Royal Marines

Historical Time Line

1925 - 1949

1925. Colour Sergeant Norman Finch V.C. was promoted Quartermaster Sergeant.

1925. Thursday 3rd September. The first direct recording from a radio broadcast by a military band took place when the RM Band of HMS Calcutta was recorded, playing as an orchestra in Canada.

1925. Design of divisional Drum major's Dress Belts standardised by the Adjutant General Royal Marines, as a result of the RMA / RMLI amalgamation.

1925. Registered Numbers. The Letter ‘X’ was added to the prefixes to indicate men enlisted or re-entered under the revised rates of pay, i.e. entries on and after 5th October 1925. (A new sequence of numbers beginning at 1 was started in each register for ranks who re-entered after a break in service of less than five years before 2nd November 1925).

1920's. The Royal Marines retained the Brodrick cap into the late 20s. They were replaced by the peaked cap, the initial issue being Broderick's with peak added! For a cap which was supposedly despised, it was retained by the Jollies far longer than the army. The Army adopted the cap in November 1900. It was initially issued to the newly formed Irish Guards (Guards pattern with coloured band - green for IG). The rest of the army had their patterns sealed in July 1902.

1920's. Ordnance Depot was formed in the 1920s as a small depot for MNBDO type stores, although it was expanded in the spring of 1940, and moved to Egypt in 1941, and in 1943 moved to Ceylon before returning to the UK in 1944. most of the specialist stores were then retained at Fort Cumberland. (RMHS)

1926. Standard pattern for design of Drum Majors staffs to be used by the Royal Naval School of Music and by the Bands of Commanders in Chief at Portsmouth, Plymouth, Atlantic Fleet, Mediterranean Fleet and China fleet.

1927. Monday 4th July. Kenneth J. Alford 'Ihe man behind the Music' Joined the Royal Marines.
Kenneth Alford (pseudonym of Major Fredrick Joseph Ricketts RM) was born in London on Mon 21st February 1881. By the time he was fourteen he had lost both his parents and, lying about his age, he decided to seek a career in Army music, joining the Royal Irish Regiment in 1895. He served in the army until 1927, after which he applied for a second time to become a bandmaster with the Royal Marines. This time it was approved. He became a lieutenant in the Royal Marines Band Service on Monday 4th July 1927. He was posted to the Band of the Marines’ Depot at Deal in Kent. In 1930 Ricketts was posted to the Band of the Plymouth Division. Where he was commissioned in the Corps as a Director of Music. After almost fifty years military service he retired in 1944 due to poor health and died the following year on the 15th May.
The pseudonym "Kenneth J. Alford" was derived from the name of his eldest son, `Kenneth,' his own middle name `Joseph,' and his mother's maiden name `Alford.'
His unique musical style is easily distinguished. If you whistle a tortured rendition of the first few bars of Colonel Bogey, some people will identify it instantly, but as to who wrote it, very few will know. Although some may know it as the Bridge on the River Kwai March, and may believe it to be by J.P. Souza.
Philip John Souza (1854-1932) has for along time been considered the King of Marches, and although he was one of the most prolific, many lovers of military music will maintain that Kenneth Alford was his master. Souza's marches are brisk, tuneful, optimistic works which set the feet a-tapping, but some say that it is hard to listen to more than two or three of his marches at a time without feeling that they have had enough.
No matter what Alford march one selects, there will be a point where the music speaks. to either your heart or your mind rather than your feet. Old Panama, On the Quarter Deck and Eagle Squadron, all begin in a bright and lively fashion and very easily fill our expectations on the parade ground, but we soon find ourselves reflecting on the more serious theme running beneath the surface.
A master of instrumentation, Alford knew exactly how to exploit the brilliant edge of the piccolo, or the sweet-voiced sounds of the Euphonium and Tenor Sax players are especially blessed by delivering many of Alford 's ingenious counter-melodies. While listening to an Alford march the unfamiliar listener should concentrate on the lower instruments in, for example Colonel Bogey or Ho/rood.
He was wonderfully adept at weaving into his marches a short phrase from some other work, but never merely for the sake of it. In H.M. Jollies, he alludes to both Hearts of Oak (the march of the Royal Navy) and A Life on the Ocean Waves, our own Regimental March. In Eagle Squadron, reference is made to Rule Britannia and The Star Spangled Banner. In The Vanished Army, you can hear under-tones of /t's a Long Way to Tipperary and there is seamless reference to Home Sweet Home in Standard of St. George.
His Marches include:
THE VEDETTE. (1912).
COLONEL BOGEY (1914).
THE GREAT LITTLE ARMY (1916).
ON THE QUARTER DECK. (1917). THE MIDDY (1917).
VOICE OF THE GUNS (1917). THE VANISHED ARMY (1919). THE MAD MAJOR (1921).
CAVALRY IN THE CLOUDS (1923) THE THIN RED LINE (1925).
DUNEDIN (1928)
OLD PANAMA (1929). H.M. JOLLIES (1929). STANDARD OF ST. GEORGE (1930).
BY LAND AND SEA (1941). ARMY OF THE NILE (1941). EAGLE SQUADRON (1942).
HOLYROOD. (1912).

1927. Friday 11th March. Additional music approved for use and inclusion in KR & Al: RN March Past Hearts Of Oak, Royal Marine March Past: A Life On The Ocean Waves; RN / RM Advance in Review Order: Nancy Lee; General Salute for British Flag Officers not entitled to Rule Britannia - lolanthe; General Salute for Governors etc - Garb of Old Gaul.

1927. Tuesday 15th November. Upper Yangtse Guard. Formed with an officer and 10 other ranks from HMS Vindictive’s detachment, the Guard sailed up river to help protect merchant ships passing through the rapids of the Upper Yangtze (modern Change Jiang).13 Other small detachments served in this Guard until 1928 or later.(RMHS)

1927. The 12th Battalion was another battalion which had its origins in a formation for the coal strike emergency. Disturbances in China led to the formation of the Shanghai Defence Force and other measures that by mid-March 1927 involved, 700 troops1 (10,000 of them British) to defend four times this number of foreigners in the city. The Admiralty offered a Marine battalion, available in a matter of days against the army’s need of some weeks, and on 14th January 1927 telegraphed orders were sent to all RM Divisions to mobilise the 12th RM Battalion of 1,000 all ranks commanded by Lt. Col G. Carpenter, OBE, DSC.3 They were ready by 21st January but their old transport, SS Minnesota, had been laid up needing a good deal of preparation, and they could not embark until 26th January. The only wheeled transport taken was some horse drawn field cookers. (The Companies were originally numbered 1 to 4 but were apparently redesignated A to D by the summer of 1927.)
After a 28 day passage, the Battalion came under the army GHQ’s direct command to provide guards, and from 21st March was in the Pootung district, covering almost a 5 mile front along the Whangpo River opposite the city. An area of factories, wharves and warehouses, where most communication was by boat. On 20th August ‘C’ Company5  arrived at the British Cold Store in Nanking on a gruelling hot day, where they found the Southern Army’s soldiers had briefly occupied the western compound, the most suitable for defence. After taking over from Dauntless, 21 volunteers stoked the boilers generating the power for the cold stores, as when the temperature was 32 C the cold rooms were needed to keep rations fresh. Nanking lies on the southern bank of a river bend, and was re-occupied by the Southern Army in 1927 without opposition on 3 September and for the next ten weeks the Marines were confined to the compound, before being relieved on 20th - 21st November by an army company.
The Battalion embarked on 6th December in SS Mantua after Chiang Kai-shek arrived and the tension had eased in Shanghai.(RMHS)

1927. A recruit, Charles Wood from Somerset, has given the first Quartermaster cause for much brain fag and insomnia. He takes 13s in boots. Every effort was made to fit his, and all existing stocks of boots and shoes were tried. The Master Shoemaker eventually fitted him by using the amount a leather required for two pairs to make one. The next problem is, what about Gym Shoes? At present he is wearing boots for P.R.T., 7'., but the staff are experimenting with soled and heeled 'Pussers Socks' Author unknown. (sic)

1927. Royal Marines Forton Barracks Gosport were closed.

1928. Friday 30th September. Captain Edward Bamford VC died of pneumonia while aboard the HMS Cumberland en route to Hong Kong, where he held the appointment of Instructor of Small Arms and Musketry Officer at Hong Kong. He was buried in the Bubbling Well Road Cemetery in Shanghai. A 1930s photograph in the RM Museum shows a picture of his grave and headstone. All remaining cemeteries containing ‘foreigners’ were destroyed during the Cultural Revolution. Bubbling Well Road Cemetery is now Jing'an Park.

Memorials to Edward Bamford are in the Depot Church in Deal and there is a Bamford House in the RM Barrack at Eastney. On 3rd April 2004, the Royal Marines presented a plaque in his memory to the Officials of Zeebrugge. His Victoria Cross is displayed at the Royal Marines Museum in Southsea, England.

1929. Tuesday 26th November. Lieutenant Owen Cathcart Jones, Royal Marines, carried out the first night deck landing in a single seater fighter on board HMS Courageous.

1929. Thursday 26th December. Quartermaster Sergeant Norman Finch V.C. retired from the Royal Marines, to work as a postman, and then as a bank messenger.

1929. Standard pattern for design of Divisional Band Drum Major's staffs introduced.

1929. Drill for Buglers formalised for adoption at Royal Marine Establishments - included the 'Flourish'.

1930. Wednesday 1st October. The Royal Naval School of Music moved from Eastney Barracks to the Depot, Deal. The School had outgrown the space and the facilities that Eastney had provided, The Depot Band, under Lieutenant Ricketts, had been disbanded a few months earlier.

1930. Wednesday 31st December. 514 Kings Squad Passed for Duty.

1931. Norman Finch V.C. was granted a special distinction by being appointed as a member of the Kings's Bodyguard of the Yeomen of the Guard. This entailed wearing a distinctive Tudor-style uniform as escort to the sovereign on several occasions throughout the year.

1931 - 1968. Lieutenant-Colonel Sir Vivian Dunn KCVO. OBE. FRSA (Thursday 24th December 1908 - Monday 3rd April 1995) was the Director of Music of the Portsmouth Division of the Royal Marines from 1931 to 1953 and Principal Director of Music of the Royal Marines from 1953 to 1968. He was the first British Armed Forces musician to be knighted.
Sir Vivian Dunn was born in Jabalpur, India. His father, William James Dunn, was bandmaster of the Second Battalion King's Royal Rifle Corps and later director of music of the Royal Horse Guards. Dunn studied piano with his mother, Beatrice Maud, and undertook choral studies in Winchester. He attended the Hochschule für Musik Köln in 1923 and, two years later, the Royal Academy of Music. He studied conducting with Henry Wood and composition with Walton O'Donnell. As a violinist, he performed in the Queen's Hall Promenade Orchestra (under Wood), and in 1930 was a founding member of the BBC Symphony Orchestra (under several conductors).
Career: Francis Vivian Dunn was released from his contract with the BBC and on 3 September 1931 commissioned as a lieutenant in the Royal Marines to be director of music for the Portsmouth Division of the Corps. His duties included directing the Royal Marines Band on the Royal Yacht. He participated in the royal tour of South Africa onboard HMS Vanguard in 1947 and a Royal Marines band tour of the United States and Canada in 1949.
His promotion to lieutenant-colonel and principal director of music of the Royal Marines followed in 1953. Dunn and the Royal Marines Band accompanied Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh on the SS Gothic for the post-coronation Commonwealth Tour. Upon its completion, the Queen appointed Dunn CVO, and in 1960 OBE.
In 1955, Dunn was asked by Euan Lloyd of Warwick Films to compose the theme music for The Cockleshell Heroes (which was otherwise scored by John Addison). He appears as himself, conducting the Royal Marines, in the end titles of the 1966 film Thunderbirds Are Go.
Upon retiring from the military in December 1968, Dunn became a guest conductor with the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra. He also recorded with the Light Music Society Orchestra. In 1969, he received an EMI Golden Disc for sales of more than one million Royal Marines Band records. In the same year, he was also elected an honorary member of the American Bandmasters Association. In 1987, he received the Sudler Medal of the Order of Merit from the John Philip Sousa Foundation. He became the Founder President of the International Military Music Society in 1976, a position which he held until his death. In 1988, after serving as the Senior Warden, Dunn became the first military musician to be installed as the Master of the Worshipful Company of Musicians.
Compositions: Dunn composed and arranged over 60 pieces of music. Several are marches, many with connections to the Royal Marines. These include The Globe and Laurel (1935, revised 1945), The Captain General (1949), Cockleshell Heroes (1955) and Mountbatten March (1972). He arranged many others, including The Preobrajensky March (attributed to Donajowsky; later to become the official slow march of the Royal Marines) and A Life on the Ocean Wave (the official quick march).
Personal life: Dunn married Margery Halliday in 1938. They had one son (Patrick) and two daughters (Leonie and Rosemary). He died of lung cancer in Haywards Heath, Sussex on Monday 3rd April 1995, aged 86. He is buried at Cemetery Chapel, Great Walstead, East Sussex. Marjery, Lady Dunn, died on Sunday 26th June 1988.

1934. Saturday 27th January. 195 Kings Squad passed for duty at Deal. Squad Photo.

1934. Tuesday 20th March. The first performance of bandmaster A C Green's musical setting of sunset took place in the Alarneda Gardens, Gibraltar. This had been specially arranged in responce to Admiral Fishers request for a "specacular show for the visit of the First lord and the Board of Admiralty".

1934. Wednesday 23rd May. The first performance in Malta of Bandmaster A.C. Green's musical setting of the Sunset call.

1934. HMS Royal Sovereign. The trombonist dropped his slide in about 14 feet of very cold water when returning to the ship after playing ashore, and had to choose between pneumonia and paying for a new slide. Anyway the Band rallied round and proceeded in force to the spot marked .x, where the body could be seen reposing, with the fish playing touch-me-best' in and out of its glittering tubes. With a gasp and a splash a body cleaved the water and forged its way to the murky depths, the hero being not the trombonist, but Musician S B Bennett, who richly deserved his night off afterwards. "Greater love hath no man."

From the Detachment notes by Bandmaster S C Low. (It is sad to note that Musician Bennett was killed when H.M.S. Trinidad was bombed in the Barents Sea on 29th March 1942. Twenty other musicians and buglers were lost in the ship during the next six weeks and she was finally sunk on 15th May) Globe & Laurel 1935.

1935. July. The RM Battalion for Public Duties (London Bn) was formed to carrying out these duties, from 17th August to 19th September, in conjunction with the 1st Battalion Scots Guards, this Battalion6 was honoured as at that time few units other than the Brigade of Guards carried out ceremonial guards in London. The Battalion 281 strong, had a band and drums of 111 musicians. As the King was not in residence at Buckingham Palace, the King’s guard was changed at St James’s Palace. Guards were also mounted at the Hyde Park Magazine, the Central London Recruiting Depot and the Bank of England. The Battalion, exercising the RMs’ right to march through London with bayonets fixed and colours flying, and marched through the City on 19th September. During the month some officers were called back to the MNBDO Nucleus in case gun–mounting parties might be required in the Abyssinian crisis, and Guards’ officers in RM uniforms helped out.(RMHS)

1935. Friday 24th August. Royal Marines carried out London Duties for the first time - the Jubilee year of the King's Reign - during the period 17th August - 19th September. The Massed Bands consisted of thirty five from Chatham Division, nineteen from Portsmouth Division and eleven from Plymouth Division. In addition there were eleven Drummers ( two tenor and nine side drums) plus thirty three buglers. Chatham Division Drum Major (Sgt. W.Day) and Bugle Major (Sgt. E.B. Astle) were in command of Drummers and Buglers respectively whilst the Massed bands were under the direction of the Senior Director of Music, Royal marines, captain P.S.G. O'Donnell of Chatham Division. Buglers and Drummers wore Bugle Cords, Royal, for the first time. As well as the Royal Palaces the Corps provided the Bank of England Picquet and the Hyde Park magazine guard.

1935. The Royal Marines mounted guard over the King and Queen at Buckingham Palace for the first time in their history and, at that time, were one of the very few Regiments, other than those in the Household Division, to be granted this privilege. They marched in the great procession at our present Queens Elizabeth the seconds Coronation and played a prominent part in Lord Mountbattens funeral.

1935. Royal Marines served in Alexandria as part of the Base Defences in the Mediterranean. Corps Strength at that time was 9,800.

1936. Dress Cords, Royal, to be worn by Bugler Majors and Buglers (Corporals and below) in review order and when on leave.

1937. Saturday 30th October. 268 Kings Squad passed for duty. Squad Photo.

1938. January. 273a Kings Squad passed for duty for the Plymouth Division. Squad Photo.

1939-45. The Second World War in which Royal Marines served on all HM Ships in all major engagements at sea around the world.

1939. Saturday 11th February. 313 Kings Squad passed for Duty. H.J. Dadford was awarded the Kings Badge. Squad Photo.

1939. Saturday 5th August. War Service 1942-1944 Arctic Convoys:
HMS Belfast was commissioned into the Royal Navy, but its war service came to a premature end on Tuesday 21st November, when it detonated a German magnetic mine. On Christmas Day 1942, repaired and modernised, it arrived under the command of Captain Frederick Parham to join the 10th Cruiser Squadron at Scapa Flow, in the Orkney Islands. There followed a punishing 18 months operating in support of the Arctic Convoys, delivering essential supplies to the Soviet Union.
By 1942 the Arctic Convoy route to Russia via Iceland had become one of the great naval battlegrounds of the Second World War, and HMS Belfast's first year was a demanding one. Its role included convoy screening (defending the ships in convoy) and endless duty on the Northern Patrol off Iceland, watching for attempts by enemy warships to break out into the Atlantic. In the Arctic the weather was arguably a greater threat than the Germans, and the special Arctic clothing issued was barely adequate. Just moving around the icy decks in rough seas and darkness could be lethal for the unwary, despite the safety ropes which were provided. Veterans remember mess decks inches deep in dirty sea water and going months without mail or leave, other than brief runs ashore to the tiny island of Flotta, the site of Scapa Flow’s Fleet Cinema.
While afloat, sailors made their own entertainment. Cards, and ‘uckers’, the Royal Navy’s version of Ludo, were popular, as were model-making, boxing competitions and, perhaps unexpectedly, embroidery. ‘Crown and Anchor’, the illegal gambling game in which vast sums were won and lost, was popular everywhere, despite the risk of severe punishment if the participants were caught. The men also read whatever they could get their hands on.
Convoying essential war supplies to the Soviet Union did not guarantee the sailors a warm welcome. Murmansk, the principle destination for HMS Belfast, was small, poor and close to the front line, with the local inhabitants living under the iron grip of Stalinism. 
Mostly, Arctic service consisted of endless time at sea in foul weather and constant daylight at the height of summer, or unbroken darkness in mid-winter, with little to break up the monotony. The grim highlight for many was the Battle of North Cape on Sunday 26th December 1943.
After North Cape, life was relatively quiet for Belfast and its crew. Apart from providing distant cover for Operation ‘Tungsten’, an aircraft carrier strike against the German battleship Tirpitz, the cruiser spent the winter at Scapa Flow or Rosyth. On Monday 17th April 1944 it was sent to the Clyde for a refit before taking part in Operation ‘Overlord’, the D-Day landings.
Its remaining years have seen HMS Belfast moored in London on the Thames opposite the Tower of London and operated by the Imperial War Museum permanently.

1939. Sunday 27th August. Special Gun mounting Party, RM. Orders were received to mount several coast guns, a party of four officers and 50 other ranks (including four seamen) drawn from Fortress Unit I and with NCO volunteers18 taking the place of Marines, as few men were available began dismantling one battery (three guns) at Fort Cumberland and collecting scaffolding etc. Three more guns, packed for shipment, were collected from Coventry (West Midlands), and the installation work began within three days of the orders being received.
At Blyth (Northumberland) the first pair of 6in guns were installed after considerable excavations in sand dunes. These guns were fired on 4th September. The next pair of ‘6in’ were installed without difficulty at Sunderland (County Durham), along with two coast–defence searchlights and three generators, by 7th September. At Yarmouth (Norfolk) concrete holdfasts had to be built and the guns were installed, despite difficulties, by 17th September. The experience of this Party pointed the need for gun and mounting components to be un–boxed and checked by Fort Cumberland staff, for at Yarmouth considerable work had to be done by armourers on guns collected through naval stores. The Director of Armament Supplies took up this point, but the difficulties in assembling and specially packing equipment for MNBDO operations continued throughout 1940. The guns were manned by army crews before the Party returned to Fort Cumberland that September 1939. (RMHS)

1939. Saturday 2nd September. 337 Kings Squad passed for duty at Deal. Squad Photo.

1939. Sunday 3rd September. The British government declare war on Germany. However, Britain was not prepared for war and although she sent an expeditionary force to France to try and stop the Germans racing across Europe capturing most countries, it failed. The British Force was pushed back to towards the English Channel and the beaches at Dunkirk.

After the defeat and evacuation of the British Expeditionary Force from the beach at Dunkirk. Winston Churchill realised that Britain was not in a position to launch any form of major military attack against the Germans. However, a series of short quick spectacular hit and run attacks would do a great deal for the morale of the British people. Winston ordered the creation of a 'butcher and bolt' small group raiding unit. At the out break of war the Corps strength was 12,000.

1939. Monday 11th September. Guy Griffiths, a Royal Marines Aviator, was captured by the Germans eleven days after the outbreak of the Second World War, and spent the rest of the war as a Prisoner of War (POW).

He was dive bombing a U-Boat when the bomb he was dropping detonated early and the explosion hit his plane, causing him to crash. Whilst a POW he was in a camp made famous by the film, 'The Great Escape'. He helped people in the escape attempts by forging documents and concealing tunnels. He also used to send coded letters to the Royal Marines Magazine the 'Globe and Laurel' about people in the camp to British Secret Services.

He amused his fellow Prisoners by producing cartoons. He also confused the Germans by painting fake British planes.

1939. Thursday 14th September. Lieutenant Guy Griffiths RM became the first RM aviator casualty of World War 2. Dive bombing a German submarine he was brought down by the blast from his own bomb and rescued by the crew of the submarine before spending the rest of the war as a prisoner.

1939. September. Fort Cumberland RM AA: under army/navy joint command in Portsmouth, September 1939, with 8 x 3.7in guns from Fort Cumberland. (RMHS)

1939. October. Registered Numbers. The prefix ‘EX’, followed by a number of three or four digits (EX 501 – EX 5909), indicates a special Reservist entered in the register of Exton ‘Division’ between October 1939 and July 1940.

1939. Saturday 4th November. 345 Kings Squad passed for duty. J.C. Talbot was awarded the Kings Badge. Squad Photo.

1939. November. 'Operation Royal Marine' was a military operation in World War II, in which naval mines were floated down rivers from France into Germany to destroy bridges and shipping. Promoted by Winston Churchill, it was planned in November 1939. However, Sir Edward Spears claimed that he had originally proposed the idea to Churchill when they visited eastern France in August 1939, but by the time the operation was put into practice Churchill believed the idea was his. Trials of the mines were carried out in the Thames in December 1939. Each mine contained 15 pounds (6.8 kilograms) of TNT and, depending upon type, either floated or bounced along the riverbed. The mines were especially developed for the operation by MD1.
Despite concerns by the French Government during the Phoney War over possible German reprisals against French waterways, it was intended that the operation would take place simultaneously with Operation Wilfred, a scheme to mine the waters around Norway in order to force German convoys using them for transporting Swedish iron ore into international waters, where they could be attacked by the Royal Navy. Simultaneously attacking Germany with riverine mines was intended to deflect criticism that the Allies were not making war on Germany, only the small countries around it that they claimed to be protecting. However, a decision of the Anglo French Supreme War Council on 28th March 1940 to commence Operation Royal Marine on 4th April was vetoed shortly afterwards by the French Government, leaving Operation Wilfred to take place on its own. In the event, Operation Wilfred was aborted shortly afterwards because of the German invasion of Norway.
Nevertheless, the river mining operation was carried out at the start of the Battle of France in May. During the first week of the battle, naval personnel under Commander Roger Wellby put 1,700 mines in the Rhine, resulting in the temporary suspension of most of the river traffic between Karlsruhe and Mainz and causing damage to the barrage at Karlsruhe and several pontoon bridges. By 24th May, over 2,300 mines had been released into the Rhine, Moselle and Meuse.
It was also planned that the Royal Air Force would drop mines into the Rhine between Bingen and Coblenz, into canals, and into river estuaries feeding the Heligoland Bight.

1939. Saturday 2nd December. 355 Kings Squad passed for Duty at Eastney Barracks? G.A. Boast was awarded the Kings Badge. Squad Photo.

1939. Saturday 2nd December RM Battalion HQ began forming around December, as part of RM Brigade, but the first recruits did not join until April 1940 at Bisley (Surrey). Commanded by Lt. Col A. N. Williams, the continuous service officers and NCOs of the Battalion HQ, its four rifle companies, and the HQ Company, had been training the largely ‘HO’ recruits in infantry tactics for about three weeks before 3rd May. On that day they were put at 2 hours' notice for overseas service. Bren guns, anti–tank rifles and in mortars began to arrive next day, to equip the Battalion to its war establishment. Three days later they were aboard the cruisers HMS Glasgow and Berwick, sailing as part of force Sturges to Iceland, where they landed on 10th May. During the passage the new weapons had been zeroed (their sights tested for accuracy by firing a number of rounds) despite the rough weather. The strength of the Battalion at this time was 28 officers and 280 men.
Although the Battalion had a large area to cover, ‘A’ Coy’s OC prevented the German Consul burning important documents, as the Marines had brought some fire extinguishers ashore. The HQ Coy’s Fire Power Platoon, to which most of the Brens had been issued, was sent to Kaldadarnes, where planes carrying 2,000 German troops might land’. The orders to the Platoon were: to hold their fire until troop–carrying planes landed; to fire at paratroops in the air; and should any Germans be caught not in uniform after parachuting in, they were to be shot.
After returning to UK in late May, the Battalion became part of 102 RM Bde. In mid–June 1940 it was in Pembroke (Dyfed). It was the sent to Freetown (West Africa) in the transport Kenya for the Dakar operation, and remained in Freetown for possible operations against the Cape Verde islands before returning to the UK in February 1941. During the next 30 months the Battalion took part in various training exercises, being stationed in Scotland. In August 1943 the Battalion HQ and most of the Marines were re–formed as 43 RM Commando.(RMHS)

1939. Wednesday 13th December. The Battle of the River Plate took place on. The battle in the South Atlantic was the first major naval battle of World War Two. Ships from the Royal Navy’s South American Division took on the might of Germany’s Graf Spee which was successfully attached.
During the Battle of the River Plate 15 Marines lost their lives mostly manning turrets, 10 on board HMS Exeter and 5 on board HMS Ajax.1939. Wednesday 13th December. My grandfather, George Earnest Jewitt, took place in the last true boarding action of the Royal Navy.
During World War II, the Royal Navy fought a deadly game of cat and mouse with their German counterparts. Pocket battleships such as the Bismarck and the Graff Spee were sent out into the oceans to create havoc among our merchant shipping, all with the aim of cutting or damaging our supply lines from the Empire, the Dominions and the United States.
The speed and skill of those on board the Graff Spee resulted in the sinking of nine ships whose 300 surviving crew were taken prisoner and transferred to the secret supply ship 'Altmark'.
But by mid-December, as a result of the Battle of the River Plate, the Graff Spee had been scuttled in Montevideo harbour, so Altmark was left alone with her holds packed with British prisoners, unable to make for Germany due to engine trouble. On top of this there was a shortage of food, and her prisoners no longer a secret.
It was January before she could sail North.
On reaching Norway the crew of the Altmark felt they had escaped the ambushes and of the Royal Navy, and they were with days of the protection of Norwegian neutrality. The prisoners felt that they were to become long term guests of Germany.
But early in February, Naval intelligence became aware of the ship, and a flotilla of five destroyers and a cruiser were sent to try and intercept.
On 16th of February, at 08.25 hours, a battle flight of Lockhead Hudson aircraft, led by 'K' and crewed by Pilot Officer McNeil and Pilot Lawrie, L.A.C. Sheekey and Cpl. Hugill pinpointed the Altmark, took photographs, and passed information on Altmarks position and direction.
My Grandfather was on board H.M.S. Cossack when it intercepted the signal and Captain Vian immediately gave pursuit.
The Admiralty had signalled interception should be made in neutral waters but sent in his destroyers, but Altmark ignored orders to stop. In addition, two Norwegian torpedo boats began shepherding the German ship toward Josing Fiord and safety.
Reaching the Fiord, the Norwegians closed in and blocked off the channel.
As darkness fell Cossack arrived. The situation was tense... if there were no prisoners on board the German ship, then the Norwegians had acted quite correctly.
In Cossack, R.N.V.R Officer Lieutenant Craven invited the Senior Norweigan Captain aboard and informed him that there were in fact British prisoners in Altmark. Craven demanded the right to visit and search the German ship.
The Noweigan replied that Altmark had been searched three times since she entered Norwegian waters, and no prisoners had been discovered, he added his orders were to resist any entry by force, and, as we could see, his torpedo tubes were at that time trained on Cossack.
Deadlock - It took Vian three hours to elicit a response for instructions from the Admiralty. These read:
"Unless Norwegian torpedo-boat undertakes to convoy Altmark to Bergen with a joint Anglo-Norwegian guard on board and a joint escort, you should board Altmark, liberate the prisoners and take possession of ship pending further instructions.
If Norwegian torpedo-boat interferes, you should warn her to stand off. If she fires upon you, you should not reply unless attack is serious, in which case you should defend yourself using no more force than is necessary and cease fire when she desists.
These orders certainly placed Captain Vian in a terrible position. When is an attack 'serious'?
The Norwegian officer was not moved by this argument, but Cossack was now in a position to use her pom-poms on the Norwegian decks, whilst her torpedo tubes did not menace the British destroyer. Craven 'bit the bullet' and said the Royal Navy were going to board and search Altmark, whether we had to fight the Norwegians or not.
At this stage the Captain of Kjell, decided he could withdraw with honour, and did so.
Altmark came into view as Cossack steamed round a bend, her bows pointing inshore and covered in ice, against the snow covered mountains her stark black bulk made a striking contrast. The Captain of Altmark was not giving up easily, he came charging astern through the channel his passage through the ice had made, his searchlight trained on the destroyer's bridge to blind the personnel there. Disaster from collision was only avoided by some fancy manoeuvring by Maclean, Cossack's navigator.
The leader of the boarding party, Lieutenant Bradwell Turner, in anticipation of Cossack going alongside Altmark, leapt across the gap between the two ships, this feat after the event became quite famous. Petty Officer Atkins was not so adept and fell short, hanging by his arms until Turner hoisted him on board.
A hawser was secured the two ships, and the rest of the boarding party, including my grandfather armed with a pick axe handle, stormed on board.
On Altmark's bridge, Turner found the engine telegraphs ordering full speed, trying to run Cossack up on the shoreline, and he rang stop. The German bridge officers generally surrendered, except for their Third Officer who tried to change the telegraphs once more, despite this Turner refrained from shooting him.
Altmark was now grounded by her stern. Cossack cast off, just avoided a similar fate.
With the German Captain giving up, Turner anticipated the release of any prisoners would be a routine affair, not so, an armed guard who was on board from Graf Spee, shot Gunner Smith from the boarding party in one of the ship's passageways, this armed guard took off fleeing across the ice, whence they sniped at the boarding party. This was soon prevented
With six German dead, another six badly wounded, Gunner Smith the only British casualty, and his wounds were not fatal.
Under locked hatches in the holds when these were broken open, groups of men were found, Turner shouted out " Any British down there?" The response a tremendous roar of:
" Yes! We are all British!"
From Turner came his famous reply:
"COME ON UP THEN, THE NAVY"S HERE!"
I am proud of my grandfather. He was not a glory seeker; he was not brave in the hero sense - he was just an ordinary stoker and a gunner - an ordinary man of both good points and bad. But through such ordinary men and women is our freedom bought.
My grandfather paid for his part. For sixty years HIS were bad. He would flinch at loud bangs. He had nightmares about the time a shell came through and exploded in his section killing all around him - forcing himself to carry on supplying shells to the gun turrets; about chipping ice off the deck of his ship in the freezing Arctic, so it wouldn't role over during the supply convoys to Russia.
My Grandfather died in 2001. I think his small part in history deserves to be remembered. (from James ??)

1939. December. 3rd RM Battalion HQ was formed under Lt. Col E. T. Harden as part of RM Bde, and sometimes styled as 3rd (Plymouth) Bn RM. The first recruits joined the Battalion in February 1940, during May the Battalion was transferred to 102 RM Bde and in June was stationed at Manorbier (south Wales). In August it sailed to Freetown in the transport Sobieski, with ‘A’ Coy in Etteric. The Battalion remained in Freetown with the 2nd RM Bn (see above) after the Dakar operation. Returning to the UK in February 1941, it went to Scotland and elsewhere in the UK, taking part in many training exercises during the next 30 months. In August 1943 the Battalion and its HQ were re-formed as 44 RM Commando14 but some personnel went to other units.

1939. Thursday 28th December. Capital ships’ service in World War II. The Barham was torpedoed while on Atlantic patrol on 28th December 1939, but reached Liverpool. In November 1940 she joined the Mediterranean Fleet and was in action at Cape Matapan in March 1941. She was later sunk by torpedoes while exercising off Egypt when doing 17 knots, only 300 of her crew of 1,150 were saved. (RMHS)

1939. Friday 29th December. 1st RM AA Bty/RM Anti–Aircraft Battery of MNBDO Nucleus: under army command in Alexandria, Egypt, August to 29th December 1939. This was a battery of eight 3.7in AA guns from army sources, in four two–gun Sections. It sailed for Egypt on 28th August 1939, in HMT Lancashire and apparently served in Egypt until absorbed into other units. (RMHS)

1939. December. The Royal Marines have traditionally been Britain's amphibious forces, and this role was continued during World War II. The Royal Marine (Amphibious) Brigade was formed in December of 1939, with the Royal Marines taking part in the campaign in Narvik, while other Royal Marines were sent to Dakar during the summer of 1940. The early days of the war against Japan saw many Royal Marines become part of ad hoc 'commando' units used to delay the Japanese advance. In December of 1941 the Special Service Platoon, formed from the Royal Marine detachment off the Prince of Wales (sunk on 10 December 1941), was used on raiding missions and helped in the defence of Singapore. Early in 1942, another ad hoc unit, 'Force Viper', operated in Burma. Large contingents of Royal Marines were also involved in the invasion of Madagascar. The original Royal Marine Commando was raised at Deal on 14 February 1942. This Commando took heavy casualties in the Dieppe landings and was rebuilt as #40 (RM) Commando. Other Royal Marine Commandos were formed from Royal Marine battalions on the following dates:
#41 (RM) Commando - October 1942 #42 (RM) Commando - August 1943 #43 (RM) Commando - August 1943 #44 (RM) Commando - August 1943 #45 (RM) Commando - August 1943 #46 (RM) Commando - August 1943 #47 (RM) Commando - August 1943 #48 (RM) Commando - March 1944
Normal strength of a Royal Marine Commando was about 450 men. By 1944 a Royal Marine Commando Troop consisted of sixty Commandos broken into an HQ and two Sections. The section normally consisted of two eleven man Assault Sub-Sections and a five-man Support Sub-Section, with the latter containing the Section mortar and a sniper. Bren gunners were included in each Assault Sub-Section. This organization provided each Troop with a lot of firepower and great flexibility. During the post-war years the Royal Marine Commandos have carried on the Commando tradition in #3 Commando Brigade, which, unlike the wartime Commando Brigades, consists of only three Commandos. Alter the war it was decided to retain one Commando from each of the major theatres of World War II so that the traditions and battle honours would be retained - #3 Commando Brigade is comprised of #40 (RM) Commando representing the Mediterranean/Middle East, #42 (RM) Commando representing the Far East, and #45 (RM) Commando representing Northwest Europe. Two other units of note are the Royal Marine Boom Patrol Detachment and the Royal Marine Detachment 385. The Boom Patrol Detachment used canoes and were trained to infiltrate enemy harbours to sink shipping using limpet mines. By far, the most famous raid carried out by the Boom Patrol Detachment was the 'Cockleshell Heroes' raid of Bordeaux Harbour in December of 1942, sinking German blockade runners carrying advanced German technology to Japan. Six two-man Cockle MkJJ canoes were supposed to be launched on the night of 7/8 December 1942 from the submarine Tuna, but one Cockle had its rubberized canvas skin slit so only five canoes were launched. The raiders had to paddle more than seventy miles up the Gironde to place their charges. Four German ships were severely damaged in the raid, but only one of the crews managed to escape with the help of the French Resistance. The other four crews were either drowned or captured and shot per Hitler's 'Commando Order'.
The Boom Patrol Detachment was later used for raids in the Mediterranean. Other members of the unit received radio and parachute training and were dropped onto islands in the Aegean or Adriatic. Royal Marine Detachment 385 was another raiding unit which operated in the Far East during 1945 carrying out deception raids, working with guerrillas, and gathering intelligence.
Royal Naval Commandos
The early amphibious raids by the Commandos pointed up an obvious need for better intelligence and control on the beaches. The earliest attempt at exerting some control on the beaches had been by the Royal Navy ratings manning the landing craft, but when this makeshift control proved inadequate, specialized 'beach parties' were organized and were first tried during OPERATION IRONCLAD on Madagascar. These specialized 'beach parties' proved so successful that the Royal Naval Commandos (sometimes known as 'Beachhead Commandos) were formed. Their duties included: landing in the first wave to clear the beaches, to mark limits of the beachhead, consolidate the beachhead, clearing personnel and equipment from the beachhead expeditiously, helping moor landing craft correctly, removing mines and underwater obstructions, taping the safe passage routes off the beaches, informing subsequent waves of important intelligence about the defences and the beachhead, setting up ammunition and supply dumps, and act as a rear-guard during withdrawal. The first Royal Naval Commandos units were formed during the spring of 1942 with each Commando under the command of a Lieutenant Commander or a Commander. Each RN Commando had three sections, consisting of two officers (a beachmaster and assistant beachmaster), a petty officer, and seventeen other ratings. Later Royal Navy Commandos would consist of ten officers and sixty-six other ranks divided into three parties of twenty-five men each (one beachmaster, three assistant beachmasters, and twenty-two other ranks). In August of 1942 members of the Royal Navy Commandos took part in the Dieppe raid, with a beach master and beach party assigned to each of the beaches. Some beach parties, however, could not reach their assigned beach due to heavy German fire. Members of the beach parties suffered very heavy casualties at Dieppe. Despite the problems at Dieppe, it was still obvious that the RN 'Beach Parties' were a necessity for any major amphibious operation and many of the smaller amphibious operations. It was also obvious that they needed specialized training and a school was established at Ardentinny, Scotland to train Royal Navy Commandos. This school could accommodate 500 to 600 men and made good use of Loch Long for amphibious landing drills, reconnaissance, and gaining specialized beach skills. Other training included weapons usage, rock climbing, assault courses, embarkation and debarkation, using various types of landing craft under battle conditions, route marches, and field survival. Many of these skills were honed at Achnicarry where the RN Commandos were expected to pass the regular Commando training course and receive their green beret and F-S dagger. Some RN Commandos received additional training at Kabnt near the Suez Canal for duties in the Middle East, but Ardentinny was the main RN Commando training centre. Experiences with landings in the Middle East proved valuable and along with the experience gained at Dieppe helped to mould and expand the Royal Navy Commando training program. (Author unknown)

1939. The RM Brigade, later 101 RM Bde, was formed at Bisley (Surrey) with three battalions - 1st, 2nd and 3rd - under command of Brig A. St Clair Morford, MC, it was originally numbered as 1st RM Bde the number was changed to avoid confusion with army units and RM Bn, to 101 RM Bde. At the time 60 ‘HO’ officers began training near Deal.
The Brigade ‘was directly under the Chiefs of Staff Committee’ for a role that included seaborne raiding in the Mediterranean should Italy enter the war as expected. Naval gun and air support was expected, but no AFVs were included, as surprise would be lost ‘owing to time required to hoist them into MLCs’. Any raid would be limited, therefore, to 24 hours ashore, but plans were discussed with the ISTDC to improve the landing time required for vehicles. In January 1940 a fourth battalion, 5th RM Bn, was added, and the plan was dropped for including an army battalion when required operationally. The Brigade was split in two, as 101 and 102 RM Bdes before or during May 1940, although 102 Bde’s HQ was not formally raised until 12st July, about this time. An RM Bde Reinforcement Depot was established at Sunshine Camp, Hayling Island. Although 101 Bde had expected to complete training by July, events overtook these plans.
One of the few fully armed units in the UK that summer, 101 Bde had 66 officers and 1,350 other ranks21 (an army brigade had 120 officers, 2,824 ORs and 396 vehicles). The Brigade was temporarily attached to 55.
Division for ‘reinforcement or counter–attack of any island localities’23 and as a reserve for action on the mainland. The Chiefs of Staff had agreed in mid–June that both 101 and 102 Bdes should be held at 6 hours’ notice for despatch to Ireland should any German invasion begin there, and for seizing the Azores and Cape Verde Islands. But the Brigades were released from their potential commitment for Ireland on 1st July. Having been concentrated near Milford Haven (Dyfed) in late June with Bde HQ and Signals Coy at Tenby, later at Saundersfoot and on 30th June at Pembroke Dock. The Brigade moved early in July to take over 30 miles of coast defences just west of Plymouth, a convenient port for mounting an operation against islands in the Atlantic. The Brigade remained under Home Forces Command but was reduced to three battalions (1st, 2nd and 5th) about July 1940, and was joined by 8th Argylls on 17th July. In August they embarked for Dakar (capital of Senegal, Senegambia). On their return to the Clyde in October 1940, they were held in readiness, training for further operations in West Africa and then for possible landings in the Azores. Although detailed for the December raid on the Lofoten Islands (North Norway), the Brigade was not sent, army commandos making the raid. In April 1941 the 8th Argyls returned to army command.
During 1941-42 a number of operations were considered but 101 Bde spent its time in amphibious and other exercises from its ships in Scotland. Brig A. N. Williams later succeeded Brig Morford. The Bde HQ moved to Ystrad Camp (South Wales) during July 1942. Here it developed amphibious techniques, such as employing engineers in the first flight of landing craft, the use of smoke from support craft, and the Beach Bn showing lights to seaward indicating gaps in beach minefields and wire. The problems of clearing stores from beach dumps were realised. In November 1942 the Brigade was back in Inverary doing amphibious exercises, and by January 1943 was in the south of England, with Bde HQ at Chilworth Manor (nr Southampton). By this date the HQ had 161 all ranks, with the Brigadier’s command post in tracked carriers and the advanced brigade HQ all in vehicles. He rear HQ and B– echelon had nine vehicles, including the Light Aid Detachment’s recovery truck, transport for cooks, signallers and half of the defence platoon, and five motorcycles. In May the Brigade moved to Cowes (Isle of Wight), taking the opportunity to practise landings, and in June and July was in Burley (Hampshire), where by September the HQ was reformed - on 26th August - as part of 4 Special Service Bde’s HQ.(RMHS)

1939-1945. Royal Marines manned the many developing types of Landing Craft and support craft such as the gun and flak craft.
With the decline of naval gunnery after the 1939-45 war, and the development of the Royal Marines as Commandos, the presence of sea service Royal Marines contracted. The naval destroyers and frigates of the 1960s to 1980s would embark a small detachment on specific occasions, but not necessarily as part of the vessels complement. This requirement, and other sea-borne roles, is currently (2004) covered by FPGRM (Fleet Protection Group Royal Marines).
The Royal Marines continue to man and deploy the Landing Craft, Raiding craft and Hovercraft, associated with their amphibious role. These are currently (2004)
the responsibility of 539 Assault Flotilla and 1 Assault Group.(RMHS)

1939 - 1945. 'Those Magnificent Royal Marines in Their Flying Machines' (Part Two) The Second World War.
During World War Two, twenty six Royal Marines Officers and four other ranks are known to have served as pilots with the Fleet Air Arm.  Three of these officers, A E MARSH, A J WRIGHT and R C HAY qualified to wear the Battle of Britain Bar.  Royal Marines pilots operated from aircraft Carriers in the Far East, Pacific, Mediterranean, and the Atlantic, flying a large range of aircraft from the Walrus to Hurricane.  Those RM officers who had qualified as pilots in the 1920s and early 1930s, and had wanted to continue to fly, had transferred to the RAF – one such officer was H M A DAY.
H M A DAY was appointed as a probationary Second Lieutenant in the Royal Marines Light Infantry in 1916. In 1924 he was seconded to the Fleet Air Arm and trained at Netheravon.  He subsequently transferred to the RAF and was serving in 23 (Fighter) Squadron at Kenley in 1929. He led the synchronised aerobatic team at the first Hendon Air Shows.  On October 13th 1939 his Blenheim was shot down by three ME 109s over Germany. The crew were killed but he was taken prisoner and incarcerated in Spanenburg Castle. During his time as a POW he escaped eight times and helped to organise the Great Escape at Stalag Luft III were 83 men got out.  He was one of the few to survive the escape as fifty of those recaptures were executed on the orders of Himmler. DAY himself was recaptured after four days and interred in Sachsenhausen Concentration Camp. He was subsequently moved to the Extermination Camp at Flossenburg from which he escaped to Northern Italy two days before the armistice.  Having been taken prisoner on 13th October 1939 he regained his liberty on 13th May 1945.
Just as the first Marine to go into action in the First World War was a pilot, so Lieutenant Guy GRIFFITHS RM, flying his Skua from HMS Ark Royal was the first in World War Two.  While attacking a German U-Boat in the Atlantic in September 1939, he was brought down by splinters from his own bombs.  He escaped from his aircraft in which he was trapped beneath the sea, but was then captured by the U-Boat which he had tried to sink.  GRIFFITHS remained a prisoner for the rest of the war.
During the Norwegian campaign RM pilots did good work from the Ark Royal. Captain E D McIVER, who took part in the raid on shipping in Bergen harbour on 14th April 1940, dropped his bombs with great skill in spite of very bad weather. He failed to return. Captain N R M SKENE won the DSC at Trondheim for leading a Swordfish Squadron in two bombing attacks on Vaernes Airfield, destroying three hangars in the face of intense AA fire.  Captain R T PARTRIDGE won the DSO for operations in one of which he and his observer shot down a Heinkel III, made a forced landing in the snow and, though weapon less, took charge of three of the Heinkel’s crew who were all armed. Captain PARTRIDGE was later taken prisoner during a raid which Ark Royal’s Skuas made on the Scharnhorst in Trondheim Harbour, the last raid of the campaign.
Like McIVER and PARTRIDGE, Lieutenant L A HARRIS was in action early against the Germans as pilot of a Skua in 803 Squadron.  He took part in the raid on the Konigsberg on 19th April 1940. Later he was shot down and wounded before the evacuation from Norway.  He was awarded the DSC. Later in the war RM flyers still had an interest in Norway. On 25th July 1944 Lieutenant O R OAKES was awarded the DSC “for bravery, leadership, skill and devotion to duty during the successful strikes at enemy shipping off the coast of Norway.”
Major O PATCH RM was awarded the DSC in December 1940 “for outstanding courage and skill in a brilliant and wholly successful night attack by the Fleet Air Arm on the Italian Fleet at Taranto.” Within a further month he received the DSO for “courage, skill and enterprise in an attack on Italian warships.” On this last named occasion Major PATCH led a sub-flight of Swordfish in an attack on the Italian warships in Bomba Bay on the Libyan coast. He himself torpedoed a submarine and two other aircraft accounted for another submarine, a destroyer and a depot ship. All this was achieved with only three torpedoes.
Royal Marines pilots were decorated for destroying enemy bombers and shadowers during the passage of the great convoys to Malta. From June to November 1942 Major A C NEWSON commanded an Albacore Squadron which co-operated with the RAF and the Eighth Army in the Western Desert.  The squadron’s work consisted mainly in finding and illuminating front line targets for the RAF bombers, and for dive bombing attacks. It was also employed in mine laying, raids on enemy occupied harbours, attacks on ships at sea and spotting for the many coastal bombardments made by the Mediterranean Fleet in support of the troops ashore. Major NEWSON was awarded the DSC “for bravery and devotion to duty in air operations in the Western Desert.” Later Major NEWSON’s squadron moved to Malta where it shared in the task of harassing the enemy’ seaborne lines of communication from Italy, Tripoli and Tunisia.
At the beginning of the final phase of operations in North Africa in November 1942, a specially trained fighter squadron of six Fulmars from HMS Victorious led by Major R C HAY RM performed most valuable work in Army cooperation and reconnaissance. The reconnoitred the roads leading to Algiers, photographed bridges and airfields and often made personal contact with the troops by landing near them. Previously in November 1941 Major HAY had been awarded the DSC for operations in Mediterranean waters. Later in the War HAYS was awarded the DSO for his actions as Air Coordinator in the Pacific and towards the end of the war gained a bar to his DSC.  After the end of hostilities he transferred to the Royal Navy and retired in 1970 as a Commander.
The case of Major V B G CHEESMAN is an example of variety in flying. This officer won the MBE for an exploit in a Walrus amphibious early in the war. A British merchant ship had been torpedoed 100 miles off the West coast of Africa. Having counter-attacked the submarine with depth charges he then taxied to and fro encouraging the survivors who had escaped from the sunken ship, and aided the injured.  By the time the rescue vessels had arrived the sea had risen, and the Walrus had to be towed back to harbour.
The number of Royal Marines flying in the Fleet Air Arm during World War II was small, but their diligence and gallantry was by no means limited. In this connection, special significance may be seen in the citation accompanying the award of the DSC to Captain D B SMITH on 1st July 1941. The award, it was stated was made for “outstanding zeal, patience and cheerfulness and for never failing to set an example of wholehearted devotion to duty without which the high tradition of the Royal Navy could not have been upheld.”
Royal Marine Naval Air Squadron Commanders 1939 - 1945.
Names of Royal Marine Pilots:
(Wartime Ranks).....................  .Squadron Commands
Major JO Armour, RM...... .........784, 809, 892, 7th CAG, 15th CAG.
Captain WGS Aston, RM............833.
Major FDG Bird, RM...................759, 888.
Captain FW Brown, RM..............786, 824.
Major AR Burch, RM...................771, 822.
Major VBG Cheesman, RM........766, 788, 1770.
Major LA Harris, RM.................. 746, 784.
Major RC Hay, RM.....................761, 805, 809, 897, No6 Wing, No 47 Wing.
Captain WHC Manson, RM........710, 883.
Captain AE Marsh, RM...............804.
Major WHN Martin, RM............ .814, 821
Major PP Nelson-Gracie, RM     877, 1843, No. 3 Wing, No. 10 Wing, 2nd CAG, 8th CAG.
Captain AC Newson, RM............753, 810, 821.
Captain RT Partridge, RM..........800, 804.
Captain O Patch, RM..................785, 816.
Captain NRM Skene, RM............810.
Captain DBL Smith, RM..............764.
Major AJ Wright, RM.................. 809, 898, 16th CAG.
(Courtesy – ‘Flyingmarines.com’ & ‘Fleetairarmarchive.com’)

1939. With the outbreak of the second World War Norman Finch V.C. returned to the Portsmouth Division Royal Marines as a Quartermaster Sergeant.

1939. The Rifle number 4 Mark 1, was adopted just after the beginning of the Second World War.

1939. The system of conscription from 1939 to 1960 was called National Service. However, between 1939 and 1948, it was often referred to as War Service in documents relating to National Insurance and Pension Provision.

 

1940. The Royal Marines role was to continue providing detachments for manning ships guns, undertake landing operations, special amphibious operations in conjunction with other services, and to provide units for the rapid establishment and temporary defence of Royal Navy & Fleet Air Arm bases.

