45 Commando

Last updated
45 Commando Royal Marines
Cap Badge of the Royal Marines
Active 1943–
CountryFlag of the United Kingdom.svg  United Kingdom
Branch RoyalMarineBadge.svg Royal Marines
Role Commando
Size One battalion
Part of Naval Service
Garrison/HQ RM Condor, Arbroath
Motto(s)Per Mare Per Terram (By Sea By Land) (Latin)
March Quick — A Life on the Ocean Wave
Slow — Preobrajensky
Lt Col D Forbes RM
Captain-General HRH The Duke of Sussex (Captain-General, Royal Marines)

45 Commando Royal Marines (pronounced "four-five commando") is a battalion sized unit of the British Royal Marines and subordinate unit within 3 Commando Brigade Royal Marines, the principal Commando formation, under the Operational Command of Commander in Chief Fleet.

Battalion military unit size

A battalion is a military unit. The use of the term "battalion" varies by nationality and branch of service. Typically a battalion consists of 300 to 800 soldiers and is divided into a number of companies. A battalion is typically commanded by a lieutenant colonel. In some countries, the word "battalion" is associated with the infantry.

Royal Marines marine corps and amphibious infantry of the United Kingdom

The Corps of Royal Marines (RM) is the amphibious light infantry and one of the five fighting arms of the Royal Navy. The Royal Marines were formed in 1755 as the Royal Navy's infantry troops. However, 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.


Tasked as a Commando amphibious unit, 45 Cdo RM is capable of a wide range of operational tasks. Based at RM Condor, [1] their barracks in Arbroath, personnel regularly deploy outside the United Kingdom on operations or training. While 3 Cdo Bde 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. The Commando is a regular participant in the annual Brigade cold weather warfare exercise in Norway, having been the first UK unit to specialise in the mountain and Arctic warfare role during the early 1970s and deployed to Norway on NATO's northern flank most years until the end of the Cold War.

Amphibious warfare Type of offensive military operations

Amphibious warfare is a type of offensive military operation that today uses naval ships to project ground and air power onto a hostile or potentially hostile shore at a designated landing beach. Through history the operations were conducted using ship's boats as the primary method of delivering troops to shore. Since the Gallipoli Campaign, specialised watercraft were increasingly designed for landing troops, materiel and vehicles, including by landing craft and for insertion of commandos, by fast patrol boats, zodiacs and from mini-submersibles.

RM Condor

RM Condor is a large Royal Marines base located near Arbroath in East Angus, Scotland. The base also houses 7 (Sphinx) Battery Royal Artillery, part of 29 Commando Regiment Royal Artillery.

Arbroath town in Scotland, Britain

Arbroath or Aberbrothock is a former royal burgh and the largest town in the council area of Angus in Scotland, and has a population of 23,902. It lies on the North Sea coast, around 16 miles (25.7 km) ENE of Dundee and 45 miles (72.4 km) SSW of Aberdeen.

All personnel 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, which was formerly its common and official name, 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.


Royal Marine Commandos attached to 3rd Division move inland from Sword Beach on the Normandy coast, 6 June 1944. Royal Marine Commandos attached to 3rd Division move inland from Sword Beach on the Normandy coast, 6 June 1944. B5071.jpg
Royal Marine Commandos attached to 3rd Division move inland from Sword Beach on the Normandy coast, 6 June 1944.

5th RM Battalion

The 5th RM Battalion was originally raised for a brief period at the end of World War I (September 1918-February 1919), and was again raised on 2 April 1940 following mass mobilisation and the influx of "hostilities only" (HO) marines. The battalion was raised at Cowshot Camp in Brookwood (now part of the Pirbright Camp complex), being incorporated into 101 RM Bde, along with the 1st RM Battalion. Between August and October 1940 the battalion took part in operations in Dakar. On return until August 1943 the battalion conducted extensive training in Wales, Scotland, the Isle of Wight and Burley, where the battalion reformed as 45 RM Commando on 1 August 1943. [2]

World War I 1914–1918 global war originating in Europe

World War I, also known as the First World War or the Great War, was a global war originating in Europe that lasted from 28 July 1914 to 11 November 1918. Contemporaneously described as "the war to end all wars", it led to the mobilisation of more than 70 million military personnel, including 60 million Europeans, making it one of the largest wars in history. It is also one of the deadliest conflicts in history, with an estimated nine million combatants and seven million civilian deaths as a direct result of the war, while resulting genocides and the 1918 influenza pandemic caused another 50 to 100 million deaths worldwide.

