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.

Australia Greece  Belgium Holland Canada UK USA France Norway Poland New Zea'd



Memorial (Visits etc)

Roll of Honour



About Us

All Pages Index


Notice Boards

They Also Served



Contact Us

 Hundreds of thousands of visits each year to 200  web pages & 3000 photos.  News & information at the bottom of this and every web page.

You can show your appreciation for those who served the Allied cause in WW2, by 'liking' the Combined Ops Facebook page.


Your Gateway to the Website

There are four ways to find the information you seek: 1) click on the subject matter links immediately below; 2) click on the flag of the country of interest; 3) or use this search link.

About Us Biographies Books Combined Ops ? Commandos Contact Us D-Day to D +30
Documents & Signals Events & Visits FAQs Home Page Insignia Landing Craft  Links
Membership Miscellaneous Notice Boards Poetry Post WW2 Ops Raids & Landings Remembrance
Science  & Technology Search the Website Special Forces Training Wartime Memories Writers Young People

                                                              free usa flag gif          

Background (What is a Combined Operation?)

Combined Ops Unsprung Why Churchill set up the Combined Operations Command, the duties and responsibilities he gave it and its guiding principles, development and achievements. Read this web page and you'll better understand the context in which all the other website pages are set.

D Day Interactive Painting An interactive painting of an imaginary major landing on to a Normandy beach, which explains the action visually. Its the embodiment of the vast training programme Combined Operations established in amphibious landings on to heavily defended beaches. Hundreds of thousands of personnel, from the three services, were involved in this training over the best part of 4 years. Click on the numbers or scroll down the page and just let the story unfold.

Wolfe's Combined Operation How Wolfe's raid on Quebec in 1759, unwittingly set the ground rules for successful amphibious Combined Operations in the 20th century. The main lesson was that all parties involved should contribute to the planning process and have an good understanding of each others capabilities and roles in the operation ahead.

Biographies (Short)

Roger Keyes Churchill's 1st appointment to the post of Director Combined Operations, which ended in acrimony just 15 months later, in Oct 1941, due to intolerable tensions between Keyes and the Chiefs of Staff of the three services. Keyes was a personal friend of Churchill's and it was with a heavy heart he found it necessary to replace him.

Mountbatten Despite his youth and lack of naval rank, Churchill appointed Lord Louis Mountbatten to the redefined role of Combined Operations Adviser to the Chiefs of Staff from 17/10/41 to 17/3/42  and Chief of Combined Operations from 18/3/42 to 10/43, by which time he had gained the respect and confidence of the Chiefs using his undoubted diplomatic skills.

Geoffrey Pyke A wartime scientific adviser, whose unusual and creative mind knew no bounds. Described variously as a 'One Man Think Tank' and 'not a scientist, but a man of a vivid, uncontrollable imagination and a totally uninhibited tongue.' However, such was his contribution to the war effort, that Mountbatten, on leaving to take up his post in Burma, sent Pyke a personal note of thanks and appreciation.

Lt Douglas Adshead-Grant The man who designed the ubiquitous Combined Operations Badge. On 13/01/42, Lord Louis Mountbatten, Chief of the Combined Operations Command, issued a general invitation for badge designs to be submitted. One of several by Lieut  D A Grant, RNVR, of HMS Tormentor, was approved on 19/02/42.


No 1  Commando A brief history of No 1 Commando, from its formation in July 1940, to disbandment in 1946.

No 4  Commando A brief history of No 4 Commando, from its formation on 4 March 1941, to disbandment in July 1945.

No 5 Commando A brief history of No 5 Commando, from its formation in July 1940, to disbandment in January 1947.

No 9 Commando A brief history of No 9 Commando, from its formation in the summer of 1940, to disbandment in late 1946.

No 11 (Scottish) Commando - The Black Hackle The Commando was formed in July 1940. Its members were dispersed to other Commando units a little over a year later. However, much was packed into this period, as this 20,000 word Commando history, by Graham Lappin, describes.

45 (RM) Commando (1) The amphibious landings on the beaches of Normandy and the immediate aftermath, are brought together with the story of Marine, Bernard Charles Sydney Fenton. It covers the early years of 45 Royal Marine Commando and draws heavily on the official publication 'The Story of 45 Royal Marine Commando' written by the 45's officers and published privately for members of the unit and their relatives. Front lines were often unclear and transient as troops on both sides moved around the contested area. This is graphically illustrated in the detailed descriptions of the many actions 45 Commando was involved in.

45 (RM) Commando (2) This account of 45 Royal Marine Commando, concentrates on the amphibious landings on the beaches of North Africa and Sicily and their immediate aftermath.

50 (Middle East) Commando Mainly operating in the eastern Mediterranean as part of 'Layforce', named after their commander, Robert Laycock. They were frustrating times for these Commandoes, with frequent cancellations of planned operations and changes to agreed plans. Operation Abstention, for example, was described by Admiral Cunningham as ‘A rotten business and reflected little credit to everyone’ and by a Special Operations Executive (SOE) agent as "Confused, Incompetent, Inept and a Mess."

52 (Middle East) Commando Mainly operating in north-east Africa as part of 'Layforce', named after their commander, Robert Laycock. In December 1940, the 5th Division's Staff Officers, deployed the Commando as reinforcements to fill out the ranks of their infantry in north east Africa, in the mistaken belief that this was an appropriate role for commando trained troops. After about three months, 52 (ME) Commando returned to Egypt when the Italians withdrew from East Africa.

