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The Royal Marines A Geo History 1664 - Present

'Dits' - A monthly History Blog
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In this months edition 05/31/2020 :

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Battle for the Falklands - The Skirmish at Top Malo House - 31 May 1982

By Si Biggs on May 31, 2020 07:46 am

The Skirmish at Top Malo House was fought on 31 May 1982 during the Falklands War, between 1st Assault Section Argentine Special Forces from 602 Commando Company and a patrol formed from staff and trainees of the Royal Marines Mountain and Arctic Warfare Cadre.

Captain Rod Boswell of the Royal Marines Mountain and Arctic Warfare Cadre and 18 of his men conducted the operation following a report on the 27 May by a four-man patrol sited in an observation post (OP) on Bull Hill.[5] This patrol had established their OP on 21 May as one of a number of Brigade forward reconnaissance teams [5] and observed two Argentine UH-1 helicopters drop a patrol of about "sixteen" men in the vicinity of Top Malo House, a deserted shepherd's house 400 metres (440 yd) from their position.

As it was getting dark, a Harrier GR3 strike against the house was ruled out and as the location was out of artillery range, this option was also dismissed. Instead, the British planned an assault early on the morning of 31 May, with the designated force landing by helicopter in dead ground about 1,000 metres (1,100 yd) away from the objective.

"The fire group quickly destroyed the target house, but the Argentine's stormed out, firing back and very quickly two Marines, Sergeant Terry Doyle in the assault group and Sergeant Rocky Stone of the fire group, had been shot and injured. Then Corporal Steve Groves was shot in the chest.

The assault group had almost charged down on to Top Malo, blazing firepower from the hip and with Boswell leading."

Commando, David Reynolds, p. 146, Sutton, 2001

Image: David Pentland "Never in a house..." Captain Rod Boswell RM

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Rear Guard Action - The Sacrifice Army

By Si Biggs on May 30, 2020 07:24 pm

Unit/ Formation: Royal Marines Location: France Period/ Conflict: World War II Year: 1940 Date/s: May 1940 Calais – Friday 24 to Sunday 26 May 1940 After the Boulogne operation Blue Watch was coming off leave, White Watch was on Coastal Defence and Red Watch was supposed to go on leave. I was in Red Watch and because we were available, we were sent to Calais.

As we came down the stairs from our accommodation to ‘Go Ashore’ we were approached by the Sergeant Major, who ordered us to listen out for the ‘General Assembly’ to be announced and to be prepared to muster on the parade ground within two minutes. We asked him what was happening to which he replied that we were going on another trip. ‘By the way’, he added, ‘Go to the Armourer’s shop and sign out your guns’. That was the two Vickers machine guns, tripods and water coolant as well as our personal .45 revolvers.

We were known as the ‘Sacrifice Army’ for that operation. Before we left for Calais we knew we were on a lost cause. A young ‘Geordie’ in our squad called Thwaites had been talking to a Brigadier’s daughter. She had overheard her parents talking and she was able to tell us, ‘You will be going to Calais, and you will not be coming back’.

The main reason we were sent there was to destroy the Calais harbour installations and reinforce the troops already in position. Unknown to us at that time, Winston Churchill, the wartime Prime Minister, had taken a leading part in planning a series of rearguard actions designed to allow the retreat of the Allied forces at Dunkirk to continue.

That Friday ninety-six Royal Marines and four officers headed for Calais on a Royal Naval destroyer. The officers included Captain Curtis, Lieutenant Bruce, Lieutenant Hunter and the Machine Gun Officer, Lieutenant Scott. The Senior NCOs were Colour Sergeant Reid and Sergeant Mitchell. The Junior NCOs were Corporal Harper and Lance Corporal O’Farran.

There were supposed to be some troops from the Royal Ulster Rifles with us but their trip was cancelled.

While we were crossing the Channel to Calais, Lieutenant Scott moved around the ship talking to everyone. He came and sat down beside me and started to talk. He said, ’You’re Irish, aren’t you?’ I said I was. He then asked me if I was superstitious and I replied that I wasn’t really. He told me that he was superstitious about some things. When I asked him what superstitions he had he related how a single magpie had flown across the road on the way to the Royal Navy destroyer. Lieutenant Scott was joking with me and had to bite his lip to stop himself from laughing. I told him the Irish also believed that superstition. He finished off by saying, ‘Just keeping you going.’ Before the weekend was up I would mistakenly pronounce him dead.

Our first action took place on the way into Calais harbour. Two mortar shells exploded harmlessly above the destroyer on the jetty. Because the jetty was well above us there were no casualties. It did not take us long to disembark from the destroyer after that hot reception. As we were disembarking other troops were boarding.

For the next three days there was a constant run of small ships from Calais harbour evacuating the Allied non-combatant troops. The ships never brought in fresh troops after we landed.

The Royal Marines were supposed to meet with French Marines but we never met them. We eventually found them on Sunday morning 26 May 1940 just before we were captured. They were all at the railway station, all drunk with their weapons piled up.

My mate ‘Geordie’ Thwaites said, ‘Paddy, I don’t know how to pray. Say a prayer for me.’ I replied that I had already said it. ‘What did you say?’ he asked. I replied ‘God help us.’ He asked, ‘Is that enough?’ ‘I think so.’ I replied. Bill Balmer Read More/ Web Link:

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Operation Farrier - Yugoslavia

By Si Biggs on May 30, 2020 03:44 am

,Operation Farrier was a British special forces raid on Mljet island off the coast of German-occupied Yugoslavia (22/24 May 1944).

,After it had been decided on 5 May that ‘Foothound’, the operation planned against Ugljan and Pasman islands in the Adriatic Sea off the Dalmatian coast, should be abandoned in the light of unfavourable intelligence reports about the German strength on Ugljan island, the headquarters of Brigadier T. D. L. Churchill’s 2nd Special Service Brigade, part of Major General R. G. Sturges’s four-brigade Special Service Group, opted instead to undertake another island assault.

