Please listen to my latest podcast, and interview with Mike Samuelson.
Mike Samuelson a Royal Marines Officer: Lympstone to N Iraq via Aden; Cyprus, Northern Ireland and the Falklands conflict; 40 decades of war and peace (Keeping).
Pt 1; Officer training, 1967 - 42 Commando in Singapore & Aden as a young Troop Commander, withdraw from Aden and being wounded, 'Op Motorman' Northern Ireland.
During 'Op Corporate' the Battle of the Falklands Mike was with 3 Commando Brigade HQ as GSO3 Amphib, Operations & Exercises, Mike was at the centre of many of the Amphibious planning decisions and had a unique perspective on the conduct of the war.
Open in your favourite player or start listening on Spotify here;
During the Battle of the River Plate 15 Marines lost their lives mostly manning turrets, HMS Exeter 10 Marines killed, HMS Ajax 5 Marines killed.
Since the war started, a German battleship, the Graf Spee, had been roaming the South Atlantic sinking unarmed British merchant ships. She was being hunted by several British hunting groups, and was found by the three British cruisers, Exeter, Ajax, and Achilles on 13th December 1939, and then began the Battle of the River Plate. The main armament of the Exeter was six 8inch guns, and that of the Ajax and Achilles was eight 6inch guns. The Graf Spee had six 11inch guns and eight 6inch guns.
On the morning of 13 Dec 1939 I was keeping the morning watch in the after control position. My particular job was to keep the lookouts awake and doing their job. It is all too easy to go to sleep sitting on a comfortable seat and leaning against a bracket holding a powerful set of Admiralty binoculars. I was a junior lieutenant in the Royal Marines and was second in command of the Royal Marine Detachment. Humphrey Woods was the Captain of Marines and at action stations he was in charge of B turret manned by the R.M. Detachment. Most cruisers had four turrets A,B,X and Y and the Marines manned X turret.
However as Exeter only had three turrets A,B and Y, The Marines manned B turret. I had tried to get charge of the turret myself a few weeks earlier as it would be more interesting than chasing lookouts. But Captain Woods was not having any of it and I had to remain with my lookouts.
At about 0600 the Graf Spee was sighted well down on the horizon and the bugler sounded Action Stations over the tannoy. I well remember my heart went well down into my boots as everyone was hurrying to his position. Very soon two great clouds of fire and smoke burst from the enemy as he fired his first broadside and about a minute later a line of shells landed in the sea about 300 yards short. Our course was set to get within range of the enemy and return fire. The next enemy broadside was correct for range but fell about 300 yards astern. Thereafter we were receiving our punishment but managed to get within gun range of the Graf Spee and scored several hits.
A and B turrets, HMS Exeter
B turret was hit by an 11 inch shell between the guns after firing about 5 broadsides and everyone in front of the breeches were killed including Capt Woods. Splinters from this shell killed several people on the bridge and cut all communications so Captain Bell (The ship's Captain) came aft to fight the ship from the after control Position. Very soon both A and Y turrets were put out of action because their electrical supplies were cut off, so Captain Bell said within my hearing " I'm going to ram the --------. It will be the end of us but it will sink him too". So off we set.
Fortunately the electricians managed to get Y turret working again so we turned away and carried on firing with Y turret. Normal steering of the ship was not possible due to damage so we organised a chain of seamen to pass steering orders down to the after steering position. Lookouts were no longer required so I went to look at B turret. There was some burning debris on top of one gun loading tray and immediately under it a naked charge ready for loading into the gun. Looked a nasty situation so I removed the charge by chucking it overboard and put out the fire.
I remember Marine Russel with his forearm shot away. He was walking around rallying some leaderless seamen and putting them to useful work. When we got back to Stanley in the Falkland Islands Mne Russel was taken into the hospital and appeared to be making a good recovery. However he needed a minor operation to improve his forearm stump and he died under the anaesthetic. He was buried with full military honours in Stanley on the very day the ship left for UK.
While we were getting our punishment Commodore Harwood in the Ajax and the Achilles were scoring hits on the Graf Spee from the disengaged side. It was clear that the Graf Spee was trying to get into Montevideo so Commodore Harwood signalled us to report the state of the ship and then ordered us to go back to Stanley in the Falkland Islands. Ajax and Achilles followed the Graf Spee until she was interned in Montevideo and waited outside for reinforcements in case she tried to get away. That evening we buried about 50 of the ships company at sea. On 17th December, the Graf Spee sailed out of Montevideo and scuttled herself, thus saving many lives. 
