Combined Operations Museum
The Combined Operations Museum was located located in Cherry Park, within the grounds of Inveraray Castle.
The museum closed some time prior to 1999, and its contents were dispersed, with much believed to have gone to the Oban War and Peace Museum. The opening date is unknown, but is estimated to have been about 1978 as the museum is believed to have been established for about twenty years.
Surviving from its last update in 1997, the Combined Operations Museum web page remained available on line until 2007, when it, and the site where it was hosted, disappeared from the web. In memory of the museum, we now host a re-creation of the lost page.
However, an 'Out There For Argyll' media team from Furnace, a village on the other side of HMS Quebec from Inveraray, is in the process of remedying the situation. A member of the team is Jim Jepson, last Curator of the museum, the man who single-handedly created the memorial at HMS Quebec and organised the establishment ceremony, both as described below. He and fellow team members are engaged in making textual records and sound and video programmes on Combined Operations in Argyll. These will be made available to anyone online via the For Argyll project website.
The coastal nature of the area, together with its sheltered inland sea access, meant it offered near ideal conditions to carry out training operations for many service personnel, not least those of Combined Operations. All but the first three locations listed below fall within the general area.
Combined Operations Scotland
Achnacarry, Inverness-shire, Scotland. Achnacarry Castle was the base for Commando training and assessment, located in a remote glen some 14 miles from Fort William.
- HMS Lochailort
Inverailort Castle, near Fort William, training for boat officers.
- HMS Dorlin
Dorlin House, Acharacle, Argyll, training for RN Beach Signals and Royal Signals sections, battle training.
- HMS Quebec
Inveraray, Argyllshire, large training centre for Naval and Army personnel in minor landing craft operations.
- HMS Pasco
Glenbranter Camp, Glenbranter, Strachur, landing craft signals school training minor landing craft signalmen.
- HMS Armadillo
Glenfinart, formation and training of RN Beach Commandos.
- HMS James Cook
Glen Caladh, Near Tighnabruaich. Naval Beach Training Establishment training the practice and theory of Navigational Training for officers of minor landing craft flotillas.
- HMS Brontosaurus
Castle Toward, Dunoon, Argyll, initial Royal Navy training for officers and crew of major landing craft.
- HMS Rosneath
Rosneath, Dumbartonshire. A Royal Navy base, then placed under US control, then latterly returned to British operation, with US involvement.
- Port Glasgow
- HMS Monck
HMS Monck I: Variously located in Largs, Port Glasgow and Rosneath, all in the area of the River Clyde.
Largs: HQ for Combined Training, and the Flag Officer.
Port Glasgow: Carrier training, Royal Navy Barracks and landing craft base.
Roseneath: an ICE (internal combustion engine) school.
HMS Monck II: Greenock HQ Flag Officer.
- HMS Warren
Largs, Ayrshire. Senior Officers training centre for Combined Operations for all three services. The centre was also known as No 4 Combined Training Centre or CTC Largs.
- HMS Dundonald
HMS Dundonald I: Gailes Camp, Auchengate, Troon, Ayrshire, holding and training base for RN Beach Commandos. Holding base for Combined Operations personnel. RN Beach Commandos trained with their respective beach groups. Initial naval training for officers and crews of major landing craft.
HMS Dundonald II: HMS Dundonald 2, Auchengate, Troon, Ayrshire, Combined Signals School (CSS) for the RN, RAF and Army. Training of RN Beach Signals Sections.
- Dundonald Air Station
Dundonald, Ayrshire. RAF 516 Squadron was attached to Combined Operations to provide realistic air attack and smoke screen input for amphibious landing training. Also assisted in the calibration of radar on 3 specially commissioned Fighter Direction Tenders vessels.
- HMS Dinosaur
Dinosaur I: Troon, Ayrshire. HQ for tank landing craft training operations. Training establishment for major landing craft officers and major landing craft gunnery school.
Dinosaur II: Irvine, Ayrshire, major landing craft work-up and repair base.
- HMS Stopford
Bo'ness, West Lothian, major landing craft base for 'working up' craft prior to operations. Passive defence school and balloon school.
