Duke Of York And Albany's Maritime Regiment

Companies Of Marines

Royal Marines

This series of pages is about the Royal Marines; the "Link" to the next page is highlighted at the bottom of each page; just click on the "Link" to go to the next page or use the "Links" displayed at the side.

The previous page was: "The H.M.S. Victories"

The Royal Marines comradeship is unique, the truth of the matter is; that they are all prepared to fight for one another; like they would a sister or brother. They are a more united family than any other branch of the fighting services; hence the saying: "Once A Marine Always A Marine".

The Royal Marines know they are part of the Royal Navy and remembers Kipling's tag; "I'm a Jolly-'er Majesty's Jolly-an' sailor too," Very few people have any clear idea of what the Marines are or what they do or why they are called "Jollies".

In point of fact, the name goes back to the seventeenth-century when the first English Maritime Regiments were raised from the trained bands of the City of London and on account of their Cockney cheerfulness they were nicknamed the "Jollies".

And it is only because of their city origin that the Royal Marines are entitled to march through the City of London with fixed bayonets, colours flying and bands playing.

The H.M.S. Victories

Royal Marines Now

But Not The First British Marines?

The origin of marines is sunk in the distant past of other civilizations before the Middle Ages. The Phoenicians and the Persians employed sea-soldiers in amphibious operations. Greek sea-soldiers fought at Salamis.

Marines were highly regarded by the Romans, and to each of the two major squadrons commanding the eastern and western divisions of the Mediterranean, the Emperor Agustus attached a body of several thousand sea-soldiers.

Ancient Roman marine military units were comprised of six hundred men, which was equal to one tenth of a Legion. They took part in various Roman invasions of Britain, and it is highly probable that the first British Marines were ancient Britons.

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How Strange Is This?

For it was a regular practice of the Romans to enlist native troops in the countries they conquered. The badge of of the Roman Marines all those years ago was a circle; that of the Royal Marines is, of course, the globe of the world.

After those classical times the sea-soldiers became more or less defunct, and to find a comparable organisation we have to jump to 28th October 1664, when an Order in Council prescribed the raising of troops "to be distributed in his Majesty's fleets prepared for sea-service".

This order was the creation of the Marines; the Duke of York and Albany's Maritime Regiment of Foot. The Regiment, brilliantly dressed in yellow coats, red breeches and stockiongs and hats trimmed with gold braid, fought most gallantly in the second and third Dutch Wars and played a leading part in the defence of Harwich.

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The Last Opposed Invasion On British Soil

To gain access to Harwich Harbour, the Dutch had first to neutralize the Landguard Fort. The fort is located on Landguard Point, near Felixstowe, Suffolk. And is strategically placed to guard the shipping channel to Harwich. On the 2nd July 1667, Admiral de Ruyter, made a determined effort to eliminate Fort Landguard.

Early in the day, six Dutch men-of-war were detailed to bombard the fort with cannon, but the local waters and a maze of shoals hampered the Dutch ships. So that they could not sail in close enough to put down an effective bombardment.

Undeterred, Admiral de Ruyter pressed ahead with the main part of his plan. This was to put ashore 1500 Dutch Marines and a force of sailors, to attack the fort from landward with small cannon, scaling ladders and grenades.

At this time Landguard Fort is commanded by a Captain Nathanial Darrell, his garrison consisted of 400 of the Duke of York & Albany's Maritime Regiment of Foot (The first British Marines), plus 100 artillerymen and 51 cannons. The men of the Admiral's Regiment were highly trained musketeers armed with the Matchlock Muskets.

The Dutch force advanced on the fort, making several assaults, but each time they are repulsed, suffering heavy losses, while the fort defenders suffer 1 dead and 4 wounded. The retiring Dutch force retreated to the beach and were taken off back to their ships.

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The Corps Officers

Include two men whose fame adorns the annals of British History. Admiral George Rooke the hero of Gibraltar was one; and in 1672 a young soldier of the lowest rank of commissioned officers was promoted to captain in the Maritime Regiment for his services in H.M.S. Royal Prince. We must remember here that Admirals often had a high commission in the Marines as well as the Navy.

This Captain's name was John Churchill, who became the great Duke of Marlborough. And perhaps his first appearance in the Maritime Regiment is one of the reasons for the warm interest in the Corps shown by his descendant, Sir Winston Churchill, who in World war II surrounded himself with Marines.

Gibraltar is one of the great landmarks in the history of the Royal Marines, for after the Rock had been captured, its importance was quickly recognised, it was fiercely attacked by a combined force of French and Spaniards.

The garrison consisted of six battalions of Marines and their gallant and successful defence during the long siege gained them "an immortal honour".

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Beachy Head 30th June 1690

Before Gibraltar the Marines had won a glorious battle at Beachy Head against the French. Obviously, it is impossible to follow the Marines through their long fighting record; but you will notice that there are some remarks of various outstanding events over the period of time from their birth to the present day.

