan peninsula, evidence of this activity was found in the form of mortar shell casings and 303 bullets dated 1942. Peace and tranquillity have long since returned to this beautiful location, and today, little or nothing of all this activity remains to be seen. [Photos below; mortars, bullet, map of area and the beach today].

Ode to Inveraray. Not everyone was enamoured with the virtues of Inveraray, as this poem, which circulated around the Royal Engineers in Chamois Camp, amply demonstrates! However, it's thought that similar poems were written about many other remote locations, only the name being changed.

This bloody place is a bloody cuss
No bloody tram, no bloody bus
And do they care for bloody us?
In bloody Inveraray

The bloody films are bloody old
The bloody seats are bloody sold
Can't get in for bloody gold
In bloody Inveraray

It bloody pours, it bloody rains
No bloody kerbs, no bloody drains
Ain't no-one got no brains
In bloody Inveraray

Everything's so bloody dear
A bloody bob for a bloody beer
And is it good? no bloody fear
In bloody Inveraray

All bloody work no bloody games
No bloody fun with bloody dames
Wouldn't even tell their names
In bloody Inveraray

Enough of this ere bloody rhyme
Everything's just a waste of time
Next week'll be just "T" sime
In bloody Inveraray.

Extracts from the Diary of an Inveraray Resident Courtesy of the Combined Operation Association's 'Bulldozer' Newsletter.

As units left the area, on completion of their training, others arrived to take their place. Below, is a record taken from the diary of a local resident. It's probably not a complete record, or accurate in every detail, but it does give a sense of the movements involved.

[1941] April - Royal Engineers. May - Special Services (Commandos). Jun - Argyll & Sutherland Highlanders; Royal Scots Fusiliers.
Jul - East Lancashire Regiment; Royal Welsh Fusiliers. Aug - Royal Artillery; Royal Scots Fusiliers; Royal Welsh Fusiliers; Canadian Troops; Royal West Kent Regiment; Royal East Kent Regiment. Sep - Royal Army Service Corps.
Oct - Royal Pioneer Corps; Royal West Kent Regiment. Nov - London Fusiliers. Dec - Roy al West Kent Regiment; The Black Watch.

[1942] Jan - Royal Surry Regiment; Northamptonshire Regiment.

Feb - Lancashire Fusiliers.

Mar - East Surrey Regiment; Bedfordshire Regiment; Royal Northumberland Fusiliers.

Apr - East Surrey Regiment; Royal Pioneer Corps; Royal Artillery.

May - South Lanarkshire Regiment; East Yorkshire Regiment; Suffolk Regiment.

Jun - King's Own Scottish Borderers; Royal Ulster Rifles; Lincolnshire Regiment.

Jul - King's Shropshire Light Infantry; Sherwood Foresters; Duke of Wellington's Regiment.

Aug - Duke of Wellington's Regiment; American Troops.

Sep - American Troops.

Oct - Royal West Kent Regiment; Black Watch; Royal Army Service Corp; Kings Shropshire Light Infantry.

Nov - Duke of Cornwall's Light Infantry; Black Watch; Royal Marines.

Dec - Duke of Cornwall's Light Infantry; Royal Regiment (North Lancashire); Canadian Troops.

[1943] Jan - Canadian Troops.

Feb - Canadian Troops; French Canadian Troops.

Mar - French Canadian Troops; South Lancashire Regiment; Suffolk Regiment; East Yorkshire Regiment.

Apr - Royal Ulster Rifles; King's Own Scottish Borderers; Canadian Troops.

May - Canadian Troops; French Canadian Troops; Seaforth Highlanders of Canada; Norfolk Regiment.

Jun - Norfolk Regiment; King's Shropshire Light Infantry; Middlesex Regiment; Somerset Light Infantry.

July - Lincolnshire Regiment; King's Own Scottish Borderers.

Aug - Canadian Troops; Irish Guards.

Sept -

Oct -

Nov -

Dec -

[1944] Jan - French Canadian Troops; Monmouthshire Regiment.

Feb - North Staffordshire Regiment; Argyll & Sutherland Highlanders; Seaforth Highlanders of Canada; East Yorkshire Regiment.

Mar - Hampshire Regiment; Green Howards; South Wales Borderers; Gloucester Regiment.

