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This month I have smashed the 600 pin ceiling, so I hope you will go and check out the RM History Geo Map!

Please continue to share with your oppo's so they have something to read in the heads, but no printing as it wont flush!

Keep your families and yourself safe wherever you are, Per Mare Per Terram.

Yours Aye,

 Si Biggs
Come and see over 356 years of History, search by Unit, Year, Month, Conflict, or Historic Period mapped out with over 600 pins and growing! RM a Geo History
In this months edition;

The Corps of Marines titled the Royal Marines by King George III

By Si Biggs on Apr 29, 2021 09:38 pm

Unit/ Formation: Royal Marines

Location: Great Britain

Period/ Conflict: 1800's

Year: 1802

Date/s: 29th April 1802

In 1802, largely at the instigation of Admiral John Jervis, 1st Earl of St Vincent, they were titled the Royal Marines by King George III.

His Majesty has been graciously pleased to signify his commands that, in consideration of the very meritorious services of the Marines during the late war, the Corps shall in future be styled the Royal Marines.

The order signifying the creation of the Royal Marines was immediately sent to all Divisions:

The Earl St. Vincent having signified to my Lord Commissioners of the Admiralty, that his Majesty, in order to mark his Royal approbation of the very meritorious conduct of the Corps of Marines during the late war, has been, graciously pleased to direct that the Corps shall in future be styled the Royal Marines.

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RM Fortress Unit - Norway 1940

By Si Biggs on Apr 29, 2021 07:17 pm

Unit/ Formation: Royal Marines

Location: Bardufoss

Period/ Conflict: World War II

Year: 1940

Date/s: April - June 1940

During World War II, RAF Gloster Gladiators (No. 263 Squadron RAF) and Hawker Hurricanes (No. 46 Squadron RAF) operating from Bardufoss Air Station played a vital part in keeping the Luftwaffe at bay during the fighting on the Narvik front in the April–June 1940 during the Norwegian Campaign.

The airfield at Bardufoss was provided Anti Aircraft cover by the Royal Marines Fortress Unit.

Every effort was now being concentrated on preparation of the Bardufoss and Skaanland aerodromes, even operations taking second place in importance.

At the same time, the mounting of A/A guns was being pressed on. The speedy and efficient work of Lieutenant Colonel H. R. Lambert, D.S.C., R.M., and his men of the Royal Marine Fortress Unit in mounting guns under difficult conditions merit the highest praise.

Group Captain Moore, R.A.F., who commanded the Air Component was most assiduous in the aerodrome development.

The Fortress Unit, the first formed up in Orkney in 1939 for the defence of Scapa Flow, was a self-contained body of marines who could defend a Naval base against attack from land, sea or air.

Men trained and operated anti-aircraft weapons, searchlights, boom patrol vessels (to prevent submarine incursions), and provided infantry to fight an enemy attack ashore.

A final denial plan was also envisaged where explosive demolition would used to deny the base to the enemy.

The fortress units were later formed into the Mobile Naval Base Defence Organizations (MNBDO):

Fortress Unit I: Formed 8/1939 as defence units to install and man guns for Scapa Flow and other Naval bases. Also served in Iceland. Disbanded 1/1941 when absorbed into MNBDO II.

Fortress Unit II: Formed 5/1940. It became the L & M Group of MNBDO II.

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Trincomalee War Cemetery

By Si Biggs on Apr 28, 2021 11:25 pm

Unit/ Formation: Memorial

Location: Trincomalee

Period/ Conflict: World War II

Year: 1948

Date/s: April 1948

Trincomalee is a seaport on the north-eastern coast of Sri Lanka (Ceylon) and was formerly a naval station.

After the fall of Singapore it became a naval base of importance to our command of shipping in the Bay of Bengal and the Indian Ocean. The cemetery was originally the Combined Services Cemetery, but was taken over by the Admiralty from the military authorities in April 1948 for use as a permanent naval cemetery.

On the withdrawal of United Kingdom Forces from Ceylon it became the property of the Ceylon Government who have granted the Commission security of tenure in perpetuity. Save for a few post-war and non-war graves it is purely a war cemetery, and service war graves were transferred to it from Trincomalee (St. Mary) Churchyard; Trincomalee (St. Stephen's) Cemetery, Kottadi Cemetery, Jaffna; and Vavuiyna Combined Cemetery.

A special memorial commemorates a naval man buried in Trincomalee (St. Stephen's) Cemetery whose grave could not be found. The non-war graves are those of men of the Merchant Navy whose death was not due to war service, and of civilians, of whom some were employees of the Admiralty; while the post-war graves were dependents of servicemen, civilian employees of the Admiralty and dependents of such employees.

Royal Marines

ARTHUR CLIFFORD CHERRY. Sergeant, RME/10217, Died 14 March 1943, 25 years old, Royal Marine Engineers

CECIL LESLIE NORMAN, Colour Sergeant, RME/10105, Died 11 July 1944, 27 years old, Royal Marine Engineers

DAVID VERNON JONES, Lance Corporal, RME/10567,Died 14 March 1943, Royal Marine Engineers

WILLIAM GORDON SUTCLIFFE, Marine, PO/X111312, Died 28 January 1945, 22 years old, H.M.S. Bambara.

RONALD JOHNSON, Marine, CH/X110795,Died 07 June 1945, H.M.S. Highflyer.

WILFRED WILLIAM BUGLER, Marine, PO/X732, Died 09 April 1942, 31 years old, H.M.S. Erebus.

HERBERT WILLIAM HANSELL, Marine, PO/216931, Died 09 April 1942, 39 years old, H.M.S. Erebus.

SAMUEL KENNETH HARRIS, Marine, PO/X1641, Died 09 April 1942, 25 years old, H.M.S. Erebus.

ALBERT EDWARD PAGE, Marine, EX/1434, Died 14 August 1942

RICHARD MUNN, Marine, PLY/X3309, Died 16 February 1947, 25 years old, H.M.S. Highflyer.

THOMAS PORTER, Marine, EX/5482, Died 24 March 1943, 25 years old, 2nd R.M. A.A. Regt., R.M. Group, M.N.B.D.O.1.

LAWSON ALEXANDER MCGREGOR SALTER, Marine, PO/X121652, Died 28 January 1946, 19 years old, H.M.S. Glenroy.