Royal Naval Commando (The Beach Commandos) In larger amphibious raids and landings, it became apparent that tight control of the movement of men, vehicles and supplies, over the beaches, was essential to avoid delays and bottlenecks. These had the potential to disrupt the supply chain with, potentially, serious consequences to front line operations. The RN 'Beach' Commandos exercised their authority with vigour. One such is reputed to have ordered a General to "Get off my bloody beach!"... which I sincerely hope he did!

Royal Air Servicing Commandos Recruited from RAF service personnel by notices posted at RAF Stations.. 'Volunteers wanted in all trades for units to be formed to service aircraft under hazardous conditions.' As the Allies advanced towards Germany, air strips, not far from the front line, where taken over for use by the RAF to service, refuel and maintain operational aircraft. The volunteers were trained to defend themselves and to protect their valuable supplies and equipment against enemy attack. Fifteen units were formed, each commanded by an engineering officer and usually with an armament officer and an adjutant. Each unit comprised about 150 men organised into four flights similar to army platoons. There was a flight sergeant with corporals as section leaders. A sergeant was responsible for each trade such as engine, airframe and armourers.

Royal Air Servicing Commandos No 3201 Unit An often light hearted account of one unit Royal Air Servicing Commando unit which operated in North Africa. Illustrated with cartoons drawn by the author.

The Sacred Squadron An elite WW2, Greek commando unit which operated in North Africa and the islands of the Aegean. They were not part of Combined Operations but drew inspiration from the Long Range Desert Group (LRDG) and later regular commando units. Commanding Officer, Tsigantes, named his unit 'Sacred Squadron' and along with the legendary David Stirling, the founder of the famous Special Air Services (SAS), he thoroughly reorganised the Squadron, turning it into an elite commando unit.

US Ranger to British Commando How the war of a 20 year old USA volunteer, G W McCurdy, was changed by a late night in a Belfast city pub! As his story unfolds, it seems he was in luck the day the Rangers RTU'd him (Returned To Unit). He was an independent spirit but reduced to tears when his British Commandos friends marched away into the North African night to the sound of the Scottish bagpipes.

W Commando The story of Canada's Juno beach Commandos from training in Scotland to the Normandy beaches on D-Day and beyond. W Commando were Canada's Beach Commandos. They were specially trained Commandos to create and maintain order on Juno Beach during the Normandy landings. Such was the uncertainty of what they would find, that they trained for chemical warfare, clearing beach obstacles with explosives and even driving Sherman tanks! However, their main task was to keep the movement of men, machines and supplies flowing smoothly across the beach area to the front line.

D-Day and its Aftermath

Coastal Command Coastal Command were not, of course, part of Combined Operations but, on and around D-Day, they played a vital role in support of the invasion fleet. German submarines (U Boats) were known to be concentrated in French ports and they were expected to attack the invasion fleet particularly on the approaches to, and in, the western side of the English Channel. Coastal Command's planes were equipped with radar and depth charges. Their task was to cover every part of the 'Operation Cork' area from southern Ireland to the mouth of the Loire, 20,000 square miles, every 30 minutes, day and night for an indefinite period... and it wasn't by accident that the interval was 30 minutes! These are one pilot's recollections.

Fighter Direction Tenders - FDTs 13, 216 & 217 Fighter Direction Tenders were, in conjunction with their HQ ships, floating command and control centres which bristled with antenna and aerials for radar, communications and intelligence gathering purposes. They were the eyes and ears for the large scale invasion forces off the beaches of Normandy in June of 1944. They extended the cover provided by shore based radar and communications on the south coast of England, well into enemy occupied France. There were 3 Fighter Direction Tenders designated FDT 13, 216 & 217. After about 3 weeks, the two survivors were withdrawn as land based mobile radar units were established in France.

FDT 216 by a Leading Aircraftsman This page is based on the diary of  LAC, Leslie Armitage, who served on Fighter Direction Tender (FDT) 216 off the American beaches of Utah and Omaha. It covers only 10 days from June 5, 1944 because a further 22 days went down with the ship! On July 7, FDT 216 was hit by a torpedo, turned turtle and was deliberately sunk because she was a hazard to shipping. By then, her vital work was almost over as mobile land based radar units established themselves in Normandy.

HQ Ships In WW2, Headquarters Ships and HQ Assault ships shared the task of implementing the detailed plans for large scale amphibious landings on enemy held beaches. They also monitored the progress of these plans and adjusted them in the light of experience and circumstances. In modern parlance, they were floating Command and Control Centres with enormous capacity to communicate with aircraft, other ships, shore establishments and units operating in the battlegrounds.

Landing Craft A handy index to 40 or so personal recollections from veterans about many types of landing craft, training and operations, including D-Day.

Mulberry Harbours The Allies needed secure sheltered harbour facilities within days of the Normandy landings to supply their advancing forces until were captured and made usable. How did they erect two harbours, each the size of Dover, in just a few days in wartime, when Dover took 7 years to construct in peacetime? It was a civil engineering project of immense size and complexity. Such was Churchill's annoyance at what he perceived to be slow progress, that he indulged his frustration in a terse signal to Mountbatten on the 30th May, 1942... "Piers for use on beaches. They must float up and down with the tide. The anchor problem must be mastered. Let me have the best solution worked out. Don't argue the matter. The difficulties will argue for themselves."

Operation Overlord D Day, June 6, 1944. Operation Overlord and its seaborne component, Operation Neptune, were the culmination of four years of planning and training by Combined Operations planners and the three traditional services, including the USA. The role of the Combined Operations Command, in this process, was recognised in Churchill's Signal to Mountbatten which he sent on D-Day + 6 after he returned to Downing Street from a visit to the Normandy beaches.

