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The Royal Marines Projecting Power since 1664 - a Geo History

The Royal Marines - A Geo History 1664 to Present

The Globe & Laurel March/April 2018

by Simon Biggs

Even before I was a young Marine in training I remember seeing a poster that showed the Corps on Operations across the world throughout the Cold War period with one famous year where it showed a tropical beach, it said that this year the Royal Marines took a holiday!

We all know that we have a long and varied history and that the Globe in our crest represents the fact that Marines really have been busy projecting power since 1664 and have fought in every dark corner and every climate imaginable.

My project is to bring some of these moments alive, and to put in context the considerable effect the Royal Marines have had globally by mapping some of the key historic moments from the raising of the Maritime Regiment to our present-day Commando role.

This includes early actions in the 16 and 1700's both onboard and ashore as the country expanded its influence overseas, trading, colonising and warring and later the Royal Marines’ significant and often forgotten contribution to the wars of the 1800's in Europe and America, often at the vanguard of Empire.

Finally, to the last 118 years of modern military history manning turrets on Ironclads, the First World War and later Combined Operations and Commando actions in Europe, the Far East and Korea, our withdrawal from Empire, counter insurgency in Malaya, Palestine and Borneo, and modern war fighting from the Falklands to Iraq and Afghanistan.

Through my research I have discovered many interesting facts, for example the amphibious assault in Egypt where the Marines charged the French so repeatedly and with such determination and gallantry that they earned for themselves the cognomen of ‘The Bulldogs of the Army’ only 130 miles from Port Said where 45 Cdo RM would carry out the world’s first Heli-borne assault 150 years later.

I have also started to pin selected memorials erected to units and individuals, some forgotten except by a very few, for example the memorial on a desert road in Kuwait to eight members of 3 Cdo Bde and four US servicemen onboard the CH46 killed deploying into Iraq in 2003 and the small bridge named after a young Army Medic attached to 45 Cdo Gp RM and posthumously awarded the VC for saving the lives of many of his troop under fire before being fatally wounded himself.

I am lucky enough to have visited both of these memorials in the past and mapping them for others to see has been an honour.

I hope to inspire those interested in our Corps and its history and provide a reference that is easy to use and helps to visualise the true extent of the Royal Marines footprint over the last 354 years.

For more information please contact me via my website or e mail

Originally published in The Globe & Laurel March/April 2018

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