During World War II, the Largs hotels Vanduara and Hollywood were designated shore establishments by the Admiralty called HMS Monck and HMS Warren. HMS Monck became Combined Operations HQ for the allied forces and Valduara was fitted with a 27 line telephone exchange to cope with the communications needed.
After Dunkirk, it became apparent that Combined Operations would be the only way of liberating Europe from the Nazis. Conventional thinking at the time was that modern weaponry wouldn't allow for an opposed landing and training had been allowed to lapse. So training units for this type of warfare were set up throughout the Firth of Clyde area.
On 23 June 1943, a conference called Operation Rattle took place at HMS Warren in Hollywood Hotel. It was chaired by Lord Mountbatten, Chief of Combined Operations, and was attended by the most senior of officers from all services, both British and American. At this conference, the general details of a landing in France were established and action towards this goal set in motion.
Another decision taken at Rattle was to set up a Combined Operations Staff college at HMS Warren to train the senior officers of all the Allied nations in amphibious warfare. Over 1700 officers passed through the course and went on to take part in the D-Day landings and air operations.
In London at Chelsea, the drafting and payroll departments of Combined Operations were created in August 1943 and called HMS Copra. Unfortunately the threat posed by Germany's V1 missiles on London made it impossible to keep HMS Copra in London and most of it was transferred to Largs and established in The Moorings. It employed around 300 WRNS staff (Wrens) most of whom were billeted at the Skelmorlie Hydro.
Combined Operations continued in Largs until the end of 1946 when it was transferred to Rosneath.
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