Post War Conflict: Royal Marines

  • PDF
  • Print
  • E-mail

Conflict, change and the Royal Marines, post war

After World War Two the Corps underwent major restructuring. The strength of the Royal Marines had reached over 78 000 by the end of the War.

After the demobilisation of the Hostilities Only Marines, the Corps strength was down to 13 000 by 1947.

Disarmament and cuts to the Fleet seriously limited the scope of the Royal Marines’ sea-going role. This threatened the existence of the Corps as many saw this as their traditional role.

In 1948 the Royal Marines’ Corps strength was at 13 000 men, but only 2000 of these were at sea. The Corps was in serious threat of disbandment and severe sacrifices had to be made in order to save the Royal Marines.

The Commandant General of the Royal Marines, General Sir Leslie Hollis, persuaded the Admiralty Board that they should retain the Commando Brigade. The Corps cut its strength down to 10 300 men - achieved by the closure of Chatham Division.

Soon the Corps had established itself as a versatile fighting force - tackling terrorism and insurgency around the world in its many forms.

They also formed an essential part of the NATO and UN forces - showing their ease of working in combined operations and accepting different command structures and protocols.

This period also saw the development of commando carriers and helicopter facilities. These changes enormously enhanced the capabilities of the Corps, earning it the reputation as a highly effective rapid reaction force.

By 1980, two years before the Falklands War, the Corps strength was at 7500 with the Royal Marines Reserve providing support with an additional 1000 men.

Helicopter airlift for security patrol near the border, Northern Ireland, 1977. (RMM)
Helicopter airlift for security patrol near the border, Northern Ireland, 1977. (RMM)


Follow the links to find out more about -

  • Sea service

  • Amphibious capabilities - Landing craft and Commando carriers and Assault ships.

  • Gunnery and repository

  • Anti-terrorism in the Middle East - Palestine and Aden

  • Jungle Warfare - Malaya, Brunei and Borneo

  • Anti-terrorism in Europe - Cyprus and Northern Ireland

  • Flying Marines