3 Commando Brigade

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

3rd Special Service Brigade
3rd Commando Brigade
3 Commando Brigade
Cap Badge of the Royal Marines
Active14 February 1942 – present
Country United Kingdom
BranchRoyalMarineBadge.svg Royal Marines
Light infantry
RoleAir assault
Amphibious warfare
Close-quarters combat
Coastal raiding
Direct action
Jungle warfare
Mountain warfare
Size8 battalions
Garrison/HQHQ: Stonehouse Barracks, Plymouth
MarchQuick: "Sarie Marais"
EngagementsSecond World War

Operation Musketeer Falklands War Iraq War

War in Afghanistan
Brigade CommanderBrigadier Rich Cantrill OBE MC
3 Commando Brigade Formation BadgeThe dagger insignia of 3 Commando Brigade is worn on the left shoulder of combat uniforms by all personnel attached to the Brigade

3 Commando Brigade is a commando formation of the British Armed Forces and the main field formation of the Royal Marines. Its personnel are predominantly Royal Marines, supported by units of Royal Engineers, Royal Artillery, and the Fleet Air Arm, together with other Commando Qualified sailors, soldiers and airmen.

The brigade was formed in 1942, during the Second World War, with a mixture of Army commando and Royal Marine commando units and served in the Burma campaign. After the Second World War, the Army commandos were disbanded and the brigade became a Royal Marine formation. Recently, the brigade has again become a mixed Army and Marine formation with the addition of an Army infantry battalion, artillery regiment and engineer regiment alongside three Royal Marine battalions and support services. Since the end of the Second World War, it has served in the Suez Crisis, Falklands War, Gulf War and the War in Afghanistan.


Second World War[edit]

Between September and November 1943, in Scotland, 102nd Brigade, Royal Marines Division was detached from the division, to form the independent 3rd Special Service Brigade – a joint British Army-Royal Marines formation. The founding commander was Brigadier Wilfrid Nonweiler and it was composed of the following units:[1][2]

Nos. 1 and 5 Commandos had already earned battle honours as units in, respectively, the North African and Madagascar campaigns. Because "Commando", at the time, implied a company/battalion-sized unit, the name "Special Service" was instead used for British commando brigades. (However, the term "Commando Brigade" was often used informally, because "Special Service" was unpopular and had a superficial similarity to the name of the notorious German Schutzstaffel (SS). The brigade was later officially renamed 3rd Commando Brigade.[3]

On 10 November 1943, elements of the brigade embarked at Gourock, bound for India. It was intended that the brigade would be used in operations against Japanese forces in the South-East Asia theatre, such as the Burma campaign.[4] However, the limited shipping capacity available at the time meant that the relocation was prolonged and the components of the brigade were not reunited until late 1944. Lt Col. Peter Young was transferred from the Normandy campaign to become 2IC of 3rd Commando Brigade. Young succeeded Nonweiler as commander of the brigade.

During January 1945, the brigade was involved in the campaign to recapture Arakan, including the battles of Myebon peninsula and Kangaw.[4] The brigade was then withdrawn to India to prepare for a Operation Zipper a proposed amphibious operation to recapture the Malayan peninsula. The atomic bombs against Japan precipitated an earlier surrender of Japan than expected.[4] The 3rd Commando Brigade moved to secure Hong Kong – a British crown colony that was under Japanese occupation in 1941–45.[4] During 1946, British Army personnel and units within the 3rd Commando Brigade were demobilised or transferred elsewhere and it became a Royal Marine formation.[4]

Post Second World War[edit]

3 Commando Brigade's most high-profile operation after the war was the Suez Crisis, when it took part in the amphibious assault against Egyptian targets. During Operation Musketeer, units of the brigade made a helicopter-borne assault.[5]

1971 saw the withdrawal of British forces from the Far East and Persian Gulf. The brigade returned to the UK with other British units. It moved to Stonehouse Barracks in Plymouth, where it remains to this day.[6]

Operation Corporate[edit]

The brigade's next large operation was in 1982. Argentina invaded the Falkland Islands, and 3 Commando Brigade, reinforced by 2 Para and 3 Para, was one of the two main British land formations that took part in operations to recapture the islands. The brigade landed at San Carlos Water and marched across East Falkland to Stanley. Argentine units were defeated in several sharp engagements, and their forces surrendered on 14 June.[7]

