His/Her Majesty's Royal Marines, also known as the Royal Marines (RM), are the Royal Navy's Light Infantry, the United Kingdom's amphibious force and specialists in Arctic and Mountain Warfare. A core component of the country's Rapid Deployment Force the Corps is able to operate independently in all terrains, and are highly trained as commando forces. The high levels of training and competence, coupled with a unique mix of capabilities regarded as comparable to those found in Special Forces.


The Royal Marines are a component part of the Naval Service which encompasses the Royal Navy and other units.





Corps of Royal Marines

Cap badge of the Royal Marines


26 April 1755-


United Kingdom


Royal Navy




Rapid reaction force/Home defence


Six battalions


40 Commando - Taunton
42 Commando - Plymouth
45 Commando - Arbroath
Fleet Protection Group - HMNB Clyde
Commando Logistic Regiment - Plymouth
1 Assault Group - Poole



HRH The Duke of Edinburgh


Major-General James B. Dutton, CBE


Commando Flash:

Culture and history


The Royals, HM Jollies


Per Mare Per Terram (By Sea By Land) (Latin)


Quick - A Life on the Ocean Wave
Slow - Preobrajensky




The Royal Marines are a maritime focussed, amphibious, light infantry force capable of deploying at short notice in support of the United Kingdom Governments military and diplomatic objectives overseas and are optimised for highly manoeuvreable operational situation. As the United Kingdom Armed Forces' specialists in cold weather warfare the Corps will provide lead element expertise in the NATO Northern Flank and are optimised for high altitude operations.


In common with the other armed forces the Royal Marines can provide resources for Military Aid to Civil Authority and Military Aid to Civil Power.



Command, Control and Organisation


Command of the Royal Marines is vested in Commander in Chief Fleet with Commandant General Royal Marines, a Major General, embedded within the CINCFLEET staff as Commander UK Amphibious Force (COMUKAMPHIBFOR).

The operational capability of the Corps comprises a number of Battalion-sized units, three of these are designated as "Commandos":

  • 40 Commando (known as Forty Commando) based at Norton Manor Barracks, Taunton, Somerset

  • 42 Commando (known as Four Two Commando) based at Bickleigh Barracks, Plymouth, Devon

  • 45 Commando (known as Four Five Commando) based at Condor Barracks, Arbroath, Angus, Scotland

  • Commando Logistic Regiment based at Chivenor, Devon

  • UK Landing Force Command Support Group based at Stonehouse Barracks, Plymouth

  • Fleet Protection Group Royal Marines based at HM Naval Base Clyde, Helensburgh, Argyll and Bute

  • Special Boat Service based at Royal Marines Barracks Poole, Dorset

Each of these formations is commanded by a Lieutenant-Colonel of the Royal Marines, who may have sub-specialised in a number of ways throughout his career.



3 Commando Brigade


Operational Control (OPCON) of the three Commandos and the Commando Logistics Regiment is delegated to 3 Commando Brigade Royal Marines based at Stonehouse Barracks which exercises control as directed by either CINCFLEET or the Permanent Joint Headquarters. As the main combat formation of the Royal Marines the Brigade has its own organic capability to support it in the field:


  • UK Landing Force Command Support Group

  • Signals Squadron

  • Support Squadron

    • Brigade Patrol Troop

    • Air Defence Troop

    • Electronic Warfare Troop (Y Troop)

  • Logistics Squadron

    • Motor Transport Troop

    • Equipment Support Troop

    • Catering Troop

    • Stores Troop

    • Police Troop

  • 539 Assault Squadron

The Brigade also holds Operational Control of attached Royal Artillery and Royal Engineer assets.



Independent Elements


The independent elements of the Royal Marines are:

  • Fleet Protection Group Royal Marines is responsible for the security of the United Kingdom's nuclear deterrent and other security-related duties. It also provides boarding party support for the embargo enforcement, counter narcotics and counter insurgency activities of the Royal Navy. It is commando-sized, however the structure differs to reflect its role, it bears the colours, battle honours and customs of 43 Commando.

  • Commando Training Centre: This is the training unit for the entire corps, and consists of three separate sections:

    • Commando Training Wing: This is the initial basic commando training section for new recruits to the Royal Marines, and the All Arms Commando Course.

    • Specialist Wing. This provides specialist training in the various trades which Marines may elect to join once qualified and experienced in a Rifle Company.

    • Command Wing: This provides command training for both officers and NCOs of the Royal Marines.