- HMS Monster
Combined Operations Base. Fortrose, near Inverness, Scotland. Commissioned November 15, 1943, pensioned off August 15, 1944.
- HMS Tullichewan
Holding base for Combined Operations personnel. HMS Tullichewan was based in Tullichewan Castle Camp, Balloch, Loch Lomond, Scotland. Commissioned March 10, 1945, paid off June 10, 1946. From 1942 to 1944, served as training base for WRNS under the name of HMS Spartiate II.
- HMS Houptoun
Landing Craft and Minesweeper base. Port Edgar on the River Forth, west of South Queensferry. Commissioned October 25, 1943, paid off February 28, 1946. Also the location of a base called Lochinver.
The full listing, and much more, may be found on a web site devoted to Combined Operations Command.
Canadian display added in 1997
An archived event from the museum's past was found on a Canadian web site:
July 10, 1997
Canadian Commemorative Display - Inveraray, Scotland
A Canadian Commemorative display, which honours the significant contribution of Canadian forces from all parts of Canada in the liberation of Europe, will be officially installed at 13:30 on July 10, 1997, in the Combined Operations Museum at Inveraray, Scotland. The event will be preceded by a church service at 10:30 and a wreath laying at 11:15 at the Inveraray Memorial. Participants include the Deputy Minister of Veterans Affairs Canada, Mr. David Nicholson, representing the Government of Canada, Jim Jepson, Curator of the Museum and Colonel (Ret'd) Donald M. Thompson who managed the project on behalf of Veterans Affairs Canada.
- 30 -
Combined Operations Museum, Inveraray, Scotland
Joy Bell MacKenzie
Veterans Affairs Canada
P.O. Box 7700
Charlottetown , PE
New memorial unveiled in 2008
The follow Blog entry commemorated the unveiling of new memorial to mark Inveraray's involvement with Combined Operations.
The closure of the little Combined Operations Museum at the turn of the century, formerly located in Cherry Park within the grounds of Inveraray Castle, was a sad occurrence, and meant that the area had little to alert the visitor to the part played by the thousand of members of the services who had spent time at the Combined Operations Training Camp of HMS Quebec. Army, Navy, and RAF personnel trained together at the World War II base, which is now an Argyll holiday park.
Ex-servicemen, serving soldiers and marines and a senior Royal Navy representative from HMS Neptune, Faslane, made the journey to the former camp site, which is now the Argyll Caravan Park, and joined His Grace the Duke of Argyll, the Lord Lieutenant of Argyll and Bute, and other dignitaries as the new permanent memorial was unveiled, remembering those who passed through the training camp between 1940, and final clearing of the site in 1946. (Although cleared, the site still contains some surviving period buildings and structures.)
The Duke of Argyll spoke of the ‘invaluable and immeasurable’ role the area played during those ‘dark days.’ As he unveiled the memorial The Duke of Argyll said “I am delighted to officially open this memorial, and it is a great honour to those we are here to remember that so many people have turned out today. The role that Inveraray played in the last war was immeasurable. For many years we had the Combined Operations museum at Cherry Park, but this has now gone. That is why I think it is really appropriate that we have such a marvellous permanent memorial.”
Lance Bombadier Clem Leedham of 148 Battery, 29 Commando Royal Artillery had the honour of formally raising a Combined Operations flag which had been donated for the new memorial by 29 Commando, in an initiative led by Regimental Sergeant Major David Thatcher.
Reverend Dr Rod MacLeod dedicated the memorial and piper Graham Renton played a lament before a minute’s silence took place.
The inspiration for a permanent memorial came from Jim Jepson, general secretary of the Combined Operations Association, and who ran the Argyll Estate Combined Operations Museum in Inveraray for some 20 years until its closure. Mr Jepson reserved special mention for representatives of the sole surviving Army (as opposed to Marine) Commando unit - 29 Commando Royal Artillery - which still carries the Combined Operations Insignia, and was present at the camp during the war.
The event was concluded by a special flypast carried out by a Tornado fighter-bomber, piloted by Flight Lieutenant Peter Ward of 56 Squadron, RAF Leuchars.
- Oban War and Peace Museum
- Duke unveils new Inveraray monument. Argyllshire Advertiser, April 4, 2008
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