Apr - Royal Air Force; Queens Own Cameron Highlanders.

May - King's Own Scottish Borderers.

Jun - Glasgow Highlanders; Norwegian Troops; Royal Engineers.

Air Section's Monthly Report

This is a typical report from the Air Section of the No 1 Combined Training Centre for March 1944. The report is presented as typed except for the addition of photographs.


(B) At various times during the month No 516 (Combined Operations) Squadron, R.A.F, Dundonald co-operated with Fighter, Smoke and Bomber Aircraft on the following exercises:-

Exercises "Newton Bay" - Saturday 1st April, 1944, (Assault Exercises with live ammunition - zero0700 hours and 18.30 hours).

Exercises "Newton Bay" - Sunday 16th April, 1944, (Assault Exercises with live ammunition - Zero 17.30 hours).

Purpose of Exercise "Newton Bay".

Exercise "Newton Bay" is an Assault Exercise using live ammunition supported by artillery, tanks and aircraft, the latter providing smoke screens, bomber support and fighter bomber support. (Photo of Hurricanes 'attacking' Newton Bay).

Exercise "Airshow" due to take place on Tuesday 18th April, 1944 had to be cancelled owing to adverse weather conditions.

Aircraft on five occasions for various exercises had to be cancelled owing to unfavourable weather conditions. The Forward Air Link Control was again provided from the R.A.F. Seaplane Tender No. 1533stationed at this Combined Training Centre.

During the month the Air Staff Officer (S/Ldr. J. Huggan) gave lectures on the Air Aspect of Combined Operations on nine occasions to the following:-
No. 2831 A.A. Squadron, R.A.F. Regiment. Officers ONLY, T.A.F. Lecture.    (1)
No. 2848 A.A. Squadron, R.A.F. Regiment. Officers ONLY. T.A.F. Lecture.    (1)
6 Battalion, The Cameronians (Scottish Rifles).                                                    (1)
7 Manchester, M.M.G.                                                                                       (2)
7 Battalion, The Cameronians (Scottish Rifles).                                                    (1)
4/5 Royal Scottish Fusiliers.                                                                                 (2)
6 Battalion, The Cameronians. Inf. Bde. RASC. Coy                                           (1)

(C) No.12 course for the Royal Air Force Regiment in Combined Operations was held at this Combined Operations Training Centre on the following dates:-
No 18 Course. No. 2831 A.A. Squadron and No. 2848 A.A. Squadron - April 11th - April18th 1944.
The Strength of the units attending were as follows:-
No. 2831 A.A. Squadron - 8 Officers - 148 Other Ranks.
No. 2848 A.A. Squadron - 7 Officers - 155 Other Ranks.
The programme was carried out in full and a copy is attached as Appendix "A" together with copies of Exercise "ERK" and Exercise "PRUNE" attached as Appendix "B". A separate report on Course No. 12 was issued under this Air Section's letter CTC1/3/21/44 dated the 18tyh April, 1944, and a copy is attached as Appendix "C".


(D) The following Officers visited the Air Section of this Combined Training Centre, during the course of the month:-
Colonel C.F.O.G. Forbes, Chief Inspector or the R.A.F. Regiment Depot, GRANTHAM, attended No.18 Course for the R.A.F. Regiment as a Spectator Officer, but was unfortunately admitted to the Military Hospital Inveraray on the 14th April, 1944.
Colonel E.A. Shipton, O.B.E, M.C, T.D, (G.D.O.1. Headquarters, No.x22 Group) attended course No.12 for the Royal Air Force Regiment as a Spectator Officer.
Major Parkinson (Headquarters No. 22 Group) attended course No.12 for the R.A.F. Regiment and took over the duties of C.R.A.F.R. for the course and took charge of the Wing on the Exercises.
Wing Commander B.G.F. Drinkwater, Senior Air Staff Officer, No.105 Wg.
Flight Lieutenant D. Rymer, Flight Commander No. 516 (C.O.) Squadron visited the Air Section of this Combined Training Centre.
Squadron Leader Reeves, Officer Commanding No. 516 Squadron, visited the Air Section of this Combined Training Centre, on the 29th April, 1944 for the purpose of attending a Briefing Conference for Exercise "Newton Bay".
Flying Officer C. Wren, Aircraft Recognition Instructor, Air Section, Combined Signals School, H.M.S. Dundonald II, visited the Air Section of this Combined Training Centre , on the 15th April, 1944, in order to give Aircraft Recognition Lectures to the personnel of No. 2831 and No. 2848 A.A. Squadrons, R.A.F. Regiment attending No. 12 course.
Flight Sergeant Avery and two other ranks from Air Ministry Unit, London, attended No. 12 Course for the purpose of waterproofing the vehicles. (See special report CTCI//3/44 dated 17th April 1944).