Mobilization assembling and readying troops and supplies for war

Mobilization, in military terminology, is the act of assembling and readying troops and supplies for war. The word mobilization was first used, in a military context, to describe the preparation of the Imperial Russian Army during the 1850s and 1860s. Mobilization theories and techniques have continuously changed since then. The opposite of mobilization is demobilization.

Brookwood, Surrey village in Surrey, England, United Kingdom

Brookwood is a village in Surrey, England, about 3 12 miles (5.6 km) west of Woking, with a mixture of semi-rural, woodland-set and archetypal suburban residential homes. It lies on the western border of the Woking Borough, with a small part of the village in Guildford Borough. As part of the 2016 boundary review Brookwood became part of the Heathlands ward which comprises Brookwood, Bridley, Hook Heath, Mayford, Sutton Green and Barnsbury and Wych Hill.

45 RM Commando

After reforming and retitling, the unit transitioned to the Commando role as a formed unit, by-passing the individual volunteer and selection process undertaken by Army Commando candidates. Personnel undertook, and completed, the Commando Basic Training Course at Achnacarry, Scotland. As part of the 1st Special Service Brigade, the Commando participated in Operation Overlord (the D-Day Normandy landings), before going on to move through Europe into Germany, including Montforterbeek on 23 January 1945. [3] During the Ardennes Offensive, the retitled 1st Commando Brigade was given the task of holding a stretch of the River Meuse; it was during this period of operations that Lance Corporal H. Harden, a medical orderly of the RAMC attached to 45 (RM) Commando, won the Victoria Cross. [4]

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.

Achnacarry human settlement

Achnacarry is a small hamlet, private estate, and a castle in the Lochaber region of Highland, Scotland. It occupies a strategic position on an isthmus between Loch Lochy to the east, and Loch Arkaig to the west.

Scotland country in Northwest Europe, part of the United Kingdom

Scotland is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. Sharing a border with England to the southeast, Scotland is otherwise surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean to the north and west, by the North Sea to the northeast and by the Irish Sea to the south. In addition to the mainland, situated on the northern third of the island of Great Britain, Scotland has over 790 islands, including the Northern Isles and the Hebrides.

Post-World War II reorganisation

Following the Second World War both 1st Commando Brigade (Nos 3, 4 and 6 Army Commandos and 45 RM Commando) and 2nd Commando Brigade (Nos 2 and 9 Army Cdos and 40 and 43 RM Cdos) disbanded, leaving 3 Cdo Bde (then comprising 1 and 5 Army Cdos and 42 and 44 RM Cdos) in place in the Far East. 3 Cdo Bde reorganised, disbanding 1 and 5 Army Cdos, and took on 45 RM Cdo, which joined the Bde in Hong Kong, from the UK, in January 1946. In order to preserve the heritage of a 2 Cdo Bde unit, as well as that of 1 Cdo Bde (45 RM Cdo), 44 Commando was retitled 40 Commando (which had been disbanded in UK in October 1945) and took on 40 RM Cdo's colours, battle honours and traditions, albeit with 44 RM Cdo's manpower. The three remaining commandos were restyled 40, 42 and 45 Commandos RM in March 1946. [5]

World War II 1939–1945 global war

World War II, also known as the Second World War, was a global war that lasted from 1939 to 1945. The vast majority of the world's countries—including all the great powers—eventually formed two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis. A state of total war emerged, directly involving more than 100 million people from over 30 countries. The major participants threw their entire economic, industrial, and scientific capabilities behind the war effort, blurring the distinction between civilian and military resources. World War II was the deadliest conflict in human history, marked by 50 to 85 million fatalities, most of whom were civilians in the Soviet Union and China. It included massacres, the genocide of the Holocaust, strategic bombing, premeditated death from starvation and disease, and the only use of nuclear weapons in war.

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.

Far East geographical term

The Far East is a geographical term in English that usually refers to East Asia, the Russian Far East, and Southeast Asia. South Asia is sometimes also included for economic and cultural reasons. The term "Far East" came into use in European geopolitical discourse in the 12th century, denoting the Far East as the "farthest" of the three "easts", beyond the Near East and the Middle East. Likewise, in Qing Dynasty of the 19th and early 20th centuries the term "Tàixī (泰西)" – i.e. anything further west than the Arab world – was used to refer to the Western countries.


Royal Navy Westland Whirlwind helicopters taking the first men of 45 Royal Marine Commando into action at Port Said from HMS Theseus. Westland Whirlwinds taking off from HMS Theseus (R64) Suez 1956.jpg
Royal Navy Westland Whirlwind helicopters taking the first men of 45 Royal Marine Commando into action at Port Said from HMS Theseus.

