Marines ‘are not school boys’

Churchill (LoC)On 10 January 1912 Winston Churchill, First Lord of the Admiralty, minuted on a paper regarding the proposed installation of electric light at the Royal Marine Light Infantry’s depot at Portsmouth:

No question of electric light.

Let a hundred incandescent burners be issued and warn the men that if they break them they will be the sufferers.

Report to me upon the experiment.

It will reveal a very low standard of discipline and intelligence if the Royal Marines could not be trusted with incandescent burners. They are not school boys, and their Officers ought not to give colour to the suggestion. A decent educated self-respecting lot of men will use with care what is designed for their comfort.

Whether the Marines at Forton Barracks ever got electric light is unknown. After the First World War, with the amalgamation of the Light Infantry and Artillery the Portsmouth Division moved to the latter’s barracks at Eastney. In 1927 Forton was recommissioned as H.M.S. St. Vincent, a training establishment for boys. Ironic in light of Churchill’s 1912 reference to school boys.

Taken from First Lord’s Minutes Vol. I at the Admiralty Library.

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