Bickleigh marines mark their new role with parade and fun day

Royal Marines marked the end of one of the biggest reshuffles in the Corps’ recent history by parading for the nation’s second highest ranking sailor.

Fleet Commander Vice Admiral Ben Key was invited to 42 Commando at Bickleigh in Plymouth to celebrate the unit’s new, enhanced role as the ‘go-to unit’ when it comes to board-and-search, force protection, training our allies around the globe and rescuing downed aircrew.

Until a couple of years ago, with the exception of 43 Commando Fleet Protection Group, 40, 42 and 45 were all pretty much interchangeable, taking it in turns once every three years to act as Lead Commando Group, ready to respond to global events at immediate notice.

Under Project Sykes, intended to make the Corps more efficient and effective, that all changed.

43 Commando relinquished its squadron of board and search specialists – the teams which join RN ships to conduct boarding operations, chiefly east of Suez; they are now Juliet Company, 42 Commando.

42’s Kilo Company are the SALT experts – small, highly-specialised teams who Support, Augment, Liaise and Train either other UK units, Allied forces, or front-line operations.

Lima Company are now responsible for Joint Personnel Recovery – rescuing aircrew or fellow marines/soldiers who are isolated, missing, detained or captured in an operational environment – in particular fliers aboard HMS Queen Elizabeth.

And finally 42’s Mike Company provide force protection teams to RN and RFA ships passing through high threat areas around the globe.

With these new roles now in place, all serving members of 42 who were not deployed, plus families and friends, turned out for the parade, followed by a families day.

Admiral Key took the salute with 3 Commando Brigade’s Commanding Officer Brig Gwyn Jenkins also present.

Formalities over, the fun day/open afternoon began as the gates of the base were opened to locals, veterans, and families.

Youngsters – and adults – were let loose on a range of fun activities from NERF gun ranges and bouncy castles, to a fun fair, mini Land Rovers, and an inter-company tug-of-war contest (won by Mike Coy).