The Royal Marines

The 'Royals' as the Corps of Marines became on the 29th April, 1802, on the order of His Majesty King George III, 'in consideration of the very meritorious services of the Marines during the late war'.

The uniform of the Royal Marines was changed to scarlet with blue facings, the same as the 'Guards', instead of their former white facings. The lace on this new uniform also had the Royal colours, red, white and blue, and as well as the edging of the uniform was visible mainly in five pairs of buttons down the front of the tunic and the four buttons on the cuffs.

There was also a major change in the head gear worn, gone was the tricorn hat, replaced by a tall top hat or 'round hat', the brim edged in white, with a white hat band, two black tapes or 'loopings' going from the sides of the brim to the top of the hat, a black leather round cockade with a small RM button at its centre and inserted in this the wool 'tuft' of white over red.

While white leather cross belts for cartridge box(black) and bayonet(black) were retained, the oval brass belt plate was replaced with a brass rectangle on which there was engraved the 'fouled anchor' (the sign of the Lord High Admiral), surrounded by 'laurel leaves' (awarded for gallantry at the capture of Belle Isle 1761), and 'RM' for Royal Marines, with 'PD' for either Portsmouth or Plymouth Division.

Black gaiters worn with knee britches were generally covered up by white trousers or 'overalls', made from 'duck material', they were hard wearing, more water resistant and easier to clean than the wool britches.

When not on duty, the tunic was kept in the 'Marine clothing room', this was in an effort to keep them clean and dry, as the red dye had an unfortunate tendency to turn black if exposed to sea water for any length of time. For this reason it was common for Marines to receive a new coat every year.

Ron Bate



Admiral, the Earl of St. Vincent, who encouraged the King to bestow this honour, said of the Marines:

'In obtaining for them the title of "Royal" I but indifferently did my duty. I never knew an appeal made to them for honour, courage or loyalty, that they did not more than realize my highest expectations. If ever the hour of real danger should come to England, they will be found the "Country's Sheet Anchor" '.