1940. January. The 18th RM (Mobile) Battalion and Mobile Companies was formed as the Mobile Coy of the RM Brigade, to be under command of Brigade HQ for recon-naissance, and in June 1940 was in south Wales. The unit was expanded into several Mobile Companies to serve with each RM Battalion in the division. A Mobile Coy had a few tracked carriers and motorcycle combinations with an anti-tank rifle and/or Maxim guns to be replaced by Brens when these became available. By December 1940 the companies had been formed into the 18th RM (Mobile) Battalion, and the ratio of carriers to motorcycles was to be reduced. In March 1941 the Army Reconnaissance Training Centre agreed to help with the training of Mobile Companies, and on 2nd May 1941 the Battalion came under command of 103 RM Bde for training.  The Battalion had moved from South Wales, where it had been training in radio communications, to Dalditch in April 1941.
By early 1943 it was also equipped with Scout cars. After the RM Division was disbanded, there was apparently some possibility of employing the Battalion with other formations, but it was disbanded about August 1944.(RMHS)

1940. January. The 1st RM Battalion was formed at Bisley (Surrey), commanded by Lt. Col Wildman–Lushington as part of the RM Bde, with four rifle companies and an HQ Coy (cp: 2nd Bn). In June 1940 it was based at Haverfordwest (south Wales), training for amphibious operations in the summer of 1940 and was in the UK defence forces. In August it took part in amphibious exercises based on the Clyde from the transport Etteric, in which it sailed to Freetown on 31st August. The Battalion was in the transport off Dakar on 23rd September 1940, but did not land and returned to Freetown before sailing to the UK in October. During the next 2½ years the battalion carried out many exercises, while stationed in Scotland from 27th October 1940 to 8th October 1942 standing by for raids on the Atlantic islands, and moved with the Brigade to various training areas for exercises. These included night infiltration, street fighting and a landing from LSIs when moving to Newport (Isle of Wight) on 19th-20th April 1943.
Lt. Col B. W. Leicester took command during 1942. At the end of July 1943 the Battalion was re–formed as 42 RM Commando, but some men went to minor landing craft flotillas and other duties.(RMHS)

1940. Thursday 15th February. RM Coast Brigade/1 RM Coast Brigade/1st RM Coast Artillery Regiment formed by MNBDO I on 15th February 1940 (when briefly known as RM Coast Defence Group) with recruits trained in ‘B’, ‘C’, ‘G’ and ‘K’ companies.
The Regiment’s HQ was in the following locations, with the units commanded shown in brackets:
30th March 1940:
With MNBDO I Eastney (‘Kent’, ‘Devon’, ‘X’ see 14th June 1942 below, ‘Y’ and Anti–MTB Btys, Land Defence Coy of which a platoon only formed, and Signals Section; ‘Z’ Bty formed at Harwich 13th May; and ‘Y’ Bty in Iceland).
May 1940:
‘Devon’ Bty was to become a howitzer battery, and no longer a part of the MNBDO War Establishment, memo from AGRM No. 2147/40S; but it was to train under MNBDO command and appears to have remained or been re–formed as part of this Regiment, see 31st March 1941 below.
6th August 1940:
Eastney with ‘Hampshire’ Bty formed (‘Kent’, ‘Devon’, ‘Hampshire’, ‘X’, ‘Y’, ‘Z’ and Anti–MTB Btys, Land
Defence Coy, and Signals Section).
1st January 1941:
Portsmouth with Batteries being concentrated for embarkation and Regiment redesignated 1 RM Coast Brigade (‘Kent’, ‘Devon’, ‘Hampshire’, ‘X’, ‘Y’, ‘Z’ and Anti MTB Btys, Land Defence Coy, and Signals Section).
31st March 1941:
Egypt Canal Zone and party sent to off–load ships in Palestine, ‘Devon’ Light AA Bty formed from cadres of ‘Devon’ and A–MTB Btys (‘Kent’, ‘Devon’ Light AA, ‘Hampshire’, ‘X’, ‘Y’, ‘Z’, Anti–MTB Btys, and Land Defence Coy[?], and Signals Section).
May 1941:
Crete with guns of ‘Z’ and ‘X’ Btys mounted, personnel later fighting as infantry; other personnel of this Coast Brigade with advance party in Crete see Chapter 3 (‘Kent’, ‘Devon’ Light AA, ‘Hampshire’, ‘X’, ‘Y’,
‘Z’, Anti–MTB[?] Btys and Land Defence Coy[?], and Signals Section).
1 August 1941:
Egypt after losses on Crete, the Brigade was reorganised with ‘Z’ Bty now independent of brigade and ‘X’ Bty disbanded (‘Kent’, ‘Devon’ Light AA, ‘Hampshire’, ‘Y’, A–MTB[?] Batteries and Land Defence Coy[?], and Signals Section).
6 September 1941:
Egypt and Indian Ocean islands, redesignated 1st RM Coast Artillery Rgt (‘Kent’, ‘Devon’ Light AA, ‘Hampshire’, ‘Y’, A–MTB[?] Batteries and Land Defence Coy[?], and Signals Section).
Winter 1941–2:
Indian Ocean Batteries deployed in island base defences (‘Kent’, ‘Devon’ Light AA, ‘Hampshire’, ‘Y’, A- MTB[?] Batteries and Land Defence Coy[?], and Signals Section).
5th April 1942:
Ceylon (‘Kent’, ‘Devon’ by this date re–formed with 6–in coast defence guns, ‘Hampshire’, ‘Y’, A–MTB Batteries and Land Defence Coy[?], and Signals Section).
14th June 1942:
Ceylon in coast defences (‘Kent’, ‘Devon’, ‘Hampshire’, ‘Y’, A–MTB Batteries and Land Defence Coy[?],
and Signals Section).
1 August 1943:
Ceylon all personnel to RM Coast Defence Rgt (later 3rd RM Coast Rgt) as infantry except ‘Devon’ Bty.
January and February 1944:
Ceylon, personnel of HQ to 3rd RM Coast Rgt and HQ disbanded; February ‘Devon’ Bty disbanded, although see unit history summary of this Battery. (RMHS)

1940. February. The 1st RM AA Regiment was formed in February 1940 as part of MNBDO I, with a cadre of officers and NCOs who had served in 1st RM AA Battery of 1939. COs included: Maj L. O. Jones (Instructor of Gunnery), 15th February to 14th April 1940; Lt. Col J. E. Leech–Porter, 15th April to about December 1940; Lt. Col E. H. M. Unwin, January to May 1941; Lt. Col R. Garret, June to December 1941.
The Regiment’s HQ was in the following locations, with the units commanded shown in brackets:
15th February 1940:
Fort Cumberland when with Coast Defence Group (‘A’, ‘B’ and 22nd Light Batteries, with RA Trg Rgts in Arborfield, Carlisle and Blandford).
Mid–June 1940:
Exton with Air Defence Group (‘A’, ‘B’ and ‘R’ [Searchlight] Btys17 provided experimental Section and HQ from ‘B’ Bty18 ‘R’ Bty under command June to September and later.
February 1941:
With Air Defence Brigade of MNBDO, at sea (‘A’, ‘B’, ‘R’ and 22nd RM LAA Btys).
March 1941:
Egypt (as for February).
May 1941:
Crete (‘A’ Bty in Crete, ‘B’ Bty in Sidi Barrani, North Africa).
Summer 1941:
Egypt mainly on internal security duties and aerodrome defence19 (‘A’, ‘C’, ‘R’ and 22nd RM Light Btys).
21st December 1941:
Ceylon, HQ redesignated 1 RM AA Brigade, see unit history (‘A’ and ‘C’ Btys to 2nd RM (Heavy) AA Rgt.
‘R’ Bty to 11th RM (Searchlight) Rgt). (RMHS)

1940. February. The Landing and Maintenance Group/L & M Unit was Formed during February 1940, but naval ratings for boat crews and some RM specialists did not join this Group until late in 1940. At that time some units that later became part of HQ Wing were commanded by this Group. Elements of the Group had been with the 6–in gun coast defence RM Batteries that summer, before they embarked for Egypt. The name ‘Group’ was changed to Unit on 1st April 1941, when the subunits’ names were also changed, although their roles remained the same. The Boat Unit became the Boat Company with naval cutters and some landing craft when available, they were used for landing stores and equipment. By the summer of 1941 this Company was training with LCMs at Kabrit, Egypt. There were also two Companies equipped with scaffolding, concrete mixers, four Lister (TLC type) lorries, road roller, roller conveyor and other handling equipment for stores, pier building and making short sections of roadway.
In May 1941 the L & M Unit was in Crete, from where the majority of its personnel were successfully withdrawn. Early in 1942 they were deployed in building naval bases on islands in the Indian Ocean. The Unit formed a Transport Company and a Workshop Company in addition to Nos 1 and 2 Companies and the Boat Company. About this time the Unit moved to Ceylon.
The Unit went to India in 1943 for training with XXXIII Indian Corps and during this time, in October 1943 the
Beach Park Company was formed. Its personnel prepared sites for stores dumps etc. in a beachhead. (RMHS)

1940. February. The 11th RM Searchlight Regiment/ ‘S’ RM Battalion. The coastal searchlight crews of MNBDO Nucleus provided some men for this Regiment’s HQ, formed in February 1940 as part of MNBDO Air Defence Group (later Air Defence Bde, MNBDO I).
The Regiment’s HQ was in the following locations, with the units commanded shown in brackets:
14th February 1940:
With Air Defence Group later the Air Defence Brigade of MNBDO I Yeovil, Somerset with Batteries training from 15th February with 220 Searchlight Training Rgt RA (‘S’ and ‘R’ Btys). about May 1940: Exton, Devon in tented camp (‘S’ and ‘R’ Btys).
June 1940:
18th June at Exton, HQ and ‘S’ Bty formed ‘S’ Battalion of infantry, as no searchlights available and on 26th June ‘R’ Bty transferred to 1st RM AA Regiment.
Summer 1940:
‘S’ Battalion deployed in UK defences
20th September 1940:
Deal, Kent, the Regiment’s HQ and ‘S’ and ‘R’ Bakeries again as searchlight unit.
January 1941:
Portsmouth ‘R’ battery reverted to 1st RM AA Rgt, HQ and ‘S’ Bty prepare for embarkation.
March 1941:
Egypt HQ and ‘S’ Bty in Canal Zone
May 1941:
Crete where HQ and ‘S’ Bty formed an infantry unit (see Chapter 3); many were taken prisoner.
summer 1941:
‘R’ Battery manned flares in Suez Canal defences as well as searchlights.
July 1941:
Batteries became independent, serving with forces on Indian Ocean islands under command of local headquarters.
February 1943:
With Various Commands in Ceylon, the Regiments HQ had been re-formed and ‘S’ and ‘R’ batteries were again under command.
Summer 1943:
Ceylon with Batteries in air defences (‘S’ and ‘R’ batteries).
March 1944:
With 1 RM AA Brigade Ceylon, Batteries concentrated for embarkation (‘S’ and ‘R’ batteries).
May and June 1944:
Scotland where ‘S’ and ‘R’ Batteries were disbanded on 15th May and Regiment’s HQ in June. (RMHS)

1940. February. The RM Survey Section/Survey and Meteorological Section/1st RM Survey Company: formed in February 1940 as part of L & M Group, this Section provided maps and surveyors who located precisely the map grid reference of the gun positions of both AA and coast batteries, and advised on such matters as the guns’ heights above sea level, for calculation of the guns’ ranges etc. The meteorological services for AA and coast batteries came under the command of this Section from about September 1943 to March 1944 (it does not appear to have had RM in its title as it included RN meteorologists) when it was attached to 1 RM Air Defence Bde in Ceylon. Before the L & M Unit returned to the UK with this Section, the naval meteorological officers left it, and the Section became the 1st RM Survey Company with HQ AA Command Ceylon (formerly 1 RM Air Defence Brigade HQ). (RMHS)

1940. February. The 11th RM Battalion (formerly Land Defence Force) was formed as Land Defence Force of MNBDO (later MNBDO I) with cadres of all ranks at Fort Cumberland, under CO Maj G. W. M. Grover. In March moved to Plymouth, in May to Hayling Island and in June - CO Col R. Sturges deployed in defence of Deal (Subarea A6 of Home Command). In accordance with RM Circe 5078/408, 13th June 1940, became 11th RM Bn. In September 20 machine-gunners joined the Battalion after training at Browndown.
The Battalion embarked in early February 19411 and sailed for Egypt. In Egypt during the summer of 1941, the Battalion was often misused in doing fatigues for the army, until August. In about this month the Battalion was attached to C-in-C Mediterranean’s command ‘to be used as required’; as MNBDO I was rebuilding after Crete, the unit was an independent Battalion for all practical purposes. On 15th-16th April 1942 all ranks were led by Col Unwin raided Kupho Nisis island near Crete. Although used ‘mostly as a training raid’, the raiders successfully got ashore to destroy enemy installations. The Battalion’s first major operation was a raid of 13th-15th September on Tobruk). Here it suffered heavy losses with Lt. Col Unwin and 17 officers, including the MO, and 200 other ranks missing after the raid. Subsequently a number were reported as prisoners of war, including QMS R. (Reg) W. Beasant, aged 47, though the majority were 20 year old. After this action the Battalion was rebuilt and by January 1942 had a strength of 27 officers, 27 senior NCOs and 371 other ranks.
The Battalion was in Ceylon and India in 1942-43 on various duties until it returned to the UK, where it was disbanded in June 1944. (Elements reportedly remained in India until October 1944)(RMHD)

1940. February. Ray (Rocky) Tebble PO /X4774. Was born on 12th August 1922 and spent most of his early life in Croydon. He joined the sea cadets as a teenager and, at the age of 17 and a half, joined the Royal Marines in February 1940, in boy's time as his service engagement of 12 years with the Colours would not start until he was 18.
With nine other recruits he arrived at the Admiralty in Whitehall, where they were given a medical, sworn in and given the King’s shilling. After a miserable meal they were issued with railway warrants and instructed to proceed to Chatham. They were met by a Marine Sergeant who was wearing dress blues and the long green/khaki greatcoat which was winter dress. They were then led up to Melville Barracks and into a hay loft; were given bales of loose straw and told to fill their linen mattress/palliases covers. They were then sent to the barber where Ray at least was given a Mohican. Their first meal was tripe which he could not stomach so he went hungry.
Eventually Ray was sent to 386 squad and his two drill instructors were QMSIs Keeble and Smith, about whom the least best said. To young recruits they were menacing forms. Finally, in July, they became the King’s Squad and in August were passed for duty. After 7 days leave the Squad entrained for Eastney Barracks, Southsea, Portsmouth (Pompey) for sea service training.
During the course of gunnery training Ray qualified as a Quarters Rating Third Class. One day during a shooting at the range a number of German bombers flew over and their bombs dropped on Fort Cumberland. The squad was then doubled across the range to the fort where they were handed crowbars and shovels and organised into rescue parties. They retrieved a few people, some of whom were not alive, and the squad suffered other air raids on Pompey and became accustomed to death and unpleasant sights.
After completion of sea training in April 1941 nearly all Ray’s room mates were drafted to HMS Hood whilst he was posted to the RM detachment of HMS Ramillies. However, on arriving in Greenock on 19th May he was sent aboard HMS Rodney to journey to Halifax Nova Scotia as Ramillies was supposedly in dock there. His Mess corporal was Corporal Laver, who later became one of the Cockleshell heroes and was executed by a German firing squad. The ship had a complement of about 180 Marines. When the Rodney went into the action with Bismark Ray was sent to well below the water line to X turret magazine, where he and others were ordered to maintain supply of cordite charges. At 0600 the next morning the skipper announced over the tannoy that the ship would be engaging Bismark and he said, “he knew we would do our duty and wished us luck.” Shortly afterwards the ship’s Padre gazed upon them from the overhead hatch, and after a short address pronounced a blessing (last rites) and the hatch was firmly closed. All they knew of the subsequent action was the muffled roar of the big guns, but they were given permission to go up on deck after Bismark had already slipped under the waves. Rodney then returned to Greenock to restock ammunition and fuel and then proceeded to Boston; via Halifax Nova Scotia, where Ray disembarked.
Ramillies was not in dock so Ray was sent to HMS Repulse, for which he still had his ticket in 2015. Fortunately, Ramilies arrived an hour or so before the Repulse was due to sail, so he was sent to board it.
Whilst aboard Ramillies Ray took part in the landing at Diego-Suarez for Operation Ironclad in May 1942, for which he transferred to HMS Anthony. After the operation, whilst still in harbour, Ramillies was torpedoed by two midget Japanese submarines and was badly damaged. The ship returned to Durban and then to Plymouth where it was repaired.
Ray was then drafted to Combined Operations on 2 November 1942 where he joined the inshore fire support squadron, devised after the experiences of the Dieppe Raid, and the problems faced by attacking forces landing on an enemy defended coast without adequate fire support.
Consequently he was aboard LCG(L)2 at Salerno in September 1943, where he was awarded a Mention In Despatches. On returning to England he was transferred to LCG(L)18: the inshore fire support flotilla was named the Support Squadron Eastern Flank (SSEF) for Operation Neptune at Normandy. Returning to England in August he was again stationed at Eastney barracks where he applied to join the RM Commandos.
On 31 October he was called to the transport office and told he was leaving for Ostend to replace an RM on LCS(L)252. When he arrived the RM was still aboard, for whatever reason. They sailed for Walcheren overnight and subsequently LCS 252 was blown-up 50 yards from shore. Of the twenty five crew Ray, we understand, was the only survivor. He was pulled from the sea, still wearing his lifejacket, given copious amounts of rum, and returned to England.
He subsequently underwent commando training at Towyn in Wales, and at Achnacarry until 2 December 1944. On 5 January he sailed to India for jungle training with X troop 44 Commando; was sent to Burma and Singapore, and was bound for Malaya again when the war in the east ended.
He was then posted to Hong Kong where he spent time working with the local police, and was made up to Acting Temporary Sgt on 14 January 1946. He was then subsequently posted to Malta where he was stationed at Imtafa barracks. 44 Commando was renamed 40 Commando whilst Ray was stationed in Malta until 30 September 1947. He then returned to Eastney via Palestine in 1948, when he applied for discharge which he took at Chatham on 26 April.
His family emigrated to Australia in 1950 and Ray joined them in 1951, having spent the years since his discharge sailing the world as a crewman aboard merchant ships, including the Aquatania.
In 1959 he travelled from Queensland to Melbourne where he met Wendy, married in 1963, and had two sons. Ray and his young family returned to live in England in 1978, but made frequent return trips to Australia over the years. Wendy and Ray also began revisiting areas where Ray had seen service, including the Amalfi coast south of Naples, site of Operation Avalanche in 1943; the Normandy coast; and Walcheren.
Wendy began researching an MPhil at the Department of War Studies, King’s College in 1992, in which she was seeking to establish the history of inshore fire support craft, and copies of this thesis are lodged in the RM Archives at the RM Museum, and in the library of the Imperial War Museum. In the course of her research she visited the archives of the Grenadier Guards, and to her surprise was offered a voluntary position working in its the archives at Wellington Barracks in 1993, under the direction of Major Peter Lewis, a well-known figure in the Guards family. Ray was also to start working there with Wendy in 1994, two days each week for the next six years.
Ray was diagnosed with lung cancer in July 2013, and again with prostate cancer in March 2015, which was then found to have moved to his bones. He was still mobile when Jim Ellard arranged for him to take part in an ITV interview aboard HMS Bulwark on 2 June 2014, as part of the Normandy commemorations. He only resorted to a wheelchair in April 2015, and was only sent to hospital on 29 June because of a leg infection. On 7 July he developed pneumonia but was pain-free and conscious until the end. Wendy was with him until the end of afternoon visiting hours on 12 July, and their sons Nick and Adam were on their way to Ealing Hospital for the evening visiting hours. Ten minutes after Wendy left at 5.30pm Ray suddenly stopped breathing and the family was told that he had no pain and no distress of any kind.  For Ray it was a wonderful way to end his life. The Royal Marines coloured his entire life and he was incredibly proud to have been a member; and he lived to the full their motto Grace under Pressure.(RMAQ)

1940. February. The RM Signals Company / RM Signals Unit was formed in February 1940, its personnel were the signallers in an MNBDO. These specialist signallers served with both higher and lower formations. Early in 1943 the signals Company was redesignated Signals Unit but continued to provide specialist supervision and training for detachments with various HQs including that of the Survey and Meteorological Section. the Unit came under command of 3 Mobile Naval Base in August 1943, but the detachment with 1 RM AA Bde HQ may have been redesignated Signals detachment AA Command Ceylon.
HQ Wing: formed on 5th March 1940, it eventually was comprised of the following Camouflage Section; Beach Park Company (attached to L & M Units,) HQ Transport Company; Survey Section, which had two sub Sections Meteorological and Gun Location both attached to 1 RM Air Defence Bde; Bomb Disposal Section; and other specialists under command from time to time, including medical units. (RMHS)

1940. Early in the year. The15th RM Bn and Machine Gun Companies plans were being made to provide support units for the RM Division19 and in May 1940 the first draft of 62 recruits left Exton for the MG Companies. These were apparently to serve with each RM Battalion and in the Land Defence Forces (11th and 12th Bns). During December there was a reorganisation proposed, the MG Companies (except those with Land Defence Forces) forming the 15th RM MG Bn with an HQ formed in March 1941 at Hayling Island; the Battalion had an HQ Coy and Nos 1, 2, and 3 MG Coys. Further drafts did not join until October 1941 and in January and March 1942. In all over 43021 recruits were drafted to the Battalion from the Depot for training in Wales.
In the summer of 1942 the Battalion moved to Dalditch for combined training with infantry battalions, the main party arriving on 3rd July. Later the Battalion was reorganised into three independent companies, to serve with the Brigade Groups formed for possible operations in North Africa. Although the formation of a Support Battalion for each Brigade was suggested early in 1942, this was not accepted by the Chiefs of Staff. But from December 1942 the Battalion CO was appointed adviser to the Divisional GOC on tactical handling of MG Coys.
Although the formation of a Support Battalion for each Brigade was again considered in 1942, this was not accepted by the Chiefs of Staff. In August/September 1943 the Battalion was disbanded, many of the men being posted to the gun crews of support landing craft.(RHHS)

1940. Early in the year. The 19th RM Battalion and RM Companies a- were sent to  Scapa Flow. When this naval base was expanded in 1940, ‘W’ Company (MNBDO) of 211 Marines - mostly tradesmen, including National Servicemen arrived on Hoy (9th March) and were followed by ‘D’ Coy on 25th April. The companies had been known as the Labour Battalion, but this was changed to Auxiliary Battalion in April and in September 1942 changed again to 19th RM Battalion. By June 1940 five companies had been living in tents in Lyness (Hoy), and by October 1943 had completed much of the civil engineering work, including: drainage at Hoy and Flotta; roads; canteens; Mill Bay naval camp; the storage wharf with piers at Rinnigill; and a weather station for the RAF. In April 1940 they had also built, in only eight weeks, the seaplane slipway at Balta Sound in the Shetlands, and they helped to build and guard (from 1940 to 1942), the FAA base at Twatt. They also provided stevedores for unloading ships, with officers experienced in cargo handling, their men loading and discharging some 2,000 tons of stores and ammunition a week from 1940 to 1945.
When the civil engineering work passed to RM Engineer units in autumn of 1942, 19th RM Battalion was reduced to three companies. The others were redeployed with ‘X’ company becoming No. 3 Coy of Landing and Maintenance Unit of MNBDO II with effect from 1st October 1942. ‘W’ Company became No. 2 Coy of the Landing and Maintenance Unit of MNBDO I in November 1942. In December ‘Y’ Company was reformed as RM Boom Defence Scaffolding Unit.10 The companies at Scapa were then ‘A’ Coy of 122 all ranks for administration, ‘B’ Company of 235 all ranks for guards and escorts; and ‘C’ Coy of 128 stevedores with 12 transport drivers who also worked as stevedores.
The Battalion was formally disbanded on 15th July 1943, but certain personnel, including the stevedores presumably, were absorbed into the complement of HMS Prosperine the Scapa depot. But some contact was maintained with Fort Cumberland for administrative purposes, until the Scapa Base contracted in 1945.(RMHS)

1940. Early in the year. The 20th (Training) Battalion, formerly Known as the RM Division Reinforcement Depot, was formed at Sunshine Camp, Hayling Island, to give reinforcements their boat and other training, including landing exercises, for which companies were sent to Scotland. The first Marines had joined the Depot in April 1940, and on 16th January 1942 it was redesignated 20th RM Training Battalion, commanded by Lt. Col F. B. Pym. In June 1942, when the Sunshine Camp was taken over for LC crews’ training, the Battalion moved to Dalditch under command of 104 RM (Training) Bde. The staff trained recruit companies here until late October 1942, when the Battalion was merged with 21st RM Holding Battalion to form the Infantry training Centre.(RMHS)

1940. Tuesday 2nd April. 5th RM Battalion was formed at Cowshot Camp (Brookwood) Hampshire, commanded by Lt–Col H. E. Reading. The Battalion was part of 101 RM Bde. An advanced party went to Hayling Island in preparation for boat training, but the Battalion began to move to Tenby (South Wales) on 19th June. In August it embarked in the transport Karanja for the Dakar operations and sailed to Freetown. It returned to Scotland in late October, where it carried out exercises until June 1942. In February that year Lt. Col S. G. Cutler became CO and the Battalion moved to Ystrad (South Wales) on 8th–9th June, and on 2nd September Lt. Col K. Hunt took command. Some companies returned to Scotland for amphibious training in November/December. These companies and those in South Wales were assembled at Hursley (Hampshire) from 12th December 1942, moved to Ryde (Isle of Wight) in April 1943 and to Burley (Hampshire) on 29th May. Disbanded at burley early in August 1943, the HQ and most of the personnel were re–formed as 45 RM Commando.(RMHS)

1940. Wednesday 10th April. On This Day in 1940 Operation FORK, a force of Royal Marines was landed in Iceland by HMS Berwick and HMS Glasgow, receiving a warm welcome by the inhabitants, (though an official protest was made). Three merchant vessels (2 Swedish and 1 Danish) were found there and sent back to the UK.
FORK involved 815 man of 2 Bn RM, commanded by Col R G Sturges who were put ashore at Reykjavik harbour. The British government had ordered the invasions as it feared the island would be used by the Germans, who had recently overrun Denmark. The British consul, Gerald Shepherd, had received advance notice of the invasion and was waiting to assist the troops when they arrived.
Some of the locals protested against the arrival of the British. One Icelander snatched a rifle from a marine and stuffed a cigarette in it. He then threw it back to the marine and told him to be careful with it.
The British forces began their operations in Reykjavík by posting a guard at the post office and attaching a flyer to the door. The flyer explained, in broken Icelandic, that British forces were occupying the city and asked for cooperation in dealing with local Germans.
The next priority was to capture the German consulate. On arrival there, the British troops were relieved to find no sign of resistance and simply knocked on the door. Consul Gerlach opened it, protested against the invasion, and reminded the British that Iceland was a neutral country. He was reminded, in turn, that Denmark had also been a neutral country!

On Friday 17th May1940  4,000 additional troops of the Canadian Army arrived to relieve the Royal Marines. (Face Book RMHistoricalSociety David Abrutat‎ ).

1940. Wednesday 10th April. Two Skua squadrons, one commanded by Captain 'Birdie' Partridge RM flew from Hatson in the Orkneys to attack and sink the German cruiser Kőenisgsberg in Bergen harbour. The 'Coup de grace' was delivered by Captain E.D. McIver RM who was tragically killed during another raid four days later.

1940. Sunday 14th April. A small party of Royal Marines were first ashore at Namsos Norway. Where they seized the approaches to the Norwegian town in preparation for a landing by the British Army two days later.

1940. Monday 15th April - 21st December. The 2nd RM AA Regiment was formed with ‘C’, ‘D’ and 23rd RM Light Btys which were under training with RA Regiments.1 First CO Lt. Col C. M. Sergeant, 15th April to 21st December.
The Regiment’s HQ was in the following locations, with the units commanded shown in brackets:
15 April 1940:
With Coast Defence Group, Arborfield (‘C’, ‘D’ and 23rd RM Light AA Btys).
8th August 1940:
With Air Defence Gt Britain Matlock, Derbyshire (Btys as at 15th April).
January 1941:
With Air Defence Brigade MNBDO I, Portsmouth (Btys as at 15th April 1940).
March 1941:
Egypt (Btys as at 15th April 1940).
May 1941:
Crete (‘C’ Bty. elements of 23rd RM Light AA Bty and advance party from ‘D’ Bty).
June 1941:
Moascar, Egypt (after the Crete operation this Regiment had only elements of its three Btys with cadres from ‘D’ joining ‘C’ and some men from 22nd RM LAA Bty joining the 23rd RM Light AA Bty).
21st December 1941:
Cairo, the HQ became the 1st (Heavy) AA Rgt’s headquarters,3 ‘C’ and ‘D’ Btys to that Regiment and 23rd RM Light AA Bty to 2nd RM (Heavy) AA Regiment.
July 1942:
Headquarters re-formed. (RMHS)

1940. April. Charles Henry  Bowden former Corps Drum Major. Or as he was better known - Charlie' Bowden, not that the rank and file would have addressed him as 'Charlie', but certainly his fellow SNCOs and even Officers would use his more familiar name. He was born in Portsmouth on the 21st December 1916 in a road adjoining the Royal Marine Artillery Barracks and close enough to hear the bugle calls throughout the day. He came from a family with a very distinguished record of service in the Royal Marines. Both his grandfathers and three uncles served in the Corps and his brother Jack joined the Staff Band of the Chatham Division. Charlie's father was a Bugle Major and at the age of seven Charlie joined the RM Cadet Corps, where he made his mark, first becoming the Drum Major of the Cadet Drum and Fife Band and then the Cadet RSM. He left school at fourteen and went into civilian employment. His father, on leaving the Corps, had joined the Royal Marines Police and the family moved to Chatham.
Charlie joined the Corps in April 1940 at Arborfield as a 'Hostilities Only' Marine and was selected very quickly for promotion. Within a month he was promoted L/Cpl, three weeks later Acting Temporary Corporal and within five weeks Acting Temporary Sergeant. He was drafted into 'C' Battery of the Mobile Naval Base Defence Organization, better known as MNBDO and Charlie manned anti-aircraft guns during the Battle of Britain in the summer of 1940. In April 1941 MNBDO was sent to Alexandria, but after the evacuation of British Forces from Greece the unit was moved to Crete. Within a week of arriving on the Island of Crete Charlie was in a Field Hospital suffering from Dysentery. The German airborne invasion of the Island started on the 20th May 1941 and the tented hospital, in which Charlie was a patient, was raked by machine-gun fire. The hospital was over-run by the German parachutists who rounded-up the patients and made them march, in their pyjamas and boots, into captivity. A patrol of New Zealand troops attacked the column, opened fire and a number of men were killed. In the confusion Charlie escaped and took shelter in a cave near the beach at Suda Bay. Still dressed in pyjamas, boots and cap he later managed to locate his gun-site where he was nearly shot by a sentry. He was issued with some kit and a rifle and shortly afterwards the order was given to blow-up the guns and the Marines became an infantry platoon in a Royal Marine Battalion under the command of Major Ralph Garrett and they fought a rear-guard action for four days. By then the MNBDO numbered just under two thousand men, but by the 31st May, the last full day of the German invasion of the Island, they had suffered a large number of casualties. They retreated to the coast where Major Garrett dismissed the survivors of the Battalion telling them that they had the choice of waiting for the Germans to arrive and be taken prisoner, go into the hills and join the Cretan Resistance or try and make their way off the Island. An abandoned landing craft was found and a party of 139, including 56 Marines, some Australians, New Zealanders, a Greek and 2 Palestinians boarded the vessel. There was little fuel, food or drinking water but Major Garrett cast off on the 1st June and after an epic voyage during which two men died the craft beached on the North African coast about seventeen miles west of Sidi Barani, but not knowing if they were behind the British or the German lines. Charlie, together with a young Australian soldier set off in the darkness to reconnoitre and they came across a pipeline which led them to a British anti-aircraft battery. Transport was organised, and the survivors taken into the camp.
After serving for some time in Egypt Charlie moved to Ceylon as part of a force to defend the Island should the Japanese attack. In 1944 he returned to the UK and was drafted to HMS SEA SERPENT as a Temporary Acting Colour Sergeant and shortly after promoted to Temporary Acting Company Sergeant Major. He was very much involved with the training of troops prior to D-Day and he himself crossed over to France in July 1944.
While serving at HMS SEA SERPENT he met Betty, a young Wren, and they were married in January 1946 by which time he was at the Depot Deal where he qualified as an MTI (Parade) with a Distinguished PASS mark. In 1949 he volunteered to become Drum Major of the Depot Band and a year later, when the Royal Marines School of Music moved back to Deal, Charlie was officially appointed to be Drum Major of the Depot Staff Band, later becoming the Corps Senior Drum Major. The number of very high-profile ceremonial engagements in which he led the Deal Staff Band or Corps Massed Bands are too long to relate but included twelve Royal Tournaments, five Beat Retreat ceremonies on Horse Guards Parade and six Edinburgh Tattoos in addition to Band Engagements all over the country.
In 1953, as the Senior Drum Major, he led a Massed Band at the Coronation of HM The Queen and was awarded the Coronation Medal. Four years later he was awarded the BEM. He led the band on many occasions at Wembley and Twickenham stadiums at International Games and Cup Finals. Charlie also headed the band on various overseas visits, to Canada for the British Columbia Centennial Celebrations in 1958 and the following year the band travelled to Toronto for the Canadian National Exhibition. In 1965 Lt Colonel Dunn took the Staff Band of the RMSM to the USA undertaking a three-month tour with Charlie leading the Band in the arena displays. In 1961 the band had gone to Sierra Leone for that country's Independence ceremonies during which Charlie was warned by a British Diplomat that as soon as the Union Flag was lowered the band should get out of the country as soon as possible! In 1965 the Portsmouth and RMSM bands, led by Drum Majors CH Bowden and CE Bowden and under the direction of Captain Paul Neville, massed together to participate in the funeral procession of Sir Winston Churchill.
Charlie appeared in two films - 'Thunderbirds Are Go' which closed with him dressed in full ceremonial uniform filling the screen and bellowing in his best parade ground voice, "Thunderbirds Are Go" which was followed by the RMSM Band providing the film's closing music. In the film musical 'Oliver', during filming of a Dickensian London street scene with the tune 'Who Will Buy', Charlie appears leading a drum & Fife band in period uniform throwing the staff (mace) in the air with great aplomb. The drummers were from the RMSM Band, but Charlie had a few problems teaching the civilian fife players how to march. However, under his tuition, they were perfect when the scene was eventually filmed. In 1958 Charlie's picture appeared on the front page of the Radio Times advertising a Massed Bands Beat Retreat on Horse Guards Parade. He was awarded a 'bar' to his Long Service and Good Conduct medal in 1970 and, in 1971, a public house opposite the Jubilee Gate , South Barracks, Deal, was renamed 'The DRUM MAJOR' with a pub sign displaying a painting of Charlie in full ceremonial uniform.
His last ceremonial parade was at the White City stadium in London in 1972 and two weeks later he retired from the Royal Marines having completed twenty-three years as a Drum Major. His total service in the Corps was 32 years and three months during which he had been an NCO for all but the first three months. His Service Certificate shows that he was never assessed below Very Good/Superior which is probably unique! On leaving the Corps Charlie became Beadle of the Worshipful Company of Saddlers and was made a Freeman of the City of London prior to finally retiring in December 1981. Betty and Charlie moved from Deal to Porlock where Charlie soon became a keen member of the Royal British Legion. He was also a life member of the Royal Marines Historical Society. Together with his wife Betty, also a member of the Society, he would take a taxi for the long journey from Porlock to Portsmouth in order to attend Annual General Meetings of the RMHS.
Betty died in 2007 leaving Charlie to look after himself. Still involved in local affairs but with health declining he was moved into a Minehead nursing home in 2010. His health continued to deteriorate, and he died peacefully there on the 7th January 2011. Many former members of the RM Band Service travelled long distances from London, Deal, Portsmouth, Malvern and the West Country to attend his funeral at Porlock. The present Corps Drum Major, WO1 James Whitwham MBE, represented the RM Band Service and two buglers from CTCRM Lympstone played Last Post and Reveille impeccably.
Charlie was by any measure an outstanding Royal Marine. A fine family man, extremely generous and a true friend. He was also a very modest man who set a high standard for himself and for others to follow. (from Colin E Bowden).

1940. April. 'Dieppe Remembered.' John Gardiner, an HO, joined Exton Camp at Lympstone in 1940 and did his basic training there before moving to Dalditch Camp on Woodbury Common to complete his advanced handling and weapon training.
On completion of training he was posted to the RM Division at Kelso in Scotland where he volunteered for Special Services.
He with 700 other volunteers arrived at Depot RN Deal in April 1942. They came from all over the world, including the RM Division, battle ships and cruisers as far afield as Gibraltar, Malta and Alexandria. The 700 were paraded on the Depot main parade and were addressed by Lt Col Picton Phillips. Colonel Picton Phillips said they had to form a Commando of 407 strong to train for a special operation.
The next day the selection process started. Colonel Picton Phillips put them through their paces assisted by Major Houghton, the 21/C and Captain Hellings, one of the Company Commanders, and 407 were chosen. John Gardiner was one of the lucky ones.
John Gardiner was posted to Captain Helling's "A" Company and his officers were Lieutenants Mike Ephraums, Copsey and Equipont.
Royal Marine 'A' Commando then moved to the Isle of Wight in May 1942 to train. The Commando was never stationed in a barracks but always billeted in digs. He was billeted with a family who refused to take any money because they said it was their part of the war effort. The Commando trained hard on the Isle of Wight for two months in June and July by day and night. In August 1942 they were ready for action.
The Commando then moved to Portsmouth where they waited for orders to embark. No one, however, had been told where the raid was to take place. They then embarked in HMS 'Locust' in the dockyard, just past HMS 'Victory'. HMS 'Locust' was a Yangtse Gun Boat, flat-bottomed with sandbags on the gunwales for protection. Its Captain was Commander Ryder VC, who had recently returned from the raid at Saint Nazaire.
The small flotilla sailed at 1800 hours on 18th August 1942, with the Naval Commander Captain Hughes Hallett in HMS 'Barclay', a Hunt Class Destroyer. There seemed to be very few large supporting ships in the convoy which was carrying a Canadian Division, No 3 and 4 Army Commando and Royal Marine 'A' Commando.
There was, however, air cover from the RAF without which the raid would have been impossible. Gardiner remembers the Canadians going ashore in Landing craft and being heavily engaged with murderous fire on the steep pebble beach. Their tanks were either hit or bogged down on the shingle. The two Army Commandos landed on the flanks with the task of securing the German Gun Batteries. Royal Marine 'A' Commando was held in reserve.
Finally 'A' Commando was ordered ashore to support the Canadians on White and Red Beach. Gardiner scrambled down a rope ladder into a waiting Landing Craft. They moved towards the beach supported by a smoke screen from the destroyers. The smoke screen, however, was 200 yards short of the beach and their craft were fully exposed to German gunfire. The radios did not work, and he saw Colonel Picton Phillips stand up and wave with his white gloves for them to retire before he was killed. Gardiner's landing craft received a direct hit which blew off the screw so that it was out of control. He managed to scramble on board a French corvette. The force withdrew to Portsmouth aboard HMS 'Locust', where Gardiner and a few of his friends who had survived disembarked. Gardiner walked out of the dockyard gate and went into the Post Office to send a telegram to his mother. The girl behind the counter said it would cost nine pence. Gardiner explained that he had been on the Dieppe raid and had no money. The girl was adamant and refused to send the telegram.
Gardiner then made his way to the Isle of Wight where the Commando regrouped. He attended a memorial service at RM Barracks, Eastney before moving to Weymouth. At Weymouth they trained for another raid on Ostend which never took place. They then re-formed as 'A' Troop, 40 Royal Marine Commando, and sailed for Italy and Sicily. (by Major C .J Smith RM.)

1940. Friday 10th May. 'Invasion of Norway had begun'.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 Force was commanded by Colonel R. G. Sturges RM. They sailed in the cruisers Berwick and Glasgow, with the destroyers Fearless and Fortune, in company on the 8th May 1940. Mr C. Howard-Smith, C.M.G., Minister-designate to Iceland, who had left Denmark when the Germans marched in, accompanied the Force.
On the 10th April 1940:
When the squadron was within 30 miles of Reykjavik, The Berwick's Walrus was flown off to reconnoitre the harbour, and the Fortune made an anti-submarine sweep of the approaches. The cruisers anchored half a mile from the harbour while the fearless took ashore the first flight of troops, including the Royal Marine detachment from H.M.S. Berwick.
A violent snow-storm came on, so that the Berwick was able to steam into the inner harbour and go alongside the inner jetty in the centre of town before she had been seen from the shore. The berth was clear and there was no opposition. This was shortly after 4-a.m. it was by then quite light.
The landing party was met by a few civilians, mainly British residents who spoke the language. They acted as guides, the Marines lost no time in posting pickets on the three main roads leading from the town, occupying the post and telegraph office, the main telephone exchange and the station.
Cars were commandeered, and all objectives were secured without interference from the local inhabitants or the police.
One of the first objectives was:
The occupation of the German Consulate. Two Platoons, under Major S. G. Cutler had been detailed for this purpose. They reached the Consulate expecting resistance. The Consul-General, Herr Gerlach, was known to be an ardent member of the Nazi party. Some time before the war the Swiss Government had requested his removal from Berne.
In response to Major Cutler's knocking, he opened the door himself. He was fully dressed even at that time of the morning. On seeing the Marines he protested, but led the way into the hall. One object of occupying the Consulate was to impound the secret documents. To prevent them from being burned, Major Cutler had thoughtfully brought with him a phoneme fire-extinguisher.
Having dealt with the Consul, he was about to search the cellar, where he thought the papers might be stowed, when there was a cry: 'Fire on the first floor!'
He dashed upstairs, to find flames rising to a height of 20-feet. The Consul's wife and elder daughter were rushing about in their night gowns, throwing all of the confidential books and secret documents in a bath, which had about 5-inches of paraffin in it and was blazing.
Marines ripped the clothes off:
Of the double bed in the Consul's bedroom, flung them on the bath and brought the phoneme into action. They extinguished the fire in a few seconds, thereby saving most of the documents.
Herr Gerlach was then escorted round the house while a search was made for booby-traps by him opening the drawers, lifting up the carpets and moving the furniture.
The members of the Consulate were given time to pack two suitcases each, but were warned that if they attempted to secretly hide any books or papers they would be allowed to take nothing. They were then assembled in the hall.
Herr Gerlach asked to be allowed to fetch his overcoat from the cloakroom. He was escorted by Major Cutler and a sergeant. As he reached for the coat his left hand went for a pocket. Major Cutler seized his arm and took a loaded revolver from the overcoat. Herr Gerlach was then placed under an armed guard.
Cars were commandeered, by 8:45 the Consul, his family and his staff were embarked on H.M.S. Glasgow. The ensign of the German Consulate was hauled down and was subsequently signed by the senior N.C.O.s of the battalion. On its return to England the swastika was hung in the sergeants' mess at Eastney Barracks.
On the morning of the landing:
Colonel Sturges was able to report: "All quiet, inhabitants friendly."
Trawlers were requisitioned to disembark the stores. One of these was Faraday, of Hull. Less than 15 minutes after the Marines boarded her, She was steaming towards the Berwick for her first load. Her crew joined in the work of unloading and her skipper refused to accept the requisitioning chit which entitled him to payment. He and his men were glad to work for nothing.
All stores and equipment were ashore by 5:30. The presence of H.M.Ships no longer necessary, the squadron weighed anchor an hour later. As a precaution against a German airborne invasion, Sturges Force took over the seaplane station, the local glider club and a possible landing ground 43 miles outside Reykjavik.
The 2-pounder anti-aircraft pom-poms were mounted on the outskirts of the town. This bloodless blitzkrieg was accomplished, without a single shot being fired-even by accident.
The Icelanders accepted the situation philosophically. They like the Faeroes, are an independent people and it is not supposed that they welcomed the occupation of their islands. Nevertheless, they recognised that the Germans might have come had the British not done so, and they regarded the British as the lesser of the two evils.
As in the Faeroes, the inhabitants:
Were soon on friendly terms with the Marines, and before the last of the Force had left more than one British-Icelandic marriage had been arranged. With the occupation complete and the situation well in hand, the work of the Royal Marines was done.
On 20th May, 11-days after landing, the command was transferred to the Army. Force Sturges re-embarked in the transports they came in and returned to the UK. After the occupation the Germans broadcast a statement that there would not be a single British soldier left in Iceland in 10-days' time.
Colonel Sturges's answer was include in his Defence Orders: "There is only one scale of resistance-to the last round and the last bayonet."
The threat did not materialize.
The initial credit must go to the Corps. For its dispatch in handling a difficult situation, and it may well be proud to include 'Iceland' as another battle honour which its colours cannot contain. (Author Unknown)

1940. May. 1st and 2nd RM Anti–MTB: the ‘1st’ with Force Sturges in Iceland, May 1940, with 4 x 2pdr Pom–Poms; served in air defence Devonport (Plymouth) in October 1940; later equipped with Bofors; redesignated ‘Portsmouth’ Battery in Ceylon August 1943. The ‘2nd’ when in Falmouth with 2nd Coast Bde in 1941 had 4 x 2pdr Pom–Poms and was later equipped with Bofors. (RMHS)

1940. Monday 20th May. Sea Borne Escape from Crete in a Damaged Landing Craft. When the Germans invaded Crete, Colour Sergeant Charlie Bowden RM was in a hospital suffering from dysentery. Soon he and the other patients were being marched, in their pyjamas, into captivity. Bowden's column was attacked by a patrol of New Zealanders, however, and in the confusion, he escaped and hid in a cave near Suda Bay until he could set out to discover his own battery. He eventually located it but, still dressed in pyjamas, was shot at by a sentry.

Scrounging a uniform and a rifle, Bowden manned the guns until receiving the order to blow them up rather than let them fall into German hands. His unit then became part of an infantry platoon under the command of Major Ralph Garrett which, during the next four days, fought a bloody rear-guard action. Retreating to the island's south coast, half the men of the formation were wounded or killed.

There Garrett told survivors that they could wait to be taken prisoner, join the resistance, or try to make their way off the island. Bowden chose to stay with Garrett who, when they found an abandoned landing craft, called out: "Who's for home? All aboard the Skylark."

They set out with 139 men, including 56 Marines, some Australians, New Zealanders, a Greek and two Palestinians. There was little fuel, food or water, but Bowden had found a map of the Mediterranean in a deserted school and this became their chart. "It was all in Greek," he recalled, "but we could still recognise the shape of the countries."
Their supplies were a travelling clock, odd tins of oil and petrol, and biscuits and bully beef which had been abandoned on the beach. With only one engine working, and the deck just above water level, they set sail at 08.55 on the morning of Saturday 1st June 1940.

When they ran out of fuel they used their bootlaces to stitch together a sail of blankets and dived over the side in groups to steer the landing craft by swimming. After nine days, during which time two men died, the craft beached on the North African coast. Many of the survivors were so weak that they could not stand, but two Maoris went to search for water. Meanwhile, not knowing if they were behind British or German lines, Bowden and a young Australian officer set off into the darkness to reconnoitre.

A pipeline led them to a British anti-aircraft battery, where they summoned transport, and Bowden returned to the beach to report to Garrett. Though many were ill and without boots, they marched to a rendezvous which Bowden had fixed, where a convoy of lorries was waiting to take them to safety. Within days Garrett's Royal Marines were re-equipped and ready to fight again.

Charles Henry Bowden was born on Thursday 21st December 1916 in Portsmouth in a house outside the Royal Marine Artillery Barracks, close enough to hear bugle calls throughout the day. Both his grandfathers and three uncles and a brother had served in the Royal Marines, and Charlie's father was a bugle major.

At the age of seven Charlie joined the RM Cadet Corps, where he became drum major of the Cadet Drum and Fife Band and then Cadet RSM. On leaving school at 14, however, he went into civilian employment.

In April 1940 Bowden signed up as a 'hostilities only' marine. Within five weeks he was an acting temporary sergeant and had been drafted into the Mobile Naval Base Defence Organisation (MNBDO), the forerunner of today's Royal Marines Commando. He was in charge of an anti-aircraft battery during the Battle of Britain before, in April 1941, the MNBDO was sent to Alexandria, and then to Crete.

After his escape from the island, Bowden served in Egypt and Ceylon before, in 1944 returning to Britain to help train troops for D-Day. He eventually landed in France in July 1944.

Post-war, Bowden was promoted Royal Marines Corps Senior Drum Major, taking a leading part in numerous high profile ceremonial engagements, including 12 Royal Tournaments, five Beating Retreat ceremonies on Horse Guards Parade and six Edinburgh Tattoos. In 1953 he led a massed band at the Coronation. He also led the band on many sporting occasions at Wembley and Twickenham, and on several overseas tours.

In 1961, when the band was in Sierra Leone for independence ceremonies, he recalled the advice of a British diplomat that as soon as the Union Flag had been lowered and the band had finished, the musicians should get out of the country.

Bowden appeared in two films: Thunderbirds Are Go closed with him dressed in full ceremonial uniform, filling the screen and bellowing in his best parade-ground voice 'Thunderbirds Are Go!'; in Oliver Bowden flung his mace in front of a drum and fife band through the streets of a make-believe Dickensian London. When, in 1971, a pub outside the RM barracks in Deal was renamed The Drum Major, its sign showed Bowden in full uniform.

In 1946 he married WRNS Betty Young, who died in 2001, he is survived by their two daughters.

On leaving the Royal Marines, Bowden became beadle of the Worshipful Company of Saddlers. He retired to Porlock.

Colour Sergeant Charlie Bowden died age 94 in 2011, he was a Royal Marines gunner who survived being shot at by both the enemy. After the war he led many musical extravaganzas.

Colour Sergeant Charlie Bowden, who died aged 94 During 2011 was a Royal Marines gunner who survived being shot at by both the enemy and his own side before taking part in a remarkable seaborne escape from Crete in 1941.

1940. May - June. The 31st and 32nd RM Howitzer later RM Light Btys: initially equipped with 3.7–in howitzers, ‘A’ Section of the ‘31st’ went to the Shetland Islands in May to July 1940. Other Sections, as part of the RM Division, had 3.7–in guns in lorries towing limbers, but this did not prove satisfactory. These units redeployed as 2nd RM Support Craft Bty (from the ‘31st’) and in the 1st RM Support Craft Bty, after the gunners had trained on 25pdrs. (RMHS)

1940. May. 102 RM Brigade was formed when the RM Brigade was divided into brigades each of two battalions, this was at first designated 2nd Brigade in about May 1940,1 but in August the number was changed to avoid confusion with army units and RM Bn, to 102 RM Bde. It was commanded by Brig R. H. Campbell, who would later command the Division. His HQ had been formally opened on 16th July at Plymouth and moved to Liverpool on 19th August but only of the HQ appears to have sailed (with 101 Bde HQ) to Freetown, and this Brigade’s 2nd and 3rd RM Bns remained in Freetown (West Africa) until February 1941, when they returned to the UK. The Bde HQ continued to train its battalions until August 1943, when its HQ personnel became the HQ staff of 3 Special Service (Cdo) Brigade.(RMHS)

1940. Mid May. RM Quick Firing (QF) Regiment was formed by MNBDO I in mid–May 1940 at the time of the German invasion of France. The Regiment was part of
16 land batteries formed by Royal Naval personnel and largely staffed by officers from HMS Effingham, which had recently been sunk. The 41st RM QF Battery sailed for Dunkirk but was not landed (25th May) and was detached with eight 12pdr Portees (guns on lorries) to 15 Division at Dunmow, Essex, during June and July. While the other two Batteries, were equipped like the ‘41st’ were also detached: ‘42nd’ to 5th Loyals at Crowborough, Sussex May to 12th July; and ‘43rd’ to 18 Division HQ at Norwich, Norfolk during May and June. These batteries, each of six officers and 165 other ranks, were all disbanded within 10 weeks of their formation(RMHS).

1940. Eric Foulkes RM Remembers. "Early May 1940, on my call up, I reported to the R A Depot called Hadrians Camp, Carlisle, where we were kitted out, did the usual drilling, as well as gunnery. Before leaving we were granted the freedom of the city, and proudly marched through the city centre with fixed bayonets, a first for the Royal Marines.
Next we went to Towyn, North Wales, where we fired our first live ammunition, at targets towed by planes; I was No 6 on the Sperry Predictor. It was here that we were put on two minute notice for embarkation to Norway but this was called off. So we moved to Exton, and I clearly recall that we were billeted, eight men in bell tents; these were in fields on the side of the road to the main gates, there were not many buildings I recall, the largest being a mess hall, office and guard room. At mealtimes we gathered our eating utensils, and marched to the mess down the road which led to the parade ground. A parade Sergeant Major Chivers was in charge there.
I was on guard duty when the then Commandant General visited, I am not sure, but I think it was Sir Dallas. Brookes at that time. But what I remember most of our short stay there was being paid an extra 4 pence per day for hard lying, plus 4 pence per day in lieu of the rum ration, and with my 1 shilling a day I found it helped to cope with the supply of blanco, tooth-powder, Brasso and shoe polish which was required of us, to keep up to standard. After about 4 weeks stay at Exton we were on the move again. In the early hours of night we were ordered to parade in full marching order and issued with 50 rounds, one tin of bully-beef, one packet of hard tack biscuits; then entrained at Lympstone station, non-stop to Dover harbour. We boarded a ship for France, then suddenly orders were to disembark, fall in on the dockside as the ship was in need for the evacuation of Dunkirk.
We marched off to Folkestone and took over A A guns defending Hawkinge Aerodrome." (From Major C .J Smith RM)

1940. Thursday 30th May. Band Boys were evacuated from Depot, Deal to RM Reserve Camp Exton, at Lympstone because of the Depots proximity to the battle of France. Two weeks later the remainder of the RNSM followed and moved into a fort at Plymouth.

1940. May. 45 Commando RM formed in May 1940 as 5th RM Battalion and converted at Burley to 45 RM Commando in August 1943. Redesignated to present title in December 1945.

1940. May. 'Early Days in Exton Camp' From Eric Foulkes RM. "Early May 1940, on my call up, I reported to the R A Depot called Hadrian's Camp, Carlisle, where we were kitted out, did the usual drill­ing, as well as gunnery. Before leaving we were granted the freedom of the city, and proudly marched through the city centre with fixed bayonets, a first for the Royal Marines.
Next we went to Towyn, North Wales, where we fired our first live ammunition, at targets towed by planes; I was No 6 on the Sperry Predictor. It was here that we were put on two minute notice for embarkation to Norway, but this was called off. So we moved to Exton, and I clearly recall that we were billeted, eight men in bell tents; these were in fields on the side of the road to the main gates, there were not many buildings I recall, the largest being a mess hall, office and guard room. At mealtimes we gathered our eating utensils, and marched to the mess down the road which led to the parade ground. A parade Sergeant Major Chivers was in charge there.
I was on guard duty when the then Commandant General visited, I am not sure, but I think it was Sir Dallas. Brookes at that time. But what I remember most of our short stay there was being paid an extra 4 pence per day for hard lying, plus 4 pence per day in lieu of the rum ration, and with my 1 shilling a day I found it helped to cope with the supply of blanco, tooth-powder, Brasso and shoe polish which was required of us, to keep up to standard. After about 4 weeks stay at Exton we were on the move again. In the early hours of night we were ordered to parade in full marching order and issued with 50 rounds, one tin of bully-beef, one packet of hard tack biscuits; then entrained at Lympstone station, non-stop to Dover harbour. We boarded a ship for France, then suddenly orders were to disembark, fall in on the dockside as the ship was in need for the evacuation of Dunkirk.
We marched off to Folkestone and took over A A guns defending Hawkinge Aerodrome." (From Eric Foulkes RM)

1940. June. Harwich Auxiliary Patrol. Formed from trawler crews in June 1940 with trawlers and other small vessels, the Patrol was in action against E boats and German planes. The crews were instructed in small arms and gunnery by nine RM sergeant pensioners.(RMHS)

1940. Sunday 9th June, a department in the War Office was created to deal with the issues surrounding the creation of such a force. This office was to become known as 'Combined Operations' as it involved all three services. Churchill had called for 20,000 men, who he called 'Leopards' ready to spring at the throats of the Germans at short notice. Recruits were drawn from the British Army and even the British Police Force. Churchill himself ordered that they should be equipped with the best equipment.

1940. Monday 24th and Tuesday 25th June. The first Commando raid took place along the Northern French coast at Boulogne le Touquet. Known as 'Operation Collar' although officially it was not carried out by a Commando unit, but by No 11 Independent Company.

1940. July. The Special Boat Section was formed by Commando officer Roger Courtney. Courtney became a commando recruit in mid-1940, and was sent to the Combined Training Centre in Scotland. He was unsuccessful in his initial attempts to convince Admiral of the Fleet Sir Roger Keyes and later Admiral Theodore Hallett, commander of the Combined Training Centre, that his idea of a kayak brigade would be effective. He decided to infiltrate HMS Glengyle, a Landing Ship, Infantry anchored in the River Clyde. Courtney paddled to the ship, climbed aboard undetected, wrote his initials on the door to the captain's cabin, and stole a deck gun cover. He presented the soaking cover to a group of high-ranking Royal Navy officers meeting at a nearby Inveraray hotel. He was promoted to captain, and given command of twelve men, the first Special Boat Service/Special Boat Section. Although it was initially named the ‘Folboat Troop,’ after the type of folding canoe employed in raiding operations.

1940. Saturday 20th July - 11th November. Captain O. Patch RM took part in a night torpedo attack on Tobruk harbour, sinking two Italian destroyers.

1940. July. Force X/RM Detachment 300 was initially comprised an RM Ship Unloading Company, RM Engineers and landing craft crews serving under RN command in Iceland from July 1940 to June 1942. There they handled stores and other work at the RN Repair Base at Hvitanes. (The LC Flotilla subsequently went to New Guinea in the late summer of 1944.) In February 1943 another Force X RM was formed at Deal with 480 RM Engineers, kitted for shore service but with sea kit bags. Each man had a rifle, 50 rounds of ammunition and the Force had three days rations. Its postal address was RM Detachment 300. Having had embarkation leave, the Detachment was ready for overseas service by March 1943 (dated 3rd February 1943). Elements of  Force X or possibly  men  from Detachment 300 were still in Iceland in 1944. (RMHS)

1940. Friday 10th August. 390 Kings Squad was the first Kings Squad to pass for duty at the Lympstone Camp. After completing their basic training at RM Depot Deal and Naval Gunnery at Chatham.

1940. Thursday 22nd August. Captain O. Patch RM led a flight of three swordfish against Italian ships in Bomba Bay. The flight sank four ships with three torpedoes, an exploit which won him the Distinguished Service Order.

