~ 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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~ NEW LANDING CRAFT ~

Handover from the Manufacturer to the Royal Navy

Background

These rare photographs are from Mike Taylor, whose father, Cyril Taylor, worked for the manufacturer from 1925 (age 16) to his retirement in 1974. The photos show newly completed Landing Craft Assault (LCAs) being handed over to the Royal Navy by builders, Elliotts of Reading, Berkshire, England. It is believed the photographs were taken in September 1944.

LCAs were produced throughout the period 1940-1944 and carried pennant numbers in the series 1 to 2030 for the purpose of identification. The craft in the photos were numbered LCA 1551 to LCA 1556 inclusively and were, therefore, amongst the last 500 produced.

[Photo; Mike Taylor was involved in testing the craft on the river prior to handover and he can be seen standing between and behind a naval officer and Mr. Elliott, one of the directors of the firm. The person in the white coat was Reg Hemmings who later became a director. It is believed the other civilians in the photos were also in the employ of Elliotts having played their part in the construction of the craft.]

Role of LCAs

LCAs had their own engines but lacked the range and physical characteristics to undertake long sea voyages under their own power. They were, therefore, transported on Landing Ship Infantry (LSIs), also referred to as 'mother ships'. On arrival at their destination a few miles off the landing  beach, the LCAs were lowered from davits into the water, laden with 35 fully armed troops. From there, they usually formed up into formation and proceeded under their own power to predetermined positions on the landing beaches.

Each flat bottomed LCA measured close to 14 meters in length by 3 meters across the bows and could carry 35 assault troops and 800 pounds of equipment together with the craft's 4 man Combined Operations (Royal Navy) crew. The Coxswain manned his station starboard (right) side forward and to his left, in position portside forward, was the bow gunner. The troop space within each craft was 6 meters by 3 meters with a Bren gun on the portside (left) and two .303 Lewis Machine Guns. Some craft are recorded as having mortars fitted aft. The LCAs were powered by two 65hp Ford V-8 engines and could achieve 6 knots when fully loaded.

In an assault operation, a boat officer commanded 3 LCAs and was carried aboard one of the craft. That craft relayed signals and orders to the other two craft in the group.

The 6 landing craft assembled prior to handover ceremony.

Repositioned for ease of access in readiness for the handover ceremony.

After the ceremony the craft were taken down the river by a mixture of naval personnel and Elliott's staff. Family folklore suggests that Cyril Taylor was amongst those delivering the craft to London.

The craft just below Reading Bridge heading off towards London.


Elliott's premises stretched down to the River Thames and the handover took place just above Reading Bridge.

Only one LCA was lost within the 1500 number sequence. On August 17th, 1945, LCA 1591 was lost overboard from a Landing Ship Tank (LST) off India, which raises the possibility that the craft shown here may also have seen service in the Far East. At the time of the handover in September 1944, 3 months after the Normandy landings, the need for LCAs in the west had diminished, although both Walcheren (Operation Infatuate) and the Rhine crossing were later.

[Map courtesy of Google 2019.]

Appeal for Information

Any former employees of Elliott's Yard, their families, or Royal Navy personnel, who have recollections or photos from this period are invited to contact us. Even the smallest piece of information could be of interest.

Correspondence

My dad, Darrell Collier (Jack), worked in the drawing office at Elliotts of Reading during the war.  He remembered the handover of the landing craft and a trip up the Thames with the Mayor of Reading and his family on board. As my dad was not part of the official handover team, he sat in the engine compartment out of sight. After the war we came to know the Mayor's daughter who also remembered the trip.

Kind regards

Derek Collier


When I left school in 1955, I worked in the garage just inside the main gates of Elliotts. The workshop (or garage) backed on to Thorneycrofts yard and we had a door that went into same. My boss in the garage was Ron Wise and he told me many stories about the goings on in there. One of them was about a boat they made with a turbine engine for patrol use or whatever. It was too fast for the river so they tested it in the dreadnought reach below Caversham lock. Evidently it was the first turbine powered boat at the time. Bob.

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.

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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.

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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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To notify an event or place of interest, click here.

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See the 'slide shows' of the dedication ceremony and the construction of the memorial plus the 'On this day in 194?' feature where major Combined Ops events are highlighted on their anniversary dates with links to additional information.

You are welcome to add information, photos and comment or reply to messages posted by others.

Find Books of Interest 

Search for Books direct from our Books page. Don't have the name of a book in mind? Just type in a keyword to get a list of possibilities... and if you want to purchase you can do so on line through the Advanced Book Exchange (ABE). 5% commission goes into the memorial fund.

WW2 Combined Operations Handbook

This handbook was prepared for Combined Operations in the Far East. It illustrates the depth and complexity of the planning process necessary to ensure that the 3 services worked together as a unified force.

Submit your D-Day Story

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

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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