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 COMBINED OPERATIONS

Around £1,000 is needed to maintain the Combined Ops memorial in perpetuity through an agreement with the National Memorial Arboretum. Please help us do this with a donation, big or small. Donate here. Thank you



Combined Operations Badge Memorial Mosaic.Welcome to the Combined Ops Home Page & Website

Published & hosted by Geoff Slee since 2000 

Most web pages can now be reached directly from this Home Page under the following 6 headings - Operations,  Units,  Training,  Science & Technology,  Lest We Forget and Help & Information. Scroll down on this page or click on the link(s) above of interest and then scroll.

Featured links; Combined Operations - a Brief Introduction; 40 D Day Stories and our Jigsaw Challenge, where you can learn about aspects of Combined Operations that may surprise you.


OPERATIONS

   Commando Raids  
Operation Catapult, Mers-el-Kebir        07/40
Operation Claymore, Lofoten Islands.     03/41
Bardia, N Africa.    04/41
Litani River, (Vichy French) Syria.       06/41
Operation Flipper Rommel's HQ,       11/41
Operation Anklet, Lofoten Islands      12/41
Operation Archery Vaagso, Norway    12/41
Operation Biting Bruneval, France 02/42
Operation Chariot, St Nazaire, France,   03/42
Operation Jubilee Dieppe, France.    08/42
Operation Aquatint, 'Omaha', France 09/42
Operation Torch, North Africa                     09/42
Operation Musketoon Glomfjiord Norway 09/42
Operation Frankton, Gironde, France.   12/42
Operation Corkscrew, Pantelleria Med.    06/43
Operation Starkey raid that never was.      09/43
Operation Brassard, Elba, Italy.             06/44

Major Landings

Operation Ironclad, Madagascar.         05/42
Operation Torch, North Africa.                   11/42
Operation Husky, Sicily, Italy.                      07/42
Operation Avalanche, Salerno, Italy.        09/43
Operation Neptune, Normandy, France 06/44
Operation Infatuate Walcheren, Holland                               11/44
Operation Romulus, Burma.  .               01/45

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UNITS

Land

Small Scale Raiding Force (SSRF)
No 1 Commando
No 4 Commando
No 5 Commando
No 9 Commando
No 11 (Scot) Commando
50 Mid East Commando
52 Mid East Commando
W Commando (Canada)
45 RM Commando (1)
45 RM Commando (2)
RN Commandos
Sacred Squadron (Greece)
574 Field Security Section, Burma
Pilotage Parties-COPPs

Sea

1. HQ & Mother Ships

HQ Ships
HMS Empire Battleaxe
HMS Glenearn
HMS Misoa
HMS Royal Ulsterman

2) Squadrons & Flotillas

'I' Landing Craft Tank Squadron
Landing Craft Support Squadron
9th Landing Craft Tank Flotilla
US Landing Craft Rocket Flotilla
10th Landing Craft Assault Flotilla
519 Landing Craft Assault Flotilla
601 Landing Craft Mechanised Flotilla

3) Individual Craft

524 Landing Craft Assault - LCA
Landing Craft Flack 7
Landing Craft Flack LCF
Landing Craft Gun 13
Landing Craft Gun 19
Landing Craft Rocket 363 - (LCT (R) 363
Landing Craft Tank 318
Landing Craft Tank 749
Landing Craft Tank 795
Landing Craft Tank 821
Landing Craft Tank 858
Landing Craft Tank 861
Landing Craft Tank 979
Landing Craft Tank 980
Landing Craft Tank 2304
Landing Craft Tank 2331
814 Landing Craft Vehicle (Personnel)
Landing Craft Vehicle (Personnel) 1228
Landing Ship Tank HMS Thruster
US Landing Craft Infantry 502
US Landing Ship Tank 28

US Landing Craft Tank 439

4) Others

Landing Barge Kitchen 6
Fighter Direction Tenders 13, 216 & 217
Harbour Defence Motor Launch 1301
New LCAs Delivered
(On D Day)
Royal Observer Corps

Air

516 Squadron
Royal Air Servicing
Commando Units
RASCU 3201
(On D Day)
RAF Air/Sea Rescue
Coastal Command

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TRAINING

Land Bases

UK Combined Ops Training Bases
Middle East Combined Training Centre, Kabret, Egypt (HMS Saunders).
Signals Training at Kabret.
Operation Tiger Disaster
No 1 Combined Training Centre, Inveraray.
Amphibious Training at Inveraray
HMS Brontosaurus
HMS COPRA
RAF Dundonald, Ayrshire - 516 Squadron RAF