(A) Flight Lieutenant W. Ward, R.A.F.R. was on temporary duty at this Combined Training Centre, from the 8th April, 1944 to the 23rd April, 1944, for Instructors Duties, in order to take over the command of No.12 R.A.F. Regiment Course.

With the exception of No.12 Course for the R.A.F. Regiment, the work carried out by this Air Section was to a great extent Army Liaison. On the 24th April, 1944 the First Brigade of the 52nd Division, arrived for Combined Training , the course will last for approximately three weeks and will be followed by similar courses for the other Brigades.
Owing to the shortage of staff, the Army provided specialist instructors for No.12 Course which assisted us in handling the course in a satisfactory manner.

Signed (J Huggan),
Squadron Leader,
Air Section,
C.T.C. Inveraray.

The Closure of HMS Quebec  Courtesy of the Combined Operations 'Bulldozer' of 1946.

H.M.S. Quebec has been added to the list of those ships and establishments for which 'no further requirement exists,' and we commence 'paying off' on 1st June, 1946. In actual fact the great exodus has already started and a steady stream of personnel, craft and ships is constantly moving southwards.

It seems fitting that Quebec should not be allowed pass without recording a brief summary of its history and achievements. A large percentage of both naval and military personnel who took part, both in the smaller combined operations, which preceded it and in the main assaults on Europe, were trained at this base. Quebec has also, throughout its history, been actively associated with our Corps activities in various spheres, and many Royal Marines have 'passed through.'

H.M.S. Quebec is a Combined Operations establishment, situated on the upper reaches of Loch Fyne, Argyllshire, some two miles from Inveraray. The base derived its name from the historical operations which resulted in the capture of Quebec in 1759. Roads in the establishment were named after Admiral Saunders and Admiral Holmes, both of whom had distinguished themselves in this operation. The foreshore was named "The Caronage," the name given to that part of the beach where old-time sailors careened their ships.

Commissioned on the 1st May, 1941, the main functions of the base were to train and accommodate naval landing craft crews, to accommodate officers and men in "pool" awaiting draft and such crews as were used in combined training by C.T.C., Inveraray.

The base was also to have extensive repair and storage facilities and to carry the pay accounts of some thousands of Combined Operations ratings. The usual growing pains were experienced in opening the camp, which first consisted of twelve wooden huts, the necessary galleys, pay offices and a small canteen. The huts were built on stilts, as the ground was wet and boggy and not, as at the present time, well drained. The situation on the shores of Loch Fyne was extremely practical as well as being picturesque. A steel pier was erected and this could be used at any state of the tide by landing craft. A gently sloping beach, with protection from all but S.W. gales, ensured the easy handling of craft for repair and maintenance.

Some 450 officers and men were in camp by the middle of May, 1941, and work went on apace in further construction. Engineering workshops, boat slips, the Wrennery and a well fitted sick bay were completed. Training, which had up to that time been carried out from various ships moored in the Loch, now settled down to a steady cycle, twelve officers and 150 seamen arriving from H.M.S. Northney every fortnight. Flotillas were commissioned for the Lofoten, Vaagso and Spitzbergen raids and both day and night training was carried on by these crews operating with the C.T.C.

A rifle range and assault course were built on the rising ground behind the camp and the whole area resounded to Lewis, tommy-gun and rifle fire and grenade explosions. Newton, an almost uninhabited spot on the opposite side of the Loch, was now being used as a training ground for assault landings, and Quebec supplied craft and crews to work with Major Landing Craft Flotillas and the military units in both day and night operations.

