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The Royal Marines A Geo History 1664 - Present

Dits - A monthly History Blog by Simon Biggs
Come and see over 354 years of History Mapped out with 450 pins and growing! RM a Geo History

In this months edition 11/30/2019 :

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The Battle of Graspan 1899

Nov 25, 2019 09:18 am

The Battle of Graspan during the Boer War.
On the 25th November 1899 the Royal Marines were involved in the battle of Graspan (also known as the Battle of Enslin). “Two RMLI companies and one RMA company, with a total of 190 officers and men, had been formed at Simonstown in South Africa from the complements of HMS Doris, Powerful and Terrible.
Image: Royal Marines from HMS Doris in Cape Town. Captain Senior is marching on the right. Senior was killed in the storming of the Boer position by the Naval Brigade at the Battle of Graspan on 25th November 1899 in the Great Boer War
Their task was to accompany the Naval Brigade’s sailors and four 12-pounder guns, which were sent by rail to reinforce Lord Methuen’s relief column on its way to raising the siege of Kimberley.
They had acted in support at the Battle of Belmont on the 23rd and two days later spearheaded the assault on Boer positions dug in atop Graspan kopje.
The Royal Marines companies assembled at 0700hrs and moved forward from their start line towards the enemy held crests half a mile away as soon as the preliminary bombardment had stopped. Each marine was only 4 paces from his neighbour and thus bunched they made a series of rushes.
Captain Prothero is said to have called out ‘Men of the Naval Brigade, advance at the double; take that kopje or be hanged for it’.
Image: Officers of the Naval Brigade at the Battle of Graspan on 25th November 1899 in the Great Boer War. Some of the officers are numbered: 1 Commander Ethelston 2 Major Plumbe 3 Lieutenant Jones 4 Captain Senior 5 Midshipman Huddart. Major Plumbe’s Jack Russell Dickie is shown
The Naval brigade stormed into the Boer positions at the top of the hill led by Lieutenant Taylor RN and Lieutenant Jones RMLI.
In the face of the British bayonet charge the Boers left their positions, some hurrying along the top of the ridge to the east and others descending the far side to their ponies and making off to the north.
The 9th Lancers and Rimington’s Guides on the extreme British right attempted to pursue the retreating Boers, but came under a heavy fire from the kopje in the rear of the stormed positions. The British mounted men were forced to draw rein while the Boers with their field guns made off to the north and east.
A heavy and accurate fire swept through the advancing British line, marines falling at every step, including the commanding officer Major J. H. Plumbe RMLI, Captain G. Senior RMA and ninety others, of whom 5 were killed outright.
Image: The death of Major Plumbe of the Royal Marines Light Infantry at the Battle of Graspan on 25th November 1899. His Jack Russell ‘Dickie’ is behind him, who was found guarding his masters body after the battle
Read more here British
The Graspan Memorial
The Royal Marines Memorial, also known as the Graspan Royal Marines Memorial, is an outdoor bronze sculpture by Adrian Jones, installed on the north side of The Mall in London. Located next to Admiralty Arch, the 1903 memorial commemorates the Royal Marines who died in the Boxer Rebellion in China and the Second Boer War in Africa, and depicts two figures on a Portland stone plinth
Brass lettering laid in the ground around it reads: "This memorial was rededicated in October 2000 in honour of all Royal Marines who have served their country by land and sea and who are forever remembered by their friends."[
The base includes bronze plaques by Sir Thomas Graham Jackson depicting the conflicts and Roll of Honour of the two conflicts.
A brass plaque on the front of the plinth contains the inscription, "Erected by the officers and men of the Royal Marines in memory of their comrades who were killed in action or died of wounds or disease in South Africa and China, 1899–1900."
Bronze reliefs on the plinth's sides depict the Repulse of the Chinese attack on the Peking legation and the conflict at Graspan. One side contains the inscription, "Adrian Jones 1902"; the other side may contain the same inscription, but the text is much less legible.
A brass plaque on the plinth's back displays the names of 70 men who died in either conflict.
In 1940, it was put in storage during construction of The Citadel. It was relocated to its present position in 1948.
In 2000 the sculpture was rededicated as the national monument for the Royal Marines. It was unveiled by the Duke of Edinburgh, the Captain General of the Marines.
The memorial became the focus of the annual Graspan Parade and is maintained by The Royal Parks (Wikipedia)

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Bugler CE Timmins, 14, Youngest Marine Killed in WW1

Nov 17, 2019 07:48 am

TIMMINS, CHARLES ERNEST PO/19601 Bugler Age:14 (Born 7th Dec. 1902) Royal Marine Light Infantry H.M.S "Cardiff.".
Son of Private John Llewellyn and Amy Timmins, of 33, Beresford Rd., Gillingham, Kent. His father was killed in action on H.M.S. Hogue in 1914 and so wanting to get his own back on the enemy he left school at 14 and joined the Marines, the only role available die to his age was that of boy bugler.
He served on the C-class light cruiser H.M.S Cardiff.
On the 17th of November 1917 HMS Cardiff was involved in a light cruiser action off Heligoland. The mission objective was to surprise the enemy, and try and force him into action.
He was killed when a piece of shrapnel from a shell blew a hole in his ships funnel and pierced his bugle whilst he was sounding the alert.
This portrait of ex-pupil, Bugler Boy Timmins was unveiled at Napier Road School, Gillingham, on the 14th April 1919 by Admiral Sir Frederick Sturdee who was Commander in Chief of The Nore. Bugler Timmins is representative of the thousands of Kent men and boys who were recruited into the Royal Navy where they served and, in many cases, perished.
Timmins bugle was presented to the Type 45/ Daring-class air-defence destroyer HMS Dragon in 2012.
See the location of Second Battle of Heligoland Bight here: RM A Geo History

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Taranto - first all-aircraft ship-to-ship naval attack in history, Major Patch RM DSC