1940. Thursday 22nd August. 'When The Marines Manned The Guns". Over Southern England the Luftwaffe was locked in combat with the RAF to gain air supremacy prior to the mounting of Operation Sealion. In. the harbours of Calais, Boulogne, Dunkerque and Ostende the lines of barges awaited the signal to set sail, while along the coast of the Pas de Calais feverish work proceeded to ready the German long-range guns to bombard the shores of Kent in support of the invasion.
In the underground War Room beneath Whitehall the Prime Minister, Winston Churchill, waited for a special telephone call informing him that one of his pet anti-invasion schemes had been put into operation. When it came it was short and to the point:
"I have to nom you, Sit that at 09.45. "Good," came the growled reply.
Most people, even those living in Kent, will associate the Corps of Royal Marines with the Royal Navy, as since their formation as The Duke of York and Albany's Regiment in 1664, they have been known as Britain's 'Sea Soldiers'. What may not be so well known is their association with heavy artillery, although they have been manning ship's guns since 1804, and even trained naval gunners until 1859.
After the evacuation of Dunkerque, and the occupation of the Channel Coast of Prance, the Germans started to construct four long-range gun batteries in the Cap Gris Nez area, and moved up some K.5 railway guns to Calais. Winston Churchill decided that the British coastal defences needed strengthening, and proposed that long'-range guns be installed near Dover to provide protect­ion against the expected invasion fleet, also for the bombard­ment of the German batteries. (This was first mooted in 1918 when there were plans for two 18 in. guns to be mounted at St Margaret's Bay to bombard the French coast when it looked as if the Germans would break through our defences along the coast.)
The only barrels (or pieces as they are known) available were from four 14 in. B.L. Mk VII ex-naval gufis from World War One battleships. But only two mountings were available. The plans for the installation of the guns were formulated on June 14th 1940, the site being in the valley behind the village of St Margaret's at Cliffe, near Dover - the nearest point to the French coast. Work started on the old St Margaret's golf course on June 24th, while games were still being played on the course. As well as the actual guns, construction work started on obser­vation posts, fire control buildings, shell stores, power houses, communications, shelters and living accommodation.
Because of the weight of. the mountings and the pieces, a railway track was laid from the old spur line from Martin Mill station to Dover Harbour at Bere Farm, running along the valley to cross the main road to the village near Townsend Farm. Three heavy lifting railway cranes, the only ones in the country, were employed for the erection of the guns, the mountings being delivered by rail after bridges en route had been strengthened. The pieces were delivered by gun barges 'Cog' and 'Magog' to Sittingbourne and thence by rail to St Margaret's. The mounting for the first gun (christened 'Winnie' in the PM's honour) was delivered on July 10th and the piece installed by August 7th. The second gun (called 'Pooh' by association with 'Winnie') was in position by the end of the year and ready for firing by February 8th 1941, Winston having made frequent visits to check on progress.
'Winnie' was housed in a steel barbette or gun shelter with a pitched roof, but 'Pooh' had no overhead protection. Some idea of the size of the task can be gauged from the statistics for the various parts of the installations: the Wountings were in two sections each weighing 75 tons; the cradles weighed 15 tons and the pieces 97 tons each; the mounting also had a 20 ton counterweight. Loading was by a derrick mounted behind the gun which lifted the shells from small railway trolleys. The whole operation being carried out while overhead Messerschmitt fighters and Junkers dive-bombers were engaged by Spitfire and Hurricane squadrons. On more than one occasion the sites were machine-gunned and dive-bombed, luckily with only a few casualties and little damage. The German guns were in action by August 12th and added to the difficulties, and the following month 'Winnie' was shelled, and civilians and servicemen killed and wounded.
An elaborate latticework of scaffold poles supported painted wire-wool impregnated netting over the guns to act as camouflage, while as an extra aid to deception, two duny guns, with the same overhead camouflage, were installed but with a telegraph pole acting as the piece. Again, this work had to be carried out in full view of the enemy and it is rumoured that on one occasion the Luftwaffe dropped a wooden bomb on one of the dummies. The camouflage work was carried out by specialists previously employed in film set construction under the direction of Sir Jaspar Maskerlayne, the well-known stage illusionist.
To add to the make believe, the railway line to 'Pooh' was extended to the dummy gun using spare sleepers and lengths of railway line.
When the guns were ready they were handed over to a detachment of Royal Marines under the command of Lt Col H D Fellows DSO, as 'A' Battery Royal Marine Siege Regiments It was Lt Col.
Fellows who had the honour of firing the first shot from England to France and to report the fact to Winston Churchill. Normally the range of the 14 in. Mk VII B.L. gun was not sufficient to reach France, but a method of 'supercharging' using extra cordite was devised to increase the range by one-third, 'Pooh' now being able to fire some 48,000 yards (27.1 miles). However there were drawbacks, the 'super-charging' caused the rifling in the linings to wear excessively, and by the middle of December 1940 'Winnie' , already well worn on the ranges before installation, had to have the piece replaced after tiring only 47 rounds, this being done between 22nd-29th of the month, Protection for the installations was provided by two naval Pom. Poms as well as Lewis machine guns and local Royal Artillery ack-ack batteries. The offer by a Royal Marine corporal to be hoisted aloft in a balloon to try and shoot down the dive-bombers with a Lewis gun was declined. A drawback to effective counter-battery work was the lack of facilities to record the fall of shot and thus adjust ranging. During the initial bombardments of the German guns an Avro Anson spotting plane was dispatched to Calais for air observation post work, but was attacked by enemy fighters and damaged so it had to carry out a forced landing behind 'Winnie'.
Two additional long-'range guns were installed at Astze Farm, on the seaward side of 'Winnie', these being 15in ack ack gun manned by the Royal Artillery and tied into the fire zone system and with radar plotting. These were ready for service by 13th August 1942 and took up counter battery work and by July 1943 the Royal Marine's guns were put into "Care and Maintenance'. By March 1944 the Flag Officer Ccuiiag Dover was querying the need for the retention of person to man the guns when there was a requirement for 90 loyal Marines for 'Overlord' (the D-Day Invasion). But an appendix added by the Director of Local Defence to the above on the 3rd August pointed out that " (By David G Collyer)

1940. August. The Royal Marines Division was formed as the British Royal Marines expanded to meet operational demands during the Second World War. The RM Division's primary role was to serve as an amphibious warfare formation. It was to be organized on the same lines as an Army division with 3 infantry brigades, an artillery brigade, an engineer battalion, a machine gun battalion, and a 'mobile' battalion equipped with motorcycles.(RMHS)

1940. August. The 103 RM Brigade formation was approved by Chiefs of Staff at the time the RM Division’s formation was approved, two battalions - 7th RM Bn and 8th RM Bn - were to be raised at Exton, where the Brigade HQ opened in October 1940, but the following month recruits intended for the Battalions were re-allocated to MNBDO II. The HQ continued at Exton, with the Brigade Commander also Commandant of this Reserve Depot, and the battalions were each reduced to 200 all ranks. 7th RM Bn was moved to Hayling Island that December, as a training unit. The 103 Bde HQ was reactivated in April 19418 at Exton (CTC Barracks in 1997). It was commanded by Brig N. K. Jolley and its battalions - 7th and 8th - were drawn from recruits at this Reserve Depot; also under command for some months were the 10th RM Bn Lt Bty, the 15th RM Bn, 18th RM Bn, RM Division Reinforcement Depot and 1st RM Bn (for administration only). In April the 7th RM Bn came back to Devon, being under canvas at Dalditch. The Brigade took over responsibility for training reinforcements on 2nd May 1941 and Brig Jolley commanded the Exton Depot until the end of December, when again many men from the battalions were drafted to make up the establishment of MNBDOs.
The 103 RM Bde was re-joined by the 10th Bn on 21st January 1942 before it moved to Dalditch on 27th-29th January, when RM brigades of three battalions were planned. But in May 1942 ‘103 Bde was again reduced to a low priority’. The Brigade HQ’s training responsibilities passed to 104 RM (Training) Brigade on 17th June and 103 Bde’s HQ was disbanded on 16th July 1942.(RMHS)

1940. August. The Royal Marines Division was formed as the British Royal Marines expanded to meet operational demands during the Second World War. The RM Division's primary role was to serve as an amphibious warfare formation. It was to be organized on the same lines as an Army division with 3 infantry brigades, an artillery brigade, an engineer battalion, a machine gun battalion, and a 'mobile' battalion equipped with motorcycles.

1940. Summer. Kent RM, Chatham RM, Devon RM, Hants RM, Sussex RM and Dorset RM: these coast batteries initially had 2 x 6–in guns and control posts or rooms; the guns were a naval type on coast defence mountings. In the summer of 1940 the Batteries were deployed as follows: ‘Kent’ detached from MNBDO I, sent to Lowestoft, Suffolk, with 3 x 6–in guns later handed over to Royal Artillery; ‘Devon’ in Iceland without guns, then to Folkestone, Kent, with 2 x 6–in but to be trained as Howitzer Battery May 1940, ‘Hants’ at Sheringham, Norfolk. During 1941–2 ‘Sussex’ at Littlehampton, Sussex, and ‘Dorset’ at Portland, Dorset. Men of ‘Hants’ in Crete with 6–in guns but no mountings in May 1941. After service in Egypt at different periods, these heavy coast batteries were deployed in Indian Ocean islands bases ‘Kent’ and ‘Devon’ on Addu Atoll (‘Devon’ on Hitadu Island) in September 1942, but sickness reduced both Batteries from their former strength to 50 men. ‘Kent’ was redesignated ‘Chatham’ when in the 3rd Coast Rgt at Katukurunda in Ceylon in August 1943. See also Coast Regiments’ unit history summaries for deployment of these 6in Batteries in Italy and Ceylon. Although some of these Batteries had been disbanded in practice before 15th May 1944, they appear to have continued as ‘of record’ until all were disbanded as of 15th May 1944 (RMRO 719/44).
Devon RM Light AA: formed from Devon RM Coast Battery’s personnel et al, see 1 RM Coast Brigade unit history summary.
Portsmouth RM: with 3rd Coast Rgt in Ceylon August 1943, equipped with Bofors.
St Angelo RM Light AA: clerks, MOAs and other RM personnel of naval headquarters in Malta, manned Lewis guns in air defences from June 1040 to mid–January 1941, when they received two Bofors. The guns were sited near the upper barracks, with a third Bofors for a time in the wardroom garden. These crews worked in the base when not closed up, by May 1941 there were two crews for the pair of Bofors at the barracks. They could change a barrel in a little over 16 seconds. Among the crews’ memories were the German G–mines with Bakelite wind baffles, low–flying aircraft and an issue of semi–armour–piercing shells. These shells were intended for use against Italian coastal forces which had raided the harbour on 25th July 1941. A 1,000lb bomb hit the Sergeants Mess that autumn, but heavy raids were not renewed until January 1942, the Battery later being showered from time to time with unexploded air defence rockets. The battery claimed over 50 planes, and crews were awarded a DSC and Bar, four DSMs and five ‘Mentions’. (RMHS)

1940. September. Land Artillery Units. The Artillery Headquarters of RM Division. During the formation of the RM Division in September 1940 a six–gun battery of 3.7in howitzers was to form the division’s artillery. The first of these had been formed in April 1940. Dated 18th April and others were to be provided by transfers from the howitzer batteries at that time with the MNBDO. The Army Council drafted if it was not signed officially a letter of 8th January 1941 to the Lord Commissioners of the Admiralty, which included the following: ‘The principle that the [RM] Division should contain anti–tank and light anti–aircraft guns, is accepted [and these] should eventually be manned by Royal Marines. There is little prospect, however, of these weapons being available for some considerable time. If the division is required for action before these units are available, the Army accept the responsibility for provision to the scale laid down’. When a ceiling was placed on army manpower, however, ‘the War Office found it necessary to cancel the agreement’, and the Adjutant general agreed that the RM division should raise its own supporting units.
The HQ of RM Division Artillery was opened in the autumn of 1942 at Lympstone Grange, near Exton Camp in Devon. The commander was Col S. G. B. Paine, an appointment equivalent to CRA in an army division. Arrangements were made to attach various RM artillery cadres to army units for training.7 By mid–October 1942 the establishment was:8 Division Artillery HQ with ‘H’ Section of No. 2 Company of Division Signals; a field regiment, a light anti–aircraft regiment and an anti–tank regiment. In December this HQ moved to Brockenhurst, Hampshire, and a number f exercises were carried out. On 27th April 1943 the Royal Artillery Col D. C. W. Sanders, OBE, AFC, TD, assumed command of the RM Division Artillery and was promoted Brigadier on 2nd July.
When the Division was disbanded, the Brigadier and many of the division’s gunnery Officers were transferred to the Armoured Support Group and major support craft. The last War Diary entry for this HQ dated 4th July 1943 states that 12 rounds HE and some smoke were the maximum available per Section for practice shoots. (RMHS)

1940. September. 48 RM Commando formed at Exton as 7th RM Battalion. Converted at Deal to 48 RM Commando in March 1944. Disbanded near Horsham in January 1946.

1940. September. The Royal School of Music moved from Plymouth to a camp outside Malvern, Worcs.

1940. Monday 11th November. Captain O. Patch RM took part in the epic raid on Taranto and was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross.

1940. Saturday 30th November. 387 Kings Squad Passed for duty at Plymouth. H.A. King was awarded the Kings Badge. Squad Photo.

1940. Signals detachments with artillery units: in 1940 RM Batteries’ communications were in army or navy signals networks in the UK, but when overseas the MNBDO Headquarters provided signals detachments. Some of these signallers formed the signals element of 5 RM AA Brigade’s Operations Room in 1944. (RMHS)

1940. Lochailort Castle in Scotland was the first Commando training centre. Operations started there in 1940. The instructors included men who would later make their own mark in the history of the war, David Stirling who started the SAS, Lord Shimy Lovat who commanded No. 4 Commando at Dieppe, and Michael "Mad Mike" Calvert who commanded a Chindit battalion in Burma.

1940. John Gardiner, an HO, joined Exton Camp at Lympstone in 1940 and did his basic training there before moving to Dalditch Camp on Woodbury Common to complete his advanced handling and weapon training.
On completion of training he was posted to the RM Division at Kelso in Scotland where he volunteered for Special Services.
He with 700 other volunteers arrived at Depot RN Deal in April 1942. They came from all over the world, including the RM Division, battle ships and cruisers as far afield as Gibraltar, Malta and Alexandria. The 700 were paraded on the Depot main parade and were addressed by Lt Col Picton Phillips. Colonel Picton Phillips said they had to form a Commando of 407 strong to train for a special operation.
The next day the selection process started. Colonel Picton Phillips put them through their paces assisted by Major Houghton, the 21/C and Captain Hellings, one of the Company Commanders, and 407 were chosen. John Gardiner was one of the lucky ones.
John Gardiner was posted to Captain Helling's "A" Company and his officers were Lieutenants Mike Ephraums, Copsey and Equipont.
Royal Marine 'A' Commando then moved to the Isle of Wight in May 1942 to train. The Commando was never stationed in a barracks but always billeted in digs. He was billeted with a family who refused to take any money because they said it was their part of the war effort. The Commando trained hard on the Isle of Wight for two months in June and July by day and night. In August 1942 they were ready for action.
The Commando then moved to Portsmouth where they waited for orders to embark. No one, however, had been told where the raid was to take place. They then embarked in HMS 'Locust' in the dockyard, just past HMS 'Victory'. HMS 'Locust' was a Yangtse Gun Boat, flat-bottomed with sandbags on the gunwhales for protection. Its Captain was Commander Ryder VC, who had recently returned from the raid at Saint Nazaire.
The small flotilla sailed at 1800 hours on 18th August 1942, with the Naval Commander Captain Hughes Hallett in HMS 'Barclay', a Hunt Class Destroyer. There seemed to be very few large supporting ships in the convoy which was carrying a Canadian Division, No 3 and 4 Army Commando and Royal Marine 'A' Commando.
There was, however, air cover from the RAF without which the raid would have been impossible. Gardiner remembers the Canadians going ashore in Landing craft and being heavily engaged with murderous fire on the steep pebble beach. Their tanks were either hit or bogged down on the shingle. The two Army Commandos landed on the flanks with the task of securing the German Gun Batteries. Royal Marine 'A' Commando was held in reserve.
Finally 'A' Commando was ordered ashore to support the Canadians on White and Red Beach. Gardiner scrambled down a rope ladder into a waiting Landing Craft. They moved towards the beach supported by a smoke screen from the destroyers. The smoke screen, however, was 200 yards short of the beach and their craft were fully exposed to German gunfire. The radios did not work and he saw Colonel Picton Phillips stand up and wave with his white gloves for them to retire before he was killed. Gardiner's landing craft received a direct hit which blew off the screw so that it was out of control. He managed to scramble on board a French corvette. The force withdrew to Portsmouth aboard HMS 'Locust', where Gardiner and a few of his friends who had survived disembarked. Gardiner walked out of the dockyard gate and went into the Post Office to send a telegram to his mother. The girl behind the counter said it would cost nine pence. Gardiner explained that he had been on the Dieppe raid and had no money. The girl was adamant and refused to send the telegram.
Gardiner then made his way to the Isle of Wight where the Commando regrouped. He attended a memorial service at RM Barracks, Eastney before moving to Weymouth. At Weymouth they trained for another raid on Ostend which never took place. They then re-formed as 'A' Troop, 40 Royal Marine Commando, and sailed for Italy and Sicily.
From. John Gardiner.

1940 - 1941. RM Division HQ. The back ground to the formation of the Division and its subsequent development. Briefly, in August 1940 Maj General R. (Bob) G. Sturgess, a Brigadier at the time, was appointed to command the Division at the same as time as the formation of 103 Bde was approved on August 8th. On 23rd September the intended order of battle was the following: three brigades which would become 101, 102 and 103 each with an HQ, signals and two battalions; a battery of 6 x 3.7in howitzers (presumably the 31st RM Light Bty); a mobile unit of motorcycles with some carriers and anti-tank weapons; a field ambulance and a Light Aid Detachment to be provided by the War Office; and army instructors for ‘one engineer unit’. The War Office prepared the equipment authorisations (G1098s) for a unit with characteristics of great mobility ‘but with great fire and assault powers’, capable of operating in temperate or semitropical climates.
During the early winter of 1940–41 101 and 102 Bdes were abroad, but on 21st February 1941 the Divisional HQ opened at Alresford (Hampshire); until this time the General, his DAQ and one clerk had been the only staff. The Division (except for 103 RM Bde and ancillary units still being trained) concentrated in Scotland, and in April 1941 was standing by for possible occupation of Grand Canary Island . It was mobilised on 30th April before embarking in ships on the Clyde on 5th May for an exercise, the HQ moving to Inverary on 9th May.
About this time responsibility for bringing the Division up to War Establishment was taken over by the staff of 103 Bde HQ.13 During the rest of 1941 and 1942 several amphibious and other exercises were carried out, as part of Force 106 with 29 Bde and army support.
On 10th December 1941 the General and part of the HQ staff had begun planning the ship loadings and operations for landings in Madagascar, and from this date there were in effect two HQs: one administering the division and the second planning for the Madagascar landings. The Chiefs of Staff decided early in 1942 to create what was called the Expeditionary Force of a division, an independent brigade group and the RM Division, which (as noted above) was intended eventually to have three brigades. The Admiralty, however, only agreed to the RM Division being attached to the force, so the Division could maintain its own characteristics.
The division’s supporting units 15 RM (MG) Bn, the Anti-Tank Bty and 18 RM (Mobile) Bn - were reorganised, and 103 Bde given a low priority for personnel during the summer of 1942, when the Divisional Artillery HQ was raised in September. There was no available supply of guns and therefore perhaps now obvious - difficulties in attaching army units to the RM Division, when considerable quantities of equipment had to be provided for the Alamein (Egypt) build up, among other calls on the War Office’s resources. The Divisional Artillery, nevertheless, included three HQs for field, anti-tank and regiments. By late November proposals to employ 101 and 102 Bdes as brigade groups in North Africa had come to nothing and the Division continued to train for amphibious operations during 1943. The benefits of three years of this training would not be seen until after the summer of 1943, when its personnel were serving as commandos or in landing craft crews. The Special Service (later Commando) Group HQ opened under command of General Sturgess at the RM Division HQ on 15 August 1943 and a month later (15th September) the Division ‘ceased to function’, after its personnel had been transferred.(RMHS)

1940. Royal Marines landed in the Faroe Islands, Iceland, Norway, Holland and France.

1940. The British Army created its first Commando unit. Their task was to land in Nazi-occupied Western Europe usually at night, to destroy vital targets and leave as quickly as possible.

1940. A detachment of Royal Marines, under the command of Maj Franklin F. Clark was stationed at HMS 'St Angelo'. It initially manned Lewis gun positions at the fort, the Dockyard power station and at Corradino Heights.

1940. 42 Commando RM formed as 1st RM Battalion, converted at Sway to 42 RM Commando in 1943, and redesignated to present title in December 1945.

1940. 43 Commando RM formed in 1940 as 2nd RM Battalion and converted at Hursley to 43 RM Commando in 1943. Absorbed into 40 RM Commando in September 1945. Reformed at Plymouth as 43 Commando RM in September 1961 and dispersed again at Portsmouth in September 1968.

1940. 44 Commando RM formed in 1940 as 3rd RM Battalion and converted at Ashurst to 44 RM Commando in August 1943. Redesignated 40 Commando RM in Hong Kong in March 1947.

1940 - 44. A Royal Marine Siege Regiment was responsible for two 14-inch cross-Channel guns installed near St Margaret’s at Cliffe. The Regiment also manned three 13.5-inch railway guns until these were handed over to the Army in 1943. (RMHS)

1941. Tuesday 28th January. Peter Leslie Holms joined the Corps. 'A D-Day Tribute to Peter Leslie Holmes (1914 - 1944).
Leslie's Story:
This article is dedicated to Royal Marine Commando Peter Leslie Holmes Marine PLY/X 101828 one of the original members of No. 45 (four-five) Royal Marine Commando Unit, who died whilst taking part in the Allied forces D-Day landings on the beaches of Normandy, France on the 6th June 1944.
Biography:
A Brief account of his Family Life:
Leslie was born in the district of Swinton and Pendlebury, Lancashire in 1914 to Peter and Elizabeth, only four months before the start of the First World War. He was their first son and second child.
His father Peter, worked in the mines on the coalface, as a joiner putting up pit props. It was a very hard job, working in darkness broken only by flickering candles and lantern light in dirty, muddy, cramped conditions in stifling heat and coal dust ridden air.
As a boy, Leslie attended Cromwell Road School, which he left in 1928 at the age of 14 to work as a tile packer at Pilkingtons, known locally as the Potteries.
Although this was a poorly paid and very physically demanding job it was infinitely preferably to being down the mines. The work required a great deal of strength as it involved packing tiles into large crates and manually loading them onto lorries.
However within twelve months Britain was thrown into the Great Depression of 1929 with mass unemployment and as the north of England was the home of most of the Britain's traditional industries such as coal mining, shipbuilding, steel and textiles it bore the brunt of the depression making the 1930s the most difficult in living memory for people in these areas. In the North West places such as Manchester and Lancashire suffered huge unemployment and extreme poverty. Fortunately Leslie kept his job in the potteries, but his father Peter, like so many others, lost his in the mines.
The eight family members lived in a typical two up, two down terraced house. The living room was only 12' by 9' and there was a similar sized kitchen with a backyard and outside toilet. For further reading try the book 'The Classic Slum: Salford Life in the First Quarter of the Century'.
Leslie’s father had put up a partitioning wall in one of the bedrooms so that it divided the window in half. On one side slept the two girls, Ivy and Minnie, and on the other the three boys, Leslie, Cyril and Victor who all shared a three-quarter sized bed. The youngest child Lionel slept in his parent’s bedroom.
Having been in poor health for some time Leslie's father (right) died in 1935 of acute heart failure and apoplexy (old-fashioned medical term which can be used to mean 'bleeding' or to describe any death that began with a sudden loss of consciousness). Peter was only 47 years old. This meant that at the tender age of 20, Leslie had to take on the role of head of the house being the eldest boy.
Life was very hard in the depression and Leslie took his family responsibilities very seriously, purposely shielding away from getting married knowing how the family were dependent upon him.
Burton Street. Leslie and his family lived in the end terrace. The area was known to the locals as, 'Bilston' after the Midlands pottery town, where many had come from when the Pilkington's tile factory opened.
Tragedy was to strike the family yet again two years later when Leslie’s brother, Victor died, after a series of accidents.
Service and 45 Commando:
When the Second World War started Leslie was conscripted into the Royal Marines on 28th January 1941 aged 26. Both he and his friend, Bill, got their call up papers on the same day and travelled down to Plymouth together. However they were split up into different units and, unlike Leslie, Bill returned home after the war.
Leslie was sent for training to the Royal School of Signals. Besides their regular packs and rifles, communication marines also had to carry large radios on their backs. After his training, which involved mountain climbing in Scotland in full battle order, he was attached to the 18th and then the 5th Battalion.
The first commando units were formed at the request of Winston Churchill in a call for specially trained troops of the hunter class, who can inflict terror on the enemy and were generally seen as "elite" soldiers who had to meet relatively high physical and intellectual requirements. The Commandos bravery did much to raise the morale of the British public in the Second World War. The first Royal Marine Commando (40 Commando Royal Marines) came into being on St. Valentine’s Day 1942. Leslie became one of the original members of the 45 Royal Marine Commandos (pronounced four five) on the 1st August 1943, the day it officially came into being at Burley.
A commando unit consisted of a Headquarters which included Signals and Medical sections, five Fighting Troops, each with three officers and 62 other ranks and a Heavy Weapons Troop which normally contained two 3in mortars and two medium machine guns. Therefore the battle strength of a Commando was approximately 400 strong, including all ranks.
The British Commandos caused so much trouble for the Germans that on the 18th October 1942 this infamous edict was issued to senior officers in the German armed forces by a furious Adolf Hitler in response to the Commandos raids which continued to attack and harass his troops and installations across the coastlines of Europe and North Africa during World War II;
"From now on, all men operating against German troops in so-called Commando raids are to be annihilated to the last man...whether they be soldiers in uniform or saboteurs, with or without arms...even if they make obvious their intention of giving themselves up as prisoners, no pardon is on any account to be given" --- Adolf Hitler
Training:
In September the unit moved from Burley to billets in Ayr and on the 26th November to the Commando Depot at Achnacarry, near Spean Bridge, Scotland, where Leslie would have completed his 12 weeks Commando Training Course. The training included physical fitness (carrying logs, hand-to-hand fighting, long-distance speed marches etc), survival, orienteering, close quarter combat, silent killing, signalling, amphibious and cliff assault, vehicle operation, weapons (including the enemies) and demolition. The soldiers affectionally referred to Achnacarry as 'Castle Commando'.
One of the most infamous obstacles that every trainee had to take part in was the "death slide". This involved men climbing a forty-foot tree before sliding down a single rope, which was suspended over a torrent river while being shot at. All training was conducted with live ammunition and sadly some recruits were killed.
Les did not escape the training totally unscathed as during one of the many gruelling hikes into the mountains wearing full battle gear, he fell and broke his ankle which laid him up for over two weeks in hospital. Achnacarry separated the men from the boys and those who did not pass the arduous training were sent back to their original units.
After successfully completing his training Leslie was entitled to wear the much-coveted Commando's green beret, the distinctive hallmark of the Commando ethos. After completing the training 45 Commando moved back to Ayr.
On the 2nd January 1944 the unit moved to the Combined Training Centre at Dorling and after two weeks they moved south to billets at Eastbourne for more training which included 'Dig or Die', patrol work, embarkation exercises, landings on Seaford Beach, river crossings in rubber boats, firing range practice at Beachy Head, etc. Although it was not all hard work as the commando units enjoyed organised swimming, athletic and football competitions, plus dances and parties. In fact it was 45 Commando that defeated 3 Commando in the Brigade football final.
On the 26th May 45 Commando left Eastbourne by train at 04.00 hours, bound for Southampton on the last lap but one to war. For almost two weeks they were sealed in the staging camp (popularly known as 'Stalag') and were constantly briefed on maps, models and aerial photographs in preparation for Operation, OVERLORD.
On the 5th June 1944 45 Commando R.M. moved by troop carrying vehicles to Warsash where they embarked in 5 Landing Craft Infantry. Then at 17.00 hours the craft slipped anchor and proceeded up the Solent to form part of the vast armada of craft that would shortly cross the English Channel.
It was to be Leslie's last ever view of England and home.
The crossing was uneventful but security, which up until then had been rigid, was broken as the men were told that at 9.10 hours, the following morning, they would be landing on Queen Red Beach some two miles west of Ouistreham in Normandy.
Normandy D Day Landings: Operation Overlord:
The Royal Marine Commandos were some of the most heavily laden troops that made up the first wave of assault.
Five RM Commando Units took part during the D-Day landings; No. 41, 45, 46, 47, and 48 and played a prominent role, manning two thirds of the landing craft. The Commando units suffered heavily in the landings and overall the D-Day battle cost the Allied armies some ten thousand men, who were either killed, wounded or listed as missing.
The weather at the time was not good with heavy rolling seas and large waves, which caused severe seasickness. In many instances the landing craft were blown up by artillery, or could not reach the shore because of the bad weather conditions so men had to jump over the side and try and swim/wade ashore.
During the landings many men drowned before they had even reached the beaches through exhaustion, being weighed down by their loads, which could weigh anything from 60 to 80 lbs, or their inability to swim. Leslie, as a communications marine, would have had to carry a radio pack as well as his regular gear.
The beaches were also mined and covered with underwater obstacles. Plus heavy artillery, and small arms fire was also very active, killing many man in the sea and on dry land. (See photos below)
The 45 Commandos, as part of 1 Special Service Brigade, took part in the Sword Beach landing, which consisted of two narrow beaches at La Breche. (Codenamed Queen White and Queen Red) The beaches stretched some 8 km from Ouistreham to Saint Aubin-sur-Mer. The 45 took part in the assault on Queen Red, landing at Ouistreham, a small port. Their assault stared around 9am.
Leslie was listed as missing, presumed killed on War Service with 'no known grave' and that his character on discharge was 'Exemplary'. It is known that many casualties had to be left on the beach and would have perished, drowned by the returning tide and up until a few months ago we always thought that had been Leslie's fate. However, since writing this account my investigations have put me in contact with three surviving 45 commando veterans who told me that Leslie actually did make it ashore and would have reached Pegasus Bridge and most likely died on the 7th June around the Merville-Franceville Plage area where the 45 commandos were involved in heavy fighting to take control of German occupied territory.
Our family is extremely gratefully to these men who have helped to shed a little light on how and where Leslie died. I am extremely grateful to Captain John Day, Frank Burton and Bill Hopley (45 Royal Marine Commando veterans) who very able to tell me more about Leslie's fate. Like Leslie, Frank and Bill were also signallers and Frank was billeted with Leslie during the last few weeks before D-Day and remembers him well.
Leslie had just turned 30 when he died.
Summary:
The scroll (left) was given to Leslie's mother after the war, as was the book (right); 'The Story of the 45 Royal Marine Commando' which was published privately in 1946 for members of the Unit and their relatives. After having been asked about the availability of the book, which I know is almost impossible to find.
As Leslie has no grave he is commemorated by name on Panel 92, column 1 of the Plymouth Naval Memorial. He is also listed on the Roll of Honour (see below) in the above-mentioned book, along with all the other 109 brave 45 commandos who lost their lives during Second World War.
Within a nine-year period his mother, Elizabeth, had lost a husband and two sons. Leslie's death affected Elizabeth greatly and she never recovered from the loss. Fortunately by 1944 the two girls, Ivy and Minnie, were both married and my father, at 23, was old enough to step in and take care of his mother and only remaining brother, Lionel.
Leslie's story is just one amongst many thousands of ordinary British men (and women) who died on foreign soil, fighting for their country, and our freedom. We owe it to them, to remember their ultimate sacrifice. (1995 Michael and Janet Wood - World Through The Lens.)

 

 

1941. Early. The Special Boat Section was renamed ‘No1 Special Boat Section’ and attached to Layforce, and moved to the Middle East. They worked with the 1st Submarine Flotilla based at Alexandria and carried out beach reconnaissance of Rhodes, evacuated troops left behind on Crete and several small-scale raids and other operations.

1941. January. The 12th RM Searchlight Regiment. A Cadre of personnel from 11th RM Searchlight Rgt formed this 12th RM Searchlight Regiment in January 1941 as part of MNBDO II Air Defence Brigade.The Regiment’s HQ was in the following locations, with the units commanded shown in brackets:
1st January 1941:
With Air Defence Brigade MNBDO II, South Hayling Camp, Hampshire (‘N’ and ‘O’ Batteries).
June 1941:
Truro, Cornwall, providing guide ‘lights’ for Allied airfields (‘N’ and ‘O’ Batteries).21
winter 1941 and 1942:
With Air Defence Gt Britain on south coast of UK (‘N’ and ‘O’ Batteries).
March 1943:
Nottingham with Batteries concentrated for embarkation (‘N’ and ‘O’ Batteries).
Early summer 1943:
With Various Army Commands in the Mediterranean when Batteries deployed in air defence in Egypt and Malta (‘N’ and ‘O’ Batteries).
July 1943:
Augusta, Sicily in air defences (as above).
January 1944:
With Air Defence Brigade MNBDO II Augusta where Batteries concentrated for embarkation (as above).
April 1944:
Burbank, Scotland, where HQ and ‘N’ and ‘O’ Batteries disbanded. (RMHS)

1941. January. The 3rd RM (Heavy) AA Regiment, was formed as a Regiment of MNBDO II Air Defence Brigade in January 1941. The first CO was Lt. Col J. E. Leech–
Porter. The Regiment’s HQ was in the following locations, with the units commanded shown in brackets:
7th January 1941:
With Air Defence Brigade MNBDO II Hayling Island, Hampshire14 (‘E’, ‘F’ and 24th RM Light AA Btys).
Winter 1941:
With Air Defence Gt Britain on the UK south coast (‘E’, ‘F’ and 24th RM Light Btys).
3rd August 1942:
With Air Defence Brigade II in the United Kingdom when all heavy AA batteries reorganised into heavy AA regiments (‘E’ and ‘F’ joined by ‘G’ and ‘H’ Batteries, 24 RM Light AA Bty transferred to 4th RM LAA Regiment).
March 1943:
Batteries concentrated at Nottingham for embarkation.
June 1943:
With various army commands as Corps Army Troops Egypt batteries at various locations for defence of Suez Canal and other installations, gunners also employed on internal security (‘E’, ‘F’, ‘G’ and ‘H’ Batteries).
July 1943:
HQ in Egypt with Batteries in defence of Malta prior to landing in Sicily (‘E’, ‘F’, ‘G’ and ‘H’ Batteries).
15th July 1943:
With Air Defence Brigade MNBDO II Augusta, Sicily in defence of this port (‘E’, ‘F’, ‘G’ and ‘H’ Batteries).
January 1944:
Augusta, Sicily, Batteries concentrated for embarkation. (‘E’, ‘F’, ‘G’ and ‘H’ Batteries).
February 1944:
Scotland preparing for disbandment but retained (‘E’, ‘F’, ‘G’ and ‘H’ Batteries).
March 1944:
With 5 RM AA Brigade Scotland, reorganised to a War Establishment of an army 3.7in static regiment for Defended Ports Abroad, with Scale III equipment that limited each man to one battledress, one beret and so on until the winter (‘E’, ‘F’, ‘G’ and ‘H’ Batteries).
May 1944:
Clacton on Sea, all Bakeries at army training camps (‘E’, ‘F’, ‘G’ and ‘H’ Batteries).
June and July 1944:
With Air Defence Brigade Gt Britain at various sites in UK (‘E’, ‘F’, ‘G’ and ‘H’ Batteries).
August 1944:
With 5 RM AA  Defence Brigade Cherbourg in defence of this French port (‘E’,  ‘F’,  ‘G’ and ‘H’ Batteries).
October 1944:
Antwerp air defences of Scheldt (‘E’, ‘F’, ‘G’ and ‘H’ Batteries).
March 1945:
Ostend in coast defences (‘E’, ‘F’, ‘G’ and ‘H’ Batteries).
May to November:
Southern England, Batteries demobilised, and HQ disbanded (about November 1945). (RMHS)

1941. January. The 4th RM AA Regiment/4th RM (Light) AA Regiment, was formed as a regiment of MNBDO II Air Defence Brigade about January 1941.
The Regiment’s HQ was in the following locations, with the units commanded shown in brackets:
January 1941:
With Air Defence Brigade of MNBDO II Hayling Island (‘G’, ‘H’ and 25th RM LAA Btys).
Winter 1941:
With Air Defence Gt Britain on the UK south coast (‘G’, ‘H’ and 25th RM LAA Btys).
3 August 1942:
With Air Defence Brigade of MNBDO II, in Nottingham, the heavy Batteries ‘G’ and ‘H’ transferred to 3rd RM (Heavy) AA Rgt, and this Regiment redesignated 4th RM (Light) Regiment, with 24th, 25th and 26th RM Light Batteries redesignated as Light AA Btys. The ‘26th’ had been the defence unit of AD Brigade’s HQ to defend it against low flying aircraft. (24th, 25th and 26th RM Light AA Btys, preparing for embarkation).
June 1943:
With Various Army Commands Egypt Batteries at various locations (24th, 25th and 26th RM Light AA Btys).
15th July 1943:
Augusta, Sicily (24th, 25th and 26th RM Light AA Btys).
January 1944:
With Air Defence Brigade MNBDO II Sicily batteries concentrated for embarkation (24th, 25th and 26th RM Light AA Btys).
March and April 1944:
Scotland 24th RM Light Bty disbanded at Motherwell on 11th April (25th and 26th RM Light AA Btys).
23rd April 1944:
With 5 RM AA Brigade in Scotland put on a War Establishment for light AA regiment of Defended Ports Abroad with Scale III equipment that limited each man to one battledress, one beret and so on until the winter (22nd, 25th and 26th RM LAA Btys).
June 1944:
With Air Defence Brigade Gt Britain Kent, all Batteries ‘constantly in action’ and by one report credited with 61 V1s, before units embarked for France (22nd, 25th and 26th RM LAA Btys).
August and September 1944:
With 5 RM AA Brigade Cherbourg with all batteries in defence of this port (22nd, 25th and 26th RM LAA Btys).
October and November 1944:
Antwerp with guns in flooded areas often in single gun detachments. When ‘Diver’ belts set up the Regiments 54 Bofors defended 26 miles of quays in the dock area (22nd, 25th and 26th RM LAA Btys).
1st January 1945:
Antwerp with Batteries in last action against major low level attack (22nd, 25th and 26th RM LAA Btys).
March 1945:
Ostend deployed in coast defences (as above)
May 1945:
Ivybridge, Devon preparing for demobilisation (as above)
30th September 1945:
Ivybridge Regiment HQ, 25th and 26th Batteries disbanded, personnel from 22nd Battery to ‘D’ holding battery. (RMHS)

1941. January. The 2 RM Coast Brigade/2nd RM Coast Artillery Regiment was formed by MNBDO II in January 1941, with ‘Y’ Bty from 1 RM Coast Brigade providing cadres for new batteries. The Regiment’s HQ was in the following locations, with the units commanded shown in brackets:
1st January 1941:
Hayling Island (‘Sussex’, ‘T’ and 2nd Anti–MTB Btys).
28th April 1941:
With Army Coast Defences for the UK, Portsmouth (‘Dorset’ formed this day, ‘Sussex’, ‘T’, ‘U’ formed this day, ‘W’ formed this day, and 2nd Anti–MTB Btys).
6th September 1941:
Portsmouth(?) redesignated 2nd RM Coast Artillery Regiment.
14th June 1942:
‘X’ Battery re–formed from men at Geneifa (north of Port Tewfik) the Base Depot in Egypt, for deployment as an independent battery, although originally intended for this Regiment apparently.
8th September 1943:
HQ personnel provided staff for Coast Defence Station for about 12 months until January 1944.
March 1943:
With MNBDO II UK, Batteries concentrated for embarkation (‘Dorset’, ‘Sussex’, ‘T’, ‘U’, ‘W’, and 2nd Anti MTB Btys).
Summer 1943:
Egypt with Batteries deployed in training areas (‘Dorset’, ‘Sussex’, ‘T’, ‘U’, ‘W’, and 2nd Anti–MTB Btys).
July 1943:
Augusta, Sicily, with Batteries in coast defences (‘Dorset’, ‘Sussex’, ‘T’, ‘U’, ‘W’, and 2nd Anti –MTB Btys).
Late summer 1943:
With Army Coast Defence Commands, Italy, (‘Dorset’, ‘Sussex’, ‘T’, ‘U’, ‘W’, and 2nd Anti –MTB Btys).
January 1944:
Batteries concentrated for embarkation (as in late–summer 1943).
February 1944:
Largs, Scotland, HQ personnel to 1st Coast Rgt HQ24 about this time and Batteries disbanded in the next few months but see Batteries unit history summary. (RMHS)

1941. Special Boat Section:The 17 Army commandos had been using Folbot canoes since early in 1941 and Special Boat Sections of canoeists were formed. These carried out a number of recces and demolition raids in Europe and the Mediterranean. They were also used to collect agents, deliver clandestine stores and for beach reconnaissance in World War II. By July 1944 the SBS had been formed into ‘A’, ‘B’ and ‘C’ Groups under command of the Small Operations Group. After World War II the SBS became an RM unit, and although political factors have limited their use in peacetime, they are available as the Special Boat Squadron for beach surveys and similar work when required. The Squadron had three operational Sections of selected volunteers in the 1970s and continues.
SBS teams were deployed in the Falkland Islands from 1st May 1982 in operation ‘Corporate’. In 1991 they made two raids into Iraq At other times in the 1980s and 1990s they continued their secretive work but in 1997 their operational command was joined to that of the SAS.(RMHS)

1941. March. The HQ Wing was formed during March 1941. By December 1943 the units and sub–units under command included four Street major units Ordnance Depot, Group Supply Unit, Medical Services and Boat Unit  and a number of specialist smaller units. while in the UK the Wing was deployed in training exercises before embarking for Egypt. The Wing’s Units were deployed to various locations before going to Sicily and Italy in support of naval parties as well as MNBDO forces.
The Landing and Maintenance Unit was formed in January 1941, and with effect from 1st October 1942, ‘X’ company of the 19th RM Battalion became No. 3 Company of this L & M Unit. By December 1943 it had four companies  Landing, Ship Unloading, Pioneer/Defence and Engineer which while in the UK trained both in port operating and in amphibious landings. On arriving in Egypt in the summer of 1943, the Companies were on occasions employed in the roles for which they had trained, but not until they landed at Augusta, Sicily, were they able to make full use of their special training, as they did later in Italy. (RMHS)

1941. Friday 18th April. The 10th RM Battalion was formed at Crookston (Glasgow) on 18th April 1941, CO Lt. Col F. M. Bramall (promoted from Major 25th April) with personnel from 2nd RM Bn, 3rd RM Bn and 5th RM Bn, and drafts from Divisional reserves on 2nd May, as the third battalion of 103 RM Bde. Within a week most of the men from the 3rd RM Bn were redrafted to that Battalion. The Battalion HQ moved to Paisley (Scotland) on 17th May, and two months later was in Dalditch Camp. Here in July/August the Battalion lived under canvas until moving to Fishguard (Wales) on 20th August 1941. By 29th January 1942 they returned to Dalditch, their strength at time being 660. From Dalditch they went on an amphibious exercise on Loch Fyne (Scotland) for four days in March 1942. Lt. Col C. N. S. Smith was appointed CO on 15th May, and Nos 1 and 2 Anti-Tank Btys and 31st Light Bty were attached for discipline while at Dalditch. The Battalion was to move to Hayling Island as beach engineers but in June moved to Tenby (Dyfed) and on 2nd December 1942 moved to Freshwater (Isle of Wight). The next move to Hursley (nr Winchester) was used on 7th April 1943 ‘to practise naval cooperation in a movement’. The Battalion was re-formed as 47 RM Commando in August 1943.(RMHS)

1941. April. 47 RM Commando formed at Crookston, Glasgow as 10th RM Battalion. Converted at Dorchester to 47 RM Commando in August 1943. Disbanded at Haywards Heath in January 1946.

1941. April. The 7th RM Battalion HQ was formed under CO Lt. Col T. B. W. Sandall, for service with 103 RM Bde. The first three Continuous Service squads joined at Exton about 23rd September 1940 and ‘HO’ squads allocated to 7th RM began training in October. Then 300 men were drafted to MNBDO, and to make more accommodation available at Exton, the remainder went to Sands Camp (Hayling Island), which was taken over by the Battalion’s HQ with two recruit squads on 8th February 1941. At Hayling it became a training unit. It moved back to Devon, arriving at a tented camp at Dalditch in April. On 2nd May the CO, Col Sandall, also took command of the 8th RM and 9th RM Battalions - total strength of all three battalions was 28 officers and 797 other ranks. The Battalion was rebuilt after the drafts to MNBDO, although 103 RM Bde was given a low priority from May, when the Battalion apparently became independent.
In June 1942 Lt. Col F. W. Dewhurst was appointed CO before the Battalion moved to the Treglog area in Wales before embarking in September 1942 for South Africa; on passage (in HMT Empress of Russia) the Marines manned the ship’s guns and helped with the work in other departments. On arrival in Durban the Battalion spent five weeks in a transit camp, their intended role of guarding naval stores dumps having been cancelled on political grounds. In December the Battalion sailed to Egypt in SS Aronda, landing at Suez on 1st January 1943, and went to Kabrit Camp north of Little Bitter Lake. The Battalion developed a Beach Brick in the following months, for landing men and stores over open beaches. On 27th March the Battalion came under command of GHQ Middle East and under Force 545 (later part of Eighth Army). Final training as ‘31 Brick’ was carried out at Fayid (Egypt) from 25th May 1943 when for a time the battalion was under command of MNBDO II.
The Battalion landed in Sicily at Marzamemi. On D+6 (16 July 1943) the Battalion was warned for operations under the direct command of XXX Corps in the area of Buccheri, some 70 miles from the Battalion’s beach area. On arriving at this hill town next evening (17th July), the CO and his staff undertook the various steps to restore the town’s civil administration, the battalion being deployed to guard bridges. But 48 hours later it moved off to secure a bridgehead across the Dittaino River.
Maj J. T. O. Waters the second in command, took command of the Battalion in action on 30th July, before it was relieved on 7th August and moved to Augusta where it again came under the command of MNBDO II. The Royal Marine Office in London considered the Battalion to be under command of MNBDO II from late June 1943, and briefly before then, but the Battalion’s CO did not hear of this until 30th July, and the Battalion had been operating as Corps Troops for some weeks. Lt. Col K. Hunt was appointed CO on 10th August. During the autumn the Battalion carried out guard and other duties, and was embarked several days for an operation that was cancelled at the end of September. The Battalion arrived at Toranto (southern Italy) on 27th November and did routine training and guard duties before sailing for the UK in February 1944. The Battalion was re-formed as 48 Commando soon after its arrival in the UK, and the Battalion was formerly disbanded on 16th March.(RMHS)

1941. April. The 8th RM Battalion HQ was formed under CO Lt. Col S. G. B. Paine, and the first recruits joined from initial training at Exton, where the Battalion was being formed as part of 103 RM Bde, in the autumn of 1941. In December men were drafted from the Battalion to the MNBDOs and the Battalion HQ moved to open the OCTU at Thurlestone (Devon). The Battalion re-forming at Dalditch, and came under command of the CO of 7th RM Bn from 2nd May 1942. When the need arose for a second RM Commando in the autumn of 1942, the Battalion HQ and most of the other ranks were transferred to 41 RM Commando, the Battalion formerly disbanding on 29th October 1942.(RMHS)

1941. May - 7th July. The RM Beach Battalion / RM Beach Unit HQ/QG RM Beach Group.
The RM division formed this Battalion1 on 7th July 1941 at Warblington Camo, Havant near Portsmouth. First CO Lt–Col J. P. Phillipps whose Battalion had two roles: to land RM Division and its stores, holding the beach area as the Division moved inland; or when elements of the Division were used in a raid, to cover its subsequent withdrawal and to reload stores. In both roles the division expected to organise the flow of ammunition and stores over an open beach, having cleared paths through mine fields, created beach exits, laid roads and built light weight piers. Much of the landing concept, however, appears to have been built around the offloading of ships into MLCs, for the LST and LCT had not been brought into service the first LCT did her trials in November
1941. The HQ Company of 1941 had an AA Platoon and an Administrative Platoon, and three Beach Companies. Each Beach Company had a Beach Platoon of four Sections and a Ship Unloading Platoon with six gangs to work in holds, its equipment included or was to include: four bulldozers; four dumpers; and 200yds of Briggs Roadway. In all 1,050 personnel, with No. 4 Signals Company attached from the Division’s signallers.
While in the UK the Ship Unloading Platoons did stevedores’ work in Southampton docks, and ‘picked men’ supplemented AA gun crews on escort and anti–submarine destroyers. One sub–section aboard HMS Fernie on the night of 4th 5th May 1942, engaged German E–boats with two Brens on Motley mountings, helping the ship’s guns to sink one of the boats. After various exercises, it became clear that the Beach Battalion could only land two infantry battalions, but it had few opportunities to practice with LCTs when these first came into service.
The Beach Battalion HQ had been redesignated Beach Unit HQ in September 1942, and in October became HQ RM Beach Group and the Companies formed 1 and 2 Beach Groups, but by January 1943 the special nature of RM Beach Group had become impractical. On 10th May 1943 the name of HQ RM Beach Group was again changed to QGRM Beach Group (at that date the logistical staff was known as Quartermaster General’s staff); and its function changed in August 1944 to the HQ for training the two intended beach battalions 27th and 28th RM Bns, before these subsequently went overseas as infantry battalions with 116 RM Brigade. It then acted as their rear HQ in the UK, and remained in existence as QG RM Beach Group until January 1945, if not until that spring. (RMHS)

1941. Sunday 22nd June. Lieutenant (R.A.) ‘Tug’ Wilson and Royal Marine Hughes were delivered by Submarine and then canoed to the beach on the Western Coast of Italy. Their task was to blow up a railway track and the entrance of a tunnel. It was the first successful attack upon the Italian metropolis and birth of the ‘Special Boat Service’.

1941. June. 'Per Mare Per Terram Per Astra', The Life and Times of a Flying Marine.
Alan Ivan Ryman (Po/x 104167) was born at Putney, London, on the 13th December 1922, the youngest of three surviving children to Ivan and Winifred Ryman. In 1926 the family moved from Putney to Harrow, some 10 miles north-west of London. Alan attended a Preparatory school for five years before going on to The Boys' High School at Harrow for a further five years.
At the age of fourteen, a day trip down the Thames from the Tower to Ramsgate aboard the "Royal Eagle", a side paddle-wheel steamer, sparked an interest in ships and the sea, and Alan resolved to gain employment in this field when he left school. The following year aged fifteen, he left school and commenced employment in the office of Houston Line (London) Ltd., a subsidiary of the then great Clan Line.
With the start of WW2 the following year, he, at first volunteered for the A.R.P., riding his bicycle and blowing on a whistle when the Air Raid sirens sounded the approach of enemy aircraft. On reaching the age of seventeen he enlisted in the Home Guard, both in the Hampshire Regiment while at the London office and the Middlesex Regiment when his duties with the company took him to the coast.
At 18 years, he volunteered for service in the Royal Marines, following in the footsteps of his grandfather and two uncles who had both served in the Corps. His father, Ivan, had actually been born in the married quarters of the old Royal Marines barracks, Forton Road, Gosport.
He commenced his training in June 1941 with the 97 H.0. Squad at Eastney Barracks. Towards the end of his training a notice appeared on the company orders board calling for volunteers to train as aircrew in the Fleet Air Arm. Thinking this was a good idea and a chance to get out of all the marching, Alan put in a chit. Most of the 97 H.O. Squad were, after training, drafted to HMS Manchester, to end up in the French POW camp at Laghouat, Algeria, a few months later.
Alan was sent to Lee-on-Solent for an interview and medical, and was; as a result of this, offered the chance to train as a pilot. After a few weeks on the initial ground course at St. Vincent, Gosport, Alan progressed to flying training in Tiger Moths at Birmingham before going on to Kingston, Canada to complete his training.
He returned to England in January 1942 and was drafted to Worthy Down, near Winchester, to fly Telegraphic Air Gunners (TAG'S) while they did their radio training. For this a variety of aircraft were used, Blackburn Sharks, Welland Lysanders and Percival Proctors being the main types. Although officially in the F.A.A., Alan was at this time still in RM uniform with the rank of Sergeant. In April 1942, he was advised that he was being transferred to the Royal Navy in the rank of Acting Petty Officer. He was far from enrapt with the change, but two months later he was advised that he was to be commissioned as a Sub-Lieutenant (A) in the R.N.V.R., the "A being Air Branch.
Following his being commissioned he was appointed to the Navy's Ferry Pool at Donibristle, Scotland. The Ferry Pool had the job of delivering new aircraft to Navy squadrons, and returning "flyable duds" back to the maintenance depot at Donibristle. Some of the aircraft he flew were Swordfish, Albacore, Seafire, Sea Hurricane, Barracuda, Avenger's and some communication aircraft as pilot pick-up's.
In March 1944, Alan was drafted to Crail on the east coast of Scotland for the Torpedo-Bomber-Reconnaissance (TBR.) Course, flying Barracuda's. The training included deck landings and take-offs and teaming up with a crew of three, Pilot, Observer and TAG.
In August 1944 he was appointed to join HMS Indefatigable for frying duties with 820 Squadron. On the day he joined the squadron, the Barracudas were withdrawn, and the squadron re-equipped with the American built Grumman Avengers, causing a delay in sailing while working up with the new aircraft at Lee-on-Solent.
In mid-November, HMS Indefatigable left Portsmouth for the Far East. Arriving at Ceylon (Sri Lanka), the squadrons were flown off for Katukurunda, an airfield about 80 miles south of Colombo, for further working up. There was a shift at this time away from torpedo launching to aerial bombing, probably because the Japanese were running out of ships.
As the Avengers did not have bomb sights, aiming consisted of pointing your aircraft at a target in a steep descent and releasing the bombs at about 3,000 ft. However, in too steep a descent the Avenger would exceed its maximum speed and risk breaking up if power was left on, so the bombing technique became a gliding descent to a low level.
It was while on passage from Ceylon to Australia, in company with three other fleet carriers, that attacks were carried out on the oil refineries at Palembang, Sumatra. These were to be the largest attacks, in number of aircraft involved, carried out by the Fleet Air Arm in WW2. On arrival off the east coast of Australia, the squadrons were flown off to Nowra, NSW, for further training, now almost entirely perfecting the new glide bombing technique. It was at this time, while on a few days leave in Sydney that Alan attended a dance run by the Victoria League and it was there in a ’Paul Jones' that he met a young Australian girl, Aletha (Thea) Golding, whom he was to marry some eighteen months later in England.
In February 1945, Indefatigable left Sydney and headed north. The targets were to be the Sakiashima group of islands between Formosa (Taiwan) and Okinawa, the object being to prevent Japan from ferrying aircraft back from the China mainland to assist in the defence of Okinawa. For the next two months Alan and his crew flew strikes against airfields, port facilities and anti-aircraft batteries, at one time carrying out four strikes in two days. It was on one of these strikes that Alan's aircraft was hit by ack-ack fire which blew out the wing root locking pin and caused a fire which filled cockpits with smoke. Alan turned his damaged aircraft towards the coast but the fire, which was being fed by leaking hydraulic fluid, blew out and he managed to return to Indefatigable and make a safe landing.
The British Pacific Fleet, as it was now called, returned to Sydney to re-equip. In July they were back off the coast of Japan, and Alan with a new crew (his old crew of Burgess and Gibbs being considered experienced enough to fly with Squadron and Flight leaders), commenced a series of strikes near the Japanese mainland. Alan took part in the first strike of the day on August 15th which was against airfields near Yokohama, the port of Tokyo. Landing back on Indefatigably at about 0900hrs they were informed that the war was officially over, Japan having surrendered.
They returned to Sydney and later Indefatigable made a good will tour of New Zealand. In March 1946 Indefatigable sailed from Sydney to return to the U.K. and by the time they reached Portsmouth, Alan, was due for leave and final release from the Naval service.
Determined on a career in civil aviation, he looked for opportunities to get into the fledgling peace time services. His first chance came with an offer to fly joy flights for the Butlin's Holiday Camp in Yorkshire. The summer of 1946 was one of excellent weather, and business was good, flying seven days a week often up to 2200hrs at night. Late in that year, Thea arrived in England and they were married in the November. With Butlins closed for the winter, some charter work and time as an instructor for an aero club help carry them through and a second summer with Butlins in 1947, all helped build up his flying hours.
In May 1948, with their five month old son Martin, they boarded the RMS Ormonde for passage as migrants to Australia. It was aboard ship during the final leg of the journey from Melbourne to Sydney that Alan was offered a position as First Officer flying DC3 aircraft by T.A.A., which he eagerly accepted. After company training at Melbourne, he was based in Brisbane, where in 1952 a second son Jeremy was born, and their third son Derek, was born in 1954.
After eight years' service as First Officer, in which time he gained his Flight Navigators Licence, he was promoted to Captain, flying the DC3's. T.Q.A. also used his skills to navigate new aircraft out from Europe, a Viscount from England and a Fokker Friendship from Holland.
In the years that followed, Alan went on to captain Friendship, DC9 and Boeing 727 aircraft, the latter two being jets.
In 1982 at the age of 60, Alan retired, his Pilots Logbook showing he had flown just under 25,000 hours.
In 2000, they sadly lost their youngest son Derek, who died at the early age of 46 years.
In retirement Alan became involved with the Queensland Maritime Museum (the love of ships and the sea was still there) acting as a guide, usually one day each week. He still maintains his membership of the museum, and is also a member of the RNA, the Navy League, the RSL and the Nundah Historical Society as well as the RMAQ with membership No 4. (Tom Chalis RMAQ)

1941. Friday 4th July? I Was There! - I Saw a Marine Corporal Firing to the Last shot.
The magnificent work of the Royal Marines in Crete earned special recognition from General Wavell, A typical exploit was told below of Lance-Corporal Thomas Neill, who kept his Bofors gun firing to the last.
During the withdrawal from Suda Bay the Royal Marines formed the rear-guard, and some of them manned the anti-aircraft defences. On reaching Egypt, Marine Patrick Mahoney of Liverpool told this story. He said:
From the moment the Nazis started the attack on Canea, Lance-Corporal Neill, with three companions helping to operate an A.A. gun and two others passing ammunition, fired almost continuously.
Each time a group of Nazi dive-bombers came over us, Neill would let all but the last plane pass before opening fire, concentrating on that one. To my knowledge, he got nine within two days, and at least 20 within a fortnight.
Heroic Marines in Crete
General Wavell to General Weston, of the Royal Marines, May 31st:
You know the heroic effort the Navy has made to rescue you. I hope you will be able to get away most of those who remain, but this is the last night the Navy can come. Please tell those that have to be left that the fight put up against such odds has won the admiration of us all, and every effort to bring them back is being made. General Freyberg has told me how magnificently your Marines have fought, and of your own grand work. I have heard also of the heroic fight of young Greek soldiers. I send you all my grateful thanks.
The Nazis soon learned Neill's strategy, so they decided to get him by trickery. They kept sending over 10 to 20 planes, but behind this group three more.
Neill took his usual shots at the last machine in the first formation, and the following three planes plastered his position repeatedly with sticks of heavy bombs. But they failed to get him.
He countered the Nazi trick by some fast thinking, went on Mahoney. He attached his gun to a light lorry. Immediately after firing at the last plane of each group of bombers, he hopped on the lorry and moved the gun to a new position.
The German bombs kept bursting away on positions Neill had just left. His gun, camouflaged with brush, was kept in action continuously. On one occasion it shot down two out of ten bombers.
Mahoney concluded: I last saw Neill near Canea on May 27. He was with two companions, the only survivors from a gun crew of six, against a background of blazing trees set alight by a petrol dump which was blown up by the dive-bombers.
He was singing and shouting as he blazed away at the swooping planes. I hope he got away safely. (The War Illustrated July 4th, 1941. Volume 4, No. 96, Page 671, Author Mahoney)

1941. Friday 22nd August. The Royal Naval School of Music was split in two and, on this date, the senior Wing moved to two Hotels in Scarborough whilst the Junior wing moved to Howstrake camp on the Isle of man.

