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The Royal Marines A Geo History 1664 - Present

Dits - A monthly History Blog by Simon Biggs

L/Cpl HE Harden VC (RAMC) - attached to 45 (Royal Marine) Commando - 23rd January 1945 - Netherlands

Jan 23, 2020 11:18 am

Henry Eric Harden VC (23 February 1912 – 23 January 1945), 32 years old.
Harden was a lance corporal in the Royal Army Medical Corps attached to 45 (Royal Marine) Commando during the Second World War.
On 23 January 1945 during Operation Blackcock, at Brachterbeek, the Netherlands, three marines of the leading section of the Royal Marine Commando Troop to which Lance-Corporal Harden was attached fell, wounded.
The Commando section had come under heavy machine-gun fire in the open field that morning, and the men were seriously wounded. One of the casualties was Lieutenant Corey. Under intense mortar and machine-gun fire Harden was wounded in his side as he carried one man back to the aid post, which had been set up in one of the houses along the Stationsweg in Brachterbeek.
Against the orders of another Medical officer he then returned with a stretcher party for the other two wounded. Bringing in the second casualty the rescue party came under enemy fire which killed the wounded Commando. While finally bringing back the third man Lieutenant Corey, who had demanded he be recovered last, Harden was shot through the head and killed instantly.
45 Commando. Henry Harden is the sitting man to the right.
Lance Corporal Henry Eric Harden would have become 33 years old on 23 February, exactly one month after his death. He left behind a wife and two young children.
For his exceptional valour and for giving his life to save three marines, he was posthumously awarded the Victoria Cross
On the Henry Harden bridge near the mill there is a plaque to commemorate Lance Corporal Harden. (51.149730, 5.924556)
The original plaque. In 2009, when the bridge was renovated, two black granite plaques were immured on either side of the bridge, one in English, the other in Dutch. Lieutenant Corey and Julie Harden were present at the unveiling.
Lance-Corporal Harden's final resting place is in the Commonwealth War Graves Commission cemetery at Nederweert, Limburg, the Netherlands.

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Royal Marines Camel Corps - Battle of Abu Klea

Jan 17, 2020 06:07 am

Unit/ Formation: Royal Marines Location: Sudan Period/ Conflict: Sudanese War Year: 1885 Date/s: 17th January 1885
Two of the Camel Corps’ regiments were formed from the cavalry: The Heavy Regiment from the Household Cavalry, the Dragoon Guards, the Dragoons and Lancers: The Light Regiment from the Hussars.
Camel Corps and 19th Hussars crossing the desert: Battle of Abu Klea fought on 17th January 1885 in the Sudanese War: picture by Orlando Norie
The Guards Regiment of the Camel Corps was formed from the Grenadier, Coldstream and Scots Guards, with Royal Marine Light Infantry and the Mounted Infantry Regiment from line infantry regiments already in Egypt.
The Battle of Abu Klea, or the Battle of Abu Tulayh took place between the dates of 16 and 18 January 1885, at Abu Klea, Sudan, between the British Desert Column and Mahdist forces encamped near Abu Klea.
The Desert Column, a force of approximately 1,400 soldiers, started from Korti, Sudan on 30 December 1884; the Desert Column's mission, in a joint effort titled "The Gordon Relief Expedition", was to march across the Bayuda Desert to the aid of General Charles George Gordon at Khartoum, Sudan, who was besieged there by Mahdist forces.
…. ‘the sand of the desert is sodden red, red with the wreck of the square that broke; the Gatling’s jammed and the colonel dead and the regiment blind with dust and smoke…….’Play up! Play up! And play the game!’
Sir Henry Newbolt’s poem ‘Vitai Lampada’;
9 Royal Marines were killed on the 17th January.
Private Arnold - 25th Company, Royal Marines:
Private Burney - Naval Brigade
Corporal Carey 37th Company, Royal Marines;
Private Holland - 21st Coy. Royal Marines:
Private Meade - 41st Coy, Royal Marines Light Infantry:
Private Mitchell - 24th Coy. Royal Marines Light Infantry:
Private Nye - Naval Brigade
Private Walter - Guards Camel Regiment (Marines) Service number 4:
Private Lucking. - RMLI probably Guards Camel Regiment (Marines) Service number 16.