PLUTO The Pipe Line Under The Ocean, was a storage, pumping and pipeline distribution network in southern/central England, designed to supply petrol to the Allied armies in France, as they advanced towards Germany. This page tells the story of the planning, development, testing and installation of the 21 pipelines across the English Channel and the contribution of PLUTO to the war effort.

Poetry A fine collection of heartfelt poems about the Normandy landings on D Day and the Commando Memorial at Spean Bridge, near Fort William, Scotland.

RAF Air Sea Rescue For five specially selected crews serving in the RAF Air Sea Rescue Service, D Day found them holding predetermined positions some miles off the Normandy beaches. Inexplicably, their orders told them to switch on their searchlights shortly before midnight. Shortly afterwards, heavy aircraft were heard overhead, carrying thousands of paratroops behind enemy lines. They were guided by the searchlights acting as navigational beacons! The Air Sea Rescue crews knew nothing in advance of this small but vitally important task. Later, they resumed their normal duties patrolling the waters off the coast of north west France in search of downed airmen.

Royal Observer Corp Seaborne Ops The 796 civilian personnel from the ROC, were not formally attached to Combined Operations, although their curious uniforms had aspects of all three services! This created the unique spectacle of civilians in RAF blue uniforms, with Army black berets serving as Royal Navy Senior NCOs! On board ships on D-Day and beyond, they identified approaching aircraft as friend or foe, for the information of gunners. This, potentially, would reduce friendly fire incidents while increasing the number of enemy aircraft downed.

Documents & Signals

Infamous Commando Order [Hitler] As a result of an unfortunate incident on the island of Sark, a number of German soldiers were shot, by Commandos of the Small Scale Raiding Force (SSRF), with their hands tied behind their backs. This, apparent, execution incensed Hitler, who shortly afterwards issued his infamous Commando Order. On the 23rd Oct, 1942, the first to die as a result of this order, were Commandos captured after a brilliantly successful raid in Norway. See Operation Musketoon.

Western Front Preparations [Hitler] On November 3, 1943, Hitler's top secret Directive 51 was issued on the subject of preparations for the anticipated invasion from the west. This ordered the transfer of men and materials from the eastern front because the greater and more immediate threat, was in the west.

The Gratitude of a Nation [Churchill] Churchill visited the Normandy beaches on D-Day + 6 and was moved to write to Mountbatten, on his return to Downing Street, to express the Nation's gratitude for what he described as 'the maneuvre in progress of rapid development'. He and his military advisers, readily acknowledged the role of Combined Operations in planning, training and executing the amphibious aspects of D-Day (Operation Neptune) and beyond.

Combined Operations Insignia

Lt Douglas Adshead-Grant A short biography of the man who designed the ubiquitous Combined Operations Badge. On 13/01/42, Lord Louis Mountbatten, Chief of the Combined Operations Command, issued a general invitation for badge designs to be submitted. One of several by Lieut D A Grant, RNVR, of HMS Tormentor, was approved on 19/02/42. Nothing much was known about Lt Grant until his family responded to an appeal for information. He had a more interesting naval career than you might imagine!

Insignia Design & Development A copy of an article entitled 'The Combined Operations Badge, 1942-1946' by Terry Carney, based on research he carried out at the National Archive, Kew, London. It includes many drawings of early design ideas including the transformation of the RAF seagull into a menacing eagle.

Insignia Specimens 75 images of Combined Operations Insignia from the early 1940s to the present day, including some from overseas. Lieut D A Grant, who suggested the design, could not have known how its use would spread around the world and how it would endure over the decades to the present day.

Insignia in Use Old photos of veterans, tattooed arm, ship's funnel, scaled model of craft, Christmas card, Commando certificate etc - all clearly show the ubiquitous Combined Operations badge in use. If you have any examples you're happy to share, please send them in with a brief note for possible addition to the website.

Landing Craft (USA craft prefixed by 'US').

9th LCT Flotilla In mid October 1944, the terrible fate of the 9th LCT (Landing Craft Tank) Flotilla was sealed, as its craft sailed beyond Lands End in the tow of merchant ships. It was part of Convoy OS92/KMS66 bound for the Mediterranean en route to the Far East. There had been warnings of bad weather, but the rules and procedures in place to protect the safety of the craft in these circumstances, proved ineffective. Over 50 men were lost as 6 craft foundered. How did the tragedy happen and was it avoidable? This is the tragic story of "The Lost LCT Flotilla."

10th LCA Flotilla / 60th LCA Flotilla / 574 LCA Flotilla After the disaster of the Dieppe raid, the 10th LCA Flotilla was largely reformed as the 60th LCA Flotilla and saw action in North Africa, Sicily and Italy. As D Day approached the Flotilla was re-designated 574 LCA Flotilla and took part in the D-Day landings and beyond.

519 LCA Assault Flotilla Unusually, this small flotilla of 6 LCAs was earmarked for Juno beach but was loaned to the Americans for use on Omaha and Utah. They were amongst the very first to land on D-Day to face enemy guns, mortars and shells. LCAs (Landing Craft Assault) were small troop carrying craft usually transported on mother ships to within a few miles of the landing beaches. At a predetermined time and place, they were lowered into the water with their crew of 4 and up to 36 fully armed troops, to make their way to the landing beaches.

601 LCM Flotilla 601 LCM  Flotilla, not only battled against the enemy as they ferried supplies and ammunition from ship to shore for 6 weeks from D-Day; they also battled against the elements, with tragic consequences. They were on their way home from Normandy when they encountered very rough weather. Most of the craft were in rather poor condition. Two LCMs sank but the crews were rescued by another LCM. However, any jubilation was short-lived since, three hours later, it foundered as well. Only one man survived out of a total complement of 32.

