World War Two: Royal Marines

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Conflict, change and the Royal Marines, World War Two

During World War Two the Royal Marines took part in almost every major action at sea and many actions on the shore in all theatres of war.

Royals also flew in the Fleet Air Arm and won great accolades for their service during the Battle of Britain and the decisive air raid on the Italian fleet at Taranto.

Much of the versatility of the Royal Marines stemmed from their sea service and gunnery expertise. During World War Two they were able to adapt to provide many specialist formations based on their skill and high level of training.

Royal Marines resumed many of the land brigades that had fought in World War One. They also served in tanks for the first time with the formation of the Armoured Support Regiment operating howitzer guns loaded on Centaur Tanks during the D Day landings.

World War Two posed new challenges and theatres of war for the Corps. In 1942 specially selected Royal Marines trained to become Commandos, in a role that would redefine the Corps.

In 1943 Chief of Combined Operations, Lord Louis Mountbatten gave the Corps the task of manning all landing craft required for the planned invasion of Normandy.

World War Two proved to be a period of massive growth with the Corps rising in strength to 12 390 with 1082 in reserve in 1939 after re-mobilisation for war.

By the end of the war their numbers had reached over 74 000. The war saw the loss of 3983 Royal Marines including 225 musicians.

Advancing into the jungle at Kangaw, Burma 1945. (RMM)
Advancing into the jungle at Kangaw, Burma 1945. (RMM)


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