1941. Late Summer. The 30th Assault Unit: An intelligence unit had existed since the late summer of 1941 as the special Engineering Commando, included in this unit were RN and RM personnel as well as army troops. In operations in North Africa one Section under an RN lieutenant landed from HMS Broke when she crashed the boom at Algiers. The Commando operated in Sicily and Italy, recovering codes and other documents from German  headquarters. In February the Unit was re-formed as a naval intelligence-gathering Commando (wearing green berets and commando flashes). The former CO of 5th RM Battalion recruited many RM guards for naval specialists in this 30th Assault Unit which was under the command of the Director of Naval Intelligence. The personnel were trained as parachutists, and in such offbeat skills as safe blowing. They were also trained in security duties and street fighting. The Unit was organised in Troops, with ‘A’ Troop landing in Normandy on 6 June 1944, followed by ‘A’ and ‘B’ Troops on 10th June.
During the next ten months these Troops operated close to or ahead of the Allied advanced positions, and by March 1945 ‘A’ Troop was moving towards Leipzig (in eastern Germany), ‘B’ Troop towards Hamburg and ‘X’ Troop to Keil, areas they all reached as German resistance crumbled. In April teams were finding minefield charts, ciphers, data on naval technical developments and other intelligence in German HQs. The Unit’s HQ had moved close behind the Allied line of advance and was in Minden by May. In June the RM elements returned to the UK and were disbanded.(RMHS)

1941. Friday 5th September. The Royal Marines camp at Lympstone was originally built during 1939 for the training of Reservists in the build up at the beginning of the Second World War. At that time it was known as the 'Royal Marines Reserve Depot', Exton. However, a year later it received its first name change and became known as the Royal Marine Depot for the training of all Royal Marine recruits. On 5th September it officially became known as the Royal Marine Depot, Lympstone. (Although it was referred to by several different names during the Second World War). However, by the end of the war it was commonly known or referred to as Lympstone. The original RMITC training school at that time comprised of 17 weeks training incorporated into 2 phases, and was carried out at the Dalditch camp.

The course comprised of kitting up, lectures (including Corps history), PT, drill, bayonet fighting, basic small arms and Bren Gun drills, and the receiving of many injections. Followed by the assault course, advanced weapon training, range work, night firing and field-craft, involving cooking and survival. The last week of which was usually spent under canvas near the village of Ottery St Mary during the latter stages of the Dalditch era.

On Friday 1st November 1946 and the Dalditch camp was closed down. Phase 1 of the training was moved to Depot Deal for both Continuous Service and National Service recruits. Phase 2 was moved to Lympstone along with a name change to that of ‘Infantry Training Centre Royal Marines’ (ITCRM).

Marine Smith-Howell from Sussex was recorded as the first 'recruit' to sign in at Lympstone, although it is extremely doubtful that he was actually the first to pass through the main gate once the camp was set up.
It's estimated that once the camp was up and running and at full capacity that between 1000 and 1500 recruits were under training at any given time.

Upon completion of training at Lympstone some Marines went on to the Bickleigh Infantry School for specialisation or to the Commando Training Centre at Towyn (N Wales) which for a short time had taken over the role from Achnacarry in Scotland before it too eventually closed down.

Early in 1951 the Officer Training Wing moved to Lympstone from Bickleigh Infantry School. There were just six men in the first intake, two of whom were Corps Commission candidates and parachutists, and were joined later by further batches totalling a complement of 40.

During February 1960 the SNCOs Training Wing and Specialised Training moved to Lympstone, followed by the Commando Specialist Training in April, which included Heavy Weapons, Cliff Assault, and Assault Engineers. These bodies joined up with the resident 'X' Troop to form a new Commando Training Wing centred on the old 'C' Company Lines. Previously there had been four recruit companies, A, B, C and D, of these only A and C survived, with the former as the National Service Company, but to make way for the new units these then amalgamated into a single Recruit Training Wing in February.

During 1950's and early 1960's the accommodation for the recruits was several rows of Nissan huts. Each had two coke fired stoves down the middle of the room, and around twenty to thirty double bunk beds positioned around the room. While at the so called front door was a little room for a Corporal whose job it was to keep an eye on the recruits in his room. While at the other end was a door that lead to an outdoor covered walkway leading to the showers. 1960 saw the present day Drill Shed erected.

1961 and the last of the National Service recruits in 939 Squad, finished their Phase Two training at Lympstone.
Friday 12th July 1963 Lt Gen M.C. Cartwright-Taylor opened 'D' Block (Salerno) the first of the new four storied recruit accommodation blocks, by which time four others were also erected, and awaiting completion. 'A blot on the rural skyline' according to a report in the 'Western Morning News'.

Early 1967 the Mess-and-recreational block, including the Main Galley, Dining Halls, NAAFI and Junior NCOs Club were completed. Nearby were the NAAFI quarters and a trading centre designed to house the UIF-run amenities, Barber Shop, Pressing Shop, Laundry and Drying Room, a civilian Tailor's Shop, and the new automatic telephone exchange which came into operation during January. Also in progress were the practice rooms, stores and offices of the Plymouth Group Band, and the seventh barrack block. While sports grounds were provided in the field opposite the main gate.

Monday 24th August 1970 the camp under-went another name change to that of 'Commando Training Centre Royal Marines' (CTCRM).

Monday 28th October 1974 at 11-58am D block the last of the new four storied accommodation blocks that were started back in 1962, was finally opened. D block had the distinction of being officially opened at precisely 11-58 am on Monday 28th October 1974, exactly 310 years (to the minute) after the founding of the Corps, back in 1664.

The Junior Entries Wing (Normandy) as it was called was built to a completely different design and contained 20 barrack rooms, plus 4 'Quiet Rooms', 3 television and 2 hobbies rooms, along with Company and Troop offices.
January 1976 and the Junior Marines Block and an extension to the Officers' Mess had been completed, work progressed on the new Sergeants' Mess and sadly the last tree holding the 30 foot ropes of the Old Assault Course was felled.

Monday 3rd May 1976 a unique event occurred when the Mayor of Exeter joined the Commandant General and senior railway executives on an inaugural train service from Exeter scheduled to stop at the camp's very own station, Lympstone Commando. Not only the first new station to be built in the western region this century, but the only one in the country designed exclusively for servicemen. (www.exeterflotilla.org)

1941. September. Ocean Fortresses. Col (later Brigadier) C. T. Brown reconnoitred Addu Atoll, as a result MNBDO I provided 500 all ranks in force ‘Overt’. This force was commanded by Brig C. T. Brown until he was killed in a flying accident, he was succeeded by Brig Lukis. The personnel of ‘Overt’ installed guns on; Addu Atoll; on other islands including those in the Seychelles; and on a tiny atoll in the Chagos Archipelago some 1,000 miles south west of Ceylon.
This small atoll of Diego Garcia would become familiar to Marines serving there in the 1990s with NP 1002. It is hot and humid with no land over six feet above sea level. During 1942 the landing points were blasted in the coral on these islands and roads were built linking the landing points to gun sites. Telephone cables were laid, and a number of bridges were built for the Addu Atoll sites. In the autumn of 1942 the L & M Units of MNBDO I and RM Engineers returned to Addu Atoll to build Gan aerodrome.11  Although this airfield was abandoned after World War II, it was rebuilt in the 1950s as an RAF staging post, and is used by the USAF in the 1990s.
Armoured Support Formations RM. The  Armoured Support Craft Regiment was formed at Merley House Camp, Wimborne, Dorset, during July and August 1943 from ranks of the RM Division’s artillery units, it was reorganised in September with an HQ, 1, 2 and 3 Batteries, each with three Troops, and a Holding Battery. From 18th October the Regiment was under the direct command of AGRM. The personnel wore combined operations flashes. In each Troop were four detachments for LCGs, but these became the nuclei of units in the Armoured Support Group after the Batteries moved to Le Marchant Barracks in Devizes, Wiltshire, as of 18th October 1943. The HQ was disbanded about March 1944. (RMHS)

1941. Wednesday 10th December. The Plymouth Argyll Royal Marines. “I thought they were heroes,” an able seaman later commented, “because they fought non-stop and there were shell cartridges lying all over. They were kicking these over the side into the sea… they never stopped firing right up to the end.” 
When the end came, aboard HMS Prince of Wales, turret captain Sgt Terry Brooks, the youngest sergeant in the Corps, ordered his men to remove their boots, inflate their rubber life jackets and jump into the sea. After going below to the ship’s magazine to bring out three more of his men, Sgt Brooks too plunged overboard. The escorting destroyers picked up survivors and returned them to Singapore.

A few days later the very basically re-kitted 210 Royal Marine detachment survivors from HMS Prince of Wales and Repulse, including the six officers, were formed into a Naval Battalion under Captain R.G.S. [Bob] Lang RM. They were deployed to guard the Naval Base, RN Wireless Transmission Station at Kranji and the RN Armaments Depot. Apart from Bob Lang the other officers were Captain Claude Derek Aylwin and Lieutenants Charles Verdon, Jim Davis, Tom Sherdan and Geoffrey Hulton.

1941. Wednesday 24th December. Forty of these Royal Marines, after rudimentary jungle training, were sent up-country into Malaya to join Roseforce (Major Angus Rose 2A and SH) involved in special operations behind the Japanese lines. The speed of the Japanese advance, however, led to their employment in demolition work and they returned to Singapore on Wednesday 14th January 1942. 

1941. December. Roger Courtney returned to the United Kingdom where he formed No2 Special Boat Section and No1 Special Boat Section became attached to the Special Air Service (SAS) as the Folboat Section.

1941. Saturday 27th December. Operation Archery in Norway.

1941. December. The 1st RM (Heavy) AA Regiment, was formed on the reorganisation of the Air Defence Brigade of MNBDO I in December 1941; personnel of 2nd RM AA Rgt formed this HQ with ‘B’, ‘C’, and ‘D’ Batteries from 1st and 2nd RM AA Regiments (‘B’ Bty had been ‘A’ Bty of 1st RM AA Rgt). COs: Lt–Col C. M. Sergeant, December 1941 to August 1943; and Lt. Col R. Garrett, DSO, September 1943 to November 1945.
The Regiment’s HQ was in the following locations, with the units commanded shown in brackets:
21st December 1941:
With Air Defence Brigade MNBDO, Cairo (‘B’, ‘C’ and ‘D’ Btys).
1st February 1942:
Colombo, Ceylon (as at 21st December 1941).
11th March 1942:
Colombo, although the HQ was in Ceylon, ‘A’ Bty was re–formed initially under its command, but as the Battery was in Cairo it was transferred to 2nd RM (Heavy) AA Rgt on formation.
9th April 1942:
Tricomalee, Ceylon when Batteries deployed in defence of the island. Malaria caused many casualties, ‘D’ Battery at one time having 92 per cent of its strength sick or convalescing. RA gunners were
attached to make up the Batteries’ strengths but all had returned to army units by June.9
October 1942:
Ceylon, the rounds per gun were reduced from 1,250 to 9303 (‘D’ RM Heavy AA Bty, ‘Devon’ RM LAA Bty and 1 RM AA Signals Squadron, ‘Devon’ Bty handed over sites to 7 Bty Ceylon Garrison Artillery on 5th November 1942, see WO 172/1523).
January and February 1943:
Ceylon, days when petrol not to be used, to conserve fuel.
15th April 1943:
Poona, India, (‘B’, ‘C’ and ‘D’ Btys training with XXXIII Corps for operations in the Arakan, Burma).
28th September 1943:
Bhiwandi, near Bombay training for amphibious operations, practice shoots included low burst HE and at anti–tank targets. Mobile Operations Room with improved techniques. Scales of equipment change to mobile 3.7–in guns and 22nd RM LAA Bty under command for defence of heavy AA guns (‘B’(?), ‘C’,
‘D’ and 22nd RM LAA Btys).
January 1944:
Bhiwandi, preparing to return to UK after the Arakan operations were deferred.
February 1944:
With Air Defence Gt Britain, Clacton on Sea, Essex (‘A’, ‘B’, ‘C’ and ‘D’ at RA training camps).
August to September 1944:
With Twenty First Army Group, Cherbourg in defence of this French port (‘A’, ‘B’, ‘C’, and ‘D’ Btys)
19th October 1944:
Antwerp in AA defences of Scheldt, and fired low airburst HE in support of Canadian
Division West of Antwerp (‘A’, ‘B’, ‘C’ and ‘D’ Btys).
21st October 1944:
With US ARMY 101 (AA) BRIGADE Louvain, near Brussels, all Batteries in ‘Diver’ belt defences, credited with 41 ‘kills’ of V1s (‘A’, ‘B’, ‘C’ and ‘D’ Btys).
October and November 1944.
With Canadian Division Schelt area, a Regimental Command Post was formed and FOOs worked with Canadian infantry (detached from time to time in a ground support role ‘A’, ‘B’, ‘C’, and ‘D’ Btys, in 44 days some 1,300 shoots were made at ground targets, firing air–burst HE).
January 1945:
With 5 RM AA BRIGADE Antwerp in air defence of port, and credited with four planes during low level attack on 1 January (‘A’, ‘B’, ‘C’, and ‘D’ Btys, except for one Troop of ‘D’ which was with US Army in ‘Diver’ belt and credited with 30 V1s 10).
March and April 1945:
Ostend, all Batteries in coast defence role, on 18 April sank a midget submarine11 (‘A’, ‘B’, ‘C’, and ‘D’ Btys).
May 1945:
Topsham, Devon with Batteries in By Pass Camp near Exeter, personnel being demobilised but ‘D’
Battery retained as holding battery.
16th November 1945:
Topsham, HQ disbanded and personnel from ‘D’ Battery posted to 28th RM Battalion. (RMHS)

1941. December. 2nd RM (Heavy) AA Regiment
Formed on the reorganisation of MNBDO I Air Defence Brigade in December 1941. This HQ had only the 23rd RM LAA Battery under command until December 1942, when the heavy AA Battery ‘A’ came under command while still in Egypt, before the Regiment’s HQ provided control staff for anti–aircraft defences in Indian Ocean bases. The Regiment returned to Scotland in February 1944 and ‘A’ Battery transferred in March to 1st RM (Heavy) AA Regiment. The Regiment’s HQ was disbanded with the 23rd RM LAA Bty on 23rd May 1944. (RMHS)

1941. The 12th RM Battalion was formed in the UK as the Auxiliary Bn and later designated the 12th Battalion as the Land Defence Force of MNBDO II. Disbanded in the summer of 1942.(RMHS)

1941. The RM Batteries ‘T’, ‘U’, ‘W’, ‘X’, ‘Y’ and ‘Z’, were formed by 1941-42 as coast defence batteries, each had 2 x 4in guns and were in the UK; ‘T’ Bty of 2nd RM Coast Rgt was at Eypemouth, near Bridport; ‘U’ and ‘W’ Btys of the same Regiment were at Bembridge, Isle of Wight; ‘X’ Bty in 1940 with MNBDO I was at Sunk Island, Yorkshire;
‘Y’ Bty from May 1940 to March 1941 was in Iceland before returning to the UK; at ‘Z’ Bty was at Harwich, Essex, in 1940. ‘X’ and ‘Z’ Btys were in Crete in May 1941 and suffered heavy casualties. ‘X’ was re-formed in Egypt in June 1942 and later served in Ceylon during 1942–3. ‘Z’ Bty served in 1941-42 on Addu Atoll in the India Ocean.
These Batteries were initially equipped with 4-in guns on special Hazard Mountings, which made them mobile enough to be positioned once they had been landed in 1940–1; later the Batteries had other naval 4in guns in conventional coast mountings at times. All Batteries but ‘Y’ were disbanded as of 15th May 1944.
‘Y’ Bty does not appear to have been reformed after personnel served in RM Coast Defence Rgt in August 1943. (RMHS)

1941. Achnacarry Scotland. The combination soldier-sailor concept of the Royal Marines was absolutely necessary for amphibious warfare. (The Royal Marines were not available until 1942), However, men could be trained in the use of boats and landing craft whether they were Marines or not. Land training was equally important since the sea was only a means to reach the land.
Physical fitness was required both for admission and as a continuing standard to be maintained. Marches and exercises were directed toward this end. A few calisthenics before breakfast was not what commando instructors considered to be physical training. If a man were physically fit by the standards set, marching seven miles in one hour was no more difficult than an uphill march in two hours and fifteen minutes. Physical fitness trained the men for the long marches they would have to make in the field. Even more important was the realisation that a man who was alert enough to master a number of physical tasks was more alert mentally as well. Therefore, physical training included not just marches, but obstacle courses, such as cliff climbing and also swimming. Practice landings and assaults were executed with live ammunition so that the men would be able to function under fire.
Forty of the 25,000 men who trained at the Achnacarry centre were killed in training. Mock graves were set up at the entrance to impress this fact on newcomers. The men were also taught night fighting, hand-to-hand combat, and woods craft to enable them to live off the land, concepts established by Keyes.

1941. Captain G.V.B. Cheesman flying a Walrus seaplane was appointed a Member of the British Empire for rescuing the crew of a torpedoed freighter 100 miles off the coast of Africa after attacking the guilty German submarine. He gathered the survivors together and with his aircraft towed the ships boats to safety. He subsequently was awarded the Distinguished Service Order for leading his squadron on operations against the Tirpitz in Norway and later in 1945 was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross for operations in the Pacific.

1941.
Registered Numbers. Six Digit Numbers during WW2. The prefixes ‘CH/X’, ‘PLY/X’, ‘PO/X’ followed by numbers of six digits in the 100000 series, indicated ranks entered for ‘Hostilities Only’ (HO) Service during World War ll, (CH/X119200; PO/X127790; PLY/X117156).

1941. The Fairbairn–Sykes fighting knife was first issued into service.


The Fairbairn–Sykes fighting knife is a double-edged fighting knife resembling a dagger or poignard with a foil grip developed by William Ewart Fairbairn and Eric Anthony Sykes in Shanghai based on concepts which the two men initiated before World War II while serving on the Shanghai Municipal Police in China.

The Fairbairn–Sykes was made famous during World War II when issued to the British Commandos, the Airborne Forces, the SAS and many other units, especially for the Normandy Landings in June 1944. With its acutely tapered, sharply-pointed blade, the F–S fighting knife is frequently described as a stiletto, a weapon optimized for thrusting, although the F-S knife is capable of being used to inflict slash cuts upon an opponent when its cutting edges are sharpened according to specification. The Wilkinson Sword Company made the knife with minor pommel and grip design variations.

It is strongly associated with the British Commandos and the US Marine Raiders (who based their issued knife on the Fairbairn-Sykes), among other special forces be it clandestine or raiding units. It features in the insignia of the British Royal Marines, the Belgian Commandos, the Dutch Commando Corps, founded in the UK during World War II, the Australian 1st Commando Regiment and 2nd Commando Regiment, and the United States Army Rangers, both founded with the help of the British Commandos. A solid gold Fairbairn–Sykes fighting knife is part of the Commandos' memorial at Westminster Abbey.

The first batch of fifty Fairbairn–Sykes fighting knives were produced in January 1941 by Wilkinson Sword Ltd after Fairbairn and Sykes had travelled down to their factory from the Special Training Centre at Lochailort in November 1940 to discuss their ideas for a fighting knife.

The Fairbairn–Sykes fighting knife (having little other practical application except for use in hand-to-hand combat) is now of interest mainly to collectors, though it remains in production because of continued collector interest.

The Fairbairn–Sykes fighting knife was designed exclusively for surprise attack and fighting, with a slender blade that can easily penetrate a ribcage. The vase handle grants precise grip, and the blade's design is especially suited to its use as a fighting knife. Fairbairn's rationale is in his book Get Tough! (1942).

In close-quarters fighting there is no deadlier weapon than the knife. In choosing a knife there are two important factors to bear in mind: balance and keenness. The hilt should fit easily in your hand, and the blade should not be so heavy that it tends to drag the hilt from your fingers in a loose grip. It is essential that the blade have a sharp stabbing point and good cutting edges, because an artery torn through (as against a clean cut) tends to contract and stop the bleeding. If a main artery is cleanly severed, the wounded man will quickly lose consciousness and die.

The Fairbairn-Sykes was produced in several patterns. The Shanghai knife on which it was based was only about 5.5 in (14 cm) long in the blade. First pattern knives have a 6.5 in (17 cm) blade with a flat area, or ricasso, at the top of the blade which was not present on the original design and the presence of which has not been explained by the manufacturers, under the S-shaped cross guard. Second-pattern knives have a slightly longer blade (just less than 7 in (18 cm)), 2 in (5.1 cm)-wide oval cross guard, knurled pattern grip, and rounded ball, and may be stamped 'ENGLAND' (a U.S. legal requirement when importing the surplus knives into the USA after WWII, as they had to show the country of origin) on the handle side of the cross guard. Some may also be stamped with a 'Broad Arrow' /|\ British issue mark and a number (e.g., 21) on the opposite handle side of the cross guard. Third-pattern knives also have a similarly-sized seven-inch blade, but the handle was redesigned to be a ringed grip. This ringed grip is reputed to have distressed one of the original designers as it unbalanced the weapon and made harder to hold when wet, but it was used by the manufacturers as it was simple to produce and could be cast from a cheaper and more plentiful alloy instead of using up scarce quantities of brass stock which were of course required for ammunition casings and other such vital applications. Third-pattern knives may be stamped 'WILLIAM RODGERS SHEFFIELD ENGLAND', 'BROAD ARROW', or simply 'ENGLAND'. William Rodgers, as part of the Egginton Group, now also produce an all-black "sterile" version of the knife, which is devoid of any markings showing maker for NATO use.

The length of the blade was chosen to give several inches of blade to penetrate the body after passing through the 3 in (7.6 cm) of the thickest clothing that was anticipated to be worn in the war, namely that of Soviet greatcoats. Later production runs of the Fairbairn–Sykes fighting knife have a blade length that is about 7.5 in (19 cm). In all cases the handle had a distinctive foil-like grip to enable several handling options. Many variations on the F–S fighting knife exist regarding size of blade and particularly of handle. The design has influenced the design of knives throughout the many decades since its introduction.

Because of the success of the Fairbairn-Sykes Knife in World War II and in the wars in Korea and Vietnam, many companies made their own versions of the F–S fighting knife, such as the 1966 Gerber Mark II. Almost two million of the British knives were made. Not all of these were of good quality; post-1945 versions were notably inferior. Early production runs were extremely limited, and demand was high, with many British troops attempting to buy their own.

1941. From late 1941 all ranks had worn a red flash behind the cap badge on khaki caps after completion of initial disciplinary training, and this was continued on the blue beret.
With the training of all Royal Marines as commandos, the blue beret with red flash was instead worn by recruits prior to completing Commando training.
(Officers of 41 RM Commando wore an officers full dress collar badge as a badge on the green beret during WWII.)
A variety of different badges have been worn by RM Bands. Navy Blue Battledress of the same pattern as khaki BD was introduced in June 1942. It was worn by officers with an open collar, white shirt, black tie & blue lanyard.
Originally "RM" shoulder titles were worn on the shoulder straps, but in November 1943 woven "ROYAL MARINES" in red on dark blue were introduced.
NCOs and Marines wore BD with closed collar & badges of rank in red on dark blue.
Navy Blue BD was worn by landing craft crews and ships detachments, and manufacture ceased in 1950 although it continued to be worn for many years for office duties, often with the blouse worn with the trousers from the "Blues" uniform. During WWII, medal ribbons were not worn on the BD blouse.

1942. Achnacarry Scotland. Lieutenant-Colonel Charles Vaughn took over in 1942 and pushed commando training to a new level of excellence. Amphibious exercises were carried out at Inveraray, Scotland, at the head of Loch Fyne. Training was always logical and practical. Nothing was ever initiated in training that did not have a purpose or objective. It rested on the desire of the individual to excel. Therefore, the only disciplinary measure was R.T.U., meaning ‘Returned to Unit.’ This was used by commanders and instructors to weed out the physically and psychologically unfit, and it could be instituted without explanation. This left the initiative and discipline entirely up to the individual. The men were often left to find their own transportation to and from places, and they were given an allowance and left to find their own quarters in private homes. There was no sergeant to police the barracks. All of this was aimed at developing the individual initiative of the soldier. If a man could not discipline himself and stay out of trouble, he could stay in the regular army. If he could not use his head to look out for himself, he was of no use to the commandos. The man for the organisation was the man who could use his brain and not have to sit around, mindlessly waiting for an order. The commandos were above all else an elite of individuals. They received the most varied training in modern warfare, but it was a means to an end, not an end unto itself.
The commando concept itself was never static; it developed with the war. The commandos began in 1940 as enthusiastic amateurs, but by 1945 they were among the most sophisticated shock troops in the world. In 1942 the Royal Marines entered the commando organization to form the RM commandos. The Marines were actually closer to the soldier sailor concept of the commandos; but they had been held back for home defence in 1940, and the task had gone to the Army commandos. Despite some initial rivalry, the two groups worked well together in brigade formations. By the end of the war, they were both part of a homog geneous fighting unit that was well equipped and properly deployed. The commandos' tactical and strategical contributions have already been covered in some detail. Aside from the purely tactical success achieved by the raids, the raiding program allowed Britain to resume the initiative that she needed to wage war. The raids also helped to develop the technique of amphibious warfare. Because Allied strategy was largely amphibious, this was a considerable contribution. The commandos also developed many new ideas in the area of field tactics and fighting, which were passed on to the regular . 10 forces. Aside from all this, the commandos made an enormous contribution to the concept of the soldier in modern warfare. They stressed the development of the intelligent, independent, motivated soldier, not the mass production of mindless killing machines. What the commandos tried to cultivate was the intelligent, self-reliant individual. COHQ did not want a group of half-wits who had to wait for an order before they could act. The responsibility given to the commandos was gladly received by the young men of the British Army, who were tired of inertia, incompetence, and a defensive attitude. (The British Commandos in the Second World War. In Defeat Defiance! By Alex Williams B.A.)
(The Green Beret The Story of the Commandos 1940 – 1945 by HILARY St. George Saunders)

1942. January. The 9th RM Battalion was formed as part of 103 RM Bde. On 2nd May came under command of CO of 7th RM while training at Dalditch, and after further training re-formed in August 1943 as 46 RM Commando.(RMHS)

1942. January. 46 RM Commando formed at Dalditch Camp as 9th RM Battalion. Converted at Dorchester to 46 RM Commando in August 1943. Disbanded at Haywards Heath in December 1945.

1942. January. HMS Triumph was lost somewhere in the Aegean Sea during. No one knows her exact position. She went down with all hands onboard including 2 Commando's, Corporals Clive Severn & Alfred Child. Both are listed as serving with 1 SBS and were probably onboard to assist with Folboat landings and leading shore parties as part of SOE (Possibly). There is precious little to add any detail about either of them other than CWGC info. Both are listed on the Brookwood Memorial.
L/Cpl Clive Severn, MiD, Northamptonshire Regiment and 11 (Scottish) Commando. Service No: 5887258. Age 22. Son of Herbert & Gertrude Severn of Daybrook, Nottinghamshire.
Bombardier Alfred Robert Child, Royal Artillery & Commando. Service No: 915218, Age 25. Son of Charlie & Annie Child, husband of P M Child of Moredun.
Although it is still at an early stage some research has been conducted to determine the area where triumph lies with the hope that a seabed search can be carried out to locate her final resting place.

1942. Thursday 29th January. 210 Royal Marines were moved to Tyersall Park Camp, Singapore, to join the 250 Argyll's, all that remained of Lt Colonel Ian Stewart’s 2A&SH who had fought a gallant and effective delaying action in the north of Malaya before being decimated at Slim River on Wednesday 7th January 1942. Subsequently, the survivors of the battalion had acted as rear guard during the crossing of the Causeway to Singapore. On Tuesday 3rd February the Argyll's and Marines were amalgamated into a composite battalion known as the Plymouth Argyll's. The Argyll's old association with Plymouth, their influence on the creation of its football team and the fact that the Marines were of the Plymouth Division were good reasons for this nickname. Lt Colonel Stewart trained the Plymouth Argyll's emphasising cooperation between armoured cars and widely dispersed infantry.

1942. January. 41 Commando RM formed at Dalditch Camp, near Exmouth as 8th RM Battalion. Reorganised in October 1942 and became firstly RM "B" Commando and then redesignated 41 RM Commando. Disbanded February 1946. Reformed at Bickleigh in August 1950 as 41 Independent Commando RM. Disbanded at Bickleigh in 1952. Reformed at Plymouth as 41 Commando RM in March 1960, reduced to a Company Group in Malta in April 1977 and reformed at Deal in October 1977.

1942. Sunday 8th February. The Japanese successfully crossed the Straits of Johore and gained a foothold on Singapore’s north western shore. As exhausted and demoralised Australian defenders withdrew, the Plymouth Argyll's were ordered late on the morning of Monday 9thFebruary to advance northwards up the Bukit Timah Road then westward along the Choa Chu Kang Road towards Tengah airfield. Shortly after debussing into the rubber and advancing on foot, the Royal Marines came under air attack and suffered casualties. Some sections became lost in wide night time dispersal in unfamiliar terrain. Two more days of fighting followed as the Plymouth Argyll's engaged the Japanese between Tengah and the Dairy Farm that lay east of the Upper Bukit Timah Road. Most of the Argyll's were cut off when the Japanese brought their tanks down the road, smashing through two Plymouth Argyll roadblocks. The main body of Royal Marines escaped across the Dairy Farm and down the Pipeline to the Golf Course, stretchering away a wounded Argyll officer. No sooner had they arrived back at Tyersall Park than the camp and the neighbouring Indian Military Hospital were destroyed in an air attack. In the confusion that followed and subsequent shelling and mortaring, there was a further dispersal of men including those wounded. When the surrender came on Sunday 5th February only some 40 Royal Marines remained in the trenches in the burnt out Tyersall Park. 

Many Royal Marines, either deployed to Keppel Harbour or lost in the Bukit Timah fighting spent the final days before the surrender assisting with the evacuation of civilians from Singapore to Sumatra. 25 Marines were ordered aboard HMS Tapah (captured); others on HMS Grasshopper (sunk) and Mata Hari (captured). Some escaped on Chinese junks, prahus and yachts. Most of those who survived entered captivity in Sumatra at Palembang and Padang, but some 22 made it to Ceylon as did 52 Argyll's. 31 Royal Marines were killed-in-action, died of wounds at Singapore or were lost at sea assisting in the evacuation of civilians to Sumatra.

The Argyll's and Marines at Tyersall Park were on Tuesday 17th February ordered by the Japanese to march to Changi. Headed by Piper Charles Stuart they marched out of Tyersall Park. Hundreds of soldiers from other units stood to attention as they passed. In fact, Captains Aylwin, Lang and Slessor (2A & SH) had no intention that their men march to Changi. A few hundred yards along the way what was left of the battalion transport drew up and embussed them into captivity passed marching columns of POWs. At first the Plymouth Argyll's were quartered in the Changi Village shops area. Many were subsequently sent to smaller work camps at River Valley, Havelock Road and Kranji. 

1942. February. The Infantry Battalions of the Royal Marine Division were re-organised as Commandos, joining up with the Army Commandos. While the Division Command structure became a Special Service Brigade.

Selection for the new Commando force was necessarily demanding. Men had to be physically very fit. However, they also had to show that they did not need the traditional chain of command to operate in the field as in the heat of battle such chains of command could break down. Initiative was considered to be a vital commodity. Some 400 men passed through the first phase of recruitment that included training with live ammunition.

Lieutenant-Colonel Dudley Clark of put forward the name 'Commando' for the new force, after the term used in the Second Boer War. Churchill himself approved of the title while senior military figures did not, they preferred the title 'Special Service' and the two were used alongside one another for a long time to come.

Training was undertaken in Scotland where a special training centre was created at Lochailort. 'Combined Operations' created an all forces amphibious centre at Inveraray in the Scottish Highlands. While in 1942, a specific commando training base was also established at Achnacarry Castle, also in Scotland. Scotland was picked for the training as it was thought that the conditions were right for testing the military personnel in survival, living off the land and map reading. All of which would be of great help when landing in a foreign country and having to fend for yourself.

1942. February The combination soldier-sailor concept of the Royal Marines was absolutely necessary for amphibious warfare. The Royal Marines were not available until 1942, but men could be trained in the use of boats and landing craft whether they were Marines or not. Land training was equally important since the sea was only a means to reach the land.

Physical fitness was required both for admission and as a continuing standard to be maintained. Marches and exercises were directed toward this end. A few calisthenics before breakfast was not what commando instructors considered to be physical training. If a man were physically fit by the standards set, marching seven miles in one hour was no more difficult than an uphill march in two hours and fifteen minutes. Physical fitness trained the men for the long marches they would have to make in the field. Even more important was the realisation that a man who was alert enough to master a number of physical tasks was more alert mentally as well. Therefore, physical training included not just marches, but obstacle courses, such as cliff climbing and also swimming. Practice landings and assaults were executed with live ammunition so that the men would be able to function under fire.

Forty of the 25,000 men who trained at the Achnacarry center were killed in training. Mock graves were set up at the entrance to impress this fact on newcomers. The men were also taught night fighting, hand-to-hand combat, and woods craft to enable them to live off the land, concepts established by Keyes.

The first training center was at Lochailort Castle in Scotland. Operations started there in 1940. The instructors included men who would later make their own mark in the history of the war, David Stirling who started the SAS, Lord Shimy Lovat who commanded No. 4 Commando at Dieppe, and Michael "Mad Mike" Calvert who commanded a Chindit batallion in Burma.
Another center was established at Achnacarry, Scotland, in 1941. Lieutenant-Colonel Charles Vaughn took over in 1942 and pushed commando training to a new level of excellence. Amphibious exercises were carried out at Inveraray, Scotland, at the head of Loch Fyne. Training was always logical and practical. Nothing was ever initiated in training that did not have a purpose or objective. It rested on the desire of the individual to excel. Therefore, the only disciplinary measure was R.T.U., meaning ‘Returned to Unit.’ This was used by commanders and instructors to weed out the physically and psychologically unfit, and it could be instituted without explanation. This left the initiative and discipline entirely up to the individual. The men were often left to find their own transportation to and from places, and they were given an allowance and left to find their own quarters in private homes. There was no sergeant to police the barracks. All of this was aimed at developing the individual initiative of the soldier. If a man could not discipline himself and stay out of trouble, he could stay in the regular army. If he could not use his head to look out for himself, he was of no use to the commandos. The man for the organisation was the man who could use his brain and not have to sit around, mindlessly waiting for an order. The commandos were above all else an elite of individuals. They received the most varied training in modern warfare, but it was a means to an end, not an end unto itself.

The commando concept itself was never static, it developed with the war. The commandos began in 1940 as enthjsiastic amateurs, but by 1945 they were among the most sophisticated shock troops in the world. In 1942 the Royal Marines entered the commando organization to form the RM commandos. The Marines were actually closer to the soldier sailor concept of the commandos; but they had been held back for home defense in 1940, and the task had gone to the Army commandos. Despite some initial rivalry, the two groups worked well together in brigade formations. By the end of the war, they were both part of a homog geneous fighting unit that was well equipped and properly deployed. The commandos' tactical and strategical contributions have already been covered in some detail. Aside from the purely tactical success achieved by the raids, the raiding program allowed Britain to resume the initiative that she needed to wage war. The raids also helped to develop the technique of amphibious v/arfare. Because Allied strategy was largely amphibious, this was a considerable contribution. The commandos also developed many new ideas in the area of field tactics and fighting, which were passed on to the regular . 10 forces. Aside from all this, the commandos made an enormous contribution to the concept of the soldier in modern warfare. They stressed the development of the intelligent, independent, motivated soldier, not the mass production of mindless killing machines. What the commandos tried to cultivate was the intelligent, self-reliant individual. COHQ did not want a group of half-wits who had to wait for an order before they could act. The responsibility given to the commandos was gladly received by the young men of the British Army, who were tired of inertia, incompetence, and a defensive attitude.

1942. February. 40 Commando RM formed at Deal as the RM Commando (with A, B, and C Companies). Redesignated RM "A" Commando and then 40 RM Commando in October 1942, absorbed 43 RM Commando in September 1945 and disbanded 1946. Reformed in March when 44 RM Commando was redesignated.

1942. Early. The Royal Marines Salute' by Alan Ivan Ryman.(Po/x 104167)
After completing my intake training as an H.O. at Pompey I reckon my salute was as smart as any once. Later nearly all the recruits who had in 97 Squad were posted to join H.M.S. Manchester. At the last moment I was taken off the draft.
Some weeks before I had submitted my name in response to a call for volunteers for aircrew in the Fleet Air Arm. I was to go for an interview and medical at St. Vincent, Gosport. My mates went off to "Manchester", and a French POW camp in North Africa.
Seven Royal Marines, a sprinkling of naval ratings from other establishments, and about forty new chums, Naval Airmen, Second Class, commenced training as pilots. By the completion of Elementary Flying Training, the number of Royals was down to three to go to Canada for the next stage of flying. We were made Acting Corporals, the matelots became Leading Naval Airmen. On gaining wings and returning to the U.K. I was classed as A/P.O. Rating Pilot, but I was still a Marine in uniform, spirit and salute. Next posting was to HMS "Kestrel" (Worthy Down) where I was to fly trainee Telegraphist Air Gunners. Billeted in the petty officer's mess but still wearing Royal Marine uniform, the logical thing to do was to sew on sergeant's stripes. No one objected. By this time my R.M. salute could cause a force four breeze at thirty paces on the upswing. Disaster &truck when one day the C.O. of the squadron called we in to his office and said "Ryman, you're in the wrong uniform. You're in the Navy now. Get kitted out. square rig as an A/P.O." Forced to change uniform, luckily only for a few weeks in bell bottoms until commissioned, I saw no reason to change spirit or salute, indeed, at no time was I instructed how to give a naval salute.
It was not until the Pacific war ended and "Indefatigable" returned to Sydney that we were able to go ashore and return on board often enough for me to become aware that I was something of a novelty to those on the quarterdeck as I came aboard, in naval uniform giving my most pronounced RN salute. A bit of nudging with the elbow and probably a comment like "Watch this for a real salute, mate" from the boatneck.
Couple of months later I had been in the Captain's office at the Naval Air Station at Nowra and, on intending to leave, gave him my usual salute. "Just a moment, Subbie. Salute me again." What to do? If I gave a naval salute I would be admitting that I knew I was wrong before. So it was longest way up, palm facing forward, force five breeze that time. He was not impressed. Amongst a number of other remarks he advised me, for my own good, to go and find out how to give a naval salute. I wasn't concerned about my own good and didn't.
Another two or three weeks on and I was in Sydney. The Royal Navy had offices in Barrack House, just round the corner from Wynyard Station. I had been to see someone to wangle out of being sent back to the U.K. and had come down to the ground floor in the lift. As the door opened and I stepped out a group of senior officers were waiting to get in. I saluted as I passed them. One of them was the Captain from Nowra. Just as they entered the lift he exploded. That bloody subbie had done it again. But one of the others had pressed the "up" button. The great bellow made me look round in time to see the door of the lift close on a pointing, red faced Captain almost jumping up and down in rage. I left the building before they had time to reverse the lift.

1942. March. The RM AA Operations Rooms: 1 RM Air Defence Bde formed an AA Ops Room; in August a second Ops Room was formed by 2 RM Air Defence Bde. Personnel of this second Ops Room were later absorbed into the AA Ops Room of 5 RM AA Bde, when the Air Defence Brigade was disbanded in the spring of 1944.(RMHS)

1942. March. RM AA Operations Rooms: in March 1942, 1 RM Air Defence Bde formed an AA Ops Room; in August a second Ops Room was formed by 2 RM Air Defence Bde. Personnel of this second Ops Room were later absorbed into the AA Ops Room of 5 RM AA Bde, when the Air Defence Brigade was disbanded in the spring of 1944. (RMHS)

1942. Wednesday 15th April. to 21st December. The 2nd RM AA Regiment was formed with ‘C’, ‘D’ and 23rd RM Light Btys which were under training with RA Regiments.1 First CO Lt. Col C. M. Sergeant, 15th April to 21st December.
The Regiment’s HQ was in the following locations, with the units commanded shown in brackets:
15 April 1940:
With Coastal Defence Group, Arborfield (‘C’, ‘D’ and 23rd RM Light AA Btys).
8th August 1940:
With Air Defence Gt Britain Matlock, Derbyshire (Btys as at 15th April).
January 1941:
With Air Defence Brigade MNBDO I, Portsmouth (Btys as at 15th April 1940).
March 1941:
Egypt (Btys as at 15th April 1940).
May 1941:
Crete (‘C’ Bty. elements of 23rd RM Light AA Bty and advance party from ‘D’ Bty).
June 1941:
Moascar, Egypt (after the Crete operation this Regiment had only elements of its three Btys with cadres
from ‘D’ joining ‘C’ and some men from 22nd RM LAA Bty joining the 23rd RM Light AA Bty).
21st December 1941:
Cairo, the HQ became the 1st (Heavy) AA Rgt’s headquarters,3 ‘C’ and ‘D’ Btys to that Regiment and 23rd RM Light AA Bty to 2nd RM (Heavy) AA Regiment.4
July 1942:
Headquarters re-formed. (RMHS)

1942. Thursday 16th April. Royal Marines from the 11th Bn were landed by HMS Kelvin and Kipling on Kuphansi, Crete to destroy the W/T station (Operation LIGHTER). (Face Book RMHistoricalSociety from David Abrutat)

1942. Early in the year. The 21st RM Holding Battalion was formed to absorb men who could not be posted to operational units after training, this battalion provided camp staff for 20th RM Bn before they were merged in October 1942.(RMHS)

1942. May. The 50th Anniversary edition of the 'Globe & Laurel', editor by Lieutenant Colonel L.D. Briscoe RM. Now printed by Holbrook & Son Ltd on Queen Street Portsmouth. The magazine was untypically light on the Corps activity due to war time restrictions, concentrating more on sport, promotion and honours to fill the pages. However, a prisoner of War section kept families informed while the advertisements helped with information on how to find difficult to get rationed items.

1942. Spring. 104 RM (Training) Brigade formed before the summer as the training brigade of the RM Division, this HQ’s responsibilities included the organisation of NCOs’ and other courses at Hayling Island, its 20th (Training) Battalion being responsible for recruits’ infantry training. From April to mid-July 1942 the HQ was in Exmouth. The Brigade took over responsibility for training at Lympstone and the infantry training of recruits at Dalditch from 17th June 1942, the HQ moving into Lympstone Grange on 16th July. They also liaised with battalions over the provision of reinforcements, including officers for battalions when mobilised. The 22nd RM (Trg) Bn of young soldiers came under commands of this HQ in November 1942, before the HQ was absorbed by RM Training Group on its formation early in 1943.(RMHS)

1942. June. No2 Special Boat Section (SBS) took part in airfield raids on the isle of Crete in the Mediterranean.

1942. June. The movement of POWs from Changi to Thailand to build the Death Railway began. From Singapore to Ban Pong in crowded rice wagons then force marched to Kanchanaburi and Chungkai and then on to jungle camps further up the line to Burma. Many of those who survived this were sent in 1944 by sea to Japan as slave labour, many of the ships being sunk by Allied submarines on the journey with huge loss of life. When liberation finally came in September 1945 33 Plymouth Argyll Royal Marines had died in captivity.

1942. During the summer of 1942, No 1 Commando was formed and stationed in Ayrshire, Scotland. They had recently taken part in the raid in the Le Touquet area of France, near Boulogne. There were six Troops, billeted in private houses between Irvine and Kilwinning. One day the Commanding officer, Lieutenant Colonel Will Glendenning of the Welch Regiment, as was his want, was conducting a `tour d'horizon' of the Commando's future employment with his Second-in-­Command, Major Tom Trevor, also from the Welch Regiment and his Adjutant, Captain B.G.B. 'Puggie' Pugh of the Royal Welch Fusiliers. The question of a common headdress was raised.
The problem arose from the fact that no less than 79 different regiments and corps of the British Army were represented in the Commando and that each was wearing the headdress peculiar to his parent unit. Thus a motley collection of caps, tam-o-shanters, bonnets, forage caps, `fore and aft caps, berets and peaked caps appeared on the Commando parades, the forest being a veritable RSM's nightmare.
This problem, of course, ran through all other Commando units at the time, but some, Nos 2and 9 Commandos in particular, had resolved it by adopting as a common headdress the cap TOS (tam-o-shanter). For a variety of reasons, one being that No 1 Commando was predominantly Welsh in character, a headdress with a Scottish flavour was not considered appropriate or desirable. It was therefore decided that a beret was a better answer as it was difficult to wear improperly, was light and easily disposed of in a pocket if necessary.
As to colour, the two already in service, Black was worn by the Royal Tank Regiment and Red (maroon) by the Parachute Regiment so had to be avoided. Luckily a range of ideal colours was to hand in the shoulder insignia of No 1 Commando, a salamander going through fire - the salamander being Green and the flames yellow (gold) and red (crimson). The Richmond Herald at the College of Arms originally designed this insignia. It did not take a genius to decide that, of the three-colour choice, green was far and away the first and obvious choice. And so it was to be.
The type, style and colour having been settled, Puggie' Pugh was detailed to investigate how and where it could be produced. Luckily there was a factory close by at Ardrossan specialising in the ,manufacture of Scottish bonnets, etc. A visit there solicited the information that they also had a WD (War Department)contract to make black berets for the RTR. Samples of these were produced; an Officers' pattern and an Other Ranks' pattern, the only difference being the headband of the former was of silk and the latter of leather! Pugh recalls that the original sample was of a 'particularly nauseating design, the crown being the ideal green, but it was surmounted by a red bobble with red and white dicing round the band'. Two sample designs were produced for the CO's inspection, and were approved with instructions to get some actual green berets made. Within a fortnight the firm had completed the order to everyone's satisfaction.
The next phase of the `operation' was the CO's decision to seek the approval of the Commander of the Special Service Brigade, Brigadier Bob Laycock, for No 1 Commando to use the Green Beret. By return of post, preceded by a phone call presumably, Bob Laycock said that for some time he had been considering a common headdress for the whole brigade and he felt, subject to No 1 Commando's agreement, that the green beret would be ideal. Naturally agreement was forthcoming.
As a gesture, the Brigadier decreed that as stocks became available, No 1 Commando would be issued with them first. And so it was that the green beret was taken into use by No 1 Commando prior to them embarking for Operation Torch, the landing in North Africa in November 1942.
As far as the Royal marines were concerned, there are two differing accounts about who was the first to wear the green beret.
CO of 41 (RM) Commando, Lieutenant Colonel B.J.D. 'Berne' Lumsden, was visiting SS Brigade's HO and saw one of the green berets; and taking an immediate liking to it, he was allowed to take one away with him. He decided to put his full dress collar badge into it in place of a normal cap badge, a custom adopted only by the officers of 41(RM)Commando. This beret is now kept in the Royal Marines Museum, along with the fighting knife.
In his history or 40 Commando. `The Light Blue Lanyard', Major Jeff Beadle recounts:
` In the days that followed, two noteworthy events took place. The first, on 26 October 1942, concerned the initial issue of the green beret. There were men in the unit who were reluctant at first to wear the new headdress as they considered the colour to be effeminate. Their feelings soon changed, and it was not long before the practical and prestigious value of the green beret outweighed any colour prejudice. The green beret was worn with pride, in action or on parade, in preference to any other form of headdress'.
This article was first published in the Globe & Laurel of September/October 2002.

