Royal Marines relax outside Ostend

Royal Marines relax outside Ostend

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Royal Marines relax outside Ostend

Here we see a force of Royal Marines relaxing on a road outside Ostend during their brief time in the port in August 1914.

The Zeebrugge Operation

HMS Vindictive during the raid. Vindictive was an obsolete Arrogant-class protected cruiser, converted to act as the lead assault ship for the attack on the mole at Zeebrugge. She was fitted with additional armour, ramps for the troops and additional weaponry for fire support.

The blockships at Zeebrugge after the raid. Photographs such as this one, showing the blockships apparently in position, suggested that the operation against the canal had succeeded. However, the practical result was nothing more than a temporary inconvenience.

The Zeebrugge raid. This map shows just how formidable and well defended an objective the mole was, and how it shielded the entrance to the Bruges canal. It also indicates the planned and actual location of the assault ships and the blockships.

The final year of the war saw the Allies gradually overcome the U-boat threat while the naval blockade exerted increasing pressure on Germany, while the military balance on land showed signs of shifting. During 1918, one operation stands out – the Zeebrugge raid of 23 April 1918. Although militarily unsuccessful, it cheered public opinion in Britain and among her allies, and has entered national mythology.

Britain had tried various measures to hinder the U-boats, including those of the Flanders Flotilla. This force and a destroyer flotilla were based at Bruges, reaching the sea via a 13km (8 mile) canal to Zeebrugge or a 18km (11 mile) canal to Ostend. Repeated attempts were made to attack this network, but the base at Bruges was well protected against air attack or bombardment from the land, while the technology of the day made it impossible for attacking aircraft or bombarding warships to achieve the necessary accuracy to destroy the canal lock-gates at the two ports.

The alternative to bombardment was to launch an amphibious raid, but Zeebrugge and Ostend were well defended against any such landing. Both ports had many troops in well prepared defensive positions, as well as batteries of coastal artillery totalling over 30 guns at Zeebrugge and 40 at Ostend. The canal exit at Zeebrugge was further protected by the mole – a stone breakwater, over 1.6km (1 mile) long and some 75m (245ft) across its widest point. As well as helping to create the harbour, this edifice had been turned into a minor fortress, with six large artillery pieces, protected by machine guns and troops in defensive trenches.

Despite the difficulties involved, the importance of hindering the U-boats meant that a series of plans for attacking the Belgian ports was considered. These efforts accelerated when Rear Admiral Roger Keyes joined the Admiralty as Director of Plans in December 1917, bringing to the post the same energy and initiative that had seen him devise the raid into the Heligoland Bight at the beginning of the war. He began to modify previous concepts for a raid. Following his appointment as commander of the Dover Patrol on 1 January 1918, he was given responsibility for planning and leading the operation, which he code-named Operation Z.O.

‘The raiding force left home on22 April, the eve of St George’s Day. As the motley flotilla departed, Keyes signalled “St George for England”.’

The heart of the plan was for a number of old cruisers to be used as blockships, which would be scuttled to obstruct the canal exits into the sea at both Zeebrugge and Ostend a thick smokescreen would help to cover their approach. However, at Zeebrugge the powerful artillery on the mole was ideally placed to blow the ships out of the water before they could reach their objective. Keyes therefore planned an assault against the mole from a converted cruiser. This element of the plan would primarily be a diversion to allow the blockships to approach the canal, but would also seek to inflict as much damage as possible on the military facilities on the mole. To support the assault an old submarine, filled with explosives, would detonate against the viaduct linking the mole with land, thus preventing the arrival of German reinforcements. Once the blockships had been manoeuvred into position, the forces on the mole would withdraw.

There were some doubts about whether the operation was feasible, but Keyes convinced the Admiralty that it was worth a shot. For the assault troops, he was assigned a battalion of Royal Marines and sought volunteers from among the crews of the Grand Fleet. The main assault ship was to be the old armoured cruiser Vindictive. In addition to her existing pair of 6in guns, she was provided with a formidable arsenal to support the attack, including three howitzers, two flamethrowers, batteries of mortars and several machine guns. She was also fitted with an additional upper deck to allow the assault troops to gain access to the parapet over the mole, which they would reach by specially designed ‘brows’ or ramps. Additional troops were to be carried in two Mersey ferries, Iris and Daffodil, chosen because their shallow draught would allow them to avoid mines, while their double hulls would make them very difficult to sink. They were given additional armour plate and protection against splinters in the form of sandbags and mattresses. Five old cruisers (three for Zeebrugge and two for Ostend) were chosen to act as blockships and were fitted with extra armour and with scuttling charges, as well as rubble and concrete to make them more difficult to remove. Finally, two old submarines, C1 and C3, were filled with explosives for use against the viaduct. The force comprised over 150 ships and some 1800 men.

The attack had to be conducted at high tide and, ideally, on a moonless night hence there were only a few days each month when it was possible. Even then it would be challenging to get all of the ships to the right places at the right time because of difficulties of navigation in fast tides and shifting sandbanks, and against enemy fire over the final stages. The operation was launched on 11 April, but at a crucial moment the wind changed and blew away the smokescreen. Keyes took the difficult but necessary decision to call it off. One motor boat was lost, its crew being captured by the Germans. On 14 April, Keyes tried a second time, only to be frustrated once again by high seas and winds. Some senior officers felt the operation should now be cancelled as operational surprise had been lost, but Keyes was keen to press on and even dropped the requirement for a moonless night. The raiding force left home once again on 22 April, the eve of St George’s Day. Keyes was not one to overlook a possible reference to the country’s patron saint: as the motley flotilla departed, he signalled ‘St George for England’, to which the captain of Vindictive replied, ‘May we give the dragon’s tail a damned good twist.’

At 10.30pm the ships for the Ostend raid broke away from the main body. About half an hour later, monitors opened fired on the German coastal artillery batteries, while destroyers took up position outside both harbours to prevent German light forces from interfering with the unfolding operation. Shortly after 11pm the flotilla began to generate the smokescreen that was intended to cover the approach into Zeebrugge harbour. At first it succeeded the German gunners opened fire when they heard engines approaching but could not see their targets.

At around 11.50pm the wind suddenly shifted, blowing away the smokescreen to reveal Vindictive steaming for the mole at a rapidly closing distance of a few hundred metres. The German heavy guns on the mole opened up at point-blank range and although Vindictive returned fire, several of her guns were quickly knocked out and the ship was heavily damaged. Many of the troops onboard were killed, including the naval officer commanding the sailors in the assault party, and both the commanding officer and the second-in-command of the embarked Royal Marines. In an effort to reduce the battering his ship was suffering, her captain shifted course and brought the old cruiser alongside the mole at one minute past midnight on St George’s Day. Unfortunately, although this action saved the ship from further damage, it meant that she came alongside a good 275m (900ft) from the intended spot. It had been hoped that from this location, behind the main defensive trenches, the mole guns could swiftly be stormed. The troops would now be exposed in the middle of the mole. Moreover, it proved difficult to hold the ship in place against a fast tide and lively swell. The grapnels that were to have secured her could not be attached to the mole, and she had to be held in position by Daffodil, which prevented many of the troops on the ferry from landing. The movement of Vindictive, heavy fire from the defenders and damage to the ramps meant that the assault troops got ashore more slowly than was anticipated. Many were killed or wounded before they could disembark. Iris got alongside the mole, but encountered similar problems getting her troops onto it because of the height of the parapet above her deck.

‘At a time when most news seemed bad, the Zeebrugge raid seemed a welcome sign that the Royal Navy was willing and able to conduct an audacious operation against the enemy-held coast.’

One part of the plan did unfold as intended at about 12.20am the crew of the submarine C3 succeeded in navigating their way through the harbour and rammed the boat into the viaduct. They then disembarked into motor boats, as planned, and withdrew under increasing German fire. As they did so, the explosive-packed submarine detonated, destroying the viaduct and thereby isolating the mole, cutting communications and stranding any reinforcements.

Some assault troops did reach the mole and, despite the loss of most of their commanders, launched a number of spirited if sporadic attacks against the defenders. They came under heavy and effective fire from the garrison, protected in well prepared positions, and also from German destroyers moored on the far side of the mole. They could not reach either the artillery batteries or the other intended objectives however, the main purpose of the assault was to provide a diversion to assist the blockships, which were the real point of the raid. This they achieved. Although the German guns engaged the blockships as they rounded the mole, their fire began later and was lighter than it would have been without the assault from Vindictive, Iris and Daffodil.

Thetis, the leading blockship, was supposed to enter the canal and then steam three-quarters of a kilometre (half a mile) into it, before ramming the lock-gates. As she approached the canal she was badly damaged by heavy gunfire, and then her propeller became entangled in an anti-submarine net. She became impossible to steer, so her captain detonated the scuttling charges. She sank just short of the canal entrance. However, she had drawn the fire of the German gunners and had cleared the nets, thus easing the approach of the other two blockships. The second, Intrepid, managed to steam into the canal and scuttle herself in the planned position across the channel. Unfortunately Thetis had been instructed only to attack the lock-gates had Intrepid’s captain shown a little more initiative, he might have tried to ram them himself – though navigating the channel and avoiding the German fire would not have been easy. The third blockship, Iphigenia, also entered the canal, and, despite colliding with Intrepid as she manoeuvred into position, scuttled herself across the channel.

At 12.50am, as the blockships sank and their crews were taken off, the recall signal was sounded on the mole, and Vindictive re-embarked the survivors from the assault parties. As the ships withdrew, Iris was hit hard by the German artillery and the supporting destroyer North Star was sunk.

Casualties were heavy, with over 200 men killed (more than 50 by a single shell that struck Iris as she withdrew) and 400 wounded, with 13 captured. One destroyer and two motor boats were lost

The Ostend operation was simpler in conception, since there was no mole and hence no need or opportunity for a diversionary attack. Here, however, the German defenders were better prepared: the captain of the motor boat captured on 11 April was carrying a copy of the plans, so the Germans had been warned and moved two critical navigation buoys, making the already challenging task of approaching the canal all but impossible. The two intended blockships, Brilliant and Sirius, were both hit repeatedly by German fire, and then Brilliant ran aground. They could go no further so the scuttling charges were detonated, despite the blockships being some distance from the canal. Two later attempts were made, unsuccessfully, to block the canal at Ostend and a third was cancelled. No further attempt was made, largely because the increasing effectiveness of the Channel barrage made it unnecessary.

The British initially believed that the Zeebrugge part of the operation had succeeded: aerial photographs seemed to show Intrepid and Iphigenia lying across the main channel of the canal. In fact, while the blockships caused some initial disruption, the Germans were able to find ways of working around them within a few days and were making full use of the canal by mid-May. This might seem a distinctly modest success in view of the 600 casualties suffered.

The raid, however, was hailed as a triumph – albeit benefiting from considerable embellishment in official accounts. It had an enormously positive effect on morale in the Navy and in the hard-pressed Army, as well as on press and public opinion in Britain and her allies. At a time when most news seemed bad, with the German offensive on the Western Front gaining considerable initial success, the Zeebrugge raid seemed a welcome sign that the Royal Navy was willing and able to conduct an audacious operation against the enemy-held coast. The Admiralty initially baulked at the high number of medals recommended by Keyes – including no fewer than 11 Victoria Crosses, the highest British award for valour – but they gave way in the face of his persistence and public acclaim.

The Zeebrugge operation was a bold and ambitious concept that was conducted with enormous determination and courage. There were significant weaknesses in the planning, however: too much improvisation, insufficient attention to important details and perhaps not enough questioning of optimistic assumptions. It seemed to rest on Keyes’s tendency to assume that enthusiasm alone could overcome any difficulty. Nevertheless, even if its military impact was slight, the timely and considerable boost it provided to morale was of great value.


