42 Commando

Last updated
42 Commando Royal Marines
Cap Badge of the Royal Marines
Active1943 – present
CountryFlag of the United Kingdom.svg  United Kingdom
Branch RoyalMarineBadge.svg Royal Marines
Role Commando
Size Battalion
Part of Naval Service
Garrison/HQ Bickleigh Barracks, Devon
Motto(s)Per Mare Per Terram (By Sea By Land) (Latin)
Captain-General The Duke of Sussex (Captain-General, Royal Marines)

42 Commando (read and said as Four-Two Commando) is a subordinate unit within the Royal Marines 3 Commando Brigade, the principal Commando formation, under the Operational Command of Fleet Commander.

Royal Marines Marine corps and amphibious infantry of the United Kingdom

The Corps of Royal Marines (RM) is the amphibious light infantry and also one of the five fighting arms of the Royal Navy. The marines can trace their origins back to the formation of the English Army's "Duke of York and Albany's maritime regiment of Foot" at the grounds of the Honourable Artillery Company on 28 October 1664.

3 Commando Brigade commando formation of the British Armed Forces and the main manoeuvre formation of the Royal Marines

3 Commando Brigade is a commando formation of the British Armed Forces and the main manoeuvre formation of the Royal Marines. Its personnel are predominantly Royal Marines, supported by units of Royal Engineers, Royal Artillery, and the Fleet Air Arm, together with other Commando Qualified sailors, soldiers and airmen.

Fleet Commander position in the British Royal Navy

The Fleet Commander is a senior Royal Navy post, responsible for the operation, resourcing and training of the ships, submarines and aircraft, and personnel, of the Naval Service. The remit of the position is to provide ships, submarines and aircraft ready for operations and is based at Navy Command Headquarters. The British Army equivalent is Commander Field Army. The RAF's Deputy Commander (Operations) is the close equivalent of the two positions.


Tasked as a Commando unit, 42 Cdo RM is capable of a wide range of operational tasks. Based at Bickleigh Barracks near Plymouth, personnel regularly deploy outside the United Kingdom on operations or training. Whilst 3 Commando Brigade RM are the principal cold weather warfare formation, personnel are capable of operating in a variety of theatres including tropical jungle, desert or mountainous terrain. Recently, 42 Commando has been re-structured to become a specialised, go-to unit for maritime operations – meaning some of the posts within the unit, like heavy weapons specialists, could be reallocated across the Royal Navy. [1]

Commando Soldier or operative of an elite light infantry or special operations force; commando unit

A commando is a soldier or operative of an elite light infantry or special operations force often specializing in amphibious landings, parachuting or abseiling.

Bickleigh Barracks

Bickleigh Barracks is a military installation at Bickleigh, South Hams which is currently used by 42 Commando.

Plymouth City and Unitary authority in England

Plymouth is a port city situated on the south coast of Devon, England, approximately 37 miles (60 km) south-west of Exeter and 190 miles (310 km) west-south-west of London. Enclosing the city are the mouths of the river Plym and river Tamar, which are naturally incorporated into Plymouth Sound to form a boundary with Cornwall.

All personnel will have completed the Commando course at the Commando Training Centre (CTCRM) at Lympstone in Devon, entitling them to wear the green beret, with attached personnel having completed the All Arms Commando Course.

Commando Training Centre Royal Marines

Commando Training Centre Royal Marines (CTCRM) is the principal military training centre for the Royal Marines. It is situated near the villages of Lympstone and Exton, between the city of Exeter, and the town of Exmouth in Devon. The centre delivers new entry training to recruits.

Lympstone village in United Kingdom

Lympstone is a village and civil parish in East Devon in the English county of Devon. It has a population of 1,754. There is a harbour on the estuary of the River Exe, lying at the outlet of Wotton Brook between cliffs of red breccia. The promontory to the north of the harbour is topped by a flat pasture, Cliff Field, that is managed by the National Trust and used for football matches and other local events.