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Submarine Canoe Insertion against the IRA

Jan 16, 2020 08:46 am

Operation Aweless
Unit/ Formation: SBS Location: Northern Ireland Period/ Conflict: Northern Ireland Conflict Year: 1975 Date/s: January
Operation Banner was the operational name for the British Armed Forces' operation in Northern Ireland from 1969 to 2007, as part of the Troubles, a maritime component was supplied under the codename Operation Grenada, by the Royal Navy and Royal Marines in direct support of the land operation.
Tasked with interdicting the supply of weapons and munitions to paramilitaries, acting as a visible deterrence by maintaining a conspicuous maritime presence on and around the coast of Northern Ireland and Lough Neagh.
Under Op Granada and as part of Operation Aweless, two SBS kayak teams were inserted from HMS Cachalot to conduct an anti gun running operation in the area between Torr Head and Garron against the IRA.
See it mapped here: RM A Geo History

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Assault on the island of Kapelsche Veer

Jan 16, 2020 07:12 am

Unit/ Formation: 47 Cdo RM Location: The Netherlands Period/ Conflict: World War II Year: 1945 Date/s: 13th January 1945
Operation Horse began on the night of 13th January 1945 under Polish command, 'Q' troop of 47 Royal Marine Commando, together with attached No. 5 Troop (Norwegian) 10 Inter Allied Commando under 2 i/c, launched an assault on the island of KAPELSCHE VEER attacking the right flank supported by armour and artillery from the mainland, while a main force of ‘A’ ‘B’ ‘X’ ‘Y’ troops of the Royal Marine Commandos attacked on the left flank.
The only possible means of approach to the enemy position was along the base of the dyke from the East or West. A Polish company was to secure the bridgehead, while 47 Commando and No. 5 Troop 10 IA Commando provided a diversionary attack.
The first phase - crossing the OUDE MAAS, was accomplished with difficulty. The heavy ice flow made it very difficult to get boats across, but eventually the Polish Engrs got the bridge fixed. On the way to the forming up position ‘A’ troop who were leading ran into a small enemy outpost which was wiped out.
By 0047 hrs both parties were in position and the code-word was given for the barrage which fired from 0055 - 0100 hrs - all the 1 Corps artillery. Attacks went in simultaneously from both flanks, and ‘Q’ troop got onto the defended plateau to the neighborhood of one house. However, the enemy were determined to hold out and brought down a withering fire.
Confident that their troops were safe underground, they brought extremely heavy mortar fire down on their own positions causing heavy casualties among the Royal Marines.
By 0530 hrs, after 8-10 hours of bitter fighting, it was obvious that the place could not be taken by a lightly armed elite force so small in a night attack, and so all were withdrawn.
47 Royal Marine Commando casualties numbered 49 including Capt. B.L. STICKINGS who was killed in the enemy position to which he had most gallantly advanced.
The place was eventually taken by 10 Cdo Inf. Bde with support from tanks and ‘wasps' and after they had sustained approx 350 casualties.
See it mapped here - RM A Geo History

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Royal Marines & Royal Navy capture Salif in the Yemen 1917