Earlier instances Edit

There had been instances of red military clothing pre-dating its general adoption by the New Model Army. The uniforms of the Yeomen of the Guard (formed 1485) and the Yeomen Warders (also formed 1485) have traditionally been in Tudor red and gold. [6] : 3 The Gentlemen Pensioners of James I (now the Gentlemen-at-Arms) had worn red with yellow feathers. [7] At Edgehill, the first battle of the Civil War, the King's people had worn red coats, as had at least two Parliamentary regiments." [8] However, none of these examples constituted the national uniform that the red coat was later to become. [6]

16th century Edit

In Ireland during the reign of Elizabeth, the soldiers of the queen's Lord Lieutenant of Ireland were on occasion referred to as "red coats" by the native Irish, from the colour of their clothing. As early as 1561 the Irish named a victory over these royal troops as Cath na gCasóga Dearga, literally meaning 'The Battle of the Red Cassocks' but usually translated as the Battle of the Red Sagums – sagum being a cloak. [9] Note the Irish word is casóg ("cassock") but the word may be translated as coat, cloak, or even uniform, in the sense that all of these troops were uniformly attired in red.

That the term "redcoat" was brought to Europe and elsewhere by Irish emigrants is evidenced by Philip O'Sullivan Beare, one of the many thousands of fugitives from Tudor and early Stuart Ireland, who mentions the 'Battle of the Redcoats' event in his 1621 history of the Tudor conquest, written in Latin in Spain. He wrote of it as "that famous victory which is called 'of the red coats' [illam victoriam quae dicitur 'sagorum rubrorum'] because among others who fell in battle were four hundred soldiers lately brought from England and clad in the red livery of the viceroy." [3]

O'Sullivan alludes to two other encounters in which the Irish won the day against English 'red coats'. One concerns an engagement, twenty years later in 1581, during the Second Desmond Rebellion, in which he says, 'a company of English soldiers, distinguished by their dress and arms, who were called "red coats" [Vestibus et armis insignis erat cohors Anglorum quae "Sagorum rubrorem" nominabantur], and being sent to war [in Ireland] by the Queen were overwhelmed near Lismore by John Fitzedmund Fitzgerald, the seneschal.' [10] The other relates to a rout by William Burke, Lord of Bealatury, in 1599 of "English recruits clad in red coats" (qui erant tyrones Angli sagis rubris induti). [11]

English sources confirm that Crown troops in Ireland wore red coats/cloaks/uniforms/clothing. In 1584 the Lords and Council informed the Sheriffs and Justices of Lancashire who were charged with raising 200-foot for service in Ireland that they should be furnished with "a cassocke of some motley, sad grene coller, or russett". [12] Seemingly, russet was chosen. Again, in the summer of 1595, the Lord Deputy William Russell, 1st Baron Russell of Thornhaugh, writing to William Cecil, 1st Baron Burghley, about the relief of Enniskillen, mentions that the Irish rebel Hugh O'Neill, Earl of Tyrone, had "300 shot in red coats like English soldiers" – the inference being that English soldiers in Ireland were distinguished by their red uniforms. [13]

During the Anglo-Spanish War (1585–1604), English pike men and arquebusiers fighting with their Dutch ally were also clad in red cassocks. [14] This was noted during the Siege of Ostend, where 1,600 Englishman under the command of Sir Francis Vere arrived as reinforcements there in July 1601. [15]

The 16th century military historian Julius Ferretus stated that the reason behind the red uniform of the British soldier was to conceal blood stains [16] but this claim is questionable because blood does in fact show on red clothing as a black stain.

17th century Edit

The red coat has evolved from being the British infantryman's normally worn uniform to a garment retained only for ceremonial purposes. Its official adoption dates from February 1645, when the Parliament of England passed the New Model Army ordinance. The new English Army was formed of 22,000 men, paper strength, comprising eleven regiments of cavalry each of 600 men for a total of 6,600, twelve regiments of infantry each of 1,200 men for a total of 14,400, and one regiment of 1,000 dragoons and the artillery, consisting of 900 men. The infantry regiments wore coats of Venetian red with white, blue or yellow facings. A contemporary comment on the New Model Army dated 7 May 1645 stated: "the men are Redcoats all, the whole army only are distinguished by the several facings of their coats." [17] [6]

Outside of Ireland, the English red coat made its first appearance on a European continental battlefield at the Battle of the Dunes in 1658. A Protectorate army had been landed at Calais the previous year and "every man had a new red coat and a new pair of shoes." [18] The English name from the battle comes from the major engagement carried out by the "red-coats". To the surprise of continental observers they stormed sand-dunes 150 feet (46 m) high, fighting experienced Spanish soldiers from their summits with musket fire and push of pike. [19] [20]

The adoption and continuing use of red by most British/English soldiers after The Restoration (1660) was the result of circumstances rather than policy, including the relative cheapness of red dyes. [21] Another factor favouring red was that dyes of this colour were "fast" and less inclined to fade when exposed to weather. [22] Red was by no means universal at first, with grey and blue coats also being worn. [6] : 16

18th century Edit

Prior to 1707, colonels of regiments made their own arrangements for the manufacture of uniforms under their command. This ended when a royal warrant of 16 January 1707 established a Board of General Officers to regulate the clothing of the army. Uniforms supplied were to conform to the "sealed pattern" agreed by the board. [6] : 47–48 The style of the coat tended to follow those worn by other European armies. From an early stage red coats were lined with contrasting colours and turned out to provide distinctive regimental facings (lapels, cuffs and collars). [23] Examples were blue for the 8th Regiment of Foot, green for the 5th Regiment of Foot, yellow for the 44th Regiment of Foot and buff for the 3rd Regiment of Foot.

In 1747, the first of a series of clothing regulations and royal warrants set out the various facing colours and distinctions to be borne by each regiment. [24] The long coat worn with a white or buff-coloured waistcoat [25] was discontinued in 1797 in favour of a tight-fitting coatee fastened with a single row of buttons, with white lace loops on either side. [26]

American War of Independence Edit

In the United States, "Redcoat" is associated in cultural memory with the British soldiers who fought against the Patriots during the American Revolutionary War. The Library of Congress possesses several examples of the uniforms the British Army used during this time. [27] Most soldiers who fought the Patriots wore the red coat, though the Hessian mercenaries and some locally recruited Loyalist units had blue or green clothing.

Accounts of the time usually refer to British soldiers as "Regulars" or "the King's men". However, there is evidence of the term "red coats" being used informally, as a colloquial expression. During the Siege of Boston, on 4 January 1776, General George Washington used the term "red coats" in a letter to Joseph Reed. [28] In an earlier letter dated 13 October 1775, Washington used a variation of the expression, stating, "whenever the Redcoat gentry pleases to step out of their Intrenchments." [29] Major General John Stark of the Continental Army was purported to have said during the Battle of Bennington (16 August 1777), "There are your enemies, the Red Coats and the Tories. They are ours, or this night Molly Stark sleeps a widow!" [30]

Other pejorative nicknames for British soldiers included "bloody backs" (in a reference to both the colour of their coats and the use of flogging as a means of punishment for military offences) and "lobsters" (most notably in Boston around the time of the Boston Massacre. [31] The earliest reference to the association with the lobster appears in 1740, just before the French and Indian War). [27]

19th–20th century Edit

Following the discomfort experienced by troops in the Crimean War, a more practical tunic was introduced in 1855, initially in the French double-breasted style, but replaced by a single-breasted version in the following year. [32] An attempt at standardisation was made following the Childers Reforms of 1881, with English and Welsh regiments having white facings (collar and cuffs), Scottish yellow, Irish green and Royal regiments dark blue. However some regiments were subsequently able to obtain the reintroduction of historic facing colours that had been uniquely theirs. [33] [34]

British soldiers fought in scarlet and blue uniforms for the last time at the Battle of Gennis in the Sudan on 30 December 1885. They formed part of an expeditionary force sent from Britain to participate in the Nile Campaign of 1884–85, wearing the "home service uniform" of the period. [35] This included scarlet "frocks" (plain jackets in harder-wearing material designed for informal wear), [36] although some regiments sent from India were in khaki drill. [37] A small detachment of infantry which reached Khartoum by steamer on 28 January 1885 were ordered to fight in their red coats in order to let the Mahdist rebels know that the real British forces had arrived. [38]

Even after the adoption of khaki Service Dress in 1902, most British infantry regiments (81 out of 85) and some cavalry regiments (12 out of 31) [39] continued to wear scarlet tunics on parade and for off-duty "walking out dress", until the outbreak of the First World War in 1914. [40] While nearly all technical and support branches of the army wore dark blue, the Royal Engineers had worn red since the Peninsular War in order to draw less fire when serving amongst red-coated infantry. [41]

Scarlet tunics ceased to be general issue upon British mobilisation in August 1914. The Brigade of Guards resumed wearing their scarlet full dress in 1920, but for the remainder of the army red coats were only authorised for wear by regimental bands and officers in mess dress or on certain limited social or ceremonial occasions (notably attendance at court functions or weddings). [42] [43] [44] The reason for not generally reintroducing the distinctive full dress was primarily financial, as the scarlet cloth requires expensive cochineal dye dyed in the grain of the cloth by old-fashioned methods. [45]

As late as 1980, consideration was given to the reintroduction of scarlet as a replacement for the dark blue "No. 1 dress" and khaki "No. 2 dress" of the modern British Army, using cheaper and fadeless chemical dyes instead of cochineal. Surveys of serving soldiers' opinion showed little support for the idea and it was shelved. [46]

History with the Royal Marines Edit

Red coats were first worn by British sea-going regiments when adopted by the Prince of Denmark's Regiment in 1686. [47] Thereafter red coatees became the normal parade and battle dress for marine infantry, although the staining effects of salt spray meant that white fatigue jackets and subsequently blue undress tunics were often substituted for shipboard duties. The Royal Marine Artillery wore dark blue from their creation in 1804. The scarlet full-dress tunics of the Royal Marine Light Infantry were abolished in 1923 when the two branches of the Corps were amalgamated and dark blue became the universal uniform colour for both ceremonial and ordinary occasions. [48] Scarlet for the Royal Marines now (2021) survives only in the mess uniform jackets of officers and senior NCOs. [49]

Colonial forces throughout the Empire Edit

Red and scarlet uniforms were widely worn by British organised or allied forces during the Imperial period. This included the presidency armies of the East India Company from 1757 onwards (along with the succeeding British Indian Army), [50] and colonial units from Canada. [51]

Canada Edit

Usage of the scarlet tunic originates with the Canadian Militia, a militia raised to support the British Army in British North America, as well as the Canadian government following Confederation in 1867. Present dress regulations relating to the scarlet tunic originated from a simplified system ordered by the sovereign in 1902, and later promulgated in the Canadian Militia Dress Regulations 1907 and Militia Order No. 58/1908. [53] The dress regulations, including the scarlet tunic, were maintained after the Canadian Militia was reorganized into the Canadian Army in 1940.

The Canadian Army's universal full dress uniform includes a scarlet tunic. [53] Although scarlet is the primary colour of the tunic, its piping is white, and the unit's facing colours appear on the tunic's collar, cuffs, and shoulder straps. [53] The universal design also features a trefoil-shaped Austrian knot embroidered atop the facing on the tunic's cuff. [53] However, some units in the Canadian Army are authorized regimental differences from the Army's universal full dress. As a result, some armoured regiments and artillery units substitute dark blue, Canadian-Scottish regiments "archer green", and all rifle/Voltigeur regiments "rifle green" for scarlet tunics as a part of their full dress.

In addition to the full dress uniform, a scarlet-coloured mess jacket is a part of the authorized mess dress for members of the Canadian Army. [54] The full dress uniform for cadets of the Royal Military College of Canada is similar to the universal full dress uniform of the Canadian Army, also incorporating the scarlet tunic. [54] The dress uniform of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, a federal law enforcement agency, also incorporates elements of a red coat, referred to as the Red Serge.

