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Formation and Timeline of the RMLI

Updated: Apr 15, 2021

On 30 January 1855, Her Majesty Queen Victoria approved an Admiralty Minute designating the infantry of the Royal Marines a 'Light Corps' with the title Corps of Royal Marines' Light Infantry.

1856 - October - Canton

1857 - June - Fatshan Creek

1857 - 1st and 2nd Battalions left England for China

1858 - January - Canton

2,100 Royal Marines, took part in the attack on Canton

1858 - May - Pei-Ho River, Taku Forts, Pekin

  • The Taku (Degu) forts were on the Hai River, 37 miles east of Tientsin (Tianjin), China. They were stoutly built and were improved in the 1850's by Seng-ko-Lin-Ch'in.

  • Second Opium War (20 May 1858). An Anglo-French force under British Admiral Sir Michael Seymour captured Canton (Guangzhou) on 28-29 December 1857. It then moved north and captured the Taku forts but held them only briefly.

1859 - June -August - Taku Forts

  • Second Opium War (25 June 1859) When the Chinese refused to admit foreign diplomats to Peking (Beijing), British Admiral Sir James Hope attempted to force passage of the Peiho (Han) River with eleven gun boats and a landing force of 1,100 men, but met severe resistance. He was himself twice wounded, and two ships were sunk beneath him. Of the eleven gunboats, six were sunk or disabled. The landing force became bogged down in mud and had to retreat. The British lost 89 killed and 345 wounded.

1859 - October - Pekin

1863 - Japan - Yokahama

1864 - September - Japan - Shimonoseki

1882 - August - Ismalia, Tel-el-Maskhuta, Tel-el-Kebir, Cairo

1884 - Suakin, Red Sea - El Teb, Tamaii,

1884 - December - Korti, Metemmeh, Abu Klea

1899 - November - Graspan kopje

1900 - China - Boxer Rising/Rebellion

The Battle of Miraumont. On the evening of 16th February 1RMLI lined up for the attack with the objective of taking the sunken road and establishing strong points 50m on the other side. The starting strength of 1RMLI was quoted as being around 500. At the end of the day’s fighting only 100 were fit for duty.

1913 - three divisions of RMLI - Chatham, Portsmouth, Plymouth. All RMLI recruits were sent to Depot at Walmer, Kent for training before being posted to their Divisions.

1914 - Royal Marine Brigade formed in August - to Ostend. Later joined Royal Naval Division.

1915 - Dardanelles, Gallipoli as part of 3rd Brigade of Royal Naval Division.

1916 - January 9 - left Gallipoli

1916 - May 21 - arrived in France - RMLI were in 188th Brigade with the Anson and Home Battalions.

1916 - October/November - Ancre, Beaumont Hamel.

1917 - February - Miraumont

1917 - April - Gavrelle and Arleux

1917 - October/November - Passchendaele

1917 - December - Cambrai

1918 - March/April - Aveluy Wood, Hidenberg Line, Canal du Nord, Canal de L'Escaut

The entire 4th Battalion Royal Marines was awarded the Victoria Cross for the action, triggering Rule 13 of the Victoria Cross warrant stipulating that a ballot must be drawn to select the recipients.

1918 - Zeebrugge

1919 - July - 6th Bn, RMLI Murmansk, Russia - disbanded October 1919

1921 - 11th Bn, RMLI at Gallipoli Chanak crisis

1923 - amalgamation of the Royal Marine Artillery and the Royal Marine Light Infantry to form the Royal Marines

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