Devon County of England

Devon, also known as Devonshire, is a county of England, reaching from the Bristol Channel in the north to the English Channel in the south. It is part of South West England, bounded by Cornwall to the west, Somerset to the north east, and Dorset to the east. The city of Exeter is the county town. The county includes the districts of East Devon, Mid Devon, North Devon, South Hams, Teignbridge, Torridge, and West Devon. Plymouth and Torbay are each geographically part of Devon, but are administered as unitary authorities. Combined as a ceremonial county, Devon's area is 6,707 km2 and its population is about 1.1 million.


Second World War

Early Commando units were all from the British Army but by February 1942, the Royal Marines were asked to organise Commando units of their own, and 6,000 men volunteered. [2]

British Army land warfare branch of the British Armed Forces of the United Kingdom

The British Army is the principal land warfare force of the United Kingdom, a part of British Armed Forces. As of 2018, the British Army comprises just over 81,500 trained regular (full-time) personnel and just over 27,000 trained reserve (part-time) personnel.

No. 42 (Royal Marine) Commando was raised in August 1943, under the command of Lieutenant Colonel R C de M. Leathes from the 1st Royal Marine Battalion, as part of the expansion of the commandos. They were assigned to the 3rd Special Service Brigade and served in India and Burma in 1943–45, including operations in the Arakan and Assam. It took part in the third Arakan campaign and carried out a series of amphibious landings down the Burmese coastline. Including the landings at Myebon and the Battle of Hill 170. It then returned to India to prepare for Operation Zipper the invasion of British Malaya. The war ended before the operation began and the commando was diverted to reoccupy Hong Kong. [3]

India Country in South Asia

India is a country in South Asia. It is the seventh-largest country by area, the second-most populous country, and the most populous democracy in the world. Bounded by the Indian Ocean on the south, the Arabian Sea on the southwest, and the Bay of Bengal on the southeast, it shares land borders with Pakistan to the west; China, Nepal, and Bhutan to the north; and Bangladesh and Myanmar to the east. In the Indian Ocean, India is in the vicinity of Sri Lanka and the Maldives; its Andaman and Nicobar Islands share a maritime border with Thailand and Indonesia.

Rakhine State State of Myanmar

Rakhine State is a state in Myanmar (Burma). Situated on the western coast, it is bordered by Chin State to the north, Magway Region, Bago Region and Ayeyarwady Region to the east, the Bay of Bengal to the west, and the Chittagong Division of Bangladesh to the northwest. It is located approximately between latitudes 17°30' north and 21°30' north and longitudes 92°10' east and 94°50' east. The Arakan Mountains, rising to 3,063 metres (10,049 ft) at Victoria Peak, separate Rakhine State from central Burma. Off the coast of Rakhine State there are some fairly large islands such as Cheduba and Myingun Island. Rakhine State has an area of 36,762 square kilometres (14,194 sq mi) and its capital is Sittwe.

Assam State in northeast India

Assam is a state in northeastern India, situated south of the eastern Himalayas along the Brahmaputra and Barak River valleys. Assam covers an area of 78,438 km2 (30,285 sq mi). The state is bordered by Bhutan and Arunachal Pradesh to the north; Nagaland and Manipur to the east; Meghalaya, Tripura, Mizoram and Bangladesh to the south; and West Bengal to the west via the Siliguri Corridor, a 22 kilometres (14 mi) strip of land that connects the state to the rest of India.

Post-Second World War

The British Reoccupation of Hong Kong in 1945: Men of 42 Marine Commando and children from the Tai Po Orphanage watch a fireworks display during a party hosted by the unit. The British Reoccupation of Hong Kong SE5061.jpg
The British Reoccupation of Hong Kong in 1945: Men of 42 Marine Commando and children from the Tai Po Orphanage watch a fireworks display during a party hosted by the unit.