FREDERIC WALTER SMITH, Sergeant, PO/X781, Died 09 April 1942, 35 years old, H.M.S. Erebus.

JOHN ALBERT SPERRING, Corporal, FX1608, Died 26 March 1942, 24 years old 1 H.A.A. Regt.

JOHN WILLIAM TELFORD, Marine, PO/X103885, Died 26 July 1945, 23 years old, H.M.S. Lanka.

ERIC BROAD, Bugler, PO/X101588, Died 09 April 1942, 18 years old, H.M.S. Erebus.

THOMAS HENRY CABLE, Marine, PO/X101843, Died 06 August 1944, 31 years old, H.M.S. Valiant.

THOMAS CHARLTON, Colour Sergeant, PO/21897, Died 14 February 1942, 37 years old, 1 H.A.A. Regt.

RONALD COOPER, Marine, PLY/X 108945, Died 15 February 1944, 18 years old, H.M.S. Illustrious.

AUSTIN CHARLES BUTCHER, Marine, CH/X2427, Died 11 July 1945, H.M.S. Cumberland.


Read More/ Web Link: Commonwealth Graves Commission

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The Battle of Gavrelle Windmill

By Si Biggs on Apr 28, 2021 06:33 pm

Unit/ Formation: Royal Marines

Location: France

Period/ Conflict: World War I

Year: 1917

Date/s: 28th to 29th April 1917

The battle of Gavrelle saw the highest number of Royal Marine causalities in a single day in the history of the corps, with 846 recorded as killed, missing or wounded.

27 April 1917

B Company of the 1st Battalion Royal Marine Light Infantry reconnoitered the area and found that extensive barbed wire defences in front of a major defensive position they were scheduled to attack the next day were still intact.

28 April 1917

An attack on the Oppy Gavrelle Line which was a series of German trenches north of the village. Due to uncut wire, the area to the north of Gavrelle had not been attacked on the 23rd April, this meant that the capture of the village had created a salient (a bulge) into the German lines. Two battalions of the 188th Brigade were detailed to carry out the task of advancing the line.

Coming out of Gavrelle, the 2nd Bn RMLI were to advance northwards along the Gavrelle - Fresnes Road whilst on their left the 1st Bn RMLI had to advance up as far as the German trenches in the Oppy Line and then continue eastwards until they met up with their fellow marines. Behind them the 1st Bn Honourable Artillery Company were held in reserve and the Anson Battalion were to push slightly forward out of the village to complete the new defensive position.

At 0425 hours on the 28th April the two Marine Battalions launched their very separate attacks. The 1st Battalion were to all intents and purposes never heard of again. They had advanced headlong into a strongpoint (where the German trench system crossed the railway line) and although some of them managed to fight their way through, the flanking units never made contact with them. The only form of news was from the few wounded whom managed to get back to their own lines.

29 April 1917

The 2nd Battalion RMLI managed to gain some territory including the all important windmill but by the evening the captured ground was back in the hands of the Germans with the exception of a small garrison who were hanging on for grim death at the windmill. Towards the village centre, the communal cemetery on the immediate right. This street was the defensive line held by the pioneers. A strong German counter attack was launched against Gavrelle itself and this was only repulsed by the timely arrival of the 14th Bn Worcestershire Regiment, the divisional pioneers, who had been ordered forward at short notice. The battle raged through the night and an attempt by the Anson to take the German position outside the village failed completely.

The German counter attack being held off by the steady firing of the pioneers. By the evening of the 29th April the situation at Gavrelle was pretty much the same. The village was solidly in the hands of the Naval Division and the Windmill defenders were holding out. The following day the 31st Division took over the line.

Extracts from The War Diary of the 10th Royal Dublin Fusiliers for April 1917


Apr 4, 2017


On 23rd and 24th April 1917, during the Battle of Arras, the 63rd Royal Naval Division attacked the village of Gavrelle with the 189th and 190th Brigades of the Division. The objective of the attack was the village of Gavrelle and the high ground beyond. The assault was largely successful, but when on the night of 24/25th April when the assault brigades were relieved in place by 188th Brigade, which included 1st and 2nd Battalions Royal Marine Light Infantry (RMLI)(1), the Division was in a pronounced salient.

To push forward into the salient from the line of the 24th April was impossible until the flanking formations moved forward, but it was hoped that something could be done about the dominating German position on the high ground northeast of Gavrelle, which included the Windmill position.

1 RMLI attacked from the 2nd Division lines on the left of the salient, but was held up in the German wire or in the German front line trench by enfilade fire from a position that had held up the attacks on the 23 April.

2 RMLI, fighting independently on the right, were initially more successful and the Gavrelle Windmill was captured by a platoon commanded by Lt Newling RMLI. They held the windmill position throughout the day against multiple counter attacks by the Germans even though the remainder of the battalion was forced back to their starting positions.

The capture, defence and holding of the Windmill was described as a “very brilliant operation”

which significantly strengthened the hold of the Division on Gavrelle. However, the strength and determination of the Germans had been underestimated and both Royal Marine Battalions paid the cost, suffering disastrous losses.

There were more than 500 casualties in 1 RMLI, including the Commanding Officer and six other officers; in 2 RMLI, 10 officers and 200 other ranks were killed and the total casualties for the battalion were nearly 600.

The casualties of both battalions represent the greatest loss of men on land in a single day by the Royal Marines throughout the Great War, (the deaths at Jutland on 31 May 1916 totalled 589 officers and men). The total casualties for the Division between 15 April and 29 April were 170 officers and 3,624 other ranks of which 40 officers and 1000 other ranks were killed.

Extracted and adapted from Article for the Royal Marines Association © RMA 2017

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Captain Edward Banford RMLI - Victoria Cross - Zeebrugge

By Si Biggs on Apr 23, 2021 04:20 am

Unit/ Formation: Victoria Cross

Location: Belgium

Period/ Conflict: World War I

Year: 1918

Date/s: 23 April 1918

Bamford was 30 years old, and a captain in the Royal Marine Light Infantry, Royal Marines during the First World War when the following deed took place for which he was awarded the VC.

Captain Edward Bamford's Victoria Cross citation was published in the London Gazette, 23 July 1918:

For conspicuous gallantry at Zeebrugge. April 1918.

