Royal Marines storm Greek airfield

Royal Marines swept over hallowed ground as they readied themselves for eight days of intensive training in the Greek Navy's key exercise of the autumn.

The men of Bravo Company, 40 Commando, normally based in Norton Manor near Taunton, have joined UK flagship HMS Ocean for her autumn deployment leading a NATO task group in the eastern Mediterranean.

Fresh from a large-scale exercise with the Turks, Ocean shifted 250 miles to the west and waters off Crete.

There the Royal Marines moved ashore by Wildcat and Merlin Mk3 helicopters during a day of combined training with the US Marine Corps' Black Sea Rotational Force.

The commandos were flown into Maleme airfield - in 1941, the focal point of an aerial assault by German airborne forces who paid very heavily for seizing the base.

No such hostile reception awaited the Norton Manor men as they took a 'leap of faith' and fast roped from the Commando Helicopter Force aircraft.

One on the ground, the troops conducted mortar firing, honed their close-quarters battle drills and joined their US brethren in combined section attacks around Maleme, which remains a working airfield.

"This was a good day of integration training and teaching the US Marines basic soldiering skills," said Mne Greg Finlow.

"The day was a big eye-opener on how they conduct themselves on the battlefield."

On returning to Ocean, Bravo Company and the US Black Sea Rotational Force focused their attentions on Exercise Niriis 17, where the Greeks had overnight raids on 'enemy' positions lined up for the two marine corps.

This was a good day of Integration Training and teaching the US Marines basic soldiering skills.

Marine Greg Finlow, 40 Commando