The Royal Marines and other Marine Corps

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Soldier and sailor, the Royal Marines began as an armed infantry force embarked on ships to fire at enemy crews during close-in actions. They also played a role in maintaining order on board, protecting officers and disciplining the crew. They received specialist training and landed with regular Royal Navy men to fight ashore. They also defended naval forts and bases. Marine corps of other navies had similar functions – the Fusiliers marins of the French Marine Nationale and the United States Marine Corps, for example.

Catalogue number 87

Gibraltar coastal defence guns

The British harbour at Gibraltar was defended by a coastal battery manned by the Royal Marine Artillery. Both muzzle-loading and breach-loading guns, firing shot or shells can be seen.

Recto: "Engl. Besitz Gibraltar Spanien"

21.5cm x 16.6cm Gelatin silver print


Catalogue number 90

Royal Marines with a muzzle-loading gun

These Royal Marines are man-handling a heavy muzzle-loading gun on a raft, it may be a training exercise. The Marines, with pillbox hats may come from the Shoeburyness fort, note the text “Shoebur...” on the wooden box by the right-hand barrier.

26.1cm x 18.4cm Albumen print mounted on cardboard


Catalogue number 88

Royal Marines with their officer, early 1900s

These Royal Marines are posing with their officer in their red tunic dress uniform of the 1902 pattern and the Brodrick cap. They are mostly long-service men – left sleeve, two stripes for 6 years, three stripes 12 years and there are five men with four stripes indicating 18 years service. Almost all of them have won medals – considering the period, these medals were probable won during land battles. To the right of the Royal Navy Lieutenant is a colour sergeant – see right sleeve, three stripes and badge – and to the left is a corporal. Behind the corporal and to his right is a man with what looks like a marksman badge – crossed rifles – on the left sleeve..

Credit: W.C. Harvey

29.5cm x 24.8cm Sepia photograph mounted on cardboard


Catalogue number 41131

Marines working a gun

The Royal Marines would man a gun turret on large warships. These two images show Marines working 6-inch guns.

13.3cm x 7.6cm printed image


Catalogue number 23013

Marines working a 6-inch gun

12.8cm x 7.6cm printed image


Catalogue number 105054

Royal Marines engineering party, 1915

Royal Marines did numerous tasks both at sea and on shore. Here we have an engineering party equipped with shovels and under the command of a colour sergeant (right arm, three stripes and a crown) and a sergeant. Such a party could build temporary coastal defences or trenches, for example. Walmer Castle near Deal on the Channel coast was a Royal Marines barracks at the time.

13.8cm x 8.8cm Gelatin silver print


Catalogue number 111060

Royal Marine buglar boys, 1913/17

A ship’s routine was signaled throughout the day by a Royal Marine bugler boy who had joined up as young as 14 years old. These lads were the general dogsbody doing all sorts of menial tasks. Extreme left is a young lad with a piccolo flute in his left hand.

Verso: Text in pencil from brother to sister "....I thought you would like this card as you are not having one of my photos but there I expect you can just see me here I only just come in it they are what were taken at camp on the Sunday....I am in the is nearly time to pipe down for the night...."

13.9cm x 8.8cm Gelatin silver print


Catalogue number 108058

Royal Marine drummers

One role for Royal Marines was to provide the Navy with a band service. They would play during official ceremonies, when welcoming on board Royalty, Presidents, officials and Admirals, for example. They would also motivate the men by play during coaling or at rest time. Here we have two bandmasters, second class (see lapel badge).

9cm x 13.9cm Gelatin silver print


Catalogue number 108052

Royal Marine band, H.M.S. Nelson

This photograph shows a Royal Marine band on H.M.S. Nelson. Note the white Wolseley Pattern helmet (the “pith” helmet). The band on a battleship would include up to 25 men.

12.9cm x 7.9cm Gelatin silver print


Catalogue number 108054

The band ready to receive a guest, H.M.S. Malaya 1920

Here a Royal Marine guard and band are waiting to welcome Lord and Lady Allenby on board H.M.S. Malaya at Port Said in 1920.

