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In February 1942 Lieut D A Grant submitted his ideas for a Combined Operations Insignia. He could not have known how its use would spread around the world and how it would endure over the decades to the present day.

Design Challenge Design Developments Diary of Major Events Issue, Purchase & Wearing
Discontinuation Further Reading Correspondence Acknowledgments

Mountbatten's 'Design' Challenge

On 13 Jan 42 Lord Louis Mountbatten, Chief of the Combined Operations Command, issued a general invitation for designs to be submitted for a Combined Operations badge.

On 19 Feb 42 a design was approved. From the many designs that had been sent in, the final choice was for one of several submitted by Lieut. D. A. Grant, R.N.V.R. of H.M.S. Tormentor, Combined Operation Command's principal landing craft training base. Together with his designs Lieut. Grant sent in notes relating to various ideas he thought suitable to represent the three services. He also suggested a small gilt version of the badge for officers, to be worn in the same manner as the Wings or the letter 'A' as worn in the Fleet Air Arm.

A. Naval 1. A fouled anchor B. Military 1. Crossed sabres C. Air force 1. Eagle
2. A naval crown 2. Daggers 2. Aircraft silhouette or propellers
3. Ship or landing craft 3. Guns, tanks or Tommy Guns

Design Developments in Graphics

1 2 3 4 5 6

The original design for the badge submitted by Lieut. D. A. Grant, R.N.V.R. The bird had the appearance of a seagull and was later changed to an eagle. The Tommy Gun also faced in the opposite direction to that used on the final approved design.

2 The gold bullion version as worn within the Royal Navy. Wartime economy versions exist with the design worked in yellow threads on navy blue cloth.
3 The Embroidered red on navy blue 'tombstone' version.
4 The circular red on navy blue badge.
5 The light blue on white embroidered 'tombstone' version worn in the Royal Navy.
6 The printed ordnance issue red on navy blue 'tombstone' version, referred to in the text as '291A'.
7 8        
7 The light blue on white printed version on a square background, referred to in the text as '292B'.
8 The red on navy blue printed circular version referred to in the text as 291A.

Diary of Major Events

30 Mar42




A letter was sent to Mr Bradley of the Ministry of Works and Buildings, Lambeth Bridge House, Albert Embankment, London, SE1, who at this stage had been given the task of making the alterations to the original design. Extract from this letter:

Dear Mr. Bradley,

Lord Louis Mountbatten is very pleased with your design for the Combined Operations Badge, marked 'B'. Would you please have two cop1es of this done, as early as practicable, in red and blue. I will then have them photographed.

22 Apr 42

Proposals were put forward for wearing the CombinedOperations Badge.

24 Apr 42


Sample badges were embroidered. It was also suggested at this time that the only way the manufacturers would be able to produce the required number of badges within a reasonable time was by having the badges printed, which were considered to be indistinguishable from the embroidered version at a distance of about ten feet.

29 Apr 42

The badge, as described by Lord Mountbatten, consisted of a "Tommy" gun, an eagle and a stockless anchor, representing the Army, the Royal Air Force and the Royal Navy.

12 Jun 42

Badges were in the process of being manufactured.

16 Jun 42

Letter from Captain J. N. Knox, R.N. with a request for alterations to the design of the badge: 1) that the bird should resemble an eagle and not a seagull and 2) the Tommy gun should face the opposite way, if not too late.

23 Jun 42





An extract, reproduced below, from a letter in answer to these suggestions. The letter was addressed to Captain J. N. Knox, R.N., Combined Operations Liaison Officer, C/O British Joint Staff Mission, Washington, D.C., U.S.A.

As regards the Combined Operations Badge, I always intended that the bird should be an eagle and I think it is shocking bad work on the part of the artist that has made it look like a seagull, I will arrange, if it is not too late, to get the bird to look more like an eagle and send you a copy. I also agree to changing around the Tommy gun if it is not too late.

Mountbatten had approved the original design and although the badges were being printed, he agreed to the alterations. [Fig.1 is drawn from a tracing made from a black & white photograph of the original design held in these records at the PRO.]