,The decision fell on Mljet, which was attacked on the day on which ‘Foothound’ was to have been undertaken. In addition to a small detachment of Yugoslav partisans, Mljet was also the operational area for a US reconnaissance section, and the attack was planned in the light of reports received from these sources, which were ignorant of the operation being planned, about the strength and disposition of the German units on the island. However, one week before the planned assault, the partisans and the US reconnaissance section moved away from the German positions to investigate reports from the local population that the Germans were concealing small ships in sea caves on the western side of the island.

,Adverse weather delayed the start of ‘Farrier’ by two days, and it was during the early hours of 22 May that almost 1,000 commandos, tactically divided into two groups, landed on the south coast of Mljet.

,There followed an encirclement manoeuvre that closed on the German positions at Babino polje. Here the British forces used loudspeakers to demand surrender, but the Germans were nowhere to be found, either because they had pulled back from their positions or because the commandos, who had no local partisans to guide them, became disoriented in the thick forest of Mljet and arrived somewhere other than Babino polje.

,There was thus no fighting, although there was some German mortar fire from points which the commandos could not pinpoint. Exhausted by marching across difficult terrain the night of 23/24 March, the commandos re-embarked and returned to Vis island, nine of their number being reported as missing. A few days later small group of commandos returned to Mljet to search for the missing men, but found only three who had joined forces with the local partisans. Of the other six, one had been killed and five captured by the Germans.

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Bill O' Brien - Only RM DFM

By Si Biggs on May 27, 2020 10:02 am
,,O'BRIEN, William Christopher

Rank: Sergeant

Unit/Base:  3 Commando Bde. Air Squadron

Regiment/Corps: Royal Marines

Service number: PO30684R

Sergeant William O'Brien was awarded the Distinguished Flying Medal for his gallantry during operations on the Falkland Islands.


During the attack on Darwin and Goose Green Sergeant O'Brien piloted a Gazelle helicopter of M Flight, 3rd Commando Brigade Air Squadron. For two days his helicopter conducted supply and casualty evacuation operations, often under enemy fire. With his Flight Commander he also took part in 17 night flying sorties to evacuate wounded personnel and resupply vital ammunition. At times these sorties necessitated flying forward to company lines in the heat of battle and in appalling weather. The conspicuous gallantry and cool professionalism displayed on all these occasions was superb and Sergeant O'Brien made an outstanding contribution. His expertise and competence as a pilot has been widely admired and recognised.

Source: London Gazette 49134, page 12841.

He said afterwards: 'We flew a number of sorties mostly at night in an armed Gazelle, not that we ever used the rockets in anger.

'I am not sure how effective they would have been if we had - they had a fairly basic aiming system just a chinagraph cross on the aircraft windscreen.

'It was the early days of night vision devices.

'They were fairly rudimentary and we taught ourselves how to use them on the way down.' 

His DFM is unique because it was the only one awarded to a Royal Marine and was withdrawn in 1993 so will be the only one ever awarded.

The DFM was introduced in 1918 as the other ranks' equivalent to the DFC, which was awarded to commissioned and warrant officers.

After the Falklands, O'Brien qualified on the Lynx helicopter and in 1984 passed as a flying instructor, once again winning the best student award.

He then served in Turkey and Iraq in Operation Haven then became a flying instructor in the US.

In 2008 he was commissioned into the Royal Navy Reserve with the rank of Lieutenant Commander, and volunteered for Afghanistan, aged 54 he was the oldest pilot flying missions there.

He said at the time: 'I was given an opportunity to deploy and felt obliged to take it, simply because I am still training Apache pilots and I need to see what they are expected to do when they come out of training school.' 

Asked about the differences between flying in Afghanistan and the Falklands, Lt Cdr O'Brien said: 'The intensity is more than I was expecting and is more than I recollect from the other place.

'It is full on all the time. I fly an Apache so I don't feel terribly threatened, although the flying environment is quite hard work sometimes.' 

Quotes and images extracted from

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"Blondie" Hasler - Rearguard at Narvik

By Si Biggs on May 31, 2020 08:05 am

Unit/ Formation,: Royal Marines

Location,: Narvik

Period/ Conflict,: World War II

Year,: 1940

Date/s,: 27th May 1940

Herbert George "Blondie" Hasler, of Cockelshell Heroes fame was a Landing Officer, RM Fortress Unit (Norway) [borne on Portsmouth Division, RM], landing in Narvic supporting the French Foreign Legion in the Norwegian campaign, for which duties he was appointed an Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE), mentioned in despatches, and awarded the French Croix de guerre.

The Fortress Unit, whose normal functions are the landing, transport and installation of anti-aircraft and naval coastal defence gun, and the construction of hutment camps, water storage tanks, pipe-lines and anti-tank obstructions, and the unloading of ships. During the winter of 1939 the Fortress Unit had done invaluable work in the United Kingdom and on the 11th May, commanded by Lieutenant-Colonel (Now Major-General) H.R. Lambert, D.S.C., it arrived in the neighbourhood of Narvik for the purpose of unloading coastal guns, ammunition, oil and stores in preparation for the capture of the town.

This as done, usually under heavy air bombardment, working in shifts all day and all night. On 23rd May a party of two officers and four marines, under Captain H.G. Hasler, was detached with two motor landing craft to transport French tanks for the final assault on Narvik; it was necessary to take them by sea because none of the local bridges or car-ferries could bear the weight. The Narvik Peninsular was then entirely in the hands of the Germans, who were supplied mainly by seaplane and parachute. Against them were the French Foreign Legion, a battalion of Norwegian infantry and a force of Poles. All the British troops, with the exception of some artillery, had been withdrawn from the combat zone. Intercommunications was chiefly by Norwegian “puffers”, heavily built fishing boats, with a single-cylinder oil engine, which, as an officer remarked, is “simple and reliable but a most unpleasant shipmate in every way”.

The marines in the motor landing craft use the puffers as depot ships, eating and sleeping entirely on deck. On one occasion an officer took an armed party ashore with the intention of shooting a sheep to supplement the monotonous rations, but returned empty-handed. The scheme had already been worked to death by the French Legion, and all he found was one sheep (evidently the last in the area) closely guarded by its owner, who also had a gun. A squadron under the command of admiral of the Fleet Lord Cork and Orrery opened the bombardment of Narvik on 27th May.