814 HMLCV(P) Flotilla 814 HM Landing Craft Vehicle (Personnel) Flotilla, (814 HM LCV (P)), took part in the D-Day landings. Royal Marine, Roy Nelson, was on board HM LCV (P) 1155, one of 16 identical craft hoisted aboard a Landing Ship Tank (LST) for the journey across the English Channel to the beaches of Normandy. 7 of the 16 craft in the flotilla were recorded as war losses and two Royal Marines from the flotilla were killed. Their Commonwealth War Grave Commission records were corrected as a result of information gleaned during the preparation of this account.

HDML 1301 This account of the role of Harbour Defence Motor Launch HDML 1301 in Operation Brassard will be of greatest interest to researchers or those with a special interest in the subject. It provides a valuable insight into the complex and detailed planning which preceded all raids and landings. It was prepared by David Carter whose father, Lt F L Carter, RNVR was killed in the action.

HDML 1301 Recovery The son of the craft's WW2 skipper, who was killed during a landing on the island of Elba in June 1944, navigated the 1301 on a 1,400 nautical mile journey from Gibraltar to the Netherlands for restoration. This is his account of the journey.

LBK 6  When the enormous scale and composition of the Normandy invasion force became known, it was realised that many small craft, operating off the landing beaches, would not be equipped with a galley to prepare their own hot meals, or indeed any meals. The Landing Barge Kitchen was designed and developed to satisfy the anticipated demand. They had a capacity to provide 1,600 hot meals and 800 cold meals a day and operated like an amphibious fast food outlet with unlimited parking! In this account we follow the history of the craft from the Normandy beaches to its 21st century use, despite several declarations to 'retire' her.

LCA 1026 LCA 1026 ,was part of the 524 LCA Flotilla on D Day. Larger landing craft made their own way across the English Channel to Normandy, while those in the 524 Flotilla were carried on a mother ship, HMS Arquebus and lowered into the water, from davits, a few miles off the landing beaches. The procedure was similar to that employed today in lowering lifeboats on ferries and cruise ships.

LCF Landing Craft Flack (LCFs) were converted Landing Craft Tank (LCTs) with the front ramp welded in position and the hold decked over as a platform for her anti-aircraft guns. There were a number of variants (Marks) but most were around 150/200 ft long with a beam of around 30/40 ft. (For an approximate conversion to meters, divide by 3.3). LCTs were designed to carry tanks and heavy transport while the LCFs were equipped with anti-aircraft guns to provide air cover for the invasion fleet, particularly the troop carrying Landing Craft Assault (LCA) flotillas, which were poorly equipped to defend themselves against air attack. A light-hearted and humorous style belies the very dangerous situations the author found himself in and the death and destruction he witnessed.

LCF 7 Landing Craft Flack. The author faced death on many occasions and witnessed much carnage. But, as he walked down LCF7s gangplank for the last time, with the heartfelt thanks of the Captain and his fellow officers ringing in his ears, he gave the customs officer a deferential wink as he stepped ashore with a heavy heart.

LCG (L) 19 Landing Craft Gun (Large) number 19, was a class of landing craft described by the BBC as "mini destroyers". She was equipped with two rapid fire pom-pom guns positioned aft on the port and starboard sides of the bridge. They were manned by Naval seamen. The heavy armament comprised two 4.7 inch Bofors guns, manned by Royal Marine gunners and situated on the main gun deck. There were about 32-35 crew members, both Naval and Royal Marine seamen. LCGs were converted landing craft tank (LCTs) that provided supporting fire in the area of landing beaches during amphibious assaults in WW2. They were capable of disabling tanks, gun emplacements and other obstacles likely to oppose or obstruct the progress of assault troops on and around the landing beaches. It was home to linesman, Harold Dilling, for over two years off North Africa, Sicily, Italy and Yugoslavia.

LCS (M) Mk3 The LCS(M)s (Landing Craft Support (Medium), were manned by Royal Marines whose primary task was to escort LCAs to the landing beaches under cover of their heavy machine gun fire. At the time, the LCSMs were described by the BBC as "mini destroyers." This account is about one of the Mark 3 LCS(M)s numbered 78, 109 and 112. Which one is unknown.

LCT (R) 363 The Allies had a few secret weapons to surprise the defending German forces on the beaches of Normandy in June, 1944. One such was the Landing Craft Tank (Rocket) or (LCT(R) which, in just a few seconds, fired dozens of rockets carrying high explosives on to the landing beaches in advance of the first wave of assault troops. The aim was to destroy, disable, disrupt and disorientate the enemy forces. This is one story told by stoker Frank Woods, DSM.

LCT 318 This is the story of one Landing Craft Tank through the eyes of the craft's electrician. It saw action off Dieppe, North Africa, Sicily, Italy and Normandy. After such an illustrious wartime service, the end came from a most unexpected source. Mk3 HMLCT 318 was built by Teesside Bridge and Engineering Company and launched on February 14, 1942.

LCT (4) 749 Landing Craft Tank (Mark 4) 749 - LCT(4) 749 was involved in the first assault wave onto Gold Beach on the morning of D-Day. It was part of the 28th LCT Flotilla ‘D’ LCT Squadron. Its cargo included specially adapted tanks (known as Hobart's Funnies) for the clearance of beach obstacles in advance of troop landings. This was hazardous work undertaken before enemy resistance in the area of the landing beaches had been cleared. Crew member, Stoker Mountain, was later awarded the DSM (Distinguished Service Medal) for his cool conduct under fire. Account by Commanding Officer, Lieutenant Jack E Booker, RNVR,

LCT 795 Landing Craft Tank 795 - LCT 795 - from early training to D-Day and beyond seen through the eyes of the craft's electrician. From hazardous work off Normandy, where experiences shared bonded the crew together, to an unexpected event that lead to their craft being written off while her crew were individually dispersed. Much to his regret, the author never saw any of his shipmates again.

