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Their deployments include:
- One group (sized as battalion) in the naval station of Toulon and another the naval station of Brest, both with a "reinforcement and Intervention Group"(sized as a Company) to reinforce the protection of any particular building, place, or ship.
- Seven companies scattered around metropolitan territory: one in the naval station of Cherbourg, one in every site of the FOST (Île Longue, France-sud, Rosnay and Sainte Assise) and one on each of the naval air stations of Lann Bihoué and Nîmes-Garons.
They also protect the DOM/TOM where interarm transmission stations are located.
The missions of the Fusiliers Marins are
- missions on shores from the sea
- support of the commandos marine during special operations
- protection of sensitive sites of the Navy
- protection of ships, onboard security & boarding parties
- Military Instruction in French navy schools
In 1627, Richelieu founded the Régiment de la Marine. It was to provide onboard troops capable of fighting on land or on sea, and commanded by the officers of the ship. These troops were part of the crew, and helped with navigation.
The base unit was the 70-man company, compagnie détachée de la Marine. It was commanded by a lieutenant des vaisseaux du Roi ("Lieutenant of the Ships of the King") and two ensigns. These companies fought in all French colonies, particularly in Nouvelle France. An anonymous Fusilier de Marine is credited for Nelson's death during the Battle of Trafalgar.
In 1825, a royal decree abolished the Régiments de la Marine and imposed that landing parties (compagnies de débarquement) should be composed of sailors. The tradition of the Régiments de la Marine later gave birth to the troupes de marine and troupes coloniales of the French Army.
As the crews of the ships lacked personnel trained for fighting on land, the imperial decree of 5 June 1856 created the specialisation of marin fusilier. The Fusiliers-Marins was initially composed of sailors and naval officers who were sent for special infantry training in Lorient in order to form the marine detachments aboard ships and conduct small scale landings. This was not the first time that the French had tried this approach. Before the First Republic, the Corps royal de l'infanterie de la marine had been superseded by the Corps royal de canonniers-matelots on 1 January 1786.
These troops were notably engaged during the war of 1870 and the defence of Paris. Two battalions of Fusiliers-Marins, under the respective commands of capitaines de frégate Laguerre and de Beaumont, took part in the Tonkin campaign as part of the Tonkin Expeditionary Corps, distinguishing themselves at Son Tay and Bac Ninh. In 1900 they participated in the fighting during the Boxer Rebellion and it was on the same year that the fusiliers were finally confirmed as part of the naval service as their counterparts in the troupes de marine (troupes coloniales) moved on to the Army via the War Ministry.
The fusiliers-marins were busy studying amphibious warfare, testing experimental landing craft and taking part in exercices combinés from the late 1920s until the mid-1930s.
In World War II, their most famous battles were Bir Hakeim and Normandy. World War II Fusiliers-Marins units included the 1er Regiment de Fusiliers-Marins de Reconnaissance which served in the 1st Free French Division (1er DFL), the Régiment Blindé de Fusiliers Marins (RBFM) of the 2nd Armoured Division and the 1er Bataillon de Fusiliers Marins Commandos (1er BFMC) who served in 10 (Inter-Allied) Commando. Todays Commandos Marine are drawn exclusively from the ranks of the Fusiliers-Marins after passing selection.
In Indochina after World War II, the French Navy and Fusiliers-Marins created the famous riverine warfare units called divisions navales d'assaut (naval assault divisions), commonly referred to as dinassauts. The Demi-Brigade de Fusiliers-Marins (DBFM) which included the Bataillon d'Intervention de Fusiliers-Marins (BIFM) served in Algeria.
The Naval Fusiliers wear a dark blue beret, pulled right with their own distinctive badge worn over the left eye or temple. Along with the Naval Commandos, they are unique among French forces in wearing the beret this way.
Fusiliers marins decorated after the Battle of the Yser.
- J. Pinquet, Trois Etapes de la Brigade des Fusiliers Marins - La Marne, Gand, Dixmude, 1918
- G. Le Bail, Le Brigade des Jean le Gouin; Histoire documentaire et anecdotique des Fusiliers marins, Paris, 1917.
- Raymond Maggiar, Les fusiliers marins dans la division Leclerc, du débarquement en Normandie, en passant par Paris et Strasbourg jusqu'à Berchtesgaden, Paris : Albin Michel, 1947.
- Marcel Vigneras, Rearming the French, Office of the Chief of Military History, Dept. of the Army, US, 1957.
- Edward L Bimberg, Tricolor over the Sahara the desert battles of the Free French, 1940-1942, Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 2002, ISBN 0-313-01097-8 or ISBN 978-0-313-01097-2.
- Adolphe Auguste Marie Lepotier, Les fusiliers marins, Editions France, 1962.
- Raymond Maggiar, Les fusiliers marins de Leclerc: une route difficile vers de Gaulle, Editions France-Empire, 1984, ISBN 2-7048-0341-2 or ISBN 978-2-7048-0341-5.
- Charles W. Koburger, The French Navy in Indochina: Riverine and Coastal Forces, 1945-54, Praeger, 1991, ISBN 0-275-93833-6 or ISBN 978-0-275-93833-8.
- L’évolution des opérations amphibies, La Revue maritime, n° 198, avril 1963, p. 424.
- René Bail., DBFM, demi-brigade des fusiliers marins, Rennes : Marines, 2007, ISBN 2-915379-57-2 or ISBN 978-2-915379-57-0.
- M. Alexander, France and the Algerian War, 1954-1962: Strategy, Operations and Diplomacy, Routledge, 2002, ISBN 0-7146-8264-0 or ISBN 978-0-7146-8264-8,
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Fusiliers marins.|
- (French) Présentation des fusiliers marins et commandos marine
- 'Dixmude' an Epic of the French Marines
- The Play-Boys of Brittany Les Fusiliers Marins
- DES DARDANELLES À NARVIK La réflexion sur les opérations combinées dans la marine française (1915-1940)
- Ecole des fusiliers marins et Commandos Marine / Lorient