~ COMBINED OPERATIONS ~

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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Hundreds of thousands of visits each year to 200  web pages & 4000 photos. The Website has been published & hosted by Geoff Slee since 2000.

Around 40 D-Day Stories by veterans of the Navy, Army, Air Force and Marines who served in or alongside Combined Operations

 ~ D-DAY BY VETERANS ~

                                                  75th Anniversary Year of D-Day

This web page is dedicated to all veterans who served the Allied cause on D-Day, June 6th, 1944. It brings together in a single place around 40 personal recollections of veterans from the Army, Navy Air Force and Marines who served in or alongside the Combined Operations Command, including several from the USA.

There are contributions from, for example, a Commander of a Squadron of 50 landing craft to individual crew members of a landing craft types such as Tank, Rocket, Gun, Flak, Kitchen, Vehicle, Personnel etc. The recent addition of Google maps, extracts from the Admiralty's "Green List" of landing craft dispositions just prior to D-Day and Imperial War Museum photographs, now 'illuminate' the texts.

We think of those who lost their lives that day in the service of their country who will be remembered on a magnificent new memorial to be constructed in Normandy not far from the site of the Mulberry Harbour at Arromanches (http://www.normandymemorialtrust.org/ ).

We also remember the sacrifices and achievements of those who served the Allied cause before and after D-Day in many parts of the world.

D-Day Overview

A Nation's Gratitude On D-Day + 6, Churchill and his military advisers visited the Normandy beaches to see the invasion in progress for themselves. On return to London that evening they sent Mountbatten a signal to express gratitude for the part Combined Operations had played in what they described as 'the manoeuvre in progress of rapid development'. Operation Neptune, the amphibious phase of Operation Overlord, was 4 years in the making.

[Photo; Winston Churchill flanked by the Chief of the Imperial General Staff, Field Marshal Sir Alan Brooke and General Sir Bernard Montgomery, commanding 21st Army Group at Monty's mobile headquarters in Normandy, 12 June 1944. © IWM (TR 1838).]

Operations Neptune D Day, June 6, 1944. Operation Neptune was the seaborne/amphibious part of D Day, which was the culmination of four years of planning and training under the auspices of Combined Operations joint staff from the Army, Navy and Air Force. Around 132,000 troops were landed on the Normandy beaches by over 4,000 landing craft on D Day but the total who completed landing craft training at the No 1 Combined Training Centre. Inveraray was around 250,000... and there were many other training establishments in Scotland and the south coast of England.

Landing Craft Assault

524 LCA Flotilla 524 LCA Flotilla took part in the "initial assault" landings on Gold Beach on D-Day against heavily defended enemy positions. There were 18 craft in the flotilla, 15 LCAs each carrying around 35 assault troops and 3 LCS (M)s providing heavy machine gun cover. All were carried to Gold beach on their 'mother ship' the SS Empire Arquebus. This account explains the experiences of both type of craft separately although, on training exercises and operations, they operated closely as a single unit.

[Photo; A fleet of Landing Craft Assault passing a landing ship during exercises prior to the invasion of Normandy. Several of the LCAs were from the 524 Flotilla; 654, 1254, 926, 1009, 920, 602, 656 and 921. © IWM (A 23595).]

519 LCA Assault Flotilla Leonard Albert King was just 20 years old when he piloted his flat bottomed Landing Craft Assault (LCA) from his mother ship to the Normandy beaches early on D-Day morning. Their small flotilla of six were amongst the very first to land on D-Day to face enemy guns, mortars and shells. LCAs 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 around 35 fully armed troops, to make their way to the landing beaches.

Landing Craft Infantry

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, this account includes photographs taken during the actual landing. Based on the writings of John P Cummer (Photo) including information from 502s Deck Log.

Landing Barge Kitchen

LBK 6  Landing Barge Kitchen. 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.

[Photo; Crews of small craft lining up on the Landing Barge Kitchen for the midday meal, served through a hatchway, while other craft wait their turn to come alongside. © IWM (A 24017).]

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 along the way to 'retire' her. A remarkable Normandy Survivor.