  • 1 Assault Group Royal Marines: Provides training in the use of landing craft and boats, and also serves as a parent unit for the three assault squadrons permanently-embarked on the Royal Navy's amphibious ships.

    • 4 Assault Squadron - HMS Bulwark

    • 6 Assault Squadron - HMS Albion

    • 9 Assault Squadron - HMS Ocean

  • Special Boat Service (SBS) are maritime special forces and under the Operational Control of Director Special Forces. The Service is battalion-sized and commanded by a Lieutenant Colonel with previous experience as a Swimmer Canoeist. Responsibilities include Maritime Counter-Terrorism operations and other special forces tasks.

  • Royal Marines Band Service provides regular bands for the Royal Navy and provides expertise to train RN Volunteer Bands. Bandsmen have a secondary role as field hospital orderlies. Personnel may not be commando trained, wearing a blue beret instead of green, the band service is the only branch of the Royal Marines which admits women.


The Commando Flash, sewn to the upper sleeve of a DPM shirt.


he Commando Flash, sewn to the upper sleeve of a DPM shirt



Structure of a Commando


The three Commandos are each organised into six companies, further organised into platoon-sized troops) as follows:


  • Command Company

    • Main HQ

    • Tactical HQ

    • Reconnaissance Troop (includes a sniper section)

    • Mortar Troop (81 mm) (Includes 4 MFC pairs)

    • AT Troop (Milan - to be replaced Javelin ATGW)

    • Medium Machine Gun Troop

  • One Logistic Company

    • A Echelon 1 (A Ech1)

    • A Echelon 2 (A Ech2)

    • FRT

    • RAP

    • B Echelon (B Ech)

  • Two Close Combat Companies

    • Company Headquarters (Coy HQ)

    • 3 Close Combat Troops (Troop HQ, 3 Rifle Sections, Manoeuvre Support Section)

  • Two Stand Off Companies

    • Company Headquarters (Coy HQ)

    • Heavy Machine Gun (HMG) Troop (0.5" heavy machine guns)

    • Anti-Tank Troop (Milan - to be replaced with Javelin)

    • Close Combat Troop

In general a rifle company Marine will be a member of a four-man fire team, the building block of commando operations. A Royal Marine works with his team in the field and lives with them in his accommodation (if he lives in barracks).


This structure is a recent development, formerly Commandos were structured similarly to light Infantry Battalions. During the restructuring of the United Kingdom's military services the Corps evolved from a Cold War focus on NATOs Northern Flank towards a more expeditionary posture.




Royal Marines in a Rigid Raider assault watercraft



Amphibious Ready Group


The Amphibious Ready Group is a mobile, balanced amphibious force, based on a Commando Group and its supporting assets, that can be kept at high readiness to deploy into an area of operations. The Amphibious Ready Group is normally based around specialist amphibious ships, most notably HMS Ocean, the largest ship in the British fleet. Ocean was designed and built to accommodate an embarked commando and its associated stores and equipment. The strategy of the Amphibious Ready Group is to wait "beyond the horizon" and then deploy swiftly as directed by HM Government. The whole amphibious force is intended to be self-sustaining and capable of operating without host-nation support. The concept was successfully tested in operations in Sierra Leone.



Commando Helicopter Force


The Fleet Air Arm Commando Helicopter Force uses both Sea King transport and Lynx Light lift/ light attack helicopters to provide aviation support for the Royal Marines. It consists of both Royal Navy and Royal Marines personnel, who need not be commando trained.





Marines undergo the longest basic training regime, 32 weeks, of any Infantry force in the world, at the Commando Training Centre Royal Marines (CTCRM) at Lympstone, Devon. The Royal Marines is the only part of the British Armed Forces where Officers and Other Ranks are trained at the same location. Much of the basic training is carried out on the rugged terrain of Dartmoor with a significant proportion taking place at night. Before beginning Royal Marines recruit training the potential recruit must attend a PRMC known as Potential Royal Marines Course held at CTCRM. PORMC lasts 3 days and asseses measuring physical ability and intellectual capacity to undertake the recruit training. Officer candidates must also undertake the Admiralty Interview Board.


Officers and Marines undergo the same training up to the commando tests, thereafter Marines go on to employment in a rifle company while Officers continue training. Officer courses are required to meet higher standards in the Commando tests.