New Zealand Edit

During the 19th century, several volunteer militias in New Zealand wore a variety of scarlet, dark blue, or green tunics, closely following the contemporary uniforms of the British Army. Presently however, the New Zealand Army Band and the Officer Cadet School are the only units of the New Zealand Army that use the scarlet tunic as part of their ceremonial full dress uniforms.

In addition to full dress, the standard mess dress for the New Zealand Army includes a scarlet jacket with dark blue/black lapels. [55]

United Kingdom Edit

The scarlet tunic remains in the current British Army Dress Regulations. The scarlet tunic is one of three coloured tunics used by the British Army, alongside dark green tunics (used by The Rifles), and dark blue tunics (used by several units, such as the Royal Artillery). The scarlet tunic is presently used as part of the full dress uniforms for the Life Guards and several other cavalry units, the Foot Guards, the Royal Engineers, line infantry regiments, generals, and most army staff officers of the British Army. [56] The locally recruited Royal Gibraltar Regiment also uses a scarlet tunic as part of its winter ceremonial dress.

In addition, the scarlet tunic is still used by some regimental bands or drummers for ceremonial purposes. Officers and NCOs of those regiments which previously wore red retain scarlet as the colour of their "mess" or formal evening jackets. Some regiments turn out small detachments, such as colour guards, in scarlet full dress at their own expense, e.g. the Yorkshire Regiment before amalgamation.

From the modern perspective, the retention of a highly conspicuous colour such as red for active service appears inexplicable and foolhardy, regardless of how striking it may have looked on the parade ground. However, in the days of the musket (a weapon of limited range and accuracy) and black powder, battle field visibility was quickly obscured by clouds of smoke. Bright colours provided a means of distinguishing friend from foe without significantly adding risk. Furthermore, the vegetable dyes used until the 19th century would fade over time to a pink or ruddy-brown, so on a long campaign in a hot climate the colour was less conspicuous than the modern scarlet shade would be. [57] As formal battles of the time commonly involved deployment in columns and lines, the individual soldier was not likely to be a target by himself.

Within the British Empire Edit

There is no universally accepted explanation as to why the British wore red. As noted above, the 16th century military historian Julius Ferretus asserted that the colour red was favoured because of the supposedly demoralising effect of blood stains on a uniform of a lighter colour. [58]

In his book British Military Uniforms (Hamylyn Publishing Group 1968), the military historian W. Y. Carman traces in considerable detail the slow evolution of red as the English soldier's colour, from the Tudors to the Stuarts. The reasons that emerge are a mixture of financial (cheaper red, russet or crimson dyes), cultural (a growing popular sense that red was the sign of an English soldier), [59] and simple chance (an order of 1594 is that coats "be of such colours as you can best provide").

Before the Tudor period, red frequently appeared in the cloth livery provided for the household personnel—including guard troops—of many European royal houses and Italian or Church principalities. Red or purple had provided a rich distinction for senior clerics through the Middle Ages in the hierarchy of colours distinguishing the Roman Church.

During the English Civil War red dyes were imported in large quantities for use by units and individuals of both sides, though this was the beginning of the trend for long overcoats. The ready availability of red pigment made it popular for military clothing, and the dying process required for red involved only one stage. Other colours required the mixing of dyes in two stages and accordingly involved greater expense blue, for example, could be obtained with woad, but more popularly it became the much more expensive indigo. In financial terms the only cheaper alternative was the grey-white of undyed wool—an option favoured by the French, Austrian, Spanish and other Continental armies. [60] The formation of the first English standing army (Oliver Cromwell's New Model Army in 1645) saw red clothing as the standard dress. As Carman comments, "The red coat was now firmly established as the sign of an Englishman." [61]

On traditional battlefields with large engagements, visibility was not considered a military disadvantage until the general adoption of rifles in the 1850s, followed by smokeless powder after 1880. The value of drab clothing was quickly recognised by the British Army, who introduced khaki drill for Indian and colonial warfare from the mid-19th century on. As part of a series of reforms following the Second Boer War (which had been fought in this inconspicuous clothing of Indian origin), a darker khaki serge was adopted in 1902 for service dress in Britain itself. [62] From then on, the red coat continued as a dress item only, retained for reasons both of national sentiment and its value in recruiting. The British military authorities were more practical in their considerations than their French counterparts, who incurred heavy casualties by retaining highly visible blue coats and red trousers for active service [63] until several months into World War I. [64]

As a symbol Edit

The epithet "redcoats" is familiar throughout much of the former British Empire, even though this colour was by no means exclusive to the British Army. The entire Danish Army wore red coats up to 1848, [65] and particular units in the German, French, Austro-Hungarian, Russian, Bulgarian and Romanian armies retained red uniforms until 1914 or later. Amongst other diverse examples, Spanish hussars, Japanese Navy [66] and United States Marine Corps bandsmen, and Serbian generals had red tunics as part of their gala or court dress [67] during this period. In 1827 United States Artillery company musicians were wearing red coats as a reversal of their branch facing colour. [68] However the extensive use of this colour by British, Indian and other Imperial soldiers over a period of nearly three hundred years made red uniform a veritable icon of the British Empire. The significance of military red as a national symbol was endorsed by King William IV (reigned 1830–1837) when light dragoons and lancers had scarlet jackets substituted for their previous dark blue, hussars adopted red pelisses, and even the Royal Navy were obliged to adopt red facings instead of white. [69] Most of these changes were reversed under Queen Victoria (1837–1901). A red coat and black tricorne remains part of the ceremonial and out-of-hospital dress for in-pensioners at the Royal Hospital Chelsea.

Whether scarlet or red, the uniform coat has historically been made of wool, with a lining of loosely woven wool known as bay to give shape to the garment. The modern scarlet wool is supplied by Abimelech Hainsworth and is much lighter in weight than the traditional material, which was intended for hard wear on active service. [60]

The cloth for private soldiers used up until the late 18th century was plain weave broadcloth weighing 16 ounces per square yard (540 g/m 2 ), made from coarser blends of English wool. The weights often quoted in contemporary documents are given per running yard, though so for a cloth of 54 inches (140 cm) width a yard weighed 24 ounces (680 g). This sometimes leads to the erroneous statement that the cloth weighed 24 oz per square yard.

Broadcloth is so called not because it is finished wide, 54 inches not being particularly wide, but because it was woven nearly half as wide again and shrunk down to finish 54 inches. This shrinking, or milling, process made the cloth very dense, bringing all the threads very tightly together, and gave a felted blind finish to the cloth. These factors meant that it was harder-wearing, more weatherproof and could take a raw edge the hems of the garment could be simply cut and left without hemming as the threads were so heavily shrunk together as to prevent fraying.

Officers' coats were made from superfine broadcloth manufactured from much finer imported Spanish wool, spun finer and with more warps and wefts per inch. The result was a slightly lighter cloth than that used for privates, still essentially a broadcloth and maintaining the characteristics of that cloth, but slightly lighter and with a much finer quality finish. The dye used for privates' coats of the infantry, guard and line, was rose madder. A vegetable dye, it was recognised as economical, simple and reliable and remained the first choice for lower quality reds from the ancient world until chemical dyes became cheaper in the latter 19th century.

Infantry sergeants, some cavalry regiments and many volunteer corps (which were often formed from prosperous middle-class citizens who paid for their own uniforms) used various mock scarlets a brighter red but derived from cheaper materials than the cochineal used for officers' coats. Various dye sources were used for these middle quality reds, but lac dye, extracted from a kind of scale insect "lac insects" which produce resin shellac, was the most common basis.

The noncommissioned officer's red coat issued under the warrant of 1768 was dyed with a mixture of madder-red and cochineal to produce a "lesser scarlet" brighter than the red worn by other ranks but cheaper than the pure cochineal dyed garment purchased by officers as a personal order from military tailors. [70] Officers' superfine broadcloth was dyed true scarlet with cochineal, a dye derived from insects. This was a more expensive process but produced a distinctive colour that was the speciality of 18th-century English dyers.

The most notable centre for dying "British scarlet" cloth was Stroud in Gloucestershire, which also dyed cloth for many foreign armies. An 1823 recipe for dying 60 pounds (lbs) - about 27 kg - of military woollen cloth lists: 1 lb of cochineal, 3 lbs madder, 6 lbs argol (potassium tartrate), 3 lbs alum, 4 pints tin liquor (stannous chloride), 6 lbs cudbear (orcein) and two buckets of urine. The alum, argol and tin liquor, which acted as mordants or dye fixatives, were boiled together for half an hour, and the madder and cochineal were added for another ten minutes. The cloth was added and boiled for two hours after that, the cloth was drained and immersed in cudbear and urine for another two hours. The cloth was stretched out to dry on tenters, then finally brushed with teasels and tightly rolled to produce a sheen. [71]

During the 18th and much of the nineteenth centuries the cheaply made coats of other ranks in the British army were produced by a variety of contractors, using the laborious process of dyeing described above. Accordingly, even when new, batches of garments sent to regiments might be issued in different shades of red. This tendency towards variations in appearance, commented on by contemporary observers, would subsequently be compounded by weather bleaching and soaking. [72] )

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Origins Edit

The k.u.k. Kriegsmarine was not formally established until the 18th century, but its origins can be traced back to 1382, with the incorporation of Trieste into the Duchy of Austria. During the 13th and 14th centuries, Trieste became a maritime trade rival to the Republic of Venice, which occupied the Adriatic port city for intermittent periods between 1283 and 1372. Under the terms of the Peace of Turin in 1381, Venice renounced its claim to Trieste and the leading citizens of Trieste petitioned Leopold III, Duke of Austria, to make the port part of his domains. The agreement incorporating Trieste into the Duchy of Austria was signed at the castle of Graz on 30 September 1382. [3] [4]

While Austria had a port with the incorporation of Trieste, the city was granted a large degree of autonomy and successive Dukes of Austria paid little attention to the port or the idea of deploying a navy to protect it. Until the end of the 18th century, there were only limited attempts to establish an Austrian navy. [4] During the Thirty Years War, Generalissimo Albrecht von Wallenstein was awarded the Duchies of Mecklenburg-Schwerin and Mecklenburg-Güstrow as well as given the title "Admiral of the North and Baltic Seas" by Holy Roman Emperor Ferdinand II in 1628 after scoring several military victories against Denmark–Norway in northern Germany. [5] However, Wallenstein failed to capture Stralsund, which resisted the Capitulation of Franzburg and the subsequent siege with assistance of Danish, Scottish and Swedish troops, a blow that denied him access to the Baltic and the chance of challenging the naval power of the Scandinavian kingdoms and of the Netherlands. [6] Wallenstein's assassination at the hands of his own officers in 1634 prevented the development of any Austrian navy in either the North or Baltic Seas. [4]

The next incursion Austria took into naval affairs occurred on the Danube River rather than at sea. During the Great Turkish War, Prince Eugene of Savoy employed a small flotilla of ships along the Danube to fight the Ottoman Empire, a practice which the House of Habsburg had employed previously during the 16th and 17th centuries to fight during Austria's numerous wars with the Ottomans. These river flotillas were largely manned by crews who came from Austria's coastal ports, and played a significant role in transporting troops across the Danube as well as denying Turkish control over the strategically important river. [4]

Austria remained without a proper seagoing navy, however, even after the need for one became apparent with the French Navy bombardment of the port of Trieste during the War of Spanish Succession. Lacking any sea power, Austria was unable to protect its coastal cities or project power into the Adriatic or Mediterranean Seas. [4] The war ended with the treaties of Utrecht, Rastatt, and Baden. Under the terms of the Treaty of Rastatt, Austria gained the Spanish Netherlands, the Kingdom of Naples, the Kingdom of Sicily, the Kingdom of Sardinia, and the Duchy of Milan. [7] While Austria's control over Sardinia and Naples was cut short by their loss to Spain in 1734 during the War of Polish Succession, [8] these territories as well as the new Austrian Netherlands gave Austria greater access to the sea than ever before. [9]