Nov 12, 2019 10:48 am

The Battle of Taranto took place on the night of 11–12 November 1940 during the Second World War between British naval forces, under Admiral Andrew Cunningham, and Italian naval forces, under Admiral Inigo Campioni.
Image from RN:
The Royal Navy launched the first all-aircraft ship-to-ship naval attack in history, employing 21 obsolete Fairey Swordfish biplane torpedo bombers from the aircraft carrier HMS Illustrious in the Mediterranean Sea.
The attack struck the battle fleet of the Regia Marina at anchor in the harbour of Taranto, using aerial torpedoes despite the shallowness of the water.
Through a barrage of anti-aircraft fire and balloons, the Royal Navy's Swordfish devastated the Italian fleet. Two Swordfish were shot down. Two crew lost their lives and two were captured and taken prisoners by the Italians.
The bomber section of the 1st wave was led by Captain Oliver Patch RM
Major O PATCH RM was awarded the DSC in December 1940 “for outstanding courage and skill in a brilliant and wholly successful night attack by the Fleet Air Arm on the Italian Fleet at Taranto.”
(Within a further month he received the DSO for “courage, skill and enterprise in an attack on Italian warships.” On this last named occasion Major PATCH led a subflight of Swordfish in an attack on the Italian warships in Bomba Bay on the Libyan coast. He himself torpedoed a submarine and two other aircraft accounted for another submarine, a destroyer and a depot ship.)
Image: Conte di Cavour sinks in shallow water following the Battle of Taranto.
The success of this attack augured the ascendancy of naval aviation over the big guns of battleships.
"Taranto, and the night of 11–12 November 1940, should be remembered for ever as having shown once and for all that in the Fleet Air Arm the Navy has its most devastating weapon" Admiral Cunningham

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Major-General Patrick Kay: Royal Marine who became a pioneer of amphibious warfare

Nov 12, 2019 09:23 am

Patrick Richard Kay, Royal Marine officer: born Blakeney, Norfolk 1 August 1921; MBE 1945, CB 1972; married 1944, Muriel Austen Smith (died 2013; three sons, one daughter); died Fleet, Hampshire 19 September 2013.
An army marches on its stomach, the saying ascribed to Napoleon goes, and so proved in November 1944 when supply planning by the new Staff Captain Patrick Kay, a Royal Marine officer serving in 4 Special Services Brigade, ensured victory at Walcheren Island.
Bad weather around the sand-dune girt fortress containing the town of Flushing in the River Scheldt on the approaches to Antwerp meant that the Brigade, part of the forces trying to capture it, were without their follow-up supplies because the Royal Navy could not deliver them. The commandos drawn from the Army and the Royal Marines, pushing forward the Allied advance after D-Day, had to carry through their assault using only what they had brought themselves.
"This might have been a very serious consequence for the whole operation", the recommendation for the award of Kay's MBE, dated 5 February 1945, says, "had it not been for Captain Kay's foresight and care in the preparation of load tables, which enabled the force to carry on with its initial supplies and without seriously impairing its efficiency, until the enemy were finally eliminated from the island."
During the crucial week in which "Pat" Kay did the vital "Q" planning, to supply and equip a force that was twice as big as a normal Commando Brigade, the recommendation records, he was struggling against a bad attack of "gastric-enteritis" [sic] , made worse by overwork and lack of sleep. "In spite of this handicap, he never relaxed his efforts and insisted on taking part in the assault landing, carrying on without relief, until wounded and forcibly evacuated." Kay sustained a broken back when he was blown up in an amphibious landing vehicle.
Winston Churchill, may never have known how much he owed to Kay's ability to keep mind over matter for him to be able to exult about Walcheren in his account of the Second World War (1959), "in this remarkable operation the extreme gallantry of the Royal Marines stands forth. The Commando idea was once again triumphant."
Kay was to spend his career emphasising the importance of elements in that "Commando idea": amphibious capability, efficiency in hostile environments, and combined operations. He had already seen service in the "lucky ship", the battle-cruiser Renown, from 1941-43, sailing in the Mediterranean and in the Arctic, and in November 1943 carrying Churchill to Alexandria for a meeting at Cairo.
As a Lieutenant he had been 4 SS Bde's Liaison Officer with 41 Commando at the D-Day landings. He waded ashore at 08.45am carrying a bicycle; four hours later, after 41 Cdo losses on Sword Beach interrupted communications, he used his wheels to call in vital artillery support by riding at speed to 8 Brigade HQ.
Two and a half months later, as the Allies made their break-out from the Normandy bridgehead, Kay, sent forward to 46 Commando by 4 SS Bde's chief, Brigadier "Jumbo" Leicester, found himself plugging a gap after a mortar bomb wounded five 46 Commando officers.
The commanding officer, Lt Col Campbell Hardy, asked him: "Are you armed?" He replied, "Yes". Hardy told him: "You will lead Z troop this evening." The objective – "Hill 13", from which the enemy had earlier ejected the British 5th Parachute Brigade – was taken. Later, crossing the Seine, Kay was on a pontoon that capsized, and all his life he kept the photograph that had been in his pocket of his wife, Muriel, whom he had married weeks before the landings.
At war's end he went to Combined Operations HQ until 1948, when he joined the staff of the Commandant-General, Royal Marines, in two two-year stints, with Staff College in between. From 1954-57 he was in 40 Commando, the detachment that led the assault on Port Said on 6 November 1956 during the Suez campaign.
A policy decision to expand water-to-land capabilities took him to the Royal Marines' Amphibious School at Poole (renamed the Joint Services Amphibious Warfare Centre in 1956), the object of his formidable organising talents until 1959. He left it so well established that it stayed at Poole until this summer, when it transferred to Royal Marines Tamar at Devonport.
Three years at the Plans Division, Naval Staff (1959-62) preceded his appointment in the rank of Lieutenant Colonel as Commanding Officer, 43 Commando between 1963 and 1965, a time when the effort to reform it "to contribute to the force's availability for seaborne operations" demanded all his planning ability. He went on to be Commanding Officer of the Royal Marines' Amphibious Training Unit (1965-66), and for a year following, Assistant Director (Joint Warfare) Naval Staff.
He was then Assistant Chief of Staff to the Commandant-General, Royal Marines, and the next year, 1969, attended the Imperial Defence College. Four years as Chief of Staff to the Commandant- General, Royal Marines, followed: to General Sir Peter Hellings, and then to General Sir Ian Gourlay, a lifelong friend and fellow former pupil of Eastbourne College in Sussex.
During that time Kay is credited as bringing about, with his Dutch counterpart, the UK/Netherlands Amphibious Force, formed in 1973. The affiliation of 3 Commando Brigade, RM, and the Netherlands Marines Amphibious Combat Group is now considered, according to the Royal Marines, "one of the best examples of military teamwork in European defence". Kay was made CB in 1972.
He retired in 1974, but the same year stepped into the breach after the sudden death of Colonel Jack Macafee, Director of Naval Security. He made several security studies for the Ministry of Defence, and from 1982 stood in for Whitehall's D-Notice secretary after extra work imposed by the Falklands war had shown the need for an extra officer. From 1984-86, when that secretary retired, Kay filled the gap as Acting Secretary of the body that issues D-Notices, the Defence, Press and Broadcasting Committee.
News stories to the handling of which Kay applied his wisdom and dry humour included the sinking of the Argentine cruiser General Belgrano, the publication of the identities of the heads of MI5 and MI6, new information about the Second World War "Ultra" code-breaking and the affairs of Northern Ireland.
The son of a country doctor, and the youngest of five siblings, Kay enjoyed golf and had a passion for growing vegetables, causing his wife to plead: "No dear, I don't think it would be a good idea to have yet another deep freeze." A family joke was the clipboard he used for arranging gatherings, and his three sons and daughter remember being given precise orders about tent-pitching when on holiday. Kay died five months after his wife, Muriel.

