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43 Commando resurrected as historic Royal Marines unit returns

43 Commando on Commachio Day

04/04/2012

One of the most famous names in Royal Marines history has returned with the re-formation of 43 Commando at Faslane. The new unit – officially 43 Commando Fleet Protection Group Royal Marines – is the largest in the Corps and is responsible for protecting the nation’s nuclear deterrent as well as taking the fight to modern-day pirates in specialist boarding teams.

With the wind and snow lashing them, 300 Royal Marines Commandos braved the return of the Scottish winter to mark the official formation of their new unit – and the return of one of the Corps’ most famous names.

From today Fleet Protection Group Royal Marines – who safeguard Britain’s nuclear deterrent and are the Navy’s experts in board and search/counter-piracy operations – are 43 Commando Fleet Protection Group Royal Marines, resurrecting the title of a legendary wartime formation.

43 Commando served with distinction in the Mediterranean, Italy and the Adriatic and, after being disbanded shortly after the end of WW2, rematerialised for much of the 1960s before passing into history – until now.

Its modern-day successor – to be abbreviated as 43 Cdo FP Gp RM and now under the direct authority of 3 Commando Brigade – is the largest unit in the Corps at 790 men strong. It was officially re-formed on the 67th anniversary of 43 Commando’s most famous actions, the battle for Lake Comacchio.

During the fighting around the lagoon, some 50 miles south of Venice in northeast Italy, Cpl Thomas Peck Hunter seized a Bren gun and stormed German machine-gun positions, shooting from the hip and single-handedly capturing or driving the enemy away until he was cut down – but not before his troop reached safety.

The action saw Hunter posthumously given the nation’s highest military honour, the last (to date) of ten Victoria Crosses awarded to Royal Marines.

The battle is marked by today’s Corps as Comacchio Day on April 3, while Cpl Hunter is honoured with a memorial at the Ocean Terminal in Edinburgh, his hometown, and the accommodation block at Clyde, Hunter Block.

Cpl Hunter’s 81-year-old sister Agnes Swinney travelled from Edinburgh to attend the parade, which featured a short religious service followed by an address by the Royal Navy’s Commander Operations, Rear Admiral Ian Corder.

Medals were also presented to 15 commandos and sailors, some of whom had taken part in counter-piracy operations.

Afterwards the Royal Marines held a families’ day at Clyde Naval Base where visitors were given a chance to see some of the equipment which the commandos have used in operations around the globe.

 

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