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HMS Copra

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The Moorings original building, postcard, undated
The Moorings, original building

HMS Copra was a World War II Shore establishment which processed the pay and allowances of Royal Navy personnel serving in Combined Operations, and was located in the original building of The Moorings, located on the seafront at Largs, adjacent to the pier.[1]

The name Copra is an acronym formed from Combined Operations pay, ratings and accounts.

Records show that some sections of HMS Copra had also been located in Southend and London. First commissioned on August 30, 1943 at Chelsea Court, London as Combined Operations pay and drafting office. Vacated on August 3, 1944. Copra (pay) moved to Largs by August 3, 1944. Copra (drafting) moved to Southend by November 1943, and to Largs by October 5, 1945. Pensioned off June 30, 1946.[2]

War graves error

In a sad but related story, it seem that the establishment was wrongly identified as a sea-going vessel in the aftermath of the conflict. The name of HMS Copra has been reported to appear on many war graves in Normandy. Although HMS Copra was never a sea-going vessel, the name appeared in the documentation recovered from their bodies, pay books and service records, and was understandably, but unfortunately, assumed to be name of the vessel they were serving on when they lost their lives. In fact, their documents only confirmed that the men were in the Royal Navy, and assigned to Combined Operations. They would probably have been serving on, or being carried by landing craft when they were lost, and it would not have been possible to identify and record the name at the time (D-Day).

Postwar

The Moorings as rebuilt, 2007
The Moorings, as rebuilt
© Thomas Nugent

In 1936, The Moorings café and restaurant had opened on the seafront of Largs, with its own ice-cream factory and bakery, and including a ballroom with a capacity for 1,000 people. The building was notable for its distinctive nautical design, in line with its location, having porthole windows, a third-floor sundeck, and a cut-away corner echoing the prow of a ship.

To the disappointment of many holidaymakers and long-time visitors, the original Moorings café, built c. 1935, was demolished in 1989 after flooding damaged its internal steel structure. It was replaced by a modern development following a similar exterior style, retaining the name and having a small ice-cream parlour and a few shops on the ground floor, but otherwise devoted to residential and holiday flats.

References

1 Combined Operations web site, HMS Copra

2 Shore Establishments of the Royal Navy, Lt Cdr B Warlow

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