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I Was There! - I Saw the Royal Marines Go In at Walcheren

Nov 07, 2019 08:14 am

The War Illustrated, Volume 8, No. 194, Page 441, November 24, 1944.
Westkapelle, keypoint in the Dutch island of Walcheren blocking the entrance to the Scheldt and Antwerp, was in our hands by November 2, 1944. Arthur Oakeshott, Reuters' special correspondent, saw it fall to the combined assault of the Royal Navy, the Royal Marine Commandos, and rocket planes and bombers of the R.A.F. Here he tells of this most hazardous and daring operation as he witnessed it from the H.Q. Ship.
As we approached the island, stretching away on either side and astern of us was a vast convoy of landing craft, and we could see the lighthouse tower and the famous 400-yard-wide gap torn in the dyke wall by R.A.F. Bombers at Zuidhoofd, just to the right of Westkapelle.
We approached to within some thousands of yards, to the accompaniment of the roar of the 15-in. guns of the battleship Warspite and the monitors Erebus and Lord Roberts. I thought it all seemed very unreal – until a couple of German shells fell among us. Guns blazed away from almost every craft and shells of very calibre went screaming to land on the shore and among the German batteries and beach fortifications. But more and more shells dropped among us and one of two ships were hit.
On an eminence to the left of the town were four large German guns in concrete emplacements, and these were shooting pretty accurately Bu this time several landing craft were afire and burning fiercely. Then I saw an unforgettable sight – dozens of landing craft bearing hundreds of men wearing green berets – the men of the famous Royal Marines. They were all singing – yes, singing as they went into that hell of fire and shell and flying metal. "They've got guts", said a sailor.
Still more and more craft swept past us, and all the time the German shells were falling among us, claiming a craft here, a man there. More were in flames. Then above the din of battle we heard the roar of aircraft, and looking up I saw scores of Typhoons screaming down – a puff of smoke, and their rockets flashed in at the German positions.
Deafening Roar of 15-in. Guns
Great spouts of black smoke streamed up into the sky from the bomb bursts, and the smaller fire from the Germans abruptly ceased. But those big batteries continued to take toll of the assault force. By this time the L.C.G.s (landing-craft, guns) were near enough to add their quota, and the noise and crash and banging became almost deafening, while, all the time, wave after wave of Typhoons roared in.
Above the din we heard the steady boom-boom of the "15-inchers" from two monitors and Warspite, and suddenly I saw a great burst of flame and black smoke come from one of these mighty German gun emplacements. It spoke no more – thanks to the R.N. The other three continued.
Then the rocket-firing landing craft came in. There was a zigzagged flash and a black pall of smoke, and hundreds of rockets sailed high into the air until they looked like a flock of migrating birds, and then dropped to explode with deafening detonations on the luckless German defenders of the island of Walcheren. Another roar of aircraft above us, and once more Typhoons, carrying bombs, sped in on the three remaining batteries and simultaneously, shells from the monitors and the battleship scored direct hits, and put No. 2 out of action.
Still the other two continued to fire, causing the invading ships considerable difficulty. Again and again I saw landing craft run a gauntlet of shell bursts as they nosed their way shorewards. Some did not get there. Still more shells poured in on the force that crept nearer and nearer the island, and then somebody said: "There goes the third one", and I could see flames belching out of the third of the German gun batteries. Warspite got that one, and a few minutes later the fourth battery was silenced again by the guns of the Royal Navy.
As we steamed away from Walcheren I could see fires here and there on the island and, dotted about the sea, several blazing craft – one burned all night. A wounded Marine Commando officer said to me: "Don't tell them at home that it was easy – it was damned difficult, but we did it – please tell them that!"

