Interwar: Royal Marines

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Conflict, change and the Royal Marines, interwar

During the interwar period it was actually the lack of conflict that affected the Corps and its people the most.

The Great War had employed Royal Marines in every theatre of warfare - on land, at sea and in the air. By 1918 there were around 55 000 officers and men serving in the two branches of the Royal Marines.

By the end of the war demobilisation reduced the Corps to just 15 000. In 1922, after the Treasury had tried to abolish the Royal Marines, they reduced their numbers again to 9500.

In 1923 the RMA and RMLI amalgamated. Forton Barracks in Gosport, the home of the Portsmouth Division RMLI, closed and the RMA’s Eastney Barracks became Portsmouth Division Royal Marines.

As a result of post war reviews to the service the Admiralty provided a summary of duties outlining the role of the new Corps. One of the roles specified was that the Royal Marines were to be -

“specially trained to provide a striking force… for amphibious operations such as raids on the enemy coastline and bases, or the seizure and defence of temporary bases for the use of our own Fleet.”

This brought about new challenges for the Corps and a place within the organisation and execution of Combined Operations.

By 1939 the country was again preparing for war and the Corps strength grew to 12 390 with 1 082 in reserve.

Royal Marines and Sailors in North Russia, c.1919. (RMM)
Royal Marines and Sailors in North Russia, c.1919. (RMM)

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