Following the War of Spanish Succession, Austria once again developed interest in establishing a proper navy in order to protect its now numerous coastal possessions. This coincided with the majority of European nations' growing interest in mercantilism, the founding and development of colonies, and the chartering of overseas trading companies during the early 18th century. Austria's largest obstacle in engaging in overseas trade and naval enterprises however lay in the country's geography. Despite Austria having a lengthy coastline along the Adriatic Sea, the major ports it possessed along its main coastline were isolated from Vienna by the large Austrian Alps. Furthermore, there were no major rivers linking Austria's Adriatic ports to the interior of the country. Austria also enjoyed three major navigable rivers which flowed through the country, the Elbe, the Oder, and the Danube. However, the Elbe and the Oder flowed through the Kingdom of Prussia before emptying into the North and Baltic Sea respectively, while the mouth of the Danube lay within the territory of the Ottoman Empire. Both of these nations remained major rivals of Austria throughout the 18th century, preventing the Austrians from using its major rivers to gain access to the sea. [10]

The Ostend Company Edit

Following the War of Spanish Succession, Austria's greatest outlet to the sea lay in the newly acquired Austrian Netherlands. While non-contiguous with the rest of Austria, the Austrian Netherlands lay within the boundaries of the Habsburg-dominated Holy Roman Empire. The territory also possessed numerous ports with easy access to the Atlantic Ocean, such as Ghent, Antwerp, Bruges and Ostend. However, the economy of the Austrian Netherlands was very disconnected from the rest of Austria, and most Habsburg rulers paid little attention to the province. [10] Even Prince Eugene of Savoy, upon being appointed Governor-General of the Austrian Netherlands in June 1716, chose to remain in Vienna and direct policy through his chosen representative, Hercule-Louis Turinetti, marquis of Prié. [11]

The success of the Dutch, British and French East India Companies throughout the 17th and early 18th centuries however led the merchants and shipowners of Ostend to want to establish direct commercial relations with the East Indies. [12] In December 1722, Charles VI granted a 30-year charter to the Ostend Company to conduct trade with the East and West Indies, as well as Africa. [13] The Ostend Company proved to be immensely profitable, and between 1724 and 1732, 21 company vessels were sent out to conduct trade in the Caribbean, Africa, and especially Asia. The most profitable voyages of the Ostend Company were to Canton, as rising tea prices resulted in high profits for ships conducting trade with China. Between 1719 and 1728, the Ostend Company transported 7 million pounds of tea from China, roughly half of the total amount brought to western Europe at the time, placing the company on par in the tea trade with the East India Company. [14] The Ostend Company proved to be short lived however, as Charles VI suspended the charter of the company due to British diplomatic requests following the Treaty of Vienna, with the company ceasing operations in 1731. [14] [13]

Charles VI and Maria Theresa Edit

Believing that "Navigation and commerce are the foremost pillars of the state," [10] Holy Roman Emperor Charles VI engaged in other projects beyond the establishment of the Ostend Company in order to increase Austria's merchant marine and establish a proper navy to protect it. This included constructing a new road through the Semmering Pass in order to link Vienna to Trieste, and declaring Trieste and Fiume free ports in 1719. [10] In order to help protect Austrian merchants from piracy in the Adriatic and Mediterranean, Charles VI also purchased the three-decker 80-gun third rate ship of the line Cumberland from the United Kingdom in 1720. The ship was renamed San Carlos and stationed out of Naples. [15]

On the Adriatic, Charles VI constructed even more ships, usually employing Italian and Spanish officers to man them. This Adriatic fleet consisted of three ships of the line, one frigate, and several galleys. In total, this Adriatic fleet had 500 guns and a crew of 8,000 men. Following the end of the Ostend Company however, a committee was set up in 1738 by the Emperor to examine the status of Austria's Adriatic fleet. Its report concluded that the fleet "had little usefulness, caused great expense, and stood in danger of being defeated in case of attack". [13] This report eventually led to Charles VI scrapping his Adriatic fleet and transferring most of officers and crew members to Austria's Danube Flotilla. [13]

Upon the death of Charles VI on 19 October 1740, Saxony, Prussia, Bavaria, and France all repudiated the Pragmatic Sanction of 1713 which had paved the way for Charles' daughter Maria Theresa to succeed him. [16] Frederick II of Prussia almost immediately invaded Austria in December 1740 and took the affluent Habsburg province of Silesia in the seven-year conflict known as the War of the Austrian Succession. [17] This conflict proved to be primarily a land-based war for Austria, which led to naval affairs being neglected by the newly crowned Maria Theresa, who spent the entirety of the war preoccupied with securing her inheritance of the throne of Austria as opposed to rebuilding her father's former fleet in the Adriatic. [13]

By the time the Seven Years' War began in 1756, Austria still lacked a proper navy. Enemy pirates and privateers, as well as Barbary corsairs severely hampered Austria's merchant marine, to the point that most of Austria's sea trade had to be conducted in foreign ships. The lack of any naval force to protect Austria's shipping led Count Kaunitz to push for the creation of a small force of frigates to protect the Adriatic Sea. However, the Seven Years' War forced Vienna to pay much more attention to Austria's land border with Prussia and its coastline along the Adriatic Sea, preventing Kaunitz's program from achieving success. [13]

In 1775, another attempt to formulate an overseas trading company was undertaken with the establishment of the Austrian East India Company. Headed by William Bolts, the company's first voyage to India began on 24 September 1776 with Bolts sailing aboard the Indiaman Giuseppe e Teresa from Livorno in the Grand Duchy of Tuscany, which was ruled by Maria Theresa's son Leopold. Bolts was also granted a 10-year charter to trade under the flag of the Holy Roman Empire with Persia, India, China and Africa. [18]

The Austrian East India Company marked the first attempt by Austria to establish overseas colonies. Within the next two years, Bolts established factories on the Malabar Coast, on the southeastern African coast at Delagoa Bay, and at the Nicobar Islands. [13] These ventures ultimately failed however due to pressure from other colonial powers such as Portugal and Denmark-Norway, both of which forcefully evicted Bolts and his colonists from Africa and the Bay of Bengal respectively. Furthermore, the Austrian government did not wish to provoke other foreign powers after having to fight two major continental wars in the span of just 20 years. Vienna was also unwilling to lend much monetary support to either the company or towards the creation of a navy sufficiently large enough to protect its interests. This was partially because the Austrian government expected the ports of Trieste and Fiume to bear the cost of constructing and maintaining a fleet. [13]

Establishment of the Austrian Navy Edit

The Austrian Navy was finally established in 1786, with Emperor Joseph II purchasing two cutters in Ostend, each armed with 20 guns, and sending them to Trieste. Joseph II also introduced Austria's Naval Ensign, which consisted of a red-white-red standard with the crown of the Archduchy of Austria on the left. Prior to this, Austrian ships flew the yellow and black flag of the Habsburg Monarchy. Joseph II's Marineflagge remained the naval ensign of Austria, and later Austria-Hungary, until the middle of World War I. [19]

The onset of the French Revolution in 1789 and the subsequent French Revolutionary Wars greatly changed the political face of Europe and resulted in the largest expansion of the Austrian Navy up to that point in time. Under Joseph II's successor, Leopold II, the Austrian Navy was formally located out of the port of Trieste. In 1797 with the Treaty of Campo Formio between France and Austria which ended the War of the First Coalition, Austria ceded to France the Austrian Netherlands and certain islands in the Mediterranean, including Corfu and some Venetian-held islands in the Adriatic. The Republic of Venice and its territories were divided between the two states, and Austria received the city of Venice along with Istria and Dalmatia. Venice's naval forces and facilities were also handed over to Austria and became the basis of the formation of the future Austrian Navy. [1]

The Treaty of Campo Formio resulted in Austria becoming the largest, and indeed the only, naval power in the Adriatic. Prior to the incorporation of the remnants of the Venetian navy, the Austrian Navy only consisted of the two cutters purchased in 1786, as well as several armed merchant vessels and gunboats. While Venice had suffered under French occupation, and the ships Austria acquired from the city's annexation allowed the Austrian Navy to grow to some 37 vessels by the start of the War of the Second Coalition in 1799. These ships mostly consisted of small coastal craft, with some 111 guns and 787 crew members between them. This still remained a very small naval force, which with an average of just three guns and 21 crew members per ship, was largely unable to project power outside of the Adriatic or protect Austrian shipping in the Mediterranean. When the Austrian Army took Ancona in 1799, three former Venetian ships of the line, Laharpe, Stengel and Beyrand, were seized by the Austrians. Despite having 74 guns per-ship, far more than any other vessels in the Adriatic, the Austrian government chose to sell the ships for breaking rather than incorporate them into the Navy. [20]

At the end of the 18th century, several new regulations were also imposed regarding naval activity. These included instructing officers to refrain from excessive shouting when giving sailing commands, directing the captains of each ship in the navy not to conduct business transactions on their own behalf, and ordering surgeons to fumigate their ships several times a day in order to prevent the outbreak of any disease. The most notable regulation imposed directed naval officers to learn German. At the time, most Austrian naval officers were Italian or Spanish, and Italian remained the main language of the officer corps until 1848. This policy change however reflected Austria's desire to re-order its multi-ethnic Empire more towards the German states of the Holy Roman Empire. [21]

The Napoleonic Wars Edit

On 17 March 1802, Archduke Charles of Austria, acting in his role as "Inspector General of the Navy" ordered the formation of Imperial and Royal Naval Cadet School in Venice, (German: k.u.k. Marine-Kadettenschule). [22] This school eventually moved to Trieste in 1848 and changed its name to the "Imperial and Royal Naval Academy" (German: k.u.k. Marine-Akademie). [23]

Austria again fought against France during the Second and Third Coalitions, when after meeting a crushing defeat at Austerlitz, Holy Roman Emperor Francis II had to agree to the Treaty of Pressburg, weakening the Austrian Empire and reorganizing Germany under a Napoleonic imprint known as the Confederation of the Rhine.

Believing his position as Holy Roman Emperor to be untenable, Francis abdicated the throne of the Holy Roman Empire on 6 August 1806, and declared the Holy Roman Empire to be dissolved in the same declaration. This was a political move to impair the legitimacy of the Confederation of the Rhine. Two years earlier, as a reaction to Napoleon making himself an Emperor of the French, Francis had raised Austria to the status of an empire. Hence, after 1806, he reigned as Francis I, Emperor of Austria. [24] This move meant that the naval forces under the banner of the Holy Roman Empire were now reconstituted as solely being a part of the Austrian Navy. [25]

Three years later Austria again declared war on France, beginning the War of the Fifth Coalition. Following Austria's defeat at the Battle of Wagram, the Empire sued for peace. The resulting Treaty of Schönbrunn imposed harsh terms on Austria. Austria had to hand over the Duchy of Salzburg to the Kingdom of Bavaria and lost its access to the Adriatic Sea by ceding the Littoral territories of Gorizia and Gradisca and the Imperial Free City of Trieste, together with Carniola, the March of Istria, western Carinthia with East Tyrol, and the Croatian lands southwest of the river Sava to the French Empire. West Galicia was ceded to the Duchy of Warsaw, and Tarnopol was given to the Russian Empire. These terms eliminated Austria's coastline along the Adriatic, thus destroying the Austrian Navy, with its warships being handed over to the French to guard the newly formed the Illyrian provinces. Between 1809 and 1814, there was no Austrian coastline and subsequently no navy to defend it. [25]

Modernising the Navy Edit

Following the Congress of Vienna and the 1815 Treaty of Paris, Austria's coastline was restored. Under the conditions of the Congress of Vienna, the former Austrian Netherlands were transferred to the newly created United Kingdom of the Netherlands, while Austria received Lombardy-Venetia as compensation. These territorial changes gave Austria five ships of the line, two frigates, one corvette, and several smaller ships which had been left in Venice by the French during the Napoleonic Wars. The decades of warfare Austria had participated in since 1789 however had left the Empire on the verge of bankruptcy, and most of these ships were sold or abandoned for financial reasons. [25]