Basic training


The first weeks of training are spent learning basic skills that will be used later. This includes much time spent on the parade ground and on the rifle ranges. Physical training at this stage emphasizes all-round body strength, in order to develop the muscles necessary to carry the heavy weights a marine will use in an operational unit. Key milestones include a gym passout at week 9 (not carried out with fighting order), which shows that a recruit is ready for the Bottom Field, a battle swimming test, and learning to do a "regain" (i.e. climb back onto a rope suspended over a water tank). Most of these tests are completed with the ever present "fighting order" of 32 lb of equipment. Individual fieldcraft skills are also taught at this basic stage.



The Commando Course


The culmination of training is a period known as the Commando Course. Since the creation of the British Commandos during World War II, all Royal Marines, except those in the Royal Marines Band Service, complete the Commando course as part of their training (see below). Key aspects of the course include climbing and ropework techniques, patrolling, and amphibious operations.


This intense phase ends with a series of tests which have remained virtually unchanged since World War II. Again these tests, and indeed virtually all the training, is done with a "fighting order" of 32 lb (14.5kg) of equipment.


The commando tests are taken on consecutive days, they include;


  • A nine-mile (14.5 km) speed march, carrying full fighting order, to be completed in 90 minutes; the pace is thus 10 minutes per mile (6 min/km or 6 mph).

  • The Endurance course is a six mile, (9.65 km), course across rough terrain at Woodbury Common near Lympstone, which includes tunnels, pipes, wading pools, and an underwater culvert. The course ends with a four-mile run back to CTCRM. Followed by a marksmanship test, where the recruit must hit 6 out of 10 shots at a target representing a fig. 11 target at 200 m. To be completed in 73 minutes, 71 minutes for Royal Marine officers, these times were recently increased by one minute as the route of the course was altered. This is where the famous tunnel on the television advertisements is to be found, except that it isn't actually as long as the advertisements would have people believe. It is only slightly longer than the height of an average adult. Some believe this is a factor behind the current recruitment shortage. The Course ends at the 25m range where the recruit must then put at least 6 out of 10 shots on target without cleaning their weapon.

  • The Tarzan Assault Course. This is an assault course combined with an aerial confidence test. It starts with a death slide and ends with a rope climb up a thirty foot vertical wall. It must be completed with full fighting order in 13 minutes, 12 minutes for Royal Marine officers. The Potential Officers Course also includes confidence tests from the Tarzan Assault Course, although not with equipment.

  • The Thirty miler. This is a 30 mile (48 km) march across Dartmoor, wearing fighting order, and additional safety equipment. It must be completed in 8 hours for recruits and 7 hours for Royal Marine officers, who must also navigate the route themselves, rather than following a DS with the rest of a syndicate and carry their own equipment.


The day after the 30 mile (48 km) march, any who failed any of the tests may attempt to retake them.


Completing the Commando Course successfully entitles the recruit or officer to wear the coveted green beret but does not mean that the Royal Marine has finished his training. That decision will be made by the troop or batch training team and will depend on the recruit's or young officer's overall performance. Furthermore, officer training still consists of many more months.


After basic and commando training, a Royal Marine Commando will normally join a unit of 3 Commando Brigade. There are three Royal Marines Commando infantry units in the Brigade: 40 Commando located at Norton Manor near Taunton in Somerset, 42 Commando at Bickleigh, near Plymouth, Devon, and 45 Commando at Arbroath on the east coast of Scotland.



Specialist training


Royal Marines may then go on to undertake specialist training in a variety of skills; Platoon Weapons Instructor, Mortar operator, signals, clerks, sniper, PT instructor, Mountain Leader,Swimmer Canoeist, chef, Landing Craft coxwain etc.


Training for these specialisations may be undertaken at CTCRM or in a joint environment, such as Royal School of Signals or the Defence Police College.


Many Marines undergo military parachute training at RAF Brize Norton without having to undergo P-Company training with the Parachute Regiment. This allows flexibility of insertion methods for all force elements.



Current weapons

  • L85A2 - 5.56 mm assault rifle Individual Weapon (accepts M16A2 magazines)

  • L86A2 - 5.56 mm Light Support Weapon [Based on Individual Weapon]

  • FN Minimi Light Machine Gun 5.56 mm belt or magazine (from SA80/M16) procured as an ad hoc stop gap due to the failings of the LSW

  • Barrett 50 Calibre Rifle - 0.5 inch (12.7 mm) BMG (Browning Machine gun) anti-materiel sniper rifle

  • L96A1 Sniper Rifle - 7.62 x 51 mm Accuracy International bolt-action sniper rifle

  • L7A2 General Purpose Machine Gun - the FN MAG 7.62 x 51 belt-fed machine gun.

