Combined Operations

Discussion in 'World War 2' started by rlaughton, Sep 13, 2009.

  1. rlaughton


    I am undertaking a project for one of out Legion Veterans (Art Petty, Royal Canadian Navy) who served with Combined Operations in the Second World War. We are just setting Art up with a computer, no small feat at 84 years of age - but it is progressing. I hope that in a month or so he will be able to join us here on-line.

    I searched this forum and found two spots where the topic had been mentioned but there is no dedicated thread that I can find, so I do hope you do not mind if I start one here. The other posts I found are located here:

    In the process of looking for information, I came a across a very good web site that is dedicated to this topic which is located here:

    WW2 Combined Operations

    This is a relatively new site and I hope to join in an participate there once I have collected and prepared all of Art's information. You gain membership either through a donation of the presentation of material. Perhaps I will do both, I have not decided. My intent is to add details about Canadian's who were involved in the Combined Operations and try and establish contacts for those that served.

    If anyone else has an interest in this topic, please join in. Once I get details of Art's unit I will post that here, along with some pictures.

    Regards to all,
    Richard of Canada

    Canadian Troops, Combined Operations training exercise - 27 Aug. 1943 / Inveraray, Scotland
  2. liverpool annie

    liverpool annie New Member

    Hi Richard !

    What a project you have on your hands ... the very best of luck with it

    and also Good Luck to Art .... I look forward to reading about his experiences ! :)

    The only thing I can offer at the moment is a little bit about Reverend John Weir Foote - the VC winner and the Dieppe Raid ... I'm not sure if this is what you're looking for though .... !

    THE DIEPPE RAID - AUG 19 1942 1942.pdf

    "Don't worry men, it'll be a piece of cake!" - Canadian Major-General "Ham" Roberts briefing his officers on the eve of the Dieppe raid.

    Nevertheless the Canadians had 3,369 casualties, mostly prisoners, and the commandos lost 247 men including 75 from 40 RM.

    The RHLI - Medals awarded for service in Dieppe

    The late Reverend John Weir Foote was the first member of the Canadian Chaplain Services to be awarded the VC. Through eight hours of battle, Reverend Foote, Chaplain of The Royal Hamilton Light Infantry, continually exposed himself to intense fire to help move the injured to an aid post, saving many lives by his gallant efforts. When an opportunity to withdraw arrived, he climbed from the landing craft that would have taken him to safety and walked into the enemy positions to be taken prisoner and so to minister to his fellow Canadian POWs. They would be held behind barbed wire for three years.

    Of all of the VC stories, the story of Rev John weir Foote stands out. His was not a combat role. He was not trying to stop or advance or take a position. His was a role of compassion.
    Foote was born in Madoc, Ontario, May 1904. He attended the University of Western Ontario, London; Queen's University, Kingston; and McGill University, Montréal . He entered the Presbyterian Ministry, serving congregations in Fort-Coulonge, Québec and Port Hope, Ontario. In December 1939 he enlisted in the Canadian Chaplin Services and was posted to the Royal Hamilton Light Infantry. Following the action described in the citation below, Foote was taken prisoner and was not released until May 5, 1945.

    At Dieppe on 19th August 1942, Honourary Captain Foote, Canadian Chaplain Services, was Regimental Chaplain with the Royal Hamilton Light Infantry.

    Upon landing on the beach under heavy fire he attached himself to the Regimental Aid Post which had been set up in a slight depression on the beach, but which was only sufficient to give cover to men lying down. During the subsequent period of approximately eight hours, while the action continued, this officer not only assisted the Regimental Medical Officer in ministering to the wounded in the Regimental Aid Post, but time and again left this shelter to inject morphine, give first-aid and carry wounded personnel from the open beach to the Regimental Aid Post. On these occasions, with utter disregard for his personal safety, Honourary Captain Foote exposed himself to an inferno of fire and saved many lives by his gallant efforts. During the action, as the tide went out, the Regimental Aid Post was moved to the shelter of a stranded landing craft.

    Honourary Captain Foote continued tirelessly and courageously to carry wounded men from the exposed beach to the cover of the landing craft. He also removed wounded from inside the landing craft when ammunition had been set on fire by enemy shells. When landing craft appeared he carried wounded from the Regimental Aid Post to the landing craft through heavy fire. On several occasions this officer had the opportunity to embark but returned to the beach as his chief concern was the care and evacuation of the wounded. He refused a final opportunity to leave the shore, choosing to suffer the fate of the men he had ministered to for over three years.

