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Royal Marines

On the 28th October 1664 an Order-in-Council was issued calling for 1200 soldiers to be recruited for service in the Fleet, to be known as the Duke of York and Albany's Maritime Regiment of Foot. As the Duke of York was The Lord High Admiral, it became known as the Admiral's Regiment. The Regiment was paid by the Admiralty, it and its successors being the only long service troops in the 17th and 18th century navy.

They were therefore not only soldiers but also seamen, who were part of the complement of all warships. In 1704, during the war with France and Spain, the British attacked the Rock of Gibraltar: 1,900 British and 400 Dutch marines prevented Spanish reinforcements reaching the fortress. Later, British ships bombarded the city while marines and seamen stormed the defences. These later withstood nine months of siege. Today the Royal Marines display only the battle honour "Gibraltar", and their close relationship with the Royal Netherlands Marine Corps continues.

Throughout the 18th and 19th century the Corps played a major part in fighting to win Britain the largest empire ever created. Marines were aboard the first ships to arrive in Australia in 1788. The policy of "Imperial Policing" took the Marines to the bombardment of Algiers in 1816, to the Ashantee Wars, and to the destruction of the Turkish Fleet at Navarino in 1827. In 1805 some 2700 Royal Marines took part in the great victory at Trafalgar. Closer to home, they maintained civil order in Northern Ireland and in Newcastle during the coal dispute of 1831. By the outbreak of war in 1914, Britain had the largest fleet in commission in the world, with all ships above that of destroyer size having Royal Marines detachments. Onboard ship, marines were required to operate one of the main gun turrets, as well as secondary armament. Royal Marines also fought on land, notably in the amphibious assault at Gallipoli in 1915, together with ANZAC forces, and led the famous assault on the harbour at Zeebrugge in 1918.

During World War Two some 80,000 men served in the Royal Marines, and they continued to operate at sea and in land formations, but 1942 saw the formation of the first Royal Marines Commandos. 5 RM Commandos were amongst the first to land on D Day, and two thirds of all the landing craft involved were crewed by Royal Marines. 16,000 members of the Corps took part in Operation "Overlord" in many roles, some even manning tanks. After the war the Royal Marines spent much time in action in the Far East, including involvement in the Malayan emergency and in Borneo, and also in Korea, Suez, Aden, and Cyprus.


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