LCT 821 On D-Day, Signalman Eric J Loseby served with His Majesty's Landing Craft Tank 821 of the 42nd Flotilla of ‘I’ Squadron Landing Craft. This is his story. From training and over-wintering in the cold waters around Scotland's northern shores, to undertaking running repairs while stranded on a Normandy beach, there were many hardships and dangers. The common purpose of these non specialised landing craft, was to transport the Allied armies, their weapons, equipment and supplies across the English Channel.

LCT 861 HMLCT 861, was a unit of the 38th Flotilla of Assault Group S3, Support Squadron. Their task on D-Day, was to support the first assault wave by providing withering fire onto enemy targets, on or near to the landing beaches and thereafter to discharge their cargo of tanks and men onto the beaches.

LCT 979 LCT 979, saw action on the Normandy beaches. A few months later, she took part in Operation Infatuate, the assault on the island fortress of Walcheren. Against the odds they survived, battered but not broken.

LCT 980 HMLCT 980, had a similar war history to LCT 979 above. It provides a good description of the vessel, its specifications and life onboard after the action was over, including an ignominious end on the River Thames.

LCT 1171 & LCH 75 Landing Craft Tank & Landing Craft Headquarters. LCT 1171 survived the Normandy landings but broke her back, split in two and sank on a routine return trip to UK shores. LCH 75 was a HQ ship fitted out for Far East Service. The atomic bombs halted her journey in the Middle East. A remarkable trip to the USA followed, when this US owned vessel was returned to its owners.

LCT 2304 D-Day. Two views of the same events from the perspectives of a British Navy landing craft crew and their 'cargo' of US Army soldiers.

LCT 2331 - ditto -

LCV (P) 1228 Landing Craft Vehicle (Personnel) 1228, was a relatively small flat bottomed boat with a capacity to deliver a few vehicles or around 35 fully armed assault troops or general supplies onto the landing beaches. There were many hundreds of these craft deployed on D-Day, June 6th, 1944. 1228 was part of the 805 LCV(P) flotilla of 16 craft bound for Gold beach. Her initial cargo was one hundred 5 gallon jerry cans of petrol. The 3 man crew's concerns about the hazardous cargo, soon gave way to survival strategies in the choppy waters of the English Channel. 1288 survived a little over 24 hours.

Landing Craft Support Squadron The primary task of support landing craft LCGs, LCFs and LCRs (guns, flack and rockets) was to soften up entrenched enemy positions on and near the beaches in advance of troop landings and protective cover fire in the case of the LCGs and LCFs. This account provides an insight into the establishment of a support flotilla and its deployment.

Landing Craft Tank Squadron This is an incisive, often amusing account of a Landing Craft Tank Squadron from early training in the harsh, cold winter of 1943/44, in the Moray Firth, Scotland to the hazardous landings on the Normandy beaches on D-Day June 6, 1944. It's told by the late Lieutenant Commander of the squadron, M O W Miller, RN, later Commander.

LCA, LCM & LCI (L) Landing Craft Various. Canadian, Kendal Kidder was a bit of a character. He trained and served on different types of small landing craft; Landing Craft Assault (LCA), Landing Craft Mechanised (LCM) and Landing Craft Infantry Large LCI (L). A light hearted look at wartime life as the names of his crew exemplify; 'I'll kill de guy' Kirkpatrick, stoker. 'Tombstone' Leavy, second cox'n, 'Parrot' Mitchell, first cox'n and  "H'ok" Gallant, a French Canadian from Prince Edward Island.

524 LCA Flotilla, LCAs & LCS(M)s While the LCAs carried armed troops to the landing beaches, LCS(M)s, manned by Royal Marines, escorted them in to the landing beaches, while providing fire cover for them. The BBC described the LCS(M)s as 'mini destroyers'. Until the beaches and their environs were cleared of the enemy, the Marines were exposed to gun and mortar fire while in the vicinity of the beaches.

LST HMS Misoa Requisitioned from the shallow waters of Venezuela's Lake Maracaibo in South America, Misoa saw service off  N Africa, Pantellaria, Sicily, Italy and Normandy. These are the wartime memories of a young Royal Navy seaman who served on her. Although his ship didn't have the sleek lines and style of a cruiser, it came through many hazardous actions, relatively unscathed.

LST HMS Thruster HMLST(1) Thruster was built by Harland and Wolf, Belfast, Northern Ireland and launched on September 24th, 1942. She later took part in the invasions of Sicily, Salerno, Anzio and Southern France. The photographs on this page are a rare record of those times since the taking of such photos was forbidden.

HMS Royal Ulsterman HMS Royal Ulsterman was a WW2 troop carrying ship called a Landing Ship Infantry (Hand Hoisting) or LSI (H). Its purpose was to carry large numbers of fully armed troops and the Landing Craft Assault (LCAs) they would use to travel the last few miles to the landing beaches. LSIs are often referred to as 'mother ships' because of their 'brood' of LCAs, 6 in the case of the Royal Ulsterman, all securely fixed to hand operated davits ready to be lowered, fully laden, into the water. She was an ex English Channel and saw action off North Africa, Pantellaria, Sicily, Italy and Normandy.

HMS Empire Battleaxe The 'Empire' ships were built to carry eighteen LCAs [Landing Craft Assault] and to accommodate about one thousand troops. British LCAs were lowered over the side with troops and their light equipment already on board while the USA lowered their LCAs empty with troops scrambling down nets and ladders to board them.

