“If ever the hour of real danger should come to England, the Royal Marines will be found the country's sheet-anchor.”
Admiral Sir John Jervis, Lord St Vincent “Royal Marines, on your heads, BOUNCE!”
Old naval saying!
Royal is, by his role, usually first in when there is some rumpus going on. Less well known is that in dangerous situations he is commonly last out, as at Gallipoli, Norway, Crete, Palestine and Aden (for instance). Three RM pilots flew in the Battle of Britain; Royal gets everywhere, hence his badge of the great globe itself. This book sets out the story of the Royal Marines’ near three and a half centuries of service and then works through to what they are doing today. In a sense it is hagiographic, but only because it is near impossible to find anything negative to say about them. Even the mutiny in the 6th Battalion was caused by Government, not by anything within the RM - men who had enlisted to fight one war, which had been won, were sent off to fight another (in Russia) that they had not signed up for.
This book consists basically of a series of essays threading through time, by RM officers who know their subject (including several by Major General Julian Thompson), occasionally linked by editorial, and lavishly illustrated. The editor has been cruelly constrained as to space and I fear many good entries have had to be thrown over the side to the sharks. Some will wish something they related to had a more comprehensive treatment; for example, 42 and 44 (RM) Commandos’ role in Burma only gets a single paragraph - no room there for the wounded Marine staked out in blazing sunlight as bait with three Japanese machine guns trained on him. The post war selection is silently informed by S-T’s own service in nearly every trouble spot on offer.