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James Louis Moulton

Updated: Oct 16, 2023

James Louis Moulton was born on 3 June 1906, the son of J. D. Moulton. He was educated at Queen Elizabeth's Grammar School, Barnet, and Sutton Valence School. He married Barbara Aline Coode in 1937, with whom he had one son and one daughter.

James Louis Moulton by Hay Wrightson Ltd bromide print, circa 1960s NPG x181132 © National Portrait Gallery, London (reproduced under licence)

He joined the Royal Marines, 1924, and served on HMS Rodney, 1927-9, and HMS Revenge, 1929-30. He volunteered for the Fleet Air Arm and served in 460 and 462 Flights in the aircraft carrier HMS Glorious in the Mediterranean, 1931, and in 824 and 825 Squadrons in HMS Eagle on the China Station, 1933-5. He returned to general service and was sent to Alexandria, during the Abyssinian crisis, with a Royal Marine anti-aircraft battery, 1935.

He attended Staff College, Camberley, 1938. He was appointed GSO3 in the operations section of the British Expeditionary Force, 1939, and was involved in the evacuation at Dunkirk, 1940. He was appointed GSO1 of Force 121, 1942, and took part in Operation Ironclad, the assault on Diego Suarez and occupation of the island of Madagascar. He formed 48 Commando and commanded them during D-Day and the campaign in northern France and Belgium, 1944.

CO 48 (RM) Cdo, Lt Col J. Moulton, watches a Canadian M-10 tank destroyer approaching a disabled Royal Marines Centaur tank during the attack on the WN26 strongpoint, Langrune-sur-Mer, 7 June 1944, colourised by Champagne Commando @ChampagneCdo

He took command of 4 Commando in Germany, 1945, and was mentioned in dispatches.

After the war, he directed the Small Arms School, Browndown, and the Commando School, Bickleigh, 1947-9, where he pioneered marine training in mountain and Arctic warfare. He served on the staff of the Commandant General, Royal Marines, 1949-52. He commanded 3 Commando based in Malta, 1952-4. He was promoted Major-General and took charge of Portsmouth Group Royal Marines, 1954-7, initiating the use of helicopters for troop landings. He was Chief of Amphibious Warfare, 1957-61.

He was Colonel Commandant of the Royal Marines, 1969-72.

He wrote a number of books and was naval editor, 1964-9, and editor, 1969-73, of "Brassey's Annual".

He was awarded the DSO, 1944, the OBE, 1950, and the CB, 1956.

He died on 22 November 1993.

His publications include: "Haste to the Battle" (1963); "Defence in a Changing World" (1964); "The Norwegian Campaign of 1940" (1966); "British Maritime Strategy in the 1970s" (1969); "The Royal Marines" (1972); and "The Battle for Antwerp" (1978). [1]

Lieutenant Colonel James Louis Moulton, Commanding Officer 48RM Commando until March 1945, was awarded the Distinguished Service Order for gallant and distinguished services while operating with the Army during the successful landings in Normandy.

  • Mentioned in Despatches for good services with the British Army of the Rhine.

  • November 1944 Commanding Officer 48RM Commando during the assault on Walcheren.

Post war he commanded 3rd Commando Brigade RM in the Mediterranean, and subsequently became Chief of Amphibious Warfare.

  • 1950 - New Year's Honours list Lt. Col. Moulton was appointed OBE.

  • 1952 - Officer Commanding 3rd Commando Brigade. He was later appointed Chief of Amphibious Warfare.

  • 1956 - New Year's Honours list Maj. Gen. Moulton OBE, DSO, was appointed CB.

  • 1st January 1971 - Appointed Colonel Commandant Royal Marines.

His death was announced in Commando Association newsletter 98 issued March 1994 where their General Secretary Henry Brown OBE wrote this obituary:

8 RM Commando Officers 1944 nine of whom were later killed in action 48 RM Commando Officers 1944. Camp C19,Southampton Common 1944. Photo courtesy of Wes Davies from his copy of the booklet "48RM Commando - The Story 1944-46" published and issued to all ranks not long after the war ended. [Commando Veterans Archive]

"As many comrades will already have read the excellent detailed obituary notices which appeared in the national press, there is little to be added to the long list of accomplishments of our esteemed late Patron, General James Louis Moulton, CB., DSO., OBE., RM., or General 'Jim', as he was affectionately known to most of us.

Although only privileged to enjoy his patronage in recent years, it was a period in which many of our events were greatly enhanced by his presence, and it is indeed so sad that we are now denied the joy of inviting him again to come amongst us. He was at all times so kind, considerate and helpful, and it is most satisfying to know that he much prized his appointment as a Patron of our Association.

Our deepest sympathy has been conveyed to Mrs. Barbara Moulton and her family in their great loss."


Related Royal Marines 'Dits'

Read More/ Web Link:

  1. Moulton, James Louis (Oral history) - IWM Audio Via RoyalMarinesHistory Audio & Video Files

  2. You Tube: 48 Cdo Nan Red (via RM History)

  3. Smith, Dennis (Oral history) IWM Audio


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