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Royal Marines Desk Top Icons

Nov 06, 2019 11:33 am

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1 ASRM becomes 47 Commando (Raiding Group) Royal Marines

Nov 06, 2019 08:35 am

The Royal Marines' amphibious warfare expert group has been renamed.
1 Assault Group Royal Marines now under the command of 3 Commando Bridge Royal Marines, will now be known as 47 Commando (Raiding Group) Royal Marines.
After the Second World War, 47 Commando was dismantled, but the name has now been revived.
(Picture: Royal Navy).
"It is with enormous pride that I have been able to announce the renaming of 1 Assault Group Royal Marines to 47 Commando (Raiding Group) Royal Marines," said Major General Matt Holmes.
"This change better captures the future role of this specialist 3 Commando Brigade Royal Marines unit, whilst reflecting the esteem in which we hold the forebears given their audacious Commando operations of the past," he added.
"The Commando ethos is incredibly strong and remains the golden thread that runs through the Royal Marines as we accelerate into the future as the Royal Navy’s Commando force."
The unit name is associated with heroics and bravery of personnel during the Second World War.
The renaming coincides with the 75th anniversary of one of the group's greatest battles fought by the group, Battle of Walcheren in the Netherlands.
The battle for the island was vital in freeing the approaches to Antwerp, in Belgium.
47 Commando played a key role in victory alongside their fellow commandos.
They were also instrumental in the D-Day landings on Gold Beach, and 48 hours after arriving in Normandy they were also in action in Port-en-Bessin.
In the French town, they carried out a tactical raid which resulted in a vital victory to open up supply lines to the Allies.
The crucial action at Port-en-Bessin inspired the name change, as the Royal Marines are currently refocusing on tactical raiding while also putting their seaborne warfare expertise back at the forefront of their fighting style.
(Picture: Royal Navy).
This also explains why the 'Raiding Group' part of the new name holds considerable significance.
Further name changes also mean 539 Assault Squadron will now be called 539 Raiding Squadron.

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3 Cdo Bde Operation Musketeer