The motor landing craft landed the tanks and the subsequent assault was successful, the enemy being forced out of the town into the mountains. By that time the remainder of the Royal Marine Fortress Unit had left for England, but Captain Hasler’s party remained to assist in the evacuation of Narvik, which became necessary owing to the increasing bombing attacks on shipping, and helped to embark the rearguard, using a trawler, H.M.S. Man-o’- War, as a depot ship.

She and two other trawlers were the last British ships to sail from Narvik, with the marines on board, and thus, as the detachments of the Sheffield and Glasgow had been first to land in Norway, Captain Hasler and his men were the last to leave.

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Major General Julian Thompson, CB, OBE

By Si Biggs on May 26, 2020 10:47 am

Julian Thompson was born on 7 October 1934 to Major A. J. Thompson DSO MC and Mary Stearns Thompson (née Krause). He was educated at Sherborne School, an all-boys public school in Dorset.

40 Commando in 1975 and commander of 3 Commando Brigade in 1981 and, in that role, was British land commander on the Falkland Islands during the first phase of the conflict ashore.

,Julian Thompson joined the Royal Marines in 1952 a month after his 18th birthday and served for 34 years, in the Near, Middle and Far East, and the Southern and Northern Regions of Europe during which time he commanded on operations at all levels from platoon to brigade.

,During the 1960s he was deployed to Borneo, for the Indonesia–Malaysia confrontation,. He was appointed commanding officer of ,40 Commando Royal Marines in 1975 commanding for two and a half years.

,He commanded 3 Commando Brigade for two years from 1981, the latter period of command included the Falklands War of 1982, in which he planned the initial landings carried out by his Brigade, and fought the majority of the land battles.

,His Brigade in the Falklands war was about 5,500 strong and consisted of three Royal Marine Commandos and two Parachute Battalions, Artillery, Engineers and Helicopters.

,Promoted to major general, he served as commander of the Training Reserve Forces and Special Forces RM from 1983 to 1986. He retired in 1986.

,From 1987 to 1997, he was a senior research fellow ,in "logistics and armed conflict in the modern age" ,at the Department of War Studies, King's College, University of London,. He has been a visiting professor ,at the Department of War Studies of King's since 1997.

,More #RMPeople coming soon:

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NGS in Fox Bay - SBS and 148 Bty

By Si Biggs on May 26, 2020 09:56 am

Unit/ Formation,: SBS

Location,: Knob Island, Fox Bay

Period/ Conflict,: The Falklands War

Year,: 1982

Date/s,: 26 May 1982

,SBS Operations - West Falklands - Fox Bay Dateline : 26th May 1982

,With the British now firmly established on East Falklands, the Argentinean battalion stationed at Fox Bay, West Falklands, could be mustered to attack the British flanks as they prepared to march on Stanley. Something had to be done to harass the Argentinean forces in the area and keep them occupied. Without wanted to commit a large scale unit to attack Fox Bay, the British planners decided to use a deadly combination of Naval gunfire and special forces.

,A team of 2 Naval Gunfire Support (NGS) specialists from 148 Commando Forward Observation Battery escorted by a 5-man SBS delivery and protection team were inserted 5 miles south of West Head by HMS Plymouth. The 148 Commando team was led by Captain Hugh McManners, who had accompanied the SBS on their mission to clear Fanning Head. The team was loaded into a Gemini Rigid Inflatable for the perilous journey. The SBS took a route that followed the coast as this way, to any enemy radar operator they would be hidden amongst the 'clutter' of the coastline.

,Whilst stealthy, the route caused other problems - a thick seaweed-like type of marine-life known as Kelp clogged the boat's outboard motors. The Kelp was so thick close to their proposed landing point that the team decided to update their plans and set up their OP (Observation Position) on Knob Island, overlooking Fox Bay West & Fox Bay East.

,Once Knob Island had been checked out by the SBS, the observers from 148 Commando manned their OP and plotted a list of targets, radioing them back to HMS PLymouth, which took up position on its gun line. With corrections provided by 148 Commando, Plymouth shelled Argentinean fuel stores and ammo dumps. Naval artillery is more accurate than field artillery thanks to a gyroscopically stabilized gun and a computerized aiming system. The ship's main gun can also fire repeatedly. putting many rounds down per minute. The effect of such a powerful weapon system under the direction of highly trained men on the ground caused much consternation and confusion amongst the Argentinean positions.

,The artillery mission complete, the SBS now had the challenge of getting themselves and the FO team back safely. Due to problems with the outboard motors on their boat, and facing strong winds and currents, the SBS fashioned a sail out of crossed paddles and a poncho. The Argentinean forces at Fox Bay, now truly riled up from the shelling, were firing AAA and machine gun fire out to sea in the hope of hitting HMS Plymouth. Whilst this fire was wild and blind, it did stray close to the SBS/148 team, adding as little colour to their evening.

,McManners retaliated by calling in more naval gunfire to cover their escape. It was a hard slog, but eventually the team was picked up by HMS Plymouth and both the SBS and 148 Commando got some well-earned sleep. During the course of the war HMS Plymouth fired 909 4.5 inch shells.

,The Fox Bay operation was followed the next night by a mission to Port Howard by another SBS/148 team

,Original article here:

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Loss of 2 Gazelle and 3 crew from 3 BAS - San Carlos Water

By Si Biggs on May 21, 2020 08:38 pm

,3 Commando Brigade Air Squadron Royal Marines (3 BAS) d,,eployed six Scout and nine Gazelle helicopters to the Falklands, commanded by Major Peter Cameron RM, who was awarded the Military Cross.

,Landings began on 21 May 1982 under the codename Operation Sutton,.

,That day, Sergeants Andy Evans RM and Eddy Candlish in Gazelle XX411 were flying armed escort to a Sea King helicopter that was heading towards Port San Carlos,, when they came under fire and had to ditch in San Carlos Water,.

,Fired on when swimming ashore - Evans was fatally wounded.

,Lieutenant Ken D Francis RM and his crewman, Lance Corporal Brett Giffin set off in Gazelle XX402 to search for them, but were hit by ground fire from a heavy machine gun and were killed instantly, the aircraft crashing on a hillside. Only Candlish survived.

