Although the Royal Marines have earned hundreds of various battle honours over the centuries since their formation in 1664, not all can be officially placed in the Corps history. Only the actions that really stand out, often where Marines have won VCs (Britain's highest honour for military bravery), have made it. The following list consists of the current dates remembered specifically by the Corps each year.
The Birth of the Corps - 28 October 1664
It was Charles II who ordered the first marine regiment, titled "the Duke of York and Albany's Maritime regiment of Foot". This Duke was the head of the Admiralty at the time. They wore yellow jackets due to the allegiance to said Duke (it was his favourite colour), and is why there is a yellow stripe on the Corps colours today. There were 1200 men in this new regiment, raised to fight the Dutch at sea in the Second Dutch War.
The Capture of the Rock of Gibraltar - 24 July 1704
This attack took place in conjunction with Dutch Marines (and 3 Commando Brigade retains a strong link to the Royal Netherlands Marine Corps to this day). A total force of 2300 marines (1900 British) took the Rock and defended it during the 9 month siege that followed. This is the only battle honour on display on the colours and crest.
The Battle of Belleisle - 7 June 1761
The Marines played a major role in the capture of this island, from the first amphibious landing, and through all subsequent fighting. The laurel wreath borne on the Colours, crest and cap badge of the Marines is believed to have been adopted in honour of the distinguished service of the Corps during this operation.
The Battle of Bunker Hill - 17 June 1775
The Marines were called in to reinforce the British force attempting to storm Bunker Hill near Boston after the first two attempts to take the position had failed. The third effort, however, with the help of two battalions of marines, succeeded.
The Battle of Trafalgar - 21 October 1805
Around 3000 Royal Marines were present at Nelson's famous victory over the French and Spanish. Fighting on the upper decks, they suffered heavy casualties on the leading ships but formed the core of the boarding parties that succeeded in capturing so many enemy ships.
Gallipoli - 28 April 1915
Marines were involved in both the initial, unopposed, landings on the peninsula and the subsequent amphibious operation to relieve troops once the Turks reinforced the position. Marines bore the brunt of Turkish attacks around Anzac Cove, where they had relieved the Australians. The Turks were also driven back a substantial distsance by a counter attack by marines in another part of the peninsula. A Victoria Cross was also awarded to a Royal Marine during this campaign (Lance Corporal Parker, for evacuating wounded under fire).
The Raid on Zeebrugge - 23 April 1918
This operation to deny the Germans the use of the canal at Zeebrugge, a port in Belgium, was conducted jointly between the navy and marines. The objective was successfully achieved, with troops landing on the Mole under heavy fire and positions held to allow others time to block the canal. Two Victoria Crosses were awarded, by ballot, to marines following this operation.
The Normandy Landings - 6 June 1944
Marines played a huge role in this operation, manning most landing craft, providing specialist groups e.g. mine clearance), manning guns on support ships and the commandos of course leading the assault itself. In total over 16, 000 Royal Marines took part in Operation Overlord.
The Assault on Walcheren - 1 November 1944
Three Royal Marine Commandos (equivalent in size to battalions) took part in this assault. Its objective was to clear the mouth of the Scheldt river, and although little support was available to the marines this was achieved, after days of fighting. This success was owed in no small part to the small support craft, crewed by marines, who risked themselves to get close enough to support the troops on land.
Recapture of the Falklands - 14 June 1982
Royal Marines based in the Falklands were the first to come across Argentine invaders, and succeeded in killing around 30 enemy (including the destruction of an AMTRAK vehicle) before being overrun, at no loss to themselves. Subsequently marines dispatched from Britain played a leading role in the campaign, manning all landing craft and spearheading the unopposed amphibious landings. Marines then yomped across a large part of East Falkland to take part in the battle for Port Stanley, the main town. Successes in the mountains around Stanley for the marines led to the Argentine surrender. Approximately 50% of the Corps as it existed in 1982 took part in this campaign.
The Royal Marines have subsequently been involved in Operations in Northern Ireland (since well before 1969), the jungles of Indo-China (e.g. Malaya) fighting communist insurgents in the 1960s, Northern Iraq (Operation Haven following Desert Storm) in 1991, the Balkans (e.g. Kosovo from 1999) and of course are heavily involved in the Iraq war of 2003.