By the end of the decade however, the Austrian Navy began to be rebuilt. The growth of the Austrian Navy in the years following the Congress of Vienna were largely driven by political necessities, as well economic conditions. The marriage between Archduchess Maria Leopoldina and Emperor Pedro I of Brazil in 1817 marked the first time a ship from the Austrian Navy crossed the Atlantic Ocean to the Americas, with the Archduchess traveling with the frigates Augusta and Austria to Rio de Janeiro. [25] Three years later, the frigate Carolina escorted Austria's ambassador to Brazil across the Atlantic, before sailing on to China, marking the first time a ship from the Austrian Navy had traveled to East Asia. During the 1820s and early 1830s, Austrian trade along the Danube and within the Mediterranean grew rapidly. In 1830, the Austrian Danube Steam Navigation Company was founded and in 1834, its steamship Marie Dorothee became the first of its kind to travel the Mediterranean on a voyage between Trieste and Constantinople. In 1836, the Austrian Lloyd (German: Österreichischer Lloyd) was established. While Austria's merchant marine grew throughout the 1820s and 1830s, the Austrian Navy grew alongside it in order to provide protection on the high seas. [26]

During the Greek War of Independence, the Austrian Navy engaged Greek pirates who routinely attempted to attack Austrian shipping in order to help fund the Greek rebellion against Ottoman rule. During the same time period, Barbary corsairs continued to prey upon Austrian shipping in the Western Mediterranean. These two threats greatly stretched the resources of Austria's naval forces, which were still rebuilding after the Napoleonic Wars. [27] In 1829, two Austrian corvettes, a brig, and a schooner under Lieutenant Commander (German: Korvettenkapitän) Franz Bandiera sailed Morocco's Atlantic coast to obtain the release of an Austrian merchant ship which had been captured by pirates. [28] While the mission resulted in the return of the ship's crew, the Moroccans refused to return the ship, resulting in the Austrian bombardment of Larache. This action resulted in Morocco returning the captured Austrian ship, as well as pay damages to Vienna. The bombardment of Larache resulted in the end of North African pirates raiding Austrian shipping in the Mediterranean Sea. [27]

By the 1830s, an attempt to modernize the Navy had begun. The Austrian government granted new funding for the construction of additional ships and the purchasing of new equipment. The most notable change which was undertaken was the incorporation of steamships, with the first such ship in the Austrian Navy, the 500-tonne (492-long-ton) paddle steamer Maria Anna, being constructed in Fiume. Maria Anna ' s first trials took place in 1836. [29] In 1837, Archduke Friedrich Leopold enlisted into the Navy. The third son of Archduke Charles, a famous veteran of the Napoleonic Wars, Friedrich's decision to join the Navy greatly enhanced its prestige among the Austrian nobility and public. During his time in the Navy, Friedrich introduced many modernizing reforms, aiming to make the Austrian Navy less "Venetian" in character and more "Austrian". [30]

Oriental Crisis of 1840 Edit

Friedrich and the Austrian Navy had their first major military encounter during the Oriental Crisis of 1840. After his victory over the Ottoman Empire during the First Egyptian-Ottoman War, Muhammad Ali of Egypt conquered large parts of Syria. In 1839, the Ottomans attempted to reclaim these territories but after a decisive defeat at the Battle of Nezib, the Ottoman Empire appeared on the verge of collapse. [31] Through the Convention of London, the United Kingdom, Austria, Prussia, and Russia intervened to save the Ottoman Empire. The Convention offered Muhammad Ali hereditary rule of Egypt while nominally remaining part of the Ottoman Empire if he withdrew from most of Syria. Muhammad Ali hesitated to accept the offer however and in September 1840 the European powers moved to engage Muhammad Ali's forces.

The British and Austrian navies subsequently blockaded the Nile Delta and bombarded Beirut on 11 September 1840. On 26 September, Friedrich, commanding the Austrian frigate Guerriera, bombarded the port of Sidon with British support. The Austrians and British landed in the city and stormed its coastal fortifications, capturing it on 28 September. After capturing Sidon, Austria's naval squadron sailed on to Acre which bombarded the city in November, destroying its coastal fortifications and silencing the city's guns. During the storming of the city, Friedrich personally led the Austro-British landing party and hoisted the Ottoman, British, and Austrian flags over the Acre's citadel upon its capture. [32] For his leadership during the campaign, Archduke Friedrich was awarded the Knight of the Military Order of Maria Theresa. In 1844, Archduke Friedrich was promoted to the rank of Vice-Admiral and become Commander-in-Chief of the Navy at the age of 23, but his tenure as the head of the Austrian Navy ended just three years after his appointment when he died in Venice at the age of 26. [33]

Revolutions of 1848 Edit

After a successful revolution in France in February 1848 toppled King Louis Philippe I and established a Second French Republic, revolutionary fervor broke out across Europe. In Vienna, Austrian Chancellor Klemens von Metternich resigned his post and leave in exile to London while Emperor Ferdinand I was forced to abdicate the throne in favor of his nephew, Franz Joseph. Across the Austrian Empire, nationalist sentiments among Austria's various ethnic groups led to the revolutions in Austria to take several different forms. Liberal sentiments prevailed extensively among the German Austrians, which were further complicated by the simultaneous events in the German states. The Hungarians within the Empire largely sought to establish their own independent kingdom or republic, which resulted in a revolution in Hungary. Italians within the Austrian Empire likewise sought to unify with the other Italian-speaking states of the Italian Peninsula to form a "Kingdom of Italy". [34]

The revolution in Vienna sparked anti-Habsburg riots in Milan and Venice. Field Marshal Joseph Radetzky was unable to defeat the Venetian and Milanese insurgents in Lombardy-Venetia, and had to order his forces to evacuate western Italy, pulling his forces back to a chain of defensive fortresses between Milan and Venice known as the Quadrilatero. With Vienna itself in the middle of an uprising against the Habsburg Monarchy, the Austrian Empire appeared on the brink of collapse. On 23 March 1848, just one day after Radetzky was forced to retreat from Milan, The Kingdom of Sardinia declared war on the Austrian Empire, sparking the First Italian War of Independence. [35]

First War of Italian Independence Edit

Venice was at the time one of Austria's largest and most important ports, and the revolution which began there nearly led to the disintegration of the Austrian Navy. The Austrian commander of the Venetian Naval Yard was beaten to death by his own men, while the head of the city's Marine Guard was unable to provide any aid to suppress the uprising as most of the men under his command deserted. Vice-Admiral Anton von Martini, Commander-in-Chief of the Navy, attempted to put an end to the rebellion but was betrayed by his officers, the majority of whom were Venetians, and subsequently captured and held prisoner. [36] By the end of March, the Austrian troops in Venice were forced from the city and the Austrian Navy appeared to be collapsing as many of the Austrian sailors and officers were of Italian descent. Fearing mutinies, Austrian officers ultimately relieved these Italian sailors of their duty and permitted them to return home. While this action left the Navy drastically undermanned, it prevented any wide-scale disintegration within the Navy which the Austrian Army had repeatedly suffered from in Italy. [36]

The loss of so many Italian crew members and officers meant that the remaining ships which did not fall into rebel hands in Venice were lacking many crews. Out of roughly 5,000 men who were members of the Austrian Navy prior to the revolution, only 72 officers and 665 sailors remained. Further complicating matters for the Austrian Navy was the loss of Venice's naval dockyards, warehouses, its arsenal, as well as three corvettes and several smaller vessels to the Venetian rebels. [36] The loss of Vice-Admiral Martini was also a blow to Austrians, as the Navy had gone through no less than four Commanders-in-Chief within three months of the death of Archduke Friedrich in late 1847. Martini's capture left the Navy without a commander for the fifth time in as many months. [36] In the aftermath of the loss of Venice, the Austrian Navy reorganized itself under the temporary command of General Count Franz Gyulai. Gyulai recalled every Austrian ship in the Mediterranean, the Adriatic, and in the Levant. Due to Trieste's close location to the parts of Italy revolting against Austrian rule at the time, Gyulai also chose the small port of Pola as the new base for the Austrian Navy. This marked the first time the city had been used as an Austrian naval base, and from 1848 onwards the city continued to serve as a base for Austrian warships until the end of World War I. [37] In late April, this fleet began a blockade of Venice in order to assist Austria's army currently fighting the Italian nationalists who had seized the city. [38]

Meanwhile, fortunes continued to fade for the Austrians. The Papal States and the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies both joined the war on the side of Sardinia, [39] [40] the later sending a naval force into the Adriatic in cooperation with Sardinia to help seize Venice. This Italian fleet consisted of five frigates and several smaller vessels acquired by the Italian nationalists in Venice. Against this force, the Austrian Navy counted three frigates of 44 to 50 guns, two corvettes of 18 and 20 guns, eight brigs of six to 16 guns, 34 gunboats with three guns each, and two steamers of two guns. Despite its relatively large size for navies in the Adriatic, the Austrian Navy lacked experience against the combined Italian forces and Gyulai decided to withdraw his ships to Pola. [38] After the Austrians moved back to Trieste due to the fact that Pola's small and undeveloped dockyards could not handle the size of the Austrian fleet, a stalemate ensued in the Adriatic. The Austrian fleet was too small to go on the offensive against the Italians, while the Italian naval commander, Rear Admiral Giovanbattista Albini, was under orders not to attack the port of Trieste as its location within the German Confederation may draw in other powers in central Europe against Sardinia. [41] Austrian efforts to purchase additional warships from the United Kingdom, Russia, the Ottoman Empire, and from Egypt, all ended in failure as the funds to purchase the ships were instead used to fight Austria's many land battles with Hungarian and Italian nationalists, as well as the war with Sardinia. Early experimentation on the use of a self-propelled explosive device—forerunner to the torpedo—to attack the Italian ships also failure due to the technological constraints of the time. Additional proposals to break the Italian fleet by using fire ships was rejected as an "inhumane" way of fighting. [42] [a]

The stalemate in the Adriatic came to an end as the Papal States and the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies pulled out of the war. [39] [40] Austrian reinforcements bolstered Radetzky's forces in the Italian peninsula and following the Battle of Custoza in July 1848, the tide of the war turned in Austria's favor. [43] On 9 August, an armistice was signed between Sardinia and Austria, and a month later, Admiral Martini was released in a prisoner exchange and returned as head of the Navy. While Martini unsuccessfully lobbied for the purchase of new steam ships to re-establish a blockade of Venice, Sardinia resumed the war with Austria on 12 March 1849. This led to the disastrous Sardinian defeat at the Battle of Novara ten days later. The decisive defeat forced King Charles Albert of Sardinia to abdicate the throne of Sardinia in favor of his son Victor Emmanuel II and brought the First War of Italian Independence to an end in August 1849. [44] Venice was the last Italian nationalist holdout to fall on 27 August 1849. [45] [b]

Aftermath and effects on the Navy Edit

The Revolutions of 1848 marked a turning point in the history of the Austrian Navy. Up until that time, the Navy had been dominated by the Italian language, customs, and traditions. Prior to the revolution, the Austrian Navy was mostly made up of Italian crew members, the Italian language was the primary language, and even Italian ship names were used over German ones, such as Lipsia rather than Leipzig. Indeed, in the years before 1848, the Navy was largely considered to be a "local affair of Venice". [36] In the years after 1848, most of the navy's officers corps hailed from the German-speaking parts of the Empire, while most of the sailors came from Istria and the Dalmatian Coast, leading to Croats, Germans, and even Hungarians to begin to be represented among the ranks of the Austrian Navy. [36]

After retaking Venice, the Austrians acquired several warships which were under construction or already seaworthy. Most of these ships were added to the strength of the Austrian Navy, increasing the size and strength of the Navy considerably by the year 1850. [45] In Venice the naval shipyard was retained. Here the Austrian screw-driven gunboat Kerka (crew: 100) was launched in 1860 (in service until 1908).