This officer landed on the Mole from "Vindictive" with Nos. 5, 7 & 8 platoons of the Marine Storming Force in the face of great difficulties. When on the Mole under heavy fire, he displayed the greatest initiative in the command of his company, and by his total disregard of danger, showed a magnificent example to his men. He first established a strong point on the right of the disembarkation, and when that was safe, led an assault on a battery to the left with the utmost coolness and valour.

The entire 4th Battalion Royal Marines was awarded the Victoria Cross for the action, triggering Rule 13 of the Victoria Cross warrant stipulating that a ballot must be drawn to select the recipients. Although the Victoria Cross rules specify that four Victoria Crosses should be awarded this way (one to an Officer, one to an NCO, and two to other ranks) they were not observed and only two Victoria Crosses were awarded.

This was the last time that Victoria Crosses were awarded by ballot, although the rule still exists within the Victoria Cross warrant.

Read more here;

The Raid on Zeebrugge

Sergeant Norman Finch RMA - Victoria Cross - Zeebrugge

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Sergeant Norman Finch RMA - Victoria Cross - Zeebrugge

By Si Biggs on Apr 23, 2021 02:15 am

Unit/ Formation: Victoria Cross Location: Belgium

Period/ Conflict: World War I Year: 1918 Date/s: 23 April 1918

Finch was 27 years old, and a sergeant in the Royal Marine Artillery, Royal Marines during the First World War when the following deed took place for which he was awarded the VC.

On 22/23 April 1918 at Zeebrugge, Belgium, Sergeant Finch was second in command of the pom-poms and Lewis gun in the foretop of HMS Vindictive.

At one period Vindictive was being hit every few seconds, but Sergeant Finch and the officer in command kept up a continuous fire, until two heavy shells made direct hits on the foretop killing or disabling everyone except Sergeant Finch who was, however, severely wounded.

Nevertheless, he remained in his battered and exposed position, harassing the enemy on the Mole until the foretop received another direct hit, putting the remainder of the armament completely out of action.

The entire 4th Battalion Royal Marines was awarded the Victoria Cross for the action, triggering Rule 13 of the Victoria Cross warrant stipulating that a ballot must be drawn to select the recipients. Although the Victoria Cross rules specify that four Victoria Crosses should be awarded this way (one to an Officer, one to an NCO, and two to other ranks) they were not observed and only two Victoria Crosses were awarded.

This was the last time that Victoria Crosses were awarded by ballot, although the rule still exists within the Victoria Cross warrant.

Read more here;

The Raid on Zeebrugge

Captain Edward Banford RMLI - Victoria Cross- Zeebrugge

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SBS - Raid on Santorini Axis Camp

By Si Biggs on Apr 22, 2021 09:48 am

Unit/ Formation: SBS

Location: Santorini

Period/ Conflict: World War II

Year: 1944

Date/s: 22nd April 1944

Just after midnight on April 22, 1944, two wooden fishing boats and a motor launch landed noiselessly on the shore of Santorini, one of the southernmost islands in the Aegean Sea. The vessels’ crews had spent three days sailing from their base in neutral Turkey, traveling only at night and anchoring by day off small, uninhabited islands. As soon as the boats touched the beach on Santorini, 18 British soldiers stole ashore. As the fighting men moved inland, the crews that delivered them sailed southwest from Santorini toward tiny Christiani, an island approximately 20 miles away.

At Christiani, the sailors would hide their boats beneath camouflage netting while waiting to retrace their path and extract the returning raiders exactly 48 hours later. All three vessels belonged to the Levant Schooner Flotilla, a Royal Navy special forces unit crewed by some of England’s finest and least orthodox sailors.

The LSF’s motto was “Stand Boldly On.”

The flotilla’s small, quiet watercraft offered the only practicable means of slipping into and out of enemy territory. That night’s passengers belonged to a different but equally elite unit, the Special Boat Squadron. Led by Danish-born Captain Anders Lassen, the SBS team was to destroy enemy communications and personnel, and attack targets of opportunity. On Santorini the raiders headed to the village of Volvoulous.

As dawn was breaking, they laid up in a cave nearby. Lassen sent one of his men, a Greek, to obtain information from locals; when he returned, Lassen split the force into two. One party, six strong, would attack the wireless telegraph station at Murivigli, while Lassen would lead a dozen men against a barracks of Axis troops. Zero hour was 0045, April 24. The barracks—a former Bank of Athens branch in the town of Thira—was on Santorini’s west coast. Intelligence indicated that it housed a mixed force of around 35 German and Italian troops. Although one official report claimed the SBS unit was to take the enemy troops prisoner, few raiders ever expected to offer quarter.

The war in the Aegean was brutal, and in Andy Lassen the British special forces had found a leader of extraordinary courage and cold savagery. Lassen was a “hit man and killer,” fellow raider Jack Nicholson recalled years later. “He carried just his Luger pistol and a fighting knife, and it was said he could be a devil with the knife.” Lassen, Nicholson, and Irish-born Sean O’Reilly were the first to enter the enemy barracks. They found five doors and kicked down each to toss in a hand grenade and empty two or three Thompson or Bren gun magazines.

In the maelstrom two SBS soldiers died—one reason the Santorini raid became known as “Andy Lassen’s Bloodbath.” Of the estimated 35 enemy soldiers in the barracks, at least 12 were killed and 11 wounded. But, a report noted, “there may be more [dead] as the enemy the next day tried to hide what really happened.” The SBS patrols rendezvoused at dawn. Lassen was delighted to learn that the other team had destroyed the telegraph station and taken eight prisoners. The raiders hid themselves and their captives as four Ju 88s crisscrossed the island looking for them. At nightfall, the party traversed Santorini to await the LSF boats.

Once aboard, they sailed northeast to Anydros to camouflage the boats as part of that small island and spend a day evading yet another German search. When the raiding party finally reached base a few days later, the unit’s commander, Major David Sutherland, asked Lassen to write a report.

The Dane’s summary was characteristic: “Landed. Killed Germans. Fucked off.”

Sutherland smiled politely, and assigned another raider to write the report.

Image: SBS troops are shown waiting in ambush armed with a variety of weapons, including Bren guns and a Thompson sub-machine gun, during the campaign to free the Greek islands from Axis control colourised by Paul Reynolds.