HMS Glenearn HMS Glenearn was a Landing Ship Infantry (Large), LSI (L). The purpose of this class of vessel was to carry large numbers of fully armed troops and the Landing Craft Assault (LCAs) that would carry them on the last few miles to the landing beaches. The LSI (L)s are often referred to as 'mother ships' because of their 'brood' of LCAs, 24 in the case of the Glenearn, all securely fixed to davits ready to be lowered, fully laden, into the water like a modern lifeboat. Since an LCA typically carried around 35 fully armed troops and some craft would return for a second load of troops, the Glenearn could well carry around 1,500 men. She was a converted 16 knot cargo liner of about 10,000 tons, a D-Day veteran that also saw service in the Pacific theatre.

D-Day Landings A general overview of landing craft operations on the 5 landing beaches of Normandy. It includes Landing Craft Tank (Armoured) - LCT(A), Landing Craft Tank (High Explosives) - LCT (HE), Landing Craft Tank (Rocket) LCT(R) and Landing Craft Assault Mortars - LCA(HR). Includes often harrowing stories of real events by veterans who were there.

D-Day Assault Convoy G6 A routine enquiry about RN Able Seaman Norman Kenwood, recorded lost at sea on June 6th 1944 from Landing Craft Assault 591 (LCA 591) led the LST and Landing Craft Association into uncharted waters. The end result of was a correction to the Commonwealth War Grave Commission's records.

Landing Craft and a Young Canadian Volunteer After the war, LLoyd Evans asked himself "How did I end up in a conflict 4000 miles away which took me to countries I only recognised as names in a school atlas?" A comprehensive, often humorous account of life on a Landing Craft in the UK, Africa, and Europe from the perspective of a young Canadian volunteer. Lloyd packed more experience of life into just a few years than many young people today achieve in a lifetime. Although there were enjoyable times of rest and relaxation, always present was the next unknown mission with moments of great danger.

Operation Tiger The disastrous amphibious training exercise in Lyme Bay, on the south coast of England. It was an avoidable disaster on an epic scale and witnesses were sworn to secrecy. 749 American service personnel lost their lives.

Handover of New LCAs Rare photographs of newly completed Landing Craft Assault (LCAs) being handed over to the Royal Navy by ship builders,  Elliotts of Reading, Berkshire, England. It is believed the photographs were taken in September 1944.

US LST 28 The story of a United States Landing Ship Tank and a crew member.

US LCT (R) The deployment of United States Landing Craft Tank (Rocket) vessels in WW2, as told by Lt Commander Carr. These craft launched hundreds of explosive projectiles onto enemy held beaches, just minutes ahead of the initial assault troops landing. Timing and accuracy were vital to avoid Allied casualties.

US LCT (R) 439  United States Landing Craft (Rocket) 439 - US LCT (R) 439, was a specialized landing craft which carried 2896 5 inch x 4 feet (127mm x 1.2m) explosive rockets, designed to soften up enemy coastal defensive positions immediately prior to the landing of the initial assault troops. Her Commanding Officer was Lieutenant (jg) Elmer H Mahlin and his 2nd in Command was Ensign George F Fortune, the author of the first part of the craft's story. The second part gives the Commanding Officer's perspective as compiled by his son, Stu, from the contents of his father's old sea chest.

US LCI(L) 502 US Landing Craft Infantry (Large) 502, carried 196 Officers and men of the Durham Light Infantry to Gold Beach on D-Day, June 6th, 1944. The well planned and disciplined order fell into disrepair as she and her sister craft approached the landing beach to chaotic scenes. Despite this, 502 successfully disembarked her troops onto a broached British LCT and hence onto the beach. They also rescued 27 stranded British sailors whose small landing craft from earlier landings were lost. Unusually, includes some photographs taken during the actual landing. Based on the writings and recollections of John P Cummer and information from the craft's Deck Log.


ROC - Royal Observer Corp Although not part of the Combined Operations Command, 796 volunteers from The Royal Observer Corp, joined ships and craft on D-Day and beyond to provide early identification of approaching ships and planes for Allied gunners. This would help reduce friendly fire incidents and concentrate defensive resources on enemy targets,

HMS COPRA HMS COPRA was a Royal Navy shore base for the maintenance of personnel records and the calculation of pay and allowances for RN personnel attached to Combined Operations. COPRA stands for Combined Operations Pay Records & Accounts. This account focuses on the establishment in Largs, Ayrshire, Scotland.

Table of Contents List of website pages, photos and files to assist search engines to navigate around the website. Of limited use to human visitors..

Notice Boards

Operations and Units Appeals for information on raids and landings involving the Commando and other units with email contacts for replies.

Veterans Appeals for information about individual Combined Operations veterans, with email contacts for replies.

Other Appeals for information of a general nature, with email contacts for replies.


Poetry Page Heartfelt poems about D-Day and the Commando Memorial at Spean Bridge which remembers 1,700 Commandos who were killed in action.

Post War Combined Operations

Suez The Suez landing was the first Combined Operation to use helicopters. One Regimental Signaller with the Royal Artillery, remembers.

Training in Germany 1947 - 1950 24 photographs taken in 1948 while on Combined Operations maneuvres at Ekernforde, in Schleswick Holstein, Germany.

Raids & Landings

Raids & Landings Index Raids & landings in chronological order from Operation Catapult at Mers-el-Kebir on 4/7/40 to Operation Infatuate at Walcheren in early November 1944.

Landing Craft All 40 + landing craft, whose wartime service is listed on this web page, were involved in raids and landings. Just click on the link opposite to see the web pages concerned.

Operation Starkey The invasion that never was. Deceptions designed to confuse the enemy and tie up his resources needlessly, were an effective tool of war.  In this case, the systematic bombing of selected targets around the Boulogne area of northern France, over several weeks in late August and early September 1943 and an invasion armada of empty ships, were the key elements.

