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~ COMBINED OPERATIONS IN 1759! ~

Wolfe's assault on the Abraham heights near Quebec was a classic Combined Operation which contained many of the elements used in amphibious landings in WW2. The story is included here in the way of an introduction to the subject of Combined Operations and as an illustration of the effective use of some basic principles.

Background Planning  and Preparations The Action Further Reading

Background

This story is almost 250 years outside the WW2 remit of this site but it serves to define what combined operations are and gives a sense of the illustrious history of the concept.

By the time Louisburg in Cape Breton Island fell to Wolfe's forces in early August of 1758 it was too late in the season for an assault on the French garrison at Old Quebec. Under the circumstances Wolfe decided to take the home leave he had been promised before the expedition sailed from UK waters. Unbeknown to Wolfe, at the time of his departure from Canada, Pitt had sent an order for him to stay with his men. This accident of history had far reaching beneficial consequences the following year.

Planning and Preparations

The first major rule for a successful combined operation was in place - the opportunity to consider the future campaign in discussion with political heads (The War Cabinet) and the Chiefs of Staff (Field-Marshal Lord Ligonier & others) thereby gaining their confidence, commitment and support. As a result Wolfe was allowed to choose his own brigadiers and was allocated ample supplies for a 6 month campaign.

Wolfe was also fortunate in having established a good working relationship with his naval equivalent Charles Saunders. In fact they made the Atlantic crossing together and were fully at one in their thinking about the campaign against the French. Saunders later wrote "During the tedious campaign there has continued a perfect understanding between the Army and Navy." So it was that the second major rule for a successful campaign was met - a good personal and working relationship between (or amongst) field commanders.

The Action

It was not possible to achieve strategical surprise, a normal pre-requisite of a successful amphibious combined operation. Montcalm was an able soldier and he had known, for at least 14 weeks, that he was to be attacked. His preparations were at first successful in repelling attacks and Wolfe disengaged his forces to consider his position. Weeks went by with little progress. A possible landing site was identified a mile or two upstream of the main French positions and for 6 days part of the fleet drifted up river on the flood tide and down river on the ebb tide while assessments were made.

Montcalm found this behaviour very odd and concluded that it was a diversion from Wolfe's main target the Beauport Lines. This view was reinforced by a feint perpetrated by Saunders. On the 13th September at 1 a.m., as the fleet once more moved down the river on the ebb tide, Wolfe landed with his men. By the time the sun came up at 8am 4,500 men where on top of the Abraham Heights. So it was that another golden rule of combined operations was met - the achievement of surprise which on this occasion was tactical rather than strategic.

The French forces were in disarray but in the action that followed Wolfe was hit three times. His last words were an order to dispatch a battalion to cut off the French retreat. Five days later the French forces in Quebec surrendered.

For more detailed information about this assault visit Two Great Soldiers.

Further reading

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.

Pioneers of Canada by Alan Salmon, published by The Unitrade Press of Toronto in 1998. ISBN 1-895909-65-1-1. Dr Salmon's book contains two well-researched chapters relating to the stories of these two great soldiers, Wolfe and Montcalm, and their fateful meeting at Quebec. That meeting is placed in the  context of other contemporary events in British North America.

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.

Forthcoming Events

To organisers: Reach the people who will be interested to know about your Combined Operations or war related event by adding it to our forthcoming events page free of charge.

To everyone else; Visit our forthcoming events page for things to see and places to visit. If you know of an event of possible interest, that is not listed, please let us know.

To notify an event click here.

To visit the webpage click here.

Facebook

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.

www.bramleywarmemorial.com/major-geoffrey-appleyard-book-now-available-for-purchase/

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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