Hundreds of Royal Marines veterans, whose combat operations span every conflict that Britain has been involved in from the Second World War until the War in Afghanistan, have come together to celebrate their comradeship.
The annual reunion event of the Royal Marines Association saw around 300 members countrywide, descend upon the Commando Training Centre Royal Marines (CTCRM), Lympstone.
The celebratory weekend, which included a concert by the Royal Marines Association Concert Band, gave the veterans and their families the opportunity to mix with old comrades and meet some of the newest Royal Marines recruits.
The veterans also had the chance to sample some of the latest military hardware, including shooting the latest assault rifles.
The weekend culminated with an impressive and moving parade which the veterans took part in alongside three recruit troops and the young officer trainees and which was attended by Major General Ed Davis CBE, Commandant General Royal Marines.
At the end, the families of Royal Marines who have died during the last year laid wreaths at a Memorial Wall next to the parade square.
“This weekend’s annual gathering of the Royal Marines Association sits at the heart of the Commando Training Centre’s calendar year,” added Colonel Dave Kassapian, CTCRM Commandant.
“It reinforces all that is good about the Royal Marines family, ensuring that comrade-in-arms stay in touch and that all veterans and their families have the chance to return to the Alma Mater of the Corps.
“Standing alongside recruits and young officers on the parade square and at the bar, it confirms our mantra of, once a Marine, always a Marine.”
“It’s funny because as a young Marine I spent most of my time trying to avoid parades,” said Lance Corporal Brian Beniston from Lincolnshire. “Now the irony is I’m volunteering to be on one.”
“It’s a great chance to meet old friends from around the Corps,” added Brian who was at Limbang in Borneo in 1962 which was the scene of a famous Commando raid.
“The training now is the same but the equipment is completely different. The weapons we had when I joined up are in museums now.”
“I passed out of training in 1947 and immediately joined HMS Indomitable,” said Bill Harris who was at the weekend with his old comrade Peter Reading.
“I then joined HMS Liverpool before transferring to HMS Ocean and was involved in the EKOA Crisis in Cyprus in 1956 attached to 45 Commando. Eventually I was medically discharged and given a weekly pension of 12 shillings.”
“There’s no change with lads now as when I was in,” said Brian Lunt from Frodsham in Cheshire who served from 1962 – 1972 and was involved in the Aden conflict. “They’re just as grumpy these days,” he laughed.
“I love coming back here,” said Alan Edghill from West London who served from 1974 – 1986. “I like the brotherhood and comradeship.”