Royal Marines Were Britain's Amphibians
This page is the beginning of the "Before Commandos" section all Links in this section, are on this page. To follow the Links in order, click-on the highlighted Link at the bottom of each page, or use the Links displayed at the side.
The previous page was: "Napoleonic War Marines"
Before Commandos the Royal Marines carried out all of Britain's amphibious landings; a job they had carried out with distinction for over 275 years. From their birth in 1664 the Marines have fought in every major conflict. Where the Navy went they took their Marines; they started out as the Admirals Regiment of sea-soldiers; and today they remain the Navy's Regiment of sea-soldiers.
The Marines operated in various ways, they were Artillerists and they were Infantrymen. Gunners on the battle field, whether it be it at sea or on land, and they were infantrymen again they served on the deck of a ship or Terra Firma; wherever the fight was the Marines were there, and usually they were at the very front of the action.
And today the Royal Marines can still, and are often called upon to provide an emergency landing party for a special purpose of a hazardous nature, or work as soldiers in the capacity of protection or policing, at very short notice.
Napoleonic War Marines
Our First Land Battle
On 2nd July 1667, (2nd Dutch War) 1500 Dutch Marines from Admiral de Ruyter's fleet landed on Felixstowe beach, Suffolk. They attacked the Landguard Fort, which protected Harwich harbour, on the Essex-Suffolk border, where a section of the English fleet were anchored.
It may be noted that de Ruyter's fleet had already captured the Isle of Sheppey and all the forts protecting the Thames Estuary and they had successfully attacked the Medway where they destroyed quite a large portion of the English fleet there.
However, Landguard Fort was occupied by Captain Nathanial Darrell and 400 musketeers from the Duke of York & Albany's Regiment Afoot (the first UK Marines) they vigorously opposed the landings and inflicted a severe defeat on the Dutch Marines.
For the Royal Marines, this became their first land battle, and it was also the last opposed invasion of the United Kingdom. Since that date on the nearest Sunday to the 2nd of July a celebration of that great victory, "Darrell's Day" is celebrated at the Fort every year.
Royal Marine gunners were in action as early as 1694 where they were involved with the bombardment of Dieppe. They have manned the ships guns right up until the 70's where they have been phased out in favour of guided missiles.
Nevertheless their skills at gunnery never went un-noticed,
Sir Winston Churchill said: “The long, rough, and glorious history of the Royal Marines has shown that they have achieved much. They will achieve more. They are ready to assail the enemy at many points. They are manning the guns of their ships in every sea. They are a formidable and versatile company of warriors as highly trained, as any the World has seen.”
Crete Rearguard Action
1854 two Royal Marines Artillery
Batteries with 26 guns. They took over the entrenchments overlooking the port of Balaclava, this position became known as 'Marine Heights', time after time the Russians attacked and each time they were repelled, pressed back by the Marine gunners.
1914 Lumsden VC six German field guns had been captured but it was necessary to leave them in their entrenched positions because of the heavy volume of fire. The Germans couldn't get them back and they did not want them used against them. They were in the middle of no-man's land, 300 yards, from the German front line in France. In order to get the field guns he led four Royal Marine Artillery teams and a party of Royal Marine Infantry through a hostile barrage of rifle and heavy machine-guns fire with shrapnel from shells and grenades exploding all around them. Lumsden retrieved the five good guns; the other would never fire again.
The RMLI was the Royal Marines Light Infantry; they have fought on ships from the days when Marine snipers were used to stand in the rigging to shoot the enemy guns crews. This type of soldier goes back in time to the days of Sir Francis Drake, well before when the Royal Marines were formed. It became evident that the sea soldier was an essential part of naval warfare and a ship's crew.
Marine soldiers were mainly used for landing parties to protect ships officers and crews when they went ashore. On board they were billeted between the sailors and the officers, should a mutiny break out, their duty was to protect the officers. They were also used for boarding parties when a ship was engaged in battle with another.
Their skill in loading a flintlock in half the normal loading time, was their trade mark, which proved to be a vital factor in their success.