Jan 12, 2020 05:30 am

Capture of Salif
Unit/ Formation: Royal Marines Location: Salif Period/ Conflict: World War I Year: 1917 Date/s: 12th January 1917
Royal Marines & Royal Navy capture Salif in the Yemen from the Turks. Garrisoned by around 100 Turkish troops with a few artillery pieces. Before the war the Turks had exported local rock-salt deposits from Salif, and a British company had been contracted to upgrade the port facilities.
This company, Messrs Sir John Jackson Limited, had evacuated Salif quickly when hostilities were declared between Turkey and Britain, leaving some valuable heavy plant and equipment behind. The Royal Navy Commander-in-Chief, East Indies, wished to remove or destroy this plan to prevent the Turks from putting it to military use.
Five British ships were involved the Northbrook close inshore to the south, then Minto, Topaze and Odin to the north. Espiegle was ordered to sail north around the Salif peninsula and operate from the bay there.
HMS Topaze
At dawn on 12th January Captain Boyle approached Salif with four ships in line; Northbrook close inshore to the south, then Minto, Topaze and Odin to the north. Espiegle was ordered to sail north around the Salif peninsula and operate from the bay there. Northbrook’s men landed on the shore and took up a position to the right of the town. The men from Minto, Topaze and Odin landed at Salif pier and formed a line behind a ridge with a salt mine on the south and houses to the north.
The Royal Marines were in the centre of the line. Commander A.R. Woods DSO, Royal Navy, of the Topaze commanded the landing party with Commander J.S.C. Salmond, Royal Navy, as his second in command; there was no Royal Marines officer present. Signalling parties established communications with the ships.
On sighting the naval squadron the Turkish defenders withdrew into a crater-like depression on the hill behind the town. Here they were out of line-of sight of the naval gunners, however in the depression their two Krupp mountain guns and three 1-inch Nordenfeldt guns could not engage the squadron or the landing party effectively because the forward lip of the depression needed to be cleared by their shells.
This resulted in the Turkish guns being fired at too long a range. Near-misses were recorded by the squadron but no ship was hit. Commander Woods moved his line forward to attack the enemy-held hill from three sides, the fourth side being closed by the guns of the Espiegle. Behind him Odin’s seamen entered the village and took possession of the telegraph office and water condensation plant. The shore-to-ship signals worked well and the assault party advanced methodically behind barrages of naval shells, despite the naval gunners having the sun in their eyes.
On Commander Wood’s signal the hill was rushed and the Turks surrounded. Skirmishing now cleared up the pockets of resistance and prisoners were taken; three hours after the landing enemy resistance ceased. The Turks had fought well but individual acts of gallantry by British seamen and marines, backed by the overwhelming firepower of the squadron, had won the day.
Sergeant J.F. McLoughlin (be-ribboned) and the Royal Marines on HMS Topaze 1917
Gallantry Awards for Salif Bar to the Distinguished Service Order: Commander Alexander Riall Wadham Woods, D.S.O., Royal Navy. In recognition of his services in command of the landing party at the capture of Salif on the 12th June, 1917. The place was attacked at dawn and captured after a three hours' resistance at the cost of only two casualties to the attacking -force. This was largely due to the skilful manner in which Cdr. Woods conducted the advance. The Conspicuous Gallantry Medal (three awards): Serjt. James Francis McLoughlin, Royal Marine Light Infantry, Po. 8873. For conspicuous gallantry at the capture of Salif on the 12 June, 1917. Just before the surrender he came across 11 unwounded and one wounded Turkish soldiers. Followed by one petty officer, Serjeant. McLoughlin jumped among them, shot one, and made seven surrender. A.B. Francis George Noble, O.N. 205234 (Po.). For conspicuous gallantry at the capture of Salif on the 12 June, 1917. When a private of Marines was fatally wounded, and was lying in an exposed position, Noble went out from cover and brought him in. His behaviour throughout was most praise worthy. Pte. Henry George Bartlett, Royal Marine Light Infantry, Po. 15558. For conspicuous gallantry at the capture of Salif on the 12 June, 1917. Singlehanded he entered a hut occupied by two unwounded and one wounded Turks and three Arabs and took them prisoner. Mentions in Despatches Capt. William Henry Dudley Boyle, Royal Navy. Cdr. James Sacheverell Constable Salmond, Royal Navy.
To the aforementioned winners of the C.G.M. at Salif may now be added Noble’s name, who brought in the fatally wounded Private Read; his award of the French Medaille Militaire followed in 1919
Able Seaman F.G. Nobel
‘For conspicuous gallantry at the capture of Salif on 12 June 1917. When a Private of Marines was fatally wounded, and was lying in an exposed position, Noble went out from cover and brought him in. His behaviour was most praiseworthy.’
The Medals of Serjt. James Francis McLoughlin, Royal Marine Light Infantry, Po. 8873. Courtesy of Christopher Hill of Dix, Noonan & Webb (DNW) Ltd, Coin & Medal Auctioneers. (via Soldiers Burden)
