Royal Marines Established
The 28th of October 1664 AD
Naval ships had from time immemorial carried soldiers drafted in to provide a fighting force at sea, indeed before the advent of the cannon arrows and hand-to-hand fighting had been the main methods of carrying out sea battles. But it was not until 1664 that Britain had a specialist ‘marine’ force – lagging more than a century behind the Spanish in this regard.
In 1664 1,200 men from London ’s trained bands were recruited for service in The Duke of York and Albany’s Maritime Regiment of Foot, the Duke of York (eventually to become James II of England, VII of Scotland) being Charles II ’s Lord High Admiral.
There was a certain irony in the fact that the regiment’s colonel, William Killigrew, had gained combat experience fighting for the Dutch, and it was in preparation for the looming conflict with the Dutch that would become the Second Dutch War.
Though the regiment was given the epithet ‘maritime’, it was not for another eight years that the word marines would appear in official usage. The Royal Marines would eventually become one of the elite fighting units in Britain’s armed forces, this quality resulting from specialist training – and their basic training is far longer than standard – and a famous esprit de corps.
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