The Royal Marines, along with the Parachute Regiment, were seen as the spearhead of the Task Force in their effort to remove the Argentine forces from the Falkland Islands. The Royal Marines, after landing at San Carlos Bay, fought at Mount Kent, Mount Harriet and Two Sisters before ‘yomping’ into Port Stanley. The Special Boat Service (SBS) also played a vital, if not more secretive, role in the Falklands and successfully attacked an important Argentinean position at Fanning Head that overlooked San Carlos Bay.
The Royal Marines were created to be the Royal Navy’s infantry. The first unit of what was to become the Royal Marines came into being in October 1664. Originally known as the Duke of York and Albany’s Maritime Regiment of Foot, the title was changed to the Admiral’s Regiment. The title ‘Marines’ first appeared in records in 1672. There then followed a period when the Marine Regiments were disbanded and the reinstated whenever the UK’s overseas possessions were threatened.
In 1755, His Majesty’s Marine Forces were headquartered at Chatham, Plymouth and Portsmouth and put under Admiralty control. The Marines remained associated with these towns for many years after this. In 1802, George III gave them the title Royal Marines.
The Royal Marines fought in the Napoleonic Wars, the 1812 war with America, against the Chinese in the two opium wars, the Crimean War and the Boxer Rebellion in China.
In World War One, the Royal Marines fought at the ill-fated landings at Gallipoli. Men from the Royal Marines also fought in various battles on the Western Front. The Royal Marines won five Victoria Crosses during the war.
In 1923 the artillery and infantry parts of the Royal Marines were amalgamated to become the Corps of Royal Marines.
The commando role that is so much associated with the Royal Marines was developed during World War Two. During this war the Royal Marines commando units that had fought in Norway, North Africa and Dieppe joined with the Army commandos. This union took place in 1943 and the overall command structure was known as the Special Service Brigade. In total, there were four Special Service Brigades in World War Two and the Royal Marines were found in all of them. Nine Royal Marines Commandos units were created during the war numbering from 40 to 48. These commando units fought in many campaigns in World War Two – Italy, D-Day and Antwerp amongst them. The Royal Marines won one Victoria Cross in World War Two.
In 1946, the Army Commandos were disbanded leaving the Royal Marines to fulfil the commando role. Post-1945, the Royal Marines have seen service in the Korean War, Malaya, Suez in 1956, Northern Ireland and in 1982 the Falklands War. Since the Falklands War, the Royal Marines have served in the Balkans, Sierra Leone, East Timor, Afghanistan and Iraq.