Life in camp was rigorous, and the base staff were fully extended in the work of maintaining the craft and in accommodating and administering the continual flow of trainees and others passing through the base. The W.R.N.S. were with us from the very day Quebec first commissioned, and they now began to descend upon us in large numbers, infiltrating with great success into all departments. Some of the duties which this wonderful Service took upon itself were transport drivers, cooks, stewards, writers, communication ratings, electrical ratings, messengers, generator watch-keepers, ship’s mechanics and duty boats’ crews. Some also specialised in painting and welding. This influx of the fair sex not only relieved a hard pressed base staff and permitted the release of personnel for sea service, but added considerably to the amenity possibilities.

In 1941 the Rt. Hon. Winston Churchill paid a visit to the base and gave one of his typically fighting speeches before he left.

H.M. The King, accompanied by the C.C.O. ( Admiral Lord Keyes ), also visited Quebec and inspected the ship’s company. A touch of colour was lent to this memorable visit by the dress of the Lascars (sailors from the East Indies) of Winchester Castle, who mustered with several contingents from ships in harbour.

Local facilities for recreation have always been meagre in the extreme. Long leave in those early days was not to be thought of. Short leave was restricted to the village of Inveraray, which possessed few facilities for catering to the requirements of such a vast number of Navy, Army and Air Force personnel as were now camped around its environs. The local ladies ran a W.V.S. which did yeoman service through the whole of the war period. Dances, whist drives etc. organised by the various Services and local people, helped enormously to keep up morale and provide some essential distraction from the unending training programmes. Periodical leave was not organised until the beginning of 1942, and as all liberty men had to travel by a skeleton service of buses between Inveraray and Glasgow, numbers had to be kept to a bare minimum. Later, when things got more into swing, a regular service of R.N. transport, assisted by the Army M.T. Pool, was run to and from the railhead at Arrochar, 27 miles distant, and regular leave has since been granted every three months.

Much could be written about the activities of various Flotillas and special parties who passed through the base, not forgetting the Canadians who eventually took part in the historic Dieppe raid, but space does not permit.

Visits were paid to the base in 1942 by H.R.H. The Duke of Gloucester, H.R.H. The Duchess of Kent, Admiral Stark of U.S.N., and several other high ranking officers of the various Services. One memory, however, of all personnel, who knew Quebec, will always predominate over others… the weather. Rain, rain and yet more rain. Some of the older inhabitants, it is rumoured, had to be whisked away quickly when it was found that their feet had started to become "webbed." Yet, bad as the weather could be, it seldom was bad enough to prevent training, which went on unhindered by enemy activities or from any other cause. Early in 1942 the numbers of personnel passing through so increased that it was necessary to take over Chamois Camp and several "lines" in the Army Town Camp at Inveraray. Later, it became necessary to use two accommodation ships, the Northland and the Southland, which were moored just off the Camp Pier. [Photo; Accommodation ship, HMS Ettrick off Inveraray].

In 1943 several outstanding incidents occurred. The camp cinema was opened by Miss Evelyn Laye, whose visit to Quebec was greatly appreciated. Her wish that many happy hours would be spent by us in that same building has certainly been fulfilled. In the same month a large section of the training was transferred to Dartmouth, and in August the same year H.M.S.Copra, which was now dealing with 5,000 accounts, deserted the safety of Argyll for the blitz area of London. That year marked he peak of Quebec’s activities. The Junior Officers’ Club was instituted and opened, visits to us were paid by Mr. A.V. Alexander, the First Lord of the Admiralty, and several other notable people and high ranking officers. Late in 1943, we also received our first H.M. Flotillas and under the eyes of the experienced naval landing craft personnel the Royals began to infiltrate into Quebec’s life. The advent of the Royal Marines was welcomed in the camp, as this infused a keen and friendly rivalry in both work and sports which has continued to this day.

Visits by H.M. The King of Norway and Crown Prince Olaf and several high-ranking officers, inspections and real solid hard work marked 1944-45, and much more valuable training was accomplished. The social and recreational side of camp life was further extended. Association football, rugby, and in the summer, cricket and sports meetings were held. Indoor entertainment was provided by dances, regular cinema performances, socials, whist drives and boxing meetings, and the Quebec network of wireless programmes was instituted.

The invasions of North Africa, Sicily, Salerno and, later, N. France, were all followed with profound interest at Quebec, where so many crews were taking part in these operations had received their basic training. The close of hostilities against Germany found Quebec a highly organised, efficient and smooth working base, with a record of solid if unspectacular achievement behind it.