Lassen was awarded a Posthumous Victoria Cross almost a year after this raid, read more here:

,Major Anders Lassen VC - SBS - Lake Commachio 8 - 9th April 1945

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Operation Bograt - 48RM Cdo

By Si Biggs on Apr 22, 2021 09:14 am

Unit/ Formation: 48 Cdo RM

Location: Beisbosch

Period/ Conflict: World War II

Year: 1945

Date/s: April 1945

Major 'Pat' Wall 48RM Cdo and Lieutenant Kingsley 3 Troop 10 IA Cdo led a patrol across the river in advance of the main crossing.

For two days this patrol maintained themselves across the river without food, inflicting casualties on German patrols and wading up to their shoulders across the maze of streams that intersect the Biesboch Delta between the Maas and the Waal.

Having joined up with the main party they are getting their first food for two days.

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Charles Henry Bowden BEM - Corps Drum Major

By Si Biggs on Apr 21, 2021 12:14 am

By Colin E Bowden

Charles Henry Bowden or as he was better known - 'Charlie' Bowden, not that the rank and file would have addressed him as 'Charlie', but certainly his fellow SNCOs and even Officers would use his more familiar name. He was born in Portsmouth on the 21st December 1916 in a road adjoining the Royal Marine Artillery Barracks and close enough to hear the bugle calls throughout the day. He came from a family with a very distinguished record of service in the Royal Marines. Both his grandfathers and three uncles served in the Corps and his brother Jack joined the Staff Band of the Chatham Division. Charlie's father was a Bugle Major and at the age of seven Charlie joined the RM Cadet Corps, where he made his mark, first becoming the Drum Major of the Cadet Drum and Fife Band and then the Cadet RSM. He left school at fourteen and went into civilian employment. His father, on leaving the Corps, had joined the Royal Marines Police and the family moved to Chatham.

Charlie joined the Corps in April 1940 at Arborfield as a 'Hostilities Only' Marine and was selected very quickly for promotion. Within a month he was promoted L/Cpl, three weeks later Acting Temporary Corporal and within five weeks Acting Temporary Sergeant. He was drafted into 'C' Battery of the Mobile Naval Base Defence Organization, better known as MNBDO and Charlie manned anti-aircraft guns during the Battle of Britain in the summer of 1940. In April 1941 MNBDO was sent to Alexandria, but after the evacuation of British Forces from Greece the unit was moved to Crete. Within a week of arriving on the Island of Crete Charlie was in a Field Hospital suffering from Dysentery. The German airborne invasion of the Island started on the 20th May 1941 and the tented hospital, in which Charlie was a patient, was raked by machine-gun fire. The hospital was over-run by the German parachutists who rounded-up the patients and made them march, in their pyjamas and boots, into captivity.

A patrol of New Zealand troops attacked the column, opened fire and a number of men were killed. In the confusion Charlie escaped and took shelter in a cave near the beach at Suda Bay. Still dressed in pyjamas, boots and cap he later managed to locate his gun-site where he was nearly shot by a sentry. He was issued with some kit and a rifle and shortly afterwards the order was given to blow-up the guns and the Marines became an infantry platoon in a Royal Marine Battalion under the command of Major Ralph Garrett and they fought a rearguard action for four days. By then the MNBDO numbered just under two thousand men, but by the 31st May, the last full day of the German invasion of the Island, they had suffered a large number of casualties.

They retreated to the coast where Major Garrett dismissed the survivors of the Battalion telling them that they had the choice of waiting for the Germans to arrive and be taken prisoner, go into the hills and join the Cretan Resistance or try and make their way off the Island. An abandoned landing craft was found and a party of 139, including 56 Marines, some Australians, New Zealanders, a Greek and 2 Palestinians boarded the vessel. There was little fuel, food or drinking water but Major Garrett cast off on the 1st June and after an epic voyage during which two men died the craft beached on the North African coast about seventeen miles west of Sidi Barani, but not knowing if they were behind the British or the German lines. Charlie, together with a young Australian soldier set off in the darkness to reconnoiter and they came across a pipeline which led them to a British anti-aircraft battery. Transport was organized and the survivors taken into the camp.

After serving for some time in Egypt Charlie moved to Ceylon as part of a force to defend the Island should the Japanese attack. In 1944 he returned to the UK and was drafted to HMS SEA SERPENT as a Temporary Acting Colour Sergeant and shortly after promoted to Temporary Acting Company Sergeant Major. He was very much involved with the training of troops prior to D-Day and he himself crossed over to France in July 1944.

While serving at HMS SEA SERPENT he met Betty, a young Wren, and they were married in January 1946 by which time he was at the Depot Deal where he qualified as an MTI (Parade) with a Distinguished PASS mark. In 1949 he volunteered to become Drum Major of the Depot Band and a year later, when the Royal Marines School of Music moved back to Deal, Charlie was officially appointed to be Drum Major of the Depot Staff Band, later becoming the Corps Senior Drum Major. The number of very high-profile ceremonial engagements in which he led the Deal Staff Band or Corps Massed Bands are too long to relate but included twelve Royal Tournaments, five Beat Retreat ceremonies on Horse Guards Parade and six Edinburgh Tattoos in addition to Band Engagements all over the country.

In 1953, as the Senior Drum Major, he led a Massed Band at the Coronation of HM The Queen and was awarded the Coronation Medal. Four years later he was awarded the BEM. He led the band on many occasions at Wembley and Twickenham stadiums at International Games and Cup Finals. Charlie also headed the band on various overseas visits, to Canada for the British Columbia Centennial Celebrations in 1958 and the following year the band travelled to Toronto for the Canadian National Exhibition.

In 1965 Lt Colonel Dunn took the Staff Band of the RMSM to the USA undertaking a three-month tour with Charlie leading the Band in the arena displays. In 1961 the band had gone to Sierra Leone for that country's Independence ceremonies during which Charlie was warned by a British Diplomat that as soon as the Union Flag was lowered the band should get out of the country as soon as possible! In 1965 the Portsmouth and RMSM bands, led by Drum Majors CH Bowden and CE Bowden and under the direction of Captain Paul Neville, massed together to participate in the funeral procession of Sir Winston Churchill.

