The Prime Minister in 1940, Winston Churchill wished to create a fighting force of elite troops capable of fighting both in front and behind the enemy‘s lines. The Army Commandos were formed of volunteers from every regiment and corps of the British Army. They performed their tasks so successfully and with such dash and courage as is shown by the decorations awarded by their King. Eight won the Victoria Cross, 37 the Distinguished Service Order, 162 the Military Cross, 32 the Distinguished Conduct Medal and 218 Military Medals as well as many Bars. But only the most fortunate and outstanding won those distinctions chosen from a host, whose bravery and devotion was not less marked by being unrewarded.
The men who organised the Commandos were content with nothing short of perfection, the Commando was a picked volunteer selected by the officers who trained him and led him into battle. Those who failed for one reason or another to measure up to the most exacting standards of training, discipline and conduct under fire, could be returned to Unit, only a few were.
Since 1945 the Green Beret made famous by the Army Commandos, has been proudly worn by the Royal Marines Commando, who formed some of the original Units. The Commando Brigade has an unsurpassed record in assisting to combat terrorism in from Malaya to nearer at home. 41 Independent Commando were trained for service in Korea and won distinction under the command of the 1st US Marine Division.
In their NATO role the Commandos have been responsible for the defence and protection of the Northern and Southern flanks of the Alliance, commitments which required the Commandos to be capable of fighting in extremes of weather and terrain found between the Mediterranean and the Arctic Circle. A capability they keep to this day.
Wherever there has been conflict men of the Royal Marines Commando Brigade have played their part with distinction be it in Borneo, Aden, Suez, Cyprus, the Falklands, Northern Ireland and many other places.
Not only in conflict has the Commando Brigade been in the forefront but in cases of natural disaster they have served with distinction and compassion.
Units have been stationed in Malta, Aden and Singapore as well as back in the UK.
The proud traditions founded back in 1940 still exist and the much coveted Green Beret is still worn with pride, its wearers recognised as members of an elite fighting force who can be relied on. The role and equipment may have developed and evolved but the men and the spirit are the same.
© The Green Beret Association 2003
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