Flying Royal Marines, by Colonel Michael Reece OBE
Book published by the Royal Marines Historical Society in 2012. 371 pages. Paperback (N6374WSO)
From the rear side cover: From the very beginning of military aviation Royal Marines have played a significant part and made a major contribution. Many of the early international aviation records prior to WWl were set by Royal Marines officers; the first non-commissioned pilot in the RNAS was Private Edmonds RMLI who qualified in 1912; the first strategic bombing raid was led by Major Gerrard RMLI in 1914; the first Chief of the Air Staff was former Royal Marine Colonel Sykes. In the First World War no less than fifty-five aviators emanated from the Royal Marine Artillery and Royal Marine Light Infantry.
In the Second World War a total ofthirty-two Royal Marines flew in the Fleet Air Arm in all sorts of aircraft. Many commanded Naval Air Squadrons and some even Carrier Group Wings and others served as 'Commander Flying' on carriers.
After the Second World War, Royal Marines participation in the Fleet Air Arm dwindled to almost extinction with Lieutenant Murphy RM being the last fixed wing pilot in 1960, and incidentally the first Royal Marines jet pilot. However from this point came the advent of the Commando Ship into the Royal Navy and the helicopter into the Fleet Air Arm with a few Royal Marines pilots being trained each year for the 'Jungly' squadrons, which made such a name for themselves in the Malayan and Borneo jungles.
This was followed by the introduction of the Unit Light Helicopter Flights and later the formation of 3 Commando Brigade Air Squadron, which brought with them the reintroduction of Royal Marines NCO pilots. Although the majority of Royal Marines pilots were now trained by the Army the Corps continued to provide a nucleus of Royal Navy trained pilots and NCO aircrewmen for the Fleet Air Arm Commando helicopter squadrons. Sixty-nine Royal Marines Aviators took part in the Falklands War in 1982.
In 2000 after an absence of almost forty years the Royal Marines resumed participation in fixed-wing naval aviation with the training of the first Royal Marines Harrier pilot, Lieutenant Phil Kelly RM. By the demise of the Joint Harrier Force as a result of the 2010 Defence Review there was a total offive Royal Marines Harrier pilots qualified or in the training pipeline.
Meanwhile Royal Marines participation in the Royal Navy helicopter squadrons continued with new aircrew specialisations such as Air Gunner, Observer and Lynx Door Gunner. Most of the aircrewmen and air gunners in these squadrons are Royal Marines NCOs. As of August 2011 there were forty-four pilots and sixty-four aircrewmenlair gunners.
Colonel Michael Reece OBE is the only Royal Marines officer ever to have commanded a Naval Air Squadron (848 NAS) and a Commando (41 Commando RM), which makes him eminently qualified to write this history of Royal Marines Aviation. However this is not just a history; it also gives a very personal insight into the selfless devotion to duty and outstanding bravery ofthese men together with many of the more light-hearted moments in their colourful lives. The outstanding research and attention to detail with amazing photographic support makes this truly the Bible of Royal Marines Aviation.
The condition of the book is generally good. The cover has some minor scuffs, and some creasing and wear along the edges, but the spine is tight and intact, and all pages are clean, intact, unblemished and tightly bound.