HMS AJAX Log
September Took-up war station
3rd Deployed for trade defence duty.
Intercepted German ships OLINDA and CARL FRITZEN between Rio Grande
do Sul and Plate estuary and both scuttled.
11th Guardship at Port Stanley and carried out patrol in Falklands area.
21st Redeployed on trade defence between Plate Estuary and Rio de Janeiro.
3rd Joined HM Cruiser EXETER after sinking of ss CLEMENT by German battleship
GRAF SPEE which HAD LEFT Germany before the outbreak of war.
5th Deployed with HM Cruisers EXETER and CUMBERLAND as Force G Hunting
Group in South Atlantic to search for GRAF SPEE.
November Search for commerce raider in continuation.
27th Arrived at Port Stanley.
December Resumed search duty with Force G
5th Intercepted German freighter USSKUMA with HM Cruiser CUMBERLAND.
German ship scuttled.
13th Took part in Battle of the River Plate with HM Cruisers EXETER and
Harried GRAF SPEE after HMS EXETER retired from action. X and Y-turrets
were disabled and some structural damage was sustained.
There were 12 casualties including 7 killed.
16th Remained off Plate estuary with HMS CUMBERLAND and HMS ACHILLES.
17th GRAF SPEE scuttled off Montevideo..
18th Detached to refuel at Port Stanley.
29th Resumed trade defence duty.
HMS EXETER Log
9th Recalled to join HMS AJAX and HMS ACHILLES off Plate estuary in
anticipation of an early encounter with GRAF SPEE.
13th Took part in action against GRAF SPEE with HMS AJAX and HMS ACHILLES.
Seriously damaged by 11in shells with many casualties and outbreak of fire.
Continued to engage the enemy until power lost by flooding. Withdrawn
from action with heavy list and all guns unserviceable (photo above).
Casualty List included 63 killed and 23 wounded.
15th Passage to Port Stanley after relief by HM Cruiser CUMBERLAND.
20th Under temporary repair at Port Stanley.
The King decorated the officers and men of the cruisers Ajax and Exeter. Cheers were hushed as his Majesty presented to Mrs. Russell, widow of Marine W. A. Russell, the Conspicuous Gallantry Medal. Russell died of wounds after the battle.
Mrs. W. Russell, widow of the marine who died in action with both arms shot off, was given the Conspicuous Gallantry Medal won by her husband. The King shook hands with her and spoke to her, the Queen is held the hand of Mrs Russell's little daughter.
Conspicuous Gallantry Medal
Samuel John Trimble, Sergeant, Royal Marines, H.M.S. Achilles;
who, early in the action, when several splinters struck the Gun Director, at once killing three men and wounding two others inside the tower, was severely wounded; but stood fast without flinching or complaint throughout the hour of action that followed, bearing his wounds with great fortitude. When the medical party came he helped them to move the wounded and then made his own way to the Sick Bay with little aid.
Wilfred A. Russell, Royal Marines, H.M.S. Exeter;
who, having his left forearm blown away and his right arm shattered when a Turret was put out of action by a direct hit from an 11-inch shell, refused all but first aid, remained on deck and went about cheering on his shipmates and putting courage into them by his great fortitude; and did not give in until the heat of the battle was over. He has since died of wounds.
Distinguished Service Cross
Lieutenant Aidan E. Toase, Royal Marines, HMS Exeter;
who was very active and resourceful in assisting to render the turret safe after it had been hit by an 11-inch shell.
Distinguished Service Medal
Raymond G. Cook, Sergeant, Royal Marines, HMS Exeter;
who showed great presence of mind and initiative in carrying out orders when a Turret was severely hit and fires and casualties occurred.
Thomas S. Reginald Norman Buckley, Marine, HMS Exeter;
who when a Turret was hit showed great presence of mind and efficiency in ensuring the safety of the ammunition.
Frank T. Saunders, Sergeant, R.M. HMS Achilles;
who acted with courage and initiative throughout the engagement, overcoming each difficulty and breakdown as it occurred, and by his fine example and leadership urged his quarters to still further efforts.
Arthur B. Wilde, Sergeant, Plymouth, HMS Exeter;
who, ordering the evacuation of a Turret after the Gun House had been hit by an eleven-inch shell, calmly put a tourniquet of rope round the stump of a Marine's arm. He then returned to the Gun House where he found a fire over the rammer of the left gun. This rammer contained a charge of cordite. He organised a chain system of buckets to the turret, put out the fire, removed the cordite, and threw the charge over the side.
