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 Si Biggs
Come and see over 356 years of History, search by Unit, Year, Month, Conflict, or Historic Period mapped out with over 599 pins and growing! RM a Geo History
In this months edition;

'Soldier an' Sailor Too'

By Si Biggs on Dec 31, 2020 10:05 am

By Rudyard Kipling

Kipling wrote this poem in 1896, during Queen Victoria's reign (1837-1901), when nationalism was at a peak in England. In it, his amusing observations of "'Er Majesty's Jollies" are balanced with reverence for these dedicated men.

As I was spittin' into the Ditch aboard o' the Crocodile,

I seed a man on a man-o'-war got up in the Reg'lars' style.

'E was scrapin' the paint from off of 'er plates, an' I sez to 'im, "'Oo are you?"

Sez 'e, "I'm a Jolly—'Er Majesty's Jolly—soldier an' sailor too!"

Now 'is work begins by Gawd knows when, and 'is work is never through;

'E isn't one o' the reg'lar Line, nor 'e isn't one of the crew.

'E's a kind of a giddy harumfrodite—soldier an' sailor too!

An', after, I met 'im all over the world, a-doin' all kinds of things,

Like landin' 'isself with a Gatlin' gun to talk to them 'eathen kings;

'E sleeps in an 'ammick instead of a cot, an' 'e drills with the deck on a slew,

An' 'e sweats like a Jolly—'Er Majesty's Jolly—soldier an' sailor too!

For there isn't a job on the top o' the earth the beggar don't know, nor do—

You can leave 'im at night on a bald man's 'ead, to paddle 'is own canoe—

'E's sort of a bloomin' cosmopolouse—soldier an' sailor too.

We've fought 'em in trooper, we've fought 'em in dock, and drunk with 'em in betweens,

When they called us the seasick scull'ry-maids, an' we call 'em the Ass-Marines;

But, when we was down for a double fatigue, from Woolwich to Bernardmyo,

We sent for the Jollies—'Er Majesty's Jollies—soldier an' sailor too!

They think for 'emselves, an' they steal for 'emselves, and they never ask what's to do,

But they're camped an' fed an' they're up an' fed before our bugle's blew.

Ho! They ain't no limpin' procrastitutes—soldier an' sailor too!

We're most of us liars, we're 'arf of us thieves, an' the rest are as rank as can be,

But once in a while we can finish in style (which I 'ope it won't 'appen to me).

But it makes you think better o' you an' your friends, an' the work you may 'ave to do,

When you think o' the sinkin' Victorier's Jollies—soldier an' sailor too!

Now there isn't no room for to say ye don't know—they 'ave proved it plain and true—

That, whether it's Widow, or whether it's ship, Victorier's work is to do,

An' they done it, the Jollies—'Er Majesty's Jollies—soldier an' sailor too!

For notes on the text and a further explanation of each Stanza open here ,,The Kipling Society

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1664 - 2020 Royal Marines Around the World in December

By Si Biggs on Dec 30, 2020 03:56 pm

Come and see 37 pins for December and read about Royal Marines in action in this month through out our History;

1664: The Admirals Regiment - The Marines First Action - attack on the Dutch Smyrna fleet
British Expedition to Abyssinia
Attack on Canton`
Taking of Lagos - War on the Slave Trade
Winston Churchills Flying Instructor Killed
Messina earthquake
HMS Exeter and Ajax B & X Turrets - Battle of the River Plate
Loss of T Company 40 CDO - HMS Fidelity
Sinking of HMS Repulse and HMS Prince of Wales
Operation Frankton - The Cockleshell Heroes
Limbang Raid - Hostage Rescue
Cyprus Emergency - Operation Foxhunter
2013: Raid to Capture Taliban Commander

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Sinking of the Scharnhorst

By Si Biggs on Dec 26, 2020 10:58 am

Unit/ Formation: HM Ships

Location: North Cape

Period/ Conflict: World War II

Year: 1943

Date/s: 26th December 1943

Battle of the North Cape On 20th December 1943 Convoy JW55B, comprising 19 merchant ships screened by 10 destroyers, was bound for Russia sailed on December 20th to resupply the Eastern Front.

The convoy served as bait to entice the Scharnhorst into action. Also in the vicinity was a British force consisting of the battleship HMS Duke of York, the cruiser HMS Jamaica and four destroyers. Also inbound from the east were the British Cruisers HMS Norfolk, HMS Belfast, and HMS Sheffield.

Many Royal Marines were amongst their crews as Gunners, butchers and bandsman.