,Sergeant Edgar Candlish received a Mention in Despatches in recognition of his service during the landings at San Carlos, East Falkland, May 1982. He was crewman of a Gazelle helicopter which was forced to ditch in the sea after the pilot was wounded by enemy fire. Sgt. Candlish managed to tow the wounded pilot 600 yards back to the shore and render first aid until relieved by medical orderlies.

,The bodies were recovered to SS Canberra, and when that ship was ordered to leave the Falklands and head for South Georgia, Evans, Francis and Giffin were buried at sea in a special service attended by many on board the liner.

,The remaining Gazelle XX412 of the three deployed with 'C' Flight, also came under heavy small arms fire in the area but managed to avoid casualties and return for inspection and repairs. The REME technicians were able to repair the damage whilst still under constant air attack by Argentinian 'Skyhawk' and 'Mirage' ground attack jets but returned the aircraft for operational use. Gazelle XX412 continued to be fully operational for the remainder of the conflict.

,The squadron was involved in every major ground battle during the campaign in a variety of roles; reconnaissance, liaison, the movement of ammunition to the front line, and the recovery of casualties from forward positions. Its helicopters flew a total of 2,110 hours in just over three weeks reflecting a remarkable rate of serviceability and flying.

,Distinguished Flying Crosses(DFCs) were awarded to Lieutenant R J Nunn (posthumously) and Captain J P Niblet RM.

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Battle for the Falklands - Landing at San Carlos - 21 May 1982

By Si Biggs on May 21, 2020 07:42 am

The British Task Force started to land at San Carlos Bay on May 21st 1982 after receiving approval from London, under command of Brigadier J H Thompson, Royal Marines of 3 Commando Brigade.

Men from 40, 42 and 45 Commando were landed in San Carlos Bay along with men from 2nd & 3rd Parachute Battalions.

The main priorities were to secure the beachhead from attack and land as many men and supplies as was possible. To prevent nearby Argentine forces attacking the beachhead and disrupting it, groups of SBS and SAS Special Forces were sent out to deal with known and possible threats on the approaches and flanks.

1. FANNING HEAD RAID - SBS land by helicopter from Antrim; Argentine positions engaged by machine guns under Antrim's covering fire

2. DARWIN RAID - D Sqdn SAS landed by helicopter to hold down Argentine forces around Darwin and Goose Green. Support fire from Ardent out in Grantham Sound

3. AMPHIBIOUS SHIPS - 1st ASSAULT WAVE: Fearless - 40 Cdo by Fearless LCU; Norland - 2 Para by Intrepid LCU; 2nd ASSAULT WAVE: Intrepid - 3 Para; Stromness - 45 Cdo; RESERVE: Canberra - 42 Cdo; SUPPLY TRANSPORTS - Europic Ferry, Fort Austin, Sir Galahad, Sir Geraint, Sir Lancelot, Sir Percivale, Sir Tristram

4. SAN CARLOS (Blue Beach) - 40 Cdo RM and 3 Cdo Bde HQ, Arty Bty. Also 2 Para which moved towards Sussex Mountains

5. AJAX BAY (Red Beach) - 45 Cdo RM. Also Brigade Maintenance Area, Cdo Logistic Regt, Arty Bty

6. PORT SAN CARLOS (Green Beach) - 3 Para. Also 42 Cdo RM, Arty Bty

7. British aircraft lost just east of Port San Carlos - [b11,b12] Gazelles


8. BACK TO CVBG - DD Antrim, Transports Canberra, Europic Ferry, Norland

9. AMPHIBIOUS SHIPS IN SAN CARLOS WATER- Assault ships Fearless, Intrepid, RFAs Fort Austin, Stromness, LSLs Sir Galahad, Sir Geraint, Sir Lancelot, Sir Percivale, Sir Tristram

10. ESCORTS REMAINING - Antrim (UXB damage), Ardent (SINKING), Argonaut (UXB damage), Brilliant (minor damage), Broadsword (minor damage), Plymouth, Yarmouth

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Second Corps of Colonial Marines

By Si Biggs on May 31, 2020 01:05 am

Unit/ Formation,: Colonial Marines

Location,: North America

Period/ Conflict,: War of 1812

Year,: 1814

Date/s,: 18 May 1814

The Second Corps of Colonial Marines served from 18 May 1814 until 20 August 1816.

HQ 's Tangier Island/ Cumberland Island/ Negro Fort, Royal Naval Dockyard, Bermuda

Major Engagements: Battle of Bladensburg - Burning of Washington - Battle of North Point - Battle of Fort Peter

Vice-Admiral Sir Alexander Cochrane, on taking up his command as Commander-in-Chief of British forces on the North Atlantic Station, ordered the recruitment of a body of Colonial Marines.

Rear Admiral George Cockburn, Cochrane's second in command on the Atlantic coast, implemented this order, recruiting the second Corps of Colonial Marines. They served as part of the British forces on the Atlantic and Gulf coasts of the United States during that war.

On 2 April 1814, Cochrane issued a proclamation to all persons wishing to emigrate. Any persons would be received by the British, either at a military outpost or aboard British ships. Those seeking sanctuary could either enter His Majesty's Forces, or go "as free settlers to the British possessions in North America or the West Indies". (There was a historical precedent with Lord Dunmore's Proclamation of 7 November, 1775.)

By 10 May, Tangier Island off the coast of Virginia had been occupied to offer an accessible location for those seeking refuge. Males among the refugees were given the option 'to become blue Jackets, take up arms or join the working party' that was constructing Fort Albion, and its associated infrastructure.

The Corps was embodied on 18 May 1814 and made its combat debut in the raid on Pungoteague Creek on 30 May 1814, a skirmish alternatively known as the Battle of Rumley's Gut. The Corps then participated in actions in the Chesapeake campaign. Their debut was commented by James Ross, captain of HMS Albion, as 'a most excellent specimen of what they are likely to be. Their conduct was marked by great spirit and vivacity, and perfect obedience.' 'Though one of them ] was shot and died instantly in front of the others at Pangoteake, it did not daunt or check the others, but on the contrary animated them to seek revenge.'

