'Post war History and Training 1946 - present'

The following pages will tell you a little about current Commando training for the Royal Marines, and the All Arms Commando Course for the other Services of today, but first read about the changes the Commandos went through post war.

In 1946 a decision was made to disband the Army Commandos. Demobilization commenced almost immediately with some Commando Units being merged for short periods as numbers dwindled. The Commando Basic Training Centre at Achnacarry was closed and returned to the Lochiel. The task of maintaining the proud tradition that the Army Commandos had done so much to create was passed to the Royal Marines.

There is a small memorial of a Commando Soldier in Westminster Abbey. The quotation below this memorial speaks for all wartime Commandos: 

"They performed whatsoever the King commanded"

The RM Commandos did not escape the cutbacks being reduced from nine units down to just three. The existing 3 Commando Brigade was reformed as 3 Commando Brigade, Royal Marines. In 1947 the Brigade consisted of 40 Commando ( formed from the disbanded 44RM Commando), 42 Commando, and 45 Commando. 

Unlike in WW2, nowadays all Royal Marines are Commando trained. However this did not occur immediately.  Throughout the 50's and 60's recruits attended the Infantry Training Centre, Royal Marines at Lympstone. Once finished their infantry training, Marines had a choice of of going either on the Commando course, or on a Gunnery Course and going to sea on “Big Ships”.

On Friday 25th November 1960 universal wearing of green beret was ordered.
"Previously only worn by ranks serving in Commando Units or the Commando School, the Green beret is now to be issued to ORs of the RMBS and Buglers on attaining Adult 1st Class status or on first draft to an HM Ship, RN Establishment, or Commando Unit or formation - whichever is sooner. After issue green beret will be part of compulsory kit. RM and RM Band Officers are to provide themselves with the green beret when required." [1].

Eventually a decision was made for all Royal Marines to be Commando trained and in 1972 the name of the training centre at Lympstone was changed to the Commando Training Centre, Royal Marines (CTCRM). 

Veterans wear the blue beret with red patch just as proudly as Commandos  who wear the green beret. These days the former is worn in service only by recruits, often harmlessly referred to in the past as Nods or Winks.

Today the CTCRM delivers training recruitment and selection, recruit and Officer training, leadership and career training for the Royal Marines, as well as Commando training for the rest of UK Defence.

Additionally Army Commando units have again returned. During 1962, 29 Field Regiment RA were deployed with 25 Pounder guns in Aden and Kuwait, deterring Iraq from invading the oil fields. On the back of these deployments, the Regiment was re-roled as Commando Artillery. The newly formed 29 Commando Regiment RA trained for and passed the All Arms Commando Course at the Training Centre Royal Marines Lympstone. It was a proud and historic moment when the first Army Commandos since the end of the War received their Green Berets on 15 May 1962.

24 Commando Engineer Regiment and 131 Independent Commando Squadron Royal Engineers (V) provide integral engineer support to 3 Commando Brigade Royal Marines. Currently 24 Cdo RE consists of 54 Commando Headquarters and Support Squadron RE and 59 Commando Squadron RE, as well as 131 Independent Commando Squadron Royal Engineers.  

Today's Commando Logisitic Support Squadron can trace its Commando roots back to the 8th May 1964 when four Officers and 24 RAOC storemen and clerks completed their commando training and were awarded their Green Berets as part of the new 3 Commando Brigade Ordnance Field Park. Changing its name in 1972 to the Commando Ordnance Squadron, then being renamed again as the Commando Logisitic Squadron in 1996.

CVA / Royal Navy / MOD.
[1] RM Historical Timeline - website royal-marines.net

Read on from the link below ......

Training Centres 1946 - present

1946 to present day

In 1946 all the Army Commando units were disbanded and the Commando role was taken over by the Royal Marines. Additionally five of the eight RM Commando Units that were in existence were disbanded. The remaining three units were redesignated as 40 Commando RM, 42 Commando RM, and 45 Commando RM, and were grouped together to form the new 3 Commando Brigade Royal Marines. The Commando Basic Training Centre at Achnacarry closed.

Commando School

Those Royal Marines selected for specialised Commando training now attended the Commando School initially located at Towyn in Wales, then relocated in 1947 to Bickleigh in Plymouth. In 1954 it was moved to the ITC Lympstone.

Infantry Training Centre, Lympstone (ITCRM)

The base for the initial training for all Royal Marines. Not all Royal Marines received Commando training at this time.

Commando Training Centre Royal Marines (CTCRM)

In the early 70's it was decided that all Royal Marines should be Commando trained. Commando training was centralised at Lympstone, and the ITCRM was re-designated as the CTCRM.