The story in 'The Navy Everywhere': ‘The village of Salif is situated on a peninsula, of which the northern end is merely a mud flat, covered by the sea at high tide. To the east of the village is a hunch-back of a hill, which is doubtless of volcanic formation, and in fact has a hollow in it suggesting the relics of a crater. It was in this hollow that the Turkish garrison had taken up their position when, at daybreak on 12 June 1917, our ships approached Salif. The enemy's position was well chosen, for nothing could be seen of it from the sea, and only the high-angle fire of a howitzer could be expected to drop shells into it. Captain Boyle ordered the Espiegle to go northwards round the end of the peninsula, and enter the inlet between peninsula and mainland, possibly with the idea that the Turkish position might be more accessible from the eastern side of it. In any case the presence of a ship on that side would subject the enemy to a cross-fire, which is always disconcerting. The only danger to be avoided was that of the Espiegle's gunlayers, in an excess of enthusiasm, plumping shells right over the hill into the other ships; but fortunately no contretemps of this kind occurred. The Northbrook anchored close inshore at the southern end of the peninsula, while Minto, Topaze, and Odin made a line to the north of her. They all kept as near to the shore as the depth of water would allow, in order that the landing parties might have as short a distance as possible to cover in the boats. As it turned out, the Topaze and Odin unconsciously followed the example of Lord Charles Beresford in the Condor at the bombardment of Alexandria, when he ran his ship in so close that the enemy ashore could not depress their guns sufficiently to hit him. The Turks in their hollow were in exactly the same predicament. They had two Krupp mountain-guns and three one-inch Norden-feldts, with which they blazed away persistently, but their shells, in clearing the sides of the crater, also cleared our ships, and they did not score a single hit, though they occasionally dropped near enough to create an uncomfortable feeling on board. The Northbrook’s men landed at the south end of the peninsula, and took up a position near their ship to the right of the town. The others all landed at the pier, and extended themselves behind a ridge, flanked by a salt-mine at the south end, and by some houses at the north end. They then advanced cautiously to the foot of the hill, making a crescent-shaped line round it, with a party of Marines in the centre. The Odin’s seamen remained behind in the village (where there were no signs of any Turks) and took possession of the condensing plant, the telegraph office, some mines, and one or two harems belonging to the Turkish officials. The last-named were transferred at the first opportunity to the Northbrook, which in due course took the women and children and the civilian males to Aden. Commander A. R. W. Woods of the Topaze was in charge of the landing party, with Commander Salmond of the Odin as his second in command. His plan was to advance up the hill from three directions towards the Turkish position, and thus effectually surround it, for the fourth side was closed by the inlet from which the Espiegle was steadily plumping shells at the Turks. It is probable that the enemy, knowing that our force was a very small one, hoped to cause such havoc in it with their rifle-fire, while our men were coming up the hill, that we should be compelled to abandon the attack. If this was their calculation it failed to take into account the effectiveness of our gunnery. An excellent system of signals had been arranged, and by means of this Commander Woods was able to turn on or off a barrage of fire as if it were a water-tap. The gunlayers were unfortunate in having the sun in their eyes, but, in spite of this, their shooting was so accurate that the men on shore could follow with confidence close behind the barrage. Under its cover they gradually crept towards the foot of the hill whereon the enemy were posted, and then, at a given signal, they made a rush forward and completely surrounded the Turks. The whole business lasted about three hours before the enemy surrendered. In justice to them, it must be said that they put up quite a good fight. There are one or two amusing incidents to be recorded. Sergeant McLoughlin of the Royal Marines came across twelve Turkish soldiers, of whom one was wounded, decided that they were just about his own fighting weight, and went for them without a moment's hesitation. It was perhaps fortunate for him that Petty Officer Beaver was close behind him, for as a general rule the Turk does not allow estimates of this kind to be made with impunity. Between the pair of them they shot one of the twelve, took seven of them prisoners, while the rest retreated precipitately, but only to fall into other hands. Meanwhile Private Bartlett of the Royal Marines was having a little adventure of his own. He chanced upon a hut, and was prompted by curiosity to poke his head inside. There he discovered three Turks and three Arabs, all fully armed. Some people might have been disconcerted and even embarrassed by such a discovery, but Private Bartlett regarded it as merely coming within the day's work. He was no great linguist, but he had his own methods of explaining to the assembled company that they were his prisoners, and he left not a shadow of doubt in their minds that he meant business. So they meekly handed over their rifles, and in due course Private Bartlett, wearing little more than a bland smile (for the sun was beating down hotly) handed them over to his commanding officer. Having captured the whole garrison, together with their guns, ammunition, and stores, and having placed the prisoners aboard the Topaze for transport to Aden, the squadron moved off, leaving only the Espiegle behind to collect what was serviceable of Messrs. Sir John Jackson's plant, and to destroy the rest. Three days were spent in clearing up the place, during which time a company of Indian troops were sent over from Kamaran Island to do garrison duty. There was no idea of holding Salif permanently, for no object was to be gained by doing so. The removal of the condensing plant made the place uninhabitable, since the only water supply is too brackish for ordinary consumption, and it was therefore most improbable that the Turks would attempt to re-occupy the village. Their removal made matters more comfortable for our small garrison at Kamaran, and we must also reckon on the credit side of the account the recovery of a certain amount of useful plant. On the other side we must place the death of Private Read of H.M.S. Odin, who had the misfortune to jump almost on top of a Turk, and to receive a rifle-bullet at point-blank range. It would seem that the Turk fired by accident rather than holding up their hands, realising that they were completely surrounded.’