  • 0.5 inch (12.7 mm/.50 caliber) M2 Heavy Machine Gun

  • LAW94 (Light Anti-tank Weapon)

  • MILAN wire guided anti-tank missile (in the process of being replaced by the Javelin Anti-Tank missile)

  • 81 mm Mortar (High Explosive, Smoke and Illuminating ammunition)

  • Browning Hi-Power - 9 mm parabellum semi automatic pistol

  • Sig Sauer P228 - 9 mm parabellum semi automatic pistol

  • L17A2 Under-slung Grenade Launcher - Attachment to L85A2






The first unit of English Naval Infantry, originally called the Duke of York and Albany's Maritime Regiment of Foot and soon becoming known as the Admiral's Regiment, was formed on October 28, 1664, with an initial strength of 1200 Infantrymen recruited from the Trained Bands of London as part of the mobilisation for the Second Dutch War. It was the fourth European Marine unit formed, being preceded by the Spanish Marines (1537), the Portuguese Marines (1610) and the French Marines (1622). Later followed by the formation of the Dutch Marines in 1645. James (later King James II), the Duke of York, Lord High Admiral and brother of King Charles II, was Captain-General of the Company of the Artillery Garden, now the Honourable Artillery Company, the unit that trained the Trained Bands. 


The Regiment was very distinct, being dressed in yellow rather than the red of the other Regiments until 1685. The name "Marines" first appeared in official records in 1672. John Churchill, the 1st Duke of Marlborough, was the most famous member of this Regiment. A Company of Guards served as Marines to augment the Marines of the Admiral's Regiment during the Naval battle of Sole Bay in 1672. Marlborough's conduct as an ensign in the Guards during the battle so impressed James that he commissioned him a Captain in the Admiral's Regiment after four Marine Captains died during the battle. Marlborough later led a Battalion of the Regiment in the land battle of Enzheim in 1674. 


The Regiment was disbanded in 1689 shortly after James II was deposed in the Glorious Revolution and The Buffs replaced them as third in precedence in the British Army.




Portrait of a Marine officer, by William Dobson, 17th century



The Marine Regiments of the Army were revived in 1690 and disbanded again in 1699. In 1702 six Regiments were formed for the War of Spanish Succession. The most historic achievement of these Marines was the capture of the mole during the assault on Gibraltar (sailors of the Royal Navy captured the Rock itself) and the subsequent defence of the fortress alongside the Dutch Marines in 1704. In 1713 three of these Regiments were transferred to the Line and the others disbanded. Only four Companies of Marine Invalids remained.


Six Marine Regiments were raised for the War of Jenkins Ear in 1739 with four more being raised later. One large Marine Regiment (Spotswood's Regiment later Gooch's Marines, the 61st Foot) was formed of American colonists and served alongside British Marines at Cartegena, Columbia and Guantanamo, Cuba in the War of Jenkin's Ear (1741). Among its officers was Lawrence Washington, the half-brother of George Washington. In 1747, the remaining regiments were transferred to the Admiralty and then disbanded in 1748.


Even though they were part of the Army, these Marines were quite nautical at times. Some Royal Navy officers began in these Marine regiments and some kept their Marine rank throughout their careers, one Royal Navy Captain even serving as the Captain of Marines on his own ship. They were used by the Admiralty to rig ships before they were placed in commission as the Royal Navy had no extra sailors, the law requiring that all sailors must be part of a commissioned vessel. It was another law requiring that in order for Army Regiments to be paid, the entire Regiment had to muster that led to their transfer to the Admiralty. This requirement was hard for the Marine Regiments to follow as their Companies were stationed on many different ships.


In 1755 His Majesty's Marine Forces, fifty Companies in three Divisions, headquartered at Chatham, Portsmouth, and Plymouth, were formed under Admiralty control. During the rest of the 18th century, they served in numerous landings all over the world, the most famous being the landing at Bellisle on the Brittany coast in 1761. They also served in the American Revolutionary War, being particularly courageous in the Battle of Bunker Hill led by Major John Pitcairn. These Marines also often took to the ship's boats to repel attackers in small boats when RN ships on close blockade were becalmed. In 1802, largely at the instigation of Admiral the Earl St. Vincent, they were titled the Royal Marines by King George III.