The Marines put in another noble and dignified appearance when they stormed and captured the Belle Isle, off Brittany, the French main staging base for men and stores for all its operations at sea.

For this they were given the privilage of wearing the Luarel Wreath on their Colours. The Laurel Wreath portays a sign of the highest respect and admiration just like Roman Emperors who proudly wore them.

General Wolf the conquerer of Quebec and the real hero of the "Seven Years War," received his first commission in the Marines.

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Battle Of Bunker Hill

The Royal Marines commanded great respect for their actions at the battle of Bunker Hill where, carrying out the famous order "Let the Marines come through," they were the first to penetrate the American lines.

The distinction of "Royal" was conferred by George III in 1802, and in 1827, the Duke of Clarence, then Lord High Admiral and General of Marines, presented the Corps, on behalf of King George IV, with new Colours displaying the badge which every officer and man wears to this day.

The Duke, afterwards King William IV, pointed out that, as it was impossible to inscribe all the glorious deeds of the Marines on the Colours, Their Sovereign had been pleased to adopt "the great globe itself," encircled with Laurel, as the most appropriate emblem of a Corps which earned its laurels by its valour in every quarter of the world.

The King also directed the word "Gibraltar" to appear on the badge immediately above the Imperial Crown as a commemoration of their earliest great distinction. The honour had been fully earned, for, the Marines had fought magnificently both on land and at sea.

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The Napoleonic Wars

The Marines fought throughout the Napoleonic Wars during which their strength was raised to 31,000. They took part in all the naval battles including Nelson's three great victories of the nile, Copenhagen and Trafalgar.

So high was Nelson's opinion of their qualities that he declared: "When I become First Lord of the Admiralty, every fleet shall have perfect battalions of Marines, with their artillery".

On land they fought wherever British arms were engaged, and then, as in more recent world wars, there were few places on the globe where war did not blaze its trail.

Everywhere they won new and lasting fame for themselves: in Spain where Napier reported gratefully: "Never in my life have I met soldiers like the Marine Artillery"; in Walcheren where in 1944, they were to clich the success of the invasion of Europe.

In the Americas, in Africa, and in remote Java, and in the defence of Acre where their stubbon resistance drew from Napoleon the grudging praise: "One might do much with 100,000 soldiers such as these".

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Combined Operations

Most civilians are perhaps prone to regard combined operations as a new form of warfare. In the Napoleonic Wars Marines were conducting combined operations of which Abourkir served as a brilliant pattern for the combined operations of the Second World War.

From 1816, until the First World War the Royal Marines were rarely at peace, being engaged in numerous small wars which were a phenomenen associated with the expansion of the British Empire during the nineteenth-century.

In the greater wars they played their part with the same zeal and courage which have distinguished all of their actions. In the Crimean War they won their first V.C. at Viborg, where for the first time they manned gun-boats.

Two more V.C.s were won at Sevastopol. In the South african War the Marines were present at Magersfontein, Paardeberg and the Relief of Ladysmith, But their heaviest engagement was at Graspan where the Royal Marine Company of the Naval Brigade suffered heavy losses.

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The Boxer Rebellion Of 1900

This action deserves special mention, for it was in the heroic defence of the British Legation at Peking that British and American Marines laid the foundations of the cordial and intimate friendship which has existed between the two Corps ever since.

In a daring sortie from the Legation a mixed detachment of British and American Marines was commanded By Captain Halliday, of the R.M.L.I. Shot through the shoulder and left lung at point blank range, he killed three of his assailants.

Then refusing assistance in order not to reduce the small number of men engaged in the sortie, he handed over the command to the American Captain John Twigg Myers and walked back unaided. Myers, after ordering Sergeant Murphy, a British Marine, to carry on in command if he were hit, pushed the charge home.

Captain Halliday was given the V.C. and the British Corporal Marine Preston gained the C.G.M. for capturing a Chinese standard.

This historic incident is commemorated both by the Royal Marine memorial plaque which depicts American Marines in the foreground, and by the captured Chinese flag presented to the Royal Marines by Captain Myers, and is now kept in the Royal Marines Museum at Southsea.

Napoleonic War Marines Heroes Calendar

Handy Men To Have About

So high is their reputation as handy men that they have more than once been employed by the Government of the day on tasks widely remote from their normal functions.

During the troubled times in Ireland in 1883, picked men from each division were dressed in plain clothes and sent to Dublin to act as Police. They did their job so well that they received a public thanks of the Viceroy.

About the same time in the early eighties they were given an even stranger mission. The crofters of Skye, driven desperate by clearances and evictions to make way for deer forests and sheep, were in open revolt and in "The Battle of the Braes" had more than held their own against the Skye Police reinforced by fifty constables from Glasgow.

The Government, much to blame for the seething discontent, were so alarmed that early one morning they ordered detachmrnts of Marines to be embarked the same afternoon and to proceed at once to Skye.

