Combined Operations Headquarters
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Combined Operations Headquarters was a department of the British War Office set up during World War II to harass the Germans on the European continent by means of raids carried out by use of combined naval and army forces. Admiral of the Fleet Roger Keyes was the first director, from 17 July 1940 to 27 October 1941, replaced first by Lord Louis Mountbatten and then Major General Robert Laycock (October 1943 – 1947). The main forces used by Combined Operations were the Commandos.
It comprised background staff whose job was to plan operations and to develop ideas and equipment to harass the enemy in any way possible. It also covered all those who worked with landing craft up to and including the landing ships that were used in the various amphibious operations.
Among the projects undertaken by Combined Operations was the surveying of landing sites for invasions, including those of Sicily and Normandy. These were carried out by Combined Operations Pilotage Parties made up of members of the Royal Navy, Royal Marines, Corps of Royal Engineers and Special Boat Service.
- Operation Frankton (the "Cockleshell heroes") – attack by canoe on shipping in France.
- Mulberry harbours – portable harbours for D-Day.
- Project Habakkuk – the development and construction of giant ice ships.
- Operation Gambit – the use of X-class submarines to provide navigational aid at Sword and Juno Beaches.
- Exercise Tiger – D-Day training with tragic results.
- Operation Biting – captured a Würzburg radar.
- Operation Starkey – a staged invasion of Europe in 1943.
- Operation Pluto – construction of petroleum pipelines underneath the English Channel.
- Small Scale Raiding Force, also known as "No. 62 Commando"