The Royal Marine Artillery (RMA) was formed as a separate unit in 1804 to man the artillery in bomb ketches. This had been done by the Royal Regiment of Artillery, but a lawsuit by a Royal Artillery officer resulted in a court decision that Army officers were not subject to Naval orders. As their uniforms were the blue of the Royal Regiment of Artillery this group was nicknamed the "Blue Marines" and the Infantry element, who wore the scarlet uniforms of the British infantry, became known as the "Red Marines", often given the derogatory nickname "Lobsters" by sailors.


The Royal Marines Artillery (RMA) & Royal Marines Light Infantry (RMLI) where almalgamated in 1929.


Pursuing a career in the Marines was considered social suicide - the Marines were deeply unpopular in society as most Marines were failures in life running away from their problems on land. Marines officers, unlike their counterparts in the Army or regular Navy, faced obstacles when trying to climb the social ladder, as officers in the Marines were widely perceived as failures unable to obtain commissions in the Army. In addition, the Royal Navy began handing out positions previously held by RM Colonels to post-captains on half-pay, meaning that the farthest most RM officers could advance was to Major.



19th Century


During the Napoleonic Wars, the Royal Navy suffered from manpower problems in the Marines, and so regular Infantry units from the Army often had to be used as shipboard replacements. In the War of 1812, escaped American slaves were formed into the Corps of Colonial Marines and fought at Bladensburg. Other Royal Marines units raided up and down Chesapeake Bay, fought in the Battle of New Orleans and later helped capture Fort Bowyer in Mobile Bay in the last action of the war.


In 1855 the Infantry forces were re-named the Royal Marines Light Infantry (RMLI) and in 1862 the name was slightly altered to Royal Marine Light Infantry. The Royal Navy did not fight any other ships after 1850 (until 1914) and became interested in landings by Naval Brigades. In these Naval Brigades, the function of the Royal Marines was to land first and act as skimishers ahead of the sailor Infantry and Artillery. This skirmishing was the traditional function of Light Infantry. For most of their history, British Marines had been organised as fusiliers. It was not until 1923 that the separate Artillery and light Infantry forces were formally amalgamated into the Corps of Royal Marines.


In the rest of the 19th Century the Royal Marines served in many landings especially in the First and Second Opium Wars (1839-1842 and 1856-1860) against the Chinese. These were all successful except for the landing at the Mouth of the Peiho in 1859, where Admiral Sir James Hope ordered a landing across extensive mud flats even though his Brigadier, Colonel Thomas Lemon RMLI, advised against it.


During the Crimean War in 1854 and 1855, three Royal Marines earned the Victoria Cross, two in the Crimea and one in the Baltic. The use of the new "torpedoes" (mines) by the Russians in the Baltic made the campaign there particularly suited to RM raiding and reconnaissance parties. Landings by the British and French Navy and Marines in 1854 were repulsed by the Russians at Petropavlovsk on the Pacific coast of Russia.



20th Century


The Royal Marines also played a prominent role in the Boxer Rebellion in China (1900), where a Royal Marine earned a Victoria Cross. For the first part of the 20th Century, the Royal Marines' role was the traditional one of providing shipboard Infantry for security, boarding parties and small-scale landings. The Marines' other traditional position on a Royal Navy ship is manning "A" (the forwardmost) turret.



First World War


During the First World War, in addition to their usual stations aboard ship, Royal Marines were part of the Royal Naval Division which landed in Belgium in 1914 to help defend Antwerp and later took part in the amphibious landing at Gallipoli in 1915. It also served on the Western Front. The Division's first two commanders were Royal Marine Artillery Generals. Other Royal Marines acted as landing parties in the Naval campaign against the Turkish fortifications in the Dardanelles before the Gallipoli landing. They were sent ashore to assess damage to Turkish fortifications after bombardment by British and French ships and, if necessary, to complete their destruction. The Royal Marines were the last to leave Gallipoli, replacing both British and French troops in a neatly planned and executed withdrawal from the beaches. It even required some Marines to wear French uniforms as part of the deception. In 1918 Royal Marines led the raid at Zeebrugge. Five Royal Marines earned the Victoria Cross in the First World War, two at Zeebrugge, one at Gallipoli, one at Jutland and one on the Western Front. After the war Royal Marines took part in the allied intervention in Russia. In 1919, the 6th Battalion RMLI mutinied and was disbanded at Murmansk.