Charlie appeared in two films - 'Thunderbirds Are Go' which closed with him dressed in full ceremonial uniform filling the screen and bellowing in his best parade ground voice, "Thunderbirds Are Go" which was followed by the RMSM Band providing the film's closing music. In the film musical 'Oliver', during filming of a Dickensian London street scene with the tune 'Who Will Buy', Charlie appears leading a drum & Fife band in period uniform throwing the staff (mace) in the air with great aplomb. The drummers were from the RMSM Band but Charlie had a few problems teaching the civilian fife players how to march. However, under his tuition, they were perfect when the scene was eventually filmed.

In 1958 Charlie's picture appeared on the front page of the Radio Times advertising a Massed Bands Beat Retreat on Horse Guards Parade. He was awarded a 'bar' to his Long Service and Good Conduct medal in 1970 and, in 1971, a public house opposite the Jubilee Gate , South Barracks, Deal, was renamed 'The DRUM MAJOR' with a pub sign displaying a painting of Charlie in full ceremonial uniform.

His last ceremonial parade was at the White City stadium in London in 1972 and two weeks later he retired from the Royal Marines having completed twenty-three years as a Drum Major. His total service in the Corps was 32 years and three months during which he had been an NCO for all but the first three months. His Service Certificate shows that he was never assessed below Very Good/Superior which is probably unique! On leaving the Corps Charlie became Beadle of the Worshipful Company of Saddlers and was made a Freeman of the City of London prior to finally retiring in December 1981. Betty and Charlie moved from Deal to Porlock where Charlie soon became a keen member of the Royal British Legion. He was also a life member of the Royal Marines Historical Society. Together with his wife Betty, also a member of the Society, he would take a taxi for the long journey from Porlock to Portsmouth in order to attend Annual General Meetings of the RMHS.

Betty died in 2007 leaving Charlie to look after himself. Still involved in local affairs but with health declining he was moved into a Minehead nursing home in 2010. His health continued to deteriorate and he died peacefully there on the 7th January 2011. Many former members of the RM Band Service travelled long distances from London, Deal, Portsmouth, Malvern and the West Country to attend his funeral at Porlock. The present Corps Drum Major, WO1 James Whitwham MBE, represented the RM Band Service and two buglers from CTCRM Lympstone played Last Post and Reveille impeccably.

Charlie was by any measure an outstanding Royal Marine. A fine family man, extremely generous and a true friend. He was also a very modest man who set a high standard for himself and for others to follow.

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HRH Prince Philip - Captain General Royal Marines

By Si Biggs on Apr 17, 2021 11:46 am

The Duke of Edinburgh (1921 - 2021) was laid to rest on 17th April 2021 at St George’s Chapel in Windsor Castle.

Prince Philip held the appointment of Captain General Royal Marines from 1 June 1953 - 19 December 2017, 64 years, 201 days in post.

His funeral which was planned by the Duke himself involved a stong Royal Marine presence.

A Royal Marine Bearer Party carried the Prince from the Land Rover hearse to St Georges Chapel pausing on the West Steps for the one minute silence bef⁸ore continuing inside.

The Duke’s Admiral of the Fleet Naval Cap and his Sword, given to him by King George VI, rest on the coffin. [@RoyalFamily]

‘The Last Post’ was sounded by Buglers of the Royal Marines, signalling that a soldier has gone to his final resting place.

It is followed by ‘Action Stations’, a naval call to battle, as requested by The Duke. [@RoyalFamily]

The Captain General Royal Marines is the ceremonial head of the Royal Marines. The uniform and insignia worn by the Captain General are those of a Royal Marines Colonel or higher depending on the appointee's current or previously held rank. This position is distinct from that of the Commandant General Royal Marines, the professional head (who is ranked as a major-general). The Captain General is appointed by the Monarch of the United Kingdom.

On his final Royal appointment Prince Philip 96, attended a parade at Buckingham Palace to mark the finale of the Royal Marines 1664 Global Challenge.

He succeeded his late father-in-law, King George VI, as captain general in June 1953. It was George’s premature death, in February 1952 at the age of 56, that curtailed Philip’s own promising career in the Royal Navy.

Prince Philip was mentored for several years by his uncle Lord Mountbatten, who as head of the Navy was also an honorary General in the Corps.

During the American Bicentennial in 1976, Prince Philip stayed in the Home of the Commandants of the USMC as a guest of Gen. Wilson. The room has since been named the Prince Philip Suite. [@CMC_MarineCorps]

I had the pleasure to be introduced to The Duke of Edinburgh with my section the day before flying to Northern Iraq on Ops in 1991, he was very interested in everyone and asked some very relevant questions, he wished us luck and a safe deployment and I got a ride back to my cabin in his Range Rover!

The London Gazette

OF TUESDAY, 26th MAY, 1953,

1 JUNE, 1953 Admiralty, Whitehall, S.W.I. 1st June, 1953.

The QUEEN has been graciously pleased, on the occasion of Her Majesty's Coronation, to give orders for the following appointment: — Admiral of the Fleet His Royal Highness THE DUKS OF EDINBURGH, K.G., K.T., G.B.E., as Captain General of the Royal Marines.

The London Gazette


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Loss of HM Submarine Affray & 4 Man SBS team

By Si Biggs on Apr 16, 2021 12:00 am

Unit/ Formation: SBS

Location: Great Britain

Period/ Conflict: 1950's

Year: 1951

Date/s: 16 April 1951

HMS Affray a British Amphion-class submarine was built in the closing stages of the Second World War. She was one of 16 submarines of her class which were originally designed for use in the Pacific Ocean against Japan. Affray was the last Royal Navy submarine to be lost at sea, on 16 April 1951, with the loss of 75 lives including 4 members of the SBS.

On 16 April 1951, Affray set out on a simulated war mission called Exercise Spring Train with a reduced crew of 50 from 61. They were joined by one sergeant, one corporal, and two marines from the Special Boat Service; a commander (Engineer), a naval instructor, seven lieutenants in the engineering branch, and 13 sub-lieutenants. The last two groups were undergoing essential submarine officer training. This made her complement 75 in total.

Her captain's orders were unusually flexible: the Marines were to be dropped off somewhere along the south west coast of England—the captain told the Admiralty he had chosen an isolated beach in Cornwall—come ashore and return under the cover of darkness. The exercise was expected to continue until Affray was due to return to base on 23 April for essential defect repairs including a leak in a battery tank.