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SCIENCE  & TECH

Mulberry Harbours
PLUTO - Pipeline Under the Ocean
PLUTO Salvaged
PLUTO Production Machinery
PLUTO in Fawley
Pykrete Ice Ships!
Fighter Direction Tenders 13, 216 & 217.
Duplex Drive Swimming Tanks (Hobart's Funnies)

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LEST WE FORGET

Remembrance

Roll of Honour
They Also Served
Combined Operations Memorial Dedication
General Barrons' Speech
Special Thanks
Visiting the Memorial
In Perpetuity Memorial Maintenance
Donate to Memorial Maintenance
Memorials, Monuments & Plaques
Poetry

Biographies

Lord Mountbatten
Sir Roger Keyes
Geoffrey Pyke
Lt Douglas A Grant
Rickard  C Donovan

Personal Wartime Recollections

Inveraray, Scotland
Occupied Walcheren
US British Commando
I Saw the World
Minor Landing Craft Training
My World War
Secretary at COHQ
RN Signaller's D Story
LAC's D Day Diary

Heritage

First Combined Operation in 1759!
LCT 7074 Restoration
HDML 1301 Recovery
Combined Operations Heritage
Combined Operations Badge History
Combined Operations Badge Specimens
Combined Operations Badges in Use

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HELP & INFO

Website Services

Membership (Supports the Website & Memorial)
Search
FAQ (Including Forces Records)
List of 300 Books
External Links
Notice Board (Ops & Units)
Notice Board (Veterans)
Notice Board (Other)
Jigsaw Challenge
D Day Beach Landings Interactive Painting
Become a researcher / writer for this website
Landing Craft Crews
'Normandy Beachhead' prints for sale

Events & Places

About Us

Contact Us
Background to Website
Website Terms of Use
List of Members
Website Accounts

Other Material

A Nation's Gratitude to Combined Operations
Hitler's Infamous Commando Order
Hitler's Western Front Order
Post WW2 Combined Operations
Memorial Construction Fund
Memorial Design, Materials, Construction & Dedication

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The Command's Formation & Purpose

After the Dunkirk Evacuation of the defeated Allied Expeditionary Force in early June 1940, Churchill decreed that a new joint or combined fighting force (land, sea and air) was required, whose unique challenge and sole purpose was to plan, train for and undertake offensive amphibious operations against the enemy, avoiding distractions arising from defensive considerations.

Initially, Small Scale Amphibious Raiding Forces were formed, which soon developed into larger, better trained and equipped Commando Units, each around 500 men in strength. They raided coastal areas of enemy occupied territories from northern Norway to south west France, causing the Germans to reinforce their coastal defences including the deployment of thousands of additional troops taken from other duties. Special Forces, including the Special Boat Service (SBS) and Special Air Services (SAS), took the Commando concept to a new level for clandestine operations behind enemy lines.

[Photos below, in order of appearance are; Churchill, Keyes, Mountbatten and Laycock.]

Churchill during WW2.Concurrent with these developments, plans were prepared for large scale landings (invasions) onto unimproved beaches in countries occupied by the enemy, which culminated in the D Day landings. The Combined Operations Command was not to be distracted from its offensive operations task by the unfolding events of war as the three traditional services concentrated their resources in defence of the UK and her interests.

In fulfilling this task, RAF actions included the Battle of Britain, bombing raids, coastal defence patrols, U-boat detection and support for Combined Operations raids and landings, while the Royal Navy defended trade routes, detected and destroyed surface raiders and U-boats, maintained a maritime blockade of Germany, defended UK coasts and escorted and supported Combined Operations raids and landings.

Sir Roger Keyes, 1st Director of the Combined Operations Command.After a period of re-equipping and training, including Combined Operations landing craft training, the Army saw action in North Africa, Madagascar, Sicily, Italy, East Africa, southern France, Normandy, Holland, the Rhine Crossing and the Far East, assisted throughout by the forces of the Combined Operations Command during amphibious landings.

