When studying the planning behind the Combined Operations cross-Channel raids that harassed the Germans along the coast of Occupied France during the Second World War, one name appears repeatedly - that of Captain John Jock' Hughes-Hallett. Hughes-Hallett was Deputy Director of the Local Defence Division at the Admiralty in 1940 and 1941, before becoming Naval Adviser at Combined Operations Headquarters. Along with the head of Combined Operations, Lord Louis Mountbatten, Hughes-Hallett orchestrated the Commando raids from Norway to Normandy - attacks which tied down German troops far in excess of the numbers employed on the raids.
Hughes-Hallett became Commodore commanding the Channel Assault Force (known as J' Force) and Naval Chief of Staff (X) from 1942 to 1943\. He is perhaps best known for being the Naval Commander of the Dieppe Raid of August 1942, and attack which, despite its disastrous outcome, led to one of the most important decisions regarding the D-Day landings of June 1944\. At a meeting following the Dieppe raid, Hughes-Hallett declared that if a port could not be captured, then one should be taken across the Channel.
Although this was met with derision at the time, the concept of Mulberry Harbours began to take shape when Hughes-Hallett moved to be Naval Chief of Staff to the Operation Overlord planners. It was in the planning for D-Day that the then Commodore Hughes-Hallett's experience came to the fore. The ultimate success of that enormously complex operation owed much to his many years in Combined Operations.
Hughes-Hallett retired from the Royal Navy with the rank of Vice Admiral, taking up a new career as Member of Parliament for Croydon East and then Croydon North East. It is remarkable that the Hughes-Hallett memoirs have not been published until now for, without doubt, they constitute one of the most important wartime autobiographies to presented to the world in recent decades.
Author(s): John 'Jock' Hughes-Hallett
First Publishment Date: 20 September 2023