Affray left her home base at about 1600 hrs, and made normal contact to confirm position, course, speed etc at 2100 hrs, and indicated she was preparing to dive, and submerged about 30 miles south of the Isle of Wight at 2115 BST, but failed to resurface when it was due at 0830 BST off Start Point. The last ship to see her on the surface was the 'Co' Class destroyer HMS Contest returning to Portsmouth that evening. As they passed each other, both vessels piped the side.

“Affray” was due to make her surfacing signal by 0900 hours the following day, 17th April. No such signal was received.

11:00 hours – “Subsmash One” was ordered. This signal was dispatched with full priority to all pre-arranged addresses and authorities concerned with the search and rescue of sunken submarines were immediately brought to “Standby”. Constant attempts were made to contact the missing submarine by powerful W/T transmitters.

12:00 hours – “Subsmash Two” was ordered. This signal signifying beyond doubt that “Affray” was in serious difficulties. Effecting the instant dispatch of search vessels with supporting rescue craft to areas designated.

A search and rescue operation was launched, with 26 ships and submarines and every available aircraft involved.

The search area, 77 x 20 miles = 1540 square miles, was monitored as quickly as possible by ships, aircraft and submarines. Of the many submarines involved in the search, “Sea Devil”, “Sirdar”, “Scythian” and “Ambush”, all separately reported picking up on their A/S listening equipment, hull tapping and faint intermittent distorted signals, which were unreadable and assumed to be transmitted from “Affray”.

Continuous sweep searches were made to obtain a precise fix, but without success. Repeatedly, during the next forty-eight hours, false hopes were raised that “Affray” had been located. The action of vessels dropping intermittently batches of grenades, which was the accepted emergency signal to a submarine crew to escape, made the location and a fix more difficult to obtain. The last signals were reported by the submarine “Ambush” at 1439 hours, 18th April. The code letters which represent “We are trapped on the bottom” were clearly identified by experienced operators. The chronological sequence of these signals was recorded in the S/M “Ambush” control room log and in the Commanding Officer’s official report which was forwarded to Flag Officer Submarines Rear Admiral S.M. Raw, and subsequently to the Board of Enquiry.

All hope of saving life was finally abandoned on 19th April. Search vessels were dispersed except for H.M.S. “Reclaim”, a submarine rescue and diving ship, which was ordered to carry on the search until the submarine “Affray” was found.

It was eventually found 7.5 miles north west of Alderney two months later.

The 4 members of the SBS team were:

  • Mne. A.H.G. Hooper (SBS) R.M.
  • Mne. D.W. Jarvis (SBS) R.M.
  • Sgt. T.J. Andrews (SBS) R.M.
  • Cpl. E.N. Shergold (SBS) R.M

Extracts from Portrait of a Disaster (A reasoned account to explain what may have happened to H.M Submarine “Affray” by Les Baker – a highly experienced ex-submariner and electrical artificer.)

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Formation and Timeline of the RMLI

By Si Biggs on Apr 13, 2021 07:49 pm

On 30 January 1855, Her Majesty Queen Victoria approved an Admiralty Minute designating the infantry of the Royal Marines a 'Light Corps' with the title Corps of Royal Marines' Light Infantry.

1856 - October - Canton

1857 - June - Fatshan Creek

1857 - 1st and 2nd Battalions left England for China

1858 - January - Canton

1858 - May - Pei-Ho River, Taku Forts, Pekin

  • The Taku (Degu) forts were on the Hai River, 37 miles east of Tientsin (Tianjin), China. They were stoutly built and were improved in the 1850's by Seng-ko-Lin-Ch'in.
  • Second Opium War (20 May 1858). An Anglo-French force under British Admiral Sir Michael Seymour captured Canton (Guangzhou) on 28-29 December 1857. It then moved north and captured the Taku forts but held them only briefly.

1859 - June -August - Taku Forts

  • Second Opium War (25 June 1859) When the Chinese refused to admit foreign diplomats to Peking (Beijing), British Admiral Sir James Hope attempted to force passage of the Peiho (Han) River with eleven gun boats and a landing force of 1,100 men, but met severe resistance. He was himself twice wounded, and two ships were sunk beneath him. Of the eleven gunboats, six were sunk or disabled. The landing force became bogged down in mud and had to retreat. The British lost 89 killed and 345 wounded.

1859 - October - Pekin

1863 - Japan - Yokahama

1864 - September - Japan - Shimonoseki

1882 - August - Ismalia, Tel-el-Maskhuta, Tel-el-Kebir, Cairo

1884 - Suakin, Red Sea - El Teb, Tamaii,

1884 - December - Korti, Metemmeh, Abu Klea

1899 - November - Graspan kopje

1900 - China - Boxer Rising/Rebellion

1913 - three divisions of RMLI - Chatham, Portsmouth, Plymouth. All RMLI recruits were sent to Depot at Walmer, Kent for training before being posted to their Divisions.

1914 - Royal Marine Brigade formed in August - to Ostend. Later joined Royal Naval Division.

1915 - Dardanelles, Gallipoli as part of 3rd Brigade of Royal Naval Division.

1916 - January 9 - left Gallipoli

1916 - May 21 - arrived in France - RMLI were in 188th Brigade with the Anson and Home Battalions.

1916 - October/November - Ancre, Beaumont Hamel.

1917 - February - Miraumont

1917 - April - Gavrelle and Arleux

1917 - October/November - Passchendaele

1917 - December - Cambrai

1918 - March/April - Aveluy Wood, Hidenberg Line, Canal du Nord, Canal de L'Escaut

1918 - Zeebrugge

1919 - July - 6th Bn, RMLI Murmansk, Russia - disbanded October 1919

1921 - 11th Bn, RMLI at Gallipoli Chanak crisis

1923 - amalgamation of the Royal Marine Artillery and the Royal Marine Light Infantry to form the Royal Marines

Read more RMLI stories here;

,Captain Halliday RMLI VC - Boxer Rebellion

,Defence of Antwerp 1914

,RMLI at Miraumont

,Major Francis Harvey RMLI - Battle Of Jutland

,Lance Corporal Parker RMLI VC - Gallipoli

,Col. Harold Ozanne DSO RMLI ,The Raid on Zeebrugge - 23 April 1918 - 'For England and St George!'

