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"Royal Navy and Royal Marines During the Boxer Rebellion" Topic

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19th Century

475 hits since 15 Apr 2019
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Nick Stern Supporting Member of TMP15 Apr 2019 11:11 a.m. PST

I recall reading that during the Napoleonic Wars, the Royal Marines could be officered by the lowest officer rank naval bod, ie, a midshipman. Does anyone know if this was still true during the Boxer Rebellion? Reason I ask is that I intend to field a combined unit of RN and RM and would like to know whether I can use a RM officer or if it has to be a naval figure. I have both.

Frederick Supporting Member of TMP15 Apr 2019 12:11 p.m. PST

I would use a RM officer

Someone like Captain Halliday


22ndFoot15 Apr 2019 1:24 p.m. PST

In the Napoleonic wars the Royal Marines were commanded by their own officers ashore both the number of marines and number and rank of officers was specified by the "rate" of the ship. The number of other ranks was approximately the same as the number of guns but this is only a rule of thumb.

While these RM officers would be junior to the captain, on land they would not be commanded by a naval officer junior to them.

By the Boxer Rebellion, the Royal Marines had divided into Royal Marine Artillery and Royal Marine Light Infantry but similar considerations would apply.

Doing a mixed force as you suggest I'm doing one myself at the moment for anti-slavery operations in the 1840s I would recommend matelots commanded by naval officers and NCOs and Royal Marines commanded by theirs with probably a relatively senior naval officer in charge of both.

Good luck with it.

Nick Stern Supporting Member of TMP15 Apr 2019 3:10 p.m. PST

22ndFoot, not trying to score points here, but I found the passage I was thinking about in "The Long Arm of Empire – Naval Brigades from the Crimea to the Boxer Rebellion" by Richard Brooks: " – Royal Marine officers almost never found themselves in command of mixed forces of bluejackets and marines, although it was admitted that many naval officers were ill-equipped to do so. Experienced RMOs might find themselves under the command of quite junior gunnery lieutenants, in the absence of anyone more senior who "knew the drill". Disagreeable letters to the press punctuated every campaign, complaining about the marines' poor treatment: It is only when landed from ships as a portion of a Naval Brigade in but small numbers, and often without their own officers to command them, that they have an opportunity of showing their worth; and even then the old jealousy will show itself, the Marines on every possible occasion being kept in the background." So I think I will go with a junior RN officer. We're playing The Men Who Would Be Kings and they only allow one officer per 12 figure unit.

Nick Stern Supporting Member of TMP15 Apr 2019 3:59 p.m. PST

Frederick, thanks, great link. Imagine the things this man saw in his 95 years on earth. Like Winston Churchill, he lived long enough to see his Victorian full dress tunic worn by Mods in 1960's Swinging London!

22ndFoot15 Apr 2019 6:09 p.m. PST

No problem, Nick. Looks like an interesting book. I would suggest that my answer holds for the earlier period before the creation of the RMLI during the Crimean War and before the rating system changed in 1857. I'm certainly going with it for the 1840s. Cheers.

Nick Stern Supporting Member of TMP15 Apr 2019 9:12 p.m. PST

22nd Foot, I also game the Royal Navy's fight against the Malay and Dyak pirates in Borneo in the 1840's. I have both the sailors and the marines under their own officers with a senior naval officer in over all command, as you suggest.

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