Following the Second World War 1st, 2nd and 4th commando brigades disbanded leaving only one brigade – the 3rd (40(RM), 42(RM) and 45(RM)). The Commando was involved in operations during the confrontation with Indonesia (Borneo). It was during this tour that the famous Limbang raid was conducted by Lima Company. [4] Throughout the following decade it was based in Singapore at HMS Simbang (RNAS Sembawang). [5] [6] [7]

1st Special Service Brigade brigade of the British Army

The 1st Special Service Brigade was a commando brigade of the British Army. Formed during the Second World War, it consisted of elements of the British Army and the Royal Marines. The brigade's component units saw action individually in Norway and the Dieppe Raid, before being combined under one commander for service in Normandy during Operation Overlord. On 6 December 1944, the Brigade was redesignated 1st Commando Brigade, removing the hated title Special Service and its association with the German SS.

Singapore Republic in Southeast Asia

Singapore, officially the Republic of Singapore, is a sovereign island city-state in Southeast Asia. It lies one degree north of the equator, at the southern tip of the Malay Peninsula, with Indonesia's Riau Islands to the south and Peninsular Malaysia to the north. Singapore's territory consists of one main island along with 62 other islets. Since independence, extensive land reclamation has increased its total size by 23%.

Return to UK

After the return to the UK, the Commando was deployed to Northern Ireland, the New Hebrides in 1980 and exercised regularly overseas. More recently the Commando has seen operational service in South Georgia, Montserrat in 1995, Iraq and Afghanistan. [8]

Falklands Conflict

In 1982, following the Argentine invasion of the Falkland Islands, the Commando deployed on Operation Corporate. On 21 May the Commando were Brigade reserve at San Carlos under Lt. Col. Nick Vaux RM. The unit was deployed to seize Mount Kent in a night move by helicopter. By 4 June the unit had moved forward, mostly under cover of darkness, to positions west of high ground overlooking Port Stanley and the last Argentine stronghold. After days of probing reconnaissance, a Brigade assault took place on the night of 11/12 June in which the Commando's task was to secure Mount Harriet on the Brigade right flank. By moonlight and in freezing temperatures, 42 Commando moved undetected through enemy minefields in a 9 km (5.6 mi) right-flanking movement to surprise the enemy in their rear. Consecutive assaults by "K" and "L" Companies followed, up steep slopes onto company positions. Against strong resistance and continuous artillery bombardment, the Marines prevailed. By first light more than 30 enemy had been killed and over 300 prisoners taken as 42 Commando consolidated on Mount Harriet. 42 Commando suffered two fatalities themselves – one on Mount Harriet and one on Wall Mountain. [9]

For the bravery shown in the attack on Mount Harriet, 42 Commando was awarded one DSO, one Military Cross, four Military Medals and eight men were Mentioned in Dispatches. [10]

Recent history

Mike Company of 42 Commando Royal Marines during Operation Volcano, Afghanistan in 2007. 42 Cdo Royal Marines in Afghanistan MOD 45149675.jpg
Mike Company of 42 Commando Royal Marines during Operation Volcano, Afghanistan in 2007.

The new millennium saw the Commando deploy on Operation Telic 1 for the invasion of Iraq in 2003 where they launched a helicopter assault on the Al-Faw Peninsula to support 40 Commando. [11]

The unit returned from Operation Herrick in Afghanistan on 16 April 2009, where it served as the Regional Battle Group (South). [12]

A Royal Marine from 42 Commando during Operation Sond Chara in Afghanistan, 2008. Royal Marine Aims SA80 with Forward Handgrip MOD 45149774.jpg
A Royal Marine from 42 Commando during Operation Sond Chara in Afghanistan, 2008.