For the purposes of training and offensive amphibious operations against the enemy, all RNVR and RN landing craft officers and ratings, and their Royal Navy landing craft, were attached to the Combined Operations Command, itself staffed by Royal Navy, Army and Royal Air Force personnel under the command of naval men Keyes and Mountbatten from July 1940 to October 1943 and Major General Laycock until 1947.

Louis Mountbatten, 2nd Commanding Officer of the Combined Operations Command.Under their stewardship and close liaison with the Joint Chiefs of Staff, extensive training in the use of landing craft through dozens of Training Establishments, mainly in central Scotland and the south of England, were set up. For pay and accounting purposes HMS Copra was established for RNVR and RN personnel attached to the Combined Operations Command.

 

The training included general seafaring, joint army/navy training in all aspects of amphibious warfare using landing craft with RAF support, particularly at the No 1 Combined Training Centre at Inveraray on Loch Fyne.

General Laycock, 3rd Commanding Officer of the Combined Operations Command.In the final stages of training, 516 Squadron RAF (also attached to the Command) created realistic war conditions by attacking the landing beaches with live ammunition, small bombs and smoke canisters. This was usually followed by many months of joint Army/Navy training exercises in loading, unloading, forming and maintaining position in convoys and mock beach landings.
 

The Command's Development

On June 4th 1940, as the last of the troops were evacuated from the beaches of Dunkirk, Churchill sent a memorandum to his Chief Military Assistant and Staff Officer, General Ismay. He was Churchill's main communications link with the Chiefs of Staff. The memorandum warned against the dangers of concentrating too much on the defence of the United Kingdom against enemy attack or invasion. "It is of the highest consequence to keep the largest numbers of German forces all along the coasts of the countries they have conquered, and we should immediately set to work to organise raiding forces on these coasts where the populations are friendly." Two days later, he continued on the same theme, "I look to the Chiefs of Staff to propose me measures for a vigorous, enterprising and ceaseless offensive against the whole German-occupied coastline."

On the 14th of June, the Chiefs of staff appointed Lieutenant-General Alan Bourne to the amply described post of "Commander of Raiding Operations on coasts in enemy occupation, and Adviser to the Chiefs of Staff on Combined Operations." Bourne was 58 and had been in charge of the Royal Marines for about a year. His wide experience on land and sea, and attendance at the Imperial Defence and Army Staff Colleges, were no doubt factors in his selection for this new and challenging post.

Churchill was not consulted about the appointment during these frenzied and anxious times. Whilst he held Bourne in high regard, he felt he was too close to the Admiralty to be able to operate without undue influence from them and he lacked the seniority and authority to deal with the three Ministries. On the 17th of July 1940, Churchill appointed Admiral of the fleet, Roger Keyes to the newly named post of Director of Combined Operations. He was succeeded by Lord Louis Mountbatten, who held the redefined post from 27/10/41 until he moved to Burma in October 1943. Major General Robert Laycock then held the post until 1947.

Combined Operations made a huge contribution to the successful outcome of the Second World War by undertaking dozens of Commando raids and landings, mostly against the Axis forces, from Norway in the north to Madagascar in the south and from North Africa and the Mediterranean in the west to the Far East, culminating in the D-Day Invasion on the 6th of June 1944.

The Command drew on the best practices and expertise the Royal Navy, the Army and the Royal Air Force had to offer to create a  unified force. Many of their top planners and experts formed the nucleus around which the Command was formed and, as the requirements of offensive operations took on an international dimension, the service personnel of many Allied countries proudly wore the Combined Operations badge.

In addition to the nations represented by the flags in the banner heading, German speaking refugees from the following countries served in No 10 Inter-Allied Commando, particularly No 3 Troop. They were; Austria, Czechoslovakia, Denmark, Germany, Hungary, Romania, Russia and Yugoslavia. Greece's Sacred Commando Squadron was not part of Combined Operations but in all regards they served the Allied cause in defence of their Homeland.

The 'All Pages Index' in the page banner heading has brief descriptions of around 190 web pages about this amazing and ubiquitous WWII organisation whose auspices included such diverse subjects as Commando Raids and Major Landings, Landing Craft Training for hundreds of thousands, Mulberry Harbours, the PLUTO Pipeline project, "Hobarts Funnies" tank adaptations and even top secret experiments on an unsinkable "Ice Ship" in the Rocky mountains.

