Ian Riches

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Sir Ian Riches
Born (1908-09-27)27 September 1908
Died 23 December 1996(1996-12-23) (aged 88)
Allegiance United Kingdom
Service/branch Royal Marines
Years of service 1927–62
Rank General
Commands held Commandant General Royal Marines (1959–62)
3 Commando Brigade (1954–55)
42 Commando (1948–50)
43 Commando (1944–46)
Battles/wars Second World War
Awards Knight Commander of the Order of the Bath
Distinguished Service Order

General Sir Ian Hurry Riches, KCB, DSO (27 September 1908 – 23 December 1996) was a Royal Marines officer who served as Commandant General Royal Marines from 1959 to 1962.

Military career[edit]

Riches was commissioned into the Royal Marines in 1927.[1] He served on the battleship HMS Queen Elizabeth, flagship of the Mediterranean Fleet, before being appointed Adjutant of the Plymouth Division RM.[1] He served in the Second World War, initially as Brigade Major of 101 Royal Marines Brigade.[1] After taking part in the failed expedition to Dakar, he served in a number of headquarters appointments with the Royal Marine Division until selected to command 43 Commando.[1]

In November 1944, Riches took command of 43 Commando, who were up against the German XXI Mountain Corps in the mountains of Yugoslavia.[1] In January 1945, 43 Commando was withdrawn from Yugoslavia and arrived in Italy as part of 2 Commando Brigade as a preliminary to taking part in the 8th Army's forthcoming offensive against Kesselring's defences south of the Po valley.[1]

The task given to 2 Commando Brigade was to clear the German defences on the eastern side of Lake Comacchio up to the line of the Valletta canal. For several nights before the attack, while 43 Commando made recce patrols, 40 Commando diverted the Germans' attention by playing Wagner very loudly over the loudspeakers. Amidst even greater noise, 43 Commando launched their night attack on 2 April and quickly gained their first objective. By 0845 hours Riches had his men across the river and was attacking strongly held positions. By mid-afternoon 43 Commando had overcome extensive minefields, dykes and machine-gun positions and had succeeded in their attack. As the commandos moved inexorably forward, the point section was held up by machine-gun fire. Corporal Thomas Peck Hunter recognised the severity of the situation and charged and captured a number of positions, constantly calling for fresh magazines. His extraordinary courage enabled his men to reach the canal bank before he was killed. He was awarded a posthumous Victoria Cross, the only Victoria Cross] awarded to the Royal Marines in the Second World War.[1] For his part in the operation, Riches was awarded the Distinguished Service Order.[1]

In 1946 he commanded the Signal School, and, in 1948, 42 Commando based at Malta. Shortly after arriving he was ordered at four hours' notice to move to Palestine to help oversee the final days of the British mandate. After his return to Malta he was sent with 42 Commando to Hong Kong on external and internal security. He relinquished command in 1950 and was employed in a number of operational and staff posts, including command of 3 Commando Brigade in the Canal Zone from 1954.[1]

In 1957 he was promoted to major general in charge of Portsmouth Group Royal Marines. In 1959 he was promoted lieutenant general and appointed Commandant General Royal Marines.[1] Finally he was promoted general in 1961 before retiring in 1962.[1]


On his retirement in 1962, General Riches took on a number of responsibilities including Regional Director of Civil Defence and Representative Colonel Commandant until 1968.[1] His medals were beqeathed to the Royal Marines Museum after his death.


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l Obituary: General Sir Ian Riches The Independent, 6 January 1997
Military offices
Preceded by
Sir Campbell Hardy
Commandant General Royal Marines
Succeeded by
Sir Malcolm Cartwright-Taylor