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


HMS Brontosaurus at Castle Toward


HMS Brontosaurus, Castle Toward, Dunoon, Argyll was the No 2 Combined Training Centre (CTC), informally known as CTC Castle Toward (pronounced as in coward). It trained officers and crews to operate 'major' landing craft in preparation for amphibious landings onto unimproved landing beaches in North Africa, the Mediterranean, Normandy and other locations.

The No 1 Combined Training Centre at nearby Inveraray did the same thing using 'minor' landing craft, a distinction that only signals the size of the craft and not their importance.

All photos, unless otherwise stated, are courtesy of Lt Col D B Peyman, while this account is based on research material supplied by Phillip C Jones.

[Photo; Hoppers pier at HMS BRONTOSAURUS, 6 miles from Dunoon on the River Clyde. Nissen huts stretch out along the shore and up the hill right of centre. © IWM (A 29908).]


Initially the Training Centre provided basic Royal Navy training in seamanship and the operation of 'major' landing craft for the officers and crews. The sailing characteristics of these flat bottomed, square ended craft was very different from conventional craft with sleek lines and heavy keels.

In November 1942, the ground force element from HMS Dundonald (the troops to be carried in landing craft to the landing beaches) was transferred to Castle Toward and Inveraray about the time the Commandos and Infantry Battalions were receiving training in amphibious operations. Toward's remit, therefore, expanded to accommodate the training of officers and men of the Royal Navy, Army, RAF Regiment and ground crews in combined amphibious operations. A variety of major assault landing craft were used, such as Landing Ship Infantry (LSI), Landing Craft Tank (LCT) and Landing Craft Personnel (LCP). The skills and procedures for safely embarking tanks, vehicles and personnel and their disembarkation in mock landings onto unimproved 'assault' beaches, were regularly rehearsed until perfected.

The training was in preparation for future landings including, Dieppe, North Africa (when a large contingent of U.S. forces was trained at both Castle Toward and Inveraray), Sicily, Italy, Normandy and Walcheren.

Photo Gallery

Hover over the thumbnails for information on the photos and then click to view.


Visit of Vice Admiral Lord Louis Mountbatten 16 December '42.

I remember this occasion very clearly. It was a typical Scottish winter's day, blowing a howling gale, pouring with rain and bitterly cold. Mountbatten was due to visit Castle Toward at mid-day. Like every good WO, the Chief Petty Officer got the men of the establishment on parade at least half on hour before the V. Admiral was due to arrive. 12 o'clock came and went and we still awaited the illustrious inspecting officer, all the time getting wetter and wetter and colder and colder. Finally, after a delay of one and a half hours, Mountbatten appeared. By then the ratings and soldiers had been on parade for two hours.

The parade was drawn to attention and the commander invited Mountbatten to carry out the inspection. So far as I remember, the parade consisted of what the navy call divisions and what the army would describe as companies or squads. In both cases, about 30 men each. Mountbatten first inspected the naval divisions and, as soon as he had inspected a division, the officer in command ordered the men to 'Right Turn - Quick March', and off they went through the Scottish mist and rain back to their Nissen huts.

When Mountbatten had inspected the fourth naval division, he turned to the parade commander and asked him why authority was being given, without his permission, for the men to be marched off parade once they had been inspected. I do not recall what sort of a reply the unfortunate officer gave, though I am sure he would have liked to have said something like, "You arrogant sod, it's because the men have been on parade for two hours, are wet through and frozen stiff."

Whatever the parade commander may have said, he got short shift from Mountbatten, who ordered all the men to be brought back on parade. I don't need to tell you that the Noble Lord was not greatly loved that day.

Centre Staff

CTC Castle Toward was under the command of a Captain RN with tri-service instructors. Below are details of the training and support staff and their duties sometime in 1942/43, which provides an insight into the diverse nature of the training undertaken.

Naval Commanding Officer - Commander B Dean (Retired) DSO RN.
Replaced by Commander R A Cassidi RN.
Replaced by Commander N N Whatley RN Commander in Command Nov '43.