VE-Day was celebrated, therefore, in the full realisation of work well done. Training still continued, however, until well after VJ- Day, which in due time was also celebrated in becoming fashion.

In October, 1945, the duties of Commanding Officer, H.M.S. Quebec, and N.O.I.C., Inveraray, were amalgamated and the command was passed to a Royal Marine officer, Lt. Col. W. F. Edds, O.B.E., R.M.

And now Quebec is paying off! The Loch is still dotted with a large number of ships and craft, but these are going and in a short while Loch Fyne will settle down to her old-time peaceful quiet and Quebec and her many activities will be but distant memories.

HMS Quebec - Then and Now

Photos courtesy of Stuart Kidd who runs an interesting website about Inveraray at www.visit-inveraray.co.uk Stuart writes... I have attached two photos of HMS Quebec at Inveraray. The first one, taken in the 40's, shows the Quebec camp looking south, with the drill hall/cinema in the centre background. I believe in the foreground are the hospital buildings. The second photo I took in late 2003. I tried to take it from a similar position and you can see that the drill hall is still there in the centre background. Today it is used as a recreation hall for various games and sports. [Click on the photos to enlarge].

We are interested in any old photos of HMS Quebec or Inveraray taken in wartime. If you have any please contact us.


Subject - HMS Quebec a RN base situated amidst the No 1 Combined Training Centre training beaches and camps. Location - a few miles south of Inveraray, Scotland on the A83. Turn into the Argyll Caravan Site. Other info - plaque is fixed to the door of a WW2 building (opposite) which now serves as the caravan site reception office.

Subject - RN Commandos. Location. The Memorial Plaques on the left are situated in Ardentinny Church on Loch Long in Scotland close to where the RN Commandos training base camp at HMS Armadillo was located. Other Info. These men often went ashore in the early stages of a landing.

Further Reading

The West Nova Scotia Regiment. Follow their journey by road from Newhaven on the south coast of England to Inveraray in Scotland where they underwent training in minor landing craft operations during March 1943. http://www.wnsr.ca/sites/default/files/1943-03.pdf

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.


Inveraray. During WWII both my parents served (and met) at the Combined Operations Establishment in Inveraray. My father had been in the RN since 1934, when he joined as a boy seamen. From my father, I remember that he was once apprehended on leave in Sheffield by a vigilant policeman who did not recognise his "mixed" uniform.

My mother was a P.O. in the WRNS - presumably in the Accounts Office at HMS Quebec. Among her papers I found this photo, which I remember her saying was taken at Inveraray sometime prior to 1944 when she left the service. She was then Olive Ann Elisabeth Smith. She's the middle one of the three Wrens. I assume the photo is of the members of the Accounts Department where she was employed, perhaps the wooden building behind them housed their office... but this is speculation. Does anyone recognise the surroundings or the people in the photo? Click on the photo to enlarge it.

If you can help please contact Chris on the e-mail link opposite.

After reading the web pages of 'Combined Operations' I recall a tale told to me a few years ago while visiting the Muckleburgh Collection Museum in North Norfolk. I spoke to its founder, the late Berry Savory, who told me that he had served at Inveraray Castle in WW2 as part of a training facility prior to D-Day. One of the reasons for choosing this location was its distance from German airfields - it was beyond the range of all aircraft they then had to carry out a mission and return to base. 

One day they heard a droning in the sky and the consensus was that it was a German aircraft. The military authorities contacted London and were told to, 'dig in'. London was asked, 'With what?' The reply was, 'We are sending the necessary equipment.' Some time later a very large lorry consignment of standard pick heads arrived but there were no handles. London was asked, 'Where are the handles?' Reply, 'We will send some'. Berry laughingly recalled that the handles never did arrive, but, if they had, hand held picks would have made little impression on the rocky terrain around Loch Fyne!

The plane apparently crashed somewhere in the Midlands after running out of fuel. It had obviously become hopelessly lost during its mission. Berry was sure that somewhere in the vicinity of the castle is a large pile of badly rusting pick heads!

Harvey Gooch.


This page about the No 1 Combined Training Centre, Inveraray was prepared by Geoff Slee from research material by Phill C Jones.

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.


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.


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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