24 Jun 42


Combined Operations Headquarters received a letter of this date from the War Office, Hobart House, Grosvenor Place, London, SWI requesting two specimens of the Combined Operations Badge. It vas also pointed out that under authority of Army Council Instruction (A.C.I.) No 2587 of 1941 they were required to obtain two badges from each formation.

4 Jul 42

Authority has now been granted for the issue of the Combined Operations Badge.

10 Jul 42

New design for the Combined Operations Badge received.

11 Jul 42

Captain Knox was sent three copies of the new design, with a letter from Lord Louis Mountbatten, in which he mentioned: Would you please make sure that the Americans concerned are given this new design which I hope will please them.

27 Jul 42




The first order of Combined Operations Badges for the Royal Navy, including stocks of each of the three pattern numbers given to the badge: 291A (produced in pairs) red on blue, 292A (single badge) red on blue, 292B (single badge) blue on white, 291A similar to number 292A but produced in pairs, for wear by those naval personnel attached to Combined Operations organisations who wear battledress. 5,000 pairs. 292A for wear on the blue jumper 1.5 inches above the right cuff, 100,000 items. 292B for wear on the white uniform, 50,000 items.

Men entitled to wear these badges were to be issued with two pair 291A, two badges 292A or two badges 292B. Replacements available 2 pence a pair obtainable from H.M.S. Quebec. Purchase of these badges other than from official sources is prohibited.

24 Aug 42





A letter to Dwight D. Eisenhower, Commander-in-Chief United States Army, European Theatre of Operations, 20 Grosvenor Square, London, WI.

I enclose a specimen of the Combined Operations Badge which it is proposed should be worn by all British, U.S. and Allied Other Ranks connected with Combined Operations. Would you like me to send you a supply of badges similar to this specimen so that they can be worn by the Ranger Battalions on the left shoulder? If so, would you be good enough to let me know how many you require. You may remember General Marshall gave approval for the Rangers and any personnel specially trained in Beach Party or assault signal work at "Dundonald" to wear this badge. (signed) Louis Mountbatten.

2 Sep 42

Americans applied for supplies of Combined Operations Badges.

19 Sep 42

In a letter from America it was reported that United States Army Officers are now wearing their own version of the Combined Operations Badge, which is very similar to ours. These were being worn by members of the Engineer Amphibian Corps. [Mountbatten was concerned about the word 'similar' again pointing out that it was intended that the same badge be worn by all connected with Combined Operations.]

These badges were produced with the American Eagle replacing the original, embroidered in yellow on light blue backing. It was also reported about this time that the US Navy intended having their own version of the Combined Operations Badge, asking Mountbatten not to press them into having the same colour as those introduced by the American Army.

The United State Navy Amphibious Forces badge was the same pattern, this time embroidered on a red backing.

8 Feb 43




It was reported that some members of the Royal Navy were arriving at the Combined Training Centre wearing what were considered unofficial badges, embroidered in gold or yellow. In fact it was intended that naval personnel were required to satisfactorily complete one months Combined Operations Training before being issued with the badge.

Some of these badges were mentioned in a catalogue belonging to J & J Edwards Ltd, 99/100 High Street, Lowestoft. Gold wire Combined Operations Badge 11/6d, gold spun silk 2/6d and red silk 1/8d. Gold spun silk and red silk can be supplied by return post. Owing to the large number of badges being ordered in gold no more orders can be taken until the following month.

8 Feb 43


Extract. from a letter. I understand that the C.C.O. recently gave permission to the A.T.S. employed at Dundonald to wear the Combined Operations badge when he was approached by the senior A.T.S. officer present. The A.T.S. at Castle Toward hearing this have also put up the badge. The A.T.S. personnel serving with Special Service Brigade are also wearing this badge.

Issue, Purchase & Wearing of Badges

(Instructions prepared for Combined Operations Headquarters Club notice board on the 11th of March 1943.)


Combined Operations badges are now available at 2 pence a pair.


The sale is confined to Military Officers including (A.T.S.), Other Ranks and Auxiliaries on the Staff of C.O.H.Q.


A free issue of one pair will be made to each Other Rank and Auxiliary and further pairs may be purchased through Junior Commander Lawrie, (A.T.S.) and S.Q.M.S. Gillespie (Other Ranks). Officers can obtain their badges on repayment to T.M.D.A.Q., (Montague House, room 12).