Name Rank Name Rank
Captain J D Harvey RN Chf Naval Staff Officer Aug '43 Major W Marjoribanks DAA & QMG
Major D Alexander RA GSO 2 Captain E Spickett-Jones Messing Officer
Lt CS Douglas KOSB Instructor Infantry Major J M Shaw MC RFus Instructor Infantry
2/Lt A Denholm RA  Instructor RA Capt E Brasier-Creagh MC RA DAA & QMG
Lt C Adams Admin Officer Captain P B Peyman GSO 3
Lt R Findlay R Sigs Instructor Sigs Captain W Leigh Taylor RASC Instructor RASC
Lt Harwood RN Gunnery officer Lt Fairhurst RTR Instructor RAC
Major J Kelway RA GSO 2 Captain F Fairhurst RTR Instructor RAC
Lt R Galloway RNVR Beachmaster Lt B Burrage REME Instructor REME
Sub Lt Howarth Beachmaster Lt (QM) J A Dunlop QM
FI Lt C B Savory RAF Air Staff Officer Captain Radcliffe Staff Captain (A)
Capt A Denholm RA Instructor RA Lt Wright Asst Camp Comdt
Lt L Edgar RE Instructor Lt K Hathaway RN SO (N) (posted Sep '43)
Captain T G Lewis Chaplain Brigadier A W Lee Com'dt CTC Castle Toward I
Colonel H Clark Colonel Commandant Lt Col A F Young OBE Brigade Training Officer
Lt Colonel D Macfie Camerons GSO 1    

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.


70th Infantry Brigade 1939 – 1944.

I run a Memorial Website on 70th Infantry Brigade 1939 – 1944 under the auspices of a Registered Charity, the North East War Memorials Project.

The Brigade and its supporting units spent some considerable time at Castle Toward, training in amphibious operations, especially in 1943 when it was expected that they would be part of the initial D-Day Assault.

In the event, their “parent” Brigade, the151st, got that honour. The 49th Division was reclassified as a follow-up Division when Montgomery chose the 50th Division as his spearhead instead.

The Website contains the full set of the War Diaries for these units. It can be found at www.newmp.org.uk/70brigade


John L Dixon

Lead Researcher

Victor Frederick Golder ex RN, Service Number was C/JX 548491. Rank of AB LC/SIG.

Dear Geoff,

I’ve just made a donation to the Combined Ops Memorial Fund, having been prompted by a chance conversation with my Father about his National Service training.

Dad is Victor Frederick Golder ex RN now aged 83yrs. His Service Number was C/JX 548491 and held the rank of AB LC/SIG.  He has some memories of his time at HMS BRONTOSAURUS and remembered that it was a Combined Ops training establishment, but didn’t recall that it was at Castle Toward.  He was there for signals training. He spent his War Service drafted to minesweepers and LCTs and was one of many that embarked troops who landed on D-Day beaches.

I have found your web-site exceptionally useful and informative, not least of all because I am preparing for Dad a summary account of his Service life, brief though it was (he volunteered at age 17 in 1943 and was demobbed in late ’46).  When I have tidied up a few of the photos that I have of Dad and his mates on board LCTs, I will pass them across in case they stimulate memories in others.  In the family he was known as Joff, maybe that was carried into the Service.  Do you have an appropriate tag within the website to post these (all too brief) details of my Dad at Castle Toward.  I would love to find out if there is anyone that remembers him.

Thanks in anticipation. Stay safe, Regards, Steve.

Sub Lt Islwyn Vaughan RNVR

This photo includes my father and I'd love to hear from anyone in the photo or anyone who has any information about it. My father was Sub Lt Islwyn Vaughan RNVR. He served as follows in combined ops; i) 5th LCP (L) Aug 1942 - Deippe, ii) 520th LCA July 1942 - Point De Hoc, Normandy & iii) Nov 1944 509th Flotilla at E Schelts & Holland

Many thanks in anticipation. Rob Vaughan.

Charles Carmichael

My grandfather, Charles Carmichael, served in the RAF Regiment as an AC2 with No. 2777 Squadron. The squadron operations record book is very brief but contains the following entry concerning training courses.

Gosport 25.6.43 a.m Lecture to squadron by Lt.Col. Young
  26.6.43 p.m. Squadron proceeded to Castle Toward for CTC course
Castle Toward 1.7.43 a.m. Squadron witnessed landing craft demonstration, Inveraray
  2.7.43 a.m. Squadron in exercise PRUNE I
  2.7.43 p.m.  Swimming instruction in full kit. PO Joels arrived from Compton Bassett
  3.7.43 a.m. Squadron in exercise PRUNE II
  3.7.43 p.m. Squadron in exercise Straddle
  4.7.43 Squadron completed exercise Straddle
  6.7.43 a.m. Squadron leaves for Gosport

In August 1944 my grandfather was transferred to No. 2742 Squadron RAF Regiment. That squadron was also at Castle Toward in 1943 from 18-24 May for what was designated as No. 12 Combined Operations Course.


 Ian Young

News & Information

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

Find Books of Interest 

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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.


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.


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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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