Hayling Island Sailing Club, Headquarters for Combined Operations Pilotage Parties

AddressHampshire PO11 9SL, UK
Location typeHeadquarters Site
Site Ownership and Access InformationHayling Island Sailing Club is a private site, used for recreational sailing. The nearby COPP Memorial at Seafront Road, Hayling Island PO11 9EP, is accessible to the public. The memorial is owned by the COPP Memorial Fund.
Contact detailsSee COPP Heroes website for information about the COPP Memorial.

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In August 1942, the disastrous Dieppe Raid proved to Allied commanders that a feasible invasion of France was still a long way off. Blaming inferior planning in response to the disaster, Lord Louis Mountbatten, Chief of Combined Operations ordered the formal establishment of the Combined Operations Pilotage Parties (COPPs). Its purpose was to employ clandestine tactics in order to survey potential landing sites for Allied troop deployment during the eventual invasion of France.

Hayling Island Sailing Club was chosen as the secret base for COPPs and the area was a suitable training ground for the eventual landing sites. Here, troops were covertly trained to collect intelligence and provide beach reconnaissance, before embarking on high-risk missions to the Normandy beaches. One such mission occurred on New Year’s Eve 1943, whereby two members of COPPs undertook a mission to the Gold Beach area around Ver-Ser-Mer. Embarking from the surf, they recorded precise beach measurements with metal augers and collected core samples to assess landing surface. Following the success of the mission, the COPPs also conducted beach intelligence for the US landing sites, often under exceptional circumstances. The reconnaissance work of the COPPs was vital for both the planning and eventual success of D-Day, by providing the Allied forces with vital beach reconnaissance prior to the landings.

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