Monday, April 6, 2015

Origins of Combined Operations (4)

Information and Resources

A map of some CO raids: Photo Credit to A Watery Maze

Several fine books and websites provide information about how the Combined Operations organization began in the UK and how Canadian involvement in it originated. The book A Watery Maze by Bernard Fergusson, copyright 1961, is one such fine resource.

In it one finds the following:

Churchill's verbal briefing (to Lord Louis Mountbatten, in October, 1941) ran something like this:

I want you to succeed Roger Keyes in charge of Combined Operations. Up to now there have hardly been any Commando Raids. I want you to start a programme of raids of ever-increasing intensity, so as to keep the whole of the enemy coastline on the alert from the North Cape to the Bay of Biscay. But your main object must be the re-invasion of France.

Mountbatten: Photo Credit to A Watery Maze

You must create the machine which will make it possible for us to beat Hitler on land. You must devise the appurtenances and appliances which will make the invasion possible. You must select and build up the bases from which the assault will be launched. Before that you must create the various Training Centres at which the soldiers can be trained in the amphibious assault. I want you to bring in the Air Force as well, and create a proper inter-Service organisation to produce the technique of the modern assault. I want you to consider the great problem of the follow-up, and finally, I want you to select the area in which you feel the assault should take place and start bending all your energies towards getting ready for this great day...

All other headquarters in the United Kingdom are at present on the defensive. Your headquarters are being created to be on the offensive. You are to give no thought to the defensive. Your whole attention is to be concentrated on the offensive. (Pages 87 - 88)

Just a few pages later we read:

Obviously two of the most urgent problems were the provision of landing ships and craft, and the crews to man them... As an illustration of the magnitude of the crew problem, the Joint Planners, in the very month of Mountbatten's appointment, had persuaded the Chiefs of Staff that our requirements in LCTs alone (i.e. landing craft for tanks) for the eventual invasion would be 2,250 - a figure to daunt almost anybody. And where were the crews to come from? Canada made an offer, which was gratefully accepted, of 50 officers and 300 ratings, but this was a drop in the bucket. (Page 93)

The author's father, Doug Harrison (left) and Buryl McIntyre,
among the first members of Canada's 300 Comb. Ops ratings

The Effingham Division, in Halifax, Canada, 1941

Raid on St. Nazaire occurred in March, 1942: Pg. 133, A Watery Maze

Dieppe Raid occurred in August, 1942: Photo Credit - Imperial War Museum 

Link to Origins of Combined Operations 3

Unattributed Photos by GH

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