Cockburn's initial impressions were positive, stating the new recruits were 'getting on astonishingly' and were 'really fine fellows'. In subsequent correspondence Cockburn mentions that recruits had behaved 'unexpectedly well' in several engagements, and had not committed any 'improper outrages.' The three companies of the Corps were to serve alongside their ship-borne Royal Marine counterparts from the Chesapeake squadron, commanded by Cockburn (originally comprising HMS Albion, HMS Dragon, HMS Loire, HMS Jasseur, and the schooner HMS St Lawrence) in a series of raids.

After the British failed to destroy the American Chesapeake Bay Flotilla at the Battle of St. Jerome Creek, the British conducted a number of coastal raids on the towns of Calverton, Huntingtown, Prince Frederick, Benedict and Lower Marlborough.

For instance, 30 Colonial and 180 Royal Marines, in 12 boats, raided Benedict on 15 June. A force of 50 Colonial Marines and 180 Royal Marines attacked the battery at Chesconessex Creek on 24 June 1814, two days before the Chesapeake Bay Flotilla escaped from St. Leonard's Creek.

The arrival on 19 July of a battalion of Royal Marines, which had left Bermuda on 30 June, enabled the squadron to mount further expeditions ashore. After a series of diversionary raids, the Marines were landed once more at Benedict on 19 August, this time accompanied by recently arrived Peninsular War army veterans. The battalion was to accompany the Colonial Marines in the attacks on Bladensburg and Washington in August 1814. A company fought at the Battle of Bladensburg, and the other two companies are therefore understood to have taken part in the burning of Washington.

Second Lieutenant Lewis Agassiz (1793-1866) was leading one of the firing parties into Washington D.C. as part of the burning of Washington during the War of 1812. The Agassiz family was granted a Coat of Arms, depicting a torch, for his part in this action. The Navy casualty return for the attack on Washington mentions it lost one man killed and six wounded, of whom the fatality and three of the wounded were from the Corps of Colonial Marines.

On 3 September 1814 three companies of the Corps were to join with the three remaining companies of the 3rd Battalion Royal Marines to make a new 3rd Battalion Royal and Colonial Marines. All three companies fought at the Battle of North Point. A fourth company was created in December 1814. The Corps conducted further recruitment on the coast of Georgia in the first quarter of 1815, when two further companies were formed, with sergeants taken from those companies recruited in the Chesapeake. The Corps served in many actions in the Chesapeake during 1814, with combat losses at Pungoteague and Baltimore.

Greater losses to the Corps occurred from an outbreak of dysentery in the winter of 1814, which killed the surgeon and 69 men of the battalion. When a dozen British sailors were captured near Tangier Island on 20 June 1814, their account of hardships encountered with food and water on the island, and the building of Fort Albion, were reported in a local newspaper.

The Corps's last combat during the War of 1812 took place in January 1815, when members of the Corps formed part of the British land forces in the attack on the fort at Point Peter.

Members of the Corps were involved in the occupation of Cumberland Island off of the coast of Georgia, where they assisted the emigration of several hundred slaves up to the time of the promulgation of the Peace Treaty.

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30 Cdo AU - Capture of Jet Engines

By Si Biggs on May 15, 2020 07:10 pm

Unit/ Formation: 30 Cdo Location: German/ Danish border Period/ Conflict: World War II Year: 1945 Date/s: May 1945

Geoff Pike’s Marines discovered a whole trainload of Walter combustion chambers in a railway siding way up in the peninsula by the Danish border.

He loaded all his vehicles on to the train and brought the entire haul down into Kiel. In the cab of the locomotive was Lieutenant Alastair Cameron RNVR, later professor of lubrication engineering at Imperial College, and stuck on the front of the engine was a big sign reading ‘30 ASSAULT UNIT’.

‘They had all the combustion chambers,’ recollected Captain A. G Mumma, ‘not only for the Messerschmitt-163, but also for the launching mechanism for the V-1s, also for the proportioning system of the V-2s, also for the two types of submarines – the type XXI and XXVI submarines, which were of interest to us – as well as the torpedoes. L

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Operation Pallister - Sierra Leone Civil War Intervention

By Si Biggs on May 14, 2020 10:26 am

Unit/ Formation,: 42 Cdo RM

Location,: Sierra Leone

Period/ Conflict,: 2000's

Year,: 2000

Date/s,: 14 May 2000

,The United Kingdom began a military intervention in

,In early May 2000, the

,On 6 May, the RUF blocked the road connecting Freetown to the country's main airport,

,The next day, British soldiers from SAS, and 1st Battalion, Parachute Regiment (1 PARA), began to secure the airport and other areas essential to an evacuation. The majority of those who wished to leave were evacuated within the first two days of the operation, but many chose to stay following the arrival of British forces.

,Four RAF CH-47 Chinooks were also deployed, two from the Balkans and two from their base in the United Kingdom. The RAF lacked aircraft large enough to transport Chinooks and so the helicopter crews flew themselves to Freetown. The 3,000-mile (4,800 km) flight undertaken by the two aircraft based in the UK was the longest self-deployment of helicopters in British history.

HMS Illustrious, with her air group, and the Amphibious Ready Group (ARG) including 29 Commando , 539 Assault Sqn RM, and Fleet standby rifle troop arrived on 14 May.

42 Cdo were deployed mounting river patrols on key waterways which separated Freetown from the airport at Lungi being protected by the Parachute Regiment.

Later 42 Cdo moved into Freetown to replace the Parachute Regiment and took control of the City.

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Unlocking the Secrets of the Kriegsmarine - Raising the Secret Midget Sub

By Si Biggs on May 12, 2020 09:39 am

Unit/ Formation,: 30 Cdo

Location,: Glueckstadt

Period/ Conflict,: World War II

Year,: 1945

Date/s,: 10 May 1945

A conference was held at Glueckstadt between Colonel Humphrey Quill and his team and senior officers of the Oberkommando der Marine. That night they stayed on board the SS Patria, crowded together with German naval officers who had lost their ships.

They were the first British detachment to penetrate the inner HQ of the Kriegsmarine, but they were well fed and entertained and ‘no untoward incidents of any kind occurred’.

Indeed some Germans were still hoping they would be re-armed and join with the Allies in fighting the Russians.

