Jump to content

Recommended Posts

  • 2 weeks later...

Excellent photographs, Regimantas. I’ve put together some notes about the uniforms shown, with photos added for illustrative purposes only (a number of the photos are from the excellent site www.rmhistorical.com, although the descriptive captions are my own).


The photograph of a Private of the Royal Marine Light Infantry (R.M.L.I.) could have been taken at any time between 1914 and the amalgamation of the R.M.L.I. with the Royal Marine Artillery (R.M.A.) in 1923.


He wears the dark-blue peakless forage cap, and dark-blue serge tunic and trousers that were normally worn (in the United Kingdom and temperate climates) by all Warrant Officers, N.C.O.s and Men of the R.M.A. and R.M.L.I., when in the following Orders of Dress:


No.3 Dress (Drill Order): all ordinary drills and parades (plus rifle, side arms and equipment, as ordered).

No. 4 Dress (Night Clothing): at night and during wet weather.

No. 10 Dress (Marching Order): for active service, manoeuvres, marches, inspections, embarkations, disembarkations, changes of station, and when on guard duty (plus rifle, side arms, full equipment, and linen leggings).


The peakless cap had been introduced (for N.C.O.s and Men of English, Welsh and Irish units) into the Army in 1902 as the ‘Cap, Forage, New Pattern’, later receiving the designation ‘Cap, Forage, Universal Pattern’. It was to be worn both as an ‘Undress’ headdress (in lieu of the Full Dress headdress), and as a field-service cap (for drills, manoeuvres and active service). The R.M.A. and R.M.L.I. adopted the design in 1903, as the ‘New Pattern Cap, Royal Marines’. The cap band dipped in front, allowing a ‘half-moon’ or semi-circular coloured patch to be worn behind the regimental or corps cap-badge: for both R.M.A. and R.M.L.I. the patch was scarlet, with the R.M.A. having the upper edges of the cap-band also piped in scarlet. Although in the photo the patch does not show well, the cap badge of the R.M.L.I. is seen clearly: light-infantry bugle-horn surmounting the ‘Globe and Laurel’ (a globe within a laurel wreath), all in brass (the R.M.A. wore a plain brass fused grenade). For N.C.O.s and Men of the R.M.A. and R.M.L.I. serving in the United Kingdom, a white cover was worn on the forage cap, between 1st May and 30th September each year: this followed the practice of the Royal Navy.


This peakless forage cap, popularly but disparagingly known as the ‘Brodrick Cap’ after the then Secretary-of-State for War, was unpopular in the Army (one complaint was that it made the wearers look like German sailors!): it was replaced within a few years by the peaked khaki Service Dress cap (for drills, manoeuvres and active service) and by a new, peaked, coloured forage cap (for ‘Undress’ purposes). However, in the R.M.A. and the R.M.L.I., where, perhaps, the Brodrick Cap’s nautical association was not held in such contempt, it continued to serve both purposes until 1923, at least according to regulations. It was worn with all uniforms, including Full Dress, on those occasions for which the Full Dress ‘White Helmet’ (common to both the R.M.A. and R.M.L.I.) was not prescribed: the white helmet had always to be worn with the Full Dress tunic when in No. 1 Dress (Review Order), and was also to be worn with the blue serge tunic when on active service, embarking, disembarking, and changing of station. The white helmet was not worn during the Great War, and although the Brodrick Cap was worn by the men of the R.M.A. and R.M.L.I. who fought in Belgium in 1914, it was soon replaced on active service in Europe by khaki Service Dress caps (see details below): however, the Brodrick was still worn by Men serving in the United Kingdom and abroad. After the amalgamation of the R.M.A. and R.M.L.I. in 1923, scarlet piping was abolished, peaks were added to existing Brodrick Caps, and, after 1933, a new peaked forage cap was introduced, similar to that long worn by Warrant Officers and Officers.


The five-button dark-blue serge tunic shown here was the everyday uniform of N.C.O.s and Men of the R.M.A. and R.M.L.I., and had been worn, with minor variations, since the late 19th Century. The distinctive serge tunic in use by 1914 was in many ways comparable, in terms of function, to the Army’s khaki Service Dress, although it differed in cut from Service Dress by its stand collar, lack of reinforced ‘rifle patches’ at the shoulders, the single patch-pocket on the left breast (with three-pointed scalloped flap), and the flapless patch-pockets on the skirts. Buttons were brass, the R.M.A and R.M.L.I. each having separate designs. Collar insignia also distinguished the two branches, the R.M.L.I. wearing (after 1906) brass ‘Globe and Laurel’ collar badges, and the R.M.A. wearing brass fused grenades. Metal shoulder titles were not worn on the serge tunic.