Support Landing Craft (Landing Craft Flak, Landing Craft Gun & Landing Craft Rocket)

Landing Craft Support Squadron The primary task of support landing craft LCRs, LCGs & LCFs (Rocket, Gun and Flack) was to soften up entrenched enemy positions on and near the beaches in advance of the initial assault troops landing. In the case of the rocket craft each launched hundreds of high explosive rockets in rapid sequence onto the landing beaches but all firing ceased as the LCAs carrying the initial assault troops, neared the beaches. The LCGs & LCFs, however, continued to provide protective fire cover if the LCAs were attacked from land, sea or air. Because they could operate close inshore they also fired on targets identified by the LCA's or the advancing troops. The LCGs were described by the BBC as "mini destroyers"! There are separate accounts of the 3 support craft on this landing craft support squadron page.

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.

[Photo; LCG (L) 680 at sea was similar to LCG (L)19. © IWM (FL 5995).]

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.

LCF Landing Craft Flak (LCFs) were converted Landing Craft Tank (LCTs) with the front ramp welded in position and the hold decked over as a platform for 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. 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.

LCT (R) 363 Landing Craft Tank (Rocket). In approaching enemy held landing beaches from the sea the initial assault troops were likely to come under fire from machine guns, mortars, shells and snipers and be confronted by a variety of beach obstacles, including mines. There were other measures for dealing with the latter but blasting an area of beach about 400 yards by 100 yards would degrade everything in it.

The more the enemy's defensive preparations and communications were destroyed, disabled or disrupted and the enemy troops manning their posts were disorientated, the fewer casualties would be suffered by Allied troops in establishing their beachheads To assist in this, the Allies developed a number of secret weapons one of which was the Landing Craft Tank (Rocket) - LCT (R). In just a few seconds, LCT (R)s could fire hundreds of rockets, each with the explosive value of a 6 inch shell. They were fired onto the landing beaches just ahead of the first wave of assault troops so accuracy in ranging and timing was paramount to avoid self inflicted Allied casualties. This account is by stoker Frank Woods, DSM, who served on LCT (R) 363.

[Photo of sister craft LCT (R) 334; © IWM (FL 7047).]

US LCT (R) The deployment of British made United States manned Landing Craft Tank (Rocket) vessels off Omaha, Utah and Southern France as told by Lt Commander Carr who was in charge of 14 such craft and their crews. After a few months training in the USA with converted British Mark 3 LCTs, they shipped to Scotland in November 1943. They were based at HMS Roseneath, known to them as US Navy European ‘Base II’ in the River Clyde estuary, where their training continued with the LCT (R)s they would take to war. The British rocket craft were twice the size of their USA equivalents with the capacity to launch over a thousand explosive projectiles onto enemy held beaches just minutes ahead of the initial assault troops landing. Ranging and timing were, therefore, vital to avoid Allied casualties. The more the enemy's defensive preparations and communications were destroyed, disabled or disrupted and the enemy troops manning their posts were disorientated, the fewer casualties would be suffered by Allied troops in establishing their beachheads.

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.

Landing Craft Mechanised/Personnel

601 LCM Flotilla 601 LCM (Landing Craft Mechanised) "Build-Up" Flotilla comprised 16 identical craft whose primary purpose was to ferry supplies, ammunition, fuel etc from large vessels anchored several miles offshore to the landing beaches. They did this for 6 weeks from D-Day but their battle with the elements had more tragic consequences than their battle with the enemy. They were on their way home from Normandy when they encountered very rough weather. Most of the craft were in rather poor condition by then and two 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.

[Photo; A Landing Craft Vehicle (Personnel). © IWM (A 24664).]

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 Tank

*"I" LCT Squadron This is an incisive, often amusing account of a WW2 Landing Craft Tank Squadron of around 50 LCTs and LCIs (Landing Craft Infantry), written by its Commanding Officer shortly after the end of the war. The story starts in the harsh, cold, winter of 1943/44 in the Moray Firth on the north east coast of Scotland and ends with the hazardous landings on the Normandy beaches on D-Day, June 6, 1944. The story is told by the Flotilla's Lieutenant Commander Maxwell O W Miller, RN, later Commander.

[Photo; LCT(4), Landing Craft Tank 1319 (Mark 4). Similar to LCTs in Commander Millar's squadron. © IWM (A 27907).]

Of his men he wrote; Elie Halévy, that great French historian of the British people, says somewhere, that the most inexplicable thing about the British Navy is that its greatness has been built up against a background of ill-used sailors, in ill-found ships, commanded by the most undisciplined corps of officers that ever stepped a quarterdeck. In the recent war, it was my good fortune to serve in Major Landing Craft, the Tank and Infantry Landing Craft that bore the brunt of the landings in France and Italy, and to command a squadron that would have delighted Monsieur Halévy’s historian’s heart!

