A loaded march is a rapid march over distance carrying weight. The ability to complete loaded marches is a core military skill in many countries. However in certain climates loaded marches are not practiced since they would result in high casualties through heat exhaustion.
In the Roman Army
During the four month initial training of a Roman legionary, loaded marches were a core part of the training. Standards varied over time, but normally recruits were first required to complete 20 Roman miles (29.62 km or 18.405 modern miles) with 20.5 kg in five summer hours (the Roman day was divided into 12 hours regardless of season), which was known as "the regular step". They then progressed to the "faster step" and were required to complete 24 Roman miles (35.544 km or 22.086 modern miles) in five summer hours loaded with 20.5 kg.
Training also included some forced marches of 20–30 miles, often followed by the construction of basic defenses for an overnight position.
In the British Armed Forces
In the British Army loaded marching is considered a core skill and is tested annually in an eight mile (12.9 km) Combat Fitness Test carrying 15–25 kg depending on the arm. The term tab has its roots in an acronym, being an abbreviation of Tactical Advance to Battle. During the current selection process, recruits are usually made to tab 2 miles as an introduction. This is because injuries to the legs are common during basic training tabbing.
The most famous yomp of recent times was during the 1982 Falklands War. After disembarking from ships at San Carlos on East Falkland, on 21 May 1982, Royal Marines and members of the Parachute Regiment yomped (and tabbed) with their equipment across the islands, covering 56 miles (90 km) in three days carrying 80 pounds (36 kg) loads.
Media coverage of this war saw the term yomp become well known and in general use. A computer game called Yomp was produced by Virgin Games shortly after the Falklands conflict. However, the term has since faded somewhat from general use in the decades since the end of the Falklands war.
The image of "the Yomper" became one of the iconic images of the Falklands War. The original photograph was taken by Petty Officer Peter Holdgate, Commando Forces Photographer, whilst working as part of the Commando Forces News Team. After landing with 40 Commando at San Carlos, Holdgate accompanied British forces across the Falklands War zone taking hundreds of photographs. The photograph of 24-year-old Corporal Peter Robinson was taken in June 1982 as the Royal Marines proceeded along the Moody Brook track towards Port Stanley. When news of the surrender of Argentine forces was received, Corporal Robinson produced a Union Flag from his pack and attached it to the aerial of his radio with masking tape. The photograph itself was entirely spontaneous and not staged. The image was used as the inspiration of a statue that was unveiled by Lady Margaret Thatcher on 8 July 1992 on the 10th anniversary of the conflict; it now adorns the entrance to the Royal Marines Museum in Southsea.
In the French Foreign Legion
To complete training, legionnaires trainees must complete the "Combatant's Course" of 8 km loaded with 12 kg in 55 minutes, and a night march of 25 km in 3 hours with a load of 18 kg. Various marches of much longer distance are also a part of training.
- Chapter 21 The Bridgehead and Beyond: "There were two considerations. First, the distance between Stanley and San Carlos was some 56 miles and given the problems posed by the terrain it would take at least eight days to cover the ground. Movement would be 'under constant enemy fire from the air, in an area without cover, wood, drinking water or means of subsistence'. When his men arrived, worn out by the long trek, they would have to go into immediate action against an enemy well prepared and supported by field artillery." - Lawrence Freedman, Signals of War, The Falklands Conflict of 1982, 1990, Faber and Faber-London, ISBN 0-571-14116-1
- Modern Land Combat, 1987, editor Bernard Fitzsimons, Salamander Books Ltd., ISBN 1-85501-165-4
- "Yomp" at The Free Dictionary
- Rees, Alun (21 April 2007), "Revealed at last: face of Falklands 'yomping' Marine", Daily Mail
- Dunn, Tom Newton (30 May 2007), "'I was one of the lucky ones'", The Sun
- "Memorials and Monuments in the Royal Marines Museum, Portsmouth (The Yomper)" (ISO-8859-1). 20 December 2006.