At the meeting on 10 May 1945 Quill insisted upon, and duly received, a document signed by Admiral Otto Backenköhler, the chief of Kriegsmarine armaments, instructing all naval establishments to hand over to 30AU representatives all secret papers and material, whether already hidden or not. This was a vital open sesame, because many German navy establishments held that the order they had received not to hide or destroy any secret matter after 8.00a.m. on 5 May did not apply to material they had hidden previously.

Forty copies of this document, all signed by Backenköhler and sent to all team leaders, yielded results straight away at Eckernförde and especially at the Helmuth Walter factory. A Kapitän zur See staff officer came down in person to tell Helmuth Walter that ‘nothing whatsoever was to be withheld’. ‘Then ensued a hilarious series of discoveries,’ wrote Commander Jan Aylen, the senior engineering officer with 30AU. "The average rate of finding new weapons for the first fortnight was about two per day. Combustion chambers were retrieved from the bottom of flooded bomb craters. A case containing key torpedo data was dug up from a hole whose position had been revealed by the German Director of Torpedoes .

At an outstation near Boseau on the nearby Plömer Zee, a sinister lake where midget crews, swimmers and other marine pests were trained, was found Walter’s latest miniature, 25-knot, one-man U-boat which had been scuttled so successfully that the hull had collapsed under pressure."

Schwertwal (Grampus)

This vessel, also known as SW 1, was built only as a prototype. It was designed to use a Walter-turbine in a midget-boat. It was built to reach a maximum speed of 30 knots while submerged.

The prototype was scuttled in May 1945 in the Plöner See. Two months later the SW 1 was raised by Royal Marine Engineers, which had searched for the boat. Later they scrapped it in Kiel.

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Cliff Assault - The re-capture of St Helena

By Si Biggs on May 11, 2020 02:43 pm

Unit/ Formation,: Marine Regiments

Location,: St Helena

Period/ Conflict,:

Year,: 1673

Date/s,: 14th May 1673

Four hundred English troops sailed into Prosperous Bay on 14th May 1673. With them was Black Oliver, a slave who had sailed with Beale’s party to Brazil and back again. Black Oliver was chosen to guide the troops to James’ Fort. Captain Richard Keigwin commanded the 200 English troops, among them was a sailor named Tom who was the first to climb a 300m cliff and drop ropes for the rest of the troops to follow.

The plan was for Keigwin to attack from inland while Munden fired an off-shore bombardment. Munden first bombarded James’ Fort as sailor Tom led the troops up the cliff, intending to continue the assault the following morning when Keigwin’s force should be in position to attack.

Keigwin reached his position above James’ Fort as planned but found it was already in English hands - the Dutch had surrendered after the first bombardment.

At sunset on 15th May 1673, the English re-took possession of James’ Fort. Three Dutch East Indiamen, richly laden, which were anchored in the bay, were also seized.

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VE75- Royal Marines in WW2

By Si Biggs on May 31, 2020 10:34 am

Royal Marines served in every theater and in almost every major sea engagement in the ,Second World War and were in action until the last day of the war in Europe and still engaged in Asia until the Japanese surrender.

,23 Royal Marines are listed as killed on the Plymouth War Memorial when the first ship was sunk, HMS Courageous was struck by 2 torpedoes on 17th September 1939, the carrier capsized and sank in 20 minutes with the loss of 519 lives.

Royal Marines were in action manning turrets on HMS Ajax, Achilles and Exeter during the Battle of the River Plate in December 1939, , 15 Marines lost their lives.

A small party of Royal Marines were first ashore at Namsos in April 1940, seizing the approaches to the Norwegian town preparatory to a landing by the British Army two days later.

The Royal Marines formed the Royal Marines Division as an amphibiously trained division, parts of which served at Dakar and in the capture of Madagascar. After the assault on the French naval base at Antsirane in Madagascar was held up, fifty Sea Service Royal Marines from HMS Ramilles commanded by Captain Martin Price were landed on the quay of the base by the British destroyer HMS Anthony after it ran the gauntlet of French shore batteries defending Diego Suarez Bay. They then cap,tured two of the batteries, which led to a quick surrender by the French.

,Royal Marines fought rearguard actions in Narvik and also Calais, supporting the evacuation at Dunkirk, told from the outset that they would likely not be extracted.

In addition the Royal Marines formed Mobile Naval Base Defence Organisations (MNBDOs) . One of these took part in the defence of Crete.

Royal Marines also served in Malaya and in Singapore, where due to losses they were joined with remnants of the 2nd Battalion, Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders to form the "Plymouth Argylls".

The Royal Marines formed one commando (A Commando) which served at Dieppe. One month after Dieppe, most of the 11th Royal Marine Battalion was killed or captured in an ill staged amphibious landing at Tobruk in Operation Agreement, again the Marines were involved with the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders, this time the 1st Battalion.

In 1942 the Infantry Battalions of the Royal Marine Division were re-organised as Commandos, joining the British Army Commandos. The Division command structure became a Special Service Brigade command. The support troops became landing craft crew and saw extensive action on D-Day in June 1944.

A total of four Special Service Brigades (later Commando brigade) were raised during the war, and Royal Marines were represented in all of them. A total of nine RM Commandos (Battalions) were raised during the war, numbered from 40 to 48.

1 Commando Brigade had just one RM Battalion, No 45 Commando. 2 Commando Brigade had two RM battalions, Nos 40 and 43 Commandos. 3 Commando Brigade also had two, Nos 42 and 44 Commandos. 4 Commando Brigade was entirely Royal Marine after March 1944, comprising Nos 41, 46, 47 and 48 Commandos.

1 Commando Brigade took part in first in the Tunisia Campaign and then assaults on Sicily and Normandy, campaigns in the Rhineland and crossing the Rhine.

2 Commando Brigade was involved in the Salerno landings, Anzio, Comacchio, and operations in the Argenta Gap. 3 Commando Brigade served in Sicily and Burma. 4 Commando Brigade served in the Battle of Normandy and in the Battle of the Scheldt on the island of Walcheren during the clearing of Antwerp.

