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42 Commando Royal Marines
42 Cdo RM.jpg
Unit badge
Active1943 – present
Country United Kingdom
Royal Marines
Part ofNaval Service
Garrison/HQBickleigh Barracks, Devon
Motto(s)Per Mare Per Terram
(By Sea By Land) (Latin)
Lt Col Doug Pennefather RM
Captain-GeneralThe Duke of Sussex (Captain-General, Royal Marines)

42 Commando (pronounced 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.

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. 42 Commando is a specialised unit for maritime operations, meaning some of the posts within the unit, like heavy weapons specialists, could be reallocated across the Royal Navy.[1]

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.


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]

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]

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 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]

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.
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.
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]

In March 2020, personnel of the unit worked with the Peacekeeping Company of the Belarusian 103rd Guards Airborne Brigade at the Losvido Training Areas during the two-week Exercise Winter Partisan, which was the first time Armed Forces of Belarus have provided training to any nation.[17]


42 Commando's current role[18] is as the Royal Marines' Maritime Operations Commando (MOC) responsible for delivering two capabilities:[19]

  • Maritime Security, including ship's force protection teams, base port protection, maritime intervention operations (MIO) and joint personnel recovery (JPR).
  • Support, Augment, Liaise & Train (SALT), which can include non-combatant evacuation operations, delivery of humanitarian aid, support to combat operations of partner nations, and the provision of short term training teams to partner nations.


Prior to April 2017, the structure of 42 Commando[20] 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 companies. The four companies are:[21][22]

  • Juliet (J) company - Maritime security role.
  • Kilo (K) company - Support Augment Liaise & Train (SALT)
  • Lima (L) company - Joint Personnel Recovery
  • Mike (M) company - Force Protection of Royal Navy and RFA ships.

Battle honours

The following battle honours were awarded to the British Commandos during the Second World War.[23]


Commanders have included:

  • 1948–1950 Lt. Col. Ian Riches
  • 1963–1965 Lt. Col. Ian Gourlay
  • 1965–1966 Lt. Col. Peter Whiteley
  • 1970–1972 Lt. Col. John Richards
  • 1972–1973 Lt. Col. Jeremy Moore
  • Oct 75 – Apr 78 Lt Col TJM Wilson RM
  • Apr 78 – Jun 80 Lt Col Henry Beverley OBE RM
  • Jun 80 – Dec 81 Lt Col CHC Howgill RM
  • Dec 81 May 83 Lt Col Nick Vaux DSO RM
  • May 83 – Dec 84 Lt Col PT Stevenson MBE RM
  • Dec 84 – Oct 86 Lt Col Van Der Horst RM
  • Oct 86 – Jun 88 Lt Col RS Tailyour RM
  • Jun 88 – Jul 90 Lt Col David Pennefather RM
  • Jul 90 – Jul 92 Lt Col NM Robinson RM
  • Jul 92 – May 94 Lt Col Robert Fulton RM
  • May 94 – May 96 Lt Col AR Pillar RM
  • May 96 – May 98 Lt Col RGT Lane RM
  • May 98 – Dec 99 Lt Col RM Bowkett RM
  • Dec 99 – Apr 01 Lt Col Andy Salmon RM
  • Apr 01 – Nov 02 Lt Col DA Hook OBE RM
  • Nov 02 – Jul 04 Lt Col Buster Howes OBE RM
  • Jul 04 – Mar 06 Lt Col GM Salzano MBE RM
  • Apr 06 – Jan 08 Lt Col MJ Holmes DSO RM
  • Jan 08 – Oct 09 Lt Col CR Stickland OBE RM
  • Oct 09 – Jan 12 Lt Col EA Murchison MBE RM
  • Jan 12 - Jan 14 Lt Col N Sutherland MBE RM
  • Jan 14 - Nov 15 Lt Col Richard Cantrill OBE MC RM
  • Nov 15 - Dec 17 Lt Col Mark Totten MBE RM
  • Dec 17 - Sept 19 Lt Col Ben Halstead MBE RM
  • Sept 19 - Present Lt Col Doug Pennefather RM



  1. ^ "42 Royal Marines to be restructured in line with growing Royal Navy". UK MOD. Retrieved 12 April 2017.
  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". Archived from the original on 23 April 2015. 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 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 complete training in Belarus". Retrieved 30 January 2021.
  18. ^ "Royal Marines to be restructured in line with growing Royal Navy". Ministry of Defence. 11 April 2017. Retrieved 3 April 2018.
  19. ^ "Marine Management". Jane's Defence Weekly. 28 March 2018. Retrieved 3 April 2018.
  20. ^ "42 Commando". Elite Forces. Archived from the original on 2 February 2017. Retrieved 24 January 2017.
  21. ^ "Freedom of Information request" (PDF). 10 October 2017. Retrieved 3 April 2018.
  22. ^ Royal Navy (17 May 2018). "Bickleigh marines mark their new role with parade and fun day". Royal Navy. Retrieved 18 May 2018.
  23. ^ Moreman, p.94


External links

This page was last edited on 21 May 2021, at 18:51
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