~ THE WEBSITE & MEMORIAL ~
The Past and the Future
This website is "not for profit" and has no connection with any
military or government department. Income from memberships pays the running
costs of the website, with surplus funds used in support of forces' charities and
the Combined Operations Memorial Fund. Details are on the website's accounts page.
Donations, specifically for the Combined Operations Memorial Fund, go into the fund's
bank account which requires my signature and one other before the funds can be
Looking to the Past
Operations Command is an unintended victim of its unique structure and
oganisation. Its personnel came from the three services and when the war ended,
they all returned to their original units! At the memorial dedication ceremony on the 4th of July 2013,
General Barrons alluded to this when he said "After
the end of the war, the skills and lessons faded quickly with little imperative
and nobody to champion them. For some, the increasing importance of air power
made these capabilities seem less relevant, and they were quite wrong."
This sentiment is slowly
finding favour in the public consciousness, but
there's still much to do before the Combined Operations Command, and everyone
who served in, or alongside it, receive the recognition they deserve.
enormity and diversity of its contribution to the war effort is second to none.
[Photo; Geoff Slee].
In the mid 1990s, I
discovered that my father in law, John Glen, had worked on wartime radar
installations in the RAF and the
Combined Operations Command. After decades of silence, his fascinating wartime
story unfolded and along the way captured my interest.
his work on the coastal radar stations, John
was attached to the Combined Operations Command and reported
to John Browns shipyard on the Clyde, where a newly arrived US ship was undergoing conversion from a Landing Ship Tank (USS LST 217)
Fighter Direction Tender (FDT 217), together with FDT 216 and FDT 13.
served on FDT 217 and
was in charge of a small team of Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) volunteer
servicemen. They maintained and operated radar equipment on board 217,
most memorably off the Normandy beaches. He was mentioned in dispatches, although reluctant to take credit for the excellent performance of his team.
[Photo; John Glen, left middle row].
Bernard Fergusson's excellent book "The Watery Maze" only to realise that the
Operations Command was vastly greater in size, scope and influence, than I had
first thought from John's accounts. Since there was no information on the
Internet, and with the naive confidence of a novice, I set about writing a few
Work on the website
started in November 2000 with the purchase of the
www.combinedops.com domain name for
£40.65 per annum. The following March, web hosting services were purchased for £57.58 per
annum - incredibly expensive by today's standards. For the first 4 or 5 years, the website ran a deficit but,
as the website became firmly established
and with improving finances, the memorial fund was set up.
It was an
act of blind faith, if not folly. There was little money, no design, no site, no bank account and no local support in the form of a
committee. Financial and website contributions, advice,
support, fund raising activities, practical help, encouragement and the
appreciation of thousands of veterans, their families and friends over the intervening years,
sustained the project that would otherwise have ground to a halt many years ago.
By a process I've never fully understood and over which I exercised little control, the
website grew like 'Topsy.' It now receives around 300,000 visits per year
(7,000,000 hits) and yet the final chapters of the Command's remarkable story, are as elusive as ever!
sadly, did not live to see the little acorn he planted grow and
develop. He died in November 2000 at the age of 81. He would have been so
proud to see two of his great grandchildren lay a wreath at the dedication
ceremony in July 2013, on behalf of the memorial fund.
Looking to the Future.
The website and
memorial objectives were updated in 2014 as follows;
the memory of the achievements and sacrifices of the Combined
Operations Command and the thousands of all nationalities who served
in or with the Command on operations.
02). Improve public awareness of the Combined Operations
Command and its substantial contribution to World War II.
03). Set up a charitable trust
to look after the long term development and maintenance of the
memorial and website.
04). Improve students access to information about the Command
on official websites supporting the National Curriculum.
Combined Ops related articles, stories, anecdotes, reminiscences,
diary entries, poems and photographs from visitors to the site or from
our own resources.
06). Provide notice boards on the website to receive appeals for information
or advice and the means for visitors to respond
links to external websites that provide complementary historical information, WW2 records and veterans' welfare.
08). Provide an extensive list
of Combined Ops related books and the means of sourcing 'out of
09). Offer memberships to those who wish to support the
website's purposes or wish to request advice or information.
10). Raise sufficient
funds for the charitable trust to further develop and maintain the
memorial and the website in perpetuity.
Geoff Slee, Edinburgh, Scotland.