Small Scale Raiding Force (SSRF) This early raiding force was an initial response to Churchill's order to harass the enemy along the shores of 'friendly' occupied countries. The SSRF, specialised in "pinprick" raids on the coasts of northern France and the Channel Islands. They were designed to demoralise German troops and cause enemy resources, that would otherwise be used more effectively on other fronts, to be needlessly deployed elsewhere..

Re-enactments & Renovations

HDML 1301 Harbour Defence Motor Launch 1301 had a leading role in Operation Brassard, the invasion of Elba. Her captain was killed in the action and over 50 years later, his son navigated the craft on a 1,400 nautical mile journey from Gibraltar to Holland for restoration. Includes information on its post war service and return to Holland for restoration.


Combined Ops Memorial Sub-Web A single click to this web page will provide information on visiting the memorial, the dedication ceremony (mainly photos), past fundraising, design and construction etc.

Memorials and Plaques There's only one memorial to Combined Operations (link above) but there is a surprising number of memorials and plaques devoted to the countless Combined Operations units and operations around the world.

Roll of Honour Family and friends of veterans killed in action or training while serving in or alongside Combined Operations, are invited to add veterans' details to this page, including an optional photograph.

They Also Served Family and friends of veterans who served in or alongside the Combined Operations Command, are invited to add veterans' details to this page, including an optional photograph. We owe a debt of gratitude to those who served the Allied cause on raids and landings and were fortunate to return home after the conflict.

Science & Technology

DD Tanks DD Tanks were designed to make their own way to the landing beaches after disembarking from their Landing Craft a few miles offshore. Each was fitted with twin Duplex Drive screws (hence DD) and an inflatable floatation screen. Whether they swam, sailed or motored, this remarkable amphibious craft and their brave crews, were early arrivals on the Normandy beaches.

Fighter Direction Tenders (FDTs) Fighter Direction Tenders were, in conjunction with their HQ ships, floating command and control centres which bristled with antenna and aerials for radar, communications and intelligence gathering purposes. They were the eyes and ears for the large scale invasion forces off the beaches of Normandy in June of 1944. They extended the cover provided by shore based radar and communications on the south coast of England, well into enemy occupied France. There were 3 Fighter Direction Tenders designated FDT 13, 216 & 217. After about 3 weeks, the two survivors were withdrawn as land based mobile radar units were established in France.

Mulberry Harbours The Allies needed secure sheltered harbour facilities within days of the Normandy landings to supply their advancing forces until ports like Cherbourg were captured. How did they erect two harbours, each the size of Dover, in just a few days in wartime, when Dover took 7 years to construct in peacetime? It was a civil engineering project of immense size and complexity. Such was Churchill's annoyance at what he perceived to be slow progress, that he indulged his frustration in a terse signal to Mountbatten on the 30th May, 1942... "Piers for use on beaches. They must float up and down with the tide. The anchor problem must be mastered. Let me have the best solution worked out. Don't argue the matter. The difficulties will argue for themselves." 

PLUTO The Pipe Line Under The Ocean was a storage, pumping and pipeline distribution network in southern/central England, designed to supply petrol to Allied armies in France, as they advanced towards Germany. This page tells the story of the planning, development, testing and installation of the 21 pipelines across the English Channel and the contribution of PLUTO to the war effort.

PLUTO Pipeline Machines Many companies were involved in the design and manufacture of machines which made the pipeline. This page provides information on some of the major players.

PLUTO Salvaged The recovery of the 21 PLUTO pipelines from the depths of the English Channel, was the mother of all salvage operations - dangerous, arduous and huge! After two years of hard work, almost 800 miles were recovered for recycling.

PLUTO in Fawley PLUTO comprised a sizeable network of storage tanks, pumping stations and pipelines in southern/central England. These are the recollections of a young lad whose local community had a fragment of that network.

Navigational Aids Navigational aids helped landing craft locate their target beaches, especially at night. Accurate navigation was vital to amphibious Operations to ensure landing craft arrived at their intended destinations, on time. Failure to achieve this, would negate well researched and rehearsed plans with, potentially, disastrous consequences. This account, by Commander Philip Noel, tells of his involvement in navigational experiments while based for 5 years at HMS Saunders, a RN base that was part of the Combined Training Centre (Middle East) at Kabret on the Little Bitter Lake, Egypt.

Ice Ships in the Rockies! The improbable, but true story of a top secret WW2 project, which envisaged vast ships made from a mixture of ice and sawdust. Behold ye among the heathen, and regard and wonder marvellously: for I will work a work in your days, which ye will not believe, though it be told to you. So reads a biblical quotation from the book of Habakkuk ... a name adopted by this top secret project. This page describes an early project to create a raft like structure made of ice on Patricia Lake, near Jasper in Canada. The project was abandoned before Pykerete was tried.

Special Units and Forces

574 Field Security Section It's likely that Field Security Section of 3 Special Service Brigade did not operate directly under the Combined Operations Command. However, where 574's activities involved amphibious landings, or raids, Commando support was often provided... as in the case of the main 'snatching' operation described on this page.

SSRF The Small Scale Raiding Force specialised in "pinprick" raids on the coast of Northern France and the Channel Islands. These raids were designed to demoralise German troops as well as tying up enemy resources that would otherwise be used more effectively on other fronts. Opportunities to gather intelligence were exploited when possible.

