116th Inf Bde RM
Unit/ Formation: 116th Inf Bde RM
Period/ Conflict: World War II
Date/s: 14th February 1945
The closing months of 1944 found the Army feeling the pinch of man-power shortage, 116th Infantry Brigade RM along with 117th were created to address the manpower shortage of 21st Army Group in early 1945.
Drawing a substantial part of their personnel from former members of the Royal Marines Division, which had been broken up in 1943 and the troops distributed to Marine Commandos, or retrained as landing craft crew, these same landing-craft crews, who turned back into soldiers with even greater expedition than they had taken to the sea.
Again the policy of basic infantry training proved its value and were quickly re-mustered as regular infantry, and organised as a standard Army brigade.
The 116th Brigade was sent into action in February 1945, serving under the First Canadian Army in the crossing of the Maas, and in the advance across the Rhine into north-west Germany to the naval ports, with the 28th Battalion particularly distinguishing itself in the fighting around Oldenburg, and 27th Battalion fighting with the 4th Canadian Armoured Division in their advance through Oldenburg towards Wilhelmshaven.
When the collapse came the 117th Brigade was called forward hastily, its 33rd Battalion being flown forward from Belgium to take part in the occupation of Kiel.
These R.M. formations were rushed into the German naval ports, Kiel, Wilhelmshaven, Emden, Brunsbuttel and later Cuxhaven, to deal with the crews of U-boats and destroyers coming in to surrender, often in a recalcitrant frame of mind, and also with the thousands of troops who poured in by ship.
In Kiel in one hectic night 21 destroyers were taken over and 14,000 soldiers removed from shipping in the harbour by the Marines.
The brigade remained in northern Germany after the surrender as part of XXX Corps, with their headquarters at Buxtehude, but operating in the naval ports of Wilhelmshaven, Emden, Brunsbüttel, and Cuxhaven, overseeing the capitulation of German naval ships and personnel, until returning to the UK at the end of June 1945 to be disbanded.
EXTRACTs FROM REVIEW OF ROYAL MARINE OPERATIONS 1939-45, by DUILIUS PUBLISHED IN THE NAVAL REVIEW Vol XXXIII No 3 August 1945 CROSSING THE RHINE.