Second World War


During the Second World War, a small party of Royal Marines were first ashore at Namsos in April 1940, seizing the approaches to the Norwegian town preparatory to a landing by the British Army two days later. The Royal Marines formed the Royal Marine Division as an amphibiously trained division, parts of which served at Dakar and in the capture of Madagascar. In addition the Royal Marines formed Mobile Naval Base Defence Organisations (MNBDOs) similar to the US Marine Corps Defense Battalions. One of these took part in the defence of Crete. Royal Marines also served in Malaya and in Singapore, where due to losses they were joined with remnants of the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders to form the "Plymouth Argylls". The Royal Marines formed one Commando (A Commando) which served at Dieppe. One month after Dieppe, most of the 11th Royal Marine Battalion was killed or captured in an amphibious landing at Tobruk in Operation Daffodil. In 1943 the Infantry Battalions of the Royal Marine Division were re-organised as Commandos, joining the Army Commandos. The Division command structure became a Special Service Brigade command. The support troops became landing craft crew. A total of four Special Service, later Commando, Brigades were raised during the war, and Royal Marines were represented in all of them. A total of nine RM Commandos (Battalions) were raised during the war, numbered from 40 to 48.


1 Commando Brigade had just one RM Battalion, No 45 Commando. 2 Commando Brigade had two RM battalions, Nos 40 and 43 Commandos. 3 Commando Brigade also had two, Nos 42 and 44 Commandos. 4 Commando Brigade was entirely Royal Marine after March 1944, comprising Nos 41, 46, 47 and 48 Commandos.


1 Commando Brigade took part in the assaults on Sicily and Normandy, campaigns in the Rhineland and crossing the Rhine. 2 Commando Brigade was involved in the Salerno landings, Anzio, Comacchio, and operations in the Argenta Gap. 3 Commando Brigade served in Sicily and Burma. 4 Commando Brigade served in Normandy and in the Battle of the Scheldt on the island of Walcheren during the clearing of Antwerp.


In January 1945, two further RM Brigades were formed, 116th Brigade and 117th Brigade. Both were conventional Infantry, rather than in the Commando role. 116th Brigade saw some action in the Netherlands, but 117th Brigade was hardly used operationally. In addition one Landing Craft Assault (LCA) unit was stationed in Australia late in the war as a training unit.


In 1946 the Army Commandos were disbanded, leaving the Royal Marines to continue the Commando role (with supporting Army elements).


A number of Royal Marines served as pilots during the Second World War. It was a Royal Marines officer who led the attack by a formation of Blackburn Skuas that sank the German cruiser Königsberg. Eighteen Royal Marines commanded Fleet Air Arm squadrons during the course of the war, and with the formation of the British Pacific Fleet were well-represented in the final drive on Japan. Captains and Majors generally commanded squadrons, whilst in one case Lt. Colonel R.C.Hay on HMS Indefatigable was Air Group Co-ordinator from HMS Victorious of the entire British Pacific Fleet.


Only one Marine was awarded a Victoria Cross in the Second World War, for action at Lake Comacchio in Italy. So far that is the last awarded to a Royal Marine.




Royal Marines in 1972



After 1945


Royal Marines were involved in the Korean War. 41 (Independent) Commando was reformed in 1950, and was originally envisaged as a raiding force for use against North Korea. It performed this role in partnership with the US Navy until after the landing of United States Army X Corps at Wonsan. It then joined the 1st Marine Division at Koto-Ri. As Task Force Drysdale with Lt. Col. D.B. Drysdale RM in command, 41 Commando, a USMC company, a US Army company and part of the divisional train fought their way from Koto-Ri to Hagaru after the Chinese had blocked the road to the North. It then took part in the famous withdrawal from Chosin Reservoir. After that, a small amount of raiding followed, before the Marines were withdrawn from the conflict in 1951. It received the US Presidential Unit Citation after the USMC got the regulations modified to allow foreign units to receive the award.


After playing a part in the long-running Malayan Emergency, the next action came in 1956, during the Suez Crisis. Headquarters 3 Commando Brigade, and Nos 40, 42 and 45 Commandos took part in the operation. It marked the first time that a helicopter assault was used operationally to land troops in an amphibious attack. British and French forces defeated the Egyptians, but after pressure from the United States, and French domestic pressure, they backed down.