The German battle group set sail on Christmas day, coming from the South was KMS Scharnhorst and her screen of destroyers looking for the convoy. Scharnhorst and its escort were steaming through a snow storm when, at 7:30am, the destroyers were detached to the southwest to look for the convoy. Scharnhorst was now on her own and sailed north until, at 9:00am, she came under fire from three enemy cruisers. During the running battle, the forward radar on Scharnhorst was hit by a British shell which essentially blinded the vessel.

Scharnhorst then turned south at 30 knots outrunning the cruisers in heavy seas. Scharnhorst then ran south, turning east to attack the convoy from another angle. As she turned north again, around noon, Scharnhorst came upon the cruisers Norfolk, Belfast, and Sheffield. At ranges between 4 and 8 miles, all ships received damage.

At 12:41pm, Scharnhorst turned south at 22 knots, unknowingly, towards the British battleship Duke of York.

At 4:20pm on 26th December the major British force lead by Duke of York made radar contact with Scharnhorst at 20 miles while the three cruisers Norfolk, Belfast, and Sheffield were in hot pursuit. Scharnhorst was hit and turned southwest and then turned to hit back with broadsides while zig-zagging. As Duke of York closed in, the order was given for four destroyers to make a torpedo attack on Scharnhorst and five torpedoes eventually found their mark.

By 7:00pm, the range between Scharnhorst and Duke of York closed to approximately 8,000 yards with Duke of York hitting Scharnhorst with broadsideafter-broadside. One of Scharnhorst engines failed yet she was still able to make 22 knots.

Duke of York was too close now to use "plunging fire" to destroy Scharnhorst so she stopped firing and sent the cruisers Jamaica and Belfast and her destroyers to finish her off with torpedoes. By this time, the Scharnhorst was only able to manage 12 knots.

Taking her punishment, the great German ship went down by the bow and rolled over to starboard. A large explosion was heard by British observers and then the Scharnhorst disappeared beneath the waves.

Thirty six survivors were rescued from her crew of 1,960.

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RM Gun Crew Killed Christmas Day 1940 in Surface Action with Admiral Hipper

By Si Biggs on Dec 25, 2020 12:00 am

On 25 December 1940, whilst part of the escort to convoy WS-5A, a troop convoy to the Middle East, Berwick was in a surface engagement with the German heavy cruiser Admiral Hipper about 700 nautical miles west of Cape Finisterre, Spain 43°39'N, 25°08'W.

Despite being thoroughly ready for combat Berwick got the worst of the encounter. She scored no hits on Admiral Hipper, and sustained a fair amount of damage, being hit by several 8-inch (which for the most part passed right through the ship) and 4.1-inch shells.

The action did however, drive off Admiral Hipper, and saved the convoy from any losses.

Four of her complement, a Royal Marines gun crew, were killed.

She had to return to Britain for repairs, which lasted until June 1941 December 1940.

War Diary;

21st Took passage to join military convoy WS5A as relief for HM Cruiser NAIAD.

24th Joined HM Cruisers DUNEDIN and BONAVENTURE in Ocean Escort for WS5A.

25th Convoy came under attack by German cruiser HIPPER at dawn and was scattered. Engaged HIPPER and hit by 4 shells in return fire causing casualties. After structure and gun mountings damaged with some flooding.

Marine Denis BROOM: PO/X 2701:

Corporal Robert DAVISON: PO/X 762:

Marine Reginald LYONS: PO/X 1825:

Sergeant Charles PAINTER: PO/X 22435, all killed

31st Landed wounded at Gibraltar and taken in hand for temporary repair.

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The Dubai Incident

By Si Biggs on Dec 23, 2020 09:30 am

Unit/ Formation: Royal Marines

Location: Dubai

Period/ Conflict: 20th Century

Year: 1910

Date/s: 24th December 1910

The East Indian Squadron was constantly on the watch to prevent gun-running in the Persian Gulf into Baluchistan etc.

A Naval Brigade from HMS Hyacinth under Captain Dick RN , with Major Heriot and Lieutenant Brewer RMLI and 33 NCOs and men were landed at Dubai to search for arms.

Though he had expected to meet the Sheikh on arrival, when the Sheikh failed to appear, Dick decided to press on.

His party made their way through the network of narrow streets to one particular house. After conducting a search, they remained suspicious and proceeded to dig up the floor of a certain room, where they found three rifles. The rifles were of an obsolete pattern (type), and would have been difficult to fire.

Half the force then began to make its way to the second house, but before long shots were heard and armed Arab men were seen running in the streets. In the fire fight that followed, a Royal Marine Sergeant and four Able Seamen were killed. Nine others were wounded.

Twelve Arabs were killed in the engagement and an unknown number wounded.