Nov 06, 2019 02:34 am

On 6 November, Royal Marine Commandos from Nos 40 and 42 Commando landed at Port Said in amphibious Buffalo tracked landing vehicles, supported by a naval and aerial bombardment of the beaches. Slightly to the west of the town, Centurion tanks from 6 Royal Tank Regiment were landed to assist the Royal Marines. Shortly afterwards men from 45 Commando landed by helicopters from HMS Ocean and HMS Theseus.
The Seaborne Assault—6th November The heavy air and naval pre-assault fire plan had been drastically reduced and I had issued precise instructions that supporting fire was to be confined strictly to known enemy defences and to those which engaged our assault. Air bombing was prohibited and heavy naval guns were banned. We thus maintained our policy of accepting risks to our own forces in order to minimise Egyptian civilian casualties and damage to their property. The results bear witness to the effectiveness of these measures and their strict observance by the forces engaged, despite the distorted and exaggerated reports broadcast from Cairo and circulated throughout the world. For 45 minutes before the landing some 3000 yards of the beach were subjected to covering fire from destroyers. The object of this fire, which was extremely accurate, was to neutralise known enemy positions which had been dug amongst the bathing huts on the foreshore. That it achieved its purpose was evident from the quantity of ammunition and equipment which was later found abandoned on the beaches. Although this fire was comparatively light and was only used against known positions or SP guns which actively fired, it achieved the result of enabling our forces to land without suffering the casualties usually expected in an assault against a defended and mined coast.
View of the beach area where 40 and 42 Commando made their assault landing on 6 November 1956. Note the De Lesseps statue, in the background, that stood at the entrance to the Suez Canal. IWM © HU 4170
It was not found necessary to engage the coast defence guns on the breakwater which were silent and had evidently been neutralised after previously being attacked from the air. Fortunately also the French Parachute force had completed the occupation of Port Fuad during the night so that the French seaborne landing on this flank required no supporting fire. Further support for the assault on Port Said was provided by an air strike on the beaches lasting for 10 minutes immediately before the start of the naval gunfire: the beaches were again engaged in a low level attack along their whole length after the naval fire had stopped and just before the leading troops reached the shore. Preceded by minesweepers the assault force reached its destination exactly on time after the sea passage from Malta of over 900 miles having taken 6 days. At 0450 hours GMT the leading waves of 40 and 42 Royal Marine Commandos came ashore and across the beaches in LVTs (Landing Vehicle Tracked) before disembarking. This obviated what otherwise would have been an excessively long wade on the gradually shelving beach, and an exposed run across the broad beaches before reaching cover. One squadron of the 6th Royal Tank Regiment was waterproofed and waded ashore from LCTs (Landing Craft Tanks) which touched down in 4 1/2 feet of water. At the same time the French Assault Force consisting of 1st Regiment Etranger Parachutistes and three Naval Commandos, supported by a squadron of light tanks, was making an unopposed landing on the beaches of Port Fuad. As the Royal Marine Commandos passed through the beach huts, which were by then on fire and amongst which quantities of abandoned ammunition were exploding, they came under small arms fire from buildings along the sea front and one SU 100 on their right flank opened fire on one of the supporting destroyers. The destroyer returned the fire and as a result conflagration started in the shanty town in the immediate neighbourhood of the SU 100; fanned by a stiff breeze a large area of this collection of shacks was burnt out. Luckily an area free of the Russian mines placed along the beaches was found at the point of assault. The objectives of 42 Commando supported by the tank squadron less one troop, was to get through Port Said as quickly as possible to the area of Golf Course Camp and thereby seal off the Southern exits of the town, while 40 Commando with one troop of tanks was to clear the vicinity of the harbour in order to enable craft to enter without coming under fire. 42 Commando met considerable resistance in the area of the Governorate where 100 to 150 Egyptian Infantry debouched from buildings South and West of the Square. They were engaged by supporting tanks, but as they continued to hold out in a block of buildings which lay across the main axis of advance of 42 Commando, an air strike was called down at 0700 hours GMT. Immediately after this the advance was resumed with the Commandos travelling in their unarmoured open LVTs escorted by tanks. They moved rapidly down the Rue Mahomet Ali coming under fire from side streets with grenades being thrown down from balconies overhead. The Commandos replied with their personal weapons - while the tanks knocked out anti-tank guns halfway down the street and overran a further three guns as they emerged into the open South of the heavily built up area. The Commandos suffered some casualties at this stage in their vehicles and while subsequently clearing the houses on either side of the street. Meanwhile 40 Commando was carrying out a deliberate clearance of the houses along the Quai Sultan Hussein bordering the harbour. A considerable number of Egyptian infantry were seen and engaged to the West of this axis and strong opposition developed amongst the warehouses behind Navy House. At 0540 hours GMT the Commanding Officer of 45 Commando took off from HMS Ocean in a helicopter to reconnoitre the landing zone for his unit. In the smoke and haze the pilot lost his way and landed temporarily in an Egyptian held football stadium where the party came under fire. Quickly realising his mistake he re-embarked his passengers and made good his escape in spite of a considerable number of bullet holes in his machine. 45 Commando were landed using 22 helicopters from HMS Ocean and Theseus and 90 minutes later 400 men and 23 tons of stores were ashore near the Casino Pier without further incident. This was the first occasion on which such an operation had been carried out. The remainder of 6 Royal Tank Regiment disembarked at the Fishing Harbour later in the morning. One squadron was placed in support of 45 Commando who had the task of clearing the town between the axes of the two leading Commandos: the other squadron by-passed the opposition with which 40 Commando was dealing and finally joined up with the French parachutists well South of the town near the bridges over the Interior Basin. By 0730 hours GMT 42 Commando and its supporting tanks had taken up positions in the area of the Gas Works and Golf Course Camp South of the town from which they engaged Egyptian infantry near the Prison. These appeared to be forming up for a counterattack and an air strike was called down on them at 0900 hours whereupon they rapidly dispersed. From then onwards until 1200 hours GMT 42 Commando engaged Egyptian infantry trying to cross their axis from East to West evidently seeking sanctuary in the rabbit warren of Arab Town. This Westward move was also due to pressure from 45 Commando who were slowly clearing the middle of Port Said. Like all street fighting the clearing of Port Said was a slow process made more difficult by the fact that most of the regular Egyptian troops had by then discarded their uniforms for "gallabiyahs", and were indistinguishable from civilians, many of whom were armed. Streets had to be cleared house by house and sometimes room by room. This took time and required a considerable expenditure of small arms ammunition and grenades. Failure to observe the normal street fighting drill and the wish of all ranks to get through Port Said as quickly as possible led in some cases to avoidable casualties to our own troops. It is a tribute to their patience and forbearanoe that so little damage was done to Port Said. At 0900 hours GMT Lieutenant-General Stockwell reported that, with the other Task Force Commanders and General Beaufre, he was going ashore to try to secure the unconditional surrender otf Port Said. Negotiations were in (progress through the Italian Consul and a rendezvous had been arranged at the Consulate. Lieutenant-General Stockwell and his party sailed into the harbour in a motor launch as far as the Canal Company building where they were fired on from the direction of Navy House. Going about they landed near the Casino Palace Hotel and proceeded to the Consulate. The Egyptian Commander however failed to come to the rendezvous and as a result fighting continued throughout the day. By 1015 hours GMT a tough battle was taking place in Port Said but the situation was gradually being brought under control. British and French forces had linked up at the Water Works and the advance Southward was being organised. I was particularly anxious to secure as much of the Causeway running South from Port Said as quickly as possible, mainly in order to prevent our break-out from the Causeway from being blocked by the Egyptians but also to enable Port Said to be used for unloading men and material without interference or the requirement of a lot of troops to secure it. In Port Said the last area of resistance centred round Navy House where tanks supporting 40 Commando used their guns to blow in the doors of warehouses from which Egyptian fire was still coming. Finally, just before dusk an air attack was called down on Navy House itself which still held out. This building was engaged and our troops occupied the area. All organised resistance now ceased, 3 Parachute Battalion had also closed up to the edge of Arab Town and the Commandos bad linked up with the French South of the town. Sporadic sniping however continued throughout the night. At 1700 hours GMT orders were received from London that a United Nations Force would take over from us and that a Cease Fire was to take effect 2359 hours GMT, and that no further move of forces would take place after that hour. Orders were therefore issued to the leading troops to halt at midnight by which time the leading Allied Forces had reached El Cap, some 23 miles South of Port Said.
40 Cdo RM
DUDHILL, Lorin Marine Lorin Dudhill from Wingate, Durham, died during Operation Musketeer, the Anglo-French Invasion of Port Said, Egypt.
FUDGE, Ronald John Marine Ronald Fudge, from Bristol, died during Operation Musketeer, the Anglo-French Invasion of Port Said, Egypt.
MCCARTHY, Peter William Lieutenant Peter McCarthy, from Salisbury, died during Operation Musketeer, the Anglo-French Invasion of Port Said, Egypt.
UFTON, Edward Albert Lieutenant Edward Ufton, from Burton-on-Trent, was killed during Operation Musketeer, the Anglo-French Invasion of Port Said, Egypt.
42 Cdo RM
DENNIS, Donald Henry Arthur Sergeant Donald Dennis, from Plymouth, was killed by a sniper during Operation Musketeer, the Anglo-French Invasion of Port Said, Egypt.
HOWARD, David Marine David Howard, from King's Lynn, was killed during Operation Musketeer, the Anglo-French Invasion of Port Said, Egypt.
PRICE, Bernard John Marine Bernard Price, from Cardiff, died during Operation Musketeer, the Anglo-French Invasion of Port Said, Egypt.
SHORT, Brian John Marine Brian Short, From Poole, was killed during Operation Musketeer, the Anglo-French Invasion of Port Said, Egypt.
45 Cdo RM
FOWLER, Michael John Marine Michael Fowler died during Operation Musketeer, the Anglo-French Invasion of Port Said, Egypt.
GOODFELLOW, Cyril Edward Marine Cyril Goodfellow, from Birmingham, died during Operation Musketeer, the Anglo-French Invasion of Port Said, Egypt. Role of Honour from Commando Veterans Org