Naval strength of the Austrian Empire, January 1850 [45]
Type Number Guns Tonnage
Frigates 4 32–42 1,200 tonnes (1,181 long tons)
Corvettes 6 20 800–900 tonnes (787–886 long tons)
Brigs 7 16 500 tonnes (492 long tons)
Miscellaneous sailing ships 10
Steamers 4

In the final months of the blockade of Venice, the Danish-born Dane Hans von Dahlerup was appointed Commander-in-Chief of the Austrian Navy. Emperor Franz Joseph I selected Dahlerup due to his desire to replace Italian influence within the Navy. Dahlerup introduced many personal reforms, such as reorganizing the command structure of the Navy, establishing new service regulations, and setting up a school for naval officers. He also began the process of replacing Italian with German as the spoken de facto language of the Austrian Navy. However, Dahlerup's command style clashed heavily with the prevailing culture within the Austrian Navy and he resigned after just over two years. [46]

The Ferdinand Max era Edit

After a two-year interim period in which Lieutenant General Count Franz Wimpffen commanded the Navy, in September 1854 Emperor Franz Joseph I promoted his younger brother, Archduke Ferdinand Maximilian (commonly referred to as Ferdinand Max), to the rank of Rear Admiral and named him Commander-in-Chief of the Austrian Navy. At the age of 22, Ferdinand Max became the youngest Oberkommandant in the history of the Austrian Navy, being a year younger than when Archduke Friedrich of Austria assumed command of the navy ten years earlier. [47]

Despite his age, the fact that he had only been in the Navy for four years, and his lack of experience in battle or command on the high seas, Ferdinand Max proved to be among the most effective and successful commanders of the Austrian Navy in history. He was described by Lawrence Sondhaus in his book The Habsburg Empire and the Sea: Austrian Naval Policy, 1797–1866 as "the most gifted leader the navy had ever had, or ever would have". [48] Anthony Sokol describes Ferdinand Max in his book The Imperial and Royal Austro-Hungarian Navy as "one of the most talented of the Habsburg princes. He used his prestige, youthful enthusiasm, and love of the Service to promote it in every way possible." [49]

Ferdinand Max worked hard to separate the Austrian Navy from its dependence upon the Austrian Army, which had nominal control over its affairs. On 14 January 1862, Franz Joseph I agreed to establish the Ministry of Marine, which oversaw the affairs of both the Austrian Navy, and the Austrian merchant marine, and named Count Matthais von Wickenburg its head. Under this new system, Ferdinand Max continued to be the Oberkommandant, but he was no longer responsible for the political management of the fleet. [50] In addition to obtaining support for the creation of Ministry of Marine, Ferdinand Max was given great freedom by the Emperor to manage the navy as he saw fit, especially with respect to the construction and acquisition of new warships. [51]

Development of the Austrian Navy: 1854–1860 Edit

Ferdinand Max immediately went to work expanding the Austrian Navy. Fears of over-dependence upon foreign shipyards to supply Austrian warships enabled him to convince his brother to authorize the construction of a new drydock at Pola, and the expansion of existing shipyards in Trieste. Furthermore, Ferdinand Max initiated an ambitious construction program in the ports of Pola, Trieste, and Venice, the largest the Adriatic had seen since the Napoleonic Wars. [51] Pola in particular saw a considerable amount of attention as its natural harbor and strategic location along the Adriatic coastline of Austria enabled ships docked there to provide protection for Trieste as well as the Dalmatian Coast. While it had been used as a base for the Navy during the Revolutions of 1848, the small dockyards and port facilities, coupled with surrounding swampland had hindered its development. In addition to Pola's new drydock, Ferdinand Max had the swamps drained and constructed a new arsenal for the city. [49]

By 1855, a screw-powered ship-of-the-line was under construction in Pola after failed bids to construct the ship with British and American shipbuilding firms, [52] while two screw-frigates and two screw-corvettes were being built in Trieste and Venice respectively. [53] Within a year of Ferdinand Max's promotion to Oberkommandant, the Austrian Navy consisted of four frigates, four corvettes, and two paddle steamers in active service in the Mediterranean Sea. Ferdinand Max followed up on this progress however by purchasing the steam frigate Radetzky from the United Kingdom in 1856. Her design was used for the construction of future ships of the Navy, and marked the beginning of Austria's modern shipbuilding industry. From 1856 onward, a majority of Austria's ships were constructed by domestic shipyards. [49] Ferdinand Max's next construction project was the last Austrian ship-of-the-line, Kaiser. She was commissioned into the Austrian Navy in 1859 after being constructed at the newly built Pola Navy Yard between 1855 and 1858. [54]

As a result of these construction projects, the Austrian Navy grew to its largest size since the War of Austrian Succession over 100 years prior. Despite these efforts however, the Navy was still considerably smaller than its French, British, or Sardinian counterparts. [55] Indeed, the Austrian Navy was still attempting to catch up to the technological developments which had emerged during the first half of the 19th century with respect to steam power, when the emergence of the French iron-platted floating battery Dévastation gained international attention following its use during the Crimean War in October 1855. Dévastation signalled the beginning of the emergence of ironclad warships over the course of the next decade. [56] [57]

Indeed, the French Navy's technological and numerical edge proved to be decisive in driving the Austrian Navy to port shortly after the outbreak of the Second War of Italian Independence. [58] After the failure of the First Italian War of Independence, Sardinia began the search for potential allies. Sardinian Prime Minister Camillo Benso, Count of Cavour, found French Emperor Napoleon III supportive of an alliance with Sardinia following the Crimean War, in which France and Sardinia were allies against the Russian Empire. After the Plombières Agreement of 1858, [59] Napoleon III and Cavour signed a secret treaty of alliance against Austria whereby France would assist Sardinia in return for Nice and Savoy being ceded to France. [60] During the first half of 1859, the Franco-Sardinian forces quickly defeated the Austrians on land, culminating in the Battle of Solferino, while the French Navy blockaded the Adriatic Sea and forced the Austrian Navy to remain in port, preventing its use for the duration of the war. [61] After the defeat at Solferino, Austria ceded most of Lombardy and the city of Milan to France under the Treaty of Zürich, who transferred it to Sardinia in exchange for Savoy and Nice. [62] [63]

In response to Austria's quick defeat during the Second War of Italian Independence, Ferdinand Max proposed an even larger naval construction program than the one he had initiated upon his appointment as Oberkommandant. This fleet would be large enough not only to show the Austrian flag around the world, but also to protect its merchant marine as well as thwart any Adriatic ambitions from the growing Kingdom of Sardinia. However, constitutional reforms enacted in Austria after the defeat, as well as the recent introduction of ironclads into the navies of the world, made the proposal more expensive than he had initially intended. [64] While the Archduke had previously been given free rein over naval affairs, and had enjoyed an unprecedented allocation of new funds to complete his various expansion and modernization projects, [65] Austria's recent military defeats and financial difficulties in the immediate aftermath of the war stalled his plans for further construction projects. [64] Despite these obstacles, the initiation of the Italian ironclad program between 1860 and 1861, coupled with Austrian fears of an Italian invasion or seaborne landing directed against Venice, Trieste, Istria, and the Dalmatian Coast, [66] [67] necessitated an Austrian naval response to counter the growing strength of the Italian Regia Marina. [68]

The Austro-Italian ironclad arms race Edit

After the Second War of Italian Independence, Sardinia ordered two small ironclads from France in 1860. [69] While these ships were under construction, the Italian revolutionary Giuseppe Garibaldi began his campaign to conquer Southern Italy in the name of the Kingdom of Sardinia. He quickly toppled the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies, the largest state in the region in a matter of months. [70] On 17 March 1861, Victor Emmanuel II was proclaimed King of Italy. With the unification of Italy, the various navies of the former Italian states were merged into a single military force, named the Regia Marina (Royal Navy). [71] [72] By the time the two Formidabile-class ironclads had been commissioned, they formed the first broadside ironclads of the Italian Regia Marina. [73]

Following up on these ships, Italy launched a substantial program to bolster the strength of the Regia Marina. The Italians believed that building a strong navy would play a crucial role in making the recently unified kingdom a Great Power. [74] These actions captured the attention of the Austrian Empire, which viewed Italy with great suspicion and worry, as irredentist claims by Italian nationalists were directed at key Austrian territories such as Venice, Trentino, and Trieste. [75] [76] In response to the growing strength of the Regia Marina, the Imperial Austrian Navy subsequently ordered two Drache-class ironclads in 1860. [77] In the years immediately after the unification of Italy, Austria and Italy engaged in a naval arms race centered upon the construction and acquisition of ironclads. This arms race between the two nations continued for the rest of Ferdinand Max's tenure as Oberkommandant. [78] [79]

Novara Expedition Edit

Archduke Ferdinand Maximilian also initiated a large-scale scientific expedition (1857–1859) during which the frigate SMS Novara became the first Austrian warship to circumnavigate the globe. The journey lasted 2 years and 3 months and was accomplished under the command of Kommodore Bernhard von Wüllerstorf-Urbair, with 345 officers and crew, and 7 scientists aboard. The expedition was planned by the Imperial Academy of Sciences in Vienna and aimed to gain new knowledge in the disciplines of astronomy, botany, zoology, geology, oceanography and hydrography. SMS Novara sailed from Trieste on 30 April 1857, visiting Gibraltar, Madeira, Rio de Janeiro, Cape Town, St. Paul Island, Ceylon, Madras, Nicobar Islands, Singapore, Batavia, Manila, Hong Kong, Shanghai, Puynipet Island, Stuarts, Sydney (5 November 1858), Auckland, Tahiti, Valparaiso and Gravosa before returning to Trieste on 30 August 1859.

In 1863 the Royal Navy's battleship HMS Marlborough, the flagship of Admiral Charles Fremantle, made a courtesy visit to Pola, the main port of the Austro-Hungarian Navy. [80]

In April 1864 Archduke Ferdinand Maximilian stepped down as Commander-in-Chief of the Navy and accepted the throne of Mexico from Louis Napoleon, becoming Maximilian I of Mexico. He traveled from Trieste to Veracruz aboard the SMS Novara, escorted by the frigates SMS Bellona (Austrian) and Thémis (French), and the Imperial yacht Phantasie led the warship procession from his palace at Schloß Miramar out to sea. [81] When he was arrested and executed four years later, admiral Wilhelm von Tegetthoff was sent aboard the Novara to take Ferdinand Maximilian's body back to Austria.

Second Schleswig War Edit

The Second Schleswig War was the 1864 invasion of Schleswig-Holstein by Prussia and Austria. At that time, The duchies were part of the Kingdom of Denmark. Rear-Admiral Wilhelm von Tegetthoff commanded a small Austrian flotilla which traveled from the Mediterranean Sea to the North Sea.

On May 9, 1864, Tegetthoff commanded the Austrian naval forces in the naval action off Heligoland from his flagship, the screw-driven SMS Schwarzenberg. [80] The action was a tactical victory for the Danish forces. It was also the last significant naval action fought by squadrons of wooden ships and the last significant naval action involving Denmark.

Royal Marines relax outside Ostend - History

Battle of the Points

After the movement of the 4th Marines to Corregidor in December, there were still Marines on Bataan. Two antiaircraft batteries operated in the Mariveles area and formed part of a naval defense battalion for the southern coast of Bataan. Battery A, commanded by First Lieutenant William F Hogaboom, was stationed at the Mariveles Quarantine Station, protecting an old Dewey Dry Dock. The battery consisted of two officers and 80 men and was armed with nine machine guns for low level antiaircraft defense. One Navy officer and 65 sailors were attached to the battery Battery C, under First Lieutenant Wilfred D. Holdredge was posted in an abandoned rice paddy between the Navy Section Base and the village of Mariveles. The battery was composed of four 3-inch antiair craft guns and had an ensign and 40 sailors attached.