As the British party prepared to withdraw, the guns of the Hyacinth opened up to provide cover, firing six-inch lyddite shells (the precursor of ‘high explosive’ shells) into the houses near the beach. This resulted in the deaths of a further twenty-five Arabs. According to the British, when the Sheikh did appear, he seemed easily able to control the firing on his side.

Major Heriot was awarded the DSO.

British Library- Untold lives blog

History of the Royal Marines 1837-1914 HE Blumberg

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Operation Red Dagger

By Si Biggs on Dec 16, 2020 01:52 pm

Unit/ Formation: 42 Cdo RM

Location: Nad-e-Ali

Period/ Conflict: War in Afghanistan (2001-)

Year: 2008

Date/s: 7 - 25th December 2008

Operation Sond Chara (Red Dagger in Pashto) was an 18-day-long campaign with its aims and objectives centred on four Taliban strongholds near the town of Nad-e-Ali in Helmand Province, Afghanistan.

The operation was named after the commando patch worn by members of 3 Commando Brigade Royal Marines. 1,500 British troops were involved, supported by Danish, Estonian and Afghan forces in the pre-Christmas offensive, commencing on 7 December 2008 with a night attack on Taliban defences in a village south of the operational area.

The offensive was intended to secure the area around the provincial capital of Lashkar Gah after an increase in insurgent attacks there (including a 300-man Taliban assault), as well as helping to safeguard a planned voter registration programme. The hard fought battles were against well-armed insurgents, who held fast and retaliated with 107mm rockets but eventually withdrew under a barrage of British mortar, tank, and missile fire. British troops were fighting knee-deep in mud during First World War-style trench battles.

Some sections of the Marines fought while advancing over 60 km under fire and in poor conditions. CQB fighting was common, and some commanders reported fighting at ranges of 30 metres or less.

By its climax on 25 December 2008, 100 Taliban fighters, one reportedly a senior commander, were killed. By the end of the offensive five British soldiers, including an Australian serving with British forces, had been killed. After a raid south of Lashkar Gah, £2 million worth of opium was found, alongside IEDs and other assorted drugs and explosives.

Brigadier Gordon Messenger, commander of Task Force Helmand, classes the campaign as "very successful".

In respect of the Muslim festival of Eid al-Adha, a two-day ceasefire starting on 8 December 2008 was upheld. Recommencing operations on 11 December, 42 Commando Royal Marines attacked both from the ground and the air on Nad-e-Ali, securing an area which had been an insurgent stronghold. Commandos backed by the 2nd Battalion The Princesses of Wales's Royal Regiment and the Afghan National Army attacked and captured the town of Shin Kalay, west of Lashkar Gah.

K Company (Black Knights) fought in the trenches surrounding the area, forcing the withdrawal of the insurgents. Royal Engineers found their efforts to build patrol bases hampered by heavy rain turning the ground into a sea of mud.

Lima Company, 42 Commando saw the most ferocious close-quarters fighting during the 360-degree battle for Zarghun Kalay, northwest of Lashkar Gah, on 17 December. They were supported by Juliet Company during the following days.

By the end of the operation the Marines of Lima Company Group had covered over 60 km on foot in the most arduous conditions. Involved in intense firefights by day, and 'yomping' by night, the Marines slept rough, eating wherever and whenever they could for 17 days.

Read More/ Web Link: Wikipedia

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Policing Sevastopol - Royal Australian Navy

By Si Biggs on Dec 08, 2020 10:30 am

Unit/ Formation: Royal Marines

Location: Sevastopol

Period/ Conflict: Russian Intervention

Year: 1918

Date/s: 8th December 1918

On 8 December Royal Australian cruiser Brisbane embarked 345 Royal Marines at Chanak (Cannakale) and steamed, at 22 knots, to Sevastopol disembarking them on the 10th.

With the aid of a captured German chart the cruiser entered harbour avoiding a large defensive minefield before offloading the British troops who proceeded to restore order in the city.

Some desultory shots were fired at Brisbane but the marines landed safely.

One of Brisbane’s officers later wrote: “Our Marines were landed to police the city, and if ever a city needed policing, Sevastopol did. The rounding up of Bolsheviks and putting an end to their ghastly ways and filthy practices, and their habit of creating dirt and ruin of everything they touched was a large order …. It was with deep regret that the Brisbane received the order to Smyrna (Izmir) and leave others to attend to the business here”.

While the RAN ships were at Sevastopol they kept a landing party on stand by and small arms were available for immediate use. No attacks were made on the ship but occasional sniping kept the crews motivated.