In January 1945, two further RM brigades were formed, 116th Brigade and 117th Brigade. Both were conventional infantry, rather than in the commando role. 116th Brigade saw some action in the Netherlands, but 117th Brigade was hardly used operationally.

Eighteen Royal Marines commanded Fleet Air Arm squadrons during the course of the war, and with the formation of the British Pacific Fleet were well-represented in the final drive on Japan. Captains and majors generally commanded squadrons, whilst in one case Lt. Colonel R.C. Hay on HMS Indefatigable was Air Group Co-ordinator from HMS Victorious of the entire British Pacific Fleet.

Throughout the war Royal Marines continued in their traditional roles of providing ships detachments and manning a proportion of the guns on cruisers and capital ships, involved in every major sea battle including the Battle of the River Plate in 1939 and the loss of 116 marines during the sinking of the hood.

They also provided beach control units and the crews for the UK's minor landing craft, and the Royal Marines Armoured Support Group manned Centaur IV tanks on D Day; one of these is still on display near Pegasus Bridge.

Only one Marine (Corporal Thomas Peck Hunter of 43 Commando) was awarded the Victoria Cross in the Second World War for action at Lake Comacchio in Italy. Hunter was the most recent RM commando to be awarded the medal.

,RM Band members served on all RN Capital Ships and by the end of the Second World War, 225 musicians and buglers had been killed in action, which was a quarter of their strength at the time, and the highest percentage of any branch of any service, after Bomber Command.

The Royal Marines Boom Patrol Detachment under Blondie Haslar carried out Operation Frankton and provided the basis for the post-war continuation of the SBS, Royal Marines also provided divers clearing the beaches in the hours before the D Day invasion.

Royal Marines also formed troops in 30 Assault Unit, driving ahead to capture important documents, take prisoners and secret weapons.

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Liberation of Schouwen - 47 Cdo Last WW2 Operation

By Si Biggs on May 30, 2020 09:04 am

Last Operations Role - Schouwen

Unit/ Formation: 47 Cdo RM Location: The Netherlands Period/ Conflict: World War II Year: 1945 Date/s: 7 - 8 May 1945

The European war was now fast coming to a close, individual enemy organisations had been surrendering to Gen. MONTGOMERY - forces in the NE of Germany - but those in Holland's Northern and NW areas remained firm until May 8.

On May 7/8 47 Commando's last operational role of investing SCHOUWEN took place.

On Sunday morning the 6th of May 1945, the mayor of KORTGENE announced that British Commando troops in landing craft would depart from COLIJNSPLAAT to SCHOUWEN in the course of the morning.

On Sunday morning the evacuated mayor of ZIERIKZEE, SCHUURBEQUE BOEYE arrived in COLIJNSPLAAT, ready to return to his municipality. Because the weather conditions were not sufficiently favorable for the Allies, the crossing was to be postponed until Monday morning the 7th of May.

In the meantime, other mayors and police officers also joined forces to make the crossing to SCHOUWEN.

On Monday morning the 7th of May, a large number of British soldiers with the famous green hats, were gathered in the port of COLIJNSPLAAT. At that moment, however, there still were no landing craft to be seen. They appeared around 8.00 am from the direction of KATSE VEER. They were flat, gray-painted vessels. At the front there was some kind of door which could be opened and served as a gangway.

At 8.15 am, 120 commandos led by Capt. SPENCER embarked the landing craft, heavily armed with modern Tommy Guns. In addition to the British commandos, a number of Dutch commandos from the 14th Infantry Regiment took part in the mission.

In the meantime the Royal Artillery had set up guns at COLIJNSPLAAT with the firing line in the direction of SCHOUWEN to support their comrades in case the Germans would decide to resist.

Of the six landing craft, three sailed to ZIERIKZEE and three to BURGHSLUIS. De VRIEND .

The commandos went on their way to the German commander in ZIERIKZEE. With him the surrender of the German troops would be negotiated. They entered through the Nobelpoort. Cautiously they continued to Havenplein. At the Zuidhavenpoort a German Feldwebel with some soldiers are diligently undermining the gate to place a load of explosives under it. At the sight of the British soldiers, the Germans grabbed their guns. When the British showed the white flag and made clear they wanted to speak to the German commander there were no further hostilities.

The British commanding officer was soon informed and with him as "protector" at the forefront, the British entered ZIERIKZEE on foot. While marching under the white flag, they marched to the headquarters of the German Ortskommandant KAPPES, who had his office in Het Vrije No.55.

It was not to be a triumphal march like the British experienced hundreds of times before. Gray and desolate, the houses stood out against the spring air. The few residents which ZIERIKZEE still had at that time were not allowed to show themselves by the Germans. SPENCER and KAPPES contacted the German island commander MARX at the German headquarters of the island in HAAMSTEDE.

They then set up a wireless channel with Rotterdam, where the German staff was located. The German soldiers stationed on SCHOUWEN were given permission to obey to the demands of the allies on the condition that their soldiers could retreat to the western part of the island while maintaining their weapons. The British, who in turn maintain radio contact with the Commando on NOORD-BEVELAND, give this permission.

Two of the landing craft then sailed to COLIJNSPLAAT to transfer the assembled mayors and police officers to SCHOUWEN. The administrative task was waiting for them and to maintain order.

47 Cdo Org

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Lieutenant-Colonel Sir James Malcolm, KCB

By Si Biggs on May 28, 2020 10:15 am

Lieutenant-Colonel Sir James Malcolm, KCB (13 January 1767 – 27 December 1849) was a Scottish officer of the British Royal Marines who served in the American Revolutionary War, in the Napoleonic Wars, and with noteworthy distinction in the Americas during the War of 1812.

James Malcolm was born in Dumfriesshire, Scotland, on 13 January 1767, and died in Minholm, Dumfriesshire, Scotland, on 27 December 1849.

James was the second son of George Malcolm of Burnfoot, and his wife, the former Margaret Paisley. James was thus the older brother of Admiral Sir Pulteney Malcolm RN; Major-General Sir John Malcolm, Madras Army; and Vice Admiral Sir Charles Malcolm, RN. The boys' maternal uncle was Admiral Sir Thomas Pasley, 1st Baronet.