Col Howard decorates PFC Charles R. Geer and Pvt Alexander Katchuck with Silver Star Medals for their heroism during the first bombing of Corregidor. Department of Defense Photo (USMC) COR-11000

General MacArthur learned of the presence of Marines on Bataan and ordered Battery A to serve as a guard for USAFFE Headquarters. The officer in charge of the Naval Battalion, Commander Frank J. Bridget, then directed Lieutenant Hogaboom to return to duty at Mariveles instead. On 14 January MacArthur wrote directly to Admiral Rockwell requesting the suspension of Bridget's order. Rockwell replied the same day that Battery A had yet to be relieved of its duties at the Mariveles Section Base, and was not yet under Army direction. MacArthur ended the dispute by issuing Field Order Number 6, assigning two officers and 40 enlisted men from Corregidor to serve as guards for USAFFE Headquarters, relieving Battery A.

At 0800, 23 January, the aircraft lookout on Mt. Pucot reported to Commander Bridget that a Japanese seaborne landing had been made on Longoskawayan Point, 2,000 yards west of Mariveles. Bridget ordered Lieutenants Holdredge and Hogaboom to move to the point and confirm the landing. Japanese strength was estimated at only one squad. Unfortunately, Bridget failed to inform the two lieutenants that two Marine patrols would be in the area. Holdredge and Hogaboom had no knowledge of each other's movements

Two Marines try to catch up on their reading during a lull in the bombardment.

Platoon Sergeant Robert A. Clement was ordered by Bridget to command a hastily gathered platoon of 36 sailors to support the two Marine lieutenants. Clement asked for another Marine noncommissioned officer, whom he did get, and led his men into the jungle. Sergeant Clement deployed his men in loose formation and moved toward Longoskawayan Point. In a few minutes, he heard a sailor calling, "Hey, Sarge!" "Hey Sarge!" Clement quickly ran over to him. The sailor held up his rifle and asked, "Sarge, how do you get the bullets in this thing." Clement rapidly held school for the sailor and the platoon moved on.

A Marine receives a haircut from a Filipino barber during a lull in the shelling and bombing.

Clement's men soon reached the beach where they came upon the Japanese supply area. More than 150 rifles were neatly stacked as well as Lister bags of fresh water hanging from poles. Two Japanese cooks were the only enemy in sight and these men ran at the approach of the Americans. Clement ordered each of his men to carry off one of the rifles and returned to report his success. Japanese machine guns caught the patrol in an ambush a short distance up the trail, and Clement and a Navy lieutenant were hit in the initial exchange of gunfire.

The firing alerted the two Marine patrols. At the sound of battle both Holdredge and Hogaboom deployed. They met scattered Japanese patrols and drove the Japanese back toward the coast, towards Clement's men. Machine gun fire hit the Marines, killing Private First Class Quentin R. Sitton. Despite the Japanese fire, the two forces joined and together withdrew to a blocking position on the ridge between Mariveles and Longoskawayan Point. Bridget gathered the men available at the Section Base and reinforced the detail of the two Marine lieutenants with 30 sailors. At this point, the Marine commanders believed they had encountered only about a platoon of the enemy.

On 24 January the Marines and sailors again advanced on the point. Strong Japanese resistance was encountered and rifle fire and grenades were exchanged between the two forces. At the first sight of a hand grenade, a Marine shouted, "Grenade!" and dove for cover. The sailors stood looking around, asking, "Where?" The untrained sailors learned quickly how to take cover thereafter. Lieutenant Holdredge came upon a Japanese light artillery position and maneuvered to engage the enemy. He soon realized his men were behind enemy lines and pulled back to the main Marine position. Firing was spasmodic the rest of the day and at dusk the Americans pulled back to their blocking position.

The two lieutenants realized they needed more men to engage the enemy the following day and requested reinforcements from Corregidor. On the morning of 25 January a machine-gun platoon and an 81mm-mortar platoon arrived under the command of First Lieutenant Michael E. Peshek. Marine Gunner Harold D. Ferrell directed two 81mm mortars on the positions the Japanese occupied during the previous day's engagement. By midafternoon the Marines again moved toward the points, Hogaboom to Lapiay Point and Holdredge to Longoskawayan Point. Hogaboom found no enemy, but Holdredge's men were met by an ambush and had heavy losses. Holdredge and 11 enlisted Marines were wounded and Private First Class Warren J. Carver was killed.

Two Marines relax outside a bunker on Corregidor before the heavy Japanese shelling destroyed most of the foliage on the island.

The Marines again withdrew to their blocking position and shortly after midnight, 12-inch mortars from Corregidor pounded Longoskawayan Point. On the morning of 26 January, Marine mortars combined with Filipino artillery again hit the Japanese defensive positions. The 60 to 75 Marines and 130 sailors probed the Japanese defenses, but the attack became disorganized. The Japanese counterattacked and again the Americans withdrew. Hogaboom reported that "we could not hope to continue the attack or even hold our ground with the troops at our disposal." Commander Bridget responded by ordering Hogaboom to dig in and prepare for another attack in the morning.

A platoon of Company H, 2d Battalion, 4th Marines, commanded by 2dLt Michael E. Peschek, moves ammunition and weapons to Longoskawayan Point to support the attack there in January 1942. Department of Defense Photo (USMC) OOR-11001

As the tired men returned to their positions they were met by the 1st Battalion, 57th Infantry (Philippine Scouts), who relieved them. The remainder of the Naval Battalion withdrew to Mariveles and three days later the Philippine Scouts had cleaned out the Japanese landing force. The platoon that the Marines initially thought had landed turned out to be a reinforced battalion with attached artillery These Japanese were part of a larger landing force but had become separated during the night of 22-23 January and landed unsupported on Longoskawayan Point.

Royal Marines relax outside Ostend - History

Helgoland Bight, Part One
By Mike Bennighof, Ph.D.
May 2019

German activity in the North Sea, in particular the raid by German light cruisers on British fishing trawlers on the Dogger Bank, demanded a British response. Commodore Roger Keyes, in charge of submarines in the North Sea, suggested an attack on the German torpedo boats and cruisers that returned each morning from patrolling the Helgoland Bight, the bay between the fortified island of Helgoland and the German naval bases to its south-east. Keyes and Reginald Tyrwhitt, commander of the Harwich destroyer flotillas, met with the Admiralty War Staff on 24 August and received approval for the operation to begin on the morning of 28 August.

That approval came as the Admiralty, prodded by First Lord Winston Churchill, was in the midst of ordering another poorly-considered project, the deployment of four battalions of mostly-raw Royal Marines to Ostend on the Belgian coast to stop the German advance to the coast. With the landings consuming the War Staff&rsquos attention, the Helgoland operation appears to have received less attention than it deserved.

Sir Frederick Doveton Sturdee, Chief of the War Staff, would not authorize deployment of the Grand Fleet&rsquos battle cruisers as Keyes had suggested and held that the two battle cruisers of Force K stationed in the Humber estuary would be sufficient, along with the five elderly armored cruisers of Force C that usually patrolled the seas between England and the Netherlands. Not until the 26th did Sturdee see fit to inform Sir John Jellicoe, commander of the Grand Fleet, even though Force K nominally came under his authority.

Alarmed, Jellicoe immediately ordered the Grand Fleet readied for sea. Sturdee had only provided a very broad outline of the operation&rsquos intentions, and responded to the fleet commander&rsquos requests for more information with further vagaries. The staff chief told Jellicoe that only the battle cruisers and light cruisers would be needed. Jellicoe understood that Sturdee had only been appointed to his position five days before the outbreak of war and was, to be charitable, not up to the task. The Grand Fleet commander accordingly ordered not only the cruisers but the battle squadrons to sea as well. That decisive act would turn potential disaster into a badly-needed victory.

The Harwich destroyers and their flotilla leaders began the sweep at dawn on 28 August, soon joined by the six light cruisers of the Grand Fleet&rsquos 1st Light Cruiser Squadron &ndash a pleasant surprise to the commanders on the spot, who had not been informed of reinforcements coming from the Grand Fleet. Tyrwhitt&rsquos two flotillas numbered sixteen destroyers apiece, each led by a light cruiser (Fearless and the brand-new Arethusa, Tyrwhitt&rsquos flagship). Nine submarines completed the trap.

Tyrwhitt's new flagship, the light cruiser Arethusa.

The day came up with an unexpectedly heavy fog that masked the British deployment. The German patrols consisted of nine modern torpedo boats in the outer ring, backed by nine older torpedo boats that had been converted into minesweepers and made up an inner patrol ring. Supporting them were four light cruisers, including the elderly and essentially useless Hela, originally built as an aviso to carry messages in the days before warships carried wireless gear. Rear Admiral Leberecht Maass, commanding the patrols, had eight other light cruisers theoretically available though all but one were in port at Wilhelmshaven or Brunsbüttel.

For heavy support, Maass had . . . nothing. In the event of a British attack, the light forces were expected to fall back under the heavy guns of the Helgoland fortress, an unsinkable battleship poised exactly in the approaches to the Jade Bay where Wilhelmshaven lay and the Elbe ports including Brunsbüttel. But in the heavy fog the rolled in that morning, the gunners could provide little support.

When German ships had departed on operations over the preceding two weeks, the battle cruisers of Scouting Group One had moved into the Schillig Roads outside Jade Bay and kept up steam. But that only took place during an operation on the morning of the 28th two battle cruisers (Moltke and von der Tann) were available inside Wilhelmshaven&rsquos harbor, with the third (Seydlitz) undergoing condenser repairs and the large armored cruiser Blücher tied up at the coaling quay. None of the battle cruisers had raised steam in their boilers, and none of the High Seas Fleet&rsquos other heavy ships were detailed to support the patrols.

And to the fleet&rsquos senior officers, it did not seem necessary. Wilhelmshaven lies perhaps 15 kilometers inland from the open North Sea, on the edge of the broad Jade Bay, and the heavy fog did not appear. The ships waiting there could not easily be deployed the bar separating the Jade from the open sea only had deep enough water for large ships to pass during certain hours on the 28th, none of the fleet&rsquos capital ships could cross between 0700 and 1200. Maass (right), his cruisers and the torpedo boats were on their own.

First contact came at 0700, when four British destroyers attacked the torpedo boat G194. She radioed for help, and Franz Hipper, commander of the scouting forces, ordered two of the light cruisers to hunt down the destroyers, instructed the light cruisers still in port to raise steam and sent the zeppelin L3 to scout out the situation. Soon the whole British Third Flotilla, along with Arethusa, was chasing four German torpedo boats toward Helgoland. They radioed the cruisers and the fortress for help, but the island&rsquos gunners could not make out any targets in the mist and feared firing blindly into the fog.

Two of the cruisers, Stettin and Frauenlob, promptly arrived and engaged the two British cruisers leading the charge. Stettin took damage from Fearless, but forced the British cruiser and her destroyers to veer away and allowed the torpedo boats to reach Helgoland. Meanwhile Arethusa and Frauenlob hit one another repeatedly, with the British cruiser taking the worst of the exchange. Having driven off the British, Frauenlob turned back for Helgoland and to both sides it seemed that the battle had ended by 0830. The zeppelin contributed little, spotting one British cruiser through the heavy fog before returning to her base with engine trouble.

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Mike Bennighof is president of Avalanche Press and holds a doctorate in history from Emory University. A Fulbright Scholar and award-winning journalist, he has published over 100 books, games and articles on historical subjects. He lives in Birmingham, Alabama with his wife, three children and his dog, Leopold. Leopold enjoys the occasional dog biscuit.


