~ THE WEBSITE & MEMORIAL ~
The Past and the Future
The website is "not for profit" and has no connection with any
military or government organisation. 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 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
The Combined Operations
Command is one
of the best kept secrets of WW2 considering the enormity of its contribution to
the war effort. 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 much to do before the Command receives the recognition it deserves.
[Photo; Geoff Slee].
In the early/mid 1990s I
was that poorly informed member of the public and would have remained so had it
not been for a university student researching early radar. In 1991 he
ascertained that my father in law, John Glen had worked on coastal radar
stations in Scotland in the early 1940s as an RAF radar technician. Contact was made and information
exchanged and when the student's work was done, John and I regularly chatted
about his wartime involvement in radar, including a few years in the
Combined Operations Command. The student was the catalyst that opened a Pandoras
box of wartime reminiscences after decades of silence.
his work on the coastal radar stations, John
was attached to the Combined Operations Command and ordered to report
to John Browns shipyard on the Clyde where a newly arrived US landing
craft was undergoing conversion from a Landing Ship Tank (USS LST 217)
Fighter Direction Tender (FDT 217) together with
FDT 216 and FDT 13.
Around 4.30 on D-Day morning FDTs 216 and 217 took up position a few
miles off the landing beaches to provide radar cover that extended
into enemy occupied territory which Home Radar stations along the south coast of England
could not reach. FDT 213 was held some miles to the rear in support
and as a replacement. Around 3 weeks later, mobile land based radar
units became fully established on the soil of France and took over the
role from the remaining FDTs, 216 having been sunk.
On FDT 217 John
was in charge of a small team of Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) volunteer
servicemen and one or two British servicemen employed on the maintenance
and operation of radar equipment. He was mentioned in despatches although was reluctant to take credit for the excellent performance of his team.
[Photo; John Glen, left middle row].
At some point I read
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
realised from John's accounts. Since there was nothing about the Command 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. For the first 4 or 5 years the website ran a deficit but with the website firmly established
and improving finances, the
memorial fund was set up to construct a memorial and thereby gain the public recognition the Command so richly
Many thought it was an
act of blind faith, if not folly. There was little money, no memorial design, no
site, no memorial fund bank account and no local support in the form of a
committee. But for
support, fund raising, practical help, encouragement and appreciation from
hundreds of veterans, their families and friends over the intervening years, the project would have ground to a halt many years ago.
By a process which
I've never fully understood and over which I exercised little control, the
website grew like 'Topsy.' It now regularly attracts around 250,000 visits per year
(7,000,000 hits) and yet the final chapters 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 on behalf of the memorial fund.
Looking to the Future.
The website and
memorial objectives are updated below to reflect the prevailing
circumstances in 2014.
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.