The Fate of Great Britain is tied to the ocean. For scores of years the might of the Royal Navy has been the safeguard for the small island nation.
Like any powerful navy, a small but highly trained Marine Corps accompanies them, doing what neither it nor the Army can accomplish. Amongst those Royal Marines stand an elite force, Marine Commandos. When no other force can handle the task, that is when you call upon the commandos.
The Royal Marine Commandos, known as 3 Commando Brigade, is further subdivided into various specialized units.
The 40 Commando Brigade, the 42 Commando Brigade, the 43 Commando Fleet Protection Group, the 45 Commando Group, the 30 Commando Information Exploitation (IX) Group, formerly the United Kingdom Landing Force Command Support Group (UKLF CSG). Forty, Four Two, and Four Five are Commandos are battalion sized units.
The Commando Logistics Regiment, the 24 Commando Engineer Regiment, combined with the 131 Independent Commando Squadron Royal Engineers, and the 29 Commando Royal Artillery combine to form the Royal Marine Commandos.
Though the service of the Royal Marines is a long and distinguished one, the Marine Commandos got their start in World War II.
Originally termed the 3rd Special Service Brigade, the Marine Commandos, formed from Marine and Army commando units, first saw action in Burma against the Japanese as they struggled to invade India.
There the Brigade fended off the Japanese 54 division at the Battle of Hill 170. Enduring as many as 700 artillery shells and brutal hand-to-hand combat, the Brigade held their position and, when the dust settled, they marched on an abandoned Japanese position.
Following the Burma Campaign, the Brigade formally received the designation 3 Commando Brigade, and participated in further Burma operations.
After World War II, the Army units were removed from the Brigade to fully form it into a Marine formation. Their next major deployment following the end of the war was the Suez Crisis of 1956.
Following a helicopter borne assault, the Commandos, as reported by BBC, “captured Gamil airfield after what Sir Charles Keightley, the allied commander-in-chief described as “some very tough fighting” with Egyptian troops armed with guns, mortars and tanks.”
By the 1970’s the Brigade was pulled from East Asia and the Persian Gulf to their permanent home in the Stonehouse Barracks in Plymouth.
The next foe they faced would be their fellow subjects, as in July 1972 they participated in Operation Banner during the Troubles. The deployment turned out to be brief, and in 1982 they spearheaded the land assault on Argentina during the Falklands War.
As the spearhead there job was “to establish a bridgehead before the Army’s 5th Infantry Brigade (5th Inf Bde) arrived to help complete the recapture of the Falklands.
Its teeth were three Royal Marine Commandos each with three rifle companies of 120 men each, one HQ and one support company, all backed up by a number of other Marine and commando-trained Army units.”
In several fierce engagements they managed to force back the Argentineans, paving the way for their surrender in June.
From Argentina, the Brigade returned briefly to the Gulf, where they provided much needed humanitarian aid to the Kurds during the Gulf War.
They would return again to the region for deployments in Afghanistan and Iraq, where their rapid deployment and light infantry tactics more than made up for the lack of water.
Their rapid deployment and combat flexibility made the Brigade perfect for such engagements. From the beaches of Argentina to the coasts of East Asia, the commandos have been at the front of Spearheading amphibious assaults and rapid advancement in multiple terrains, the Brigade has and will no doubt continue to serve Crown and Country to the utmost.