Junior Commander Lawrie will make initial free distribution to Auxiliaries at a time and date to be notified.


Wearing of Combined Operations Badges is not applicable to Royal Navy, the Royal Air Force, the Women's Royal Naval Service and the Women's Auxiliary Air Force personnel serving at C.O.H.Q. as they are not authorised under Admiralty or RAF regulations to do so.


The Combined Operations badge will be removed on being off-posted from C.C.O's Command.


Method of wearing: The badge will be cut to form a circle 2.5ins in diameter and will be worn with the muzzle of the Tommy gun pointing forward at the top of both sleeves of the Service Dress tunic and Battledress blouse. The top of the badge will be positioned one inch below the shoulder strap seam. It will not be worn on the Greatcoat, on Khaki Drill or tropical shirts. The Arm-of-Service strip will be worn below the Combined Operations Badge and Regimental Flash below the strip.

On the 24th of May 1943 15,000 Combined Operations Badges sent to Admiral H.K Hewitt, U.S.N., United States Naval Forces, North West African Waters. I would like to make clear the correct positioning for wear of the badges pattern numbers 292A and 292B when worn on the Royal Navy blue jumper and the white uniform. Originally it was mentioned, that when the badge was worn on the front of the sleeve, the muzzle of the Tommy gun would point away from the body. There is a later dated instruction for 15 June 1944 in which it is actually mentioned that the muzzle of the Tommy gun would point to the rear.

Discontinuation of Use

Wearing of Combined Operation. Badge. The use of the Combined Operation Badge is to be discontinued with effect from 1 July 1946.


17 June 1946.

This was the last instruction in the Combined Operations file relating to the use of the Combined Operation Badge for the period 1942-46.


The Combined Operations insignia lives on in the Joint Forces of today's armed forces in the UK, Canada and New Zealand. There are examples on our Insignia Specimen page.

The Combined Ops badge is currently worn by the staff of the Joint Force Headquarters (JFHQ) which is the deployable element of the UK's Permanent Joint Headquarters (PJHQ) based in Northwood. This explains why it is worn by a large variety of cap badges and all three services. PJHQ staff wear a similar badge, smaller but on a square background of the three colours of the Services (i.e. Dark Blue for Navy, Red for Army and light blue for the RAF). I know - I used to wear one!

Any information on the post war period will be warmly welcomed. Use the 'contact us' link at the bottom of this page.

Further Reading

On this website see badge specimens, Insignia in Use and a short biography of the badge's designer, Lt D A Grant.

There are around 300 books listed on our 'Combined Operations Books' page which can be purchased on-line from the Advanced Book Exchange (ABE) whose search banner checks the shelves of thousands of book shops world-wide. Type in or copy and paste the title of your choice or use the 'keyword' box for book suggestions. There's no obligation to buy, no registration and no passwords. Click 'Books' for more information.


(10/04) This RN cap tally below, and a similar "COMBINED OPS" one may have been approved by the naval authorities or was it unofficial? Either way does anyone know if it was worn? A photo of the tally in use would be very helpful.

If you can shed any light on this please contact us (link at bottom of this page). Many thanks.


The information above is a copy of an article entitled 'The Combined Operations Badge, 1942-1946' by Terry Carney based on research carried out at the Public Record Office (PRO), Kew, London. The dates are those found on the various PRO papers from which this information was obtained. (PRO now called The National Archive).

We are indebted to Terry Carney, the author of this article and to Brian Leigh Davies, the editor of 'The Formation Sign' (the journal of the Military Heraldry Society), for permission to reproduce this article. [Copyright The Military Heraldry Society.]

The designer of the Combined Operations Badge was Douglas Adshead-Grant, son of the Rev. and Mrs J Grant of Chichester. Born 1913(?) died 28/01/56, Ashford District, Kent aged 42. Rank; T/S Lt 19/4/40, T/A  Lt 19/4/41, T/A Lt Cdr 01/45. Retired 04/46. Postings; 10/40 to 02/41. No appointment listed. 02/41 - 08/42 HMS Tormentor (Combined Operations base Warsash, Hamble, Southampton). 04/44 - 01/45 Experiments & Developments Branch, Combined Operations Head Quarters.

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.


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