When the crofters saw the warship arriving in Uig Bay, they sounded horns from the hill-tops to summon their men to the point of danger. When the Marines landed the situation looked ugly, but after a short parley with the Marine officer commanding the detachment the Islesmen brought peace instead of war and gifts of Game instead of arms.

Know one knows how far the Marine tact contributed to the Government's change of attitude, but as a result of this peaceful "occupation" of Skye the Queen's Ministers appointed a Royal Commission which gave right to the crofters and did something to mend their grievances.

What is certain is that the crofters and the Marines became good friends and more than one marriage cemented this happy event to what might have been a most unpleasant ending.

Places Are Named After Marine Discoverers

The Marines played a part in exploration. They accompanied Admiral Anson in his voyage around the world and must have impressed him with their intelligence and general usefulness, for it was at his urgent request that the Marine Corps was established as a permanent force in the Royal Navy in 1755.

Since then Marines have made a considerable contribution to geography. Pitcairn Island and Clark's Island are named after Marine discoverers.

British Marines can claim direct credit for the foundation of Sydney. In 1781, the British Government, decided to try sending convicts to Botany Bay in the newly discovered Continent of Australia.

Under the command of Major Ross , with another Marine, Captain Collins, as Judge Advocate, four companies of Marines accompanied the convicts with orders not only to guard them during the voyage, but to land and remain in Australia for the protection of the new settlement.

The Marines, were offered discharge after three years and the right to remain in the new colony if they liked. As in those days enlistment was for life, the inducement was considerable.

Botany Bay was found unsuitable, and the first settlement was made five miles further West. Today Sydney stands on the spot where the Marines first pitched their tents.

In 1791, Major Ross and most of the Marines went home, but Captain Johnstone and sixty-three others transferred to the New South Wales Corps. Captain Collins also remained to become Chief Officer, he returned home twelve years later.

Captain Collins took out a fresh batch of convicts to Port Phillip, now better known as Melbourne. Finding the place unfit to live in he transferred himself and his party to Tasmania and founded the settlement which is now Hobart.

Royal Marines Multifariousness

It is clear to see that the many tasks which were set upon the Royal Marines during their early history were as diverse as you could possibly get. And not all of the Marines have been men for there have been some "She" Marines, admittedly disguised as men.

The most famous was Hanna Snell who served for five years as a Marine and saw fighting both on land and sea. Hanna covered herself with glory at Pondicherry in 1747, she continued to fire her gun after receiving eleven wounds in her legs.

She recovered and worked her passage home. For once the British Government was generous, for, disclosing her sex, she was granted a pension of £30 a year; a more than useful sum in those days.

Using her money to good effect, she flourished as the owner of a public house with a stirring sign of: "The Widow in Masquerade or The Female Warrior".

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The Royal Marines Themselves

For the Royal Marines the nineteenth-century had been a long and varied period of training which had given them not only a solid tradition but also an unrivalled experience.

There was almost no war in which they had not fought; almost no part of the world which was beyond the range of their operations; and nowhere where they had not won distinction.

A small corps serving with the Admiralty, yet sometimes serving with the Army on land, they enjoyed neither indepenence nor security of existance.

Nevertheless, their peculiar status was perhaps the main source of their strength, for it acted as a spur to greater efficiency and developed that sense of loyalty to each other which Marines possess in the highest degree.

In a very real sense they made themselves indispensable to the nation by virtue of their own efforts, and their success can best be measured by the fact their organisation and training methods have been copied to good advantage by the Marines of other Powers, including the famous United States Marine Corps.

Without these high standards they might not have survived, for there were at various times admirals who questioned their usefullness. The constant reliability of their performance, enhanced their value and won them many friends.

On 4th August 1914, the Royal Marines, better equipped and better trained than ever before, were at their post of duty ready to fight for King and Country, and when not a single former Royal Marine failed to answer his countries call.

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Their Long, Rough And Glorious History

The long, rough and glorious history of the Royal Marines; has shown that they have achieved much; they have made successful landings at Gibraltar and Belle Isle, at Gallipoli and more recently the Falkland Islands; to name just a few among the hundreds of other beaches all over the world.

As the Royal Navy's Regiment of the sea; they have, and do serve with the Fleet with whom their past, their present and their future is intimately bound.

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In The Last Two World Wars

They were always ready to make concerted and violent assaults on their enemy at many points of the compass. They also fought in all of the greatest battles at sea; where many a battle and battle honours have been won by the men and the big guns that they fired.

With their naval comrades-in-arms their pilots fly with the Fleet; and they have manned the big guns of their ships in every sea. The laurels for these actions the Royal Marines; shared with the seamen gunners of the vessels in which they served; and in the great ships that have been lost.

They also shared the same perils and paid the same price as the naval ratings; whom they fought alongside with their guns blazing until the end.

But the Royal Marines are a formidable and versatile company of warriors, as highly trained, each in his own mode of warfare, as any the world has ever seen, eager to assail the enemy whenever they may find him, by sea, by land and by air.

The next Link below will be: "Before Commandos"

Royal Marines Before Commandos

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