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Royal Marine Commandos

Page Created
October 8th, 2022
Last Updated
October 8th, 2022
British Flag
Additional Information
Order of Battle
Interactive Page
February 1942
Theater of Operations
Organisational History

The Royal Marine Commandos are raised in February 1942. These newly raised Royal Marine Commando strengthen the frontline fighting strength of the Special Service Brigade.

The first volunteers for this new, Royal Marine Commando, are called early in 1942 from units of the Royal Marine Division, which had remained ashore since the outbreak of war and form a ready reserve of manpower. The Royal Marine Commando would later be redesignated as A Commando. The men, primarily Royal Marines, assemble at Deal North Barracks on February 14th, 1942, under the command of Lieutenant Colonel Joseph Picton-Phillips. Here they undergo intensive training.

This new development in the history of the Commandos was by no means popular. Indeed, it meets strong opposition from within the existing Army Commandos, wary of another service intruding into their domain, and from within the Corps of Royal Marines itself by those opposed to use of the corps in a manner so divorced from its normal shipboard role. Unlike other Commandos it was initially organised on a company basis.

Following a period of intensive training and weeding out of unsuitable men, including time at the Commando Depot at Achnacarry, the unit has its baptism of fire during the disastrous Dieppe raid, after which in October 1942 it was re-titled 40 (Royal Marine) Commando.

A second Royal Marine Commando joins the Special Service Brigade in October 1942. Instead of calling for volunteers, it is created by turning the existing 8th Royal Marine Battalion into a Commando unit. This is the source of another abiding criticism levelled by the Army Commandos at the Royal Marines, namely that they were ‘pressed men’ and not volunteers like their predecessors.

B (Royal Marines) Commando, initially commanded by Lieutenant Colonel O.H. Phibbs, is quickly formed and joins A Commando on the Isle of Wight where it is later renamed to No. 41 (Royal Marine) Commando. A frenzied period of weeding out the unfit men is followed by intensive training for their new specialised role.