In May 2013, 42 Commando took over from 45 Commando as the lead Commando task group [13] and deployed as part of the COUGAR 13 Response Force Task Group exercising in Albania and the Middle East. [14] [15]

In early July 2019, men from 42 Commando deployed by air to Gibraltar, in order to support the Gibraltar Government's detention of the Panama-flagged crude oil tanker Grace 1. The vessel was suspected of carrying oil to a Syrian refinery, in contravention of European Union sanctions against Syria. [16]


42 Commando's current role [17] is as the Royal Marines' Maritime Operations Commando (MOC) responsible for delivering two capabilities: [18]


Prior to April 2017, the structure of 42 Commando [19] followed the Commando 21 model. The current organisation of 42 Commando, in its MOC role, comprises four companies, each 120 strong, supported by Command and Logistics elements. The four companies are: [20] [21]

Battle honours

The following battle honours were awarded to the British Commandos during the Second World War. [22]


Commanders have included:

Related Research Articles

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This is a list of British ground forces in the Falklands War. For a list of ground forces from Argentina, see Argentine ground forces in the Falklands War

The Royal Marines Division was formed in August 1940 as the British Royal Marines expanded to meet operational demands during the Second World War.

43 Commando Fleet Protection Group Royal Marines unit of the Royal Marines

The 43 Commando Fleet Protection Group Royal Marines, formerly Comacchio Company Royal Marines (1980–1983), Comacchio Group Royal Marines (1983–2001) and Fleet Protection Group Royal Marines (2001–2012), is a 550-man unit of the Royal Marines responsible for guarding the United Kingdom's Naval nuclear weapons and providing Royal Marine Boarding Teams and the very high readiness Fleet Contingent Troop to conduct maritime interdiction operations in support of the Royal Navy. The unit, based at HM Naval Base Clyde, is part of 3 Commando Brigade.

The Royal Marines Police is a unit of the Royal Navy Police and the military police of the British Royal Marines.

23rd Flying Training Squadron

The 23d Flying Training Squadron is a unit of the United States Air Force, currently assigned to 58th Operations Group performing helicopter training at Fort Rucker, Alabama.

Marines Military service branch specialized in amphibious warfare

Marines, also known as naval infantry, are typically an infantry force that specializes in the support of naval and army operations at sea and on land and air, as well as the execution of their own operations. In many countries, the marines are an integral part of that state's navy. In others, it is a separate organization altogether, such as in the United States, where the Marine Corps falls under the US Department of the Navy, yet it operates independently. Marines can also fall under a country's army like the Troupes de marine and Givati Brigade.

The Royal Marines Band Service is the musical wing of the Royal Navy. It currently consists of five Bands plus a training wing the Royal Marines School of Music at HMS Nelson and its headquarters is at HMS Excellent, Whale Island, Portsmouth. It is currently the only branch of the Royal Marines which is open to women, although women are scheduled to begin Commando training in 2018.

148 (Meiktila) Commando Forward Observation Battery is a specialist Naval Gunfire Support Forward Observation (NGSFO) unit within 29 Commando Regiment Royal Artillery of 3 Commando Brigade Royal Marines.

The role of the Commando Logistic Regiment (CLR), Royal Marines is to provide second line Combat Service Support to 3 Commando Brigade.

40 Commando RM is a battalion-sized formation of the British Royal Marines and subordinate unit within 3 Commando Brigade, the principal Commando formation, under the Operational Command of Commander in Chief Fleet.

101st Logistic Brigade

101 Logistic Brigade came into being during 1999 and was subordinate to HQ Force Troops Command. It was formerly known as the Logistic Support Group before becoming the Combat Services Support Group (UK) in January 1993. Under the Army 2020 plan, the Brigade re-subordinated from HQ Force Troops Command to 3rd Division on 1 December 2014.The Brigade currently consists of 20 Regular and Reserve Units, but under Army refinement plans, could continue to grow.

The history of the Royal Marines began on 28 October 1664 with the formation of the Duke of York and Albany's Maritime Regiment of Foot soon becoming known as the Admiral's Regiment. During the War of the Spanish Succession the most historic achievement of the Marines was the capture of the mole during the assault on Gibraltar in 1704. On 5 April 1755, His Majesty's Marine Forces, fifty Companies in three Divisions, headquartered at Portsmouth, Chatham and Plymouth, were formed by Order of Council under Admiralty control.