Gulf War[edit]

In the aftermath of the 1991 Gulf War, the brigade was deployed on a non-combat task in northern Iraq. The Iraqi Kurds had suffered immensely during the war and in its immediate aftermath, and the brigade was used due to its rapid deployment ability. It provided humanitarian aid to the Kurds and saved many from starvation.[8]

21st century[edit]

A Jackal armoured vehicle of 3 Commando Brigade, Royal Marines on patrol during Operation Fibonacci near Kuh-e Baba and Shin Ghar, Helmand, Afghanistan

Recently, the brigade has been involved in two major campaigns, including Operation Veritas in Afghanistan, 2001 and 2002, and Operation Telic during the 2003 invasion of Iraq. In Afghanistan, no contact was made with enemy forces, despite contrary predictions.[citation needed] Iraq, however, saw heavy fighting occur in the early stages of the campaign, as the brigade made its first amphibious assault in over 20 years by landing on the Al-Faw peninsula in south-east Iraq.[9] In 2006, the brigade returned to Afghanistan on Operation Herrick, replacing 16 Air Assault Brigade, where intense fighting occurred.[10] From 2008 to 2012 1st Battalion, The Rifles was one of the attached army units in 3 Commando Brigade.


The brigade contains Royal Marines, Royal Navy, Army and Royal Air Force personnel. The subordinate units are:[11]

Royal Marines units British Army units
30 Commando Information Exploitation Group, Plymouth 24 Commando Regiment, Royal Engineers, Chivenor
40 Commando, Taunton 29 Commando Regiment, Royal Artillery, Plymouth
42 Commando, Bickleigh 383 Commando Petroleum Troop (V), Plymouth (att'd Cdo Log Reg)
43 (Fleet Protection Group) Commando, Faslane
45 Commando, Arbroath
47 Commando (Raiding Group), Plymouth
Commando Logistic Regiment, Chivenor
539 Raiding Squadron and Royal Marines Armoured Support Group, Plymouth

Joint Terminal Attack Controllers from the RAF Regiment are assigned to Brigade HQ. When operating as part of the combined United Kingdom / Netherlands Landing Force, the 1st Marine Combat Group of the Dutch Korps Mariniers is also attached to the brigade.


Commanders have included:[12]

Battle honours[edit]

The following Battle honours were awarded to the British Commandos during the Second World War.[15][16]

See also[edit]



  1. ^ "burmastar". Archived from the original on 5 July 2008. Retrieved 6 August 2008.
  2. ^ Chappell 1996, p. 28.
  3. ^ Moreman 2008, p. 32.
  4. ^ a b c d e Chappell 1996, p. 31.
  5. ^ "1956: Allied Forces take control of Suez". BBC. Retrieved 4 April 2016.
  6. ^ "3 Commando Brigade". British Army units 1945 on. Retrieved 4 April 2016.
  7. ^ "3 Commando Brigade". Naval History.net. Retrieved 4 April 2016.
  8. ^ "1991: UK forces withdraw from Kurdish haven". BBC News. 14 July 1991. Retrieved 10 October 2008.
  9. ^ "Marines spearhead the invasion with lightning attack". The Telegraph. 21 March 2003. Retrieved 4 April 2016.
  10. ^ "Commandos ready to face the Taliban". BBC. Retrieved 4 April 2016.
  11. ^ "3 Commando Brigade". Royal Navy. Retrieved 4 April 2016.
  12. ^ Royal Navy Senior Appointments Archived 11 July 2011 at the Wayback Machine
  13. ^ "3 Commando Brigade change over". January/February Edition. 14 February 2019.
  14. ^ "Confirmed Online Panelists - 1 December". defenceiq.com. defenceiq. 11 October 2020. Retrieved 11 October 2020. Brigadier Rich Cantrill Commander 3 Commando Brigade
  15. ^ Moreman, p.94
  16. ^ "Commando Forces at regiments.org by T.F.Mills". Archived from the original on 7 November 2007. Retrieved 14 July 2015.


External links[edit]