Read More/ Web Link:: Semaphore: RAN in Southern Russia 1918-20

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DayForce - Bougainville Campaign

By Si Biggs on Dec 03, 2020 10:10 pm

Unit/ Formation: Landing Craft Units

Location: Bougainville

Period/ Conflict: World War II

Year: 1944

Date/s: Monday 18th December 1944

A first-hand account from Jack Eaves RM CH\X 111853. Bowman LCA 994 The Jaba river Operation, Bougainville. Part of X Force. The Commander of 2nd Australian Corps requested from the Flag Officer Commanding 'X' Force the loan of 4 LCA’s for an operation up the Jaba River with the 29th Australian Infantry Brigade. The army’s LCM’s and LCVP’s being too deep a draught to cross the bar at the mouth of the river.

Two LCA’s from each HMS Empire Arquebus (536 Flotilla) and Empire Battleaxe, (537 Flotilla) were selected and under the command of Lieutenant H.E. Day RM, of HMS Empire Battleaxe, were prepared and proceeded at first light on the 19th December.

At 0800 hrs on the 20th, 'DAYFORCE' as it became known, moved in single line ahead, eastward across Augusta Bay for the Tekessi River. Following their guide, an Australian launch, stolid looking and unromantic in contrast to the low green shapes of the LCA’s. To Port lay Bougainville, hazy in the morning mist, it’s mountain range thick with dense scrub, it’s flats covered in steaming jungle. The hills were Japanese territory, and the flats dominated by them represented the tiny perimeter which had been consolidated for more than a year.

By 1000 hrs the force had crossed the bar at the mouth of the Tekessi River and reported to the Australian Brigadier at his HQ. We had come prepared for any emergency, Lewis Guns, Rifles, Medical Supplies, Camp Gear, Motor Mechanic, Wireman, and a Marine Shipwright.

Beyond the Tekessi River, the Australians had infiltrated along the coast as far as the Jaba River and were reported to be scouting the Tuju River. Patrols had been confined within the coastal strip and the Brigadier was anxious to know whether the Jaba river was navigable inland as far as the patrol, which was operating on the left bank, the limit would be a sign 'JAPS AHEAD'. He was also interested in the Tuju, about four miles beyond the Jaba, but was questionable if the sand bar at its mouth could be crossed by LCA’s.

Bougainville rivers flow fast, coming down from the hills, fed daily by thunderstorms and with a 4-knot race, pile up sand barriers at their mouth. The Jaba is 40 yards wide in the flats and with the dense jungle on either side makes it difficult to locate from seaward. We found out when we hit the sand bar and poled and pushed into the estuary.

It would have been ‘happy hunting grounds’ for the R.M.O.C.U, and a quick finish for the coxswain who was ‘shaky’ in seamanship. The river was alive with snags, branches of sunken logs sticking above the water, with other logs whizzing past every other minute. The deeper water was obviously to be found at the outer edge of the bends and the current flowed round with its complement of torn up tree trunks sweeping on into the dense jungle. By pole soundings and good luck, we struggled 5 miles inland, located the patrol on the bank and then turned back for the Tuju.

The mouth of the Tuju lay 4 miles down the coast, Australian patrols had reported that the mouth was clear of the enemy, and we spent an hour there before eventually finding a channel through the sand bar, we then returned and made our report. At first light the following morning the real job began, a ferry service was established between the Tekessi, and the Jaba rivers.

All day a constant stream of troops, stores and ammo, moved up the Jaba, the north bank had been cleared of the enemy, but it was known that a Japanese strong point was located in the swamps of the south bank beyond the forward elements. The Japanese appeared to be fairly well supplied with small arms and machine guns. Although they had lost most of their artillery when counter attacking the perimeter the previous March. A landing was made on the Southbank, behind the enemy position, and a small force moved inland to start a pincer move to outflank the Japanese, it would have to be by river.

The following morning two LCA’s were loaded with the New Guinea movement. On the north bank the left flank was held up by dense jungle, it had taken a company two hour to move 200 yards and it was realised that the infantry had to be moved up by river. The 'JAPS AHEAD' sign (a 4ft target painted white with a red ball in the centre) was sighted about 100 yards up river from our start point. As far as we were concerned this was 'H' Hour, the Lewis guns were ready and, in the bow, sat a New Guinea boy watching the dense jungle like a hawk. It was said that the New Guinea native could smell a Jap before he could see them.