Although it was worn for most duties, the serge tunic was replaced, when wearing No. 5 (Fatigue) Dress, by the unbleached, plain linen ‘duck tunic’. In No. 2 Dress (Undress Order), N.C.O.s and Men of the R.M.A. and R.M.L.I. wore the ‘frock’, which was a six-button, pocketless, plain dark-blue tunic: this was the normal ‘Walking Out’ uniform, used for when on leave ashore during weekdays, and for other parades and purposes as and when ordered. However, in No. 1 Dress (Review Order), worn for state ceremonies, special inspections, Guards of Honour, leave ashore on Sundays, the R.M.A. and R.M.L.I. departed from each other, and gave rise to their sobriquets ‘Blue Marines’ and ‘Red Marines’. The nine-button R.M.A. ‘Full Dress’ cloth tunic was dark-blue, with scarlet piping and collar, yellow shoulder cords, and yellow ‘Austrian Knot’ cuff ornamentation. The seven-button R.M.L.I. ‘Full Dress’ cloth tunic was scarlet, with white piping, dark-blue collar and shoulder straps, and dark-blue round cuffs with a three-pointed scalloped slash. Apart from the linen trousers worn with the ‘duck tunic’, dark-blue trousers were worn will all Orders of Dress, for the R.M.A. with broad red stripes, and for the R.M.L.I. with red welts, down the outside seams.


As with the Army, after the outbreak of war in 1914, Full Dress was withdrawn from use. It was planned that before they went on active service, the R.M.A. and R.M.L.I. would receive the khaki Service Dress as worn by the Army. Events moved too fast, however, and the decision to send a hurriedly formed Royal Marine Brigade to Belgium at the end of August 1914 meant that the one R.M.A. battalion and three R.M.L.I. battalions which landed at Ostend were uniformed in blue serge tunics and Brodrick caps. Briefly returning to the U.K., the Brigade disembarked at Dunkirk in September 1914, received khaki Service Dress, and proceeded to Antwerp, as part of the Royal Naval Division (the two other brigades comprising naval reservists trained as infantry). After withdrawing back to the U.K. the following month, the Royal Naval Division saw action at Gallipoli in 1915, before returning to the Western Front in 1916. Men of the R.M.A. and R.M.L.I. on active service in Europe now wore khaki, although men serving in the U.K., on ships, and on foreign stations still wore dark-blue. However, dress regulations only first mention khaki in 1923, just prior to amalgamation, when it became universal for R.M.A and R.M.L.I. as the new No. 11 Dress (Fighting Order), to be worn for active service and manoeuvres. The blue serge tunic was otherwise worn as previously, although it now replaced the ‘frock’ in No. 2 Dress (Undress Order).


The Private in this photograph is dressed for ‘Walking Out’, with the short cane which regulations demanded be carried. A date of 1914 to 1923 can be assigned to this photograph, although with the likelihood of it being a wartime portrait, for reasons outlined below.


This Private wears the waistbelt of the ‘Web Equipment, Pattern 1908’. The supply of new equipment to the R.M.A. and R.M.L.I. always proceeded at a slow pace than in the Army, and so the Web Equipment, Pattern 1908, which was standard for the British Army's regular dismounted units, was still not in widespread service with the R.M.A. or R.M.L.I. at the outbreak of war, and certainly not with recruits. It was only during the war that the Pattern 1908 was issued in large numbers to marine units, including men undergoing basic training. Moreover, regulations demanded that men on leave wear the white leather waistbelt and bayonet frog of the ‘Valise Equipment, Pattern 1888’, as worn in No. 1 Dress (Review Order). As No. 1 Dress (Review Order) was not worn after the outbreak of war, and, therefore, the white equipment not issued to new recruits, a man could only wear the waistbelt of the field equipment he had been issued, as here. In addition, this man carries the ‘Sword-Bayonet, Pattern-1907 (Mark-1)’, indicating he has been issued with the ‘Rifle, Short, Magazine, Lee-Enfield’ (S.M.L.E.). The bayonet is of pre-1914 manufacture, as after 1913 the hooked quillion was removed from the design.


Although the dark-blue 'frock' was the regulation 'Undress' uniform, and a popular choice for wear when 'Walking Out', its absence here does not date the photo to the war years (indeed, the 'frock' was still issued, and worn, during 1914-18). What does make it likely that this photograph dates to the period of the Great War is the cut of the dark-blue serge tunic: during the war this pre-war design began to be supplanted by a dark-blue version of the Army's khaki Service Dress, with flapped breast and skirt pockets, and stand-and-fall collar. In the early 1920s, a new version again was introduced, with stand collar, and two breast pockets.


Unfortunately, we can’t use the photographer to narrow the period further: H. Franklin & Son were at 3 High Street, Deal, from the 19th century to the mid-20th century.


Illustration & Photos:


Uniforms, R.M.A . & R.M.L.I., 1914


Private, R.M.L.I., scarlet ‘Full Dress’ cloth tunic, 1903-14: Sunday ‘Walking Out’ (autumn/winter).