Mentions in Dispatches
Marine Albert J. Hester, R.M, H.M.S. Ajax
Marine Ray O. Osment, H.M.S. Achilles
Sergeant George W. Puddifoot, H.M.S. Exeter
Bandmaster (Second Class) Leonard C. Bagley, H.M.S. Exeter
Roll of Honour
HMS Exeter lost 9 Royal Marines:
BLANDFORD, Bert, Marine, PLY/X 711,
CROKER, Alfred, Marine, PLY/X 835,
HARRINGTON, Stanley, Marine, PLY/ 22286,
HILL, Ronald, Boy Bugler, PLY/X 2238,
MARSH, William, Corporal, PLY/X 1361,
MCEVOY, James, Marine, PO/X 2091,
MILLS, Edward, Marine, PLY/X 1914,
RUSSELL, Wilfred A, Marine, PLY/X 214, DOW 20th January 1940,
The Plymouth Division of Marines take up quarters in Granby & Marlborough Square Barracks - originally home to the Infantry.
Marlborough Square Barracks was the most northerly, and the largest, of the group of single-storey Squares built in 1757 within "The Lines" at Plymouth-Dock. It was occupied by the infantry. It was named in honour of John Churchill (1650-1722), who was created Earl of Marlborough in 1689.
Marlborough Square Barracks is the large block on the left of the above map extracted from Benjamin Donn's plan of Plymouth-Dock published in 1765 , above is the smaller Square of Granby Square Barracks.
This Square took its name from Lieutenant-General John Manners (1721-1770), Marquis of Granby, one-time the Master-General of the Ordnance.
Both Marlborough Square and Granby Square were demolished between 1824 and 1830 and replaced with New Granby Barracks. The Soldiers' Quarters adjoined the main road while within its inner wall was the Devonport Military Prison and a Bath House.
Read More/ Web Link: www.olddevonport.uk
 A part of a very rare and highly important 1765 wall map of Devonshire by Benjamin Donn. Drawn in twelve panels, this map covers the entirety of Devonshire or Devon from the English Channel to Barnstaple (Bideford) Bay and from Cornwall to Somerset at a scale of 1 inch to 1 mile. Donn also incorporates large insets of Exeter (showing the college), Plymouth, Plymouth Dock, Stoke Town, and the Isle of Lundy. Benjamin Donn (1729 - 1798), sometimes known as Benjamin Donne, was a British cartographer, surveyor, and mathematician active in England during the middle to late 18th century.
Force Z went to sea without air cover and when the two ships were discovered by Japanese bombers and torpedo planes they came under a relentless attack.
“I thought they were heroes,” an able seaman later commented, “because they fought non-stop and there were shell cartridges lying all over. They were kicking these over the side into the sea… they never stopped firing right up to the end.”
When the end came, aboard HMS Prince of Wales, turret captain Sgt Terry Brooks, the youngest sergeant in the Corps, ordered his men to remove their boots, inflate their rubber life jackets and jump into the sea. After going below to the ship’s magazine to bring out three more of his men, Sgt Brooks too plunged overboard. The escorting destroyers picked up survivors and returned them to Singapore.
Cecil Brown was a journalist on board HMS Repulse:
Men are running all along the deck of the ship to get further astern. The ship is lower in the water at the stern and their jump therefore will be shorter. Twelve Royal Marines run back too far, jump into the water and are sucked into the propeller. The screws of the Repulse are still turning. There are five or six hundred heads bobbing in the water. The men are being swept astern because the Repulse is still making way and there’s a strong tide here, too.
Over 60 Royal Marines were killed during this action (approx: POW 24/ Repluse 38), many of the survivors were killed during the evacuation of Singapore or died as Prisoners of War.
All hands on deck. Prepare to abandon ship.” There is a pause for just an instant, then: “God be with you.
Captain Tennant, HMS Repulse
The Reece party consisting of One troop of 40 RM Command, commanded by capt. l.C. McKeller RM embarked in L.C.I. 316 during the afternoon of Saturday 4th Dec.
The L.C.I. sailed at 0400 hrs 5th. Dec. and approached the island at about 1000hrs. As no suitable beach was found, a small recce party of two Officers and 5 0.R.s went ashore in three rubber boats at approx. 1045hrs. Several men were seen to be moving about the Island who seemed friendly. A reception party of Italian sailors were on the beach to help us ashore, amongst whom was an English speaking Italian, Albinl, who an immense help throughout.