The coxswain watched the river for anywhere in the dense jungle the Nips could be sitting with his 'Wood-pecker' trained on us. At times the craft jammed on the sand bar and stuck. Then every man jack went over the side and pushed like hell. Occasionally we saw a crocodile, parakeets, and butterflies with 6-inch wing spans. Someone remarked that they were big enough to be paratroops- that crack carried us a mile up the river. After landing our troops, we returned downstream with wounded and some prisoners. You cannot beat the Jaba on the run, there is more danger on the way down than on the run up, the fast current forced us to keep the engines at full astern to minimise the impact should we hit a snag, and we hit them hard and often. During this period there were no casualties among the LCA crews, but one craft had to be abandoned.

On the 29th December, two craft from HMS Empire Mace were sent to augment the small flotilla, and the sunken craft replaced. The newly established drop off point was now fed by the river service, and a daily trip was necessary. Each trip had its troubles, we knew where the enemy were said to be located and precautions were taken to cover the well deck of the craft as a counter against grenades (we hoped that they would bounce off into the drink), this subsequently found to be a worthwhile precaution because 4 days later reconnaissance patrols confirmed the Japs had been where we thought they were.

No grenades were ever thrown at us or shots fired, perhaps credit for this should go to the silent running of the craft. Attacks on us were confined to dive-bombing mosquitoes and infiltrating ants, the ants made their most violent attack one trip when the river rose to full flood in a thunder storm and swept our LCA into the bank, the crash bringing down an ant nest on to the head of the coxswain who spent the rest of the trip cursing, searching, and scratching.

This was far more frightening than when a battery of Australian 25 pounders began a bombardment of the river bank only a few hundred yards from the craft. As exploitation progressed, troops were ferried further and further up the Jaba river until the Japs were cleared out of the area. On the 6th January, our job was done, 'Dayforce' returned to their parent ships where on inspection one craft were found to have 15 fractures in her bottom.

This story, one of those small events involving the Corps and so often overlooked was compiled from the appendix to the official report of the Flag Officer Force 'X' as supplied by RMAQ members Jack Eaves and Tony Cude.

Read More/ Web Link: Royal Marines History Net

The story of 2 marines on HMS Battleaxe here

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Taking of Lagos - War on the Slave Trade

By Si Biggs on Dec 02, 2020 04:18 pm

Unit/ Formation: Royal Marines

Location: West Africa

Period/ Conflict: War on the Trans Atlantic Slave Trade

Year: 1851

Date/s: 26th - 27th December 1851

The taking of Lagos by boats of HMS Bloodhound and HMS Tartar, Lieutenant J.W.C. Williams RM and E, McArthur RMA were present with 27 RMA and 47 Royal Marines, taking part.

Lieutenant Williams was wounded.

There were actually two naval actions; one in November 1851 and the second in December 1851.

Battle of November 25, 1851

The first attack on November 25, 1851 was hastily organized and led by Commander Forbes who underestimated Oba Kosoko's defenses of about 5,000 men armed with muskets. Forbes' attack party consisted of 306 officers, men, marines and sailors aboard HMS Bloodhound along with 21 boats. Although Bloodhound sustained heavy cannon fire from the shore, a landing party went ashore but met stiff resistance. By nightfall, the British had sustained two dead and ten injuries; Commander Forbes ordered a retreat.

Battle of December 26, 1851

British Men o' War Attacked by the King of Lagos

The battle of December 26, 1851 was termed by Lagosians Ogun Ahoyaya/Ogun Agidingbi (translated, "The Boiling Battle"). Captain Jones led the attack party consisting HMS Bloodhound, HMS Teaser, a flotilla of boats including The Victoria and The Harlequin equipped with overwhelming fire power engaged Kosoko in a battle lasting three days.

Kosoko put up a stiff resistance, but the Royal Navy's superior firepower won the day. Kosoko and his leading chiefs fled Lagos for Epe on December 28, 1851. According to Samuel Davies, a Saro and younger brother of JPL Davies who participated on the British side aboard HMS Bloodhound, Kosoko would have inflicted great losses on the Royal Navy if he had deployed his war canoes with their swivel guns.

However, he relied solely on static defenses which were overwhelmed. On the British side 15 men died and 75 were wounded.

Akitoye was taken ashore on December 29 to assess the bombarded town. He accepted the loyalty of the chiefs and was installed as Oba of Lagos. On December 30, the Royal Navy dismantled all Kosoko's batteries and dumped 46 of his war guns at sea

The power of the Royal Navy was subsequently used to suppress the slave trade, and while some illegal trade, mostly with Brazil, continued, the Atlantic slave trade would be eradicated by the middle of the 19th century.

The West Africa Squadron was credited with capturing 1,600 slave ships between 1808 and 1860 and freeing 150,000 Africans who were aboard these ships.

Action was also taken against African leaders who refused to agree to British treaties to outlaw the trade, for example against the usurping King of Lagos, deposed in 1851.

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