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Corporal John Prettyjohn the First Royal Marine Victoria Cross - 2nd November 1854 –  Battle of Inkerman - Crimea #OTD

Nov 05, 2019 08:55 am

John Prettyjohns VC (sometimes misspelled Prettyjohn) (11 June 1823 – 20 January 1887) was the first Royal Marine to win the Victoria Cross, the highest and most prestigious award for gallantry in the face of the enemy that can be awarded to British and Commonwealth forces.
On 5 November 1854, Corporal John Prettyjohns won the Victoria Cross during the Battle of Inkerman.
The 2 November 1854 was an active day, 312 rank and file marched off from the heights of Balaklava, for the Light Division, under the command of Captain Hopkins, RMLI, the detachment was divided into four companies, taking turn in the trenches. On the morning of the 5th, the relief, which had just returned, were preparing their rude breakfast; the firing from Sebastopol was gradually increased, and then commenced in our rear. Nothing could be distinguished but fog and smoke from where we were.
The bugle sounded the ‘Fall-in’ at the double, and officers were flying about giving orders, saying vast columns of the enemy were moving up to our rear. The roll of musketry was terrific; we were advanced cautiously until bullets began to fall in amongst us, the Sergeant-Major was the first man killed; order given to lay (sic) down; it was well we did so; a rush of bullets passed over us: then we gave them three rounds, kneeling, into their close columns.
At the same time some seamen opened fire from some heavy guns into their left flank, and this drove them back into the fog and smoke. Our Commanding Officer received several orders from mounted officers at this critical time; first it was ‘advance’, then it was ‘hold your ground and prevent a junction or communication with the town’.
The Inkermann Caves were occupied by the enemy’s sharpshooters, who were picking off our officers and gunners; between us and these men was an open space exposed to the broadside fire of a frigate in the harbour under shelter of the wall, but she had been heeled over so as to clear the muzzles of her guns, when fired, from striking the wall; thus, her fire raked the open part. The Caves were to be cleared, and the Marines ordered to do it; as soon as we showed ourselves in the open, a broadside from the frigate thinned our ranks; Captain March fell wounded. Captain Hopkins ordered his men to lie down under a bit of rising ground, and ordered two privates, Pat Sullivan and another man to take the Captain back, and there he stood amidst a shower of shot and shell, seeing him removed.
A division under Sergeant Richards and Corporal Prettyjohns, was then thrown out to clear the caves, what became of the Commanding Officer and the others I never knew, so many statements have been made.
We, under Richards and Prettyjohns, soon cleared the caves, but found our ammunition nearly all expended, and a new batch of the foe were creeping up the hillside in single file, at the back. Prettyjohns, a muscular West Countryman, said, ‘Well lads, we are just in for a warming, and it will be every man for himself in a few minutes. Look alive, my hearties, and collect all the stones handy, and pile them on the ridge in front of you. When I grip the front man you let go the biggest stones upon those fellows behind’.
As soon as the first man stood on the level, Prettyjohns gripped him and gave him a Westcountry buttock, threw him over upon the men following, and a shower of stones from the others knocked the leaders over. Away they went, tumbling one over the other, down the incline; we gave them a parting volley, and retired out of sight to load; they made off and left us, although there was sufficient to have eaten us up.
Later in the day we were recalled, and to keep clear of the frigate’s fire had to keep to our left, passing over the field of slaughter.
On being mustered, if my memory is not at fault, twenty-one had been killed and disabled, and we felt proud of our own Commanding Officer, who stood fine, like a hero, helping Captain March.
Corporal Prettyjohns received the VC, Colour Sergeant Jordan the Medal and £20 for Distinguished Conduct in the Field, Captain Hopkins a C.B., others were recommended.
— - a report by Sergeant Turner RM
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Landing Craft Support Squadron - Operation Infatuate