In my boat I took the interpreter but as Albini could speak excellent English I used him Instead. He acted my guide and showed me all the radio cable and other installations. A sentry wag placed on each until definite orders were received from the L.C.I. ae I did not wish to destroy their amenities if they were to be left.
In the meanwhile the L.C.I. was directed to the north end of the Island where it was calmer and also provided a little cover from air observation. As it was discovered the men had no Job to perform and were very keen to leave the Island, it was decided to evacuate the personnel and dismantle any remaining installations. The cable transmitting and receiving machines were destroyed, the radio dismantled and brought back, all arms which consisted of one M.G. and ten rifles were also destroyed (they were rusty and quite useless).
The motor which supplied the power for the lighthouse was dismantled. There was a radio beacon mast which had been blown down by strong wind and in the radio room were crates of instruments etc. for this beacon which had not been assembled. I left them intact.
Beneath the mast was a concrete room with their petrol supply but I could not get into this as the key broke and it had a steel door. I collected all the papers from the C.P.0.s safe. I ordered the Italians to transport the boats from SOUTHCOVE to NORTHCOVE as it was impossible to launch them with the heavy surf that was running.
As soon as they arrived at NORTHCOVE the radio equipment was ferried out to L.C.I. under the directions of Lieut. Beadle. During the movement of the boats the garrison packed their bags and made their way to the cove, I had trouble with them in the respect that they were more anxious to gather their belongings than get to the boats in which they would be taken off.
The Italians end their baggage were ferried out in the boats by the ranks aboard the L.C.I. who were changed every journey. The last party left at 1445hrs. Throughout the operation, the Captain of the L.C.I. Lieutenant Crabtree R.N.V.R. was extremely helpful in bringing his craft as close inshore as was possible with a heavy surf and a very rocky offshore. It was very much appreciated by the ferrymen in rubber boats.
POPULATION 15 ranks of the Italian Navy as garrison
RADIO COMMUNICATION To BRINDISI calls were made every day but no reply. No communications with JUGOSLAVIA or ALBANIA.
CABLE COMMUNICATIONS To the Islands of LAGOSTA. Also 4 daily calls to
The restoration of Charles II saw widespread demands at home to reverse the Dutch dominance in world trade. Charles, however, was personally greatly in debt to the House of Orange, which had lent enormous sums to his father during the Civil War. But a conflict soon developed over the education and future prospects of his nephew, William III of Orange. That dispute, which had wide implications for the royal houses of Europe, was temporarily solved, thanks largely to the diplomacy of Lord Clarendon, a favourite of the king.
In 1664, the situation quickly changed when Clarendon’s enemy, Lord Arlington, superseded him as the king’s favourite. Arlington and the king’s brother James, Duke of York, the Lord High Admiral, saw the opportunity for great personal gain in a war with the Dutch. James headed the Royal African Company and hoped to seize the possessions of the Dutch West India Company.
The two were supported by the English ambassador in The Hague, George Downing, who despised the Dutch. He, either falsely or over-optimistically, reported that the Republic was politically divided between Orangists, who would gladly collaborate with an English enemy in case of war, and a faction of wealthy merchants that would give in to any English demand in order to protect their trade interests. Arlington planned to subdue the Dutch completely by permanent occupation of key Dutch cities.
Charles was easily influenced and became convinced that a popular and lucrative foreign war at sea would bolster his authority as king. Naval officers were hungry for promotion and fortune in a conflict which they thought would be a walk-over.
Enthusiasm for war became infectious. English privateers attacked Dutch ships, capturing about 200. Dutch ships were obligated by treaty to salute the English flag first. In 1664 English commanders provoked the Dutch by not saluting in return.
Possibly the first action where Marines were used was the suddenly attacked the Dutch Smyrna fleet. Though the attack failed, the Dutch in January 1665 allowed their ships to open fire on English warships in the colonies when threatened.
Charles II used this as a pretext to declare war on the Netherlands on 4 March 1665 leading to the Second Anglo Dutch War.
In the early 1950s a Greek-Cypriot revolt in favour of union with mainland Greece began in British-controlled Cyprus. The insurrection failed to achieve that, but Cyprus was eventually declared an independent republic. British troops remain on the island to this day as part of a United Nations peacekeeping force.