'Post war Commando School RM'

After the war ended and Achnacarry closed, those Royal Marines selected for specialised Commando training attended the Commando School initially located at Towyn in Wales, then relocated in 1947 to Bickleigh in Plymouth. In 1954 it was moved to the ITC Lympstone.

'Commando Training Centre RM'

The Commando Training Centre, also known as CTCRM, is the principal training centre for the Royal Marines.

Based at Lympstone in Devon CTCRM selects and trains all Royal Marines Officers, recruits and reserves. CTCRM is unique in that it also provides all Non Commissioned Officer (NCO) command training as well as training 70% of all Royal Marines specialists.

On average, 1,300 recruits, 2,000 potential recruits and 400 potential officers attend training courses and acquaint courses at CTCRM every year. In addition the Training Wings run upwards of 320 courses a year for a further 2,000 students.
At the end of their course they have to pass the four Commando Tests.

[Source: royalnavy.mod.uk]

Are you ready for Royal Marines Commando training ? The current training programme

[view .....].

Serving in the Navy, Army, Air Force and ready for the All Arms Commando Course ?   
[view .....].

'The Four Commando Tests'

The tests below were accurate in 2013. To check on current requirements as well as how to prepare visit the Ministry of Defence Royal Navy website pages highlighted.

At the end of Royal Marines training recruits need to pass four Commando tests in the space of a week. All tests are completed carrying 21 lbs of equipment and a rifle.

The Commando Tests include an Endurance Course, a 9 mile speed march, a Tarzan Assault course and a 30 mile speed march across Dartmoor.

On the Saturday they complete a six-mile endurance course which is a series of tunnels including a short-water tunnel followed by a four-mile run back to Commando Training Centre Royal Marines. A version of this test without equipment is done annually by thousands of civilians for charity during the Commando Challenge.

On Monday morning the recruits do a nine mile speed march in 90 minutes. Speed marching is a combination of running and marching.

On Tuesday morning the recruits do the Tarzan Assault course. They have already passed the Assault course in five minutes in week 20 of training.  The Tarzan course is a high obstacle confidence course which recruits have five minutes to pass. This third test requires them to combine the Tarzan and Assault courses and they have 13 minutes to complete it which means they have to go flat out the whole way round.

After this they only have one more test to pass – a simple 30 mile march across Dartmoor. The 30 mile speed march starts at the north end of Dartmoor and finishes near Plymouth. Recruits have eight hours to complete this test and will carry about 40 lbs of equipment.

If they have passed all the tests they are presented with their Green Berets at the end of the speed march.

Source and details valid as at December 2013: Royal Navy / MOD

The All Arms Commando Course

A brief insight into the All Arms Commando Course.

12 weeks (including 4 weeks preparatory course)
Location : Commando Training Centre Royal Marines
Pre Commando Course (PCC)
With sponsor units 29 Cdo RA, 24 Cdo RE


To prepare Navy, Army or Air Force personnel for service with 3 Cdo Bde RM 
by developing the temperament, mental resolve, physical robustness and core 
military skills necessary in the demanding environment of expeditionary and 
littoral operations.


Field craft & tactics
First Aid, health & hygiene
Map reading & navigation
Organisation & role of Commando forces
Skill at Arms with troop weapons
Physical fitness
Amphibious training
Vertical assault


Pass Royal Marines Battle Fitness Test (BFT) on joining course
Pass Combat Fitness Test (CFT) within 1 month of joining course
Swim 60 metres in clothing, tread water for 3 minutes, having entered water from 3 metres
Climb 30ft (9.2m) rope whilst wearing equipment weighing 6.8kg on joining course
Pass Weapons Handling Tests on personal weapon to a skilled standard on joining course


Twelve miles (19km) load carry (with equipment weighing 31.3kg and 
personal weapon) at night as a formed body within the time limit of 4 hours
Tarzan / Assault course in 13 minutes with equipment weighing 9.6kg and 
carrying personal weapon
Six mile Endurance Course in 73 minutes with equipment weighing 9.6kg 
and carrying personal weapon
Nine mile speed march in 90 minutes as a formed body with equipment 
weighing 9.6kg and carrying personal weapon
Final exercise testing basic military tactics (m ap reading, amphibious skills, 
endurance and stamina)
March 30 miles in 8 hours with equipment weighing 9.6kg and carrying 
personal weapon and safety stores on a given Dartmoor route as a syndicate


Emphasis is on fitness & stamina. All students must be physically prepared on arrival. The 4 week Preparation Course run by one of the 2 sponsor units takes place at Oakhampton Battle Camp or RMB Chivenor immediately precedes the AACC and provides for the essential preparation including weapons familiarisation.

Source & Photos: CVA

Read about the origins of the green beret here: History of the Commando Green Beret

For more precise information about the AACC watch the video from the link below right ......


Latest from the M.O.D.

