1755 is the key date in the history of the Royal Marines. Before that marine regiments had been raised for particular wars and then disbanded, but in 1755, with war once again looming (the Seven Years War) a new organisational structure was used, with three Marine divisions based at the main Royal Navy ports. At the end of the war this new Marine Corps was left intact, and it had remained in existence ever since. The permanent marines could be integrated into the manning of the peacetime fleet and quickly became an important element of the British military and a flexible peacetime force.
It is important to remember that this is a study of the first fifty years of the Royal Marines and not an operational history of the period. The book is organised thematically, and there is no narrative history of the use of the marines during this period. Instead the author focuses on topics like the organisation and manning of the marines, the legal framework and the development of specific doctrines for the use of the marine. The final chapters look at the combat use of the marines, but once again these chapters are organised thematically, so they look at specific types of operations - naval combat, raiding, the use of the marines as a reserve or as a readily available 'reaction force'. The study ends with the award of the title of 'Royal' in 1802, marking the acceptance of the Marines as a valuable part of the armed forces.
This is a detailed examination of the structure and development of the Royal Marines. It won't be the right book for someone looking for an operational history of the marines, but it is a valuable contribution to the history of the Royal Marines, and should be of interest to anyone interested in the history of the Marines or of British naval power.
1 - What Came Before
2 - Administration
3 - Marine Corps Manpower
4 - Policing Functions and Mutiny
5 - Operational Doctrine
6 - An Imperial Rapid Reaction Force
Conclusion - The Construction of a Marine Identity
Author: Britt Zerbe