1942. Monday 6th July. The RM Boom Patrol Detachment: Formed at Southsea, Hampshire, the Detachment trained in canoes, in long distance swimming and shallow water diving. It mounted a raid on shipping in Bordeaux in December 1942. A unit went to the Mediterranean and mounted raids in 1943-44 The Detachment did development work on air launched explosive motor boats, but these were not used operationally. The personnel were later absorbed into the RM Special Boat Sections.(RMHS)

1942. Summer. The RM Light AA Regiment/1st RM Light AA Regiment was formed in the summer of 1942 when the RM Division was setting up its organic artillery units; 101 RM Brigade’s artillery HQ staff provided the personnel for this Regiment’s HQ. CO Lt. Col J. M. Fuller from 24th August 1942 to 31st July 1943. While under command of 101 RM Brigade, the Regiment’s HQ was in the following locations, with the units commanded shown in brackets: 24th August 1942:
Near Fishguard (with 1st and 2nd LAA Btys and 1st AA/Anti–tank Bty).
November 1942:
Inveraray on amphibious training (as for 24th August).
December 1942:
Sandbanks at Poole, Dorset for training shoots (as for 24th August).
about 1st January 1943:
Sandbanks Regiment redesignated 1st RM Light AA Rgt. about 31st July:
At Sandbanks Regiment disbanded, HQ personnel to Support Craft Regiment. (RMHS)

1942. Wednesday 19th August. George Patterson RM PO/X114719-t (9th September 1923 - 16th July 2015) later referred to as Gud. Was born on the 9th September 1923 in Salford Lancashire. Gud was one of four children born to Frederick & Sarah Patterson.
Gud’s father, Frederick served with 7/8 Battery, Lancashire Fusiliers. In 1916 he and members of his unit suffered heavy bombardments of shelling and mustard gas. Fredrick endured and returned home from the Great War suffering ongoing breathing problems caused by the gas in the trenches of the Somme. Fredrick died in 1940 aged 50. As most will know, the times were tough during the 1920s and 1930s and the people of Manchester were no exception. Like many kids of the neighbourhood, life on struggle street was not easy using a rolled up newspaper for a football and swimming in the Manchester Ship Canal was a summer highlight for Gud and his mates.
On leaving school at 14 Gud found employment in local engineering workshop, learning the trade of a fitter and turner. At the age of 18 Gud enlisted into the Royal Marines. He was instructed to report to Royal Marines Deal , and had the pleasure of becoming a fully paid up member of His Majesty’s Royal Marines on the 19th August 1942. Gud often commented that for him the Marines life could not have been better. The fact he received three square meals a day impressed him to no end.
After his recruit training and with his already acquired trade experience as a fitter, he was posted to a trade division and spent much time initial time in Scotland. On the 6 June 1944 saw the commencement of Operation Neptune and then subsequently Operation Overlord (D DAY landings). Gud found himself in the engine room of landing craft off Gold Beach, which was the centre of the five nominated landing areas. Gud kept his involvement on the D Day landings to himself. It wasn’t until sometime later he informed the family that he made several trips across the Channel, before being posted back to Scotland.
In early 1945, the Royal Marines invited Gud on a world cruise (although he was not aware of his destination at this time). However, after more training and more training he and many other Bootnecks found themselves boarding the Royal Mail ship HMS Aades, heading for a land down under. The trip from the Panama Canal to Sydney was non-stop with an average speed of 21 knots, the trip was completed in record time that still stands today. Gud relates to his arrival through the ‘Heads’ in wartime Sydney as arriving in heaven. On arrival and receiving shore leave, the Bootnecks made a beeline for the boozer only to find along the way a number of fruit and fresh produce vendors, the boozer was put on hold and the vendors were cleaned out of their stock of oranges, apples and bananas. Amazed by the abundance of fresh fresh food Gud thought he has arrived in the land of milk and honey. On dis-embarkation, Gud received his posting orders to report to the Fleet Air Arm and subsequently posted to Archerfield in Brisbane. The Marines were assigned the workshops and accommodation facilities vacated by the Yanks. Much to Gud’s surprise the Americans left their tools and gear behind. Gud “borrowed” these tools and continued to use them all his working life.
During his time in Brisbane Gud met a lady from Maryborough. Beryl Ashworth, recently moved to Brisbane and was working at Mc Whirters Department store in Fortitude Valley, they started courting when the Marines again spoiled his day, Gud received orders in April 1946 informing that he was going home. So with the clock ticking and some pulling of strings they were married within the week. Gud was off to Blighty and Beryl was left waiting along with six hundred other Aussie Brides for the arrival HMS Victorious to secure their passage back to England. Life changed quickly for Beryl with not just on the ship but when she arrived in England. She saw a scared country recovering from war and rationing all that was available, a level of austerity that was unaccustomed to as an Aussie country girl from Maryborough.
After receiving his demob suite, matching shoes and a golden hand shake of 58 pounds 16 shillings and 6 pence , Gud quickly realised that the land down under was for him. On the 12 November 1948, Gud returned with Beryl and new arrival Ian on the converted hospital ship Somertshire. Gud often told the story that the first fleet made better time for the trip, Gud arrived in Fremantle with a telegram informing of a position with Engineering Firm Evans Deakin (ED), he started at E.Ds two days after arriving to Brisbane in January 1949 and retired from E.D.s in July 1982. Gud enjoyed the canteen food.
Gud and Beryl built their family home way out of town at Wynnum North, they had three more children which translated to eight grandchildren, and then twelve great children, and Beryl now eighty nine still lives in the ‘Castle’ on Sandy camp Rd, and wild horses will unlikely remove her.
Gud informed recently before his passing that the three greatest events in his life were meeting his wife of 69 years, his family and the Royal Marines. If it had not been for the Royal Marines and the cruise ticket on the ANDES to Australia back in 1945 his life would have been very different.
In closing Gud was very proud of all his family. When he left Manchester he left all he knew he ploughed head first into the unknown for a new life in Australia. This experience is shared by Gud’s first-born granddaughter Megan who has done the same thing (but in reverse) and now has her own family in Botley, Hampshire and working as a school teacher, so the circle turns. RIP George Thomas Patterson 9/09/1923/16/07/2015 . (Author Unknown RMAQ)

George Patterson once told me that he had attended an interview after volunteering for a secret mission. He was told that in would involve a raid into France. After hearing what was involved he asked how he would get home? To be told that he would have to walk to Spain. To which he declined the raid. It turned out that it was the legentary Cockleshell Heroes raid on the French occupied Bordeaux docks, during December 1942. (from Terry Aspinall)

1942. August. The 3 and 4 RM AA Brigades were not formed during World War II, but read below.
Artillery Staff Headquarters MNBDO II. There is a record of this staff’s existence from August 1942 to July 1943, with responsibility for artillery units attached to the Organisation. (RMHS)

1942. August. Brigade Artillery Headquarters. In August 1942 part of the Artillery HQ RM Division became a separate Brigade Artillery HQ, and by 27th August were at Dalditch, Devon, where artillery units were being formed. It seems likely that this Brigade artillery HQ, commanded by Lt. Col J. M. Fuller, took over training responsibilities from the RM Division Artillery HQ, for the Brigade artillery HQ moved to Penally Camp in Pembrokeshire, in the last days of August. During practice shoots on army ranges near Penally the movement of guns and vehicles became impossible in part of the camp, owing to heavy rains and lack of hardstanding gun parks. This HQ was disbanded by August 1943 and the personnel posted to the Armoured Support Group.
Air Defence Brigade of MNBDO I, later 1 RM Anti-Aircraft Brigade and Headquarters AA Ceylon.
The nucleus of an Air Defence Group was formed by MNBDO on 29th January 1940, with a staff which included Fire Control Instructors. But a Brigade HQ was not formed until January 1941, with 1st and 2nd RM Anti-Aircraft Regiments and 11th Searchlight Regiment under command. An Advance HQ went to Crete in May 1941. The main HQ remained in Egypt, but as the MNBDO AA units moved to Ceylon in the winter of 1941-42, a new HQ was formed by redesignating 1st RM AA Regiment’s HQ as 1 RM AA Brigade HQ. Although no War Diary entries were made for the Cairo HQ after December 1941, it possibly supervised the re–formation of ‘A’ Battery, and its staff finally dispersed in December 1942.
The 1 RM AA Bde headquarters in Ceylon had under command a Gunnery Operations Room Troop11 (March to November 1942), as well as 1st and 2nd (Heavy) AA Rgts from December 1941 until May 1944, and for the period February 1942 to 29th August 1943, this HQ was designated HQ AA Ceylon,  with army units under command, including an RA Operations Room and RA batteries. There is a record of a Brigade HQ Battery from December 1942 to September 1943, no doubt to carry out Brigade (as opposed to Command HQ) functions. The Brigade was disbanded on 7th May 1944, but its official disbandment is given in RMRO 719/44 as 16th May 1944, and after 5 RM AA Brigade had moved to Clacton, Essex, for training. Air Defence Brigade MNBDO II later 2 RM Air Defence Brigade On 5th February 1941 the RM nuclei of AA and Searchlight Rgts joined army training establishments. In March the AD Brigade HQ was established, and by August 1942 had a Gunnery Operations Room which in the next 20 months worked with the Organisation’s AA Regiments. This staff, both of the Brigade HQ and its Operations Room, became the HQ of 5 RM AA Brigade in the spring of 1944. (RMHS)

1942. Wednesday 19th August. One of the first raids the Royal Marines were involved in was during the raid on Dieppe in France. That involved No3 and No4 Commando's and the 2nd Canadian Infantry Division, and known as 'Operation Jubilee'. The raid did not go as planned. The casualties included 3,367 Canadians and 275 British Commandos. The Royal Navy lost one destroyer and 33 landing craft, suffering 550 dead and wounded. The RAF lost 106 aircraft to the Luftwaffe's 48, while the German army also suffered 591 casualties.

1942. Wednesday 19th August. A disastrous seaborne raid was launched by Allied forces on the German-occupied French port of Dieppe. Why was such a raid ever undertaken? Because, with Germany operating deep in the Soviet Union, the Russians were urging the Allies to relieve the pressure on them by opening a second front in north-west Europe.
At the same time the British Chief of Combined Operations, Rear Admiral Louis Mountbatten, was agitating for a practical trial beach landing, against real opposition, for his troops. In the face of this pressure, Churchill decided that Operation Rutter, a 'hit and run' raid on Dieppe, should go ahead.
Lieutenant General Bernard Montgomery's South-Eastern Command provided the troops for the operation, and planned an unimaginative frontal assault, without heavy preliminary air bombardment. Montgomery was also being pressed by the Canadian government to ensure that Canadian troops saw some action, so the Canadian 2nd Division, under Major General Roberts, was selected for the main force.
These troops were to assault the town and port of Dieppe, while, as a distraction, British parachute units would attack German batteries on the headlands on either side of the Canadians.
The first rehearsal was a disaster, but a second try, ten days later, went better, and Montgomery was satisfied. On 1st July it was agreed that the raid would take place either on 4th July, or on the first day afterwards that promised favourable weather conditions.
The first rehearsal was a disaster.
The attack was to be mounted from five ports between Southampton and Newhaven, with forces made up of around 5,000 Canadians, 1,000 British troops, and 50 US Rangers. There were 237 ships and landing craft, and 74 squadrons of aircraft, of which 66 were fighter squadrons.
The plan: was for a full frontal attack without aerial bombardment. The weather was consistently bad, however, and on 7 July the operation was postponed. Montgomery wanted it cancelled altogether, as the troops had been briefed and he was afraid that word of the operation might leak out. Unusually for him, however, he did not persist with his demand, and preparations continued. He was not involved in the matter for long, in any case, as he was summoned to Egypt to command the Eighth Army.
Meanwhile, a number of changes to the plan were made. The codename was changed to Jubilee. The planned air bombardment on Dieppe was reduced, for fear of French casualties, and because of the continuing priority of the strategic bombing offensive on Germany. Eight destroyers were allocated to bombard the shore from seaward, as it was judged that battleships could not be used, being too vulnerable when they were close to the coast.
The parachute operation on the flanks, even more dependent on the weather than the seaborne assault, was cancelled. This task was instead given to Numbers 3 and 4 Army Commandos, to the relief of the Commanding Officer of 1st Parachute Battalion, who later commented that from the outset of the raid 'security was abysmal'.
Intelligence on the enemy was patchy.
It was decided that the Royal Marine Commando, which had been in the force from the outset, was to land in fast gunboats and motor boats after the main force had gone in. They were then to destroy the Dieppe dock installations, and capture documents in a safe in the port office. The break-in was to be the special responsibility of a marine who had been a burglar in civilian life.
Intelligence on the enemy was patchy. There were German gun positions dug into the sides of the headland cliffs, but these were not spotted by Allied air reconnaissance photographers. Planners assessed the beach gradient and its suitability for tanks only by scanning holiday snapshots. As a consequence, enemy strength and terrain were grossly underestimated.
In addition, the Germans were on high alert having been warned by French double gents that the British were showing interest in Dieppe. They had also detected increased radio traffic and the concentration of landing craft in Britain's south coast ports. Without sufficient air cover, the tanks would be exposed to enemy fire.
The raid began at 04.50am on 19th August, with attacks on the flanking coastal batteries, from west to east. These included Varengeville (Number 4 Commando), Pourville (the South Saskatchewan Regiment and the Queen's Own Cameron Highlanders of Canada), Puys (the Royal Regiment of Canada), and Berneval (Number 3 Commando).
By this time, however, the element of surprise that the planners had counted on was lost. Some of the landing craft escorts had already exchanged shots with a small German convoy off Puys and Berneval at 03.48.
The element of surprise that the planners had counted on was lost.
Despite this, Number 4 Commando successfully stormed the Varengeville battery. This was the one unit that captured all of its objectives that day. Only 18 men from Number 3 Commando got ashore in the right place. Nevertheless, for a time they managed to distract the Berneval battery to such good effect that the gunners fired wildly all over the place, but the commandos were eventually forced to withdraw in the face of superior enemy forces.
At Puys, the Royal Regiment of Canada was annihilated. Just 60 men out of 543 were extracted from the beach. And only a handful of the men of the South Saskatchewan Regiment reached their objectives, with others from this regiment landing in the wrong place. The Queen's Own Cameron Highlanders of Canada, despite being landed late, did manage to penetrate further inland than any other troops that day, but they were soon forced back as German reinforcements rushed to the scene.
Half an hour later the main frontal assault by the Essex Scottish Regiment and Royal Hamilton Light Infantry started, supported by 27 Churchill tanks of the 14th Canadian Army Tank Regiment.
The tracks of most of the tanks were stripped as they were driven on to the shingle beach, and the bogged down vehicles became sitting ducks for German anti-tank guns. Those tanks that did cross the sea wall were stopped by concrete roadblocks. The infantry were slaughtered on the beach by vicious cross-fire from machine-guns hidden in the cliffs. Supporting fire by naval destroyers was far too light to have much effect.
To make things worse, Canadian Major General Roberts could not see the objective, because of a smoke screen laid by ships in support of the landings. As a result, acting on incorrect information and unaware of the mayhem on the beaches, he now made the mistake of reinforcing failure and sent in his two reserve units.

Les Fusiliers Mont-Royal, launched straight at the centre of the town, were pinned down under the cliffs, and Roberts ordered the Royal Marine Commando to land in order to support them. This was a completely new task, involving passing through the town and attacking batteries on the east headland. The last minute change of plan caused utter chaos. The commanding officer had to transfer all his men from gunboats and motor boats into landing craft used in the earlier waves, and brief them on the new mission in very short order.
Many of the RMC craft were hit and disabled on the run-in. Those men that did reach the shore were either killed or captured. The commanding officer, Lieutenant Colonel 'Tigger' Phillipps, seeing that the mission was suicidal, stood up on the stern of his craft and signalled to those following him that they should turn back. He was killed a few moments later.
At 11.00, under heavy fire, the withdrawal from the beaches began. It was completed by 14.00. Casualties from the raid included 3,367 Canadians killed, wounded or taken prisoner, and 275 British commandos. The Royal Navy lost one destroyer and 33 landing craft, suffering 550 dead and wounded. The RAF lost 106 aircraft to the Luftwaffe's 48. The German army casualties were 591.
Churchill and the Chiefs of Staff - the heads of the Navy, Army and Air Force, who met daily to discuss strategy and advise Churchill - were responsible for this disastrous misjudgement. But, because no written record exists of the Chiefs of Staff approving the raid in its final form, it has sometimes been suggested that it was really Mountbatten who remounted it without authorisation. This is almost certainly nonsense.
The Chiefs of Staff disliked Mountbatten, regarding him as an upstart foisted on them by Churchill, so any unauthorised action on his part would have given them the ammunition to recommend his removal. Since Mountbatten was not removed, and the Chief of the Imperial General Staff, General Sir Alan Brooke, in his frank and detailed diary, makes no mention of his having exceeded his authority, it seems unlikely that Mountbatten can be accused of mounting the raid without authority.
General Brooke was in the Middle East from 1 August 1942, returning on the 24th, after the event. This was unfortunate, for, as the most forceful and intelligent of the Chiefs of Staff, had he been in Britain in the days preceding the raid, he might have persuaded Churchill to call it off. disaster did point up the need for much heavier firepower in future raids.
Much has been said since about the fact that the Dieppe raid was a necessary precursor to the great amphibious operations that were to follow, in terms of the lessons learned and experience gained. Mountbatten pursued that line all his life. But as Chief of Combined Operations, he did bear some of the responsibility for mounting the operation, so one can only comment, 'he would say that, wouldn't he?'
The disaster did point up the need for much heavier firepower in future raids. It was recognised that this should include aerial bombardment, special arrangements to be made for land armour, and intimate fire support right up to the moment when troops crossed the waterline (the most dangerous place on the beach) and closed with their objectives.
However, it did not need a debacle like Dieppe to learn these lessons. As judged by General Sir Leslie Hollis - secretary to the Chiefs of Staff Committee and deputy head of the Military Wing of the War Cabinet with direct access to Churchill - the operation was a complete failure, and the many lives that were sacrificed in attempting it were lost with no tangible result.

Originally the raid on Dieppe, which was designed to test the German defences, was planned under the direction of Lieutenant-General Bernard Montgomery. It was approved more quickly than it might have been be- cause the British Government was under pressure from the Russians to demonstrate that it was preparing to open a Second Front, and it involved predominantly Canadian troops, commanded by Major-General J.H. Roberts, because the Canadian Government was pressing Churchill to let its troops see action.
After bad weather had called its cancellation on 7th July 1942, 'Monty' set out to take command of the 8th Army in the deserts of North Africa, leaving the re- commendation that the raid should be "Cancelled for
all time". However, the plan was revived under the Chief of Combined Operations, Vice-Admiral Lord Louis Mountbatten, and on August 19th it was launched with 4,936 Canadians, 1075 British troops, 50 United States Rangers and 237 warships and landing craft.
The ships included eight destroyers, some of which were able to give supporting fire, but there was nothing larger because the Channel was deemed un- suitable for battleships. The air cover consisted of 74 fighter squadrons from nine different nations, but there were no heavy bombers to soften the objectives before landing. And the commanders had been provided with extensive aerial photographs of the defences which revealed everything except the gun positions hidden in the cliffs.
After the raid set out, the Admiralty warned the fleet that there was a German convoy in the area, but the message did not get through and the exchange of fire through the darkness alerted the defenders, and lost the raiders the vital element of surprise. The first flank attacks faltered, and the main attack was ter­ribly mauled by the hidden guns. When 27 supporting tanks landed late, 15 were destroyed on the beach and the remainder brought to a standstill by roadblocks,
Wrongly informed that the raid was going well, Roberts sent in his second wave, and the only part of it to be saved from the guns in the cliffs was 'A' Royal Marine Commando, which was turned back by its commanding officer, shortly before he was killed.
The Dieppe Raid was a grim fiasco which cost the lives of hundreds of Canadians
At 11 a.m. the order was given to withdraw and for the next three hours the beaches were evacuated under constant heavy fire. In all, 3,367 Canadians and 275 British soldiers were killed, wounded or taken prisoner. The Royal Navy suffered 550 casualties and lost a destroyer and 33 landing craft. And in the sky 106 Allied fighters were shot down with a loss of only 48 to the Luftwaffe. It was said afterwards that valuable lessons were learned at. Dieppe but the necessity to support a landing with adequate reconnaissance and a heavy bombardment is hardly a lesson that needs to be learned by experience.

One month after Dieppe, most of the 11th Royal Marine Battalion were killed or captured in an amphibious landing at Tobruk during 'Operation Agreement' that also included the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders 1st Battalion.

1942. Thursday 10th September. The RM Field Artillery Regiment was formed at the time the RM Division established organic artillery units, by 102 RM Brigade’s HQ at Dalditch from 10th September 1942. Under command 16th October were 32nd Howitzer Bty, 2nd Anti–Tank Bty, 2nd Light AA Bty nd 1st Field bty forming at St Margaret’s Bay, Kent, from men of the RM Siege Rgt. Plans were made to equip the field Batteries with 25pdrs; two RA Field Btys were to be regimented with these RM Btys, but the arrangement was cancelled. The Regiment’s HQ went to Tenby (South Wales) in November, but only elements of the Batteries under command went there for training with the RA. All but the Field Bty were transferred to the RM Anti - Tank Rgt before March 1943, when 1st RM Field Artillery Regiment was stationed at Christchurch, Dorset. a second field battery was formed on 1st June 1943, but on 12th August the first drafts from this Regiment were sent to the RM Siege Rgt as this built up again, and the  RM Field Artillery Regiment was disbanded at Wimbourne, Hampshire, by the end of August 1943. Some men from this Regiment joined the RM Support Craft Regiment. (RMHS)

1942. Monday 14th September. How the Marines Assauled Tobruk. Perhaps the magnificient success that attended the great Combined Operations of 1942, 1943 and 1944 may have led many to underestimate the immense difficulties of amphibious assault against a coast defended by modern weapons To do so would be unjust to the men who planned and executed the three D-Days in North Africa, Sicily and Normandy; it would be more than unjust to those who bought with their lives the experience on which those victories were built Dieppe, we all know, was part of the price paid, and 40 RM Commando was there to help pay it. Less well known was the gallant failure of the 11th Battalion, Royal Marines, in their raid on Tobruk on 14 September 1942.
11 RM started life as the Land Defence Force of the Mobile Naval Base Defence Organisation that distinguished itself in Crete.
Part of the tradegy of Crete is the fact that 11 RM did not reach the island in time to take part in the battle, to meet the very situation for which it had been trained, for the presence at Maleme of even one well-trained, fully equipped and fresh battalion might have had an incalculable effect on the course of history, After Crete 11 RM went into training in the Marines classic role, as an amphibious striking force at the disposal of the Naval Commander -in-Chief.
Their first task was a small-scale but entirely successful raid on the little island of Kuphonisi, south-east of Crete, where one company destroyed an Italian radar stationLater, in great secrecyat Haifa the battalion began preparing its stroke against Tobruk, by this time Rommel's vital forward supply baae against the Eighth Army at El Alamein. The object of this raid was to get control of the harbour for 12 hours, time for demolition parties to wreck completly the port installations that saved the Germans 260 miles of road transport The sea-borne raid was to take place in conjunctionwith operations ashore by the Long Range Desert Group.

On Friday 11th September the battalion, with attached parties of Royal Artillery and Royal Engineers, embarked at Haifa in the destroyers HMS SIKH and ZULU Sailing early next morning and making 25 knots, the two ships reached Alexandria after dark that night.
Intelligence officers with the latest "gen" and certain small special parties were rapidly embarked, the two destroyers slipping away again before dawn. When the sun came up the Marines on board found them selves steaming due east, escorted by the anti-aircraft cruiser HMS COVENTRY and two Hunt class destroyers
At this time the secret of the objective was broached to all ranks, and final briefing took place Later, the convoy altered course to the north-east, then north-west till they were making towards Crete. As darkness fell SIKH and ZULU broke away from their escort and steered due west at the top of their great speed. At midnight they altered course again, due south, straight for Tobruk
At that moment 60 RAF Wellingtons began a bombardment of Tobruk that lasted three hours As the destroyers closed the harbour mouth the questing searchlights, the garish colours of climbing flak and the dull flashes of bomb-bursts could be seen on the horizon, a confusion of lights and fires glowed through the thick darkness,, At two o'clock the code word "Nigger" was. received, indicating that the Long Range Desert Group had taken a coastal battery at the mouth of the harbour, the essential pre-requisite of the raid. A quarter of an hour later. came a signal from the Prime Minister, Mr Winston Churchill, who ever since the days of Antwerp in 1914 has had a soft spot for the Royal Marines, wishing them good luck in their latest enterprise.
Cheers went up from the crowded mess-decks of both destroyers, then the men of the first flight in both destroyers climbed into their harness. Just after three o'clock, when they were two-and-a-­half miles offshore, the powerful engines that had been driving SIKH and ZULU at over 30 knots slowed down and stopped. There was a heavy swell, but all appeared quiet in the neighbourhood of the beach, though Tobruk was still a pyrotechnic uproar.
A large fire burning in the town threw the escarpment behind the beach into sharp relief but obscured the beach itself to eyes straining through the darkness from seaward. The craft for the assault were then lowered. These, however, were not the handy LCA used at Dieppe and in North Africa, all of which were needed for the vast attack now preparing at the other end of the Mediterranean,
They consisted of six wooden power-boats each towing two dumb lighters that had been specially built for the occasion. Scrambling nets were thrown out and the Marines began to embark. The craft heaved and tossed on the swell, making embarkation difficult for men loaded up with 24-hour rations, a full water-bottle, a hundred rounds and at least one Bren magazine, together with a liberal provision of grenades, slabs of gun-cotton, primers, detonators and fuses. In addition, many of the Army men now descending by the shifting nets had not the long practice of the Marines in this tricky operation. After some delay the first flight was packed in and the destroyers steamed away, to return later to a rendezvous where they would meet the craft back from the beach for the second flight.
It was then that the troubles began. The tow ropes failed to stand the strain of heaving and tossing in the swell. Several soon parted. One broken rope twined itself round the propeller of one of the power-boats while the whole bow-piece of one of the lighters was pulled out by the violence of the sea. Of the six tows only three were able to struggle with great difficulty to the beach after wrestling for over an hour with the malevolent sea,
To make matters worse the enemy soon began to show an unwelcome interest in the proceedings. A searchlight began to sweep the sea at 30-second intervals, the craft were soon spotted, and HMS SIKH, returning to the rendezvous, was also picked up. A battery of heavy coastal guns opened fire on her while a crashing fusillade of small­er weapons opened on the three sets of barges that were closing the beach. Major J N Hedley, senior officer in these craft, with orders to land and establish a bridgehead, shouted "Full speed ahead and prepare to land," As the craft closed in the enemy opened up with all he had; 88-mm, shells, mortar bombs and bullets hailed upon them, The Marines could see the white surf crashing upon the rocks, while behind them,. in the lurid light of searchlights and shell bursts, SIKH and ZULU were fighting their last desperate, unequal battle with the-shore batteries. A shell smashed into the leading power-boat and she began to sink. The dumb lighters were cast off and the Marines took to the water, whipped all around them by bullets. The more fortunate found bottom and scrambled up over the slippery wet rocks.
Then the dumb lighters crunched on to the rocks, The Marines leaped out, many slipping into deepwater that completely covered them. Gasping for breath, dragged down by the weight of water in their equipment, they clawed their way on to the slippery shelves, still lashed by the enemy's fire. As one lighter struck she took a direct hit from a mortar bomb that blew out her bows. A few of her company struggled to the shore. A mortar bomb dropped plumb into another lighter, the burst killing six men.
The remnants of the force got across the beach as fast as they could and went to ground, bullets screaming over them and the ugly fragments of mortar bombs that whir through the air like the sound of the wings of a startled pheasant. The last of the lighters crashed on to the rocks and overturned, flinging the men into six feet of water, and many were lost before they gained the beach.
The whole landing had gone astray, The scanty few who survived were on the wrong beach, their craft smashed to matchwood on the rocks, while out at sea HMS ZULU, after an effort to tow off the mortally stricken SIKH, reluctantly abandoned her sister ship and withdrew, only to be subjected to a series of devastating air attacks that sank her before she reached Alexandria. Under the circumstances no one would have blamed Major Hedley if he had thrown up the sponge, but instead he gathered those who had survived that terrible landing - fewer than a hundred men-and resolved to do the enemy all the damage he could.
Though he was under no illusion as to their plight, he was cheer­ful, determined and inspired every man with him with a vigorous offensive spirit. Valiantly supported by Capt Wright, Lieut C N P Powell, Lieut Dyall and Sergeant J Povall, he organised his little force, leading them forward into a wadi under heavy fire.
Sergeant Povall and three Marines on the right flank encountered about 20 enemy advancing on them. They opened fire and the enemy fled. A hundred yards farther on they met another party. In the words of Corporal G T Hunt, one of the survivors: "We had occasion to kill many Italians with bayonet and bullet." After about half a mile the force came against a prepared defence position, supported by heavy machine-gun posts.
Against these Major Hedley led the attack himself, with a well-aimed grenade putting out of action a machine-gun mounted on a lorry. During this fight, Hedley, with Sergeant Povall, attacked a section post manned by six Italians. Povall shot the first but before he could reload, Major Hedley shot the other five with his revolver.
One of the Corps' notable pistol shots, he never did better shooting than this. Lieut Dyall led an attack on a group of buildings; he shot one Italian but was killed by a bullet from another standing in the shadows. This man was disposed of by Corporal Hunt.
Hedley's aggressive spirit kindled the whole party. Though all the time they were under fire, constantly having to dive to ground when Verey lights illuminated them, they never hesitated to attack the enemy wherever they found him, usually with the bayonet. To quote Corporal Hunt again: "I heard Sergeant Povall well up in front, shouting encouragement and appearing to enjoy himself, judging by the remarks he was making. He used his bayonet with great effect on any occasions."
Major Hedley was pressing on as fast as possible, hoping to reach adequate cover before full daylight. A large party of Italians tried to surrender but the Marines ignored them in favour of a Breda gun position which was silenced. Corporal Hunt, who had been wounded in the left side over the heart- but still carried on leading his section, saved his Commanding Officer's life. An Italian rushed Hedley, who for the moment was out of ammunition. Quick as a flash Hunt fired from the hip and killed the man as he charged.
The wadi ended in a steep, bare slope, swept by fire. Engaging the principal enemy position with fire from rifle and Bren, the Marines neutralised it sufficiently to get across the skyline. For the first time since they landed they were no longer under enemy fire, but it was a sadly depleted party-only seventeen strong- that Major Hedley gathered in an old building, where they settled down to cleaning their weapons. Corporal White of the RAMC, who had gallantly stuck to the party, dressed their wounds, but as he hoped to strike overland under cover of night in hope of reaching British forces, the Major forbade them to touch water or rations. Then they pushed on over a high ridge into an "S" shaped wadi, at the head of which were some caves, in which they took shelter. Here Hedley planned to lie up until nightfall, but during the afternoon a large force of Germans surrounded the caves. The seventeen were forced to surrender.
Thus ended a failure, illuminated by as fine a courage as any victory, conducted according to the highest traditions of a famous Corps. Many of those who survived the ill-fated raid had their revenge in the fullness of time, when in the ranks of the Royal Marine Commandos, they came up from the sea once more to smite the enemy. (Sic)
After the war Maj Sendall RM joined the staff of the 'Daily Express' as correspondent.
By Major Wilfred R Sendall RM. Reprinted from 'The NAVY' February 1946 (The official organ of the Navy League)

1942. September. No2 Special Boat Section (SBS) carried out Operation Anglo, a raid on two airfields on the island of Rhodes, from which only two men returned. After destroying three aircraft, a fuel dump and numerous buildings, the surviving SBS men had to hide in the countryside for four days before they could reach the waiting submarine. After the Rhodes raid, No2 SBS was absorbed into the SAS due to the casualties they had suffered.

1942. Saturday 10th October. 41 RM Commando and 41 Commando RM Origin and titles:
Formed 10th October 1942 at Pembroke Dock (South Wales) from 8th Battalion RM; was briefly B RM Commando (12th - 28th October) before being designated 41 RM Commando, 8 which was disbanded at Llwyngwrill (north Wales) on 20th February 1946. Re-formed on 16th August 1950 at Bickleigh and Plymouth as 41 (Independent) Commando RM for service in Korea, and disbanded 22nd February 1952 at Plymouth. Re-formed on 31st March 1960 at Bickleigh as 41 Commando RM. Reduced to a Cadre from time to time. Disbanded at Deal in April 1981 when personnel were merged with other Commandos.
Principal operations in World War II:
After training in Scotland (7th April to 27th June 1943), the Commando sailed for Sicily, landing on 10th July. On 9th September landed at Salerno to capture a defile and withdrawn after suffering 50 per cent casualties. On 19th September returned to UK. On 6th June 1944 landed to capture Lion–sur–Mer strongpoint; served with 4 SS Bde in Orne line and later breakout; 1st November landed north of ‘gap’ at Walcheren to capture Westkappelle. January 1945 at Bergen–op–Zoom (Holland) and during next few months served as line and reserve troops for time to time in Maas River area; 30th May to 26th November in Hesse (Germany) before returning to UK.
41 (Independent) Commando Fought in the Korean war, initial strength 219 all ranks, including five RN personnel. Landed Japan 5th September 1950 to join US Army Special Raiding Force. 12th September mounted raids near Inchon, west Korean coast in November came under command of the (US) Marine Division and took part in Chosin operations withdrawing to Hungnam by 8th December; strength raised to 300 during 1951; 7th April raided east a coast railway; occupied major islands in Wonsan Bay (east coast of Korea) and raided Korean coastal defences Returned to UK early in 1952 and disbanded in February at Bickleigh.
Major deployments 1960-81
Re-formed 31st March 1960 as 41 Cdo RM. Based in UK 1960-3; 27th January to April 1964 as first Commando RM assigned to UK Strategic Reserve and deployed in Tanganyika and Kenya (February). On return to the UK stationed at Bickleigh from 7th April 1964, and in the following years took part in several major exercises in Norway and the West Indies, between the following deployments: 18th April to 13th August 1969 in Mediterrean; 28th September to 10th November on peacekeeping duties in Northern Ireland; 3rd September to 20th October 1971 based on Malta; visited USA in Bulwark May-June 1972 for exercise ‘Rum Punch’ with USMC; returned to Malta on 6th July until temporarily disbanded. The winter of 1974-5 was spent with UN Force in Cyprus; by April 1977 reduced to Salerno Company Group, which was Malta Garrison, leaving 30th March 1979. Meanwhile 41 Commando RM was re-formed at Deal in the autumn of 1977, where it was based until disbanded in 1981; served in Northern Ireland 27th February to 28th June 1978; winter 1978 on London duties; with UN Forces in Cyprus during winter of 1979; on  peacekeeping duties in Northern  Ireland early summer of 1980. Last trooping of the Commando’s colour July 1981.
Miscellaneous:
Flag of old gold background and centre segment as for 40 Cdo RM. Memorable date: 9th September, the landing at Salerno (1943). Coys ‘E’, ‘F’, and ‘G’ in 1980.(RMHS)

1942. October. No. 1 Commando adopted a standardised Beret. As this Commando wore an arm insignia of a green salamander in red and yellow fire, the colour green was chosen for the beret. Other ranks cap badges were of yellow metal, sergeants and above gilt, Quartermaster sergeant's gilt but with the crown & lion part of the design wore separately above the Globe and Laurel part.
A bronzed badge was worn in khaki SD by OR's prior to WWII, during WWII a plastic economy cap badge was introduced, as were matching collar badges - in dark blue plastic.
Officers? cap badges with separate crown & lion were yellow metal with white metal globe, & had to be polished, prior to the introduction of anodised badges for all ranks.

1942. October. The 1 and 2 RM Beach Groups/1 and 2 RM Landing Groups were both formed in October 1942 from Companies of the Beach Battalion, these Groups did a series of amphibious exercises: at Emsworth, Hampshire; in Scotland; and at Christchurch, Dorset. In May 1943 their names were changed to 1 RM and 2 RM Landing Group respectively; but these Groups needed an army War Establishment, so that follow–up units could also be handled by these RM Groups and not just RM battalions with their special organisation. Therefore the RM Groups were disbanded at Christchurch on 31st July 1943, the personnel going to the Holding Unit of the RM Division.

1942. October. After the Dieppe raid, the Commando changed internally from a company to a troop organisation, with five troops of some 65 men. 'A' Troop was commanded by Captain Mike Ephraums MC RM (who was killed in Italy the following year). He was a keen fan of the novels by Leslie Charteris, most of which revolved around the adventures of one Simon Templar, whose pseudonym was 'The Saint'. The 'Saint’s' emblem was a matchstick figure with a halo, and this is still used today by A Company. (from Mr M G Little RM Museum Archivist & Librarian) Photo from Terry Aspinall. Was always worn out of sight.

1942. November. The 22nd (Training) Battalion was formed, CO Lt. Col D. A. C. Shephard, when government prohibited men under 19 years of age joining operational units. From these young trained Marines - 218 joined on 26th November 1942 - the Battalion trained its own junior NCOs and by the summer of 1943 there were several companies. In the summer of 1944 the Battalion moved to Towyn (north Wales), merging in October with the 23rd RM (Training) Bn to become part of RMTG Wales.(RMHS)

1942. November. 1st and 2nd RM Light AA: were equipped on formation in November 1942 with Oerlikons on trucks and later with Bofors. (RMHS)

1942. Monday 7th December. The Cockleshell Heroes raided on the Nazi occupied French port of Bordeaux. They succeeded in sinking one ship and severely damaging four others and doing enough damage to greatly disrupt the use of the harbour for months to come. Such was the significance of the raid that Winston Churchill said that it helped to shorten to World War Two by six months.For a number of months during the war, merchant ships had used Bordeaux to supply the German military that was stationed in that part of France. German U-boats used the area as a base. Any supply ships that came through the English Channel could be dealt with but plenty of merchant ships were willing to sail to Bordeaux harbour via the Mediterranean and there was little the British Navy could do about it. A raid by bombers would have led to many civilian casualties – so this was excluded. The task of the Cockleshell Heroes was simple, destroy as many ships in the harbour as was possible so that the harbour itself would be blocked with wreckage, thus rendering it incapable of fully operating as a harbour. This was to be called Operation Frankton.

The Cockleshell Heroes were Royal Marine Commandos. These men got their nickname as the canoes they were to use were nicknamed ‘cockles’. After months of training, they were ready to set off for their target, except that none of them knew what their target was. This was only made known to them once the submarine HMS Tuna had surfaced off of the French coast.
The twelve men that formed the Cockleshell Heroes were taken by submarine and dropped off the coast of Bordeaux. The plan was for the six teams of two men to paddle five miles to the mouth of the River Gironde, paddle seventy miles up it, plant limpet mines of the ships in the harbour and then make their way to Spain.

The raid started badly once the HMS Tuna. The two Royal Marines who were meant to have used this canoe – called ‘Cachalot’ – could not take part in the raid. It is said that Marines Fisher and Ellery were left in tears at their disappointment.
The leader of the raid was Major ‘Blondie’ Hasler. His partner was Marine Bill Sparks. Their canoe was code named ‘Catfish’. As the canoes approached the mouth of the Gironde they hit a violent rip tide. The waves were five feet high and the canoe ‘Conger’ was lost.

The two crew of Conger – Corporal George Sheard and Marine David Moffat – were towed by the other canoes. Once near the shoreline, both men had to swim to the shore as they were slowing down the remaining canoes. Neither men made it to the shore nor they were assumed to have drowned.

The crew of the canoe ‘Coalfish’ – Sergeant Samuel Wallace and Marine Jock Ewart - were caught by the Germans and shot.
The crew of the ‘Cuttlefish’ – Lieutenant John Mackinnon and Marine James Conway had to abandon their canoe after it was damaged. They were also caught by the Germans, handed over to the Gestapo and shot.

With four canoes down, the raiders were only left with two canoes. Along with ‘Catfish’, ‘Crayfish’ was left crewed by Marine William Mills and Corporal Albert Laver.

By now, the Germans knew that something was up and they had done a great deal to increase patrols along the river. The two crew paddled at night and hid during the day.

The two canoes got to the harbour. Here they were spotted by a sentry who failed to raise the alarm – possibly he mistook what he saw for driftwood as both crews remained motionless in their canoes as they had been trained to do.

The crew of both remaining cockleshells placed limpet mines on the merchant ships they found in the harbour. They had an eight minute fuse on them, giving the Marines time to get away. Both ‘Crayfish’ and ‘Catfish’ escaped on the tide. The damage to Bordeaux harbour was severe. Now the crews had to leave their canoes, move on foot and link up with the French Resistance at the town of Ruffec. The Germans automatically assumed that the men would travel south to Spain. In fact, they travelled 100 miles north of Bordeaux – a journey that took them two months.

Laver and Mills, who were moving separately from Sparks and Hasler, were caught by the Germans and shot. With the help of the French Resistance, Hasler and Sparks reached Spain and then Gibraltar. Even here, Sparks met problems. Hasler used his rank to get transported back to Britain.

However, Sparks did not have such luck and was arrested. In fact the Chief of Combined Operations, Lord Louis Mountbatten, had assumed all the men were dead, so anyone claiming to be them would have been treated with suspicion. Sparks was put under guard by the military police. However, he slipped these guards at Euston Station in London and, after visiting his father, made his way to the Combined Operations Headquarters.(author can not be contacted).
Catfish - Major Hasler and Marine Sparks - Both escaped after the raid and survived the war.
Crayfish - Cpl. Laver and Marine Mills-Betrayed after raid, captured and executed.
Cuttlefish - Lt. MacKinnon and Marine Conway - Capsized, captured and executed.
Coalfish - Sgt. Wallace & Marine Ewart - Capsized, swam to shore, captured and executed.
Conger - Cpl. Sheard & Marine Moffatt - Capsized, towed to near shoreline, but lost at sea.
Cachalot - Marine Ellery & Marine Fisher - Canoe damaged on HMS Tuna, returned to base.
Reserve - Marine Colley - Returned to base from Submarine.

Lord Louis Mountbatten Chief of Combined Operations In the foreword to the book ‘Cockleshell Heroes’ Admiral of the Fleet Earl Mountbatten of Burma wrote: "Of the many and dashing raids carried out by the men of Combined Operations Command, none was more courageous or imaginative than ‘Operation Frankton’. An immense amount of trouble was taken over the training of the small handful of picked Royal Marines who took part under the indomitable leadership of Lieutenant-Colonel ((sic) (Major) Hasler. They maintained their object in spite of the frightening losses of the first night and the subsequent ever-increasing difficulties they encountered. Although the force had been reduced to four men, the objective was finally achieved. The account of this operation brings out the spirit of adventure always present in peace and war among Royal Marines. It emphasizes the tremendous importance of morale - pride in oneself and one's unit - and what a big part physical fitness plays in creating this morale. It also stresses the need for careful detailed planning of operations. I commend it to all as an account of a fine operation, carried out by a particularly brave party of men."

1942. Monday 7th December. Operation Frankton. Corporal George Sheard and Marine David Moffat as crew of the canor ‘Conger’ were both lost at sea.

1942. Wednesday 9th - Thursday 10th December. Sergeant Samuel Wallace and Marine Jock Ewart were captured by the Germans and executed after two days. Both were the crew of canoe 'Coalfish.'

1942. December. 463 Kings Squad passed for Duty. Squad Photo.

1942. The Royal Marines originated as the Admiral's Regiment which was formed in 1664 and the name 'Marines' first appears in the records in 1672. Since then Marines have taken part in more battles on land and sea, all over the world, than has any other branch of the British Armed Forces. The first three years of the Second World War saw most of the action for the Royal Marines at sea, although some notable Marines saw active combat in the Norwegain campaign, Dunkirk, and subsequently in the Far East. By the end of the war, the Royal Marines numbers had grown to 80,000 - their largest size ever. Royal Marine played a number of roles in connection with Naval Aviation. Pre-war a handful of Royal Marines trained as pilots in the No. 1 Flying Training School at RAF Leuchars alongside their Royal Navy colleagues, and subsequently between 1939-1945 up to 18 Royal Marines commanded Fleet Air Arm squadrons. Captain NRM Skene was one of the earlier COs, who as Captain RM also held an RAF rank of Squadron Leader when taking up command of 810 sqdn in December 1938, a post which he held till June 1940. Land bound Royal Marines also played a role in Naval aviation, as the Defence Force RN Air Stations. From 1940 and in some specific stations before that date, RM units formed to provide ground defences of Naval air stations and were organised in companies and platoons.
Just some of those who were mentioned or lost during Fleet Air Arm duties:
Tribute to a renown Flying Royal Marine. Major V.B.G. ‘Cheese’ Cheeseman RM.
Major VBG "Cheese" Cheesman was one of the most highly decorated members of that rare breed - the flying Royal Marine. His five-year operational career during the Second World War spanned the world, from the Atlantic to the Pacific, from the Arctic to the Indian Ocean.
Vernon Beauclerk George Cheesman, known throughout the Navy as "Cheese", was born on January 8th, 1917 and went to Cheltenham College. He was commissioned in the Royal Marines in January 1936 and served in the battleship Royal Sovereign before beginning flying training and getting his wings in 1939.
Cheesman's first award came early in 1941, when he was serving in 710 Naval Air Squadron, flying Walrus amphibian aircraft from the seaplane carrier Albatross, based at Freetown, Sierra Leone. On January 14, the cargo-liner Eumaeus was sunk by the Italian submarine Commandante Cappelini. Most of the passengers and crew got away in lifeboats or clinging to wreckage. Cheesman took off to search for and attack the submarine. He missed his quarry but found Eumaeus's survivors and landed nearby, to give first aid to the wounded and to tow drifting lifeboats back to the main group. In doing so, his Walrus was damaged and could not take off again. Eventually, two anti-submarine trawlers arrived to pick up the survivors and tow the Walrus, by then in a sinking condition, back to Freetown. When he finally got alongside Albatross, Cheesman had been on board the Walrus for 22 hours. He was appointed MBE.
In July 1941, Cheesman became Walrus pilot on the cruiser Cornwall, which was serving the Eastern Fleet and covering convoys in the Indian Ocean. On Easter Sunday, April 5th, 1942, when Cornwall and her sister ship Dorsetshire were on passage from Colombo to Addu Atoll in the Maldives, they were both attacked and sunk by Japanese carrier-based bombers. Some 1,100 men survived, but they were machine-gunned in the water by Japanese aircraft, which gave Cheesman a lasting antipathy towards the Japanese. Many badly burned men died of shock during the night.
"We could do nothing for the dead," Cheesman recalled, "but cast them off to the circling sharks which we kept at bay by constantly splashing the water around us as they passed by. And so, passed a miserable and inglorious night."
The survivors were picked up at dusk the next day, after more than 24 hours in the water, by the light cruiser Enterprise and destroyers.
After undergoing a conversion course at the Fighter School, HMS Heron, Yeovilton, Cheesman joined 824, a composite squadron of Swordfish and Sea Hurricanes, as Fighter Flight Commander. In October 1943 he embarked in the escort carrier Striker for Atlantic and Gibraltar convoy escort.
In February 1944, Cheesman took command of 1770 Squadron, the first to be equipped with the new Fairey Firefly fighter-reconnaissance aircraft. The squadron embarked in the carrier Indefatigable in May, and in July and August took part in the Fleet Air Arm strikes against the battleship Tirpitz in Altenfjord in northern Norway. The Squadron's role was to escort the Barracuda bombers to the target, then fly ahead and suppress flak batteries. He worked closely with the operations' Strike Leader Lt Cdr RS Baker-Falkner RN to ensure that the first operational involement of the firefly was a success. They flew at sea level before climbing to 8,000 ft to cross the mountains.
"What cruel-looking terrain that was," remembered Cheesman, "all white, cold, barren and desolate. An engine failure here meant 'out harp and halo, and hello St Peter!' "
Cheesman led four strikes in all and successfully strafed flak batteries around Tirpitz, but the bombers were hampered by cloud and smoke screens covering the target. No serious damage was done to Tirpitz and one Firefly was lost. Cheesman was awarded the DSO for the determined way he led his squadron.
Indefatigable sailed for the Far East in November 1944 to join the 1st Aircraft Carrier Squadron, of Illustrious, Victorious and Indomitable, off Ceylon in December.
On January 4th, 1945, 1770 Squadron took part in Operation Lentil, a strike involving more than 90 aircraft on the oil refinery at Pangkalan Brandan in northern Sumatra. Equipped for the first time with 60 lb rockets, which Cheesman had been requesting for months, 1770 successfully rocketed and strafed the coastal town and harbour of Pangkalan Soe. Returning from the strike, Cheesman ran out of fuel and ditched astern of Indefatigable. He was again decorated for his leadership and awarded the DSC.
Remembering Cornwall, Cheesman relished attacking Japanese targets. He had more opportunities later in January when the four carriers, on passage to Australia with the British Pacific Fleet, launched huge strikes against the oil refineries at Palembang in Sumatra. The refineries, vital to the Japanese war effort, were not totally destroyed but could only operate at much reduced output for the rest of the war.
The squadron's last operation under Cheesman was Iceberg, the invasion of Okinawa, which began on April 1st, 1945. The carriers' task was to neutralise the airfields on the islands of the Sakishima Gunto, a chain which ran between Formosa and Okinawa, to prevent the Japanese staging replacement aircraft through them. The Squadron strafed targets in the islands and in Formosa with rockets and cannon fire. In all, they fired 950 rockets, flew more than 400 sorties, and shot down six enemy aircraft. They lost seven of their own aircraft, and one observer.
After the war, Cheesman commanded 766 Squadron, the operational training unit at HMS Nightjar, Inskip, and was Naval Liaison Officer on the staff of the Fighter Leader School, RAF West Raynham. He left the Marines in 1950, preferring retirement to life in the Corps as it then was.
Cheesman was one of the best known and most popular pilots in the Fleet Air Arm. He was an excellent squadron CO, the mere sound of his voice over the radio telephone giving his aircrew confidence that all would be well with "Cheese" in charge.
The alarms and accidents of a carrier pilot's life left him unruffled. The only time anyone ever saw him seriously annoyed was when a young pilot in Striker crashed Cheese's Hurricane, named "Libby" after his girlfriend, into a barrier.
He was a staunch supporter of the Fleet Air Arm Officers' Association, and for many years organised the monthly meetings of members in the south Midlands. He regularly attended 1770 reunions.

 

MAJOR V B G "CHEESE" CHEESMAN, Cheesman led 1770 Squadron's attack on Japanese ships at Sakishima Gunto, April 1945

 

1942. Late. The RM Siege Regiment. Lt. Col L. Foster was appointed CO and the Regiment’s strength was reduced from some 7002 to 300 in late 1942. the gun crews in ‘civvy’ street a store manager, labourers, lorry drivers, a solicitor’s clerk, a policeman, tradesmen and clerks among them had long periods when the guns were not in action, and these men formed an infantry unit with support weapons (a 74–mm gun, six Blacker Bombards, five MMGs and six 3in mortars) for local defence in 1942.
The two heavy guns (described in chapter 3) were BL 14in Mk VIIs.4 The supercharge of SC 500 cordite,5 was not available in this strand size after 1944, as loaded in four quarter–charges. In the final shoots as the Allies entered Boulogne and Calais, virtually all the ammunition was used, and the Germans fired their reserves of ammunition for their big guns, much of it into Dover, Kent.
The Regiment came under the command of the Vice Admiral at Dover from August 1940 to 15th September 1940, and thereafter under the army command of XII Corps (which in January 1942 became HQ SE District). In September 1941 the CO sought permission to use the guns offensively, for by that time the invasion of England seemed unlikely, and there was ample ammunition:7 350 rounds of HE for the 14in, 400 rounds for the 13.5in and spare barrels (2 for the 14in and six for the 13.5in). When Scharnhorst and Gneisenau came through the Channel, however, the siege gun crews were doing infantry training and only two 14in rounds were fired on predetermined coordinates, a spot in the channel previously decided by XII Corps HQ. The ships had been picked up on coastal radar when 38 miles south of Hastings (East Sussex) at 1050 hours, but the coast batteries were not told to fire until the ships had passed through the Channel, when the army’s 9.2in guns got three hits on a rapidly receding target.
The following month the Regiment manned the experimental 13 in gun named ‘Bruce’, after Vice Admiral Sir Bruce Fraser. Test firings into the sea south of Hastings were closely monitored, and some useful data collected on the ballistics of high trajectory and high velocity guns.
By 1942 the German long range batteries were conserving ammunition against the day of an Allied invasion, and there was little activity until the Regiment fired its remaining rounds in September 1944, when the Germans were being driven from the French coats. The siege gun crews were then disbanded, many men going to Dalditch for the School of Mines, a unit set up to train men in clearing Pacific beaches. but in November 1944 they were sent to RMTG (Wales), destined for the infantry battalions or the 34th Amphian Support Regiment. The Siege Regiment HQ was disbanded in March 1945. (RMHS)

1942. The RM Division Holding Unit. This unit was opened during 1942 and disbanded 12th October 1943 after its personnel had been transferred.(RMHS)

1942. RM Anti-Tank Regiment. On the organisation of organic artillery for the RM Division, 102 Bde Artillery HQ took all but the Field Batteries from the RM Field Artillery Regiment to form the Anti–Tank Regiment at Dalditch, where the Regiment had under command 1st and 2nd Anti–Tank Btys and 31st and 32nd Light Btys. These units moved to Burry Port, South Wales for gunnery training on 6th November, and were mobilised there on 20th November. The Regiment moved to Bournemouth, Dorset, early in December, carrying out practice shoots on nearby ranges. In June 1943 the Regiment was concentrated at Wimborne, Dorset, and the Batteries redesignated Support Craft Batteries, before RM Anti–Tank Rgt HQ was disbanded on 31st July. (RMHS)

1942 - 1944. 'How The Marines Assaulted Tobruk 'By Major Wilfred R. Sendall RM.
Perhaps the magnificent success that attended the great Combined Operations of 1942, 1943 and 1944 may have led many to underestimate the immense difficulties of amphibious assault against a coast defended by modern weapons. To do so would be unjust to the men who planned and executed the three D-Days in North Africa, Sicily and Normandy; t would be more than unjust to those who bought with their lives the experience on which those victories were built Dieppe, we all know, was part of the price paid, and 40 RM Commando was there to help pay it Less well known was the gallant failure of the 11th Battalion, Royal Marines, in their raid on Tobruk on 14 September 1942 11 RM started life as the Land Defence Force of the Mobile Naval Base Defence Organisation that distinguished itself in Crete.
Part of the tragedy of Crete is the fact that 11 RM did not reach the island in time to take part in the battle, to meet the very situation for which it had been trained, for the presence at Maleme of even one well-trained, fully equipped and fresh battalion might have had an incalculable effect on the course of history, After Crete 11 RM went into training in the Marines classic role, as an amphibious striking force at the disposal of the Naval Commander -in-Chief.
Their first task was a small-scale but entirely successful raid on the little island of Kuphonisi, south-east of Crete, where one company destroyed an Italian radar station. Later, in great secrecy at Haifa the battalion began preparing its stroke against Tobruk, by this time Rommel's vital forward supply be against the Eighth Army at El Alamein. The object of this raid was to get control of the harbour for 12 hours, time for demolition parties to wreck completely the port installations that saved the Germans 260 miles of road transport The sea-borne raid was to take place in conjunction with operations ashore by the Long Range Desert Group.
On 11th September the battalion, with attached parties of Royal Artillery and Royal Engineers, embarked at Haifa in the destroyers HMS SIKH and ZULU Sailing early next morning and making 25 knots, the two ships reached Alexandria after dark that night Intelligence officers with the latest "gen" and certain small special parties were rapidly embarked, the two destroyers slipping away again before dawn. When the sun came up the Marines on board found them­selves steaming due east, escorted by the anti-aircraft cruiser HMS COVENTRY and two Hunt class destroyers.
At this time the secret of the objective was broached to all ranks, and final briefing took place Later, the convoy altered course to the north-east, then north-west till they were making towards Crete. As darkness fell SIKH and ZULU broke away from their escort and steered due west at the top of their great speed. At midnight they altered course again, due south, straight for Tobruk.
At that moment 60 RAF Wellingtons began a bombardment of Tobruk that lasted three hours As the destroyers closed the harbour mouth the questing searchlights, the garish colours of climbing flak and the dull flashes of bomb-bursts could be seen on the horizon, a confusion of lights and fires glowed through the thick darkness, At two o'clock the code word "Nigger" was. received, indicating that the Long Range Desert Group had taken a coastal battery at the mouth of the harbour, the essential pre-requisite of the raid. A quarter of an hour later. came a signal from the Prime Minister, Mr Winston Churchill, who ever since the days of Antwerp in 1914 has had a soft spot for the Royal Marines, wishing them good luck in their latest enterprise.
Cheers went up from the crowded mess-decks of both destroyers, then the men of the first flight in both destroyers climbed into their harness. Just after three o'clock, when they were two-and-a-­half miles offshore, the powerful engines that had been driving SIKH and ZULU at over 30 knots slowed down and stopped. There was a heavy swell, but all appeared quiet in the neighbourhood of the beach, though Tobruk was still a pyrotechnic uproar.
A large fire burning in the town threw the escarpment behind the beach into sharp relief but obscured the beach itself to eyes straining through the darkness from seaward. The craft for the assault were then lowered. These, however, were not the handy LCA used at Dieppe and in North Africa, all of which were needed for the vast attack now preparing at the other end of the Mediterranean,
They consisted of six wooden power-boats each towing two dumb lighters that had been specially built for the occasion. Scrambling nets were thrown out and the Marines began to embark. The craft heaved and tossed on the swell, making embarkation difficult for men loaded up with 24-hour rations, a full water-bottle, a hundred rounds and at least one Bren magazine, together with a liberal provision of grenades, slabs of gun-cotton, primers, detonators and fuses. In addition, many of the Army men now descending by the shifting nets had not the long practice of the Marines in this tricky operation. After some delay the first flight was packed in and the destroyers steamed away, to return later to a rendezvous where they would meet the craft back from the beach for the second flight.
It was then that the troubles began. The tow ropes failed to stand the strain of heaving and tossing in the swell. Several soon parted. One broken rope twined itself round the propeller of one of the power-boats while the whole bow-piece of one of the lighters was pulled out by the violence of the sea. Of the six tows only three were able to struggle with great difficulty to the beach after wrestling for over an hour with the malevolent sea.
To make matters worse the enemy soon began to show an unwelcome interest in the proceedings. A searchlight began to sweep the sea at 30-second intervals, the craft were soon spotted, and HMS SIKH, returning to the rendezvous, was also picked up. A battery of heavy coastal guns opened fire on her while a crashing fusillade of small­er weapons opened on the three sets of barges that were closing the beach. Major J N Hedley, senior officer in these craft, with orders to land and establish a bridgehead, shouted "Full speed ahead and prepare to land," As the craft closed in the enemy opened up with all he had; 88-mm, shells, mortar bombs and bullets hailed upon them, The Marines could see the white surf crashing upon the rocks, while behind them, in the lurid light of searchlights and shell bursts, SIKH and ZULU were fighting their last desperate, unequal battle with the-shore batteries. A shell smashed into the leading power-boat and she began to sink. The dumb lighters were cast off and the Marines took to the water, whipped all around them by bullets. The more fortunate found bottom and scrambled up over the slippery wet rocks.
Then the dumb lighters crunched on to the rocks, The Marines leaped out, many slipping into Deepwater that completely covered them. Gasping for breath, dragged down by the weight of water in their equipment, they clawed their way on to the slippery shelves, still lashed by the enemy's fire. As one lighter struck she took a direct hit from a mortar bomb that blew out her bows. A few of her company struggled to the shore. A mortar bomb dropped plumb into another lighter, the burst killing six men.
The remnants of the force got across the beach as fast as they could and went to ground, bullets screaming over them and the ugly fragments of mortar bombs that whir through the air like the sound of the wings of a startled pheasant. The last of the lighters crashed on to the rocks and overturned, flinging the men into six feet of water, and many were lost before they gained the beach.
The whole landing had gone astray, The scanty few who survived were on the wrong beach, their craft smashed to matchwood on the rocks, while out at sea HMS ZULU, after an effort to tow off the mortally stricken SIKH, reluctantly abandoned her sister ship and withdrew, only to be subjected to a series of devastating air attacks that sank her before she reached Alexandria. Under the circumstances no one would have blamed Major Hedley if he had thrown up the sponge, but instead he gathered those who had survived that terrible landing - fewer than a hundred men-and resolved to do the enemy all the damage he could.
Though he was under no illusion as to their plight, he was cheer­ful, determined and inspired every man with him with a vigorous offensive spirit. Valiantly supported by Capt Wright, Lieut C N P Powell, Lieut Dyall and Sergeant J Povall, he organised his little force, leading them forward into a wadi under heavy fire.
Sergeant Povall and three Marines on the right flank encountered about 20 enemy advancing on them. They opened fire and the enemy fled. A hundred yards farther on they met another party. In the words of Corporal G T Hunt, one of the survivors: "We had occasion to kill many Italians with bayonet and bullet." After about half a mile the force came against a prepared defence position, supported by heavy machine-gun posts.
Against these Major Hedley led the attack himself, with a well-aimed grenade putting out of action a machine-gun mounted on a lorry. During this fight, Hedley, with Sergeant Povall, attacked a section post manned by six Italians. Povall shot the first but before he could reload, Major Hedley shot the other five with his revolver.
One of the Corps' notable pistol shots, he never did better shooting than this. Lieut Dyall led an attack on a group of buildings; he shot one Italian but was killed by a bullet from another standing in the shadows. This man was disposed of by Corporal Hunt.
Hedley's aggressive spirit kindled the whole party. Though all the time they were under fire, constantly having to dive to ground when Verey lights illuminated them, they never hesitated to attack the enemy wherever they found him, usually with the bayonet. To quote Corporal Hunt again: "I heard Sergeant Povall well up in front, shouting encouragement and appearing to enjoy himself, judging by the remarks he was making. He used his bayonet with great effect on any occasions."
Major Hedley was pressing on as fast as possible, hoping to reach adequate cover before full daylight. A large party of Italians tried to surrender but the Marines ignored them in favour of a Breda gun position which was silenced. Corporal Hunt, who had been wounded in the left side over the heart- but still carried on leading his section, saved his Commanding Officer's life. An Italian rushed Hedley, who for the moment was out of ammunition. Quick as a flash Hunt fired from the hip and killed the man as he charged.
The wadi ended in a steep, bare slope, swept by fire. Engaging the principal enemy position with fire from rifle and Bren, the Marines neutralised it sufficiently to get across the skyline. For the first time since they landed they were no longer under enemy fire, but it was a sadly depleted party-only seventeen strong- that Major Hedley gathered in an old building, where they settled down to cleaning their weapons. Corporal White of the RAMC, who had gallantly stuck to the party, dressed their wounds, but as he hoped to strike overland under cover of night in hope of reaching British forces, the Major forbade them to touch water or rations. Then they pushed on over a high ridge into an "S" shaped wadi, at the head of which were some caves, in which they took shelter. Here Hedley planned to lie up until nightfall, but during the afternoon a large force of Germans surrounded the caves. The seventeen were forced to surrender.
Thus ended a failure, illuminated by as fine a courage as any victory, conducted according to the highest traditions of a famous Corps. Many of those who survived the ill-fated raid had their revenge in the fullness of time, when in the ranks of the Royal Marine Commandos, they came up from the sea once more to smite the enemy. After the war Major Sendall RM joined the staff of the 'Daily Express' as correspondent.
Reprinted from "The NAVY" February 1946 (The official organ of the Navy League)

1943. February. Another Force X RM was formed at Deal with 480 RM Engineers, kitted for shore service but with sea kit bags. Each man had a rifle, 50 rounds of ammunition and the Force had three days rations. Its postal address was RM Detachment 300. Having had embarkation leave, the Detachment was ready for overseas service by March 1943 (dated 3rd February 1943). Elements of  Force X or possibly  men  from Detachment 300 were still in Iceland in 1944. (RMHS)

1943. Saturday 13th March. 410 Kings Squad passed for duty at Chatham. G.E.C. Corden-Gilbert was awarded the Kings Badge. Squad Photo.