LCT (3) 318 This Landing Craft Tank was itself a veteran as she made ready to deliver the Canadian Fort Garry Horse and their 5 Duplex Drive (DD) Sherman tanks to Juno Beach. Incredibly, these tanks would disembark 2 or 3 miles from the beaches and "swim" for the shore! LCT 318 saw action off Dieppe, North Africa, Sicily, Italy and Normandy. After such an illustrious wartime service, the end came from a most unexpected source. 318 was built by the Teesside Bridge and Engineering Company and launched on February 14, 1942.

[Photo; A Mark 3 LCT beached with ramp down. © IWM (A 10064).]

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

LCT 795 Landing Craft Tank 795. From early training to D-Day and beyond seen through the eyes of the craft's electrician. The crew lived through hazardous work off Normandy when they disembarked the USA's 531 Engineer Shore Regiment onto Tare Green sector of Utah beach at H-Hour + 320 minutes; just before mid-day. The crew's safety and well-being depended on each other and they bonded well as a team but that came to a sudden and unexpected end. Their craft was unexpectedly written off during repairs, while the crew were scattered to the four winds on home leave. They were individually allocated to other duties and the author never saw his shipmates again.

LCT 861 was a unit of the 38th Flotilla of Assault Group S3, Support Squadron. Their primary task on D-Day was to deliver a detachment of the 76th Field Regiment and four of their self-propelled Priest 105mm howitzers mounted on a Churchill tank chassis and two half-track reconnaissance vehicles to Sword beach. The 24 guns carried by the flotilla fired on enemy positions from a distance of 11,000 yards down to just 2,000 yards, when the initial assault troops were about to land. Although official records show 9 LCTs were in the flotilla, both accounts of 861 on D-Day record only 6. It's entirely possible 3 were loaned to another support squadron.

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. From training and over-wintering in the cold waters around Scotland's north-eastern shores to undertaking running repairs while stranded on a Normandy beach, there were many hardships and dangers from the natural elements and the enemy. The common purpose of these non specialised landing craft was to transport the Allied armies, their weapons, equipment and supplies across the English Channel to the landing beaches and on the return to southern England to transport prisoners of war (PoWs) and wounded troops.

LCT 980 HMLCT 980 survived the D-Day landings and a subsequent return visits to the Normandy beaches after which she became part of another flotilla in readiness for any future landings that might arise. That came in early November 1944 in the form of the much more arduous landings on the island of Walcheren in the River Scheldt estuary. She survived that too and after a stay in Ostend returned to the UK where she was assessed as just seaworthy but beyond economical repair. She was ordered to moor on the River Thames where she was de-masted and ridiculed by punks who missed the draft because of their age. Revenge, when it came was sweet but their return journey down the Thames was a sad time for their once proud small craft of the Royal Navy

LCT 2304 Midshipman, John Mewha of LCT (5) 2304 often wondered what became of the men of the US 238 Engineering Combat Battalion (ECB) that his LCT delivered to Utah Beach on the morning of D-Day, June 6, 1944. Sixty one years later, through Tony Chapman, archivist and historian of the LST & Landing Craft Association, John Mewha was reunited with former Lieutenant, Ernest C James of Company A, 238 Engineer Combat Battalion. Under their commanding officer, Captain Richard Reichmann, the ECB men were shipped to Utah beach by LCT (5) 2304. A UK Landing Craft Tank carrying US Engineers to a US landing beach. Both Midshipman Mewha and Lieutenant James left a record of their memories of that fateful day

*LCT 2331 Royal Navy Signalman, Mike Crumpton was a late addition to the crew of LCT 2331 in April 1944. Come D-Day, they successfully disembarked USA Army Lt George Worth commanding the 1st Platoon of Company B of 238 Engineer Combat Battalion with his men and vehicles... but in the wrong place! The shared experience of the crew of 2331 during the following 6 weeks when they simply vanished from official records, is unbelievable, even in the fog of war. No one they were in contact with saw it as their duty to inform the authorities of the whereabouts of 2331 or the state of health and wellbeing of her crew. Mike's frantic mother had made enquiries but after D-Day nothing was known. Read this remarkable and fascinating story of service to the Allied cause under the most difficult circumstances imaginable.

