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The Royal Marines a Geo History & Breakfast at Babs

A Blog by Simon 'Peters' Biggs

Extracted from:
Breakfast Chatter & History

Come and see over 354 years of History Mapped out!
The Royal Marines a Geo History 1664 - Present

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#OurHistoryDefinesUs

Look out for a new book on the History of the Royal Marines coming in Autumn 2019

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


May 31, 2019 05:42 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 http://www.davidpentlandart.com/ "Never in a house..." Captain Rod Boswell RM
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Battle for the Falklands - Landing at San Carlos - 21 May 1982


May 29, 2019 05:02 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
AT END OF DAY
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
Check out the pins here: https://www.breakfastatbabs.com/royal-marines-a-geo-history
More Here: Navy History Net

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The Sacrifice Army - Royal Marines in the Rearguard Action At Calais


May 24, 2019 09:43 am

The Bill Balmer Story (Royal Marine 1939-1953) My Second Battle 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. The Sacrifice Army 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. The Citadel Despite that setback with the French troops, a British officer was able to direct us, No 1 Gun Team, to a building called The Citadel, which was ideal for fighting from. It was a great vantage point, over three stories high. It had also been severely damaged during the fighting and was full of debris. This gave us good cover from enemy fire. The Royal Air Force (RAF) had a transport pool at the Citadel. The Royal Army Medical Corps (RAMC) and the Queen’s Regiment had established a hospital within the Citadel. The roof of the Citadel was full of rubbish and debris from earlier battles. Our gun team NCO, Colour Sergeant Reid, thought this was ideal, just as long as we didn’t look up or move when the German aircraft flew over our position. The white of our faces would have given our positions away. The German spotter planes were constantly passing overhead and we used the rubbish to camouflage our position. Colour Sergeant Reid made sure we kept our heads and feet covered at all times. The other machine gun team was behind our position to our left. We could hear the machine gun firing but such was the confusion no one told us it was our other team. I had a very busy forty hours at Calais before we surrendered to the Germans. No sleep, hardly anything to eat or drink. ‘Geordie’ and myself worked a four-hour shift behind the gun but there was little respite for the two days. The lucky soldiers were those posted near or in the convent. They were well looked after by the nuns whereas we were isolated on the Citadel for the battle. Our main task in the Citadel was to observe a gap in the battlements where the railway line entered the old city. That was over 600 yards from our location. We had to stop German foot soldiers and vehicles from gaining access to the harbour through that point. The Germans were waiting there to break through, but we were successful in stopping them for two days. If the Germans managed to get through that gap they would have overwhelmed our troops in the harbour. As soon as we saw any movement on the other side of the railway lines we would fire a five or six round burst to keep them back. As soon as I saw any movement I would kick ‘Geordie’ awake and fire the gun. It was his job to reload the gun when necessary. We were sleeping rough because sleeping bags had yet to be issued to fighting troops in those early days. I saw many horrible sights at Calais. Men were blown to bits by Stuka bombs, artillery fire and mortar fire. The worst scene I witnessed was No.2 Gun Team and a rifle section of ten Royal Marines; twelve young men or should I say boys, blown to bits by a bomb from a Stuka. On another occasion Geordie and myself had to deliver a message to the railway station. We watched two soldiers coming along the track towards us. Then we heard a mortar shell being fired in our direction so we flattened ourselves to the platform. When we looked up the two soldiers were gone, just bits of uniform lying where they had been. When you see people killed in front of you, that’s when your training kicks in and you do what you were trained to do. Ping That Sunday morning on 26 May 1940 at about 8 am, Colour Sergeant Reid said to me, ‘I’ve made a cup of tea. And there’s a cup sitting there for you. I will take over the gun’. I stood up and walked over to get the cup of tea. As I stood up I heard a ‘ping’ and thought little of it. The Colour Sergeant said to me later, ‘You were lucky. A bullet hit the gun just after you stood up and walked away’. Sure enough the bullet had hit one of the tripod legs. If I had been lying behind the gun the bullet would have caught me between the shoulders. No soldier likes to be shot in the back. We always thought that anyone shot in the back was either running away or doing something they should not have been doing. Stretching Our Legs Later that morning the Machine Gun Officer came to the Citadel and told ‘Geordie’ and myself that we needed to stretch our legs after being in position for nearly two days. There were stories circulating that German snipers had infiltrated close to our positions. Because of that we were tasked to go to the railway station and locate Sergeant Mitchell who was in charge of a rifle section there. Eventually we found Sergeant Mitchell and gave him the message. He had to take his rifle section and search the ground to his front before the machine gun teams moved forward. Sergeant Mitchell said, ‘I want the organ grinder not the two monkeys’. We had a few choice words with him and returned to the officer with the message. Sergeant Mitchell (G) shifted his position after that meeting and we never met him again to re-task him. The Last Stand For the last stand we had moved from our gun position on the Citadel to the sand dunes on the Dunkirk side of the town. We were located four hundred yards from Calais, overlooking the town. We had to street fight all the way there. I was carrying the tripod for the Vickers gun, another Marine carried the barrel and a third Marine carried the water container of coolant for the gun. Across the channel lay the town of Dover, freedom so near and yet so far. We had nothing but a very uncertain future, not really comprehending what lay ahead. We believed that our defence of Calais had engaged the Germans troops and allowed the Dunkirk evacuation to continue. Lieutenant Scott Later, two stretcher-bearers came to ‘Geordie’ and myself and asked us to identify a dead Royal Marine officer. We went with them and identified the officer as Lieutenant Scott, our Machine Gun Officer. We took his ‘dog tags’ (Identification discs) and pay book and then returned to Colour Sergeant Reid, our section commander. But Lieutenant Scott was not dead, just badly injured. Later on, after we were captured, the German stretcher-bearers came across him and moved him into hospital where he recovered. Captured We were taken prisoner by German infantry at 4 pm on Sunday afternoon on the 26 May 1940. The Colour Sergeant had just taken a phone call on the field telephone. He said, ‘We are going to surrender. They have asked for a senior officer to go forward with a white flag and surrender. Destroy your guns’. An army officer then told a Sergeant to take a white flag and stand on a hill. The Sergeant refused and had to be ordered again. He stood up, drew his gun and said, ‘Death before dishonour’. And then the Sergeant shot himself dead with one shot to the head from his own .45 revolver. Another Sergeant was ordered to raise the white flag and did so. The German troops were now swarming around us. A young German officer who was as broad as he was tall approached us. As he did so we were busy destroying the gun. 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. The German officer said something to us in German. We did not understand him and he repeated himself, but this time he spoke in perfect English. We said to him, ‘Why didn’t you say that in the first place?’ We learned that he had been educated in Cambridge before the war. He then asked us what regiment we belonged to and we refused to answer him. He then told us we were in the Royal Marines because he recognised the buttons on our tunics. He then asked us if we knew what the Germans did to Royal Marines. We replied that we did not know so he informed us that we would be shot. A rare sense of humour indeed! After talking to us for a while he returned to the German lines.