1943. Mid-March. 1st RM Anti–Tank, 1st RM AA/Anti–Tank and 2nd RM Anti–Tank: these Batteries initially had 2pdr Portees in four Troops or 2pdr Pom–Poms; by mid–March 1943 they had some 6pdrs.(RMHS)

1943. Saturday 20th March. Ten military class Naval Trawlers were constructed by Cook Welton & Gemmel Ltd of Beverly who launched 75 Trawlers to Royal Navy designs, based on commercial ships.
The 'HMS Royal Marine' (ASW Trawler Type) was ordered on Saturday 20th March as part of the 1943 Trawler program. Heavy demands were made on the Trawlers during the war years for A/S and M/S work in the opening stages of the war and they proceeded far afield, even to providing the A/S screen for some of the ocean convoys. Their weatherly qualities always of the highest order, often resulted in their being the only form of escort operative in bad weather and they could keep to the seas when even destroyers were compelled to seek shelter.
These ships had a displacement of 750 tons and were powered by a steam reciprocating engine producing 1,100 S.H.P giving a top speed of 11 knots. She was armed with a single 4in gun plus Four 20mm A.A guns. 'Royal Marine' survived the war and was later sold out of navy service to become the 'Sisapon' in 1946. She was later converted to a deep water trawler with diesel engines for Icelandic fishing.
She was ordered on the Saturday 20th March 1943.
Laid down on the Tuesday 30th March 1943.
Launched on the Saturday 22nd July 1944.
Commissioned on the Monday 30th October 1944.
Was de-commissioned and sold Thursday 11th April 1946.
Commands listed for HMS Royal Marine (T 395)
T/S. Lt. Leonard Norman Holmes, RNVR. September 1944 to Tuesday 29th May 1945.
Lt. Wallace Melville Baird, RNR. Tuesday 29th May 1945 to Thursday 13th December 1945.

HMS Royal Marine

1943. April. The 23rd RM Battalion was formed at Dalditch as part of 104 RM Trg Bde, the battalion moved to Towyn in the summer of 1944, and it was merged in October with 22nd RM Bn.(RMHS)

1943. April. The 1st Special Air Service (SAS) was divided into two with 250 men from the SAS and the Small-Scale Raiding Force, forming the Special Boat Squadron under command Major the Earl Jellicoe. They moved to Haifa and trained with the Greek Sacred Regiment for operations in the Aegean.

1943. April. The MB Group’ with XXXIII Indian Corps The 1 RM AA Brigade HQ, 1st RM (Heavy) AA Rgt and a Landing and Maintenance Unit, were sent to India from Ceylon in April 1943, commander Brig V. D. Thomas, to train for amphibious operations in the Arakan. The ‘Group’ was under the command of XXXIII Indian Corps. The proposed operations were deferred and the ‘Group’ is disbanded about January 1944. (RMHS)

1943. April. Major William Martin's claim to fame? During World War II, British intelligence officers managed to pull off one of the most successful wartime deceptions ever achieved: Operation Mincemeat. In April 1943, a decomposing corpse was discovered floating off the coast of Huelva, in southern Spain. Personal documents identified him as Major William Martin of Britain’s Royal Marines, and he had a black attaché case chained to his wrist. When Nazi intelligence learned of the downed officer’s briefcase (as well as concerted efforts made by the British to retrieve the case), they did all they could to gain access. Though Spain was officially neutral in the conflict, much of its military was pro-German, and the Nazis were able to find an officer in Madrid to help them. In addition to other personal effects and official-looking documents, they found a letter from military authorities in London to a senior British officer in Tunisia, indicating that Allied armies were preparing to cross the Mediterranean from their positions in North Africa and attack German-held Greece and Sardinia.
This intelligence coup for the Nazi spy network allowed Adolf Hitler to transfer German troops from France to Greece ahead of what was believed to be a massive enemy invasion. The only problem? It was all a hoax. The “drowned” man was actually a Welsh tramp whose body was obtained in a London morgue by British intelligence officers Charles Cholmondeley and Ewen Montagu, the brains behind Operation Mincemeat. After creating an elaborate fake identity and backstory for “William Martin,” Cholmondeley and Montagu got Charles Fraser-Smith (thought to be the model for Q in the James Bond novels, written by former British naval intelligence officer Ian Fleming) to design a special container to preserve the body during its time in the water. One of England’s leading racecar drivers transported the container to a Royal Navy submarine, which dropped it off the Spanish coast. Once the Spanish recovered the body, British authorities began their frantic attempts to recover the case, counting on the fact that their efforts would convince the Nazis of the documents’ validity. As a result of the false intelligence carried by “William Martin,” the Nazis were caught unawares when 160,000 Allied troops invaded Sicily on July 10, 1943. In addition to saving thousands of Allied soldiers’ lives, Operation Mincemeat helped further Italian leader Benito Mussolini’s downfall and turn the tide of the war towards an Allied victory in Europe. (www.history.com/news/what-was-operation-mincemeat)

1943. April. The 21st to 26th RM Light later RM Light AA: initially equipped with 8 to 12 Pom–Poms; some subsequently had Oerlikons on lorries, but after Bofors guns became available, these Batteries were re–equipped. For example, the ‘22nd’ when a Light AA Bty had 16 Bofors when serving with 1st (Heavy) AA Rgt in Ceylon during April 1943, at a time when army Bofors batteries were of 12 guns. The ‘22nd’ were deployed to protect the heavy gun batteries from low–flying air attacks. Later the ‘22nd’ had 18 Bofors and 12 Oerlikons on Hazard lorry–type mountings when in India in the autumn of 1943.
RM Light Battery: this battery went to Norway in 1940 with 3.7–in pack howitzers of an old design. The strength was eight officers and 123 other ranks. A memo from AGRM No. 2147/40S of 13th May 1940 directed that the men of this battery be deployed in re–forming ‘Devon’ Battery of coast guns with eight 3.7–in howitzers, and that they were to begin training with MNBDO Group but not to form part of the Group’s War Establishment. But see unit history summary of ‘Devon’ Battery. (RMHS)

1943. Saturday 1st May. ‘The Man Who Never Was’, posing as Royal Marine Officer. Major William Martin.
On 1st May 1943 a body was discovered on a beach in Spain, (some sources say that it was found a little out to sea) by a local fisherman. The body was predictably brought to the Spanish authorities, who, in turn, allowed German intelligence to investigate the body and its possessions. The dead man, who would later become known as “The man who never was,” was roughly 34 years of age, was wearing a life preserver and the uniform of a British soldier. He also had a briefcase chained to his body. He had apparently drowned, and it was assumed that he did so after becoming the victim of a plane crash, out at sea. That was not the case.
“The man who never was” was identified by the Germans as Major William Martin of the Royal Marines. They were able to ascertain his identity by the contents of the briefcase, which held the man’s identification and various other personal items. That was not all the Germans found in the briefcase. There was also a letter written by Lieutenant General Sir Archibald Nye, who was the British commanding officer in North Africa. The letter contained detailed information regarding “Operation Husky,” a plan by Allies to invade Axis-controlled Europe through Corsica, Sardinia and Greece. It also mentioned that they planned to launch a fake attack on Sicily to divert German attention away from the above-mentioned area.
It was a turning point in the Second World War. As the Allies prepared to invade Sicily in 1943, they wanted to dupe the Germans into thinking that their attack would be aimed elsewhere.
To carry out the deception, a plan was concocted in which a body was dumped in the sea, to be discovered by Axis forces, carrying fake 'secret documents' suggesting the invasion would be staged in Greece, 500 miles away.
Incredibly, the trick worked and the diversion of German troops to Greece has been credited by historians with playing a major part in the success of the Sicily invasion. The episode was later immortalised in the 1956 film The Man Who Never Was.
Yet to this day, just whose body was used in "Operation Mincemeat" has remained a source of secrecy, confusion and conspiracy theory.
In a forthcoming book, a historian claims to have finally established beyond any reasonable doubt the identity of the person who 'played' the part of the dead man: a homeless Welshman called Glyndwr Michael.

 

ID Card

 

The body, which was given the identity of a fake Royal Marine called 'Major William Martin', was dropped into the sea off Spain in 1943.
Winston Churchill had remarked that "Anyone but a bloody fool would know it was Sicily", but after the tides carried Major Martin's body into the clutches of Nazi agents, Hitler and his High Command became convinced Greece was the target. "You can forget about Sicily. We know it's in Greece," proclaimed General Alfred Jodl, head of the German supreme command operations staff.
"Mincemeat swallowed, rod, line and sinker" was the message sent to Churchill after the Allies learned the plot had worked.
In recent years, there have been repeated claims that Mincemeat's chief planner, Lieutenant Commander Ewen Montagu, was so intent on deceiving the Germans that he stole the body of a crew member from HMS Dasher, a Royal Navy aircraft carrier which exploded off the Scottish coast in March 1943 and lied to the dead man's relatives.
In 2003, a documentary based on 14 years of research by former police officer Colin Gibbon claimed that 'Major Martin' was Dasher sailor Tom Martin.
Then in 2004, official sanction appeared to be given to another candidate, Tom Martin's crewmate John Melville. At a memorial service on board the current HMS Dasher, a Royal Navy patrol vessel, off the coast of Cyprus, Lieutenant Commander Mark Hill named Mr Melville as Major Martin, describing him as "a man who most certainly was". Mr Melville's daughter, Isobel Mackay, later told The Scotsman newspaper: "I feel very honoured if my father saved 30,000 Allied lives."
However, Professor Denis Smyth, a historian at Toronto University, whose book Operation Mincemeat: Death, Deception and the Mediterranean D-Day is due to be published later this year, believes he has now finally laid to rest such "conspiracy theories".
During his research, he came across a "most secret" memo written by Commander Montagu, the significance of which appears to have been overlooked and which Professor Smyth says proves the body of Mr Michael, who was mentally ill and died after ingesting rat poison at the time the operation was being planned, was used. Mr Michael was first proposed as The Man Who Never Was by an amateur historian in 1996, but the evidence to support this failed to convince supporters of the Dasher theory.
Tellingly, the memo unearthed by Professor Smyth was written after the body had been buried in Spain and addressed fears among senior officers that it would be exhumed for a second post-mortem which would confirm 'Major Martin' was a fake.
In it, Commander Montagu reports a conversation he had with coroner Dr William Bentley Purchase: "Mincemeat [the body] took a minimal dose of a rat poison containing phosphorus. This dose was not sufficient to kill him outright and its only effect was so to impair the functioning of the liver that he died a little time afterwards.
"Apart from the smallness of the dose, the next point is that phosphorus is not one of the poisons readily traceable after long periods, such as arsenic, which invades the roots of the hair."
Professor Smyth said: "What they talk about is whether the traces of the rat poison this person had taken could show up. So the person buried in Spain died from taking rat poison, not drowning, and therefore it is Glyndwr Michael.
"People love a conspiracy and a group has emerged who argue that this body was entirely unsuitable because it would have been riddled with rat poison.
"I think I've demolished what they think is the case for the counter-argument, that this body wouldn't have passed muster in the post mortem. The post mortem verdict was precisely as the British had expected, it was deemed to be a victim of drowning."
Asked about the 2004 ceremony on HMS Dasher, Professor Smith said: "It is very embarrassing ... I think this seals it. I've also been able to establish, I think beyond any reasonable, any rational doubt, the identity of the corpse involved."
However, John Steele, author of The Secrets of HMS Dasher, insisted Glyndwr Michael would not have passed muster as a Marine because he was an alcoholic – although Professor Smyth says there is no record of his illness – and said he remains convinced it was Melville.
"I've received a comprehensive report from a top dental expert regarding the teeth of Glyndwr Michael, what he would expect to find. There is no comparison whatsoever between the body of an alcoholic tramp and that of a Royal Marine," he said.
"I can tell you Montagu pinched a body. There's no way a brilliant barrister such as Montagu would take one slight risk that this operation would go haywire.
"Montagu was meticulous and would never have sent the body of a tramp.
"Bill Jewell, the commander of the submarine Seriph, said it was 'highly unlikely' the body of a tramp would have been used in this operation and he put it into the water with three of his officers."
He claims Montagu decided not only to fool the Germans but also his own commanders, whose "first reaction was this is macabre, this doesn't happen in England". "All the secrecy was imposed because the body used was from Dasher," Mr Steele said. "And we couldn't have the British public finding out that a body was stolen."
Mr Melville's daughter Mrs Mackay, 70, of Galashiels, in the Scottish Borders, said she agreed with Mr Steele. "The whole thing finished for me in Cyprus when the Dasher was honoured and the Navy asked me out there. That is it as far as it's concerned," she said. www.telegraph.co.uk)

1943. June. The 848 squadron was officially formed in June 1943 as a torpedo bomber, reconnaissance, Avenger squadron at Quonset Point Naval Air Station, and subsequently embarked on HMS Trumpeter in October 1943, for the UK.
Assigned to HMS Formidable between 1944 and 1945, 848 Squadron provided air support for the invasion of Okinawa (Operation Iceberg).
The squadron reformed at RNAS Gosport (HMS Siskin) on Wednesday 29th October 1952 with American-built Westland Whirlwind HAS.21s for work in Malaya. 848 sqdn 26 whirlwind MK 7 aircraft joined HMS Bulwark in early 1960 and deployed to the Far East for two and a half years - when the ship was in Singapore the sqdn detached to the shore base HMS Sinbang RNAS Sembawang (HQ of the 3rd Commando Brigade & 42 Commando RM) In December 1962 848 returned on HMS Bulwark to Plymouth and detached to its new home HMS Seahawk RNAS Culdrose.

1943. June. 299 Kings Squad passed for duty. Squad Photo.

1943. June /July. The 1st and 2nd RM Field: initially equipped with 8 x 18/25pdrs and three armoured mobile Observation Posts (the ‘2nd’ only existed for eight weeks in June/July 1943 and trained on 25pdrs with RA at Harrogate, Yorkshire). (RMHS)

1943. Saturday 24th July. The 3 Mobile Naval Base Brigade was formed at the time Japanese amphibious and other raids were expected on naval bases in
Ceylon during the summer of 1943. The Commander Brig J. H. G. Wills, OBE, had under command: 1st RM Coast Rgt, from August 1943 to December 1944;21 and from formation 24th RM Bn, 3rd RM Coast Rgt, ‘S’ Searchlight Bty, 2nd RM AA Rgt (operationally commanded by 24 (Army) AA Bde), the HQ Defence Platoon, etc. From mid-August 1943 to January 1844 the Brigade was based at Katukurunda,22 south of Colombo, in a ground defence role. Its higher formation was GHQ Ceylon, until early in 1944 it reverted to Admiralty control, when it was briefly commanded by Brig H. T. Tollemache (who also commanded the Small Operations Group in Ceylon). The MN Brigade returned to UK, arriving on 16th March 1944 and was officially disbanded on 17th May 1944 (RMRO 719/44). The HQ had closed on 14th May, when 3 officers and a 100 men went to commando training and other remustered for LC crews etc from a total strength that April had been 927 all ranks. (RMHS)

1943. Quartermaster Sergeant Norman Finch V.C. was promoted to temporary Lieutenant in charge of stores. Serving at 104 (training) RM Brigade, RM Training Group Dalditch Devon.

1943. Late July. The 24th RM Battalion HQ of this Battalion it was forming in late July 1943 in Ceylon and drew men mainly from MNBDO I, with a nucleus from ‘R’ Searchlight Bty, but the Battalion was never brought to full strength before returning to the UK and was disbanded 15th May 1944.(RMHS)

1943. Sunday 1st August. 44 RM Commando / 44 Commando RM. was formed. Origin and titles:
Formed at Ashurst, Hampshire, from the 3rd RM Bn, the unfit and unsuitable members of the Battalion being drafted to other units. The Commando’s title having been briefly 44 RM Commando (Light), was changed in 1946 to 44 Commando RM, and the following year, on 16th March 1947, it was redesignated 40 Commando RM, which had origins as the first RM Cdo, and which title the Corps wished to retain, in perpetuating the titles of Commandos which had each served in a principal theatre of World War II.
Principal operations and deployments:
In training at Achnacarry in September 1943; sailed for the Far East, arriving in India for training from December 1943 to February 1944; deployed in Burma from March 1944; 11th-17th March made landings at Alethangyaw in rear of Japanese lines; March-April patrolling from Maungdaw; 9th April moved to Silchar; 13th August at Trincomalee after transit via Bangalore, then to training with 3 Commando Brigade before landings at Myebon etc. In 1945 the Commando sailed for Hong Kong, landing on 11th–12th September; they remained with the Brigade on garrison duties after the civil administration was restored in March 1946, and were renamed.
Commando RM summary history.
Miscellaneous:
Early in 1946 they cut their crest in a 2ft deep outline 80ft by 54ft on the hill side at Fanling, facing the Chinese border with Hong Kong, but little of this earthwork remained in 1970. Memorable date: Kangaw 31st January (in 1945). No record of a  unit flag has been traced. The companies were designated as: A Troop; B Tp; C Tp; D Tp; X tp; S Tp; and HQ Troop.(RMHS)

1943. Sunday 1st August. Forton Barracks Royal Marines Light Infantry (RMLI) was closed.

1943. Sunday 1st August. 43 RM Commando and 43 Commando RM Origin and titles:
Formed on 1st August 1943 at Hursley (nr Winchester) from 2nd RM Bn and absorbed in 40 RM Cdo as of 12th September 1945. In 1961, when the Corps was reorganising its Commando Units, 43 Commando RM was re-formed (5th September) at Plymouth and disbanded at Eastney in mid-November 1968.
Principal operations in World War II:
After training in Scotland, the Commando joined 2 SS Bde, arriving in North Africa late in 1943:
23rd 24th January 1944 landed as flank force at Anzio against little opposition; 2nd February with 9 (Army) Cdo attacked hill features after night infiltration north of Allied position on Garigliano River; 28th February landed on Vis, joining 2 SS Brigade’s force on this island; 22th - 23rd March raided Hvar with partisans; in May carried out unit recces on Uljan and Pasman islands with 9 (Army) Cdo and 43 RM Cdo; 22nd May raid on Mljet with other units proved unsuccessful in steep hills; 2nd-4th June on Brac a small recce patrol returned to Brac (20th June) but found no suitable positions for artillery to shell garrison; July, recce patrol on Hvar, ambushed Germans (12th July) and visited Korcula; artillery landed after patrols on Korcula and Peljesak Peninsula; 11th September returned to Brac to block possible German threats from the mainland when partisans took control of this island; 16th-18th September landed on Solta and drove garrison into heavily a defended enclave; 27th September sailed from Vis for Italy. From 28th October to 22nd December 1944 part of ‘Floyd Force’ landed at Dubrovnik (at that time in Yugoslavia) as nucleus of force engaged in mountain warfare. After intense training in Italy the Commando took over a sector of the line south of Comacchio Spit for several periods in March 1945; 2nd April operation ‘Roast’, Lake Comacchio, where Cpl Tom Hunter was awarded a posthumous VC for actions in April; the Commando reached a point short of the Valetta canal; and relieved on 4th April. On 16th April, after moving to Argenta area, the Commando advanced on the Quaderna canal, cutting the Argenta road; 17th April successfully stormed buildings in open country north of Argenta Road and held off strong counterattacks but withdrawn at daylight on 18th April; the next night again advanced to the buildings before moving westwards, clearing the banks of the Reno; this was the commando’s last action, and in June it returned to the UK being absorbed into 40 Cdo RM on 12th September 1945. Re–formation in 1961
For the six months after reforming in September, the Commando was training while it was built up to full establishment; 12 Marines from the Commando served as orderlies and guards on Prime Minister Macmillan’s visit to Bermuda on 20th December 1961; 1st - 2nd March 1962 reorganised from Troops to three rifle companies, a Support Coy and an HQ Coy.
Major deployments 1962 - 68:
October 1962 on exercise ‘Donald Duck’ in Norway; mid 1963 exercise on Normandy Coast; 6th - 13th September on exercise ‘Bar Frost II’ in Norway; 7th January 1964 placed in Strategic Reserve at 10 days’ notice and organised for air lift, having trained to be air portable; 6th March embarked in Bulwark for North African exercise ‘Sand Fly II’ and subsequently training before being flow back to UK. In January 1965 took part in exercise ‘Cold Winter’ in Norway; 2nd July presented with colours by the Duke of Edinburgh; November, helicopter landing exercise ‘Gadfly II’; March 1966 used in exercise ‘Morning Glory’ to test command and control from HMS Fearless; 24th June embarked in Bulwark for ‘Dry Fly’ exercise at Inverary (Scotland); 28th February 1967 elements of the Commando to Nassau (Bahamas) for exercise ‘Winter Sun’; spring of 1967 reorganised into special companies for demonstrations etc in recruiting: ‘O’ Coy in London ceremonies and display; ‘P’ Coy at Royal Tournament and street lining parties for ceremonial parades; and ‘R’ Coy providing youth activity teams. On 28th November 1967 to Melville (later Comacchio) Camp in Portsmouth; April 1968 recruiting companies reorganised as ‘O’ and ‘P’ prior to rundown during autumn.
Miscellaneous:
Flag with a red background and yellow segment carrying red dagger (cp: 40 RM Cdo).16 Memorable date: 2nd April, the battle of Comacchio (in 1945)
Companies: ‘O’, ‘P’ and ‘R’ in 1968.
Landed Falkland Islands 20/21 May; advanced by helicopter to Mt Kent and patrolled from the Mt Kent
31 May to 11 June; night attack on Mt Harriet was successful 11/12 June; flown forward to NE shoulder
of Tumbledown and marched into Stanley 14 June.
1983  Exercises in Canada.
1984    tour in South Armagh, N Ireland
1985  M Coy in London ceremonies, November.
1986  exercise ‘Westward Shift’ with 42RM ‘opposing’ Dutch 1 ACG & 45 RM Grp.
Exercise with Spanish amphibious shipping
London Public Duties 17 June to 15 July
Exercises ‘Sea Soldier’ and ‘Eternal Triangle’
1987  Recce Trp in N Ireland with Army units.
1988  Deployed in Norway during Spring, WD87.
1989  In Belfast during tour of N Ireland
M Coy training at Fort Whiteroga.
1992  Tour in N Ireland
1995  In the summer L Coy carried out joint training in Romania with the Romanian 2nd Mountain Brigade in
the Brasvo/Predeal region.(Exercise ‘Eastern Climb’).
M Coy as Fleet Stand By Rifle Coy assisted civilians on Montserrat after volcano eruptions, helped in the aftermath of a hurricane on Anguilla in September.
K Coy and elements of HQ in exercise ‘French Phoenix’ off the coast of South Wales, before going to Brunei for exercise ‘Curry Trail’.
1996  In America on exercise ‘Purple Star’.
1997  Norway on WD97
Miscellaneous:
Flag of red St George cross on white cross over yellow ground, with white number ‘42’ dissected by
inverted dagger in the centre. This flag is based on a Lt–Col’s colour in the Lord High Admiral’s Rgt of
1664–89, adopted by 1st RM Bn as their unit flag in World War II.
The Commando raised a pipe band in 1943, which, with only a few breaks over the years, continues in
1997. Since 1968 one of these pipers has been appointed the Commandant General’s piper.
Memorable dates: 31st January, the battle of Kangaw  (in 1945); and 11/12 June the attack on Mount Harriet (in 1982). Coys ‘K’, ‘L’ and ‘M’.(RMHS)

1943. Sunday 1st August. The 47 RM Commando was formed at Dorchester, West Dorset, mainly from 10th RM Battalion and disbanded at Haywards Heath, West Sussex, on Thursday 31st January 1946.
Origin and titles:
Principal operations 1943-46:
After training in Scotland a 32 strong detachment was provided for MTB operations from Lerwick (Shetland Islands), two raids were attempted: one successful in a landing in Norway; and the second aborted due to presence of enemy ships. 8th February 1944 to Herne Bay (Kent); landed Normandy 6th June and next day (D+1) prepared to assault Port en Bessin, captured the following day; 12th June moved to Orne line; 18th June raiding force sent into forward German positions; 19th August crossed Dives River to attack Dozule with 41 RM Cdo; moved to Beuzeville area and on 26th August after night infiltration took Toutanville; 31th August, after brief rest, crossed Seine and on 2nd September at Fécamp, closed the last enemy escape route from Le Havre; 18th September in line investing Dunkirk; during October at Wenduine carrying out amphibious exercises and joined by large draft of reinforcements. 1st November 1944 landed at Walcheren but only three of the Commando’s amphibious tracked Weasels survived the landing; by D+1 (2 November) afternoon all Troop commanders were casualties but on the morning of D+3 the Commando captured W11 battery and cleared the dunes towards Flushing before returning to Weduine on 10th-11th November. 25th November in training at Bergen op Zoom; 22nd December joined mobile reserve for defensive duties along the Maas, patrolling in anticipation of German counter–attack towards Antwerp, but only enemy fighting patrols crossed the river; 13th-14th January 1945 made attack on Kapelsches Veer Island, but, having forced a way into the defences, was withdrawn in face of strong opposition. The island was later captured by 10 Canadian Infantry Brigade. After returning to Bergen op Zoom, the Commando was deployed in defence of Walcheren; 12t March to North Beveland, raiding from there to German posts on Schouwen in the Schelt estuary; 7th-8th May invested Schouwen. Moved to Germany and by January 1946 were only 100 strong at Minden; brought up to strength in August and had army Troop under command with 130 army personnel serving in the Commando for a period; 31st August moved to Erkenschwick (Ruhr) to administer displaced persons; 28th November returned to UK shortly after moving to Warburg.
Miscellaneous: Memorable date: 7th June capture of Port en Bessin (in 1944).(RMHS)

1943. Sunday 7th August. 45 RM Commando / Commando RM. was formed from 5th RM Bn at Burley in Hampshire, with five Troops (‘A’ to ‘E’), support Troop (‘F’) and HQ Troop (‘H’), with 500 all ranks. (After world War II the Commando was reorganised in the UK, redesignated 45 Commando RM in Hong Kong about March 1946 and continues.)
Origin and titles:
Principal operations and deployments in World War II:
Landed 6th June 1944 in Normandy with 1 SS Bde; in Orne line; 19th August night infiltration with 1 SS Bde to Angerville; returned to Bexhill (Susses) after 83 days in France. Returned to Europe and on 23rd January 1945 in action at Montforterbeek; March to April in river crossings of the Rhine, Weser, Aller and Elbe; reached Neustadt on Baltic on 2nd May; stationed in Germany until June 1945, when the Commando returned to Sussex.
Reorganisation:
Far East.
Principal deployments 1946–50:
The Commando sailed for Hong Kong in January 1946; served on internal security duties in Hong Kong 1946-47. January 1947 Troops redesignated ‘A’, ‘B’, ‘E’, ‘X’ and ‘Z’ to come in line with other units in 3 Cdo bde; May 1947 to December 1948 based on Malta, deploying to: Benghazi (Libya) March 1948;
Haifa (modern Israel) in spring 1948; July last ‘HOs’ left; August training in Tripoli; January 1949 to Canal Zone catching 40 thieves, many stealing telephone cables; June/July at Aqaba, at that time Jordan’s only port. Sailed from Suez for Hong Kong in August to reinforce the Honk Kong garrison for nine months.
Malaya emergency 1950-52:
The commando arrived in Malaya from Hong Kong in June 1950 for jungle training; July at Tapah in Perak to resettle Chinese squatters and conduct antiterrorism patrols; August 1951 moved to Batu Gajah in Ipoh area, patrolling swamps; 31st March 1952 sailed for Malta.
Mediterranean 1953-59:
Carried out training while based on Malta and deployed from time to time. May 1953 in Canal Zone protecting ammunition dumps and carrying out amphibious exercises in eastern Mediterranean; returned to Malta in August 1954; training exercises in North Africa; and deployed from Malta to Cyprus in September 1955. Operations against EOKA terrorists in Cyprus, initially at Kyrenia on north coast, then in Troodos mountains; February 1956 formed ski-Troop. Returned to Malta on 16th August, for ‘Suez’ operation. Landed Port Said on 6th November, in first helicopter deployment in battle area; withdrawn to Malta in November. Deployed in 1956 to Tripoli for training; in Cyprus May to October 1957 on antiterrorist patrols; the Commando returned to Malta but ‘X’ and ‘Z’ Troops formed ‘Heliforce’ in Cyprus during June 1958; training in Benghazi before returning to Cyprus from July to December. In 1959 trained in Malta.
Aden 1960-67:
The Commando’s main body sailed from Malta and arrived in Aden on 4th April 1960; advanced elements had arrived in March and were in Dhala by 25th March, where the commando over the next six years would from time to time patrol to the Yemeni border. From 1st to 19th July in Kuwait as part of the defence force. In August first deployed on internal security in Aden Colony; in October patrolling from Dhala. In September 1962 reorganised from five Troops to ‘X’, ‘Y’ and ‘Z’ Companies. Training continued in Aden with some exercises in Kenya (East Africa), when all companies were there for two weeks in 1963 on ‘Winged Marine’. January/February 1964 in Tanganyika (central Africa) to aid local government quell a mutiny; March visited Mombasa (at that time in Kenya). First operations in the Radfan 30th April to 28th May, which was followed over the years by: second tour from 3rd July to 6th August; third - 20th January to 4th March 1965 (mounted 305 night patrols); fourth 20th April to May; fifth - 23rd June to 28th July; sixth 22nd September to 26 October; seventh 15th December to 28th January 1966; eighth 14th April to 22nd May; ninth  14th September to 10th November; tenth and last from 6th February to June 1967. Between tours in the Radfan, the Commando was frequently deployed on internal security duties in Aden Colony. The last elements of the Commando left Aden on 29th November 1967.
United Kingdom 1967-80:
Based on Stonehouse Barracks after returning from Aden, the Commando served in the Strategic Reserve. In June 1968 it was the ‘enemy’ in Norway for the exercise ‘Polar Express’. In October 1968 it was deployed in Northern Ireland. In the spring of 1969 ‘X’ coy was in the Bahamas, ‘Y’ Coy aboard Fearless in the Mediterranean and ‘Z’  Coy in Norway. 13th May 1969 HM the Queen Elizabeth II presented new colours to the Commando; in July ‘Z’ Coy deployed to the West Indies; September the Commando embarked in Bulwark for a month’s deployment as part of NATO’s southern flank forces in the Mediterranean. In 1970 commenced intensive snow warfare and mountain training, with 845 Naval Air Cdo Squadron and the four Sioux of an RM Cdo Flight. Spring 1971 850 all ranks moved to a new base in the old RNAS HMS Condor in Arbroath (Angus) as a Commando Group which in addition to 45 Cdo RM included: a battery of 29 Cdo Light Rgt RA; a Troop of 59th (Independent) Sqn RE; other support personnel; and an RM organisation for the base. The Commando was the first specialist Mountain and Arctic Warfare unit, although retaining general skills. There were tours in Northern Ireland: summer 1970; summer 1971 (when PO F. MacLaughlin was awarded the George Medal in June)1; winter 1971-72; autumn 1974; summer 1977; and August 1979.
1980 in September exercise ‘Teamwork 80’ which included 6 days ashore with the Brigade in various ‘assaults’ in the areas of Halsafjord and Vinjeford in Norway. Returned to the UK for mountain training in October in preparation for January 1981 exercises in Norway.
Some operations and deployments 1981-97:
1981 late–Summer in Belfast.
San Carlos with loads of some 50kg per man; successful night attack on Two Sisters mountain 11/12
June; advanced to Sapper Hill on 13/14 June joining the Welsh Guards who had been flown there.
1983 Support Trp on NBC exercise Porton Down.
1986 Tour in Belfast, N Ireland.
1987 Contingent in Royal Tournament.
1990 North Norway exercises including the landing of 550 men and 35 vehicles in Tovik/Grov area.
Tour of duty in South Armagh, N Ireland.
1991 In Northern Ireland on a roulement tour of six months]
1992 A team from the Commando took part in the Swiss Commando Raid Competition where they yomped about 30kms up a Swiss mountain within 3½ hours, a Dragon anti-tank  shoot, a shoot with a Panzerfaust (equivalent to a LAW), and other firing exercises with Swiss weapons, a 3 minute swim across a fast flowing river, silence shots at two sentries before a house clearance and ‘killing’ it's five occupants in under 30 seconds. This team achieved the highest score not only of any foreign team in that year’s competition but the highest by a foreign team since the inception of the competition.
1993 Deployed to Belize for six months.
1994 Deployed to Kuwait in operation ‘Driver’.
1995 Deployed as Fermanagh roulement battalion returning at the end of November.
1996 Served as Fleet Standby Rifle Coy from January.
1996 From October the Commando was Spearhead Battalion as part of JRDF into 1997.
1997 Provided Fleet Stand–By Rifle Troop with Marines in West Indies guard ship and RN ships off west Africa.
Miscellaneous:
Flag green ground with red letters ‘45’ dissected by red inverted dagger.2 Memorable dates: 23
January, the attack on Montforterbeek, near Linne, Holland (in 1945); and 11/12 June attack on Two Sisters (in 1982).
Coys ‘X’, ‘Y’ and ‘Z’ in 1997.(RMHS)

1943. Sunday 15th August. The Special Service (SS)/Commando Group. Origin and titles:
Before 15th August 1943, when Commandos were not detached to field commands, they were under command of a single SS Brigade. SS Group under command of General Sturgess (GOC SS Group) was formed to take over this single Brigade’s responsibilities with four new SS Brigades. The Group’s HQ was opened on 15th August 1943, at the RM Division’s HQ at Milford–on–Sea (nr Lymington), with the Divisional staff and some army personnel forming the SS Group’s Headquarters. In November 1944 the titles of this Group and its Brigades were changed from SS - which was associated in the public’s mind with Nazi Storm Troops - to Commando, although some weeks passed before all the units overseas used these new titles. In August 1945 the suffix ‘(Light)’ was added to these titles on the reorganisation of Army War  Establishments. The Group was commanded by General Wildman–Lushington (May 1945) and by 1946 by General Campbell Hardy.
Examples of Orders of battle:
September 1943 - 1st SS Bde, 3 Special Service and 4 SS Brigades, Holding Operational Commando at Wrexham, 2nd Echelon (RM personnel) and 43 RM Cdo (other units which would form 2SS Bde were under army commands in the Middle East), 30th Assault Unit, Commando Basic Training Centre at Achnacarry, Commando Mountain Warfare Training Centre at St Ives, the RM Engineer Commando, Small Scale Raiding Force (COPPs, SBS, RMPBD, etc.) Field Provost and Administrative Sections.3  The Field Security Section and the Postal Unit of the Division had been transferred to the Group.
April 1946 - Commando Training Unit RM, Commando Holding Unit RM, Commando basic Training Unit RM (for recruit), Commando Mountain Warfare Training Centre RM at St Ives, Commando Group 2nd Echelon, service Sections including Repair Section; and a nucleus for re–forming 41 RM or another Commando.
Locations etc:
After moving from Milford–on–Sea, the Group HQ had several bases in the London area, including
Hatch End (Middlesex) in September 1943. In the summer of 1944 it was in Petworth (Sussex); on the Group’s staff merged with HQ Training Group Wales to form a new Commando Group HQ at Towyn, North Wales.
Tactical HQ:
Commanded by the Group’s Deputy Commander (an army brigadier) and formed for planning with General Eisenhower’s staff, this HQ landed in France on 7 June 1944, and remained in NW Europe until mid–1945.
Administration in World War II:
The group’s GOC kept in touch with his COs by visits and frequently by private correspondence.
Disbandment:
When commando training moved from North Wales to Bickleigh (in RM’s Plymouth Group) in 1947, the HQ was in Plymouth and closed on 8 August 1947.
Commando Training Centres since 1947:
The training of commandos continued at Bickleigh until 1954 under the staff of the Commando School and then under a cadre of 42 RM Commando except when this Commando was re-mobilised. In 1960 all commando training was concentrated at Lympstone (at one time known as Exton) in Devon. By 1969 it was part of the Training Group RM. On 24th August 1970 Lympstone was redesignated the Commando Training Centre, its name in 1997 as CTC RM Barracks.
In 1997 the Centre ran 30 week courses for commando training. It trains some 60 officers each year in the Officers’ Training Wing; about 400 NCOs pass each year through various courses in the NCOs Training Wing. The Infantry Support Wing trained officers and men as instructors in specialist equipment. About 500 students attended courses for signallers and clerks in the Signals and Clerks Training Wing.
In the 1990s CTC was a Brigadier’s command with some 900 instructors and other staff. (For history of the CTC Barracks see RM Bases, Depots and Training Establishments.)(RMHS)

1943. August. 'The first complete RM Unit to undergo training at the Commando Basic Training Centre was 43 Cdo, formerly the 2nd RM Battalion, in August 1943 and subsequently the other six RM Commandos all passed through Achnacarry on conversion from battalions. 'By 1946 a RM Commando Training Unit had been established at Gibraltar Camp, Towyn, and the first course to carry out their entire Commando Training there formed in about March. Previously RMs started at Towyn and then went to Achnacarry. The Army Commandos were disbanded that year and the Commando Basic Training Centre, Achnacarry, as it was then titled, closed in May 1946.
In its six years of existence, about 30,000 men from every regiment of the Army and from every service, from all over the Empire and from a dozen Allied Nations passed through the unit to learn the basic skills of a Commando. Their training stood them in good stead on battle fields throughout the world and what they did made history.'
It has been said that the Arms were as reluctant to allow Royal Marines into their midst at the beginning as there were to hand over the role entirely at the end of the war. On the other hand, 1 have also heard that there were many in the Corps who did not take kind] to this new role they were reluctantly being drawn into. Like Lt-Col (Cockleshell Hero) Haslers RM Boom Patrol Detachment (forerunners of the SBS) the Commandos were somewhat frowned on as 'Cloak and Dagger Merchants completely alien to the traditional concept of the Corps. Consequently, they occasionally met resistance amongst their own kind. (I have been told of instances where Marines returning to 'Normal units from a Commando were 'purged by NCOs from the practice of wearing the beret badge over the left eye (Green style) to the over the left ear position (Blue style)!)
Despite these little personal differences. It was considered a great honour by most men to be selected for a Commando role, and many a man dropped a rank or two in order to qualify and their greatest fear was the shame of being sent back to a normal infantry unit. it was on this latter aspect that Col Vaughan based his code of discipline .men were given more, freedom and independence than normal: for instance, when they finished training they were frequently billeted in private houses (with a subsistence allowance of just a few shillings a week) and thev usually kept well out of trouble because of this dread of being dismissed from the Commando. He was anxious too to dispel the fears of many outsiders that these new men
Would emulate the wild lawless reputation of that renowned band of marauders in South Africa who gave the Commandos their name.
The importance of Achnacarrv amongst the milestones of Corps History can be seen from the very fact that this change over from the conventional to a new exclusively Commando role (although not finally fulfilled until 1946) was perhaps the most dramatic change in its entire being.
There is little at Achnacarry now to remind you of its wartime era gone are the mock grave-stones that once struck terror into the hearts of all new arrivals as they marched up the tree-lined drive from the main gate to the House in fact the only evidence of there having been a camp here at all is an old nissen hut positioned between the main gate and a group of out-houses. Or farm buildings. Can anyone confirm if this was a guardroom, perhaps? In the field adjacent to the house (Castle) where the parade ground and main part of the camp was sited, only a few lazy contented cows wander aimlessly where 'Royal once raced around like the proverbial 'Blue posteriored fly ! You are struck by the peaceful serenity of it all now, and it is difficult to imagine the noise and bustling activity of long ago.
The area is surrounded by thickly wooded hills, and at one side of the field, on the private road leading to Loch Lochy and the main public road stand two cottages, one either side, of which one is the Sub-Post Office.
According to the authors of earlier books. The most well worn item of kit must have been the Groundsheet Cape. and I must admit that the two photographs which I have been able to glean from the imperial War Museum support this theory as they were both taken in pouring rain  however, to give credit where it's due 1 must confess that on my visit I was drenched only in sunshine!
There is a pathway from the house, well trodden by many a hob-nailed boot, leading to the River Arkaig which runs to Loch Lochy a distance of just a mile or so. Many ideas and expressions widely used today originated here for instance the 'Death Slide' and 'Tarzan Course' across the river. Speed marches training irca. How many trainees. One wonders spent their time during exercise searching for the alleged treasure of' Bonnie Prince Charlie hidden somewhere around this shore!(RMHS)

1943. August. 46 RM Commando formed up at Dorchester, West Dorset mainly from men of 9th RM Bn; although its title was brief being disbanded on 31st January 1946.
Origin and titles:
Principal operations 1943–46:
Trained in Scotland with two weeks at Achnacarry (23rd October to 9th November 1943); Mobilisation completed on 24th January 1944, but intended night raiding role cancelled. Embarked 1st June with cliff climbing and demolition equipment for destruction of Benerville Bty (or Houlgate Bty as alternative target) in Normandy, but unfavourable  weather and the fact that neither battery was harassing shipping, led to the operation being cancelled. Landed Berniers (Normandy) on 7th June (D+1) capturing strongpoint at Petit Enfer before occupying the town. 7th / 8th June patrols sent inland to La Deliverande, Douvres; 9th June occupied the village of Douvres and came under command of 3 Canadian Division; 11th 12th June actions in Mue Valley; 17th June re-joined 4 SS Bde in Orne line; ‘S’ Troop re-equipped with support weapons; 17th August patrols entered Troarn to find it deserted but heavily mined; 19th August with 47 RM Cdo attacked Dozule successfully after silent approach at night. On 25th August, having been brought forward in transport, the Commando was south of Beuzeville, the CO Lt–Col Campbell Hardy was wounded but continued in action while the road was cleared a well- camouflaged enemy defences were engaged in a fire fight, as the Commando and a Para Bn advanced. After three hours the second in–command, Maj John Lee, MC, and 10 others had been killed and 37 all ranks wounded before the commando was withdrawn. The Commando went into billets the first in 12 weeks  on 26th August at  St Maclou; 11th-15th September guarded prisoners near Le Havre; 18th September in Bray Dunes area (Belgium) occupying former German defences investing Dunkirk; 7th October sailed for UK to join 1 SS Brigade. The Commando received 200 reinforcements and reorganised; sailed to Ostend (Belgium) on 15th January 1945 and detached from 1 SS Brigade for deployment to Antwerp. Took over a sector of line Heel to Beegden on the Mass on 2nd February, with standing patrols out but little activity. On 12th February the Commando relieved 3 (Army) Commando at Linne, and after spending several weeks here and further west, the Commando trained for river crossings. It crossed the Rhine on 23rd March, establishing a bridgehead, helping to clear Wesel next day; in April in actions crossing the Weser, Aller and on 29th April the Elbe. Arrived Neustadt (near Lubeck) on 5th May and returned to UK on 8th June. The commando spent the summer of 1945 at Tunbridge Wells training for operations in the Far East, but the Commando’s strength began to be run down from October.
Miscellaneous:
Memorable date: 11th June, the attack on Le Hamel and Rots (in 1944)(RMHS)

1943. August. 42 RM Commando and 42 Commando RM Origin and titles:
Formed in August 1943 at Sway (nr Lymington) from 1st RM Bn, the Commando was redesignated: 42
RM Commando (Light) in August 1945, and 42 Commando RM early in 1946.
Principal operations in World War II:
After ship  damaged 42 RM Cdo reached India by August 1944 and carried out jungle training at Belgaum with 1 (Army) Cdo; later trained at Combined Operations Training Centre (Indian east coast) in temperatures of 45 C at times. October 1944 at Teknaf; November relieved a battalion of 74 (Indian) Bde at Maungdaw, patrolling aggressively into Japanese held areas; December Teknaf; 12th January 1945 at Myebon; 19th January to early February at Kangaw early summer, exercise ‘Lilliput’ with Brigade at Kharakvasa (India); arrived Hong Kong about 11th September, where the Commando remained as part of the garrison after civilian administration restored in April 1946.
Principal deployments 1946–80:
1946 to June 1947 in Hong Kong; July 1947 to early 1948 based on Malta; May 1948 at Jerusalem, then Haifa, before evacuation on 27th June. While based in Malta, the Commando carried out exercises in Tripoli and Internal Security duties in the Canal Zone; returned to Hong Kong in August 1949; 1950-52 in Malaya based on Ipoh (Perak) for antiterrorist operations and later in southern Malaya; June 1953 returned to Malta. With Brigade in Canal Zone May 1953 to September 1954, when the Commando returned via Malta to Bickleigh to staff the Commando School from 4th October. The Commando remained here with exercises in Norway in 1955 and 1956, until the Commando was reactivated on 1st August 1956. Landed in ‘Suez’ operation 6th November 1956, and remained after the Brigade withdrew, until 27th November, later returning to Bickleigh as training cadre and operational nucleus. (One Troop in Londonderry, Northern Ireland, for eight months in 1957). Reactivated in summer of 1958 for Lebanon crisis and embarked for exercises in Libya; returned to Bickleigh and reduced again to a training cadre until 1959; reactivated for commando carrier force; embarked Bulwark March 1960 and after exercises in the Mediterranean began 11 years of service based on Singapore; 1st July 1961 landed Kuwait as defence force; December 1962 to Brunei at the time of the Indonesian confrontation, serving there till April 1963. In Sarawak July to October 1963 and February to June 1964; at Tawau December 1964 to May 1965; in Lundu area December 1965 to May 1966; at Aden 11th October to 29 November 1967 and retained until May at various periods in commando carriers; returned to Singapore until October 1971. Returned to UK in the summer of 1971 and spent eight periods of duty in Northern Ireland including: summer 1972, spring of 1973, summer 1974, winter 1975, spring of 1976, and July to November 1978. Also deployed in Norway on exercises in January to March or later, during 1979 and 1980. Company Group to New Hebrides from 13th June 1980 for two months.
Some Operations and deployments 1981-97:
1981 exercise ‘Mainspring’.
1982 The only Cdo RM to go to Norway.
1982 M Coy elements in recapture of South Georgia 24 April.
Landed Falkland Islands 20/21 May; advanced by helicopter to Mt Kent and patrolled from the Mt Kent.
31st May to 11th June; night attack on Mt Harriet was successful 11/12 June; flown forward to NE shoulder of Tumbledown and marched into Stanley 14 June.
1983 Exercises in Canada.
1984 Tour in South Armagh, N Ireland.
1985 M Coy in London ceremonies, November.
1986 Exercise ‘Westward Shift’ with 42RM ‘opposing’ Dutch 1 ACG & 45 RM Grp.
Exercise with Spanish amphibious shipping.
London Public Duties 17th June to 15th July
Exercises ‘Sea Soldier’ and ‘Eternal Triangle’.
1987 Recce Trp in N Ireland with Army units.
1988 Deployed in Norway during Spring, WD87.
1989 In Belfast during tour of N Ireland
M Coy training at Fort Whiteroga.
1992 Tour in N Ireland
1995 In the summer L Coy carried out joint training in Romania with the Romanian 2nd Mountain Brigade in the Brasvo/Predeal region.(Exercise ‘Eastern Climb’).
M Coy as Fleet Stand By Rifle Coy assisted civilians on Montserrat after volcano eruptions, helped in the aftermath of a hurricane on Anguilla in September.
K Coy and elements of HQ in exercise ‘French Phoenix’ off the coast of South Wales, before going to Brunei for exercise ‘Curry Trail’.
1996 In America on exercise ‘Purple Star’.
1997  Norway on WD97.
Miscellaneous:
Flag of Red St George cross on white cross over yellow ground, with white number ‘42’ dissected by inverted dagger in the centre. This flag is based on a Lt. Col’s colour in the Lord High Admiral’s Rgt of 1664-1689, adopted by 1st RM Bn as their unit flag in World War II.
The Commando raised a pipe band in 1943, which, with only a few breaks over the years, continues in 1997. Since 1968 one of these pipers has been appointed the Commandant General’s piper.
Memorable dates: 31st January, the battle of Kangaw (in 1945); and 11/12 June the attack on Mount Harriet (in 1982). Coys ‘K’, ‘L’ and ‘M’.(RMHS)

1943. August. The 4 SS/Commando Brigade. General history:
In August 1943 the RM Office had expected 4 Commando Bde to include 45, 46 and 47 RM Cdos, but formed in UK September 1943, CO Brig B. W. Leicester with 10 (Inter–Allied) Cdo, 41 RM Cdo, 46 RM Cdo and 47 RM Cdo with HQ staff from 101 RM Bde. Raised 48 RM Commando on approval dated.
February 1944. The Brigade HQ was in France and NW Europe from June 1944 until the winter of 1945. while at Ostend in October its HQ was the planning authority for the Walcheren landings and at this time 46 RM Cdo was replaced by 4 (Army) Cdo. During  the  winter of 1944-1945 this HQ had responsibilities from time to time for sectors of the Allied line in Holland, but Commandos were sometimes detached to other commands, as when 41 RM Cdo and 48 RM Cdo were under command of 116 RM Brigade, the remainder of the Brigade under its HQ formed a mobile reserve of 41 RM Cdo, 46 RM Cdo and elements of 10 Cdo, located south west of Rotterdam. On 22nd April the last of its raids was made by units under command. In late May 1945 the Brigade moved to Minden (Germany), where it was reinforced by drafts from 1 Commando Brigade in preparation for service in the Far East, but returned to the UK and was disbanded in December 1945.(RMHS)

1943. August. 41 Commando was formed.

1943. Wednesday 1st September. The 3rd Headquarters Special Service Brigade was formed from Headquarters 102 Royal Marine Brigade.

