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 400,000 annual visits & 6 million hits to 180  webpages & 3000 photos.  News and Information at the bottom of this and every web page.

Please 'like' the Combined Operations Command Memorial on Facebook in remembrance of all who served the Allied cause in WW2.



The 130 photos below tell the story of a memorable day of happiness and emotion as the long held dream of a Combined Operations Command memorial came to fruition and absent comrades and loved ones were fondly remembered. Click on the thumbnails to enlarge the photos. There are no copyright restrictions. Please contact me if you'd like a high resolution copy of any of the photos on display or if you have any photos of the event that may be of interest.

Arrival/Marquee Memorial Site Dedication/Unveiling Laying of Tributes Acknowledgements


Coffee, tea and biscuits were provided from 12 noon in the Arboretum's marquee adjacent to the visitor centre. It was a welcome opportunity to recover from the journey, to exchange news and information with other guests and to meet e-mail friends for the first time. Veterans were soon engaged in animated chat as they recalled events of 70 years earlier.

Four display boards were provided for guests to add photographs and brief war service details of veterans and to display posters of D-Day prepared by 11 year olds from Peel Primary School in Livingston, Scotland as part of their WW2 curriculum.

All guests received a detailed programme of the day's events and on cue, at 1 o'clock, they made their way down to the memorial site. Scooters and golf style buggies transported the less ambulant.

The Official Party comprised Her Majesty's Lord Lieutenant of Staffordshire, Mr Ian Dudson, CBE and his wife Jane, General Sir Richard Barrons, KCB CBE ADC Gen, Commander of the Joint Forces Command, Military Artist, David Thorp and his wife, Olwen, the Reverend Prebendary Tony Wood and Geoffrey Slee and his wife, Margaret.

Memorial Site

By the time the official party arrived at 1.30 pm everyone with a job to do was in place including 6 Standard Bearers, a piper and a bugler. Seating was neatly arranged in a cosy L shape.

Dedication & Unveiling

Proceedings were opened by Geoffrey Slee, who organised the event, with a warm welcome and a brief history of the Combined Operations website and the memorial project. Around 15,000 had been raised through donations and fund raising initiatives of which around 13,300 was spent on the construction of the memorial.

He explained that there was a high level of symbolism in the design of the memorial - the spearhead shape being the archetypal attack formation adopted on Commando raids and major landings with the sharp end representing the initial assault troops, the main body of the triangle representing the supporting forces and reinforcements and the spearhead shaft representing the reserves.

The symbolism continued in the materials used in the construction of the memorial. The four large stones and the smaller stones used to build the wall that bears the mosaic, came from a quarry on the shores of Loch Fyne in Scotland where 250,000 service personnel from the 3 services trained together in amphibious landing techniques. Who amongst veterans will ever forget Inveraray!?

The memorial was enclosed by three trees - oak for the Navy, Ash for the Army and Sitka Spruce for the RAF, each of which had an historical association with the service it represents. The WW2 pillbox in the background and close proximity of the River Tame added to the ambiance as they provided elements that were familiar to many who served in, or alongside, the Combined Operations Command - water and defensive gun positions.

General Barrons provided a brief history of the Combined Operations Command from the prickly relationship Sir Roger Keyes had with the Chiefs of Staff through the Mountbatten years to the end of the war and beyond under the stewardship of General Laycock. The role of the present day Joint Forces Command was, of course, very different but there was affinity between the two commands as the wearing of the Combined Operations badge by some units of the Joint Forces Command testified. Click here to read General Barrons' speech.

Lord Lieutenant Dudson reminded everyone that the Combined Operations Command website will remain the educational component of the memorial while there is a demand for the information it contains. The website is visited by 250,000 people each year recording millions of hits. With the advent of mobile phones and computer tablets, it will be possible, within a year, for visitors to the memorial site to view a film of the amphibious part of D-Day, effectively seeing what the memorial represents on their visit.

Laying of Wreaths & Other Tributes

HM Lord Lieutenant for Staffordshire laid the first wreath followed by General Barrons. Two great grandchildren of RAF Combined Ops veteran, John Glen, laid the next wreath on behalf of all who supported the memorial fund. It was John Glen's reminiscences of his service in the Combined Operations Command that planted the seed from which grew the Combined Operations Command website, established in 2000 and the Combined Operations Memorial Fund set up in 2005.

The wreaths and other tributes laid by veterans, their families and friends provided the most emotional and poignant part of the ceremony. Many a tear was shed as thoughts turned to absent comrades and loved ones. Much courage, determination and dignity was on display that afternoon.

They shall not grow old, as we that are left grow old: Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn. At the going down of the sun and in the morning, we will remember them.

When you go home, tell them of us and say - for your tomorrow we gave our today.


For their help on the day, thanks are due to Brenda Gordon and Elizabeth Hall (reception desk), Ken Hope, Ann Hope, Mike Phillips and Sheila Phillips (marquee reception and name badges), Mike Hall (MC/trouble-shooter), Colin Gillespie (arrangements at the memorial site), David Thorp (VIP greeter), Richard Stimpson (organisation of standard bearers), Harriet Calfo (official photographer) with additional photos by Mike Wright, Pam Wright and Sarah Slee. The general factotum was David Slee. Thanks also to Mike McKenna (Piper), Adrian Harper (Bugler) and the six standard bearers whose presence greatly honoured and respected all veterans who served in or alongside the Combined Operations Command.

Thank you so much for the many e-mail messages, letters, cards and phone calls.

The memorial is in the grounds of the National Memorial Arboretum (NMA) around 20 north, north east of Birmingham near the village of Alrewas, Staffordshire. The GPS coordinates are; Lat N 52 43.705 and Long W 1 43.934. The position of the memorial within the NMA grounds are; Lat N 52 43.866 and Long W 1 43.360.

Kindest regards

Geoffrey Slee

Combined Operations Memorial Fund



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 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 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.


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.

Legasee Film Archive

As part of an exciting social history project, the film company Legasee is looking for veterans from any conflict who would like to have their stories filmed for posterity. Films are now available on line. www.legasee.org.uk

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.


Print too small or large?

Easy solution when browsing. I) PC. To increase hold down Ctrl and shift and press +. To decrease hold down Ctrl and press -. 2) MAC. To increase Command + and to decrease Command -.


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