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Battle [ edit | edit source ]

Actions on May 23 [ edit | edit source ]

The 3rd Royal Tank Regiment (RTR), the 229th Anti-tank battery of the Royal Artillery and the Queen Victoria's Rifles (QVR) arrived in Calais on 22 May. The haste with which the units were moved meant they were not properly ready for action. Four of the anti-tank battery's twelve guns had to be left behind. 3RTR (commanded by Lieutenant Colonel Reginald Keller) was equipped with twenty-one Light Tank Mk VI and twenty-seven Cruiser Mk I tanks. They had no chance to test fire or "zero" their tanks' armament, nor were most of their radios fitted. Ώ] The QVR were a motorcycle reconnaissance unit of the Territorial Army. Because of a staff officer's error, the motorcycle combinations were left behind, and the personnel arrived in France without transport and equipped only with small arms. ΐ]

The Royal Tank Regiment had orders to advance from Calais to Boulogne, which was under attack. They also were ordered by Lieutenant General Douglas Brownrigg, the Adjutant General of the British Expeditionary Force, to detach some tanks to escort a convoy of trucks carrying rations for the British Expeditionary Force to the east. In the afternoon of 23 May, the main body of the tank regiment advanced south. At Guînes, they encountered half the German 1st Panzer Division (Kampfgruppe Kruger) which was skirting Calais. About half the British tanks were knocked out and the remainder retired to Calais. The German battlegroup continued to drive past Calais, fighting actions against the 1st and 2nd Searchlight Regiments of the Royal Artillery, fighting as infantry, east of the town during the evening.

The armoured detachment escorting the ration trucks also became tangled with the German battlegroup during the night. The trucks turned back but some of the tanks pushed on to Gravelines, where they knocked out several German tanks before being overrun the next morning.

Arrival of 30th Brigade [ edit | edit source ]

Meanwhile, the main body of the British 30th Motor Brigade arrived in Calais. The brigade's units were the 1st Battalion of The Rifle Brigade, commanded by Lieutenant Colonel Chandos Hoskyns, and 2nd Battalion of the King's Royal Rifle Corps, often referred to as the 60th Rifles, commanded by Lieutenant Colonel Euan Miller. Most of the personnel of these two motor battalions, with a higher proportion of Bren Carriers than normal battalions, were highly trained reservists or regular soldiers. Α] Because of German bombing, the ship carrying the brigade's vehicles closed its hatches and left with most of the Rifle Brigade's vehicles still aboard.

The brigade's commander, Brigadier Claude Nicholson, took charge of the port and all British units there. The few French army troops in the area (barely a company and a half of infantry, four machine-gun sections and two or three 75-mm guns) were also placed under his command. Β]

Already on 23 May, Guderian had ordered the 10th Panzer Division, commanded by Generalmajor Ferdinand Schaal, to capture Calais. The division was delayed around Amiens because infantry units supposed to relieve it in the bridgehead it had secured on the south bank of the Somme arrived late. The British reinforcements sent to Calais therefore forestalled the Panzer Division by 24 to 48 hours. Schaal complained on 24 May that his division was tired (it had fought a severe two-day battle at Stonne a week earlier), and had lost more than half its armoured vehicles and one third of its transport to battle casualties, mechanical breakdown and attacks by RAF bombers. Γ]

The Defences of Calais [ edit | edit source ]

The centre of the fortifications of Calais was a Citadel, dating from the sixteenth century but augmented and improved several times since. Perhaps more important to the British were the railway sidings and quays of the Gare maritime in the harbour, through which they would receive supplies and reinforcements, or be evacuated.

Surrounding the town was an Enceinte, originally consisting of twelve bastions linked by a curtain wall. In many places, the curtain wall was overlooked by buildings in the suburbs outside, while two of the southern bastions and the wall linking them had long since been demolished to make way for railway lines. The northernmost bastions and fortifications were manned by French naval reservists and volunteers commanded by Capitaine de Fregate Carlos de Lambertye Δ]

A mile outside the enceinte to the west was the outlying Fort Nieulay. Two other forts to the south and east were ruinous or had disappeared.

Nicholson ordered the 60th Rifles to hold the western, and the Rifle Brigade the eastern, part of the enceinte. Some of the Queen Victoria Rifles held outlying positions. The rest of the QVR, and volunteers from the Searchlight Regiments and the various personnel ("useless mouths") awaiting shipment to England reinforced the two rifle battalions.

Actions and decisions on May 24 [ edit | edit source ]

As the 10th Panzer Division surrounded the town, they were engaged by the French naval guns in the bastions along the seafront, though many of these could fire out to sea only. In many cases, the French seamen and gunners were evacuated by naval tugs once they had fired off their ammunition, but officers successfully appealed for volunteers to remain to defend their fortifications. Ε]

For the attack on Calais, Ferdinand Schaal ordered his 86th Rifle Regiment (two battalions) to capture the old town and the citadel, while the 69th Rifle Regiment (also of two battalions) circled the town to attack from the east and capture the harbour and Gare Maritime. In the event, Fort Nieulay was defended by some of the QVR and some French troops, and held out for most of the morning. The German 86th Rifle Regiment was also distracted by the need to capture Sangatte and other outlying positions, and could not attack the enceinte before mid-afternoon. Although the defences were weak in this south-western section, the defenders (the 60th Rifles) were reinforced by various detachments and held out till fighting died away at nightfall. The German 69th Rifle Regiment had to relieve units of 1st Panzer Division, and also could not attack the enceinte before evening, when they made little progress.

During the day, Nicholson had spoken by telephone with the War Office, and described his situation. The War Office seemed to agree that there was little the defenders of Calais could do to assist the British Expeditionary Force, and that Calais could not really be defended even if reinforcements were sent. Nicholson was informed that "in principle" it had been decided to evacuate his brigade. There was much other, contradictory information. He received telegrams exhorting him to fight for "Allied solidarity", and was told that various units were advancing from Dunkirk to his aid. There was no truth in these claims.

Around midnight, Nicholson spoke with Vice Admiral Somerville. He stated that he could perhaps hold out, if given field artillery. He had some supporting fire from Royal Navy destroyers and the RAF, but communications with them were uncertain.

Late on the same day, Guderian was ordered to halt his advance across the Aa Canal against the rear of the British Expeditionary Force. Since the order came from Adolf Hitler himself, even the often disobedient Guderian had no choice but to comply. Although the order also stated that Calais was to be "left to the Luftwaffe" if its capture proved to be difficult, Guderian decided to continue with the attack on Calais, although with heavy air support from Junkers Ju 87 dive-bombers.

Actions on May 25 [ edit | edit source ]

Nicholson knew that the full extent of the enceinte was too long and weak a line for his two battalions to hold. During the night of 24/25 May, he therefore withdrew to a shorter line, containing the northern part of the enceinte only. The 60th Rifles held the old part of the town, Calais Nord. A canal formed the most important part of their front line, and because the Germans had not followed up closely, they had time to fortify the bridges and houses overlooking them. The withdrawal left the Rifle Brigade on the other side of the harbour in a comparatively exposed position, behind the Canal du Marck but open to attack from three sides and with little cover. Nicholson moved his own HQ from the Gare Maritime to the Citadel, where he was joined by a party of 85 Royal Marines who had arrived during the night from Chatham. Ζ]

After a heavy bombardment in the morning, Schaal renewed his attack. The assaults were thrown back, and in the afternoon fighting ceased briefly while Schaal sent several demands for surrender, one of which was carried by the Mayor of Calais who feared for the safety of the citizens under the bombardment. When the attack was renewed, the 60th Rifles held their lines, but the Rifle Brigade were forced back towards a large cellulose factory near the port, and the Gare Maritime.

During the preceding night and the day, some drifters, yachts and other small craft had taken wounded from the harbour. No order to evacuate 30th Brigade was issued. An exhortation from Secretary of State for War Anthony Eden but inspired by Prime Minister Winston Churchill, to the effect that, "The eyes of the Empire are on the defence of Calais", was circulated, though few of the defenders were aware of it.

The fall of Calais [ edit | edit source ]

On the morning of 26 May, Calais Nord and the Citadel were pounded by artillery, and by 200 German bombers. Still, the defenders resisted for several hours. Guderian visited Schaal and suggested a pause to rest and regroup before resuming the attack. Schaal was confident that the attack was about to succeed, and was proved correct. About mid-afternoon, the Germans finally crossed the bridges over the canal and advanced into Calais Nord. The citadel was surrounded. The order, "every man for himself" was given to the 60th Rifles, but few if any escaped. On the other side of the harbour, the Germans captured the Gare Maritime. The Rifle Brigade were forced into a last stand around Bastion No. 1, north of the Gare Maritime.

Nicholson himself surrendered in the citadel at 4 pm. In addition to Nicholson's troops, the Germans rounded up many thousands of French and Belgian stragglers who had taken little or no part in the defence. More than 3,000 British troops and about 700 French were taken prisoners. A few personnel (including the Commanding Officer of 3RTR) managed to make their way via Gravelines to the Dunkirk perimeter, from where they were evacuated to England. In a daring rescue, HM Yacht Gulzar snatched a few dozen men from a jetty in Calais Harbour late on the 26th.

German casualties killed and wounded during the battle were not recorded, but probably amounted to several hundred, as a result of the fierce fighting over three days.

Royal Marines relax outside Ostend - History

By GEOFF ZIEZULEWICZ | STARS AND STRIPES Published: February 18, 2008

CAMP HABBANIYAH, Iraq — What a difference a couple of years makes. That’s how long it’s been since the 2nd Battalion, 24th Marines, a Reserve unit out of Chicago, have been deployed to Iraq.

When they were in 2004 and 2005, they were fighting in the Babil province south of Baghdad, part of the “Triangle of Death.” This time, the 2-24 are around Habbaniyah, just outside Fallujah, and they’re adjusting to a very different mission that will occupy their time for the next seven months.

The battalion will oversee much of the corridor between the cities of Fallujah and Ramadi, according to battalion executive officer Maj. Jeffrey Shrey.

The first weeks of the deployment have been all about assessing the situation on the ground, Shrey said earlier this month.

“We’re getting out and meeting with people, talking to people,” he said.

Shrey said the battalion will build on the gains made by their predecessors from the 1st Battalion, 1st Marines. Like much of Anbar, that will mean continuing to engage with the locals to show them why it’s in their continued interest to work with the Marines and not area extremists.

“The enemy is going to be looking for seams,” he said.

As those partnerships continue, Shrey said, he’ll look to keep an Iraqi face at the forefront of the Marines’ efforts.

“We’re not out in front of them,” he said. “Everything in the [area of operations] has to have an Iraqi face.”

Capt. Roland Vorgang is a unique Marine in the battalion. The executive officer for Company E is one of the few nonreservists in the bunch.

“I could probably count on one hand how many of us are active duty,” he said.

Some of Company E’s work will involve making sure that the local leaders are helping area residents with basic services, from water to electricity and reconstruction contracts.

“That’s when you have to put the pressure on the local government,” Vorgang said.

As of early February, Vorgang said the deployment had been pretty calm, and that the biggest cache they’d found was some shotgun shells.

The reservists bring a different dynamic to a deployment, he said.

“You see a little more maturity,” Vorgang said. “They’ve had jobs outside the Marines Corps. One of my docs is in his early 40s and a lawyer. But Marines are Marines.”

Sgt. Troy Burmesch was with 2-24 during its first deployment in and around Mahmudiyah, where he said there was a lot more action.

“It’s a lot calmer compared to the first deployment,” he said. “As a Marine, I’d rather be a bit busier.”

Sitting in the lounge area at Camp Riviera, where some of the battalion’s companies are based, Cpl. Bryan Bessa said the progression of the war was evident in the built-up facilities they’re living in this time around.

“You can definitely see we’ve been around for a while,” he said.

Watch the video: Manilow. The Bands of HM Royal Marines (October 2022).

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