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The quick march, A Life on the Ocean Wave, was taken in 1882 to replace less appropriate scores dating from the 1830s. The slow march, Globe and Laurel, was used from 1935 and in 1952 RM commandos adopted the trekking song of the Boer commandos, Sarie Marais. The Preobrajensky March was introduced by Earl Mountbatten in 1964.


On the tercentenary of the first marine regiment, in 1964, HM The Queen granted RM officers permission to make the loyal toast when seated, in naval fashion.

RM anniversaries are cited in daily orders on these dates:

23 April - the raid on Zeebrugge in 1918.

28 April - the landing at Gallipoli in 1915.

6 June - the Normandy landings, 1944.

7 June - the assault on Belleisle in 1761.

14 June - the recapture of the Falklands in 1982.

17 June - the Battle of Bunker Hill in 1775.

24 July - the capture of Gibraltar in 1704.

21 October - the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805.

28 October - the formation of the Duke of Yorke and Albany's Maritime Regiment, 1664.

1 November - the assault on Walcheren in 1944.

3 October - the landing at Termoli in 1943 (40 Commando).

23 January - the attack on Montforterbeek in 1945 (45 Commando).

31 January - the Battle of Kangdaw in 1945 (42 Commando).

2 April - the Battle of Comacchio in 1945 (Fleet RM Protection Group).

11/12 June - the attack on Mount Harriet (42 Commando) and the Two Sisters (45 Commando) in 1982.

22 May - the landing at Ajax Bay in 1982 (Commando Logistic Regiment).

21 May - the landings at San Carlos Water in 1982 (3 Commando Brigade, HQ and Signal Squadron, and operational landing craft squadrons).


Battle honours are awarded to regiments that have seen active service in a significant engagement or campaign, generally with a victorious outcome.

Early awards for outstanding service in battle revolved around new titles (seventeenth century) and laurel wreaths (eighteenth century). The first battle honour in the shape of a label, with the name of battle/campaign thereon, came in 1768, when Emsdorff was taken from the caps of the 15th Light Dragoons and emblazoned on their guidon. Sixteen years later Gibraltar was put on the second colour of four infantry regiments which defended the Rock in a siege that lasted from 1779 to 1783. These colours, guidons and standards are regarded as sacred for the honours they bear and the lives lost in their name.

The first campaign honour came in 1802, when thirty-three regiments received permission to display a sphinx emblem to represent their part in the expedition to rid Egypt of Napoleon in the previous year. The year 1815 saw Peninsula awarded to eighty- seven regiments for the war of 1808-14 in Portugal, Spain and southern France, and Waterloo to thirty-eight regiments for their part in the great victory of the same year that brought the French wars to an end. Twenty-three battles of the Peninsular War were honoured to the regiments concerned on a fairly ad hoc basis from 1817 on.

Colonial wars were recognised spasmodically and in 1882 a review of battle honours put the great victories of Marlborough and Wolfe on the map. The 1909 review belatedly recognised seventeenth-century campaigns and some forgotten battles of the eighteenth century. After this, battle honours were awarded on a more efficient basis.

The standard of the 1st King's Dragoon Guards at Tidworth, 1958

The standard of the 1st King's Dragoon Guards at Tidworth, 1958

The First World War threw up 163 battle honours for regiments that had had battalions serving on all fronts. The resulting numbers of honours per regiment, therefore, were so great that a limit of ten was imposed for display on colours, standards and guidons. The same situation occurred after the Second World War, though on a slightly smaller scale, and the ten honours limit was applied again. A regiment would select its ten most important battle honours of the war, often those that commemorated the greatest loss of life. On average its actual list of battle honours would be about twice the size of its displayed honours.

A regiment's list of honours is a measure of distinction among its peers, but the modern regiment's long list of amalgamated honours can appear anonymous and repetitive, with regimental origins obscure.

A survey of the regiments of the Regular Army in order of precedence, before the many changes that took place in the reign of Elizabeth II, gives a clearer view of the origins of the modern regiments' honours.

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