,Amalgamation of the RMLI and RMA 1923

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Battle of Aveluy Wood - Royal Marines Light Infantry

By Si Biggs on Apr 05, 2021 12:00 am

Unit/ Formation: Royal Marines

Location: France

Period/ Conflict: World War I

Year: 1918

Date/s: 5th to 7th April 1918

2nd Battalion RMLI - April 1918

1st April: Bn. cleaning up, refitting etc. & inspections. Capt. GA NEWLING MC RM joined Bn. & assumed duties of 2nd in command. O.O. No.130 issued.

2nd April: Bn. proceeded by march route to TOUTENCOURT.


3rd April: Bn. proceeded by march route to ENGELBELMER. Mjr. N.S. CLUTTERBUCK RMLI joined & assumed command of Bn. Lt./Cmdr. J. COOTE MC RNVR returned to ANSON Bn. O.O. No.131 issued.


4th April: Bn. salvage & working parties. Lts. GREENWOOD & SMITH RWR joined Bn. 1 casualty.

5th April: Bn. salvage & working parties. 4 casualties.

6th April: O.O. No.132 issued. Bn. moved into positions in N.W. edge of AVELUY WOOD. About 9am the Bn. attacked the enemy position in the wood & succeeded in driving him out, inflicting casualties & capturing prisoners & 9 MGs. 5 Officers wounded (Lts. PROFFITT, BRAID, GREENWOOD, 2/Lt. E. BING & Sub/Lt. OLDHAM) 15 ORs killed, 55 wounded, 26 unaccounted for. 27 ORs joined Bn.

Avuley Wood

7th April: Bn. holding front line position. Relieved pm by ANSON Bn. & moved to billets in FORCEVILLE. O. O. No.133 issued.


8th April: Bn. cleaning up, refitting etc. 12 Officers & 240 ORs (army reinforcements) joined Bn. Capt. EL ANDREWS & 65 RMLI reinforcements joined Bn.

9th April Cleaning up, refitting etc. O.O. No.134 issued. Relieved HOOD Bn. in front line.

Avuley Wood

10th April: Bn. in front line, consolidating etc. 1 casualty.

11th April: Bn. in front line. Relieved by 4th Bn. Bedford Regt. & proceeded to FORCEVILLE. O.O. No.135 issued.

Aveluy Wood Cemetery (Lancashire Dump), Mesnil-Martinsart

The cemetery was begun in an area known to the Army as 'Lancashire Dump' in June 1916, a few days before the beginning of the Battle of the Somme, and was used by fighting units and field ambulances until the German withdrawal to the Hindenburg Line in February 1917. It then remained unused until the German advance in the spring of 1918. On the night of 26-27 March, the Germans entered Aveluy Wood and by 5 April it was mostly in their hands, in spite of the stubborn defence of the 12th (Eastern), 47th (London) and 63rd (Royal Naval) Divisions. The wood was attacked in vain by several divisions before it was finally cleared at the end of August, and in September the V Corps Burial Officer added graves of April-September 1918 to Row H of Plot I.

After the Armistice, Plots II and III were added when isolated graves were brought in from Aveluy Wood itself, and in 1923 Rows I to M of Plot I (124 graves) were added by concentrations from a wider area.

Aveluy Wood Cemetery now contains 380 burials and commemorations of the First World War. 172 of the burials are unidentified but there are special memorials to 20 casualties known to be buried among them.

The cemetery was designed by Sir Reginald Blomfield.

Royal Marines:

GUINEY R. Private, 09/02/1917, 1st R.M. Bn. R.N. Div.

HOLLYFIELD RF, Private, 07/04/1918, 1st R.M. Bn. R.N. Div.

HAYNES SIDNEY ARTHUR, Private, Aged 20, 06/04/1918, 2nd R.M. Bn. R.N. Div.

HAYWARD AW, Private, Aged 22, 07/04/1918, 2nd R.M. Bn. R.N. Div.

HOGSETT THOMAS JOHN, Corporal, Aged 32, 18/02/1917, 1st R.M. Bn. R.N. Div.

NEAL JOHN FREDERICK, Private, Aged 25, 18/02/1917, 1st R.M. Bn. R.N. Div.

PITCHER AJ, Private, 06/04/1918, 2nd R.M. Bn. R.N. Div.

PITCHER SAMUEL JOHN, Private, Aged 19, 08/04/1918, 1st R.M. Bn. R.N. Div.

TURNER TA. Private, 18/02/1917, 2nd R.M. Bn. R.N. Div.

BRODLEY, Private, 20/03/1918, 1st R.M. Bn. R.N. Div.

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Commando Raid on the East Coast Railway - North Korea

By Si Biggs on Apr 02, 2021 08:38 pm

Unit/ Formation: 41 Cdo RM

Location: Korea

Period/ Conflict: Korean War

Year: 1951

Date/s: On 2 April 1951

On 2 April 1951, 21 Officers and 256 Marines of 41 Independent Commando embarked in the LPD USS Fort Marion (11 LVT, 5 LVT(A) and 13 LC) and the APD USS Begor (4 LC).

The Gunfire Support Group comprised a cruiser and two destroyers. Air Support was available from the carriers USS Boxer and USS Philippine Sea. Six minesweepers were to approach to within 2000 yards of the beach. An SFCP (Shore Fire Control Party), a Tactical Air Support Party, and an Underwater Demolition Team (UDT), to reconnoiter the beach, were attached to the Commando.

Thick fog postponed the landing and reduced the naval bombardment to two hours but, at 0805 7 April, D Tp landed from two LVTs (armoured amphibians) and by 0900 hours the covering force was in position ready for the Assault Engineers, aided by the MT Section, to begin work.

Earlier raids had been directed at culverts and bridges, which could soon be repaired, and tunnels, from which roof falls could easily be removed. (Ideally, a train wrecked in a tunnel would block a line longest). On this raid the target was the embankment. Demolitions were carried out in four phases: first 16 shaped charges were blown to make boreholes, next each borehole was packed with 801lbs of TNT which were detonated. This process was then repeated in the craters to produce a gap in the embankment 100 ft wide and 16 ft deep. Finally 55 anti personnel mines were laid in the craters.

When mining was complete the withdrawal started and the last LVT left the beach at 1555 hrs. The Commando had been ashore for nearly eight hours and, apart from a small group which fired at C Tp from long range, there had been no enemy activity, although an informer reported two division in Songjin 15 miles to the North.