    Honourary Captain Foote personally saved many lives by his efforts and his example inspired all around him. Those who observed him state that the calmness of this heroic officer as he walked about, collecting the wounded on the fire-swept beach will never be forgotten.

    He was demobilized in 1948, remaining with the Canadian Chaplain Services until that time. Then he entered the political arena and represented Durham County in the Legislature of the Province of Ontario serving as Minister of Reform Institutions for Ontario.

    Major Foote is the only member of the Canadian Chaplain Services ever to be awarded the Victoria Cross. He died on the 2nd of May 1988. He is buried in Union Cemetery, Cobourg.

    Rev John Foote V.C.

    John Weir Foote (1904 - 1988) - Find A Grave Memorial

    Some of the Canadian troops resting on board a destroyer after the Combined Operations daylight raid on Dieppe. The strain of the operation can be seen on their faces.
  3. rlaughton


    I retrieved some more information from Art Petty today at the Legion.

    As per the web site that I had mentioned, Art says that the ONLY CANADIAN unit in the COMBINED OPERATIONS was "W COMMANDO". Art says they were also known as "RCN BC" (Royal Canadian Navy Beach Commandos).

    This was the unit Art served with, he recognized the pictures:


    Art was an "Able Body Seaman" in the W unit and his number was #V54299. His full name is Arthur Henry Petty, if anyone else knows of others in that unit that are searching for past friends.

    I have already researched his father, who was with the 4th Canadian Mounted Rifles in the Great War, so this is a good next step to look after the son.

    CEF WW1 Soldier Hubert Cyril Petty

    Art is really excited about the prospect of finding others so he headed home from the Legion this afternoon to haul out his files. I will gather what he has, scan them and make them available.

    What a great way to start a week .... another great veteran story.

  4. rlaughton


    Combined Operations Book to Follow Soon! Check the TelNic site for details.

    I have more information on this project and as such I have started to post the pictures of the men and the operations of RCN Commando W.

    The pictures and the book came from Art at Branch 136 of the Royal Canadian Legion here in Milton (Ontario, Canada). I now have permission to reproduce the book in digital format, which will follow in the next few weeks - I am waiting for a copy to arrive to disassemble for scanning.

    Art's details are as follows:

    Name: Arthur Henry Petty
    Service No.: V.54229
    Service: Royal Canadian Navy, Beach Commando W2
    Force: Combined Operations


    For those not familiar with the Combined Operations group (as they call themselves the "Commandos") there is a comprehensive web site here:

    WW2 Combined Operations

    There are not too many Canadian "Beach Commandos" around so I have been extracting all that I can from Art Petty. As it turns out, his "boss" Lt. Eric "Skip" Finley wrote a large book on the W Commandos and I have secured the agreement of his estate (his wife is still alive) to digitize the book so it is available for all to read. The master document is on its way to Milton now and so the book should be digitized within the month.

    I have created a page on my TelNic server with links to all the current documents, photographs, and other material. I will keep that updated with new information as it is received. The documents on the Google site are all PDF format. Copies of the pictures are also now posted in JPEG format on the Photobucket site. All of these are linked from here:

    If there are other COMBINED OPS out there, particularly from Canada, I would be pleased to hear from you!!

    (specific e-mail for this project)
  5. rlaughton


    Book is now available for download!

    The book "Royal Canadian Navy Commando W" has now been scanned and uploaded in PDF format. I have broken it down into sections, as it is a large document. The link to all the sections is:

    RCN Commando W: by Eric Gault Finley

    For those with an interest in other Commando units, I have also uploaded some additional information on "46 Royal Marine Commando", as one of the ladies of a 46RMC brought in his file after she heard about Art's information. There is an excellent summary document on the Commando Units of WWII in that collection. The remainder of the files are more related to Ray Haywood, PLXV 2679 was with the Special Forces.

    All of the information and links for the combined operations files that I have uploaded are on a section of my TelNic, which I will keep updated as the project continues:

    November 2, 2009 Update:
    The document has now been loaded in three (3) formats: COMPLETE, PART 1, PART 2
    All of these are available on the Internet Archive site in a number of formats at the TelNic site noted above:

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