Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts



First Advisor

Dr. John Treadway

Second Advisor

Dr. Robert C. Kenzer

Third Advisor

Dr. Hugh A. West


The story of British combined operations is one too often overlooked in the study of World War II. For the Allies, success, perhaps survival, could only be achieved by developing and perfecting the techniques and equipment required for amphibious landings. In British parlance, the marrying of the ground, naval, and air components of such a landing was called combined operations. The organization built to accomplish this task was the Directorate for Combined Operations (DCO). Created in a time of great desperation (July 1940), the DCO represented the first and only ground offensive tool in the British arsenal, employing the legendary Commandos as their striking arm. Drawing on many of the wartime papers of the command, as well as numerous secondary sources, this thesis traces the genesis of this unique, independent, multi-service organization. It gives significant coverage to both its historic origins through the important evolutionary events during and after the First World War. It also gives special attention to comparing the contributions and command styles of the DCO's two primary leaders: Fleet Admiral Roger Keyes and Vice Admiral Lord Louis Mountbatten. By examining the key events during the period culminating with the fateful raid on Dieppe in August 1942, this work shows the essential contribution made by Combined Operations to forging Allied victory.

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