There were no landing force casualties but unfortunately 5 villagers had been killed and 15 wounded. These were tended by the SBAs. Apart from this the naval bombardment had inflicted only superficial damage. The Commando disembarked at Yokosuka and was re-established in Camp McGill on 13 April from where sub unit and unit training continued.

See this and other 41 pinned here

Read more about other Korean War experiences here or listen to the podcast:

,HMS Belfast to Victory the story of Ron Knight a Royal Marine on operations in Korea and Malaya

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The Formation of 539 ASRM

By Si Biggs on Apr 02, 2021 09:32 am

Unit/ Formation: 539 ASRM

Location: Great Britain

Period/ Conflict: 1900's

Year: 1984

Date/s: 2nd April 1984

539 Raiding Squadron is 3 Commando Brigade Royal Marines Amphibious asset equipped with various types of raiding craft and vehicles, maned by over 100 Royal Marines and support personnel.

539 ASRM (Assault Squadron Royal Marines) was formed on 2 April 1984 and commissioned operational on 24 July 1984. This was in direct response to lessons learned during the Falklands Conflict in 1982 and lessons learned during winter training exercises in Norway by the Landing Craft Squadrons.

Originally equipped with 2 x LCU's (Landing Craft Utilities), 4 x LCVP's (Landing Craft Vehicle Personnel), RRC Mk1's (Rigid Raiding Craft) and IRC (Inflatable Raiding Craft), the unit developed over the years the unit was first homed at King William Yard next to Stonehouse Barracks.

The Unit moved to a purpose built base in Turnchapel Plymouth where it was further equipped with 4 Griffon Hovercraft and eventually lost it's LCU's.

In the convening years 539 ASRM deployed boat groups to support various out of area operations in 1997 a boat group deployed to the Congo, operating on the River Zaire as part of a contingency plan in case it became necessary to evacuate UK nationals from Kinshasa, Zaire.

The Squadron deployed on Op Telic in 2003 and was augmented with a boat group from HMS Ocean and also had US special operations craft under command, future deployments to Iraq included boat groups being deployed to patrol the waterways of the Shatt al Arab and lakes of the Maysan marshes including the operation mounted to stop infiltrations across the Iranian boarder to Al Amarah in 2005.

In 2006 the Rigid Raider Mk 3 was gradually replaced by the Offshore Raiding Craft (ORC) and its Gun Boat variant.

In July 2011 a landing craft from RFA Cardigan Bay landed two Vikings and Royal Marines of 539 ASRM in Somaliland. They penetrated several miles of insecure territory to meet up with an important clan chief and take him back to Cardigan Bay for a meeting with MI6 and Foreign Office officials.

In 2013 the squadron moved from Turnchapel to a new purpose built base in Plymouth Dockyard, RM Tamar the home of 1 Assault Group Royal Marines and 10 (Landing Craft) Training Squadron was formally opened by Prince Harry on 2nd August 2013 and also has berths for the amphibious ships Bulwark, Albion and Ocean before her decommission.

539 Assault Squadron is named after the famous 539 Assault Flotilla which landed on Gold Beach during the Invasion of Normandy.

In November 2019 1st Assault Group Royal Marines was renamed 47 Commando (Raiding Group) Royal Marines, 539 ASRM was renamed 539 Raiding Squadron.

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Corporal Thomas Peck Hunter RM - Victoria Cross

By Si Biggs on Apr 02, 2021 12:00 am

Unit/ Formation: Victoria Cross

Location: Italy

Period/ Conflict: World War II

Year: 1945

Date/s: 9 April 1945

Hunter was 21 years old, and a temporary corporal in 43 (RM) Commando

during the Spring 1945 offensive in Italy during the Second World War, he was Posthumously awarded the VC for his actions during Operation Roast.

Thomas Peck Hunter (1923-1945) was born in Aldershot,

Hampshire on 6th October 1923, one of five children of Ramsey and Mary Hunter (a former soldier and civil servant), who moved to Edinburgh shortly after his birth. Hunter attended Tynecastle High School (where the poet Wilfred Owen had taught during recuperation in 1917) and Stenhouse School before becoming an apprentice stationer in Edinburgh. At the outbreak of the war he served in the Home Guard and was called up on 8th May 1942 for military service. He enlisted as a hostilities–only (HO) marine on 23rd June 1942. He was promoted L/Cpl on 6th October 1943 and Temporary Cpl on 25th January 1945.

On 3rd April 1945, during Operation Roast, and the Battle of Lake Comacchio, Corporal Hunter of "C" Troop was in charge of a Bren group of the leading sub-section of the Commando. Having advanced to within 400 yards of the canal, he observed the enemy were holding a group of houses South of the canal.

Realising that his Troop behind him were in the open, as the country there was completely devoid of cover, and that the enemy would cause heavy casualties as soon as they opened fire, Corporal Hunter seized the Bren gun and charged alone across two hundred yards of open ground. Three Spandaus from the houses, and at least six from the North bank of the canal opened fire and at the same time the enemy mortars started to fire at the Troop.

Corporal Hunter attracted most of the fire, and so determined was his charge and his firing f

rom the hip that the enemy in the houses became demoralised. Showing complete disregard for the intense enemy fire, he ran through the houses, changing magazines as he ran, and alone cleared the houses. Six Germans surrendered to him and the remainder fled across a footbridge onto the North bank of the canal. The Troop dashing up behind Corporal Hunter now became the target for all the Spandaus on the North of the canal.

Again, offering himself as a target, he lay in full view of the enemy on

a heap of rubble and fired at the concrete pillboxes on the other side. He again drew most of the fire, but by now the greater part of the Troop had made for the safety of the houses. During this period he shouted encouragement to the remainder, and called only for more Bren magazines with which he could engage the Spandaus. Firing with great accuracy up to the last, Corporal Hunter was finally hit in the head by a burst of Spandau fire and killed instantly.

Hunter was buried in Argenta Gap War Cemetery. King George VI presented his parents with his Victoria Cross on 26th September 1945, at a private investiture in the Palace of Holyrood House, Edinburgh. Thomas’ sister and nephew donated his medals to the Royal Marines Museum, Southsea, Hampshire in 1974 where they were displayed.



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