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thedrifter
04-26-04, 08:56 AM
Extracts from Late 19th Century and Early 20th Century Newspapers

Royal Marine Light Infantry - Formation of Special Corps for Naval Service

From a series of Articles on the British Army
from 'The Graphic" dated Jan.22, 1887 as transcribed by Bev Edmonds

The earliest document referring to the establishment of a special body of soldiers for service afloat to be an Order in Council of Charles II, dated 26th Oct, 1664, authorising:

"1,200 land-soldiers to be forthwith raised, to be in readiness to be distributed into His Majesty's Fleets, prepared for sea; which said 1,200 men are to be put into the one Regiment under one Collonell, one Lieut-Collonell, and one Sergeant-Major, and to be divided into six companies--each company to consist of 200 souldiers, and to have one Captain, one lieutenant, an Ensign, a Drum, ffoure Sergeants, and ffoure Corporals; and all souldiers aforesaid to be armed with good firelocks; all which arms, drums, and colours are forthwith to be prepared and furnished out of his His Majesty's Store's."

From the fact that in 1668 the " Lord-Generall of the Land Forces" was directed to furnish men to the Foot Guards for duty in ships of war, and that in 1672 Sidney's Company of the Holland Regiment was so employed, it is very doubtful whether the above Order was carried out; and historians of the Marine Forces seem agreed the the first corps specially set apart for sea-service was the 3rd Regiment of the Line {raised in 1663} which, about 1684, received the title of the "Duke of York and Albany's Maritime Regiment." The uniform of his corps was yellow lined with red; the colours bore the cross of St. George, with the suns rays issuing from each angle.

In 1689 the " Maritime" regiment went to Holland, and was incorporated with the 2nd Foot Guards; and by its redemption, the 4th Holland-or so it was then designated, " Prince George of Denmark's Regiment"- gained a step, and became the 3rd Foot.
In 1708, the 3rd assumed the title of the "Old Buffs" {which appears to have been the destination of the old 3rd, before it was made a Marine Corps}, and it is now known as "The Buffs", or East Kent Regiment." {Lieutenant Nichols' "History of the Marine Forces"}

From the old 3rd, or Marine Regiment, the Royal Marines claim descent, and they share with the "Buffs" the privilege of marching through "London Town" with drums beating and colours uncased.
This privilege was mentioned in the " Memoirs of Major Donkin" {published 1777}, as follows:
" The 3rd Regiment of Foot,raised in 1663, known by the ancient title of the "Old Buffs", have the privilege of marching through London with drums beating and colours flying, which the City disputes, not only with all other corps, but even with the King's Guards going on duty to the Tower. It happened in 1746 that the detachment of the Marines beating along Cheapside, one of the magistrates came up to the officer, requiring him to cease the drum, as no soldiers were allowed to interrupt the civil repose. The Captain commanding said ' We are Marines.' 'Oh, sir,' replied the Alderman, 'I beg pardon; I did not know it. Pray continue your route as you please.' "

........ After the reduction of the " Maritime" regiment there was no Marine Corps in the British service until 1698-9, when six regiments were directed to be levied, but these were disbanded after the Peace of Ryswick.
War with France and Spain having been declared in June,1702, " six regiments of Marines and six other regiments for sea service" were ordered to be raised, and these existed until 1712, when they were reduced in consequence of the Treaty of Itecht. In the following year the establishment of the corps was fixed at four invalid companies.

Between 1739 and 1748 there were several Marine regiments, but the force was totally disbanded at the Peace of Aix-la-Chapelle. Upon the renewal of hostilities in 1755 fifty companies of Marines were raised, and formed into three divisions, stationed at Chatham, Portsmouth, and Plymouth. Since then there has always been a corps of Marines on the peace establishment of the British service.

The title of " Royal" was granted to the Marines in 1802, in "commemoration" of their distinguished services during the war. In 1855 her Majesty was pleased to approve of the Infantry Divisions {the "Red" Marines as they were popularly called} being styled the " Royal Marine Light Infantry" for their services in the Crimea.


Ellie