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The Battle of Blaauwberg - Cape Town 1806

Jan 08, 2020 05:28 am

The Battle of Blaauwberg also known as the Battle of Cape Town fought near Cape Town on Wednesday 8 January 1806, was a small but significant military engagement. After a British victory, peace was made under the Treaty Tree in Woodstock. It established British rule in South Africa.
Battle of Blaauwberg Landing 6th January 1806 by Angus Mc Bride from the cover of Blue berg by Mark Dunbar Anderson
Supported by a huge armada of warships and transports, a British invasion force which had landed at Losperd's Bay (today's Melkbosch) defeated a small multi-racial force led by Lt-Gen Jan Willem Janssens of the Batavian Republic, bringing to an end three years of liberal democratic rule at the Cape and setting the scene for the subsequent colonisation of southern and central Africa.
The battle began soon after first light on the morning of 8 January 1806, when the once-peaceful plain behind the Blaauwberg, literally 'Blue Mountain',just 20km from Cape Town, erupted in an orgy of controlled violence on a scale never before seen at the toe of Africa. Artillery pieces boomed and spat lethal iron cannon-balls back and forth, muskets rattled off individual shots or roared in volleys.
Wounded men and horses screamed as they wallowed in their own blood, officers and sergeants shouted orders in voices hoarse with thirst, torrents of sweat turning their powder-stained faces into devils' masks. Drums rattled, Highland bagpipes screeched eerily, overlaying frenzied battle-cries in Dutch, English, French, Gaelic, German, Hungarian and the local dialect that would later be called Afrikaans.
Extract from the Bill Smuts map indicating the advance of the British Brigades and the defensive line of the Batavian forces (Anderson 2008:112).
Everywhere lay the dead, some in the red coats of Imperial Britain, others in the dark blue or green of the Batavian Republic.
Two hours later it was over. General Janssens had withdrawn and Lieutenant-General Sir William Baird of His Britannic Majesty's Army was the master of the battlefield and its gory fruit. It was still to be another ten days before a formal capitulation was signed, but for all practical purposes the Cape of Good Hope was now a British colony
Captain McKenzie and 400 Marines played a major roll during the battle attached to the Highland Brigade.
More here: Wikipedia

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Royal Marines Museum - £5 Million Mission!