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Sinking of HMS Hood - Loss of 168 Royal Marines


May 24, 2019 04:22 am

The Battle of the Denmark Strait was a naval engagement on 24 May 1941 in the Second World War, between ships of the Royal Navy and the German Kriegsmarine. The British battleship HMS Prince of Wales and the battlecruiser HMS Hood fought the German battleship Bismarck and the heavy cruiser Prinz Eugen, which were attempting to break out into the North Atlantic to attack Allied merchant shipping (Operation Rheinübung).
Less than 10 minutes after the British opened fire, a shell from Bismarck struck Hood near her aft ammunition magazines. Soon afterwards, Hood exploded and sank within three minutes, with the loss of all but three of her crew.
Prince of Wales continued to exchange fire with Bismarck but suffered serious malfunctions in her main armament.The British battleship had only just been completed in late March 1941, and used new quadruple gun turrets that were unreliable. Therefore, the Prince of Wales soon broke off the engagement.
A total of 1,415 sailors lost their lives, including 168 Royal Marines were lost on HMS Hood.
These deaths constituted the Royal Navy's greatest single ship loss of the Second World War.
Bismarck firing at HMS Prince of Wales shortly after sinking HMS Hood in the Denmark Strait
The British public were shocked that their most emblematic warship and more than 1,400 of her crew had been destroyed so suddenly. The Admiralty mobilised every available warship in the Atlantic to hunt down and destroy Bismarck. The Royal Navy forces pursued and brought Bismarck to battle. The German battleship was sunk on the morning of 27 May
Read more here - Wikipedia

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