Nov 01, 2019 06:09 am

1st - 8th November 1944 Operation Infatuate - The Battle of Walcheren.
Support Squadron Eastern Flank left from Poole on 28th October 1944 for Walcheren via Oosend.
LCH 269 now had a new Skipper. Commander Kenneth Sellars RN, a very high ranking officer for a landing craft! He was mostly known as "Monkey" Sellars and had been in pre-war days an international rugby star.
He was now taking over the command of the SSEF which comprised twenty seven various types of landing craft and approximately four hundred naval personnel.
For this operation he had an additional five hundred Royal Naval Marines.
LCF 37
Landing Craft Flack (LCF) were converted Landing Craft Tank (LCTs) with the front ramp welded in position and the hold decked over as a platform for the guns. There were a number of variants (Marks) but most were around 150/200 ft long with a beam of around 30/40 ft.
LCTs were designed to carry tanks and heavy transport, while the LCFs were equipped with anti-aircraft guns to provide air cover for the invasion fleet, particularly the troop carrying Landing Craft Assault (LCA) flotillas, which were poorly equipped to defend themselves against air attack.
The Landing Craft Flak 37 was leading LCF of the Southern Group.
Image; LCF 37, tied up alongside © IWM (A 19420)
After driving off the ML working the shoal at the deploying position German Battery W15 switched to LCF 37 while she was still 3500 - 4000 yards from the shore and so well out of range for her own guns. She was first hit on the port quarter on the water line at 09.20 hrs, but the hole was successfully blocked with hammocks.
At 09.45 hrs, W15 having switched to fresh targets, she was engaged by W13 and began to make smoke. However she was hit astern, a near miss on the port beam filled the bridge and upper deck with water, and two hits were sustained forward blowing away the bows and forward magazine.
At 09.48 hrs a shell hit the main magazine blowing up about 100.000 rounds of 2-pr Oerlikon ammunition, turning the ship forward of the bridge into a shambles and causing a large number of casualties.
Most of the crew were blown into the sea.
The total casualties were: 2 offrs, 39 ORs missing believed killed; 4 ORs seriously wounded; 2 Offrs and 3 ORs slightly wounded.
Image: A landing craft gun (medium) (almost certainly LCG (M) 101) crew fighting to save their shell ridden and sinking craft during the landing by Royal Marine commandos on the island of Walcheren at Westkapelle the most western point of the island, during the final phase of the battle to free the Belgian port of Antwerp. © IWM (A 26236)
From "The Campaign in North-West Europe June 1944-1945", page 51 "The Support Squadron had also suffered heavily for by 1230 only seven of its twenty-seven craft, including three equipped for firing smoke only, remained completely fit for action. The Squadron's state was:
Sunk or sinking - L.C.G (L)?s 1 and 2, L.C.F. 37, L.C.G.(M)?s 101 and 102, L.C.S.(L)?s 252, 256 and 258
On fire in the magazine and abandoned - L.C.F. 38
Damaged and out of action - L.C.G.(L)?s 11 and 17, L.C.T.(R)?s 334 and 363, L.C.M. 42 and 36, L.C.S.(L) 260
Damaged but capable of further action - L.C.G.(L) 10, L.C.F.?s 35 and 32, L.C.H. 98
Fit for action - L.C.G.(L) 9, L.C.S.(L)?s 254 and 259, L.C.T.(R)?s 457, 331 and 378 (firing smoke only), L.C.H. 269
(Abbreviations: LC ? Landing craft, G(L) ? gun (large), F ? flak, G(M) ? gun (medium), S(L) - Support (large), T(R) ? tank (rockets), H ? headquarters)
As was only to be expected, casualties among the officers and men of the Squadron were also extremely heavy, 172 killed and 200 wounded, but their sacrifice had not been in vain for it was under cover of the Squadron that the incoming waves of landing craft had continued to beach so successfully all the morning. There can be no doubt that the Squadron's outstanding gallantry had done much to make the seaborne landing possible and by 1230 the three Commandos were well established ashore. Captain Pugsley now decided that all craft no longer fit for action should return to Ostend.
Royal Marines manned various Landing and Assault Craft during Operation Infatuate, several were killed or wounded supporting their colleagues in 41, 47 and 48 Commando and lay beside them in Bergen-op-Zoom War Cemetery.
RM LC Crews buried at Bergen-op-Zoom War Cemetery
BUTTS, RONALD JAMES R J PO/X 115686 Died 01/11/1944 H.M. L.C.F. 37
Marine McEWAN, PETER LESLIE P L CH/X 109338 Age 19 Died 01/11/1944 H.M. L.C.G. 2
Son of Ronald and Doris Leslie McEwan, of Shripney, Sussex.
OVERTON, STANLEY ERIC S E PLY/X 3655 Died 01/11/1944 H.M. L.C.G. 2
Marine POWELL, REGINALD FRANK R F PLY/X 105027 Age 23 Died 01/11/1944 H.M. L.C.S. (L) 258
Son of Walter and Sarah Powell, of Crewe, Cheshire; husband of Marie Powell, of Crewe.
Marine DUNKLEY, RUPERT ALFRED R A PLY/X 105032 Age 23 Died 01/11/1944 H.M. L.C.S. (L.) 258
Son of Alfred and Mary Ann Dunkley, of Kingsley, Northampton.

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Operation Infatuate - The Battle of Walcheren