The joining process for Royal Marines Commandos is necessarily rigorous. Like any physical and mental test, being prepared will give you the best chance of success. This section gives you more details about the Naval Service Recruit Test, the Pre-Joining Fitness Test - Plus, and the Royal Marine Candidate Preparation Course [more.....].

'View of Commando training in 1973'

Extract from Comando Association newsletter 56 issued March 1973.
We feel sure Members will be interested to have news of Major General John Owen, O.B.E., who served during the war in No. 44 RM. Cdo, and who now commands the Commando Forces,  Royal Marines. from his Headquarters in Plymouth. In conjunction with Colonel Derek Pounds [more...], who was an instructor at Achnacarry, and who has kindly compiled a few notes on present-day Commando training,  John has added notes on the present organisation of Commando Forces, and we have no doubt that many members will enjoy reading just how our successors are progressing.
Teaching the new dog old tricks
Cornmando Training at Achnacarry during World War II evolved almost directly from the methods used by Sir John Moore in training light infantry at Shorncliffe, prior to the Peninsular War. Both systems aimed at teaching trained men how to become highly efficient infantrymen, capable of fighting alone or in small groups and using speed, lightness and mobility to achieve surprise and success. 
Commando training at CTCRM Lympstone is designed to achieve the same end as in World War II, with the exception that there is greater emphasis on marksmanship, tactical knowledge and understanding of the social environment in which men are likely to operate. Marines are given basic training for 24 weeks, joining as recruits direct from civil life and being awarded the Green Beret after 14 weeks and the commando shoulder insignia after passing out as King's Squad.
The tests and times parallel those of Achnacarry days, but the training is systematic and assessed step-by-step to limit wastage through minor injuries. The training is as demanding as anything done at Achnacarry, but the living conditions are vastly superior and the men recuperate quickly in good surroundings. Sailors, soldiers and airmen who are destined in serve in Commando Forces come as trained officers and men and undergo a six-week course to gain the knowledge and skills needed to earn a Green Beret. This course is nearer to the Achnacarry course in design and content.
Which is tougher, Achnacarry or Lympstone ?
Our assessment is that the former was more arduous and unpleasant because of the indifferent living conditions. Training at Lympstone is equally demanding, covers a variety of subjects, aims at producing the " whole man " and is probably more stimulating and interesting. The end product from Lympstone is a man who is highly competent, well motivated and a worthy successor to his Achnacarry predecessors.
Teaching the old dog new tricks
Perhaps nowhere more than in the field of defence have we, as a country, learned to look towards Europe (NATO) as the focus of our activities in the future. Since 1968 all United Kingdom Amphibious Forces, that is the ships, commandos and helicopters, have been declared to NATO. The special characteristics of commandos make them ideally suited for operations in the rugged terrain of, for example, Norway or Turkey, on NATO's northern and southern flanks. One commando group is socially trained and equipped for mountain and arctic warfare and could, if required, operate during the height of an arctic winter. 
Despite this emphasis on possible operations in concert with our NATO allies, today's Commando Forces may still be called upon to provide units to meet certain national contingency plans. All ex-commando readers will also be aware that commando units have operated in Northern Ireland since the emergency began in 1969. These changes of role and emphasis have inevitably brought about changes in our organisation. Like the remainder of the Services, we have learned to live with the 3-Rs of postwar life-Realism, Rationalisation and Re-organisation. This has tailbred and streamlined our organisations to meet the new situations. This has resulted in specialist units being formed of commando gunners, commando sappers and more recently commando logisticians. The last being a mixture of Royal Marines, RAOC., RCT.. REME.. RAPC, and the Naval Medical Branch.
Under HQ Commando Forces in Plymouth, the principle formation is 3 Commando Brigade RM., consisting of a Headquarters and 40, 41 and 42 Commandos, plus 29 Commando Light Regiment RA. and 59 Independent Commando Squadron RE. There is also the Commando Logistic Regiment. All these units, with the exception of 41 Commando, are based in the West Country. Adjacent to training areas, a mounting port and helicopter bases. 41 Commando is now based in Malta. 45 Commando Group is based at Arbroath in Scotland where mountain and arctic warfare training using the Cairngorms and Norway, can best be done.  Also under command is 95 Forward Observation Unit RA., based at Poole, which provides naval gunfire spotting teams. Finally, a Raiding Squadron equipped with small high-speed raiding craft is also part of Commando Forces. Special Boat Sections are attached to Commando Forces when necessary.
In the post-war years, Commando Forces have largely been concerned with United Kingdom commitments in the Far and Middle East. We now find ourselves in a different league as part of a larger NATO amphibious force, facing a sophisticated and well-equipped enemy. These changes have posed, and will continue to pose, a major challenge to today's proud wearers of the Green Beret. We may have put on a bit of chainmail, but we are as active, fit and determined as ever.