The Commando was based in Hong Kong between January 1946 and May 1947, conducting internal security duties, as part of 3 Cdo Bde RM. Between May 1947 and December 1948 the Commando moved to Malta, during which time it deployed to Libya, Palestine, Suez and Jordan. The Commando returned to Hong Kong in December 1948 and from there deployed to Malaya between 1950 and 1952 taking part in operations during the Emergency. Between 1952 and 1959 the Commando was once again based in Malta. In September 1955 45 Commando was deployed to Cyprus to undertake anti-terrorist operations against the EOKA guerrillas during tensions between the Greek and Turkish inhabitants of the island. The EOKA were a small, but powerful organisation of Greek Cypriots, who had great local support from the Greek community. The unit travelled to the Kyrenia mountain area of the island and in December 1955 launched Operation Foxhunter, an operation to destroy EOKA's main base. [6]

Then in 1956 the unit deployed to Egypt as part of the response to the Suez Crisis, conducting the first helicopter assault in history. [7]


Between 1960 and 1967 the Commando was based in Aden, from where it conducted 10 operational tours in the Radfan during the Aden Emergency. The Commando also deployed briefly to Kuwait following an Iraqi threat to her Independence in 1961. In January 1964, part of the Tanzanian Army mutinied. Within 24 hours elements of 45 Commando had left Bickleigh Camp, Plymouth, Devon, and were travelling by air to Nairobi, Kenya, continuing by road into Tanzania. At the same time, Commandos aboard HMS Bulwark sailed to East Africa and anchored off-shore from Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. The revolt was put down and the next six months were spent in touring Tanzanian military out-posts disarming military personnel. [8] The last elements of the Commando left Aden on 29 November 1967 to return to the UK for the first time since the end of World War II. They set up home in Stonehouse Barracks, Plymouth. [9]


In 1970 the Commando began Arctic training for the first time, taking on the role of Britain's mountain and Arctic warfare experts (joined later by the other Commandos). 45 Cdo RM deployed to Norway for the first of many winters in 1971, which coincided with a move of the unit from Stonehouse, Plymouth to the old Naval Air Station, RNAS Arbroath (now RM Condor) in Arbroath, Scotland, where the unit still remains. [10] This period in the unit's history is characterised by the alternation of Northern Ireland tours [9] and winters in Norway, protecting NATO's northern flank. [11]

Falklands War

Following the Argentine invasion of 2 April 1982, 45 Cdo RM, under the command of Lieutenant Colonel Andrew F. Whitehead RM, had their Easter leave cancelled and hastily deployed to the Falklands, travelling in a mix of Royal Navy (RN) and Royal Fleet Auxiliary (RFA) ships. Having made a tactical landing at Red Beach, Ajax Bay on 21 May 1982, the men of 45 Cdo RM yomped across East Falkland, via Port San Carlos, New House, Douglas Settlement, Teal Inlet and Mount Kent to take part in the Battle for Port Stanley. They conducted a night attack on the Two Sisters feature over the 11/12 June 1982, [3] during which the Commando lost 8 men killed and 17 wounded. The Argentinians surrendered on 14 June 1982. Lt. Col Whitehead was awarded the Distinguished Service Order (DSO). [12]


A British Royal Marine from 45 Commando watches for enemy tanks and armoured personnel carriers from behind his anti-armour weapon as part of Combined Joint Task Force Exercise '96. British Royal Marine with anti-tank weapon.jpg
A British Royal Marine from 45 Commando watches for enemy tanks and armoured personnel carriers from behind his anti-armour weapon as part of Combined Joint Task Force Exercise '96.

The Commando deployed to Northern Iraq on Operation Haven at the end of the Gulf War, where it spent 2 months in the Zakho area, withdrawing at the end of June. In 1993 The Commando was deployed to Belize for the last operational jungle tour in that country. In a mirror image of its 1961 deployment to Kuwait, the Commando returned on Operation Driver in 1994, in support of Kuwait, following some threatening troop movements by the Iraqis on their side of the border. In 1998 the Commando was redirected from an exercise in Belize, to assist Nicaragua and Honduras following the devastation caused by Hurricane Mitch. [13]


Ground crew with the Commando Helicopter Force huddle from the downwash of a Sea King helicopter on exercise in Norway. Groundcrew Sheltering from Helicopter Downwash in Norway MOD 45155036.jpg
Ground crew with the Commando Helicopter Force huddle from the downwash of a Sea King helicopter on exercise in Norway.
Members of Whiskey Company, 45 Commando Royal Marines patrolling across barren landscape from FOB (Forward Operating Base) Jackson at Sangin in Helmand Province in Afghanistan. 45 Cdo Royal Marines in Afghanistan MOD 45149706.jpg
Members of Whiskey Company, 45 Commando Royal Marines patrolling across barren landscape from FOB (Forward Operating Base) Jackson at Sangin in Helmand Province in Afghanistan.