Nov 01, 2019 06:08 am

1st - 8th November 1944 Operation Infatuate - The Battle of Walcheren.
The operation was part of the wider Battle of the Scheldt and involved two assault landings from the sea by the 4th Special Service Brigade and the 52nd (Lowland) Division. At the same time the 2nd Canadian Infantry Division would force a crossing of the Walcheren causeway.
The force sailed from Ostend at 0315 hours and by 0930 hours they reached Walcheren. The heavy ships bombarded the German defences with the 15inch guns of HMS Warspite, the guns of LCGs, the rockets of LCT(R)s and a squadron of rocket-firing Typhoons.
Image: A landing craft tank entering the beach area during the landing by Royal Marine commandos on the island of Walcheren at Westkapelle the most western point of the island, during the final phase of the battle to free the Belgian port of Antwerp. In the hold of the LCT are vehicles carrying various supplies for the landings. © IWM (A 26266)
However, the German defences held fire until the assault landing craft and support craft made for the shore. Several were hit, including a LCT(R), which received a direct hit. Thirty landing craft from the Close Support Squadron were lost and over 300 men were killed in the action.
Image: A landing craft gun (medium) (almost certainly LCG (M) 101) crew fighting to save their shell ridden and sinking craft during the landing by Royal Marine commandos on the island of Walcheren at Westkapelle the most western point of the island, during the final phase of the battle to free the Belgian port of Antwerp. IWM © IWM (A 26236)
The three RM Commandos of No 4 SS Brigade, 41, 47 and 48 CDO RM, together with No 4 (Belgian) and No 5 (Norwegian) troops of No 10 (IA) Commando, commanded by Peter Laycock, landed at Westkapelle on the western side of the island.
No 4 Commando, with Nos 1 and 8 (French) troops of No 10 Inter Allied Commando, crossed from Breskens and attacked Flushing with support from the 155th Infantry brigade. The brigade had trained for this assault in the Ostend area during October.
The bombing of Walcheren in October, by RAF Bomber Command, had breached the dykes around the island turning it into a massive lagoon, rimmed by long stretches of intact dykes. German gun emplacements on the unaffected areas, virtually provided a continuous fortification bristling with guns of every calibre.
The Marines placed great reliance on Weasel and Buffalo LTs for transport to the landing areas. The RM Commandos were to seize the shoulders of the gap in the dyke and then to fan out north and south to roll up the remainder of the German defences by linking up with the southern thrust. The RAF provided air support and the 79th Armoured Division provided naval gunfire support, including Landing Craft Gun (Medium) and multiple-rocket launch systems. After some debate over the sea conditions, the operation was planned for November 1. No 4 Commando landed at 0545 hours and the remainder at 1000 hours.
Image: This image shows German coastal guns and blockhouses which the British forces quickly put out of action on Walcheren Island.© IWM (BU 1273)
On the day of the assault, a heavy mist over the Dutch and Belgian airfields limited RAF support for the actual landings, although the skies over Walcheren itself were clear. No 4 Commando, under Lt-Colonel Dawson DSO, had a problem in finding a suitable place to disembark. Dawson sent a small reconnaissance party (known as Keepforce) ashore in two LCPs. They were followed by Nos 1 and 2 troops, who secured the beachhead with minimal casualties and soon began to take prisoners.
The main body came in at 0630 hours but, by this time, the Germans were totally alert and opened heavy fire with machine guns and 20mm cannon. Despite this, the Marines landed with only two or three casualties, although the LCA containing the heavier equipment, including 3 inch mortars, hit a stake and sank 20 yards off shore but the mortars were successfully salvaged.
The marines now fought their way through the German strong-points. Unfortunately, the need to leave rearguards against infiltration, hindered progress. However, despite losing two LCAs to heavy enemy gun fire, the leading battalion of 155 Brigade began to land at 0830 hours which immediately improved the situation.German prisoners were pressed into service, unloading stores and supplies. A good proportion of them were poor quality troops, many of whom suffered from stomach complaints. Curiously, however, their defence positions were well stocked with food and ammunition.
By 1600 hours, the Commandos had reached most of their objectives and decided to consolidate, as the day drew to a close.
Brigadier Leicester's plan, for the attack on Westkapelle, called for three troops of No 41 (RM) Commando, under Lt-Colonel E C E Palmer RM, to land on the north shoulder of the gap blown in the dyke. The objective was to clear the area between there and the village of Westkapelle. The remainder of the Commando, along with the two No 10 (IA) Commando troops, would then come ashore in Weasels and Buffalos launched from LCTs. Their mission would be to clear Westkapelle and then move north.
No 48 (RM) Commando, under Lt-Colonel J L Moulton DSO, would use the same methods but come ashore south of the gap. From there, they would advance on Zoutelande, two miles to the south.
Finally, No 47 (RM) Commando, under Lt-Colonel CF Phillips DSO, would land behind No 48 and to meet up with No 4 Commando near Flushing.
[Photo; Royal Marine Commandos going down the ramp of a landing craft tank in an Alligator amphibious personnel carrier, whilst some more men in a Weasel amphibious carrier are about to follow.
LCT 532 has just beached on the island of Walcheren at Westkapelle, the most western point of the island. Note the badly damaged buildings and sea defences in the background.
No 41 overran a pillbox in their path and pushed onto Westkapelle, where they were confronted by a battery of four 150mm guns which were reduced with supporting fire from tanks. The Commandos then moved north along the dyke.
No 48 also encountered a battery of 150mm guns. The leading troop commander was killed and several men wounded in an attack on the position. In response to another assault on the gun emplacements, the enemy released an enfilade of intense mortar fire. Supporting fire from field batteries in the Breskens area, together with Typhoon attacks, considerably softened up the battery allowing another troop, under cover of smoke, to reach the centre of the battery, putting it out of action.
No 48 (RM) Commando pushed on at first light and took Zouteland, meeting only light opposition.
Image: The Nolle Dyke gap during Op Infatuate []
No 47 took over the advance but soon came up against a strong fortified position with an anti-tank ditch and huge 'Dragon's Teeth'. The weather had closed in and no air support was available, so they attacked supported only by artillery fire. They also came under heavy mortar fire and suffered several casualties.
The other half of the Commando, having moved along the dyke, were confronted by another 150mm battery. Their approach was obstructed by pockets of resistance, which were not cleared until nightfall. The three Troops halted in front of the battery and received much-needed food and ammunition before they repulsed a German counter-attack.Defensive stakes and mines, embedded in the base of the dyke, made it difficult for supply craft to land stores.
By the third and fourth days, the Commando were forced to 'endure' captured German rations. To the relief of all concerned, supplies were parachuted in on the fifth day near Zouteland.
No 41 and No 10 Commandos reached Domburg on the morning of D+1, where they encountered strong resistance.
That evening, Brigadier Leicester ordered No 41, less one Troop, to assist No 47 in the south, leaving the Troops of No 10 and one of No 41 to finish mopping up Domburg. No 4 Commando was relieved by 155 Brigade and embarked on LVTs to assault two batteries, W3 and W4, situated north-west of Flushing. They had been fighting for 40 hours and needed a short break for rest and recuperation. After landing in a little known gap in the dyke, Lt-Colonel Dawson secured relief of 24 hours for his men from Brigadier Leicester, however, it was well after dark before the Commando was relieved by 155 brigade.
In the event, No 47 (RM) Commando overcame the opposition south of Zouteland later that day and linked up with No 4 Commando. Meanwhile, No 10 and the Norwegians cleared Domburg, showing particular courage in the face of heavy opposition, which cost them a number of casualties.In the after-action report of the battle.
Nos 4, 47 and 48 Commandos then regrouped at Zouteland and a two-day pause ensued while they re-supplied.
The remaining enemy resistance was concentrated in the area north-west of Dombug. Nos 4 and 48 Commando set off on foot, although they used LVs to cross the gap at Westkapelle, in order to reinforce No 10 and No 41. While No 41 assaulted the last remaining battery, W19, No 4 cleared the Overduin Woods and pushed on to Vrouwenpolder opposite North Beveland. No.48 remained in reserve.
This phase of the operation began on November 8.
47 Cdo memorial at Dishoek, dedicated November 2019 [08 Nov 16:45 @kelouise79]
At 0815, four Germans approached the Allied troops to ask for a surrender of all remaining German troops in the area. After some negotiation, 40,000 Germans surrendered. No 4 SS Brigade had lost 103 killed, 325 wounded and 68 missing during eight days of fighting. By the end of November, after a massive minesweeping operation of the Scheldt, the first cargoes were being unloaded at Antwerp.
'in this remarkable operation the extreme gallantry of the Royal Marines stands forth. The Commando idea was once again triumphant' Winston Churchill. History of the Second World War (1959)
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