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 COMBINED OPERATIONS

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


Combined Operations Painting & Prints
 
In Support of the Memorial Fund

Background

Military artist, David A Thorp, generously donated his painting "Combined Operations - a Normandy Beachhead" to the Combined Operations Memorial Fund in 2012. Prints taken from it, as described below, are still available in aid of  the new Memorial Maintenance and Development Fund, since the original 'construction' Memorial Fund reached its target of 21,128 in February 2017. The long term future of the painting itself is undecided but, hopefully, it will go on public display, if a suitable venue can be found.

Skip to an explanation of the scene described in the painting at the bottom of this page.

[Photo; Limited Edition Print. Click to enlarge.]

73, three quarter size, full colour, numbered and signed limited edition prints were produced, one for each year between the formation of Combined Operations in June 1940 and the dedication of the memorial in the summer of 2013. In accordance with the rules of the Fine Arts Society, no further prints of this size will ever be produced. Full size, half size and quarter size prints, by area, are also available between 60 and 110 including UK postage. Contact us for details.

Print Details

We're very happy to post prints to destinations outside the UK but, in all cases, please check availability before ordering (e-mail). For overseas orders, we'll confirm postage before you submit payment.

To pay by credit card, debit card or Paypal Account, please click on the button opposite and follow the instructions. You don't need a Paypal account to use this method of payment.

To pay by personal cheque, bank cheque or postal order, please make your cheque or postal order payable to the Combined Operations Memorial Fund, add your address to the reverse and send to Geoff Slee, COMF (Prints), 35 Auchingane, Edinburgh, EH10 7HU, UK. Purchases from overseas (non-UK) using this method of payment are welcome in British pounds. Please contact your local bank or postal services for details.

[Photo; Veteran Harry Ashurst with his Limited Edition print. He was witness to two of the Landing Craft depicted, both lying disabled on Sword Beach.]

Whatever method you choose, you will receive your print in a postal tube together with a receipt and, in the case of limited edition prints, a certificate of authenticity. For accounting and security reasons, please don't send cash.

Many thanks for supporting the Combined Operations Memorial Fund.

 

The Normandy Landings

The scene is set on the eastern flank of Sword beach early on D-Day morning between Riva Bella (Ouistreham) and Lion sur Mer. It does not portray a single event but all the actions described, did take place in the area, over the space of a few hours. With the skill of the artist, they are drawn together in a seamless montage.

It is impossible, in a single painting, to show the vast extent of Operation Neptune, the amphibious part of Operation Overlord, since the 5 landing beaches stretched for around 50 miles (80k) to the west of Lion sur Mer. While British and Canadian forces attacked Gold, Juno and Sword beaches, American forces faced major challenges of their own on Omaha and Utah, the former because of the strength of German defences and cliffs at either end of the landing area and the latter because of the terrain inland of the beaches, that favoured the defenders. The landscape was a maze of narrow lanes bordered by thick hedgerows and embankments. Although the painting, of necessity, concentrates on a small area of one beach, the painting honours the memory of all land, sea and air forces from the UK, USA, Canada and all who served the Allied cause on that historical day.

Six days after the events described in the painting, Churchill and his military advisers visited Sword, Juno and Gold. On returning to Downing Street, Churchill sent a signal to Mountbatten, by then in Burma. Churchill heartily acknowledged the vital role Mountbatten and Combined Operations had played in the operation and warmly expressed the Nation's gratitude.

"Today we visited the British and American Armies on the soil of France. We sailed through vast fleets of ships with landing-craft of many types pouring more men, vehicles and stores ashore. We saw clearly the manoeuvre in progress of rapid development. We have shared our secrets in common and helped each other all we could. We wish to tell you at this moment in your arduous campaign that we realise how much of this remarkable technique and therefore the success of the venture has its origin in developments effected by you and your staff of Combined Operations."

(Signed) Arnold, Brooke, Churchill, King, Marshall, Smut. 

The Scene Described

The painting measures 750 mm by 550 mm. It depicts a landing on the eastern flank of Sword beach between 7.30 am and 8.30 am (5.30 am to 6.30 am local time), an hour or so after the first assault troops ducked and dived, as they fought their way up the Normandy beaches on D-Day morning.

The German defences are still holding out. The beach and its approaches are extremely hazardous, as the lines of machine gun bullets striking the water, the huge explosion farther out to sea, the stretcher bearers going about their life-saving work and the blood stained water lapping the shore, all testify. It was no place to tarry, unless your name was Bill Millin, who, against HQ orders, piped Lord Lovat and his No 4 Commandos off their landing craft and then proceeded to march up and down the beach to the tune of "The Road to the Isles." The Germans could easily have shot Millin dead but they had no wish to kill someone, who had clearly lost his mind!

There were five landing beaches, Sword being the most easterly, with Juno, Gold, Omaha and Utah stretching out to the west for a distance of around 50 miles (80k). On D-Day alone, around 6000 vessels crossed the Channel and around 150,000 men, with their supplies and equipment, were transported to Normandy. Around 800 RAF and USAF bombers dropped their payloads on selected targets inland of the beach areas and 24,000 paratroops were dropped behind enemy lines. All the while, Allied fighters patrolled the skies in support of the invading force. 

Whether or not you wish to purchase a print, the best way to understand the action is to visit our interactive copy of the print with its 28 points of interest linked to explanatory notes. Because of the interactive nature of this page, it is best viewed on a PC or laptop.

Further Reading

 There are a number of pages on this website that provide additional information of possible interest including... 

D-Day

Acknowledgements

In October 2011, like many hundreds before him, military artist, David Thorp e-mailed the Combined Ops website for information and this ordinary event turned out to have extraordinary consequences. E-mails were exchanged and somehow a routine transaction for a simple, small sketch of troops landing on a beach, metamorphosed into a 750mm by 550mm full colour painting gifted to the memorial fund! It rapidly acquired a life of its own and, with the assistance of Tony Chapman, erstwhile archivist and historian for the LST and Landing Craft Association, the painting took shape over the following five months.

From the outset, the educational value of the painting was paramount. Combined amphibious operations are complex in nature and difficult to understand, but this well presented painting provides an easy to follow visual explanation with supplementary notes, particularly for the benefit of younger generations. Sadly, it cannot include all the actions that occurred earlier, later or in other places. Most notable amongst these were the glider pilots and their assault troops and parachutists who landed behind enemy lines hours before the main landings.

David Thorp devoted countless hours to this project. His meticulous approach to detail, guided by the expertise and knowledge of Tony Chapman, archivist and historian of the LST and Landing Craft Association. The Memorial Fund has greatly benefitted from the generosity in time and expertise of these gentlemen.

Click here for David Thorp's website. 


News & Information

About Us

Background to the website and memorial project and a look to the future; plus other small print stuff and website accounts etc. Click here for information.

Remember a Veteran

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.

Facebook

Visit our Facebook page about the Combined Operations Command in appreciation of our WW2 veterans. You are welcome to add information, photos and comment or reply to messages posted by others.

Events and Places to Visit

Organisers: Reach the people who will be interested to know about your Combined Operations or war related event by adding it to our  webpage free of charge. Everyone else: Visit our webpage for information on events and places to visit. If you know of an event or place of interest, that is not listed, please let us know. To notify an event or place of interest, click here. To visit the webpage click here.

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).

Combined Operations Handbook (Far East)

The 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.

New to Combined Ops?

Visit Combined Operations Explained for an easy introduction to this complex subject.

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