Jan 07, 2020 09:01 am

From the Royal Marines Museum Website:
The Royal Marines are without a museum, their story hidden from view. After being deemed no longer fit for purpose and with collections at risk, the old museum in Eastney closed in 2017.
Since then, the National Museum of the Royal Navy has been working towards creating a new Royal Marines Museum at the heart of the Portsmouth Historic Dockyard, placing the singular history of the Corps in its rightful place within the wider story of the Royal Navy.
The current total cost estimate for the New Royal Marines Museum project is £10 million. The National Museum of the Royal Navy has earmarked £5 million from internal sources which means we have a further £5 million to raise; our £5 million mission.
Once requisite funding is secured we will proceed as quickly as possible and aim to be on site in 2021 with galleries opening to the public in early 2022.
If you wish to make a donation please visit the Just Giving page by clicking on the button above and going to the RM Museum website donation page here

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HMS Doris - Royal Marines in Intelligence Gathering and Demolition Raids in Syria

Jan 07, 2020 04:04 am

Commissioned in 1897, one of the nine-ship Eclipse class, Doris was a 5600-ton, 350-foot second-class protected cruiser, designed for reconnaissance, commerce raiding and trade-protection duties. Capable of 18.5 knots maximum on her 9600-hp, she was heavily armed for her size – initially five 6-inch and six 4.7-inch guns. She had gained fame in the Boer War, when she landed a naval brigade, equipped with one of her 4.7-inch weapons on an improvised land carriage. A major refit in 1904-05 resulted in deletion of the 4.7-inch weapons and her main armament comprised thereafter no less than eleven 6-in.
By November 1914, Captain Frank Larken (1875-1953), was cruising off the West Coast of Ireland. On 7th of that month she was ordered to proceed to Alexandria to form part of the Allied force opposing Turkey. She was ordered to patrol the Syrian coast, looking out for enemy ships and shore installations, and to "exercise general pressure."
On 15 December Doris was lying off the Syrian coast near Beersheba when she spotted suspicious activity on a bluff commanding the shore. Closing in, her crew discovered it was a Turkish defensive position in the course of construction, and Captain Larken gave orders to open fire with one of the ship's main guns. The emplacement was swiftly destroyed
On December 18th another small force was landed south of Sidon. Here, as was the case along much of the Levantine coast, terrain determined that main north-south communications – road, rail and telegraph – ran very close to the sea. Doris’s party cut down telegraph lines and their posts over three quarters of a mile.
HMS Doris now proceeded to the Gulf of Iskenderun – located at the right angle where the Turkish and Levantine coasts meet. Then known as Alexandretta by the British, the city of Iskenderun has been of immense strategic importance through history.
Doris landed a sabotage party on the night of December 20th to cut telegraph lines and remove rails from the railway. By daylight the landing party was safely back on board and witnessed a train loaded with camels derailing itself. A second train arrived and, unable to pass, was brought under fire by Doris. An attempt to destroy a railway bridge by 6-in gunfire proved less successful however.
HMS Doris received wireless orders off the Syrian coast on 7 January to prevent the Turks from sending troops and supplies to Alexandretta and thence to Aleppo by way of the Beilan Pass.
Captain Larkin saw that the Turks were bypassing the destroyed bridge using a temporary road and he decided to land his marines and sailors to attend to the problem.
A demolition party under Lieutenant J.R. Edwards RN was sent ashore with a Royal Marine Light Infantry escort of one officer and nine men. The party encountered effective and persistent sniping by the Turks, which forced it to withdraw. RMLI Corporal G.A.S. Warburton was shot dead through the heart but was brought back to the Doris
Doris continued to patrol the Syrian coast until March 1915, carrying out thirteen landing operations and many coastal bombardments before being relieved by the French.

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