History & Ethos

A business established in 1664


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 (sailors of the Royal Navy captured the Rock itself) 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 Royal Marine Artillery was formed as an establishment within the British Royal Marines in 1804 to man the artillery in bomb vessels. As their coats were the blue of the Royal Regiment of Artillery, this group was nicknamed the "Blue Marines" and the Infantry element, who wore the scarlet coats of the British infantry, became known as the "Red Marines". During the Napoleonic Wars the Royal Marines participated in every notable naval battle on board the Royal Navy's ships and also took part in multiple amphibious actions. Marines had a dual function aboard ships of the Royal Navy; routinely, they ensured the security of the ship's officers and supported their maintenance of discipline in the ship's crew, and in battle, they engaged the enemy's crews, whether firing from positions on their own ship, or fighting in boarding actions.

During the First World War, in addition to their usual stations aboard ship, Royal Marines were part of the Royal Naval Division which landed in Belgium in 1914 to help defend Antwerp and later took part in the amphibious landing at Gallipoli in 1915. The Royal Marines also took part in the Zeebrugge Raid in 1918. During the Second World War the Infantry Battalions of the Royal Marine Division were re-organised as Commandos, joining the British Army Commandos. The Division command structure became a Special Service Brigade command. The support troops became landing craft crew and saw extensive action on D-Day in June 1944.

The Falklands War provided the backdrop to the next action of the Royal Marines. Argentina invaded the islands in April 1982. A British task force was immediately despatched to recapture them, and given that an amphibious assault would be necessary, the Royal Marines were heavily involved. The troops were landed at San Carlos Water at the western end of East Falkland, and proceeded to "yomp" across the entire island to the capital, Stanley, which fell on 14 June 1982.

The Royal Marine Ethos

The Royal Marines have a very clear understanding of their organisational values. The Commando Spirit is made up of determination, courage, unselfishness and cheerfulness. It is drilled into Marines from their first day of training; those that operate outside those values, the selfish and the lazy do not pass the course.

The way in which the Corps operates as a team, what gives the Royal Marines their unique and highly professional identity is the group values of courage, unity, determination, adaptability, unselfishness, humility, cheerfulness, professional standards, fortitude and commando humour.

The Royal Marines Ethos is composed of the individual commando spirit and the collective group values. These have been developed over the years and flow through the Corps from top to bottom. They form the backbone of an extremely high performing culture, which supports an incredibly effective organisation.

These organisational values make it easier for the leaders to be successful. They set the standards and the tone for how people behave and how the organisation operates.

Creating the end-state is one thing – getting there is a completely different matter. If the vision is challenging enough, it will need the support of people. If it is worthwhile enough, getting them on board won’t be too hard.

‘It is about creating a vision, setting the direction and motivating and inspiring others to move forward in pursuit of that vision’