ROYAL MARINES MUSEUM - PORTSMOUTH

Royal Marines Museum Portsmouth
Royal Marines Museum, Southsea

The Royal Marines are the amphibious commando force of the Royal Navy. In recent conflicts, the Royal Marine Commandos have been deployed to the Falklands, Afghanistan and Iraq.

The construction of a new barracks at Eastney for the Royal Marines Artillery Division began in 1862. Prior to being housed in the new Eastney barracks the Royal Marines Artillery had separate companies based in Plymouth, Chatham, Woolwich and Portsmouth, the Portsmouth Division being based at Gunwharf and Clarence Barracks in Old Portsmouth.

The move to Eastney would provide the division with a self contained home including barracks, parade ground, gymnasium, theatre, hospital and drill shed.

The main barrack block housing the initial detatchment of Marines, was completed in 1864, the complete Division being housed at Eastney at completion in 1867.

Over the years additions and improvements were made, the swimming pool was built in 1904, St Andrews church was built in 1905 and the promenade road, now the seafront road was built in 1921.

The Royal Marines Museum, which was originally founded in 1958 in the Division School, moved to it's current home the Officers Mess of Eastney Barracks in 1975 two years after the mess closed. It is rumoured that an accounting error led to an extra zero being added to the planned building budget allowing for a much grander building than originally intended. The centre section of the mess housed the public rooms such as the dining room, billiard room and library, whilst the north and south wings housed the officers rooms.

Artillery display at the RM Museum, Portsmouth.

The Royal Marines were founded in 1664 and the museum depicts the story from the beginning to the present day, showing how troops of the Royal Marines were involved in the Battle of Trafalgar, in both of the World Wars and more recently in the Falkland Islands, Afghanistan and Iraq.

One of the most comprehensive medal collections in the world, is housed in the museum and can be viewed in the Medal Room. The collection includes medals awarded to Marines in some of the greatest naval and military battles and includes ten Victoria Crosses, the highest honour that can be awarded in the UK.

There is a memorial garden sited to the north of the lawn, where there are many tributes and memorials to marines who lost their lives serving in conflicts and wars around the world.

Visitors can get involved in many interactive displays throughout the museum, which bring to life aspects of Royal Marine activities and training.

ROYAL MARINES MUSEUM DETAILS:

Open every day except Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and Boxing Day.
Address: Royal Marines Museum, Eastney Esplanade, Southsea, PO4 9PX
Telephone: 02392 819385

THE ROYAL MARINES - A BRIEF HISTORY

The Royal Marines Globe and Laurel cap badge.

The Royal marines were formed in 1664, 1200 soldiers were recruited to serve with the Navy, under the command of the Lord High Admiral, the Duke of York, they were known as the Duke of York and Albany's Maritime Regiment of Foot.

In 1704 British and Dutch marines were heavily involved in the battle to take Gibraltar, preventing Spanish reinforcements reaching the fortress and attacking the defencive positions. The battle honour Gibraltar, is the only honour shown on the Royal Marines, Globe and Laurel cap badge. In the early years regiments of marines were often formed to serve in a particular campaign and then disbanded when that campaign was finished. During the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries the marines were highly important in the formation of the British Empire and marines were on board the first British ships to arrive in Australia in 1788.

In 1802 the marines were designated as the Royal Marines in recognition of past military services. During the Napoleonic wars the Royal Marines served in every major naval battle including St Vincent, the Battle of the Nile and the Battle of Trafalgar and they became more frequently deployed from naval ships on land offencives.

By the start of the First World War in 1914, Britain had the largest naval fleet in the world, every ship over the size of destroyer has a deployment of marines. At sea the marines were responsible for the main ship gun turrets and secondary armaments. The Royal Marines fought together with ANZAC forces during the battle at Gallipoli in 1915 and led the assault on Zeebrugge harbour in 1918.

Royal Marine statue at the Royal Navy Memorial, Southsea.

In 1940 during the Second World War, Prime Minister Winston Churchill wanted specially trained troops, "of the hunter class", who could raid and attack enemy coasts, this led to the formation of the Royal Marine Commando Brigade, approximately 80,000 marines fought during the Second World War. The Royal Marines also played a major part in the D-Day landings in Normandy 1944.

Following the Second World War the marines were deployed in many operations in South East Asia, in the Malayan emergency and in Borneo, also in Korea, Suez, Aden, and Cyprus.

The Royal Marines played a major part in the recapture of the Falkland Islands in 1982, in 1991 they were deployed in the Gulf War operating in Northern Iraq. The corp has also seen action in Bosnia, Congo Republic, Northern Ireland, Kosovo and Sierra Leone. A unit of Royal Marines is attached to the UK's Joint Rapid Reaction Force, which can be deployed at short notice anywhere in the world that it is required.