Recto: "Guard and band H.M.S. Malaya entering Port Said, 23.12.20"

14cm x 8.8cm Gelatin silver print


Catalogue number 66106

Royal Marines Light Infantry

This is a photograph of a man from the Royal Marines Light Infantry (R.M.L.I.). The marine infantry forces were first renamed in 1855 then in 1862 to become the R.M.L.I., a period which corresponded to action on land rather than at sea. The Royal Marine Artillery continued as such until 1923 when the two corps amalgamated to form the Royal Marines.

Verso: "January 4th 1910" in black ink

7.6cm x 12.2cm Printed image


Catalogue number 36165

Royal Marine N.C.Os., H.M.S. Vincent, 1947

H.M.S. St Vincent was a Royal Navy shore establishment at Gosport. In 1945, it became a boy’s training establishment so this group of Royal Marine non-commissioned officers from 1947 may be part of the training staff. Note the badge of band master on the right sleeve of the man front row, second from the left of the photograph. This group seem to have been particularly active during the war and medal ribbons abound.

20.5cm x 14.8cm Gelatin silver print


Catalogue number 69072

French Fusiliers Marins in Indochina, circa 1912

The presence of soldiers in the French Navy dates back to 1627 but the Fusiliers Marins were created in 1856 and participated in the expeditions to China, Cochinchina, Tonkin and Madagascar. Here a company of Fusiliers Marins are working through cover somewhere in Indochina. The 15 centimes stamp with a 5 centimes surcharge came into use in 1912 which gives us some indication of the period.

Verso: Text written in black ink, in part sending best wishes including the text “Overleaf some photographs taken during the last manoeuvres in….” in French

13.6cm x 8.8cm Gelatin silver print


Catalogue number 94025

Fusiliers Marines in the Victory parade, 1919

Admiral Ronarch led a brigade of Fusiliers Marins at the battle of the Yser in 1914 when they held the town of Dixmude and halted the German advance to the coast. He is shown here carrying the standard at the head of the victory parade on 14th July 1919.

14cm x 9cm Gelatin silver print


Catalogue number 28008

Victory parade, Rangoon, 1945

Another victory parade for the Fusiliers Marins but this time in the rain at Rangoon, 1945.

Verso: “ 15th June 1945 Souvenir from Rangoon Burma.” in French and in black ink

15.3cm x 9.5cm Gelatin silver print


Catalogue number 26048

Royal Marine Commandant on board a French waship

A guard of honour with cutlasses receives this Royal Marine Commandant on board. The officer in the background saluting looks like Lieutenant Jean-Marie Levasseur who was F.N.F.L. captain of the frigate La Surprise at the end of World War Two.

13.3cm x 8.4cm Gelatin silver print


Catalogue number 70117

U.S. Marine Corps, 1898

There are some rather old marines among this group including a bugler and drummer. Note the short bayonet compared to the British and French equivalent at the time. Behind the group is the quarter deck 8-inch gun with its massive barrel.

Recto: “Marines drilling on board the U.S. cruiser Minneapolis” dated 1898

15.4cm x 8cm Stereo-photograph


Catalogue number 111079

Detachment of U.S. Marines off Shanghai, 1927

During the late 1920s, the different marine corps of European countries and the U.S.A. were positioned off the port of Shanghai in response to civil unrest and Nationalist agitation giving rise to fears for the safety of European and American citizens. Here a detachment of U.S. Marines prepare to go ashore. The photograph was taken in February 1927, it's cold and the men are wearing greatcoats. Aft of U.S.S. Pittsburgh is the French cruiser Jules Michelet.

Verso: “Feb 22 1927. The Marines have landed – Shanghai, China. - and anyone knows that such a thing means immediate peace. Photo shows part of the detachment of Marines on board the U.S.S. Pittsburgh waiting to debark at Shanghai where they go on guard of American lives and property."

24cm x 17.8cm Gelatin silver print

Catalogue number 112067

U.S. Marine riflemen and sharpshooters

This photograph of a group of U.S. Marines Corps was taken on board ship and seems to concern a section of rifle experts – bar with laurel leaves and crossed rifles – and rifle sharpshooters – bar with cross.

12.5cm x 7.8cm Gelatin silver print