1943. Wednesday 1st September. 3 SS/Commando Brigade Origin and titles:
Formed 1st September 1943 at Dorchester with personnel of 102 RM Brigade HQ,13 CO Brig Nonweiler until 26th November 1944, Brig Campbell Hardy December 1944 to October 1945. Title changes as for SS Group but by October 1946 the Commandos were all RM units, with some army personnel serving in the Brigade.
The Brigade passed to the operational command of C-in-C India on 23rd November 1943 and
remained overseas until 1971.
Examples of Orders of Battle:
In August 1943 the RM Office had expected 3 Command Bde to include 42, 43 and 44 RM Cdos.
January 1945 - 1 (Army), 5 (Army), 42 RM and 44 RM, Brigade Signals Troop, LAD Type A (for vehicle maintenance) with ‘C’ Squadron 19th Lancers of Indian Army.
January 1946 - combined 1/5 (Army) Commando, 42 RM Cdo and 44 RM Cdo, with some Army subunits attached.
October 1946 - 42 RM Cdo, 44 RM Cdo and 45 RM Cdo, with some Army subunits attached. April 1961 - 40 RM Cdo and 45 RM Cdo with some army subunits attached.
During the decades since 1961 various Commandos have been detached to other commands from time to time but when not detached: all RM Commandos were under the Brigade’s command.
December 1997 - 40 Cdo RM, 42 Cdo RM, 45 Cdo RM, RM Stonehouse (barracks staff and instructors HQ Plymouth Garrison MR), 29 Cdo Rgt RA, 20 Cdo Bty RA, Cdo Logistic Rgt RM, 59 Independent Cdo Sqn RE, HQ & Signals Sqn RM, Patrol Troop and 539 Assault Sqn RM.
The Brigade became a part of the Rapid Reaction Force created in June 1995 as a reserve for possible operations in Yugoslavia. And in 1997 became a part of the UK Rapid Reaction Force.
HQ locations and principal operations of World War II and in 1946 & 1947:
Canterbury (Kent) in late summer of 1943; 12th December, Egypt; 9th –21st January 1944 at sea; February 1944 Poona (India); elements of this HQ remained in India; 17th March to 19th April at Maungdaw; early
summer became Area Command Silchar (Surma Valley); 13 August arrived Ceylon (modern Sri Lanka); early October Teknaf; November Maungdaw; December Teknaf; January 1945 Myebon and Kangaw, Tactical HQ in Motor Launch, main HQ aboard HMIS Narbada; February Akyabb and later Myebon;
March sailed for Madras (India); spring in Poona and later Kharakvasa; 12 September arrived Hong Kong.17 The internal security duties which the Brigade’s units carried out in the next two years included: the prevention of smuggling and illegal exports; raiding opium dens; patrols against armed robbers; and other police duties.
Tactical HQ 1944:
February/March Cox’s Bazaar and aboard LCH 261 for Alethangyaw operations.
Formation of RM Brigade:
In 1945–6 most long–service RMs were naval gunnery rates, and 720 Marines (mostly ‘HOs’) were drafted to Hong Kong to replace army commandos in the spring of 1946. Six RM Commandos were to be formed but this was cut by the end of 1946 to three in the Far East; 40 Commando RM (formerly ‘44’), 42 Commando RM and later joined by 45 commando RM.
HQ locations and principal events 1946–80:
1946 to 17th  May 1947 in Hong Kong; June 1947 to August 1949 in Malta (during these years elements of this HQ went to the Canal Zone (Egypt) from January to April 1948); August 1949 to 23rd May 1950 Brigade reinforcing Honk Kong garrison; June 1950 to March 1952 in Malaya, taking responsibility for military operations with police from August 1950; March 1952 to May 1953 in Malta (on 29th November 1952 the Duke of Edinburgh presented colours to 40 RM, 42 RM and 45 RM); May 1953 to August 1954 in the Canal Zone, Egypt (some elements stayed until September 1954); August 1954 to April 1961 in Malta except for operational tours (Cyprus in September 1955 to August 1956, ‘Suez’ operation November 1956, Tripoli exercise April 1957 and other HQ exercises); April 1961 to 1971 based on Singapore with three tours by HQ in Sarawak (July 1963 to October 1963, April to January 1964, January to March 1965); by late 1971 established at Plymouth where this HQ continued to be based; deployed as HQ in Norway January to March 1979 and again in 1980.
HQ locations and principal events 1981 -1997:
Based at Stonehouse Barracks, Plymouth and mobilised for the Falkland Islands operation ‘Corporate’ from 2nd April 1982 when merged with HQ Commando Forces RM, landed East Falkland 20th May, fought various successful actions and returned to Plymouth after 11th July 1982. Deployed to northern Iraq for operation ‘Haven’ in April 1991 returning to Plymouth May/June 1991.
Miscellaneous: The Brigade commander’s pennant was navy blue with inverted red dagger.(RMHS)

1943. Friday 10th September. 'Return to Salerno'. From Ray Tebble RMAQ. A sunny morning at Salerno, Italy. On board our Landing Craft Gun, I had my gun crew closed up at "Action Stations", manning "B" gun, one of out two 4.7" QF guns.
On orders from the Northern Landing Sector, we proceeded south to deal with some troublesome 88"s near the mouth of the Sole Estuary. Closing into the beach, we swung broadside on about 75metres from the shore.
A few jerries appeared, sprinting along the top of the sand dunes at the rear of the beach, then, with an almighty "crack", we were greeted with the burst of airblast shrapnel right over our heads. This, with a mixture of mortar, machine-gun, and fire from the 88's, made things more than a little interesting.
Thus, another fire-fight began ...
September 1993. Whilst we were in the U.K. last year, my wife and I journeyed to Italy with a group of WW2 Italian Campaign veterans, together with a small group of widows of men that fell during that campaign.
On arrival in Rome, we travelled down Route 6 to Cassino, from which base we spent the next couple of days visiting the battlefields, an area over looked by the commanding heights of Monte Cassino. When standing up there in the monastery, you can appreciate the grim task faced by the Allies.           Although the Germans were not actually in the monastery itself, they were entrenched around the base of its walls, which gave them a perfect unobstructed field of fire covering 360°.
One site captured the imagination, Castle Hill, a tor about 150metres high just behind the town. On its crest a roman fort, built in the traditional style (a single keep with a thick outer wall), it had been defended by well
ensconced German Paratroopers, whose fire commanded the inner town.
A company of Kiwis had been given the task of removing them. They had clambered up this precipitous slope carrying scaling ladders and had taken the garrison by surprise, a remarkable feat of arms. That fort still stand there with its battle scars aging, and it terrain largely unaltered.
From Cassino we took the coach to Caserta, then on to Naples, and finally to Maiori on the beautiful Amalfi coast. Situated about 40 kms from Salerno it is reached by way of a tortuous coastal road running high above the sea, and is the place where the U.S. Rangers stormed ashore on that September day, fifty years before.
We visited Several prominent battle sites, that many with us remembered, but the primary aim of the tour was commemorate the landings of the 9th September 1943, with a re-enactment of the part played in the landings by HMS Boxer, an L.C.I., and to hold a memorial service for those that fell.
From those veterans and widows present, a representative party of 12, with 6 of the widows was to be embarked in HMS Boxer, not the original, but a modern Class 2 Frigate, that now bears the name.
To my pleasure and surprise, I was one of those selected, proud to be in the company of some Guards and county regiments veterans.
On the 8th, we were conveyed to the Salerno dockyard, and there ferried out to Boxer. I travelled out in a speedy inflatable, what else could I do as the only "Royal", the rest more sedately (and drier) by the ships launch. Once on board we were welcomed and shepherded down to the C.P.O.'s Mess.
Here we were generously entertained by a great bunch of blokes (Gee!!!! is that special "Sea Service" brew strong).
During the mean time the ship had got under way, and proceeded the Departure Point for the landings, on the exact bearings used in 1943.
From 8 miles out, the view was very much the same as when we went in all those years ago.
A memorial service was conducted on the ship's helipad, attended by various V.I.P.'s including Lord Alexander of Tunis, (the son of General Alexander), and as a former piper of the Scots Guards played "Flowers of the Forest" wreaths were dropped over the side by the war widows. It was a most moving and nostalgic occasion.
The service concluded we retired to the Chiefs Mess, where I was introduced to the detachment Sergeant Major, a tough looking Colour Sergeant.
He told me that there were twelve Marines in his detachment, whose main function was to provide "Minder" Squads for the ship inspection parties in the Gulf. If a vessel did not show signs of heaving too when signalled, they were boarded by marine squad abseiling from the ships Sea King helicopter. He also said that as each marine of the detachment had replaced a seaman of the ships compliment,(part of the British defence economies), that they had all received special sea training.
Before we left the ship he presented me with a Corps plaque inscribed "From the Royal Marine: Detachment of HMS Boxer-Salerno-1993."
Next day, September 9th, a memorial service was held in the British War Cemetery at Montecorvino, about 5kms behind the British sector od the beachhead. Two thousand of those that fell are interred here. Whilst there, I met with of group of former "Royals" of 41 RM Cdo. There are scattered throughout the cemetery, graves of the men from the Commando.
The attending officials, which included the German Ambassador and the unit representatives, laid wreaths at the foot of the Cross, the Guard of Honour was from our own Corps, the marines of HMS Boxer. The band resplendent in their scarlet tunics and bearskins were provided by The Royal Dragoon Guards, with the temperature hovering around 35°c they must have really been feeling it, the detachment by contrast were in K.D. with white helmet.
I laid wreaths at two headstones inscribed:
A Royal Marine "Known Only To God"
This was a personal choice, in remembrance of those old friends of my own unit, who have no known grave.
The following day, we went on a tour of the area we knew as the Southern Landing Sector, where the Americans landed, at Paestum. This is a remarkable place to visit, for there stand, almost intact, the remains of several Greek temples. Surprisingly enough they were not damaged during the fighting in that area.
On the way back we stopped to visit the area that was the extreme southern right flank of the British Sector. Again a bright sunny morning at Salerno, close to the mouth of the Sole estuary. We were allowed fifteen minutes on this beach, which gave me sufficient time to do a "Recce".
There they were, the sand dunes at the top of the beach with the woods behind them, just as they were on my last visit.
With extreme care I scanned the dunes and then searched the woods, but there was no trace of Jerry, his mortars, machine-guns or even the eighty-eights.
Well after all, it was September 10th. 1993. From Ray Tebble RMAQ.

1943. Sunday 3rd October. During the early hours, 40 RM Commando (Lieutenant Colonel J C Manners) with No 3 Commando and elements of the Special Raiding Squadron landed under cover of darkness at Termoli, a seaport town on the Adriatic coast, north of the River Bifurno and behind the German lines, 40 Commando penetrated well into the town before the enemy were alerted and brisk close-quarter fighting with German parachute troops ensued. By 0800 hours, 40 Commando had captured the town and controlled the approaches. So complete was the surprise that German vehicles and motor cyclists still drove into a Commando ambush position until noon. The Germans retaliated in strength and 40 Commando with 3 Commando, the Special Raiding Squadron and some reinforcements from the 78th Division, held off repeated and heavy infantry and armoured counter-attacks by the 26th Panzer Division until eventually the 8th Army linked up with them on 6 October. The operation was an outstanding success. They had overcome all attempts, by a force vastly superior in numbers an armament, to dislodge them and in so doing, won a valuable harbour; they caused the enemy to withdraw from the natural defence line on the Bifurno and denied them the use of the important lateral road from Naples, thereby forcing them to retreat further northwards.

1943. Thursday 23rd October. 2 SS/Commando Brigade General History:
Formed from the Commandos in Italy on 23rd October 1943, CO army Brig T. B. L. Churchill with 2 (Army), 9 (Army), 40 RM and 43 RM Commandos. Units of this Brigade served in Italy, the Dalmatian Islands, Albania and Greece. The staff of its HQ provided a Brigade base at Molfetta (southern Italy) and Tactical HQs for operations with units detached to other formations. During the summer of 1944 they formed the garrison HQ on Vis with several thousand Allied troops to administer; the main HQ landed on Vis 5th March 1944 and returned to Italy on 13th August. It planned operations that autumn and sent a Tactical HQ to Albania. In the spring of 1945 the HQ moved to Ravenna and elements worked with the Brigade’s Commandos, which were all detached to Army commands during operations in April and May. Sailed for UK on 19 June. 43 RM Cdo absorbed into 40 RM Cdo as The RM Cdo of 2 Cdo Bde and 2 (Army) melded with 9 (Army) Cdo as The Army Commando of 2 Cdo Bde, disbanded in September.(RMHS)

1943. Monday 25th October. The RM Engineer Commando unit had developed from units in the RM Battalions which were trained in demolitions and as assault engineers. Although first established during the first war as: HQ; Holding Troop; and two fighting Troops (RM Circ 1303/43G dated 26th November 1943). By June 1944 there were 180 all ranks, forming a small HQ with a Training Troop (the Holding Troop?) and two fighting Troops. These were reorganised for the Normandy invasion with HQ and Training Troop in the UK, one Section with 1st SS Bde, one Section with 4 SS Bde, and six Landing Craft Obstruction Clearance Units.
Sections with Commando Brigades:
The Section with 1st SS Bde of 39 all ranks commanded by a lieutenant, landed in Normandy on 6 June 1944 at H+75 minutes to demolish bridges; but these were still in enemy hands and this Section prepared the defences of Brigade HQ; later they were employed in mine–clearing and building strongpoints. They also improvised bridges and fords (‘wet bridges’ lying below the surfaces of rivers), before returning to the UK on 9th September 1944. The Section with 4 SS Bde. The Section which joined 4 SS Bde arrived in France at the end of June 1944 and served in mine clearing, demolition and other work of assault engineers. In November 1943 a third Section served in the Far East. This Section had joined 3 Commando Brigade in November 1943 and was increased to a Troop in the late summer of 1944. It built the ‘roads’ at Myebon (from 12th January 1945) and at Kangaw (from 19th January), under appalling conditions on both occasions.
Landing Craft Obstruction Clearance Units:
In the Normandy landings on 6th June 1944, Nos 7 and 8 were with Force S, Nos 9 and 10 with Force G, and 11 and 12 with Force J. They were all intended to clear paths through beach obstacles, but owing to the conditions of the tide and dangers from incoming craft the men were unable to use their shallow water diving gear, but nevertheless cleared obstacles.
After World War II: Royal Marine assault engineers served with various Commandos from time to time and continue to do so, but see also history summary of 59th Independent Cdo Sqn RE.(RMHS)

1943.  Saturday 30th October. A first-hand account from Jack Eaves, RM CH\X 111853. Bowman LCA 994.

535 and 536 Flotillas joined HMS Glenearn, in the Murray Firth, (N.W. coast of Scotland) at Cromarty. When the Flotilla’s left Dartmouth College, they were sent to West Cliff near Southend, from there they went to Fort William on the West coast of Scotland. We stayed there a little while. There was a castle that we practiced abseiling down the buttress, forward! Flying Fox etc. This was the western end of the Caledonia Canal, our LCA’s were delivered there and we took them thru’ the canal to Inverness, and were billeted in the Cameron Barracks, from there we had exercises on the Firth for a while. Our officers were, Lieutenant Richards and 2nd Lieutenant Jefferies. Then 535 and 536 Flotillas joined HMS Glenearn on the 30th October 1943, on the Murray Firth.  Not as stated in London during December 1943. 536 Flotilla later transferred to the Empire Cutlass, and 543 Flotilla came on board. My service records confirm this Lieutenant Webber joined the Flotilla about December 1943, and 2nd Lieutenant Jefferies left. Therefore, Lieutenant Jefferies was not with us during the ‘D’ Day Landings.

The number of the Flotilla was determined largely by the number of davits available. On the Empire ships there were 18 davits. On HMS Glenearn there were 24 davits so there were two flotillas of 12. Although everything changed with 543 flotilla as it had 12 LCA’S, and 3 LCM’S which were carried on deck. on the HMS Manawa they could accommodate a flotilla of 20 lCA’s. Although there were photos of the Empire ships with a LCVP on deck. To tell them apart HMS Cutlass had a huge 'CS' painted on the side, HMS Battleaxe had a huge 'BX', HMS Broadsword had a huge 'BD' on the side. The little cross channel ships only carried 6 LCA’s. Therefore it varied immensly. The Ships had names and the flottila's had numbers.

1943. November. 1st SS/Commando Brigade's General history:
Formed in November 1943, CO Army Brig the Lord Lovat, DSO, MC, with 3, 4, 6 Army and 45 RM Commandos, its ordinal ‘1st’ signifying its association with officers and men from the Brigade of Guards who served in the 1st Cdo Brigade. Landed in Normandy and after 83 days was withdrawn to the UK from France. Although intended to move to the Far East, it returned to Europe in January 1945 with 3 (Army), 6 (Army), 45 RM and 46 RM Commandos under command. The Brigade was in action in penetrating the Siegfried line, crossing the rivers Rhine, Weser, Aller and Elbe. Early in May 1945 the Brigade was on the Baltic coast and later returned to the UK to be disbanded early in 1946.(RMHS)

1943. 40 & 41 Commandos land in Sicily during Operation Husky.

1943. The HQ Wing was originally formed during March 1941. However, by December 1943 the units and sub–units under command included four Street major units Ordnance Depot, Group Supply Unit, Medical Services and Boat Unit  and a number of specialist smaller units. while in the UK the Wing was deployed in training exercises before embarking for Egypt. The Wing’s Units were deployed to various locations before going to Sicily and Italy in support of naval parties as well as MNBDO forces.
The Landing and Maintenance Unit was formed in January 1941, and with effect from 1st October 1942, ‘X’ company of the 19th RM Battalion became No. 3 Company of this L & M Unit. By December 1943 it had four companies  Landing, Ship Unloading, Pioneer/Defence and Engineer which while in the UK trained both in port operating and in amphibious landings. On arriving in Egypt in the summer of 1943, the Companies were on occasions employed in the roles for which they had trained, but not until they landed at Augusta, Sicily, were they able to make full use of their special training, as they did later in Italy. (RMHS)

1943. Carrier Borne Air (later Ground) Liaison Sections. These were formed in 1943 to carry out similar duties to those which Forward Observation Officers carried out in directing naval guns, but CBALs (Seabals) directed aircraft on to ground targets or work in intelligence teams. The RMs in these units were trained at Yeovilton RNAS by 1946. There were CBALs numbered in the 60s by this date, when 20 of them returned to the UK from the British Pacific Fleet. CBAL 51 was formed on 22nd September 1944 but by 1947 CBAL 70 was an HQ at Yeovilton. The army had sponsored these Sections in 1943 and many included army officers, but by 1961 the Corps was unable to provide officers for training in this role, and the units continued as purely army Sections.(RMHS)

1943. 41 Commando land at Salerno in Italy during Operation Avalanche. The Royal Marine Battalions are formed into 40 & 43 Commandos in action in Italy, Albania and Yugoslavia.

1943. Royal Marines Provost. Coming from the RM commandeered 'Sunshine Holiday Camp' on Hayling Island. Pat Goulding commenced his Provost service at RMTG (Devon) Headquarters, The Grange, and Lympstone in August 1943, officially designated as RMTG Dalditch. When at the end of that year RMTG, RN Division, and MNBDO Provost Companies merged, HQ was set up in Exmouth at the Imperial Hotel, and another hotel as well as Lady Byron's House up on the Beacon, provided accommodation.
"The Provost Marshall during my stay at the Grange was a Major Corps RM, and the next senior member was Sergeant Jacks (a Scot), then two corporals (Brett and Bradley), and the remainder of us were L/corporals. Our motorcycles were BSA 500cc side-valve models plus one or two Royal Enfield's of similar capacity; a 15 cwt truck was used on our patrols which mainly took place at night in Exmouth and Budleigh Salterton (occasionally Exeter and Sidmouth) whilst daytime duties consisted of motor-cycle patrols or security duties in the Grange entrance hail. We were quartered in Nissan huts in the grounds where there was an orchard. I don't suppose more than a hundred personnel were employed here, made up of officers, clerks, storemen, drivers, sentries (medically downgraded men) and about 30 Provost.
I left the Grange early in 1944 to join a section in Merioneth, a few miles north of Towyn in Wales, where we were quartered in a requisitioned farm house on the side of a mountain overlooking a huge Royal Artillery training camp at Tonfanau. A sub section (relieved at intervals) was set up further north at Barmouth, and the SNCO of the unit was CSM Mogford who had been a recalled time, served Royal Marine and former Metropolitan Policeman.
Strange to relate I received no formal police training, with the exception of a motor-cycle riding course provided by the M/T section of Dalditch camp, where we attended daily for about three hours; although I vaguely recall that some of my colleagues did receive some form of training elsewhere.
We were army orientated, issued with Corps of Military Police patrol mackintoshes, and a. heavy motor-cycle mackintosh plus army greatcoat, then when I served with the Portsmouth Provost section I was issued with No 2 Blue uniform. Later, when serving with the London section, those of us who had army issue greatcoats were taken by train to Chatham and exchanged these for RM greatcoats"
Derrick Gibson-Ford (P0X3946) started his service at Eastney as a boy bugler aged 15 years on 15 May 1939, going on active duty onboard HMS IRON DUKE the following February as Captain's Bugler, returning to. Eastney in November 1941 as a recruit, having turned over to the General Duties ranks, because of the number of buglers. In Squad HO 138, of which he was the only 'regular' (CS), he was awarded the Naval Gunnery Medal and completed QR3 Course on passing out. Drafted to HMS BELFAST November 1942 until October 1944, he saw action with Russian Convoys, SCHARNHORST conflict, and 'D' Day operation covering Juno Beach as Flagship of the 10th Cruiser Squadron.
"Whilst on the Russian convoys, the Royal Marines and Sailors whose action stations or duties were on the upper deck (in below zero temp­eratures) were issued with fur coats. These were worn skin outwards and fur inwards and were quite expensive, so 'Jack Dusty' used to watch like a hawk that none 'walked' off the ship. I remember mine had long black fur."
When the ship went into dockyard hands in Newcastle that October for repairs and alterations for the Far East he returned again to Eastney, going thence onto the Pre-Commando School, Helmsley Camp (Helmsley House site on the northern outskirts of. Havant) and whilst there, he saw a call for volunteers in Divisional Orders for the Royal Marine Beach Provost; he applied and was accepted. (Minimum height was 5' 10") Living in a hutment camp in the grounds of Helmsley House (which was offices and the Officers Mess) he recalls the assault course just over the railway bridge on the road into Havant in fields and a small wood to the right (the country road and old bridge have' since been enlarged and housing estates appeared). "It started with a water jump, a single rope bridge (one for feet and one for hands) plus various other delights that ended with the 'death slide'....climbing up a tall tree and coming down a rope using a toggle held at each end with our hands."
"Field training was done in two places, using live ammunition. At Stoughton on the Downs (north. of Emsworth) in such manoeuvres as advancing on your feet (no taking cover), one assault group through the other, with the group in front giving covering fire as the rear group came through....all done at a fast pace intended for use in raids or rapid advances.
The second place was in the chalk pit above Cosham where a mock landing craft (made out of steel sheets) at the cliff top launched you down into the pit bottom where Bren guns were set up on fixed lines using live ammunition, and you crawled under the fixed lines, fired from the Bren guns to the centre of the chalk pit bottom where stood a large wooden hut with doors at each end. In one door and out of the other with just 7 seconds before thunder-flashes went off in the hut. From then on targets kept popping up as one advanced to the far end of the pit (each had to be fired at) then came the climb up the side of the pit to the top. This was done as a fighting unit not individually, and it was meant to be realistic. After a short rest you made a fighting return (retreat) back to the landing craft.
Of course accidents happened, but in wartime accidents were expected and allowed for, but we were trained soldiers, not recruits, so accidents were few. Not for us the luxury of a 3 ton lorry transport to Stoughton, or the pits, we did it Commando .style...half mile run and half mile walk! Our rig was fighting order, with the bayonet scabbard over the left shoulder, not on the -belt."
It was in November 1944 that he transferred to the Royal Marines Beach Provost; this was a special service unit of volunteers living in houses or hotels, drawing kit and pay from the nearest source (Home Base Ledger) by producing pay-books. They were formed for active service with the commandos and other landings, but later sections were set up at Portsmouth, Chatham and London, with Plymouth being served from the Exmouth base where all training was carried out. The London section were the only ones living in army barracks (Chelsea) with other allied military police, and messed with the Guards Regiment. They, and those in naval towns were the only ones who wore blue uniforms for foot patrols.
In wet weather the revolver would be worn under the khaki army motor­cycle (belted) mackintosh, and in dry cold weather the holster belt and strap was worn over the leather jerkin issued at Exmouth. Peculiar to Portsmouth was an alternate non-standard sheepskin jerkin-(a gift from the people of South Africa). This being sleeveless, the battledress blouse showed rank markings and MP Band when the jerkin was worn. The section frequently provided outriders for the C-in-C, one at each corner of the car.
Dress for foot patrols was No 2 Blues, blue Dockyard Police peaked cap with red cloth cover, HP arm band (red on blue); dockyard police leather belt, holster and strap (for .45 revolver) with our own .38 Smith and Wesson; sea service boots, and a greatcoat when cold. Coats were avoided if possible because they got in the way should some trouble have to be sorted out, and revolvers were seldom resorted to as the issue 12 inch torch proved a suitable baton! (Being smaller than the .45 revolver, the .38 Smith and Wesson gun was a loose fit in the holster)
LONDON SECTION - Dress for foot patrols was the same as Portsmouth, except that they used their white webbing belt, holster and strap.
EXMOUTH HQ - Here the khaki battledress was worn with the red cap cover over the khaki peaked cap, white webbing gear and shore service boots, and obligatory MP arm band. Top coats were the Greatcoat and Army (unbelted) khaki Military Police mackintosh. This 'khaki turn-out' was of course standard issue, and we had it at all times; the 'Blues' being additional for the capital and naval towns.
“I arrived at Exmouth in November 1944 at the Imperial Hotel and was interviewed by Major Little (Provost Marshal) and put on a course; it was a case of passing this and becoming a Lance Corporal RM Provost or fail and be posted to Dalditch for the RM Battalion which was forming for service in France.
The course at Exmouth incorporated military and civil law, traffic control, unarmed combat, foot patrols and brothel controls. (This caused great amusement, and we said that we now had a job we could do after our release!)
On completion we moved to Poole learning to load and unload tanks etc. from landing craft, find and mark vehicle parks and then get tanks and guns into them.  (This did not happen previously on ‘D’ Day; as tanks went straight into action).  We were taught to ride motor-cycles, not only on roads but rough riding under fire at high speed, in all conditions. Then back to Exmouth for the examination on completion of which (pass or fail) one was immed­iately posted. I went to Portsmouth until that unit (housed at 7 Brading Avenue, Southsea, near Eastney Barracks) closed down, and so moved up to the London detachment where after only about a year in the Provost I requested (for personal reasons) to return to General Duties and at the end of 1945 took a posting to HMS ST VINCENT at Gosport."
Although the UK units were now disband­ing, the Royal Marine Provost however went on to form No 35 Company Provost under Major Little for service in the Far East, where they had the honour to accept the surrender of a large Japanese naval ship, and the relief of Singapore Changi Jail.
A normal Provost unit comprised of a Captain RM (Provost Marshal), 1 Serg­eant, 2 Corporals, 12 L/Corporals (6 pairs), and I L/Cpl truck driver. Of course London and No 35 were much larger.
FOOTNOTE:- RM Provost Sections were attached to all main units during WW2, and were much in evidence at the Dieppe and Normandy landings, working in conjunction with their army counterparts, controlling traffic, and patrolling against looting and other disorders, right through to the occupation of Germany.
The last of these RM Police were disbanded in June 1946; but then in the Autumn of 1962 the branch was resurrected at Eastney when C/Sgt J. McDermott, from JSAW, took charge of 15 other Royal Marines for a seven weeks course at the Royal Military Police Depot at Inkerman Barracks, Woking, and the first successful candidates were posted out to Singapore as RM Police Troop of 3 Commando Brigade, and RMP units have been in existence ever since. (by Pat Goulding and Derrick Gibson-Ford)

1944. January. 43 Commando lands at Anzio. While in the UK 48 Commando was formed.

1944. January. Report from Arthur Gray, of the RMA Eastboure Branch.
45 Royal Marines Commando with 3, 4 and 6 Army Commandos formed No. 1 Special Service Brigade. I was a support section sergeant in A Troop; there were 5 troops, A, B, CO D, E with 65 marines in each, in addition F troop were responsible for the 3 inch mortars and Vickers Machine guns, and also there was a small HQ troop.
The end of January 1944 saw 45 arriving in Eastbourne after two months concentrated training in North West Scotland. Although talk of invasion was in the air and that we would be involved, nothing to date gave an inkling of the role which we would take.
Intensive training commenced with beach landings around Eastbourne, Newhaven, Seaford and Pevensey Bay. These landings were carried out from Landing Craft Infantry (small) approx. 45 feet in length with 2 small mess decks and capable of carrying 70 troops, upon beaching, two ramps were pushed over the bows. These landings were followed up by attacks on mock batteries and strong points in and around the villages of Wartling, Westham and Herstmonceux.
In late May 1944 came the move to Southampton, the entire Brigade were under canvas in a heavily protected area with wired enclosures and no contact with the outside world. There followed 10 days of intensive briefing with models, photographs and maps all bearing code names such as "Picadilly", "Freeman, Hardy & Willis". By now with our recent training and briefing I had some idea of our destination. There were final adjustments to our individual loads of 60 lbs to 70 lbs to each marine, weapons were thoroughly checked. Then after 24 hours delay the Commando embussed to the harbour of Warsash on 5th June. What a sight!
Full of various Landing Craft and other Naval vessels, anti­aircraft guns around the harbour walls and surrounding country, scores of small barrage balloons controlled by RAF personnel with a cable attached to a harness around their bodies, fighter aircraft on patrol were overhead. We. boarded our Landing Craft at 1730 renewing acquaintances with the seamen. The craft moved out of the harbour.
I was called to a Troop Commander's briefing and then I knew, France it was to be. Maps were issued, gone were the code names, also issued to each marine were phrase books in French and German and a personal message from the Supreme Commander about our forth­coming campaign to liberate Europe. 45 Commando would land on "Queen Red Beach" in the Sword Section 2 miles west of Ouistreham, rendezvous on high ground 800 yards inland and then fight our way to the River Orne and Caen Canal bridges and link up with the 6th Airborne who were landing by glider and parachute earlier. Then take and hold ground around Le Plein and Amfreville, the second objective being Franceville-Plage.
Daylight by now was failing and Force S (our sailing code) sailed to thunderous cheering from packed troop transports anchored in the Solent and mouth of the river. Final briefing took place, a brew of tea and special hot rations were passed around. Despite attempts at humour and leg pulling all were very tense, the point of no return was here, all were pondering the future. My own thoughts were - would I land reasonably dry, the landings would be at fairly low water, how strong would the defences be after the terrific pounding yet to come? I slept until 0400, then the brew of tea and a final check, daylight was approaching, we sailed past all sorts of warships. Apart from the drone of aircraft little else was happening, there was a fair sea running and the small craft were rolling but appeared to be keeping station.
0700, suddenly we were amongst it Guns were firing, low flying aircraft skimmed overhead Force S sailed on no sign yet of the Normandy coast     Now we could see amongst the haze and smoke the coast line. The landing craft prepared to run in. B troop's landing craft was hit but sailed on. All crouched on the upper deck and had to grin and bear it as German artillery and machine guns fired at us.
Now we were there - "down ramps" came the command, gallant seamen pushed these on to the sandy beach. I ran down, then in front of me the blast from a shell landing in the sea nearly blew a marine into 3 feet of water, I and others pulled him ashore. We quickly cleared the beach and made for the rendezvous. Now the move to the bridges, E troop followed by A troop led as we advanced under heavy mortar fire and the signal was received that the bridges were captured intact but were still under heavy fire. The CO Lt Col C Ries was hit and severely wounded. However, the linkup was achieved, Green and Red berets mingled, were the Paras glad to see us!
Then came a change of plan. 45 were to be detached as it was not clear whether the battery at Merville was in our hands. As we entered nearby Sallancelles fire from an enemy strong point pinned down a section of E troop with part of the Reconnaissance Section. Under heavy mortar fire from F troop landing on the strong point many were able to rejoin the Commando. With A troop leading, the Merville battery was reached, preparations for the assault were made. I learnt that the battery had been silenced earlier but the enemy had returned in strength to the nearby village. After sharp fighting the village was taken.
Thankfully my section was still intact. I moved into a nearby ditch on the outskirts of the village for a briefing narrowly missing a hail of mortar bombs which landed in the narrow road. I was ordered to take my bren and mortar groups around the east side of the village to cover the remainder of A and B troops now in the village and who were coming under fire from a wood to the south, accurate bren gun and mortar fire silenced the enemy.
The Commando dug in, in and around the village, tea was brewed. A group of German prisoners were in our hands and several of our own wounded were also a problem. As darkness fell machine gun fire persisted from the south. I thought what was the overall
position, had all the landings been successful? Our own position was very precarious on the extreme left of the allied beachhead and nearly two miles from our nearest commando friends, could we hold out? As I crouched in my slit trench I contemplated on the previous 24 hours. Sailing from Warsash, across the Channel, the landing and bitter fighting, to Merville. In retrospect an eventful day.

1944. February. The 5 RM Anti-Aircraft Brigade. When the anti–aircraft regiments of MNBDO I and II returned to Scotland in February 1944, they were to be disbanded, but a general of the army’s Air Defence Staff asked that some units be retained and from these AA Bde HQ and Ops Room MNBDO II, 1st RM HAA Rgt (ex–MNBDO I), 3rd RM HAA Rgt (ex–MNBDO II), 4th RM LAA RGT (ex–MNBDO II) and a Signals Section (ex–MNBDO I) g 5 RM AA Brigade was formed on 22nd March 1944 at Hamilton (Lanarkshire), under the command of Brig J. E. Leech–Porter, OBE. His Brigade came under army command of GHQ AA Troops three days later. It was then mobilised to Army War Establishments. During May and early June the Brigade spent six weeks at the army’s AA practice camp at Clacton on Sea, Essex. Gunnery practice and mobilisation (with all this entailed in drawing stores) were carried on at the same time, some army HAA Regiments joining the brigade in May.
During July and August the Brigade’s regiments were deployed against ‘flying bombs’ on the south coast of England, destroying 122 of these V1s. The Brigade landed in France early in September , and took over the anti-aircraft gunnery defences of the Scheld estuary that winter, and in addition to RM formations had under command 111 HAA, 114 LAA and 133 LAA Regiments RA; 105 AA Brigade (12 army regiments); 6/2 and 415/54 Searchlight Batteries RA; and 202 Fixed Coastal Defences RA.
Makeshift accommodation was improvised with shacks and ‘huts’ along dykes. Communications were also difficult with more than 2,000 miles of telephone line laid by the Brigade’s signallers in a duplicate system; this connected all sites guns, searchlights, smoke–generating machines, and operations rooms the duplications proving invaluable after later air raids. All major units were also in wireless (radio) contact, the strength of Brigade signals units being raised from 80 to 200 personnel.
The heavy gun batteries fired on occasions in support of ground troops during the first few weeks of October, but their principal role was to defend against air attack a 7,000yds circle covering Antwerp and the area to its west. When V1s began coming over on 27th October, two zones or ‘belts of AA fire’ were organised around Antwerp and Brussels with a corridor between; there were American AA units (with SCR 58420 radar linked predictors and proximity fuses) in the east and south east zones, and as the flight path of V1s brought them near to the Brussels defence zone, that could therefore contribute to Antwerp’s defence. The Brigade’s Operations Room at Antwerp recorded 483 V1 and 313 V2 (rocket) incidents in the month to 12th December 1944. Units of the Brigade also formed rescue squads with equipment to help civilians buried in wrecked buildings after V1 and V2 explosions.
The German air activity increased in preparation for their Ardennes offensive. The last air attack on Antwerp, on New Year’s Day 1945, was initially at low level (500ft), when the Brigade shot down four planes; around this time the V1 and V2 attacks intensified. The Brigade was relieved on 5th March 1945, and moved to Ostend.
The Brigadier took over as AADC for Ostend and Calais on 11th March. The last plot in the Brigade Operations
Room was for a friendly aircraft on 6 May, and the Brigade returned to the UK some three weeks later on 28th May.22 Brig S. G. B. Paine commanded the Brigade in the autumn of 1945.
The Brigade was stationed at South Brent (Devon) in December 1945 when they were disbanded, the HQ having been disbanded at Topsham, Devon, the month before. The continuous service personnel returned to their Divisions and the ‘HOs’ were absorbed into the 27th and 28th RM Battalions. (RMHS)

1944. Thursday 2nd March. 48 Royal Marine Commando formed at Deal from the 7th Royal Marine Battalion. (RMHS)

1944. Thursday 2nd – Monday 13th March. The 48 RM Commando was formed at Deal from 7th Bn and disbanded at Beeding, near Horsham, on 31st January 1946.
Principal operations 1944 - 45:
Trained at Achnacarry 13th March to 3 April 1944; 6 June landed in Normandy and captured the strongpoint at Langrune sur Mer where the Commando remained on security duties after suffering 50 per cent casualties; 9th June reinforcements arrived, bringing strength to 250, before advance to Douvres for patrolling; 11th June in Orne line and next day advanced 1,000yds to Sallenelles where the Commando in a defence line for 60 days, although the number of patrols was limited so as not to interfere with other Commandos’ patrols, since there were four Commandos on a 2,000yds front. On 20th August moved from Troarn, by passing Dozule to advance in daylight to reach Clermont en Auge, attacked German field batteries etc before midday, and later secured high ground overlooking Dozule;
25th August outflanked enemy positions near Beuzeville which were mortaring 46 RM Cdo, and next night infiltrated behind this town to St Maclou with 41 RM Cdo; advanced across Seine to Valmont against no opposition; 5th-13th September in Valmont for rest; policed Le Havre for next two days; 18th - 27th September held front of 10,000yds investing Dunkirk and patrolling. October trained for Walcheren operation; on 1st November landed on Walcheren, clearing south of the ‘gap’ and successfully assaulted W13 battery about 1600 hours; D+1 (2nd November) captured strongpoint W287 at first light (0630 hours), ‘A’ Troop entering Zouteland at 1100 hours before 47 RM Cdo passed through; clearing dunes while other units gave support fire from north of the ‘gap’; the Commando moved north to support 41 RM Cdo on D+4 (5th November) before being withdrawn on 12th November. After rest at Haan, moved to Goes (South Beveland) training reinforcements; three Troops, ‘X’, ‘Y’, and ‘Z’ under command of 47 RM Cdo as only infantry in Oosterhout area at the end of December. During March 1945 the Commando mounted five raids against Schowen and Overflakkee, the Commando suffering casualties on mines. On 25th March in defensive positions on the River Maas at s’Hertogenbosch, a road and rail centre 6,000yds from German positions; enemy artillery and patrols were active; in April on a quieter front of 35,000yds, as reserve to Belgians and Dutch near Kapelsches Veer; raided in dories into the Biesbosch, among marshes and waterlogged islands; 23rd April last operation by this Commando to rescue a patrol in the Biesbosch without casualties before ceasing fire, except for defence. From 1st May to 31st August based at Minden (Germany) as defence force for the HQ of Allied Naval Commander Expeditionary Force (ANCXF); September to 21st October at Waltrop and nearby controlling displaced persons (DPs). October to  November 1945 the Commando  on occupational  duties at Kreis Buren looking after two camps of DPs, with patrols based on five burgomasters’ offices; these patrols stopped ‘black market’ rackets, rapes and armed robberies; Marine officers organised camp improvements before returning to UK on 29th November and disbanded January 1946.
Miscellaneous: Memorable date: 6th June, the landing in Normandy (in 1944).(RMHS)

1944. March. The 1st RM Survey Company: with HQ of AA Command Ceylon and formerly and L & M Unit. In March 1944 absorbed by 5 RM AA Bde HQ and disbanded in December 1945 or soon afterwards. (RMHS)

1944. Tuesday 14th March. The RM Armoured Support Craft Group was formed on 14th March 1944, this Group would command the two RM Armoured Support Regiments and an RM Independent Battery of Centaur tanks. It was commanded by Brig D. C. W. Sanders, OBE, AFC, who had been CRA of the RM Division. He was killed when this HQ was in Normandy in June 1944 and succeeded by the second in  command Col A. J. Harvey, OBE. The small tactical headquarters was staffed by RM officers who developed: first, the techniques for firing engineless tanks on Bailey bridging in LCT(Adapted); and later, the methods of firing and control for these Centaurs with their engines replaced.
The headquarters returned to the UK in late June 1944 after several weeks in action, and on being disbanded that autumn  the personnel were transferred to the 29th RM Bn, later forming the 34th Amphibian Support Regiment. (RMHS)

1944. Saturday 22nd April. 418 Kings Squad passed for duty by General Armstrong Plymouth Division. Squad Photo.

1944. April - May. RM Detachment 385:15 was formed at Havant, Hampshire, from volunteers, many of whom had served with MNBDO I and MNBDO II. Seven officers flew to Ceylon (modern Sri Lanka) for instruction from Lt. Col H. G. Hasler and were later to train the main body (112 all ranks) after their arrival in Ceylon on 7th July 1944. Between August 1944 and February 1945 the Detachment completed training. Operations were mounted for reconnaissance, deception and to land clandestine forces in Burma, Malaya, Thailand, and the Nicobar Islands between late February and mid-August 1945, in all 16 operations, some of which comprised more than one raiding party. After World War II some personnel were absorbed into the SBS when this Detachment was disbanded.(RMHS)

1944. Spring. 1st and 2nd RM Armoured Support Regiments were formed in the spring of 1944, each with two Batteries, these Regiments were landed from LCT(Armoured), being LCT(Adapted) that had been modified. The HQs, each of some 40 all ranks, were mainly administrative, and only the tactical portion of two officers and two other ranks landed with the Batteries on 6th June 1944 in Normandy. The Regiments’ personnel included RA officers and RA gunner–drivers, with RAC fitters and mechanics, but the majority were RM gunners, including those who had trained for LCG(L)s. Many of the HQ staff transferred ultimately to the 34th Amphibian Support Regiment, after the armoured Support Regiments were disbanded in the autumn of 1944. (RMHS)

1944. Spring. 1st and 2nd RM Armoured Support Regiments were formed in the spring of 1944, each with two Batteries, these Regiments were landed from LCT(Armoured), being LCT(Adapted) that had been modified. The HQs, each of some 40 all ranks, were mainly administrative, and only the tactical portion of two officers and two other ranks landed with the Batteries on 6th June 1944 in Normandy. The Regiments’ personnel included RA officers and RA gunner–drivers, with RAC fitters and mechanics, but the majority were RM gunners, including those who had trained for LCG(L)s. Many of the HQ staff transferred ultimately to the 34th Amphibian Support Regiment, after the armoured Support Regiments were disbanded in the autumn of 1944. (RMHS)

1944. Monday 5th June. Operation Neptune a Miniscule Part of the Cross Channel Assault of Operation Overlord. H.M.S. Glenearn LSA (L). By Jack Eaves RM CH\111853, Bowman of LCA 994.

Part One. All of the ships and landing craft were blacked out, so in total darkness HMS Glenearn carrying two Royal Marine flotillas of landing craft, 535 & 543 flotillas, 27 craft in all, 24 LCAs and 3 LCMs.535 had 12 LCAs; 543 had 12 LCAs & 3 LCMs, leads Convoy S7 from the Spithead, `Glenearn ` followed by the Empire Ships, Emp. Cutlass, Emp. Battleaxe, & Emp. Broadsword, Princess Astrid, Maid of Orleans, and Headquarters' ship HMS Largs, the ships had a small dark blue light that was lighter in the centre on the stern for the smaller craft to follow and keep station on for the next 90 miles or so, there was host of various but equally important smaller craft that preformed a great job keeping station in the adverse weather conditions and the darkness, some were towing the LCPL `s that would later be used to land the troops from HMS Largs at Ouistreham, all were escorted by 4 of HM Destroyers, there were also messages broadcast from Rear Admiral Talbot, and General Eisenhower.
Later, on deck in the darkness, overhead we could hear the continuous drone as wave after wave of planes carrying the airborne troops, others towing Gliders to make the first strike after midnight, then I went below and slung my hammock to snatch a few hours' sleep, others were playing cards on the mess tables to while away the time.
`Glenearn `reached the lowing position at 05.33 Double British Summer Time 6.6.1944. Minus 2hrs for standard time.
"Wakey Wakey" had been at 04 25, when the troops and the ships company were awakened, and breakfast was served, about 05.15 a prayer services were held on deck, one for RC and a separate one for the C of E, the murmur of prayers could be heard across the deck, it was just beginning to get light, but overcast, with a dampness in the air that was chilly.
At 05.25 Boat Lowerers and crews were closed up, from the top of the starboard forward Luffing Davit it was light enough to see the two halves of the Norwegian Destroyer `Svenner `about 300yds astern, which had taken a torpedo amidships, with both Bow and Stern high in the air forming a large stark black "V" was folding up and sinking.
535 Flotilla had been briefed to make a landing on Sword Beach at a place called
Bas Lion?? Between Ouistreham and Lion sur Mer, on the Queen White section of the beach, with units of the 3" British Div. South Lancs. And East Yorks. Regiments, with Colonel Hutchinson I/C. (when Captain Hutchison introduced him to us he said that he was a `chin' one of the Far East branch of the (his) family).
At 0545 the Tannoy ordered `AWAY BOATS' and the first flight of eight loaded LCAs were lowered down, in the half-light it could be seen by the way that the bow reared up then plunged into the following trough that a reasonable swell was running, this motion was negated somewhat as the craft got under way and surged ahead, this left 4 LCAs on the Luffing Davits (a Luffing Davit held 3craft, lowered one at a time ) LCA No 994 was the second craft on the forward starboard Luffing Davit, as 994 hit the water, the wave lifted the bow slackening off the falls so enabling the Bowman (me) to unhook the forward hook, as the wave passed under the craft and lifted the stern Joe Cooper aft unhooked the stern hook, we then held on to the hooks as they were being hoisted out of harm's way, if left uncontrolled they would swing around and cause damage to the occupants within the craft, we had always synchronized unhooking in sequence since we started training in late Oct. 1943, to miss unhooking in sequence could cause problems in rough weather, next was to unshackle the chains of the forward hoisting eye, and lay it into a recess in the deck, a cover was then put on it and it became part of the central seat, approx.( 8"x 8") for the troops to sit on, there was a similar seat each side under cover of a steel overhead deck covered with coconut matting that we used as a walkway to go fore and aft.'
The first flight of 8 craft had been standing off while the others were being lowered, the spare 535 Flot. Crews went over to HMS Largs, on another assignment, and the two other 535 Flot. Craft were to join up with 543 Flot. to take in a Landing Craft Obstruction Clearance Unit, LCA 994 and another then joined up with the main body of eight that had been lying off, then in two lines ahead headed for the beach about 6 miles away, the troops were allowed to stand up, someone then produced a mouth organ, many of the troops sang along, on 994 morale was very good, the Officer in charge of 994 was Lt. Webber RM. The Cox'n was L\cprl Jack Danks, the stoker was always referred to and called Stokes, so I can't remember his name, Joe Cooper was a signalman, every craft that had an officer on board carried a signalman.
As the Flotilla headed in, to port running in with us was another Flotilla, but these craft were painted in "Pacific " colours, light and mid blue, they seemed quite bright and conspicuous, as it was a dull grey morning, they may have come from the "Princess Astrid " or the " Maid of Orleans" whilst our craft were white and grey Atlantic colours, Lt Webber thought that they were a Canadian Flotilla, the sea was moderate, "rough" was what we had experienced during training off the NE coast of Scotland during winter of 1943-1944, this was quite comfortable, with a short choppy following sea we were partially surfing along, comfortable for a small LCA, probably a very lumpy ride for the larger landing craft, 40yds to starboard there was an LCT (R ), about a I000yds or so from the shore the LCT (R) fired off salvo after salvo of rockets, the noise was deafening, the flames from the rockets were awesome, we could follow the flight of them to the beach, all along the front we could see more rockets as the salvos were fired off from other LCT(R)s with devastating effect on the beach defences we hoped!! Things were now getting serious, so the mouth organist stopped playing.
About 500yds from shore, there was a lone Naval Officer "standing on the top of the water, holding on to a pole” or so it seemed to us, actually he was standing on the deck of a submerged Midget Submarine holding on to the periscope and pointing out which way we had to go!! which was slightly to port, it was an incredible sight to see him standing there surrounded by the sea, just rolling with the waves, (the subs had been on station for a few of days, watching the beach to monitor for any unusual activity, which would have meant that word had got out that the landings were coming,) the troops were sat down, Lt Webber and the O\C troops looked at their watches, said that we were early, but go for it, no sense in hanging about now, the Flotilla deployed to inline abreast, veered slightly to port, in the direction that the Submarine Officer had indicated, we gave the Submarine Officer a wave and a cheer, and at full speed headed for the beach.
100 yards or so from the beach, the troops were changed from sitting to a get ready crouch position, the starboard rope holding the ramp was released, and the port rope was slackened ready, just being held in my hand, I was standing in a "niche" on the port side, so as not to impede the troops on their way out, we (the crew) had the "luxury" of standing up and looking around and evaluate what was going on, while the troops crouched in the bottom of the of the landing craft could see nothing, only hear the gunfire, one can only imagine what thoughts would be going through their heads, the next thing they would see would be a very hostile beach,... right ahead, slightly to the right, beyond the beach obstructions at the back of the beach was the tall house that had been shown to us at our briefing, so 994 was right on target.
When 994 hit the beach at full speed, the ramp slammed down, we were running in with an LCT about 25ft to starboard, above us a matelot with his oerlikon depressed was firing at the house up the beach, the gun platform was outboard, so he seemed to be just above our heads, on the starboard side another crew member was probably firing the other oeriikon as tracers seemed to be flying everywhere, some just floating about aimlessly, 994 made the classical copy book LCA "dry " landing, when the ramp slammed down the Officer I\C troops burst open the armoured doors and dashed out, closely followed by his troops, they were faced with about 60 - 80 yds of beach with obstructions.
As 994 was going astern, coming thru' the water between 994 and the LCT, was a man, his body visible only from the waist up, and surrounded by a brown canvas dodger, as he closed with the beach he seemed to rise out of the water, and under him was a Tank!! It was a swimming Tank, how he came thru' without being swamped or run down by a Landing craft I'll never know, after all there wasn't much of him showing above the waves, he stopped at the beach edge, lowered the dodger, and then he just trundled away off up the beach.
Danksie then put the starboard engine full ahead and the port one full astern to make a tight turn to port in the restricted space between the LCT and the beach obstructions which consisted of large steel girders sticking out of the water, Mortar Bombs were coming down now, even so 994 came round and up against one of these obstructions, Joe and I managed to bear off from it very gingerly before actual contact was made, the mine on top was angled seawards, then 994 was clear and heading away from the beach, a little way out there was an LCA with both engines stopped just drifting, I\C was Sgt. Dixon (Croix De Guerre), the Cox'n was L\cprl "Taffy" Hughs, the crew were Ted Neale and "Pincher" Martin, Stan Martin was the Stoker, their LCA had landed on a sand bar, so the troops had to wade ashore up to their waists, holding their rifles above their heads, very unlucky, and very vulnerable, but both engines had failed trying to get off the sand bank, 994 took this craft in tow and headed out, later Ted Neale told me that he thought that a mortar bomb had actually dislodged them from the sandbar.(RMAQ Jack Eaves)

 

In the Pacific Ocean she also carried a Helicopter.