814 LCV(P) Flotilla 814 Landing Craft Vehicle (Personnel) "Build-Up" Flotilla comprised 16 identical craft whose primary task was the transport of men from large troop carrying ships anchored a few miles off shore to the landing beaches. On D-Day, Royal Marine, Roy Nelson, was a crew member on LCV (P) 1155  aboard a Landing Ship Tank (LST) for the journey across the English Channel to the landing beaches of Normandy. 7 of the 16 craft in the flotilla were subsequently 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.

Landing Ship Infantry

The Empire Battleaxe The SS Empire Battleaxe was one of 12 or so bearing the 'Empire' name. She was built in the USA to an original British design but modified and adapted for her new role as a troop carrier. The most obvious modifications were the use of diesel power in place of steam and welded plate construction instead of rivets. Both reduced the time taken in construction and fitting out - important attributes for the urgently required, so called liberty ships, provided by the Americans under the lend/lease scheme.

[Photo;  HMS Empire Battleaxe, Landing Ship Infantry (Large), August 1, 1944, Greenock. © IWM (A 25062).]

The 'Empire' ships were built to carry eighteen Landing Craft Assault (LCAs) and to accommodate about one thousand troops. They had a speed of 14 knots. Some of the ships had provision for an additional landing craft, usually an LCM (Landing Craft Medium), capable of transporting vehicles to the beaches.

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 carry around 1,500 men. She was a converted 16 knot cargo liner of about 10,000 tons and a D-Day veteran that also saw service in the Pacific theatre.

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 ferry and saw action off North Africa, Pantellaria, Sicily, Italy and Normandy.

Landing Ship Tank

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, she came through many hazardous actions, relatively unscathed. She was regarded as a lucky ship since the only bomb to hit her failed to explode. As the crew were dispersed in April/May of 1945 as Misoa lay off Inveraray in Scotland, there was a sense amongst the crew that a great adventure had finally come to an end.

USS LST 28 This was a large landing craft around 400 feet long and 50 wide with a capacity of around 1500 tons. There were a number of variants of this class of vessel which carried tanks, lorries, heavy equipment, supplies and troops. Its draft was 11 ft aft and 4 ft forward making it possible to land directly onto unimproved beaches. It was armed with a variety of 40mm, 20mm and machine guns. It carried its own 40 ton crane for loading/unloading and was akin to a RoRo ferry but with only one ramp.

Commandos

45 (RM) Commando The 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.

[Photo; Men of 45 (RM) Commando, 1st Special Service Brigade in high spirits as they prepare to embark for the invasion, 3 June 1944. Lance Corporal H E Harden, VC, is in the right foreground. © IWM (H 39038).]

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.

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.' 

[Photo right; Mechanics of No 3206 Servicing Commando RAF garner wheat for collection and removal from a dispersal area needed for aircraft at B5/Le-Fresne Camilly, Normandy. Behind them, armourers attend to a Supermarine Spitfire Mark IX (ZF-B MK940) of No 308 Polish Fighter Squadron. © IWM (CL 600).]

As the Allies advanced from Normandy towards Germany air strips close to the front line were required 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.

Canada's Beach Commando The story of Canada's 'W' 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 have to deal with they were trained in 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.

Radar, Communications & Intelligence Gathering

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, home shore establishments and units operating in the battlegrounds. They worked closely with the FDTs.

Fighter Direction Tenders 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.

[Photo; LST 216, converted to FDT (Fighter Director Tender) in coastal waters off Greenock. © IWM (A 21922).]

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.

Others Not Mentioned Elsewhere

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.

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."

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 mostly about the Normandy landings on D Day and the Commando Memorial at Spean Bridge, near Fort William, Scotland.

http://combinedops.com/PHOTOS%20GENERAL/2655.jpgRAF 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.

Heavy aircraft were soon 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.

D Day Combined Ops (RN) Signaller My dad, Ralph Matthews, was from Shildon, County Durham. In early 1944, as a Senior Yeoman of Signals in the Royal Navy, he was posted to Weymouth and billeted in the town, having earlier been attached to Combined Operations for what turned out to be preparations for D-Day as part of Assault Force G - Gold Beach.

 

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.

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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.

https://theddaystory.com/discover/about-us/tell-us-your-d-day-story/

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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