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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A Book based on the daily war diary of Sub Lt Patrick Lennard Payne, RNVR


Publication and Proceeds

The book exists in 2nd daft form and requires further work before it will be ready for publication. With competing and more pressing demands coming from the website, the book's completion is still some way off.

All income (less costs) from the sale of the book will be paid into the Combined Operations Memorial Fund. The cost of the construction of the memorial and the refreshments for dedication ceremony in July 2013 have now been fully funded, so surplus funds will now provide for the memorial's long term maintenance and development and to professionally revamp this website to make it more compatible with mobile devices, a process known as "responsiveness".


Through the eyes of young Sub Lieutenant Patrick Lennard Payne, this book provides a fascinating and vivid insight into the detailed preparations for the amphibious  invasion of Europe and later, amphibious operations in the Far East. However, it's much more than an historical record of events. It has touches of humour, irony and pathos as it reveals the social history of a young 'subby' finding his way in the unfamiliar surroundings of the Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve (RNVR). We watch his passage from school boy to manhood in just a few years as he prepared for the day he would face the enemy off the Normandy beaches. The culture of secrecy in those times ensured he knew little or nothing about his training and deployment until he needed to know usually when he arrived at his new posting! He learned to make the most of his free time, pursuing his love of the countryside and the theatre. In more thoughtful moments, he reflects on the uncertain future of the world and his part in it.

When war was declared, Patrick was a school boy, as he was when the evacuation of the British Expeditionary Force from Dunkerque took place in late May/early June of 1940. Military planners knew it would take years to prepare a second expeditionary force of overwhelming strength to challenge the might of the German land forces in their fortified positions along what would become the "Atlantic Wall". The nature of the next invasion of Europe would be vastly different in scale and complexity to anything previously seen...  and it would be amphibious.

The luxury of landing on friendly shores, building up supplies and planning on the hoof, were not options. By the time the country was ready to mount an invasion, the coastlines of occupied countries would be heavily defended, particularly in and around ports and harbours, which were most unlikely to fall into Allied hands in any usable state. The need, therefore, was to deliver vast armies of overwhelming power directly onto more lightly defended beaches with less risk to the invading troops and the local populations. Such a force would comprise several hundred thousand men, their arms, ammunition, field guns, lorries, tanks, spares, food, water, fuel, medical services, mobile radar and communications equipment.

The combined resources of the Army, Navy and Air Force, working closely together in common purpose, would be required to stand any chance of success. New specialised landing craft, equipment and munitions were needed, with trained personnel to operate them. These human resources and the vast numbers of assault troops required for the task, needed training in amphibious landing techniques. It was a monumental task almost beyond comprehension and they would be starting from scratch.

On the 10th of May 1940 Churchill replaced Chamberlain as Prime Minister and wasted no time in setting up the Combined Operations Command to plan for offensive amphibious operations. The Command drew on the best practices and expertise of the Royal Navy, the Army and the Royal Air Force to create a unified force. Some of their top planners and experts formed the nucleus around which the Command was formed.

There was a need to design, construct, test and modify a range of landing craft to meet all contingencies. Over 40 types were brought into service ranging in size from around 30 feet to over 200 feet. Typically these craft had flat bottoms, square ends and a shallow draft with ramps to land their cargoes directly on to beaches. In shipyards and engineering establishments all around the UK and in the USA, work began on the mammoth task of building them, while dozens of training establishments were set up in Scotland and the south of England to provide the skilled naval crews to operate them. On the completion of this training, joint Navy and Army landings were practiced under simulated battle conditions to prepare the troops for the invasion that lay ahead. When required, the RAF laid down smoke screens, strafed the landing beaches with live ammunition and dropped small bombs to simulate the realistic battle conditions the troops were likely to experience. Hundreds of thousands of troops completed this training, the majority of which passed through the No 1 Combined Training Centre at Inveraray on Loch Fyne in Scotland, of which HMS Quebec was the naval component.

It was against this setting that Patrick Lennard Payne joined the Navy on September 6th 1941, straight from school. He spent the first nine months aboard a cruiser in the Mediterranean and elsewhere and some time on an old '15inch gun' Battleship, Queen Elizabeth, launched in 1913. He was then attached to the Combined Operations Command, starting his long association with landing craft, which is the subject of this book. After all he had endured and witnessed, he returned to civilian life at the still tender age of 22!

Note 1. From 17/07/40 to 27/10/41 Admiral of the Fleet, Roger Keyes held the post of Director of Combined  Operations. He was succeeded by Lord Louis Mountbatten who held the redefined post from 27/10/41 until he moved to Burma in October 1943. Major General Robert Laycock then held the post until 1947.

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

To 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.

To 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.

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Why not join the thousands who visit our Facebook page (click on icon above) 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 LCT 7074 - Crowd Funding

I'm very happy to tell our Combined Ops friends about the efforts of the National Museum of the Royal Navy to restore Landing Craft Tank 7074 (LCT 7074) and to put her on permanent display. The vital role of thousands of landing craft in WW2, their brave crews and equally brave troops they carried, will more readily be understood and remembered by generations to come through such a rare and iconic craft. You can donate to their crowd-funding effort at the link below. No donation is too small. https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/lct-7074

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.

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.


Legasee Film Archive

As part of an exciting social history project, the film company Legasee has recorded interviews with veterans from any conflicts. These  films are now available on line. www.legasee.org.uk

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