COPPs Combined Operations Assault Pilotage Parties - a name which, for security reasons, had nothing to do with their real purpose. The 'Coppists' risked their lives gathering information on proposed landing beaches and in-shore waters, at night and usually under the noses of the enemy's coastal defences, including land and sea patrols. The information they gathered was absolutely essential in selecting beaches for landing troops and heavy transport vehicles and tanks... and they had to complete their surveys without leaving any trace which would alert the enemy to the possibility of a future attack.


UK Training Establishments After the evacuation of a third a million men at Dunkirk in June 1940, planners knew that the next invading force would be from the sea directly on to enemy held beaches. There would be no convenient ports or harbours available to the Allies. For this amphibious warfare, hundreds of thousands of service personnel, from the three services, would require training in the use of landing craft, while operating as a single unified force. To meet this unprecedented challenge, the Combined Operations Command set up 45+ separate training establishments, mainly in the west of Scotland and the south of England, all of which served to fill a particular training need. The RN crews of the landing craft involved, the Army soldiers they carried and the 516 Squadron RAF in support, all required training singly and jointly as a unified force.  

No 1 Combined Training Centre Around 250,000 personnel passed through the portals of this prime training centre at Inveraray, Scotland from 1940 to 1944. While nearby, HMS Brontosaurus, provided training in the use of major landing craft such as LCTs, the emphasis at Inveraray was on minor landing craft such as LCAs. Up to 15,000 service personnel were billeted in camps and on boats on Loch Fyne at any one time. The impact on the small community of 500 can only be imagined! HMS Quebec was the naval base at the training centre.

CTC Middle East The Combined Training Centre (CTC) Middle East at Kabret, on the Egypt's Little Bitter Lake, was the first Combined Operations Training Establishment located outside the United Kingdom. Its purpose was to train RN personnel in the operation of landing craft and together with the troops of many Allied nations, to practice amphibious landings prior to operations against the enemy in the Mediterranean. Its associated naval base, HMS Saunders, was commissioned in March 1941 (under the name of HMS Stag (Division K) with Commander RKC Pope DSO, RN in command.

Middle East Signals Training Signals Training in the Middle East was undertaken at HMS Saunders, a Royal Navy shore base which formed part of  The Combined Training Centre (CTC) Middle East, at Kabret on Egypt's Little Bitter Lake. It was the first Combined Operations Training Establishment located outside the United Kingdom. Its purpose was to train RN personnel in the operation of landing craft and, together with the troops of many Allied nations, to practice amphibious landings prior to operations against the enemy in the Mediterranean. This page concentrates on Signals Training.

HMS Brontosaurus This training centre at Castle Toward, Dunoon, Argyll, otherwise known as the No 2 Combined Training Centre and CTC Castle Toward (pronounced as in coward) provided training for officers and crews in the operation of major landing craft capable of carrying tanks and heavy vehicles. The centre was located at Toward Point 6mls south of Dunoon on the Clyde. Includes many photos.

516 Combined Operations Squadron RAF air support for Combined Operations training in amphibious landings was provided by 516 Sqd. The training squadron was located at Dundonald, Ayrshire in the south west of Scotland. This was within easy flying distance of the many training centres around the Clyde estuary. Their duties included laying down smoke screens and strafing the landing beaches in the final stages of training to provide realistic conditions likely to be experienced during initial assault landings, calibration of new seaborne radar equipment, practice for anti-aircraft gunners etc. They drew on the services of other squadrons as the demand for their services outstripped their capacity.

COHQ - Instructional Pamphlets Amphibious warfare involving beach landings on beaches in enemy occupied territory, was a new form of warfare. It created a vast training need across the 3 services which was helped by the production of instructional pamphlets on key topics such as; Beach Organisation and Maintenance, Hardening of Commando Troops for Warfare, Employment of Amphibians in Combined Operations, Bombardment Spotting Instructions, Cliff Assaults etc.

1st Canadian Corps This account of Combined Operations training at the No 1 CTC Inveraray is presented in two parts; a report from official Canadian war records and the personal recollections of a Canadian war artist.

Minor Landing Craft Canadian, Kendal Kidder, volunteered for hazardous duties which turned out to be operating minor landing craft. Thousands of landing craft of many different types, together with well trained Navy personnel to operate them, were essential for any major seaborne landing against entrenched enemy positions. Kendal saw service in the LCA (Landing Craft Assault) which carried 35 fully armed troops, the LCM (Landing Craft Mechanised) which could deliver up to 35 tons of supplies for the troops and the LCI(L) Landing Craft Infantry (Large), which could carry 250 fully armed troops. This is a light hearted account of his training.

Wartime Recollections

COHQ - Memories of a Secretary Joyce Pitchford, nee Rogers, was employed in Combined Operations Headquarters (COHQ) in WW2. She worked with both Keyes and Mountbatten before moving to the War Cabinet when Combined Operations work diminished following the D-Day landings. She attended the Yalta conference in early February 1945, as part of Churchill's entourage, providing secretarial support, but her long  journey started several weeks earlier.

516 Squadron RAF - Memories of a pilot 516 Combined Ops Squadron RAF, was attached to Combined Operations to provide air support during amphibious training exercises, calibration of radar etc. These are the memories of New Zealander, Doug Shears.

Inveraray in Wartime In the early to mid 1940s, the small Scottish town of Inveraray, played host to an estimated quarter of a million men undergoing Combined Operations training in amphibious landing techniques on the shores of Loch Fyne. These are the personal recollections of  three local residents.

Occupation of Walcheren  Jan H Wigard of Walcheren, Holland was a boy when he lived through the trauma of the German occupation. This is his story, which proved to be a considerable emotional challenge for him to recall.                                                        

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 it’s an account of the day from a veteran or a tale passed down by a relative, we’re 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


Copyright © 2000 to 2019 inclusive [www.combinedops.com.] All rights reserved.