At the turn of the Millennium, the Commando was deployed to Kosovo under KFOR as part of 3 Cdo Bde RM on Operation Agricola IV. [14] [15] From April 2002, the unit deployed to Afghanistan on Operation Jacana, and also took part in Operation Telic 1, the 2003 invasion of Iraq. X-Ray Company Group was attached to the Special Boat Service (SBS), Whiskey Company Group attached to the Special Air Service (SAS). [16]

In September 2003, 45 Commando was granted the Freedom of Angus in recognition of their service in Iraq and Afghanistan and contribution to the local economy of Arbroath, where they are based at. [17]

In January 2004 the unit deployed to Northern Ireland (Operation Banner) for 6 months in support of peacekeeping operations, returning home in June. On return, it became the Spearhead Lead Commando, a role assumed on a rotational basis. The Lead Commando is at a high level of readiness, able to deploy at short notice on operations worldwide. [18]

In September 2004, whilst still Lead Commando, the Group deployed to the United States on Exercise BLACKHORSE. This was split into two phases, the first of which took place with the United States Marines Corps Ground-Air Combat Centre at 29 Palms, California. This 900 square miles of desert, allowed realistic live firing, involving artillery and air strikes. The second phase took place at the Marine Corps Mountain Warfare Training Centre, high in the Sierra Nevada Mountains. An early snowfall meant the Commando was able to carry out cold weather warfare training, operating between 7000 and 11,000 feet (3,400 m). 2006 saw the Unit deploy to Norway for further Arctic training which culminated with a NATO led exercise. [19]

The focus switched to preparation for deploying to Afghanistan on Operation HERRICK 5 in late 2006. This deployment saw the Commando take on a number of different roles, the principal one being that of the Operational Mentoring and Liaison Team (OMLT). The OMLT task was to work alongside the Afghan National Army and develop it into a self-sufficient organisation. The Unit returned from Afghanistan in April 2007. [20]

October 2008 saw the Commando return to Afghanistan as Northern Battle Group in Helmand Province on Operation HERRICK 9. The operational area of responsibility was the Upper Sangin Valley which extended for 80 km along the length of the Helmand River. The Battle Group was in excess of 1200 strong, half of whom came from 45 Commando. [21]

April/May 2009 saw the return of the Commando to Arbroath in Scotland for reorganisation ahead of a winter deployment to Norway to practice cold weather and amphibious tactics. [17]


45 Commando deployed to Afghanistan again, as part of 3 Commando Brigade, for 6 months in March 2011 on Operation Herrick 14. They returned home in October 2011. [22] [23]

45 Commando was the lead commando group for the UK until May 2013, able to deploy at short notice. [24] In October 2013 Whisky Company from 45 Commando exercised in Ghana with US, Dutch and Spanish Marines. [25] [26]

In May 2016 45 Commando Royal Marines provided the guard of honour during Beating Retreat 2016 of the Bands of Her Majesty's Royal Marines to celebrate the birthday of their Captain General HRH Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh. [27]

Commanding officers

Commanders have included:

As 5 RM Bn

As 45 RM Commando

As 45 Commando RM

Battle honours

The following Battle honours were awarded to the British Commandos during the Second World War. [28]

Coordinates: 56°34.821′N2°37.745′W / 56.580350°N 2.629083°W / 56.580350; -2.629083 (RM Condor)

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  2. "45 Royal Marine Commando: The Normandy Landings". Combined Operations. Retrieved 17 April 2016.
  3. 1 2 "Memorial dates" (PDF). Royal Navy. Retrieved 17 April 2016.
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  12. "No. 49134". The London Gazette (Supplement). 8 October 1982. p. 12834.
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  14. "UK's mountain warfare elite". BBC. 18 March 2002.
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  18. Ministry of Defence annual report 2005-2006
  19. "Defence written question". House of Commons. 23 October 2013. Retrieved 17 April 2016.
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  22. "3 Commando Brigade Take Command Of Task Force Helmand". Ministry of Defence. 11 April 2011.
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  24. "Royal Marines end cold weather training with three hour battle" . Retrieved 4 April 2016.
  25. "Exercise African Winds blows through Ghana" . Retrieved 4 April 2016.
  26. "Marines rehearse casualty evacuations in Benin" . Retrieved 4 April 2016.
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  28. Moreman, p.94