Tag Archives: Dutch marines

New Battle Streamer for Marines

Well, the Dutch Marines, anyway.

We’ve talked much about the Dutch Korps Mariniers in the past, especially when it comes to their long combat history such as in the Dutch East Indies in the 1940s.

Much like the USMC’s Teufel Hunden/Devil Dog nickname, the Dutch marines’ earned their “Zwarte Duivels” moniker while fighting the Germans.

Some ~400 Dutch marines, fighting in small platoon-sized groups, held off the Germans in May 1940 at the key port of Rotterdam, putting up such stiff resistance against superior arms that the Germans, according to legend, called them Black Devils due to their dark uniforms.

The Germans termed them “Schwarzen Teufel” because of their dark blue overcoats, blackened faces, and courageous defiance in defense of the Maas bridges.

Founded 10 December 1665, the Korps Mariniers this week added a new battle streamer (Vaandelopschriften) to their flag. The new streamer, titled “Helmand, Kandahar, Uruzgan” recognizes the special and regular combat operations conducted by the service in Afghanistan from 2006 to 2010, in which two marines were killed, 18 seriously wounded, and 12 decorated for valor.

A standing force of just under 2,000 Dutch troops had been deployed in central Uruzgan province between 2006 and 2010, with a large portion of them being Dutch Marines, who also served alongside the British in Helmand and Kandahar. All told, the Dutch lost 25 troops in Afghanistan.

Note the traditional 1890s elements to the Korps Mariniers’ dress uniforms, including pith helmets, dark blue (almost black) coats, and traditional Dutch orange banners.

Pith-helmeted Royal Netherlands Marine Corps recruitment poster (c.1902) Dutch via Nationaal Archief Den Haag

95 Years Ago: Jan Hollander on the Szechnen Road

As with all Western navies of the day, the Dutch had special marching order equipment to supply sailors for landing divisions in a sort of light infantry (Matrozen van de Landingsdivisie), and a great example of which are these series of shots of sailors from the Java-class light cruiser Hr.Ms. Sumatra alongside Dutch Marines (Korps Mariniers) on post in war-torn 1927 Shanghai overlooking the Szechnen Road on the bridge over Soochow Creek near the Main Post Office.

Five sailors in marching order including cartridge pouches on leather webbing and puttees, with a Marine and a local “mascot” who may have been brought with the ship from the Dutch East Indies. As the Royal Navy and U.S. Navy did with ships stationed in the Far East, as much as a fifth of the personnel aboard Dutch ships in the region at the time were drawn from local recruits. Note the Geweer M. 95 6.5mm Dutch Mannlichers with their distinctive early model (pre-1905) 19-inch OEWG hooked quillon bayonets. NIMH 2173-224-044

NIMH 2173-224-132

Mugging for the camera, with two Marines and two sailors. Note the Lewis gun and mass of rickshaws in the background. NIMH 2158_061470

The Dutch, along with other European, Japanese, and American forces, were active in the city during the panic that saw the rebellious Reds of the Shanghai Commune crushed by Chiang Kai-shek’s KMT troops. Sumatra’s sailors were ashore and on post from 19 February to 12 May 1927.

Talk About Recruiting Posters…

Recruiting propaganda, likely going back to the Romans, has always been replete with snazzy uniforms, exotic climes, and sweet gear.

Speaking of which, the Dutch Korps Mariniers were recently in Norway undertaking regular ops in the snow, a task they have held along with their allied British Royal Marines of 3 Commando for well over 40 years.

And man, did they make a recruiting poster-worthy moto photo.

Incidentally, the Dutch Marines have a long combat history, especially in the Dutch East Indies in the 1940s after being trained and equipped by the U.S. Marines for late 1945 landings in Japan that didn’t happen.

Dutch Marines heading for the beach at Pasir Putih during the police actions in Indonesia, 1947. Note the USMC-issue gear and the PBY in the distance. 

Historically tasked with staffing far-off outposts in places such as in the Dutch West Indies (Aruba, Curaçao Sint Maarten, et. al) they used to run the more old-school snazzy uniform posters back in the day. You know, to get the kids out of the tulip fields and into the barracks.

Pickelhaube-wearing Royal Netherlands Marine Corps recruitment poster (c.1902), showing European and tropical uniforms, via the Nationaal Archief Den Haag

The Face of War

The Dutch Marines, known as the Korps Mariniers  is the marine corps and amphibious infantry component of the Royal Netherlands Navy and has been such since 1665– predating the USMC by a tad more than a century. They have been known for being salty sea dogs and hard fighters for over three hundred years in dozens of wars. The Japanese found out as much in the Pacific in World War Two.

Slate has an interesting article about a photo essay of 20 Dutch devil-dogs showing a close-up face shot of them before, during, and after a 12-month stint in Afghanistan.

I think the ‘during‘ is the most telling.