It's a testimony to the enduring nature of the Combined Operations concept that the Combined Operations Badge, designed by Lt D A Grant, RNVR, in 1942, is still in use to this day in a number of countries worldwide.

The Combined Ops Memorial

If you plan to visit the memorial, you'll find useful information on the link to help you make the most of your day.

On Thursday, July 4th 2013, in the presence of Her Majesty's Lord Lieutenant of Staffordshire, Mr Ian Dudson, CBE and 200 guests, including 25 WW2 veterans and 6 Standard Bearers, the Combined Operations Command Memorial was unveiled by General Sir Richard Barrons KCB CBE ADC Gen, Commander of the Joint Forces Command. It was dedicated by the Reverend Prebendary, Tony Wood.

No greater honour could be bestowed on the service personnel of yesteryear, than for the Commander of their modern equivalent Force to honour their memory, sacrifices and achievements in this way.

""A Spontaneous Act of Heartfelt Appreciation

In the summer of 2004, a WW2 veteran from Canada and his friend were travelling north to Scotland by rail, having attended the 60th anniversary D-Day commemorations in Normandy. They engaged an elderly lady in conversation and found they had much in common. The veteran had served in Combined Operations as an LAC on a radar vessel off the beaches of Normandy and her late husband had been an officer in the Combined Operations Pilotage Parties (COPPs). His clandestine visits to the landing beaches prior to invasions, provided invaluable intelligence on enemy defences, hidden obstacles and beach and tidal conditions.

The miles drifted by almost unnoticed as they relived their youthful memories of wartime... for she had also served her country in the WAAF, including some time at RAF Charterhall, near Kelso, in the Scottish Borders.

Unbeknown to them all, a young business woman, sitting nearby, overheard much of the animated conversation over several hours. At York she slid a sealed envelope onto their table as she left the train. She was gone before they had time to gather their senses.

Wherever you are in the world, your life has certainly been touched by the achievements and sacrifices of those who served under the Combined Operations Command in WW2. Viv felt compelled to show her appreciation and gratitude having heard but a tiny fraction of the experiences of just a couple of veterans.

Further Reading

See the website's main Index page for access to 184 pages about many different aspects of Combined Operations including 40 D Day accounts from veterans who served in or alongside Combined Operations - precious personal testimonies they left behind of a vastly important time in the history of the world.

There are around 300 books listed on our 'Combined Operations Books' page. They, or any other books you know about, can be purchased on-line from the Advanced Book Exchange (ABE). Their search banner link, on our 'Books' page, checks the shelves of thousands of book shops world-wide. Just 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.

Monitored by SiteUptime.

General Sir Richard Barrons looks on as the Revd Prebendary Tony Wood dedicates the Combined Operations memorial.

[Photo; General Sir Richard Barrons looks on as the Revd Prebendary Tony Wood dedicates the Combined Operations memorial.]

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Combined Operations Command Memorial dedication ceremony, July 4th, 2013 at the National Memorial Arboretum in Staffordshire, England

[Photo; The Combined Operations Command Memorial dedication ceremony, July 4th, 2013 at the National Memorial Arboretum in Staffordshire, England. Entirely funded by veterans, their families and friends.]

 

 

 

 

Lord Lieutenant Dudson of Staffordshire at the Combined Ops Memorial dedication ceremony with WW2 Veteran Kenneth Howes.

[Photo; Lord Lieutenant of Staffordshire , Mr Ian Dudson with WW2 Veteran Kenneth Howes at the memorial dedication ceremony.]

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Google map showing location of the Combined Ops Memorial.

[Map courtesy of Google Map Data 2017.]


 

 

 

 

 

 

 


News & Information

Photo of single poppy.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.

Photo of single poppy.

Featured Links; Combined Ops Heritage; 40 D Day Stories & Combined Operations Jigsaw Challenge
 

 

Photo of single poppy.Remember a Veteran

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 or They Also Served pages on this website, which include the Combined Operations prayer.

Facebook button.

Facebook

Visit our Facebook page about the Combined Operations Command in appreciation of our WW2 veterans. You are welcome to add information, photos and comment or reply to messages posted by others.

Photo of single poppy.Events and Places to Visit

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. 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.

Photo of single poppy.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).

Photo of single poppy.Combined Operations Handbook (Far East)

The 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.

Photo of single poppy.New to Combined Ops?

Visit Combined Operations Explained for an easy introduction to this complex subject.

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