Norway 1940 Continued
1704 The Royal Marines played
A prominent role in the Capture of Gibraltar. They proved their ability to carry out an amphibious assault against a strong and well trained enemy and beat them.
1759 Lt Col Rycaut landed with 800 marines to participate in the taking of the island of Guadeloupe. A couple of months later a battle, known as the 'Battle of Guadeloupe' 270 marines formed part of the force, which captured the Capital, Manila, in the Philippines. Lt Col Rycaut was also in command of this successful assault. He accepted the surrender of the rich French Jewel.
Two years later as a result of gallantry displayed by the Marines in the combined operation to capture Belle Isle. The Corps was authorised to adopt the Laurel Wreath which now encircles the Great Globe on their Colours.
The Marines were successful in the Siege of Fort St. Elmo, Naples. King George III granted the distinction of the Crown and Crowned Lion to show that the Marines are a Royal Corps. That was when they became know as ‘The Royal Marines’.
1864 Admiral Lord St. Vincent’s
Tribute to the Corps: “I never knew an appeal to them for honour, courage or loyalty that they did not more than realise my expectations. If ever the real hour of danger should come to England, they will be found the Country’s sheet anchor.
1914 Lord Charles Beresford stated in a signal it was the 250th anniversary of their foundation: “A thousand colours could not contain their brilliant record.”
Faeroe Isles: The Royal Marines are and have always been the
appropriate troops for an occupation force at short notice. That is the reason why, they were allotted the Faeroes after the German invasion of Denmark and Norway had begun, the position of the Faroes appeared hazardous to say the least.
The Corps. was chosen to garrison the islands against enemy landings. It was a matter of strategic necessity. The occupation of the Danish dependency of the Faroes, was the more urgent, for these twenty rocky, cloud-shrouded islands, rising sheer from the sea, lie no more than two-hundred miles from the Shetlands.
Special Services Brigades
The position of Iceland, which is
larger than Ireland and commands the North Atlantic trade route, was even more important than the Faeroes. Its occupation as a preventative to German invasion took place while Force Sandall was in the Faeroes.
The occupying Force was composed of Royal Marines, not from Sea-Service detachments but from the newly-formed Royal Marines Brigade. It consisted of one infantry battalion, a battery of 4-inch mobile guns and one of four 2-pounders, in all some 30 officers and 650 other ranks, with one naval howitzer battery.
The Norwegian campaign, which ebbed and flowed during the occupation of the Faeroes and Iceland, gave the Royal Marines opportunities of fulfilling many of their functions. Although as usual it is impossible here to give a detailed account of all their activities, this may be said: true to their tradition, they were the first British troops to land and the last to leave.
Detachments from the cruisers H.M.S. Sheffield and H.M.S. Glasgow landed at Namos on 16th April 1940, seven days after the Germans had entered the country. They secured the harbour and road bridges to ensure an unopposed landing for a larger military force which was due to follow two days later.
Fast Boats Pages
Joe Wezley Pages
Another force some 700 strong
with an anti-aircraft battery, was given notice on 13th April to embark for Norway, with the object of seizing the port and
railhead of Aandalsnes and preventing the landing of German troops by seaplane, submarine and parachute.
Norway-1; It was known as Force Primrose and was composed mainly of Royal Marine detachments from the Nelson, Hood and Barham, which were then refitting. Lieutenant-Colonel H.W. Simpson was in command. Travelling independently from Portsmouth and Plymouth, The Force sailed from Rosyth in four sloops on 15th April.
World War II the German invasion of Europe took place, they left the British feeling humiliated in defeat at Normandy. 4th June 1940 for Britain it was not very easy to view the future with optimism. The great bulk of the British Army had been withdrawn 'out of the jaws of death and shame to their native land,' from Dunkirk, they had lost all of their guns and equipment, and would be in no condition to fight the enemy for a very long time.
It was a case of back to the drawing board? Whence the British Commando was born. One man, Lieutenant-Colonel Dudley Clarke RA, it was his idea.
The Link below will be: "Battles at Narvik"
Battles at Narvik
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