Royal Marines uniforms through the ages

The Royal Marines are marking the 350th anniversary of the Corps this year. A series of paintings shows the great changes to the uniforms during that time.

In the earliest days the wealth and status of the senior officers was reflected in the men’s uniforms. The yellow coats of the Duke of York and Albany’s Maritime Regiment of Foot were said to be yellow because it was the Duke’s favourite colour.

The red uniforms of the Georgian period, claimed to be red as it does not show blood. They were in fact red because that was the cheapest colour cloth at the time.

‘Red’ and ‘Blue’ Marines, the light infantry and artillery were nicknamed because of the colour of their uniforms.

The blue was adopted for the artillery in 1805 because it was easier to maintain in the dirty environment of working the ships’ guns, the first real step towards a practical working uniform.

Although it was to be almost a century before the dusty khaki of the Victorian age, the camouflage of the day, was introduced.

The mud of World War 1’s trenches saw gigantic steps forward in personal load carrying and the Mk1 shrapnel helmet.

Introduced after two years of trench warfare, these first ‘tin hats’ saved so many lives in the brutal turmoil of that war.

Next came camouflage properly in World War 2, initially the Denison smocks, often associated with the paras but also worn by commandos long into the 1960s.

As the Corps became commandos so the need for better equipment and new pattern camouflages have changed how a Royal looks.

In 1964, to mark 300 years of the Corps, Lovat uniform was introduced, the distinctive semi-formal uniform worn only by Marines.

The recent integration of combat uniforms, load-carrying equipment and personal-weapons systems available to the modern Corps has transformed their safety on the battlefield and changed how Marines look.