1944. Monday 5th June. 'I Remember' by Roy H. Leaney (Onetime Po/x110850 Corporal RM)
D-Day -1. Being in the old docks at Southhampton, at S3 Hard, aboard LC(Flak)32 taking on water and boxes of compo rations and then with the victualling completed that we slipped and moved out into the Solent to tie up alongside an 'Oiler' for fuel and finally on to the ammunition barges, where we took on extra boxes of Oerlikon and Porn-Porn ammunition as deck cargo.
That then being in all respects ready for sea, we moved slowly down the Solent, passing Fawley Oil Refinery and steered for the Isle of Wight, there turning to portwe proceded to Portsmouth arriving in the early afternoon. Here we 'lay-to' between the forts and the Mab Tower in company with many other ships and Landing Craft of all types.
That about 173Ohrs, a lone German aircraft flew over the massed fleet of over 8,000 ships and we thought the "gaff" was blown, but the A/A gunners on Southsea Common immediately put up a barrage of fire which ringed him, the next salvo was plumb centre and down he went in flames - Talk about good shooting!
Sailing Orders were received and with all scuttles closed and the only lights, a Blue and a White, visable under the stern of each ship, the flotilla moved out in line astern, keeping station on those small Blue and White convoy lights of the preceding craft.
During the Second Dog Watch, all hands were briefed as to our ship's tasks at the beaches, first at Sword, then Juno and Gold, as the needs be.
Orders being passed down from the bridge for all hands to bathe and change into clean underwear and "Best" battledress before the watches turned in for the night.
D-DAY. Being 'Stood To' at action stations, I, in command of the Starboard Oerlikons and Pom-Poms on the upper deck. That around 0430hrs, we arrived off the French coast and took up our respective station ready to take in the first wave of troops to the area designated as "Sword Beach".
On the sea, hundreds of smoke cannisters dropped from ships drifting towards the shore belching their concealing clouds.
It was some time between 0530 and O600hrs that we slowly started to approach the shore and that as we came out of the smokescreen, it was 'full steam ahead' and I could clearly see the beach and the "White House" that was the landing marker for the first loads of troops in our sector.
The salvos of heavy gunfire, with shells screeching overhead to burst behind the beaches, fired from the battleships Warspite and Ramilles and the monitor Roberts, together with the Cruisers, assorted Destroyers and Landing Craft (Rocket), that made up our Gunfire Support Bombardment Force, and every where I looked, landing craft packed with troops heading for the shore.
As we closed the beach we opened up on the German gun emplacements, to give the first troops covering fire as they dis-embarked and moved along the beachhead.
We took in a second wave before OSOOhrs and that our skipper broadcast the BBC's 8 o/clock News over the 'Tannoy' with it's theme music "Into Battle", which raised a resounding cheer from all on board.
Even today, I can still see the smoke drifting along the sea wall, the dead and wounded awash at the waters edge and scattered over the beaches, the litter of smashed craft, trucks, tanks and scattered equipment that we could see every time we escorted the LC(A)'s and (P)'s into the beach.
Watching LCT's taking in the tanks, some having their doors blown off as they beached, their ramps setting off the mines buried in the sand as they were lowered. Seeing the tanks move forward up the beach, each exploding as if it had been 'picked off' by a Jerry gunner, only to learn that they were blowing of their water-proofing.
A. Rocket-ship firing a salvo, a lone Mustang fighter patrolling over the beachhead that rolled and banked to get clear, but was hit and crashed onto the beach.
That as darkness fell, we were ordered up channel towards the port of Le Harve, where we were to anchor, swinging with the tide to form part of the "Trout Line" protecting the eastern flank from attacks by "E" Boats.
We had to put up with the "Jerry's" 'box barrage' which he put over the top of us nearly every night, making life very uncomfortable on the deck at night.
A piece of shrapnel that hissed between the Skipper and myself to stick in the duck-boards of the bridge (I picked it up and still have it to this day).
D+2. Moving back from the "Trout Line" to the landing beaches, we had a call, "100+ aircraft passing over from the north" what a sight! Then as the sun rose we could see their bombs shinning like tinsel on a Christmas tree, gilttering all the way down until they exploded.
A bomber on his way home with his starboard engine on fire, trying to crash land on the sea, but a ship was in his way and as he banked away his starborad wing tip hit the water and he cart-wheeled in and exploded in a ball of flame.
A nearby MTB racing into the flames in the hope of picking up any survivors (We later learned that the commander of the MTB was Peter Scott).
What was to become our daily routine for the next three months, working the beaches during the day, taking in stores, mail and personnel or the worst job of all, trying to recover the bodies of those killed during the landings that bobbed to the surface and floated in and out with the tide. Mostly they were Americans and seemed so young. I never thought that we were the same age.
That as the days turned to weeks the number of dead coming to the surface decreased but those that did were so badly decomposed as to be un-recoverable, all we could do was try to retrieve their 'dog tags' and then pierce them with a boathook and allow them to return to their watery grave. Then back at night to Le Harve to form the "Trout Line".
On the 19th a terrific storm struck, playing havoc with the fleet, driving some ships and many of the craft, especially the smaller ones aground. We could not hold our position, so headed inshore streaming our kedge anchors astern and ran the craft up onto the beach, where we remained for the next couple of days until the gale eased off.
During our short stay on the beach, Sir Brian Horrocks, came aboard and asked for the marines to go with him as they had suffered casualties, our skipper politely refused,I suppose he didn't want to lose most of his crew and be left stranded on the beach.
When the weather turned fine again we hauled off and returned to the "Beaches By Day-Trout Line By Night" routine.
One evening, just at dusk, as we were swinging on the "Trout Line" I was standing on the bridge with the Officer of the Watch, when I spotted a lone aircraft coming from the direction of the land which I reported to the Duty Officer. The aircraft banked and flew eastward up the coast, then turned out to sea and finally turning back so that he had us between himself and the land.
The O.O.W. Imediately rang "Action Stations" and as the guns crews closed up, those that could bear turned to cover him.
I identified the the aircraft as a Junkers 88 and requested permission to open fire, but the skipper said "Wait until he gets a bit closer." At. 501 yards and coming in with his bomb doors open we could see the lights in his bomb-bay gleaming. "Open Fire" came the order from the bridge, and the poor devils never knew what hit them. The aircraft crashed into the sea about 50 yards off our starboard bow with only part of the fuselage and the rudder sticking out of the water. This was to be the only aircraft confirmed as shot down by '32' during her commission and was duly painted on the front of the bridge.
In early August, we heard that LCF 1, armed with two flinch HA/LA guns in open shields and with bridge waist Oerlikons had been sunk by a "weasel" on August 2"/3rd and that how sad I was to hear this. I had served in her from December 43 to March 44 and had known most of her crew.
That the 'Weasel' was a high speed 8ft-10ft speedboat packed with explosives and fitted with spring-loaded detonators around the outside of its hull.
That in late August/early September we were ordered back to England for repairs and to re-victual and that each watch was to have seven days leave.
My leave was spent harvesting on Lord Brockett's estate at Camberley, Surrey, working alongside my future wife Betty, who was serving with the Woman's Land Army. Thoses seven wonderful, sunny and peaceful days.
Yes! I Remember. (Roy H. Leaney RMAQ)

1944. Tuesday 6th June. The Landings in Normandy, or D-Day as it became known. Over 17,000 Royal Marines took part in the largest amphibious operation in history. Most of the minor landing craft were manned by Royal Marines, as also were the guns of the support craft, and all capital ships carried an RM detachment. Five RM Commandos (41, 45, 46, 47 and 48) landed during the assault phase, grouped with three Army Commandos into two Special Service Brigades. In addition the Corps provided a number of specialist units including an Armoured Support Group, beach clearance and control parties and engineers. The first 48 hours of the operation were the most critical, involving a seaborne assault against a heavily protected and strongly held coastline. Most of the RM Commando were ashore by 0900 hours on 6th June and had achieved their initial objectives by early on 7th June. The Corps thus played a leading role in the establishment of secure beach heads from which subsequent operations to defeat the German Army in the west were developed. Nine officers and 85 men were killed in action on 6th June. The number of wounded is not known. The following gallantry awards were conferred upon Royal Marines during the Normandy campaign, most of them for actions on 6th June: 5 DSOs, 3 OBEs, 13 DSCs, 10 MCs, 1 CGM, 26 DSMs and 13 MMs. (Sea & Land – June 1989)

1944. Tuesday 6th June. Operation Neptune a Miniscule Part of the Cross Channel Assault of Operation Overlord. H.M.S. Glenearn LSA (L). By Jack Eaves RM CH\111853, Bowman of LCA 994.
Part Two. The Flotilla formed up into 2 lines ahead, and was being straddled by shell fire but no craft were hit, we could see the splashes of the of the falling shells, the sun was now shining, and looking back it seemed that all the "Canadian " craft had come to grief and were broached to on the beach, broadside on, being pounded by the surf, they looked so bright in the sunshine, a sad sight indeed, all our craft were present, no craft was flying the prearranged signal that there were wounded on board, that would have given them priority on the davit outside of the Sick Bay, also `Glenearn ' would have made a lee side for them, soon Stan Martin cleared the sand from the engine filters, so they were able to proceed under their own power, none of the `Canadian' craft came off the beach to return to the Landing Ships with 535 flotilla, about an hour into the return journey we passed 543 Flotilla going in, signals were exchanged by the flotilla commanders.
Lt. Webber said that the beach bombardment was to lift at 0720, we were supposed to land at 0725, but we actually landed at 0722, was it that 3mins.that were so crucial as to make it easier for 535 flotilla which landed so soon after the beach bombardment, before the defenders were in position? This also gave our troops a good run up the beach; I feel that we were indeed very fortunate; also did we stir up a hornet's nest for those that followed us?? as 994 approached "Glenearn "the forward hoisting eye was raised into position, and secured with the chains and shackles, the Battleships and Cruisers were still firing at targets beyond the beach, the battleship ' Warspite ` fired a broadside as 535 Flot. came by, and being between her and the shore it was an unforgettable sight, later Lt Webber wrote a poem entitled 'Little Ships' the last line I remember was' On that day June the sixth forty four.' I do not have a copy.
Returning to the Landing Ships which seemed to be strung right across the horizon `Glenearn' seemed to stand out because of her unique silhouette but the Empire ships all looked identical so on the side of Empire Cutlass was painted a huge CS, Empire Battleaxe had BX, and Empire Broadsword had BD, so they could be identified from a great distance.
"Glenearn" had the hooks partially down ready for us, just low enough for us to take the Bow line off the forward hook (which was attached by a 3\8in grommet) and slip the eye over the outboard bow cleat, this held the LCA in position under the hooks, and the two engines were stopped, the hooks were then put thru' the hoisting eyes to be hoisted, as the wave lifted the craft with the left hand we pushed the heavy block with the steel cables running through it away from us, so as to stay clear of the steel cables that were hanging around loosely, but with the right hand kept the hook inside the eye, as the craft dropped into the trough of the wave the steel cables would suddenly tighten and sound like vibrating guitar strings, this would happen 2 or 3times as we were hoisted until we were high enough to be clear of the waves.
994 took No 12 davit aft so we were lifted up on to the Poop Deck, the pan was removed from the Stripped Lewis Gun ( 1916 vintage) and the round up the spout fired off, leaving it safe, it was by then late morning, we made our way down to the Mess Deck, there is no doubt that 535 Flotilla had been so very very lucky, no casualties in either men or landing craft, the Sick Bay was very busy, over 70 survivors from the Norwegian Destroyer had been picked up and were on board `Glenearn' many required surgery, other casualties were also transferred to "Glenearn' from other vessels.
We sat around on the forms and tables discussing events and winding down, when the Sergeant came down to the messdeck to say that Lt. XXXX wanted us to parade on deck for a rifle inspection in 20 minutes, this was greeted with all the old expletives and quite a few new ones never heard before, fortunately Captain Colin Hutchison DSO and bar, OBE, RN ( known on board as "Father" ), sent down permission for 535 Flotilla to sling their Hammocks for a couple of hours or so as 543 Flotilla were not due back for a while, so we turned in and forgot about the rifle inspection.
543 Flotilla had left `Glenearn' at 0650 to head for Queen Red Beach, they carried C & D Companies of the East Yorks Regiment, also one unit R.N. Beach Commandos and the Landing Craft Obstruction Clearance unit, a packet of bacon sandwiches was handed out to each one of the troops as they boarded their craft, to keep for later, they slipped them into their battle dress blouse, some craft of 538 Flotilla from the' Empire Broadsword' were to accompany them and to land other army units, as the LCAs pulled away the craft carrying Lieutenant Colonel Hutchinson, his Battalions Bugler blew the General Salute, to be answered by the ' Glenearn' Bugler, the LCAs proceeded in two columns following an LCF which was in the lead, on return 543 Flotilla appeared to have lost 7 craft, some craft were recovered in the following days as 'Glenearn' returned to the beaches.
By early afternoon it appeared that all the craft that could return that day would have, and having many wounded, injured, and Norwegian survivors on board, `Glenearn' got under way, and then came under fire from a shore battery, there were some shell splinters flying around, just some superficial damage, no casualties `Glenearn made smoke, then out of the smoke came HMS Warspite steaming between `Glenearn' and the shore firing her big guns at the shore battery which immediately stopped firing, on the return journey `Glenearn' was threading her way thru' all sorts of vessels that were all heading towards France, the large concrete portions of the Mulberry Harbour were being towed across, at that stage we did not know what they were, the huge concrete blocks dwarfed the tugs that were towing them, it was akin to an ant pulling an elongated sugar cube, also there was PLUTO Pipe Line Under The Ocean whereby fuel was pumped over 90 miles (150Kms) from England to France thus eliminating vulnerable and valuable tankers, `Glenearn` arrived off of the Isle of Wight that night but with the urgent need of both men and materials for France' Glenearn ' did not get alongside until early the next morning to land the wounded and survivors, some had died.
When we returned to the beaches 9 6 44 on Juno beach there had been a big storm in the channel, so there was a large swell running, it was extremely rough, about 200 yds off shore were about 5 or 6 ships that had been sunk parallel to the shore it was relatively calm behind these `Block Ships' but the seas were crashing right over them, and from the Mulberry Harbour (now we knew what the huge concrete blocks were ) to the beach there was a floating `roadway', along this were being driven some trucks, the sections of the' roadway' seemed to be canting in all directions with the wave action, looked a pretty hair raising job, coming out from the relative calm behind the block ships, the flotilla made its way back to `Glenearn 'that for the only time that I can recall made a lee side to hoist the craft inboard, we were quite used to the waves running fore and aft while being hoisted, but with the lee side one moment the ship appeared to be looming right over us then leaning away I found this was `different', this then became the pattern, embark troops and return to the beaches every few days and land them on the beach.
On the 16 6 44 `Glenearn' and the `City of Canterbury' put the British Army Commandos ashore on `Omaha' beach, and about two dozen US Nurses, I asked the commandos why we were putting them ashore on Omaha they told me that the yanks were bogged down and that their job was to go thru' their lines and break out for them, they wore khaki `Glengarries' and by their cap badges just about every British Regiment was represented.
The nurses were chattering and laughing as they landed that they could now tell their grandchildren that they had landed in France, - on Omaha beach-- from a landing craft, (they would've done that by now) in a day or so they would be very welcome and much appreciated when they joined their unit, they walked along the beach in small groups, mingling with the commandos towards the beach exit.
On one return trip sitting on the mess deck, there was this enormous roar, we shot up on deck, a Buzz Bomb (`V' 1) had just 'passed' 'Glenearn' the lookouts on the bridge swore that they were looking down on it ! ! on another return trip we passed `Glenearn' s' sister ship 'Glenroy' lying low in the water, she had struck a mine and was awaiting a tug to tow her back to the UK, when POWs were sent back to England they were bought alongside and bought inboard thru' the sally port, they must have had their own guards that travelled with them as we had no contact with them whatsoever.
Early in July, `Glenearn' went into a dry dock at Greenock, everybody had a spot of leave then, as part of Force X sailed for the SW Pacific to join the 7t' US SW Pacific Fleet, on the marine messdeck a geriatric 8 or 10 in. metal electric fan that rumbled and grumbled continuously was installed that oscillated between every two mess tables, we were now rigged for the tropics! The petrol for the landing craft was stored below the marine's messdeck, and the explosion that occurred in April 1945 was said to have been caused by a spark from one of these fans. 535 Flotilla had left `Glenearn' but a few days earlier.
535 Flotilla ( also 536, 537, 538 & 539) were formed about July-August 1943, (mainly from the old 22 Training Battalion that had been sent to Arthog in Nth Wales to train for the M N B D 0, building docks, piers, etc. with steel gibing) at the Royal Naval College at Dartmouth, where they all underwent seamanship classes on LCMs, and at Dartmouth we were issued with one beret ( told that we were the first marines to receive them) and retained one forage cap, the Flotillas then went to West Cliff, on marching in we were greeted with wolf whistles and cat calls by the resident marines as in those days berets were considered effeminate, or for French onion sellers, with the influx of the flotillas the dining room had to have two sittings, one with berets and one with forage caps, we had both, a great opportunity for the gannets especially when it was egg and chips for supper, 535 was sent to Fort William, where the Stokers who had been on their course in Nth. Wales re-joined the flotilla, (Arnold Rose was one of the stokers with 535 flotilla) the LCAs were delivered, then a two day trip thru' the Caledonian Canal to Inverness.
535 were then billeted in the Cameron Barracks for 2-3 weeks, doing day and night exercises on the Moray Firth?? with the LCAs, 535 and 536 flotillas then joined HMS Glenearn late in October 1943 in the Moray Firth, after one or two exercises HMS Glenearn went down to Rosyth dockyard to have the hooks modified, the marines were put ashore at HMS Brontosaurus for some square bashing, 536 flotilla went across and joined the Empire Cutlass, later 543 flotilla joined HMS Glenearn, early in 1944 Arnold Rose was transferred to 544 flotilla on the 'Monawia' from which they landed troops on JUNO beach on D-Day, on the run in Arnold poked his head up thru the stokers hatch to see what was going on and saw three RAF planes making a low sweep along the beach, they ran into the rocket fire from the landing craft and one was bought down.
535 Flotilla sent in 10 LCAs on D Day all returned, 543 sent 14 LCAs, 7 returned, 9 LCPLs left 'Largs', Frank Taylor was a cox'n on one of them, just one returned, 544 flotilla (Monowia) sent in 20 LCAs just 6 returned.
535 Flotilla was awarded 5 Croix de Guerre by the French Gov.
Frank Taylor was cox'n of an LCPL from HMS Largs landing at Oustreme.
I think that one of my most outstanding memories of that `D' Day morning would be the memory of that lone Submarine Officer with the whole invasion force bearing down on him just standing there pointing out which way for us to go !
Marching song at that period at Arthog was
MNBDO MNBDO We want blues
We wanna go to sea
We got the blues, cos" we're in khaki
MNBDO
Now that we're left on shore
With the A T S and the R A F
We might as well be a second B E F
Instead of M  N B D 0
Instead of M N B D 0

1944. Tuesday 6th June. Royal Marines and the Normandy Landings. by Frank Murphy PLY5647 - RM19521.
The landings of the Allied Forces in Normandy on 6th June 1944 needs little introduction here. It was the culmination of years of hard tracking and detailed planning. It employed the largest number of men ever known in this kind of operation and the troops, sailors and airmen, under the supreme command of Gen Dwight D. Eisenhower, came from many nations, including the United States, Great Britain, Australia, New Zealand, France, Holland and Belgium. By D+28 a million men of the allied Armies of Liberation had landed in France.
But the first 48 hours were among the most vital ones for the Allies and the Royal Marines part in establishing the bridgehead can be accurately assessed by covering those first two days ashore.
The Normandy landings on 6th June 1944 witnessed the largest gathering of Royal Marines ever to be used in one operation. Over 10,000 were employed in a wide variety of roles, some
traditional, others entirely new to the Corps.
All the LCVs (Landing Craft Vehicle)  and LCMs (Landing Craft Mechanised) which were used to ferry supplies to the beaches for the forward troops were manned by marines as were many of the LCAs (Landing Craft Assault) LC (S) (Landing Craft Infantry Small) which ferried the assault groups to the shore. Marines manned their usual turrets on the warships which bombarded the coast before the invasion and provided gun crews for the LCGs (Landing Craft Gun) and LCFs (Landing Craft Flak) which gave close fire support to the troops on the beaches. They also made up five of the eight Commandos (formed into two Special Services Brigades) which landed close behind the assault battalions, and provided specialised units. These special units included. the Royal Marines Armoured Support Group, landing craft obstruction clearance units, Royal Marine assault engineers, beach parties, signallers, AA armament crews and personnel for running the naval ports, both natural and artificial.
Chronologically, it is right to describe first the hazardous role of those employed in getting the troops to the beaches, and supporting and supplying them. A typical example of the many acts of bravery committed by the marines involved in this task was that of Cpl Tandy.
Tandy was coxswain of. LCA. 786, and when the steering wheel of his craft was carried away he acted as a human rudder in order to get the LCA with its troops to the beaches. The accident occurred when the LCA was being lowered from the parent ship, and though the beach was seven miles away Tandy immediately went over the stern and guided the rudder with his foot. Though waist deep in water most of the time and. battered and bruised by the heavy swell Tandy got his craft to the shore on time and then returned it to the parent ship still steering it with his foot, and his body half-submerged in the rough seas. For this exploit Tandy was later awarded the ISM.
Among those who went in with the first waves of assault troops were three members of the US Marine Corps acting as observers in an LCG. They kept an invasion diary which vividly describes what it was like to be there.

1944. Tuesday 6th June.Ch/x111865, Jack Eaves was one of the Royal Marines who took part in the D-Day landings, on Sword beach. What he witnessed has remained with him to the present day (May 2018 age 93). During a conversation with Jack he even described the sea gulls flying through the barrage of explosion, be it in the water or in the air above the landing craft. Over the years Jack became an artist with many fine paintings to his credit. The following paining was one of the last ones he under took during 2018 at the tender age of 93. Even adding the seagulls flying above the boat. The other black and white photo is of a Landing Craft heading for the beach. Jack cannot remember who took the photo, but assures me that it was taken on an old (new in those days) what was known as a box camera. (Terry Aspinall 2018)

 

1944. Tuesday 6th June. The British 50th (Northumbrian) Division and No 47 Royal Marine Commando at GOLD Beach.
This post is dedicated to the memory of those who died on Tuesday 6 June 1944 in pursuit of freedom. It is through their sacrifice that we enjoy the freedoms we have today.
In this the seventh part of the story of D-Day, 6 June 1944 we concentrate on the actions of the British 50th (Northumbrian) Division and No 47 Royal Marine Commando at GOLD Beach. This is their story:
GOLD Beach was the codename of the centre of the Allied landing beaches on D-Day, 6 June 1944. It was more than 5 miles long and included the coastal towns of La Rivière and Le Hamel. At the western end of the beach was the small port of Arromanches, and slightly west of that port was the town of Longues-sur-Mer. It was the most westerly beach of the British sector and was the responsibility of the British XXX Corps commanded by Lieutenant General Gerard Bucknall which would assault one Division up, with the British 50th (Northumbrian) Division leading.
The defending German forces consisted of elements of the German 716th Static Division and at least part of the 1st Battalion of the German 352nd Infantry Division who were at Le Hamel. Many of the Germans were set up in houses along the coast, with the greatest concentrations located at Le Hamel and La Rivière. These fighting positions were vulnerable to naval gunfire and aerial bombardment and could easily be set on fire, but the Germans counted on a counterattack capability with Kampfgruppe Meyer, a mechanized unit of the 352nd Division based at the nearby town of Bayeux. This unit had practiced rapid manoeuvre to the beach to meet possible invasion attempts.
In addition to the German seafront defences, a formidable fortified artillery observation bunker had been constructed on top of the steep cliffs on the outskirts of Longues-sur-Mer that directed the fire of a German Coastal Artillery Battery located about half a mile inland from the beach. The four 155 mm guns of the Battery were heavily protected with one-metre-thick concrete and were considered to be a significant threat to the seaborne invasion troops who were to land in the area.
The assault sectors at GOLD Beach were designated (from west to east) Item, Jig (comprising sections Green and Red), and King (also consisting of two sections named Green and Red). The assault was to be carried out by the British 50th (Northumbrian) Infantry Division, which included Battalions from the Devonshire, Hampshire, Dorsetshire, and East Yorkshire Regiments. The beach was wide enough for two brigades to be landed side-by-side, so the 231st Brigade was assigned to Le Hamel in Jig sector and the 69th Brigade to La Rivière in King sector. No 47 Royal Marine Commando, attached to the 50th Division for the landing, was assigned to Item sector.
The main objectives of the British 50th Division were to seize the town of Bayeux, cut the Caen-Bayeux highway, capture the small port of Arromanches, link up with the Americans from Omaha Beach to the west at Port-en-Bessin and link up with the Canadians from Juno Beach to the east. The 50th Division was also to take the Longues-sur-Mer Battery from the rear.
H-Hour was set for 07.25 hours, 50 minutes later than in the American sector to allow for the difference in the tide, which meant that high water was later in the British sector. On the morning of D-Day however the wind came directly from the northwest and piled up the water rapidly. The outer beach obstacles that the Germans had installed to damage and destroy invading landing craft were therefore under water before British demolition teams could get to them. When the demolition teams arrived they came under direct fire from the German seafront defences and were prevented from effectively clearing the obstacles.
Due to the heavy seas it was decided not to launch the Sherman DD Tanks from their LCTs several miles out at sea but to run them straight up to the beach. The first wave to land came in under heavy fire from the German defenders and suffered heavy casualties. The 1st Battalion of the Hampshire Regiment lost its Commanding Officer and Second-in-Command within minutes of landing. Following up behind the 1st Hampshires were the Commandos of the 4th Special Service Brigade. They too suffered badly during the run in and only one of their allotted landing craft actually reached the shore. The decision to land the tanks directly on to the beach however proved to be the saving grace as there was no German armour in the area. Once ashore the tanks provided close support to the infantry and most of the initial German resistance was quickly overcome. Many of the German strong points had been neutralised by the naval bombardment earlier in the morning and it was only the main fortified areas of resistance that held out, but by 10.00 hrs La Rivière was captured and Le Hamel was in British hands by mid-afternoon.
No 47 (RM) Commando, which was the last British Commando unit to land, also came ashore on GOLD Beach east of Le Hamel on Item sector. Their task was to immediately push inland, then turn right (west) and cross 10 miles of enemy held territory in order to seize and hold the coastal harbour of Port-en-Bessin. This small port was significant as it was to be the prime early harbour for supplies to be brought in including fuel by underwater pipe from tankers moored offshore. After landing, No 47 (RM) Commando passed south of Arromanches and pushed west to within a mile of Port-en-Bessin where they were halted just to the south of the Longues-sur-Mer Battery. Here they dug in on ‘Hill 72’ and Port-en-Bessin did not fall into British hands until 8 June 1944 after some very heavy fighting.
Although heavily bombed prior to the invasion the guns at the Longues-sur-Mer Battery were still capable of firing on D-Day. At 05.30 hrs they had opened fire against the British fleet which continued until the afternoon when they were put out of action in a furious duel with the Royal Navy cruiser HMS Ajax and the Free French Navy cruiser Georges Leygues. The 184 artillerymen at the battery surrendered to the British the following day.
By the evening of D-Day the British 50th Division had landed 25,000 men, penetrated 6 miles inland, hooked up with the Canadians from Juno Beach on the left, and reached the heights above Port-en-Bessin. Whilst it had not seized Bayeux, cut the Caen-Bayeux highway or linked up with the Americans from Omaha Beach, it had made an impressive start. The British sustained around 400 casualties while securing the GOLD Beachhead. (by Ian R Gumm)

1944. Tuesday 6th June. Royal Marines and the Normandy Landings (Part One)
The landings of the Allied Forces in Normandy on 6th June 1944 needs little introduction here. It was the culmination of years of hard training and detailed planning. It employed the largest number of men ever known in this kind of operation and the troops, sailors and airmen, under the supreme command of Gen Dwight D. Eisenhower, came from many nations, including the United States, Great Britain, Australia, New Zealand, France, Holland and Belgium. By D+28 a million men of the allied Armies of Liberation had landed in France.
But the first 48 hours were among the most vital ones for the Allies and the Royal Marines part in establishing the bridgehead can be accurately assessed by covering those first two days ashore.
The Normandy landings on 6 June 1944 witnessed the largest gathering of Royal Marines ever to be used in one operation. Over 10,000 were employed in a wide variety of roles, some traditional, others entirely new to the Corps.
All the LCVs (Landing Craft Vehicle) - and LCMs (Landing Craft Mechanised) which were used to ferry supplies to the beaches for the forward troops were manned by marines as were many of the LCAs (Landing Craft Assault) + LC (S) (Landing Craft Infantry Small) which ferried the assault groups to the shore. Marines manned their usual turrets on the warships which bombarded the coast before the invasion and provided gun crews for the LCGs (Landing Craft Gun) and LCFs (Landing Craft Flak) which gave close fire support to the troops on the beaches. They also made up five of the eight Commandos (formed into two Special Services Brigades) which landed close behind the assault battalions and provided specialised units. These special units included. the Royal Marines Armoured Support Group, landing craft obstruction clearance units, Royal Marine assault engineers, beach parties, signallers, AA armament crews on theme, and personnel for running the naval ports, both natural and artificial.
Chronologically, it is right to describe first the hazardous role of those employed in getting the troops to the beaches and supporting and supplying them. A typical example of the many acts of bravery committed by the marines involved in this task was that of Cpl Tandy.
Tandy was coxswain of. LCA. 786, and when the steering wheel of his craft was carried away, he acted as a human rudder in order to get the LCA with its troops to the beaches. The accident occurred when the LCA was being lowered from the parent ship, and though the beach was seven miles away Tandy immediately went over the stern and guided the rudder with his foot. Though waist deep in water most of the time and. battered and bruised by the heavy swell Tandy got his craft to the shore on time and then returned it to the parent ship still steering it with his foot, and his body half-submerged in the rough seas. For this exploit Tandy was later awarded the ISM.
Among those who went in with the first waves of assault troops were three members of the US Marine Corps acting as observers in an LCG. They kept an invasion diary which vividly describes what it was like to be there. (Author Unknown)

1944. Tuesday 6th June. Amazing D-Day facts reveal are some of the things you may not have known about one of Britain’s finest hours
1 Planning for Operation Overlord began in earnest in 1943 with Dwight D Eisenhower made supreme commander. British general Bernard Montgomery, hero of the Eighth Army in North Africa, was put in charge of the ground troops.
2 About 3,200 reconnaissance missions were launched in the run-up to the invasion to take photos of vital locations.
3 In the summer of 1943 an early copy of the plans blew out of a window in Norfolk House, London. A man who was passing by handed them in, saying his sight was too bad to read them.
4 Beach landings in Normandy were chosen instead of the Pas-de-Calais because defences were lighter and advancing troops would have fewer rivers and canals to cross.
5 There were to be five landing zones along a 50-mile stretch of coast. The Americans would attack at Utah and Omaha, the British at Gold and Sword and Canadian troops at Juno.
6 D-Day was originally set for June 5 but had to be postponed for 24 hours because of bad weather.
7 The “D” in D-Day actually only stood for Day and was simply used to preserve secrecy.
8 On April 28th, 1944 off Slapton Sands in Devon, 946 American servicemen were killed when German torpedo boats sank a convoy of ships involved in a D-Day dress rehearsal.
9 A phantom army of dummy camps, planes and tanks was constructed in Kent and Essex in order to deceive Germans into thinking the invasion would be at Calais.
10 Spanish-born double agent Garbo also plied the Germans with misinformation that led them to believe the Normandy landings were just a ruse.
11 In May 1944 crucial codewords for D-Day began appearing in Daily Telegraph crosswords. An MI5 investigation failed to find any evidence of foul play. 
12 Allied troops faced formidable defences as part of Hitler’s Atlantic Wall, which had been built all along the coast using 100,000 workers.
13 High command thought a successful landing would cost 10,000 dead and 30,000 wounded – 30,000 stretchers and 60,000 blankets were issued.
14 New gadgets designed for D-Day included a “swimming tank” and a flame throwing tank called “the crocodile”. There were even collapsible motorbikes.
15 Terence Otway, whose unit was tasked with taking the vital Merville battery, decided to test security among his men. He sent 30 members of the Women’s Auxiliary Air Force to local pubs to see if any of his troops would divulge the top secret plan – none did.
Condoms were issued to soldiers – most were used for covering the end of their rifles to keep them dry
16 The night before the landings nervous Prime Minister Winston Churchill said to his wife: “Do you realise that by the time you wake up in the morning 20,000 men may have been killed?”
17 On the eve of battle Eisenhower told troops: “You are about to embark upon a great crusade, toward which we have striven these many months. The eyes of the world are upon you.”
18 He also wrote a draft statement in case the landings failed which read: “I have withdrawn the troops If any blame or fault attaches to the attempt it is mine alone.” 19 Coded messages were sent to alert French Resistance to begin a programme of sabotage. Phrases used included “the dice is on the carpet” – an order to destroy trains and railway lines.
20 The naval operation, codenamed Operation Neptune, involved an armada of 6,939 vessels including 4,126 landing craft – the largest single day amphibious invasion of all time. On June 5 they assembled at a point known as Piccadilly Circus off the Isle of Wight.
21 From 11pm on June 5 some 24,000 airborne troops were delivered behind the German lines to secure important roads and bridges. Along with more than 2,000 aircraft 867 gliders were used. Dummy paratroopers were also dropped to help convince the Germans that the real landings would take place elsewhere.
22 The first British casualty on D-Day was Lt “Den” Brotheridge, shot in the neck shortly after landing in France in a glider at 00.16am. His unit was tasked with taking the crucial target of Pegasus Bridge, an objective that was achieved.
23 Many paratroopers that day were dropped in the wrong place including US Private John Steele. His parachute famously became snagged on the church steeple at Sainte-Mère- Eglise. He was trapped for two hours before being taken prisoner.
24 At 3am 1,900 Allied bombers attacked German lines. A staggering seven million pounds of bombs were dropped that day. A total of 10,521 combat aircraft flew a total of 15,000 sorties on D-Day, with 113 lost.
25 A naval bombardment from seven battleships, 18 cruisers, and 43 destroyers began at 5am and went on until 6.25am. Midget submarines, called X-boats, lay submerged in the sea off the coast of France, surfacing on the morning of D-Day to guide in the invading craft using beacons.
26 The flat-bottomed landing craft were originally designed to rescue flood victims on the Mississippi river in the US.
27 US troops went ashore on the landing beaches at 6.31am, followed an hour later by the British and Canadians on their beaches. There were 61,715 British troops, 21,400 Canadian soldiers and 73,000 Americans.
28 Defences on the beaches included concrete gun emplacements, wooden stakes, mines, anti-tank obstacles, barbed wire and booby traps. Around 50,000 German troops opposed the landing forces.
29 Field Marshal Erwin Rommel was in charge of defending northern France from the expected Allied invasion. On June 6 he was at home in Germany celebrating his wife’s 50th birthday having been told the sea was too rough for a landing.
30 Nazi leader Adolf Hitler was asleep when word of the invasion arrived. No one dared wake him and it’s said vital time was lost in sending reinforcements.
31 The heaviest losses were on Omaha beach where US forces suffered 2,000 casualties. Canadian forces met heavy resistance on Juno. In the first hour the chance of becoming a casualty was one in two.
32 The newly developed drug penicillin went with troops on D-Day and saved thousands of lives.
33 Condoms were issued to soldiers – most were used for covering the end of their rifles to keep them dry.
34 Despite setbacks, including the failure to capture the city of Caen, D-Day saw the Allies establish a successful beachhead from which they could continue the invasion of Normandy. By the evening of the first day, along with more than 150,000 men, 20,000 vehicles had been landed.
35 The Allies ferried two prefabricated harbours called Mulberries across the Channel to help supply the beachhead with equipment. The one at Arromanches involved 600,000 tons of concrete.
36 Total Allied casualties on D-Day were much lighter than feared – around 10,000 with 4,572 killed including 1,641 Brits. The Germans are estimated to have lost about 9,000.
37 Actor Richard Todd starred in The Longest Day, a 1962 film about D-Day, as Major John Howard. He was involved in the real landings as an officer in the 7th Parachute Battalion.
38 James Doohan, who would go on to find fame as Scotty in Star Trek, was a lieutenant in the Royal Canadian Artillery on D-Day and lost a finger during the fray.
39 The stunning Omaha Beach scene in the 1998 movie Saving Private Ryan, starring Tom Hanks, cost £7million to film and used 1,000 extras.
40 Famous photographer Robert Capa captured some of the most memorable images of the action though only a handful of the frames he took survived. The others were accidently destroyed by a lab technician. (By James Moore published Monday 2nd June 2014)

1944. Monday 12th June. Small Operations Group:15. Formed to co-ordinate small scale raiding parties in South East Asia Command, the Group was based in Ceylon (modern Sri Lanka) with an RM base staff by 1945. Under command were four COPPs, three SBS Groups and four Sea Reconnaissance Sections, all with army and naval personnel and RM Detachment 385. Units of the Group had carried out 174 operations by June 1945 and several after this date. The Group was disbanded in the autumn of 1945.(RMHS)

1944. June. 'An Impression of D-Day'. Author unknown.
I took a taxi from Southampton station and alighted at the beginning of the Common. It seemed an odd, commonplace way of going to war. I didn't know quite where I was heading but followed a formidable barbed wire fence till I saw on the other side two green berets adorned with shining Globes and Laurels.
"How do I get in?" I asked.
"If you take our advice, sir, you don't" was the reply. "Once you are in here, you don't get out."
Despite this friendly discouragement, I found my way in. They were quite right. Once in, it was almost impossible to get out. Almost, but not quite. There was a legal fiction called "returning stores" which enabled a favoured few to make fleeting contact with the outside world.
I remember with satisfaction a few pints snatched at the White Horse, in Romsey, under cover of this dispensation.
The sun shone. We did nothing on Southampton Common but bask in it. But the Day rolled nearer. When I look back I suppose the most extraordinary thing was the absence of tension or excitement. Everyone seemed quite astonishingly calm and unruffled.
Each night as we rolled in our blankets we heard the crash and rumble of the armour as it poured endlessly down the road to the docks, where the landing craft were packed in so tight that if a new ship came in another had to pull out to make room for it. (Why didn't Jerry bomb them?) Then the briefings came along, on real maps but with phoney place names. As far as I recall one of our objectives was "Vienna". These served to remind us that we were there for a purpose.
As the inevitable date drew close the weather broke. That did make a real difference to the atmosphere. I think all were depressed and rumours of postponement or even cancellation buzzed around. Embarkation was in fact postponed for 24 hours. When recalling our own feelings most of us would no doubt agree that few men in history ever carried alone such a weight of responsibility as the Supreme Commander, General Eisenhower, when he made the solitary decision that Overlord should go forward.
A NIGHTMARE
On D-minus-1 we took our last meal in the camp. Considering the occasion, it might have been a better meal. It might also have saved me the intense discomfort of the following night at sea. Rather unwisely I chose to supplement that meal with a quantity of self-heating soup and some odds and ends of chocolate. I paid for the folly.
The journey by m/t to Warsash introduced a touch of emotion into those hours. Everyone we passed waved and wished us good luck. They knew quite well where we were going and somehow managed to convey their feelings.
After embarkation the officers of Brigade HQ gathered in the tiny wardroom of the LCI, when the skipper, a Lieutenant RNVR, with a beard as big as himself, came down the ladder. We waited in dead silence for his news, for the decision to sail was still not firm, as far as we knew.
"We’re off”, he said. The silence continued. We had waited nearly four years for those words, and comment escaped us. At last, someone - if he reads this, he will no doubt remember - chanted: "We’re off to see the wizard." We all laughed, and the tension relaxed.
The night was a nightmare. The craft made its way across Channel in a series of stops and starts, like a London bus in a traffic block. It seemed as if we should never get anywhere. There were few among those present who did not pay one visit to the rail to offer his tribute to Neptune. Even the RC Padre, an old destroyer man, hauled down his colours.
Dawn broke at last, a grey, dull dawn with low cloud and a threat of rain. Unseen overhead roared the bombers. The coast of Normandy appeared just above the horizon. Already the plumes of smoke were rising as we sighted the steeples of Courcelles, St. Aubin and Langrune.
Then followed yet another interminable period of waiting, during which we were passed by a long line of LCAs bearing the North Shore Regiment of Canada, who were landing a few minutes ahead of us. They cheered as they passed, but the sound was snatched away by the wind and we only saw their waving arms.
After that things began to happen fast. The nose of the LCI turned inshore and the beach began to rush towards us at an alarming speed. We lay down on the deck on our bellies.
IN BLINKERS
I shall always retain a vivid photographic image of a short strip of beach about fifty yards wide. The sands seemed bright yellow, like a Margate poster. To the right of my picture was the orange glare of a fire, from which billowed up masses of thin, black smoke. A row of red-roofed villas confronted us and, just in front of them, the sea-wall scowled with its festoons of barbed wire. There was no sign of life. To the right and left of that picture I have no recollection whatever. It was as if I were in blinkers.
When the craft grounded quite gently, the wooden ramps were shoved out and the first two men stood up to go over. Immediately one of them was shot and the other went down again. There was a pause of a split second, and then a bunch of us went for it with a rush.
The ramps were swinging wildly as I went down. I was too occupied keeping my balance to pay any attention to what was going on around. I found myself waist deep in the sea, with huge baulks of timber washing furiously around. I struggled up the sands and reached the very welcome cover of the sea-wall.
As good luck would have it, we were sheltered from the St. Aubin strongpoint (which, despite the bombardment, was very active, as 48 Commando, who landed to our left, can bear witness) by a bulge in the sea-wall. There we queued up while a recce party sought a passage through the minefield, for all the world like a crowd waiting for the turnstiles to open at a football match. The Oerlikons of the LCI opened up over our heads to blast out the odd riflemen lurking in the villas above us.
I suppose it was only a few minutes before we were on the move, but it seemed like an hour. A way through the minefield had been cleared by flail tanks and through this we passed till we struck the main coast road. A pall of sharp-smelling smoke that brought tears to the eyes was spreading over the whole area. On the far side of the road was a field of green corn, higher than the corn in England. On the wire fence hung a yellow notice with a black skull and crossbones and the words "Achtung! Minen."
It was the sight of that notice that made me realise that we were really in France, that the ground on which I stood had been occupied territory less than an hour before. And already one felt a good solid feeling that we were there to stay.
NONCHALANT FRENCH
Of the assorted recollections of that day of days, a few unrelated details have fixed themselves in my memory. One was the great number of cattle killed by our bombardment. Cows were lying with their legs stuck grotesquely into the air and with distended bellies.
Another was the extraordinary nonchalance of the French people. As I was moving cautiously in the direction of Langrune, keeping in the ditch for fear of snipers, I met a French peasant in a blue blouse, apparently on his way to work. He was an old man and strolled quite casually along the middle of the road. He shamed me into following his example - with some trepidation.
In the house where the Brigade established its first HQ ashore, the proprietor came in with a great bowl of eggs, which he placed on the table. Having carefully read the little booklet with which we had been supplied, in common with all the invasion troops, before sailing, we were convinced that all the French were starving. No one touched the eggs for about an hour, till eventually our host, with many gesticulations, made it plain that he expected us to help ourselves. We did.
By the evening of D-Day there were quite a number of French boys on bicycles on the roads, following up the troops rather like urchins in England would follow the fire brigade. By D-plus--1 these hardy or foolhardy youngsters were numerous enough to be a nuisance.
The Messerschmitt's paid us a visit that night, but the "Brock's Benefit" of coloured tracer that shot up to meet them from the beach can hardly have been a great encouragement. Next morning they came again at first light. On D-plus-2 they did not arrive, but a dawn patrol of Spitfires sailed serenely over our heads. By that time we were thoroughly at home.
BRITISH BULLETS
One other incident of the early days will always stick. I went up the steeple of the lovely church at Douvres la Delivrande to see a naval bombardment of the radar station that was still holding out just outside the town.(41 Commando captured it a week later.) The bombardment did not materialise. Rather disappointed, an Army cameraman who was with me decided to photo­graph a big convoy of light ack-ack just rolling up the road from the beach. He stuck his camera into an embrasure and leaned out for the purpose.
The chaps in the convoy had just landed and were trigger-conscious. They decided we were snipers (despite the fact that 47 Commando had captured the town 24 hours before) and opened up with their Brens. In a split second the belfry was full of bullets, humming around like angry hornets and knocking splinters off the stonework. We flattened on the deck till they got themselves under control again and ceased fire.

It is an interesting fact to recall that the nearest I ever came to buying it was from our own bullets. Once, in Sicily, a bullet from another Marine actually touched me. It is a sobering thought to reflect that one bullet is as good as another, British or German. (Author unknown)

1944. July. The 26th RM Battalion. The damage caused by German V1 ‘flying bombs’ and by V2 rockets was considerable, many houses being damaged in London and its suburbs. The Admiralty was approached by the Ministry for Reconstruction, and to provide help with building repairs this 26th RM Battalion was raised at Lower Sydenham (London) in July 1944, the battalion HQ opening on 10th July, CO Lt. Col R. E. S. Jeffries.
Organised in 15 Platoons (16 by 1st August) of about 30 men each, the repair squads ‘followed the bangs’ and during the next few months patched up 6,720 houses, made permanent repairs to 1,414 buildings and even built a few houses from their foundations. Three men had been killed by bombs before the Battalion was to be disbanded on 14th March 1944; but after the Ministry had asked for its continuance, 250 men were replaced by those in low medical categories. The Battalion continued its building repair work, covering sites as far apart as Esher, Kew, Ilford and Orpington, until it was disbanded early in 1946.(RMHS)

1944. Thursday 24th August. The 27th RM Battalion was one of several raised from cadres of former LC crews and recruits, as Beach Battalions for service in the Far East and on a war establishment appropriate to troops in a light division. Formed at Dalditch on 24th August 1944, CO Lt. Col P. W. O’H. Phibbs, the Battalion was trained in Scotland during December. On 4th January 1945 the Battalion came under command of 116 Infantry Bde RM for service as infantry and the war establishment was changed to that for an army rifle battalion. Lt. Col N. H. Tailyour was appointed CO on January 1945.
On 12th April the Battalion was detached from the Brigade, and under US Army command, prepared for the assault on Bremerhaven (Lower Saxony), but about the 26th April the Battalion was switched to the command of 4 Canadian Armoured Division for the assault on Wilhelmshaven further west. Later ‘A’ Coy was detached to take the surrender of ships in Emden, ‘B’ Coy went to Sengwarden where it ‘chaperoned’ naval personnel in that former German HQ, and the Battalion Anti-Tank Platoon was billeted in Wilhelmshaven Dockyard. In taking the surrender of ships’ crews, the Poles of Conrad (formerly HMS Danae) assisted the Marines.
The Battalion returned to the UK on 27th - 28th June, and provided parties that autumn to work on farms while based at Beacon Hill Camp (nr Falmouth). On 27th November it moved to Chedworth (nr Cheltenham), before becoming a training battalion at Windrush Camp (west of Burford, Oxfordshire) early in 1946 and absorbing the 33rd RM Bn. On 1st April the Battalion became the training cadre at the Infantry School RM, Bickleigh (RMRO 323).(RMHS)

1944. Thursday 24th August. The 25th RM Battalion was formed at Dalditch, CO Lt. Col T. W. B. Sandall and was disbanded on 24th August 1944.(RMHS)

1944. August. The 28th RM Battalion HQ was formed at Dalditch, CO Lt. Col J. M. Fuller. During the early winter the men who had served in the 1st Armoured Support Rgt were drafted to the Battalion. They moved to Scotland on 8th - 9th December, where the Battalion trained as the nucleus for a Beach Group. But on 4th January the Battalion
came under command of 116 Infantry Bde RM, and its original war establishment was changed to that for an army battalion. After service on the Maas the Battalion continued under army command. It returned to the UK in June 1945, and was stationed in August at Okehampton (Devon) in the late summer of 1945. From here it took part in internal security duties, quelling riots in a Polish naval camp. It was later briefly stationed in Plymouth and St Germans (Cornwall), where it provided parties for farm work. In November it was in South Brent (Devon), there it absorbed men from the 30th RM Bn. In rationalisation as demobilisation continued, the Battalion moved to Windrush Camp and was disbanded on 21st January 1946, the men being transferred to 27th RM Bn.(RMHS)

1944. August. 'X FORCE' by Jack Eaves RM CH\111853, Bowman of LCA 994, 535 Flotilla HMS Glenearn.
Part One. X Force consisting of HMS GLENEARN, and the empire ships now flying the White Ensign, Emp. ARQUEBUS, Emp. BATTLEAXE, Emp. SPEARHEAD, & Emp MACE, HMS LAMONT formerly .SS CLAN LAMONT, which was taking the place of the Emp. BROADSWORD which had been sunk by a mine, 536 Flotilla was on the Emp. ARQUEBUS as the Emp. CUTLASS had been damaged by a Doodle Bug (VI) whilst alongside, Force X would be under Rear-Admiral Talbot flying his flag in HMS LOTHIAN, formerly the SS. City of Edinburgh, Force X was to proceed to the S.W. Pacific, attached to the US SW FLEET and under their jurisdiction, via New York and the Panama Canal, the force sailed from the Clyde on 3.8.1944. Frank Taylor had now joined Emp. Spearhead which accompanied 'Glenearn' for many months.
On approaching New York 14. 8 .1944 there was a heavy sea mist, a prelude to a very hot Aug. day, I was up in the lookout station, could not see anything, not the deck below, nor the fo'c'sle, looking up it seemed a bit brighter, right ahead high up in the mist I could make out a vaguely familiar shape, I reported `Barrage Balloon Dead Ahead' then `Barrage Balloon moving to Starboard' then the shape stayed above us still quite indistinct and kept station with us, as the mist cleared we could see that it was a US Coast Guard Blimp, I had no idea that these small airships were still in use, especially in any armed forces, as the visibility cleared we could plainly see the crew who were checking us out.
`Glenearn' went alongside a pier, and a run ashore was like going to another planet; shops full of every that we hadn't seen in Britain for years, no shortages, plenty of everything, at night all the streets and shops lit up, neon lights, restaurants, bars etc. open until the early hours, there was no sign of war here, while in port the US Gov. gave us an extra 50 cents a day for cost of living, this may not sound much, but then it was a terrific boost to our pay, then stores were loaded on to the ship, we couldn't believe it, ice cream, chicken, biscuits, luxuries we hadn't seen for a very long time, they weren't for us, several hundred US Army Air Force came on board, these were all aircraft mechanics and maintenance men, they were all sergeants, top sergeants, and every other sergeant, there were more stripes than a herd of zebra, to us they were all old men, must have been 22yrs to 25yrs old, also there were 6 young seamen, ( Gobs )17 & 18yrs of age , they were going to the Pacific to reinforce a See Bees unit, but they hoped to get a ship, they spent a lot of time with us, there were two cold water fountains installed on board for the troops, then we sailed for Panama, there was a hurricane south of us so we put in to Charleston, South. Carolina for a day or so, then on to Panama.
The troops seem to congregate in little circles , playing poker, all around, no one took any notice, gradually the games got less and less, but the seamen told us that the reason for this was that the stakes were getting higher and higher, you could not enter a game unless you had a $100 then later $500 then the games were hidden out of the way with the main participants paying guards to vet anyone who came too close, they would have been down on the troop deck, or below them, the `Buzz' was that the Paybob, had to borrow from them to pay the crew, as there was not much cash in circulation on the ship, the main players had their own bodyguards as this was all cash, on arrival at Finschhaven they were given an armed escort ashore to bank the money by the US.
We still had our hot meal at midday, but the US troops had theirs in the evening, so at midday they were given sandwiches, the `fillings at times were quite strange to them, the first time they got corned beef they asked us what it was, naturally we answered `corned dog' they were horrified, they knew that Britain was very short of food, but to be eating dog!! And to serve it up to them they were aghast!! we tried to tell them that that was our slang name for corned beef, but I think they remained unconvinced as every time they asked a crew member what it was they got the same answer' corned dog ',the 'errins' in' drew some unique comments too !! And the young seamen who wore jeans tried to age them, they tied them on the end of a line and put them over the side all night, then laid them out in the sun to fade them, so what's new in 2008?
Through the Caribbean it was starting to get hot so we took our hammocks and slung them in the LCAs on the davits, we did this from then on in the tropics, on deck were rigged a couple of canvas `pools' filled with sea water about 2ft 6in deep, that we could dip in to keep cool, unfortunately one of our corporals dived in and broke his neck, he lived and was put ashore in Colon, the outboard LCAs were lowered and the davits turned inboard before entering the Canal, then `Glenearn' entered the canal like a mother duck with her brood of LCAs following close behind, at Panama it rained like I've never seen before about 6in. in about 30 minutes, we stripped off and climbed up to the craft on the davits and pulled the bungs out in case they got swamped those craft following behind had to keep the bilge pumps going !! At Balboa the LCAs were hoisted then with Captain Hutchison as senior officer `Glenearn and the 4 Emp. ships sailed on, next stop was Bora Bora; `Lothian' and `Lamont' were left behind for `repair'.
On arriving at Bora Bora some of the US troops were put ashore, and we heard that there had been a mutiny on the `Lothian' half a dozen stroppy matelotes had played up because there was an acute water shortage on board and the Admiral made them parade in clean pressed whites every day, also someone had painted Rear Admiral Talbot's initials on his cabin door, in white paint, this is all that we knew about the mutiny, I did not know any more until I read the book "Mutiny in Force X" by Bill Glenton about 1995, then many things became clear, the ships company of HMS Lothian had walked off the ship at Balboa, we then pushed on to New Guinea as there was something big coming off and we were to be part of it.
Approaching Finschhaven at the end of Sept. 1944, ` Glenearn' was told to wait for a pilot, Captain Hutchison sent back "I surveyed these waters before you were born " and came in and docked unaided, the rest of the troops and the young seamen were put ashore, the something `big' was the invasion of the Philippines, there were talks held with the top US brass, US officer in charge of landing craft was known as "Dan Dan the Amphibious Man" who gave permission for us to take part as long as we only used US landing craft, LCVPs (Higgins Craft) which of course did not fit our davits.
X Force had over 100 landing craft so could carry 3500 troops or more but were not required, A US sergeant drawled that it would not look good on the news "stateside" to see British landing craft at the Liberation of the Philippines after Gen. McArthur's much trumpeted "I Shall Return'.
X Force was broken up, 'Glenearn `and 'Emp. Spearhead `were sent down to Cairns and Townsville to train the Australian Army for amphibious landings, it was on Trinity Beach that we were instructed to practice re-embarking troops from the beach for an operation on Nth Borneo, but we heard no more as Gen. McArthur needed all available ships for the Philippine campaign, the Aussies enjoyed the 'errins' in', a big change for them from their Bully Beef!! The other ships were sent to various destinations around the SW Pacific, and now as a unit of the USN we were given a number, HMS Glenearn became HMS PZ 47 or something like that.
The Australian troops came on board in their faded jungle greens and slouch hats, they had a yellowish tinge to their skins which they said was due to the anti-malaria drug Atabrin that they had to take, one of the first to come on board was a bloke who stopped and looked around, then said `I've been on this ship before, this is the ship that evacuated us off of Crete (1941)'
Captain Hutchison had the troops and Ships Company assemble on deck to explain the programme, he started off by saying `I hate Australians!! A big silence followed this announcement - then said `I was waiting for my wife outside a West End cinema in London and these Australians asked me what time the last feature started,(this was in reference to cinemas having a uniformed commissionaire outside) this bought a bit of a laugh, and every one settled down, the troops were on board for a week at a time then back to port and embark the next lot, the first lot we ran in a bloke asked me how far out we were going to drop them off as on an exercise with the USN they had to grab "shorty" (4ft in high heels)before he disappeared beneath the waves, I said you won't even get your feet wet they didn't, a run ashore was different, the pubs closed at 6pm so about 5.45 everyone bought as many drinks as possible, lined them up outside on the footpath against the wall, when the doors were closed we kept drinking outside for another 30 min or so.
December 1944 saw `Glenearn' back in New Guinea carrying troops to various places sometimes Australian troops, sometimes US troops, on the occasions when both were carried at the same time they had to be kept apart, they were not compatible, (no matter what present day politicians would like to tell us) we knew that ashore there had been many a punch up, and according to the Aussies a shoot out!! the Aust. troop deck exited into the port alleyway, and they were allowed forward to the Fore Well Deck, the US troop deck exited into the starboard alleyway and were allowed to go aft to the After Well Deck, and at specific places marines were on duty to make sure that they didn't come in contact with each other, a "sorry this part of ship out of bounds to troops" was sufficient to turn them around, at times `Glenearn' proceeded independently, sometimes' in company' with the Emp. Spearhead, Xmas 1944 was spent at Hollandia (now Jayapura) in Humboldt Bay, Xmas dinner was as near as possible normal fare, no plastic in those days, so the chickens were frozen in Hessian bags, some uncharitable soul reckoned the bags would taste better than the chicken I had no such complaint and enjoyed the day, in the Islands courtesy of the USN we were issued with two bottles of beer per month per man, only to be consumed while in port, in Nth New Guinea with temperatures over 100 degrees even a warm beer was like nectar from the gods, the few teetotal blokes had no problem swapping their bottles, what a difference from Xmas 1943.(RMAQ Jack Eaves)

1944. August - March 1945. 'Force X' by Jack Eaves RM CH\111853, Bowman of LCA 994, 535 Flotilla HMS Glenearn.
Part Two. Xmas day 1943 alongside in some far north Scottish town, dark grey granite stone quay and buildings, a very grey day, cold and blowing hard, I was Corporal of the Gangway, the place was deserted, not a soul about, just after mid-morning the Officer of the Watch and the Quartermaster just disappeared so I went up to the next deck where I had a much better view of the quay and anybody approaching the gangway and partially out of the wind, from behind me came a seaman dressed in a faded boiler suit carrying two small galvanized buckets, I stepped aside to let him pass and saw that the buckets were about a third full with a dark brown liquid, he just grinned and continued on his way, later when I was off watch on the mess deck the Sergeant put up a new roster on the notice board, the Rum Locker had been broken in to so the marines had to stand guard on it until it could be repaired, the seaman's or the stokers mess must have had merry Xmas 1943. I kept stumm.
Also in the tropics fresh water was a problem, only salt water showers, so when it seemed. the ship was heading into a rain squall we would scamper below, strip off and wait on the fore well deck for the squall to hit and with our soap lather up, the deck would be awash with soapsuds and we hoped the squall would last long enough to rinse off.
In the Pacific `Glenearn' in addition to the landing craft also carried a small helicopter for submarine surveillance, a pad had been built on the port side, just aft of the fo'c'sle, partly over the fore well deck, it could take off from there OK but could not land. It was on floats and would land on the water near the starboard bow, there was a lifting eye in the centre of the blades and it was then was lifted in board with the derrick, and made fast, also as part of the ships company there was a `Beach Party' of RN commandos, these were sometimes put ashore on a dark night by LCA, then picked up again before dawn, by sunrise `Glenearn' was well away, they never discussed their work, but it was assumed that it was clandestine beach reconnaissance.
For months we had scrubbed our web belts, and with salt water and a touch of Milton they were very white and clean, then the powers that be decreed that hence forth they would blancoed green and scaffold planks were set up on the after well deck `Blanco for the use off' the deck being hosed down after, this was not popular as the blanco seemed to get into everything on the mess deck, Cpl. Bates asked if everyone was willing to give him 2 bob so that he could buy up all the blanco in the canteen this we did, so the entire stock was bought up and dumped over the side, blanco not being available in the canteen any more we happily went back to scrubbing our belts.
In Jan. 1945 `Glenearn' with US troops bound for Leyte called in to Manus Island, a signal was sent ashore with a request for water, the answer was `no water available for 24 hrs' Captain Hutchison's answer was' enough water on board to last ships company 24 hrs, none for 800 US troops', the water `barge' was alongside in an hour or so, the `barge ' was a huge bamboo raft on which was a water tank, generator, and pump, we then proceeded to Leyte and discharged the troops and returned to Hollandia, on the return the lookout reported `Smoke coming from the sea' it was a submarines snorkel, `Action Stations' was sounded, `Glenearn' went to full speed ahead, heeled over making a tight turn to port, and raced to the position, the sub had dived, some depth charges were dropped, and debris from packing cases surfaced, the Japs still had isolated garrisons that had been leapfrogged, and were supplied by submarine, between Finschhaven and Hollandia the Japanese still occupied Wewak.
There would have been hundreds and hundreds of ships in the SW Pacific, far from any major ports, fresh vegetables were a big problem, so we had de-hydrated potatoes, beef, onions, carrot, and apple?? Was that greenish stuff cabbage?? Who knows!! It looked like green pasta strips, when word got around that fresh spuds were on board, everyone looked forward to dinner, we were like kids at a Xmas party, never was the humble spud so revered, the flour was full of weevils so the bread, pastry and duff contained plenty of them, not that all this worried us as we remained a very healthy and happy mob, so it done us no harm, extract from the `Glenearn ' magazine Jan. 1945, "the record breaking weevil from the bakery this week went to No 13 mess. Protests are being lodged at this favouritism."
The next convoy from Hollandia was a slow one to Luzon, Captain Hutchison said that this was our last "run" for USN, 'Glenearn was acting as vice- commodore, the convoy that had left a couple of days earlier had lost several ships, so lookouts were doubled and trebled, a lone LST going south passed the convoy, we heard later that it had been torpedoed in a position that the convoy had been in that morning, a couple of hours earlier, an Officer making his rounds asked me why I hadn't reported something floating by , I said that I couldn't see it, he thought I was having a go at him and put me on a charge pending the MO report, an eye test revealed that I was short sighted, so there was no more lookout duty for me.
Three or four days out there were three small freighters that could not keep up the speed so gradually they slowly dropped astern of the convoy, there was a huge steep swell running that s