Further action in the Far East was seen during the Konfrontasi. Nos 40 and 42 Commando went to Borneo at various times to help keep Indonesian forces from causing trouble in border areas. The most high profile incident of the campaign was a company strength amphibious assault by Lima Company of 42 Commando at the town of Limbang to rescue hostages.


From 1969 onwards Royal Marine units regularly deployed to Northern Ireland during The Troubles.


The Falklands War provided the backdrop to the next action of the Royal Marines. Argentina invaded the islands in April 1982. A British task force was immediately despatched to recapture them, and given that an amphibious assault would be necessary, the Royal Marines were heavily involved. 3 Commando Brigade was brought to full combat strength, with not only 40, 42 and 45 Commandos, but also the 2nd and 3rd Battalions of the Parachute Regiment attached. The troops were landed at San Carlos Water at the western end of East Falkland, and proceeded to "yomp" across the entire island to the capital, Stanley, which fell on 14 June 1982. Not only was 3 Commando Brigade deployed, but also a Royal Marines divisional headquarters, under Major-General Jeremy Moore, who was commander of British land forces during the war.


3 Commando Brigade was not deployed in the 1991 Gulf War, but was deployed to northern Iraq in the aftermath to provide aid to the Kurds. The remainder of the 1990s saw no major warfighting deployments, other than a divisional headquarters to control land forces during the short NATO intervention that ended the Bosnian War.


More recently Royal Marines detachments have been involved in operations in Kosovo, Sierra Leone, and East Timor.


From 2000 onwards, the Royal Marines began converting from their traditional light infantry role towards an expanded force protection type role, with the introduction of the Commando 21 concept, leading to the introduction of the Viking, the first armoured vehicle to be operated by the Royal Marines for half a century.


In November 2001, after the seizure of Bagram Air Base by the Special Boat Service, Charlie Company of 40 Commando became the first British regular forces into Afghanistan, using Bagram Air base to support British and US Special Forces Operations. With the arrival Bravo Company 40 Commando in December 2001 then moving into Kabul itself, beginning the building of the infrastructure which became ISAF.


2002 Saw the deployment of 45 Commando Royal Marines to Afghanistan, where contact with enemy forces was expected to be heavy. However little action was seen, with no Al-Qaida or Taliban forces being found or engaged.


3 Commando Brigade deployed on Operation TELIC in early 2003 with the USMC's 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit under command. The Brigade conducted an amphibious assault on the Al Faw peninsula in Iraq, securing the port and oil installations to assure continued operability of the Iraqs export capability. The attack proceeded well, with light casualties. 3 Commando Brigade served as part of the US 1st Marine Division and received the US Presidential Unit Citation.



Traditions and insignia


The badge of the Royal Marines is designed to commemorate the history of the Corps. The Lion and Crown denotes a Royal regiment. King George III conferred this honour in 1802 "in consideration of the very meritorious services of the Marines in the late war."


The "Great Globe itself" surrounded by laurels was chosen by King George IV as a symbol of the Marines' successes in every quarter of the world. The laurels are believed to honour the gallantry they displayed during the investment and capture of Belle Isle, off Lorient, in April through June 1761.


The word "Gibraltar" refers to the Siege of Gibraltar in 1704. It was awarded in 1827 by George IV as a special distinction for the services of four of the old Army Marine regiments (Queen's Own Marines, 1st Marines, 2nd Marines, 3rd Marines). All other honours gained by the Royal Marines are represented by the "Great Globe". As a consequence, there are no battle honours displayed on the colours of the four battalion sized units in the corps.


When referring to individual Commandos: 45 Commando is referred to as "four-five" rather than "forty-five commando" as is 42 Commando, 40 Commando is "forty".


The only units which carry colours are 40 Commando, 42 Commando, 45 Commando, and the Fleet Protection Group (which is the custodian of the colours of 43 Commando).


The fouled anchor, incorporated into the emblem in 1747, is the badge of the Lord High Admiral and shows that the Corps is part of the Royal Navy.


Per Mare Per Terram ("By Sea, By Land"), the motto of the Marines, is believed to have been used for the first time in 1785.


The regimental quick march of the Corps is A Life on the Ocean Wave, while the slow march is Preobrajensky.


Dress headgear is a white Wolseley pattern pith helmet surmounted by a ball, a distinction once standard for artillerymen. This derives from the part of the Corps that was once the Royal Marine Artillery.


The Royal Marines are one of six regiments allowed by the Lord Mayor of London to march through the City as a regiment in full array. This dates to the charter of Charles II that allowed recruiting parties of the Admiral's Regiment of 1664 to enter the City with drums beating and colours flying.