Malcolm was commissioned in what would later become known as the Royal Marines in 1779 at the age of twelve. During the American Revolutionary War he was assigned to the

In July 1812 Brevet Major Malcolm was named to command the 2nd of the two Royal Marines Battalions which were then in service. He led the battalion in Spain until January 1813. In the spring of 1813 he sailed with his command to the North American and West Indies Station. Participating in operations on the Chesapeake in the summer of 1813, he was rewarded by a second brevet promotion, this time to Lieutenant Colonel, on the British Army List. In October 1813 he accompanied his battalion to Canada. Together with a 200-man detachment of the Canadian Fencibles, the Marines formed a corps of observation and reconnaissance watching the American forces under Major General James Wilkinson.

In May 1814, Malcolm's 2nd battalion of Royal Marines served together with a mixed British expeditionary force of veteran Scotsmen, Swiss, Canadian militiamen, and armed sailors, which probed American outposts on Lake Ontario in the Battle of Fort Oswego. Malcolm's Royal Marines battalion made up about half of the actual landing force under the command of Lieutenant Colonel Karl Victor Fischer (1766–1821) of the De Watteville regiment, (a veteran Swiss regiment in British pay), which assaulted and carried the American positions. Both Fischer and Malcolm were praised for their active role in the action.

Lieutenant Colonel Malcolm commanded another battalion on the Chesapeake in the Battle of Bladensburg; the burning of Washington; and the Battle of Baltimore. Malcolm and his Marines continued to operate on the Atlantic coast, as far south as Georgia's Sea Islands and Spanish Florida, until the peace was established in May 1815.

Brevet Lieutenant Colonel Sir James Malcolm continued to serve in the peace establishment until 1827. He advanced to the substantive rank of Major in the Royal Marines in 1821. In 1826 he was confirmed in the substantive rank of Lieutenant Colonel of the Corps of Royal Marines. Sir James then retired to

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Storming of Fort Oswego by 2nd Bn Royal Marines

By Si Biggs on May 01, 2020 08:29 am

Unit/ Formation,: Royal Marines

Location,: North America

Period/ Conflict,: War of 1812

Year,: 1814

Date/s,: 6 May 1814

A British naval force attacked Fort Oswego on 6 May 1814 during the War of 1812. An important American supply depot, it was situated on Lake Ontario in New York.

During the early months of 1814, while Lake Ontario was frozen, the British and American naval squadrons had been building two frigates each, with which to contest command of the lake during the coming campaigning season. The British under Commodore Sir James Lucas Yeo were first to complete their frigates on 14 April, but when the Americans under Commodore Isaac Chauncey had completed their own, more powerful, frigates, Yeo's squadron would be outclassed.

Lieutenant General Sir Gordon Drummond, the Lieutenant Governor of Upper Canada, suggested using the interval during which Yeo's squadron was stronger than Chauncey's to attack the main American harbour and base at Sackett's Harbor, New York. Most of its garrison had marched off to the Niagara River, leaving only 1,000 regular troops as its garrison. Nevertheless, Drummond would require reinforcements to mount a successful attack on the strongly fortified town, and the Governor General of Canada, Lieutenant General Sir George Prevost, refused to provide these.

Instead, Drummond and Yeo decided to attack the smaller post at Fort Ontario.

This fort, with the nearby village of Oswego, New York, was a vital staging point on the American supply route from New York. Ordnance, food and other supplies were carried up the Mohawk River and across Lake Oneida, to Oswego, before making the final leg of the journey across the southeast corner of Lake Ontario to Sackett's Harbor.

Drummond and Yeo had reliable information that the garrison of the fort numbered only 290 regulars, and believed that thirty or more heavy guns intended for Chauncey's ships under construction at Sackett's Harbor were waiting there. They planned, by capturing Oswego, to capture these guns and thereby retain Yeo's advantage over Chauncey.

A landing force commanded by Lieutenant-Colonel Victor Fischer, consisting of 2nd Battalion, The Royal Marines under

The British landed at about two o'clock. Almost all the troops landed in deep water and their ammunition was soaked and made useless. Nevertheless, they fixed their bayonets and advanced under heavy fire. While the company of the Glengarry Light Infantry cleared woods to the left of the main attack and the sailors advanced on the village, the main body of the troops made a frontal attack against the fort.

American foot soldiers drawn up on the glacis fell back into the fort. As the attackers reached the top of the glacis, the defenders abandoned the fort and fled.

After destroying the defences and capturing supplies and several American schooners, the British withdrew.

2nd Battalion, Royal Marines casualties; 7 killed and 33 wounded.

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42 Cdo run 2 COVID Testing Centres

By Si Biggs on Apr 30, 2020 09:00 pm

Royal Marines have helped key workers in the South-West test for coronavirus as they ran two mobile centres.

Personnel from 42 Commando at Bickleigh, near Plymouth, have been drafted in as part of the nationwide response to the pandemic, assisting the running of Mobile Testing Unit in Salisbury and Torquay.

The centres are two of eight around Britain established to test key workers and their families who may have shown symptoms of COVID.

At those eight sites, they are directed to drive through a lane where military personnel provide them with instructions on how to conduct the test – which involves a mouth swab – and to how to dispense with it safely upon completion.

The team has been working really well together and the public have been very friendly and inviting. We’re just happy to be here, supporting the NHS and doing what we can to help the country Lieutenant Ben Wagstaff

The marines – normally used to supporting the Fleet’s front-line operations such as board and search duties, ship protection and rescuing downed aircrew from behind enemy lines – underwent comprehensive training earlier this month at their base near Plymouth. They set up their mobile centres at a park and ride car park in Salisbury and at Torquay coach station.

Key workers – who remain in their vehicles at all time - drive up, show their ID to the commandos, who are wearing PPE, and then receive instructions on how to perform the tests themselves, all courtesy of a series of signs.

“Afterwards, they return the test kit to us which we deliver to Bristol Airport – our regional testing centre,” explained Lieutenant Ben Wagstaff, part of the team assisting in Salisbury. “The team has been working really well together and the public have been very friendly and inviting.

“We’re just happy to be here, supporting the NHS and doing what we can to help the country.”

,Royal Navy News

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