Sunday, February 2, 2014
Introducing the British Naval Infantry
The British Naval Infantry, most commonly known as Royal Marines, is an elite light infantry unit of the British military meant to support maritime operations. They trace their origins to the mid 17th century when the first 'Maritime Regiment on Foot' was established. Throughout history they have been deployed in many conflicts, often fighting next to the regular army ground troops. Their fighting tradition includes the Sever Year's War, the Napoleonic Campaigns, the Crimean War, both World Wars, and more recently conflicts like the Falklands, the Persian Gulf War, Iraq and Afghanistan.
During World War II, they saw considerable action. From early landing missions on Norway, Dieppe, and Tobruk -in which they suffered heavy losses-, to later operations such as D-Day, Sicily, and the Netherlands. They also saw action in Singapore and Burma. Initially they operated as Royal Marine Infantry Battalions, part of Royal Marine Divisions, but later on the battalions were reorganized into Commandos and merged with the Army Commandos into Special Service Brigades, each with 4 to 5 Commandos (former Battalions). One peculiar fact is that the Royal Marines also provided infantry detachments to war ships and as part of that role, they were also responsible for operating some of the ships' guns. Royal Marines were also in charge of manning the British Navy's landing craft. In terms of toy soldier figures, we have a couple of options to consider. Let's take a look.
Lone Star British Naval Infantry - Part I
An interesting and unique set, even if the sculpting is not all that detailed. The poses are still interesting and less ordinary with some poses being quite specific to the service branch. Unfortunately the plastic used by Lone Star became brittle over time and today many figures are broken. For instance, one of the men in the middle is missing part of his rope and the man next to him was supposed to be holding a signal flag. As far as I know, thanks to Brian, one of our readers, there were 9 figures in the set. Missing are an officer and a helmsman. The man in white I've learned, is part of a set made by Charbens.
Lone Star British Naval Infantry - Part II
These poses show a bit more action, and would be better suited for a fighting scene and is more to my liking. Even the prone man with the Bren gun is lifting his foot to make him look more 'into it'. The man on the left however is taking what seems like a very odd step. Usually, when a leg moves forward, it is the opposite arm that moves forward along with it, but what do I know. Maybe he is getting off a boat in which case I can see how he might be stepping off and reaching with his free hand at the same time. I will continue to keep an eye out for additional poses in this set, just in case. BTW, we've got another Charbens guy who snuck into the picture.
Lone Star British Naval Infantry - Part III
Here are two of the less common guys. The officer, which happens to have a movable arm that allows him to look into his binoculars and the helmsman. I actually don't have much use for the the helmsman without a ship to place him in. I would have preferred another raiding pose in the set.
Lone Star British Naval Infantry - Part IV
Here two of the poses already depicted in the first picture, however this time I found them without any pieces broken off, which is hard given how thin and brittle the rope and flag poles are. Note also that the man on the right is painted in a different color scheme.
Timpo / Lone Star British Naval Infantry - Part 1
These are recast figures of the Lone Star British Naval Infantry. They are pretty much the same poses, except for the fact that they do not have any factory paint on them, and that they are made of a more resilient plastic which does not break. Now that I have found these guys, I will not paint my original/vintage Lone Star figures and paint these newer recasts instead.
Timpo / Lone Star British Naval Infantry - Part 2
Out of the original nine Lone Star figures Timpo recast 8 of them. The guy who is missing is the helmsman, however I did not really have much use for him as part of a raiding party, so it's not like I will be missing him much.
Then we also have a good number of Commando Figures from several other manufacturers such as Airfix, Matchbox, Atlantic and Crescent. Considering that Commando Brigades contained Royal Marine Battalions, I think we can also count those as potential Royal Marine units.
Click here to see a post about the Lone Star figures