Private, R.M.L.I., dark-blue ‘Undress’ frock, August/September 1914: optional weekday ‘Walking Out’ (summer). Given the studio backdrop, this was most likely taken at H. Franklin & Son, Photographers, 3 High Street, Deal, Kent.


Private, R.M.L.I., dark-blue ‘Undress’ frock, Deal, November 1914: optional weekday ‘Walking Out’ (autumn/winter).





Edited by cmf
Link to post
Share on other sites



Private, R.M.L.I., 1914-18, in dark-blue serge tunic, being worn for ‘Walking Out’ (summer).


Private, Royal Fleet Reserve (R.M.L.I.), 1914-18, in dark-blue serge tunic. The Royal Fleet Reserve (R.F.R.) was the reserve force of the Royal Navy, R.M.A and R.M.L.I. Note the letter ‘R’ for ‘Reserve’ on the collar.


Private, R.M.A., 1914-18, in dark-blue serge tunic, being worn for ‘Walking Out’. He is a qualified signaller, marksman, and has 12 years unblemished conduct.


Private, R.M.L.I., No. 10 Dress (Marching Order), circa 1906. He wears the ‘Valise Equipment, Pattern 1888’, and carries the ‘Rifle, Magazine, Lee-Enfield Mark I’.


Private, R.M.L.I., No. 10 Dress (Marching Order), circa 1910-14. He wears the ‘Bandolier Equipment, Pattern 1903’, and carries the ‘Rifle, Short, Magazine, Lee-Enfield’.


Private, R.M.L.I., No. 10 Dress (Marching Order), circa 1915-18. He wears the ‘Web Equipment, Pattern 1908’, and carries the ‘Rifle, Magazine, Lee-Enfield Mark I’.


Corporal-Instructor of Musketry, Royal Marines, No.3 Dress (Drill Order), 1923. This N.C.O. wears the new design of serge tunic introduced after the Great War, with two breast pockets.








Link to post
Share on other sites

Due to budget cuts, in 1923 the R.M.A. and R.M.L.I. were combined, and the name of the force reverted back to the ‘Corps of Royal Marines’, which had been the designation of the R.M.L.I. before 1855. This reflected the fact that, henceforth, the Royal Marines (R.M.) would act purely as infantry, their artillery role being relinquished. The use of the rank titles of ‘Gunner’, as used by the R.M.A., and ‘Private’, as used by the R.M.L.I., was replaced by the simple title of ‘Marine’.


The men in the second photograph, with 'Lulu', are from a Lewis gun section of the second platoon of a Royal Marines’ battalion, there being two Lewis gun sections and two rifle sections in each platoon. The R.M. followed the practice followed prior to 1923, in having men attached to ‘Divisions’: these were not tactical formations, but were instead administrative bases to which a marine permanently belonged, where he was posted from, and where he returned after the end of his posting: during the 1920s and 1930s the vast majority of marines still served in detachments onboard the ships of the fleet. Battalions for land service were created on an ad hoc basis as needed, and had no permanent identities themselves. After 1923, the divisions were the 1st, at Chatham, the 2nd, at Portsmouth, and the 3rd, at Plymouth, with the depôt for recruits at Deal.


This photo probably dates to the late 1920s, although the uniform depicted, together with Web Equipment, Pattern 1908, was worn by the Royal Marines as late as 1940. All are in No. 11 Dress (Fighting Order) worn for active service and manoeuvres, and which comprised the khaki Service Dress uniform (although here puttees are not being worn). Clearly seen is the cap badge of the Royal Marines adopted in 1923, which for N.C.O.s and Men was the ‘Globe and Laurel’, surmounted by the Royal Crest, i.e. the Lion over a Tudor Crown. Brass shoulder titles were worn with Service Dress, comprising the initialism ‘R.M.’. A number of Marines wear ‘Good Conduct Badges’ i.e. chevrons, on their lower left sleeves, in the Army manner, although after 1920 these had followed the system followed in the Royal Navy, whereby a one-bar chevron indicated 3 years unblemished conduct, a two-bar chevron indicated 8 years, and a three-bar chevron 13 years. The man standing to the extreme right also wears, on his lower left sleeve, the crossed flags of a qualified signaller. The man sitting to the right could, possibly, be the young recruit pictured in the first photo . . .




R.M.L.I. Drill Class under instruction with the Lewis gun, circa 1918/19. The N.C.O.s wear khaki Service Dress, the Men wear dark-blue serge tunics, both the pre-war pattern, and the wartime dark-blue version of Service Dress.


Machine-Gun Platoon, Royal Marines, 1926. The Private sitting at centre, with revolver and holster, wears on his left lower sleeve the Skill-at-Arms badge of a 1st Class Machine-Gunner (‘M.G.’ within a wreath).



Edited by cmf
Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

  • Create New...