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. Proceeds are in aid of the long term upkeep of the Combined Operations Command Memorial and its educational component, this website.

The Book

The aim is to publish the book in this, the 75th anniversary year of the D-Day landings. Patrick's story is typical of many who carried, supported or defended the vast amphibious invasion force of over 156,000 troops on D-Day alone. Fortunately, Patrick kept a diary which gives us a ring-side seat at the European theatre of total war through the years of preparation, D-Day itself and further preparations for amphibious warfare in the Far East.

[Photo; Patrick outside his accommodation at HMS Foliot near Plymouth.]

After costs, all income from the sale of the book will be donated to the Combined Operations Memorial Maintenance and Development Fund to provide security for the memorial and this website in perpetuity.


Patrick's story is much more than a chronological record of historical 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 follow 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, that prevailed during the war, ensured he knew little or nothing about his training and deployment until he arrived at his new posting! He learned to make the most of his free time by pursuing his love of the countryside and the theatre. In more thoughtful moments, he reflected upon the uncertain future of the world and his part in it.

War was declared in September 1939 and 9 months later, the expeditionary force was evacuated from Dunkirk.

Military planners knew it would take years to re-equip and train a second invasion force of sufficient strength to overwhelm the enemy in their entrenched 'Atlantic Wall' fortifications. The invading armies would land directly onto unimproved, enemy held beaches using recently designed and manufactured flat bottomed landing craft. This was the reality that determined Patrick's training and deployment for the following four years, only he didn't know it!

In the final stages of his training, joint Navy and Army landings were practiced under simulated war conditions. The RAF laid down smoke screens, strafed the landing beaches and dropped small bombs as the RN and RM servicemen crewed the landing craft carrying the troops or in support of them.

Hundred's of thousands completed this training at the No 1 Combined Training Centre, Inveraray, Scotland and at other establishments mainly in Scotland and the south of England.

[Photo; HMS Quebec was the naval base at the No 1 CTC.]

It was against this setting that Patrick 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 the book. After all he endured and witnessed, he returned to civilian life at the tender age of 22!

Historical Context

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 provided the nucleus around which the Combined Operations Command HQ was formed.

The luxury of landing on friendly shores, building up supplies and planning on the hoof, were not options. By the time the country would be ready to mount an invasion, the coastlines of the occupied countries from northern Norway to the south of France, would be heavily defended, particularly in and around ports and harbours. They 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 improve the chances of success. New specialised landing craft, equipment and munitions were needed, with trained personnel to operate them. The vast numbers of landing craft crews and troops requiring training in amphibious landing techniques was a monumental task almost beyond comprehension... and they would be starting from scratch.

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 scores of training establishments were set up in Scotland and the south of England to provide the skilled naval crews to operate them and the landing beaches on which to practice.

Note. 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.

To visit the webpage click here.


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.

Submit your D-Day Story

2019 marks the 75th anniversary of the D-Day landings and, to mark the occasion, The D-Day Story is asking the British public to share their experiences from the largest invasion ever assembled. Whether its an account of the day from a veteran or a tale passed down by a relative, were keen to showcase never-before-heard stories for an exciting campaign to be launched later in the year.


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.

New to Combined Ops?

Visit Combined Operations Explained for an easy introduction to the subject.


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.


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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