In September 1955 45 Commando was deployed to Cyprus to undertake anti-terrorist operations against the EOKA guerrillas during tensions between the Greek and Turkish inhabitants of the island. The EOKA were a small, but powerful organisation of Greek Cypriots, who had great local support from the Greek community. The unit, based in Malta at the time travelled to the Kyrenia mountain area of the island and in December 1955 launched Operation Foxhunter, an operation to destroy EOKA's main base.
The Battle of Spilia is the name given in Greek Cypriot sources to a minor engagement of the Cyprus Emergency that took place in the neighbourhood of the Cypriot village of Spilia on either 11 or 12 December 1955.
The engagement involved approximately 12 members of Georgios Grivas’s EOKA group and a 40 man detachment of the 45 Commando Royal Marines. In British military sources this is known as part of a wider operation known as ‘Foxhunter’ that was tasked with breaking up the EOKA presence in the Troodos mountains and capturing EOKA leader Georgios Grivas.
Grivas’ memoirs describe the event as a disaster for the British in which a small band of EOKA fighters took on a large ambushing force of British soldiers. He claims that he heard after the fact that there were at least 50 casualties although British sources claim ‘two slightly wounded’. Grivas claims Lieutenant Colonel Tailyour was killed in action even though Tailyour went on to serve as Commandant General Royal Marines dying in 1979.
British sources state that a Greek man was arrested in the vicinity carrying a rifle and cordex fuses and gave Grivas’ location away during interrogation. A 40 man patrol then set off in search of the hideout. Grivas and his men managed to escape and 2 Marines were ‘slightly wounded’ in a friendly fire incident when a mortar exploded on tree branches. The engagement resulted in Grivas’s escape but with the EOKA no longer able to operate in the Spilia area.
Churchill had a course of flying lessons while he was First Lord of the Admiralty and came close to graduating as a pilot but, despite personal enthusiasm, he didn't persevere with the instruction due to family pressure more so after the death of his instructor Capt G.V. Wildman-Lushington (RMA) when his plane crashed on landing on 2nd December 1913.
Gilbert Vernon Wildman-Lushington was born on July 11th 1887 and is first mentioned in the Navy Lists in October 1905 when he was at Greenwich Naval College as a 2nd Lieutenant RMA. In July 1906 he was promoted to Lieutenant but had no posting until 1909 when he began serving on HMS Magnificent. A year later he was aboard HMS Bulwark and from October 1911 on HMS Neptune. In August 1912 he joined HMS President but within a few months had been posted to the Central Flying School at Upavon, Salisbury. He then joined the Royal Flying Corps, Naval Wing at Eastchurch. On April 15th 1913 he is recorded as having the rank of Flight Commander RFC with temporary rank of Captain.
Wildman-Lushington was the first officer of the Naval Wing to lose his life whilst flying a naval machine on duty. He had been for a flight over Sheerness with Captain Henry Fawcett RMLI as passenger, on Henry Farman biplane No. 23, when on returning to Eastchurch the plane fell into a side-slip and hit the ground from about 50 feet. The plane was completely wrecked and the body of the pilot was found under the petrol tank with a broken neck. Captain Fawcett was dazed but suffered only slight injuries.
Captain Wildman-Lushington had a reputation as a daring and capable airman but came to mainstream attention when he flew with Mr Winston Churchill, then First Lord of the Admiralty, whilst the latter was learning to fly. Churchill had been flying for several months before Wildman-Lushington's death at the great consternation of family, friends and the nation at large. He ceased flying shortly afterwards. At the time of his death Wildman-Lushington was engaged to Miss Airlie Hynes of Southsea to whom Churchill wrote to express his sympathy at her loss.
The burial of Captain Wildman-Lushington was held on 5th December 1913 at Christ Church, Portsdown Hill. Churchill sent a wreath of laurel, tuber roses and Madonna lilies, and inscribed in his own hand "In deepest regret for a gallant officer of achievement and promise from Winston S. Churchill."
About 400 members of the RMA formed the detail as the coffin was transferred from Cosham Railway Station, where it had arrived from Sheerness Station, to the church; there were also funeral parties from HMS Excellent, the RMLI and the RN School of Music.
Over 300 Officers, including Admiral the Hon. Sir Hedworth Meux (Commander-in-Chief at Portsmouth) attended the funeral service.
IN MEMORY OF GILBERT VERNON WILDMAN-LUSHINGTON LIEUTENANT ROYAL MARINE ARTILLERY WHO WAS KILLED BY THE FALL OF HIS FLYING MACHINE AT EASTCHURCH 2ND DECEMBER 1913 AGED 26 ERECTED BY HIS FELLOW OFFICERS