During World War II the original Hayling Island SC building was taken over by the Royal Navy as the wartime base of COPP or Combined Operations Pilotage Parties. These were dedicated teams trained in covert operations, reconnoitering beaches selected for landings on enemy occupied territory. Remarkably, this unit of less than 200 men went on to win over 90 medals and commendations in a little under three years.
On Thursday 27 September at 11:30 a COPP Heros Memorial Dedication Ceremony will take place on Hayling seafront, opposite the end of Sea Grove Avenue, where a 4 metre inscribed memorial stone has been errected. The ceremony will be performed by Countess Mountbatten, the eldest daughter of Lord Louis Mountbatten, who founded COPP 70 years ago.
The top secret COPP Depot was set up in 1943 on Hayling Island under the instruction of Lord Mountbatten. Small teams of sailors and soldiers trained as frogmen and canoeists for covert beach reconnaissance and other essential clandestine operations prior to the Allied landings on enemy occupied territory throughout the world.
Without detailed knowledge of landing sites and their defences, any large scale deployment of forces for an invasion, was likely to suffer the same fate as the disastrous Gallipoli operation in WW1. The Dieppe raid in 1942 also gave some idea of the potential problems for invasion forces. Following that disaster, Lord Louis Mountbatten, Chief of Combined Operations ordered the formal establishment of the COPP unit.
Seven ex-commandos who were all members of the Combined Operations Pilotage Parties will be attending the dedication of the memorial in honour of the 200 men and women who were stationed at Hayling Island Sailing Club. Also attending will be members of the Special Boat Service Association.
The public are welcome to come and watch the service which starts at 11.30am on Thursday, September 27, and will last for about an hour. Prior to that event there is a two-day (25-26) COPP Exhibition at the Newtown House Hotel - Open 11:00 to 17:00 each day. And on Saturday 22 September the WWII Heritage Trail on Hayling Island opened.
Belinda Cook and Leonie Austin - the HISC Archivists - will have an exhibition of HISC COPP related items from that time at the Reception after at HISC. For more background to the COPP activities on Hayling see the coppheroes website
23 September 2012 10:12