The 4th Special Service Brigade was a brigade-sized formation of the British Commandos formed during the Second World War in March 1944 from battalion-sized units of the Royal Marines. Due to the success of the British Army Commandos’ operations in Norway, the Channel Islands, St. Nazaire, and the Middle East, the Admiralty dissolved the Royal Marines Division in late 1942 and reorganized its amphibious assault infantry into eight additional Commando units.

41 Commando or No. 41 Commando was a unit of the Royal Marines trained as Commandos during the Second World War. They were part of the all Royal Marine 4th Special Service Brigade that took part in the Normandy landings in June 1944 and later that served in World War II, the Korean War, and in Northern Ireland. They were disbanded in 1981.

269th Combat Communications Squadron

The United States Air Force's 269th Combat Communications Squadron is an Ohio Air National Guard combat communications unit located at Springfield Air National Guard Base, Ohio.

The Special Service Brigade was a formation of the British Army during the Second World War. It was formed in 1940, after the call for volunteers for Special Service who eventually became the British Commandos.

3 Commando Brigade Air Squadron

3 Commando Brigade Air Squadron, Royal Marines, was formed in 1968 in Singapore by the amalgamation of three Commando Air Troops and the Brigade Flight. The squadron moved to Plymouth in 1971 and the two remaining UK Commando Air Troops became part of it. Apart from during the Falkands War, when the whole squadron was involved, it operated mostly on individual flight detachments. 3 Commando Brigade Air Squadron became 847 Naval Air Squadron in 1995.



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  2. Haskew, pp.48–49
  3. Moreman, p.93
  4. "The Assault on Limbang, Sarawak by 'L' Company Group, 42 Commando, Royal Marines". ARCRE. Retrieved 8 December 2012.
  5. "Login Required - Once A Marine" . Retrieved 31 December 2015.
  6. "Security Check Required". Archived from the original on 19 August 2014. Retrieved 31 December 2015.
  7. "Research and collections" . Retrieved 31 December 2015.
  8. "New UK Afghan deployment begins". BBC News. 15 February 2006.
  9. "Part 46. 42 Commando's approach to and battle for Mount Harriet". Naval History.net. Retrieved 17 April 2016.
  10. "Mount Harriet, 42 Commando - Falklands War 1982" . Retrieved 31 December 2015.
  11. "Royal Marine - 42 Commando - Iraq". Elite Forces. Retrieved 22 August 2016.
  12. "Homecoming Parade for 42 Commando Royal Marines". Royal Navy. 7 May 2009. Archived from the original on 15 October 2010. Retrieved 17 April 2016.
  13. "Royal Marines end cold weather training with three hour battle" . Retrieved 31 December 2015.
  14. "Plymouth marines begin exercise in Albania" . Retrieved 31 December 2015.
  15. "42 Commando launch dawn raid in Oman as part of exercise" . Retrieved 31 December 2015.
  16. "Oil tanker bound for Syria detained in Gibraltar". BBC News. 4 July 2019. Retrieved 9 July 2019.
  17. "Royal Marines to be restructured in line with growing Royal Navy". Ministry of Defence. 11 April 2017. Retrieved 3 April 2018.
  18. "Marine Management". Jane's Defence Weekly. 28 March 2018. Retrieved 3 April 2018.
  19. "42 Commando". Elite Forces. Archived from the original on 2 February 2017. Retrieved 24 January 2017.
  20. "Freedom of Information request" (PDF). 10 October 2017. Retrieved 3 April 2018.
  21. Royal Navy (17 May 2018). "Bickleigh marines mark their new role with parade and fun day". Royal Navy. Retrieved 18 May 2018.
  22. Moreman, p.94