Royal Marines of the past, present and future turned out in their full ceremonial dress for a parade in The Wirral to remember Merseyside’s vital role in a daring First World War raid.
On Sunday 27 April more than 100 Royal Marine Reservists, veterans and cadets marched through the borough and paraded for the Lord Lieutenant of Merseyside, Dame Lorna Muirhead, and the Commandant General Royal Marines, Major General Ed Davis.
Once the Mayor of the Wirral Councillor Dave Mitchell took the general salute the Marines fixed bayonets and marched through the borough to the Town Hall.
Major Finn Farthing, aged 48, of Royal Marines Merseyside who led the Parade said: “This event has been long in the planning and it’s great to see it turned out so well.”
The Royal Marines’ raid on the Belgian port of Zeebrugge took place on St George’s Day – April 23 1918 – and was a daring mission to land a 200-strong RM force at the entrance to Bruges Canal to destroy German gun positions.
The canal had been used repeatedly by German U-boats to attack the British fleet in the Atlantic. Vital to the success of the raid was the commissioning of two Mersey ferries – the Daffodil and Iris II – that were used to transit Marines ashore. Both ferries returned to Liverpool and served for many years after the war.
To further ensure the Mersey ferries were remembered for their role, a small service was also held on board one of the current Liverpool ferries.
This year marks the 350th anniversary of the Royal Marines Corps which forms an integral part of the Royal Navy’s ability to deter, defend and defeat any potential threats to the United Kingdom. With around 7200 personnel, they make up a small part of the Armed Forces but are extremely flexible and undertake numerous roles including conflict prevention, specialist amphibious operations through to disaster relief and peacekeeping.
There are numerous high-profile events spread throughout the year to mark the prestigious birthday including the 1664 Challenge and an attempt by RM drummers to hold the longest ever world drum roll.
Six Royal Marines Commandos have almost finished their second leg of the 1664 challenge – a five-stage epic where the group must ski 1664 kilometres, and then sail, cycle and run 1664 miles respectively with a kayaking stint in between. The challenge takes them from their start point in Norway and then through France and across the Channel back in to the UK.
Press Release, May 5, 2014; Image: Royal Navy