Order of Precedence


As the descendant of the old Marine Regiments of the British Army, the Royal Marines has a position in the Order of Precedence of the Infantry; this is after the 49th Regiment of Foot, the descendant of which is the Royal Gloucestershire, Berkshire and Wiltshire Regiment. Therefore, the Royal Marines would parade after the RGBW. This is because the 49th Foot was the last Regiment raised prior to the formation of the Corps of Marines as part of the Royal Navy in 1755. However, when the Royal Navy is on parade, then the RM parades with them at the extreme right of the line.


In 2007, the RGBW will be amalgamated into a large Regiment - this new Regiment will be placed last in the order of precedence, as it will be a regiment of rifles. As a consequence, the Royal Marines will move behind the Royal Anglian Regiment, which is the linear descendent of the 48th Foot, at position number six in the new Order of Precedence. If the 1664 formation date of the army marine regiments was used, the Royal Marines would be placed third.


  1. Preceded by: Royal Anglian Regiment

  2. Infantry Order of Precedence

  3. Succeeded by: Yorkshire Regiment (14th/15th, 19th and 33rd/76th)






  • A Brief Chronology of Marines History 1664-2003, Royal Marines Museum [1]

  • The Whitefoord Papers; Being the Correspondence and Other Manuscripts of Colonel Charles Whitefoord and Caleb Whitefoord, from 1739 to 1810, by Charles Whitefoord, Clarendon press, 1898. Searchable full text available on-line at Google Books. Charles Whitefoord served in Wynyard's (4th Marines), Gooch's, and the 5th Marines in the 1740s.

  • Per Mare, Per Terram: Reminiscences of Thirty-two Years' Military, Naval, and Constabulary Service by William Henry Poyntz, Economic Print. & Publ. Co. (1892). Searchable full text available on-line at Google Books

  • Britain's sea soldiers : a history of the Royal Marines and their predecessors and of their services in action, ashore and afloat, and upon sundry other occasions of moment, by Cyril Field, Liverpool:The Lyceum Press, 1924, (2 vol.) Covers British Marines until around 1900. Very well written.

  • Britain's Sea Soldiers: A Record of the Royal Marines during the War 1914-1919, by General Sir H.E. Blumberg, Devonport, 1927. Very detailed with excellent maps. The USMC used the maps from this book for their studies of Gallipoli in the 1920s and 30s that led to the formation of US amphibious doctrine in 1935.

  • By Sea and Land by Robin Neillands, 1987, Cassell Military Paperbacks, ISBN 0-304-35683-2. Traces the history of the Corps until the end of the Falkands Campaign in 1982. Very readable.








After almost a thousand years the modern British Navy continues to defend the waters of the British Isles into the 21st Century ............... 


Medical Branch | Uniforms | The Future | Ship's Badges and Flags

The Royal Navy Today | Capabilities |  Strategic Plan  History





The Royal Navy's submarine force can strike against ships and submarines as well as providing support for land operations.  Unseen and unheard submarines can pinpoint targets up to 1,000 miles away.  They are the UK's strategic nuclear deterrent.


Ballistic submarines | Fleet submarinesHow submarines work 

Future submarines | LR5 submarine rescue system | Submarine history  Submarine FAQ's  | Fishing Vessel Code






Patrol boats to aircraft carriers - an extensive guide to surface ships of the Royal Navy with individual explanation of the role they play and links to the homepages of individual ships.


Aircraft Carriers  | Type 23 Frigates  | Type 22 Frigates  

Type 42 Destoyers | Assault Ships  | Patrol Vessels

Hydrographic Vessels  | Mine Countermeasures  | Weapon Systems  

Future Ships  | The Fleet Today






The Royal Navy has fewer ships today, yet its firepower is far greater than at any time in the past. The Royal Navy continues to maintain the most important tradition of striving for the best equipment and dedicated personnel.

Since King Alfred's battle against the Danes in 897 through to the Falklands War of 1982 - from the impressive Sovereign of the Seas in the Seventeenth Century to the revolutionary battleship HMS Dreadnought in the Twentieth, the links pages below offer some of the famous Naval battles, people and ships from over a thousands years of history.



Historical Periods | Naval Leaders |  Napoleon Bonaparte 1769-1821   Admiral Lord Nelson  1758-1805  | Ships  | Battles  | Timeline





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