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The Commando Training Centre Royal Marines

CTC History (1)Kings Squad 1960's The origins of the modern day Commando Training Centre can be traced back to 1939, when the Corps expanded prior to the Second World War, resulting in the original camp being built for the training of reservists, and initially called the Royal Marines Reserve Depot.

By November that year staff had begun to form training teams at the new camp, formerly part of the estate of Sir Francis Drake, and by late January 1940 the first of many thousands of Royal Marines arrived at the depot for training. During 1940 'Hostilities Only' Recruits were trained at Lympstone, while regular troops destined for sea service were trained at their Naval Divisions. The base then known as Exton Camp was also the temporary home of the 7th and 8th Royal Marine battalions as well as a Naval unit which was accommodated under canvas.

On 5 September 1941 the camp was renamed Depot Royal Marines Lympstone and at its peak was training 800 Royal Marines a month for war service. During this period a second camp at nearby Dalditch in Budleigh Salterton was home to the Royal Marines Infantry Training Centre (RMITC), which was responsible for the second phase of training. In 1943 training was extended from six to eight weeks and in 1944 the package expanded further to 18 weeks. At the end of the war, the Army could no longer spare infantry for the specialist amphibious role, and it fell naturally to the Royal Marines with the establishment of 3 Commando Brigade to maintain the capability. The Commando School at Archnacarry in Scotland closed with the responsibility transferring to the Royal Marines Training Group at Tywyn in Wales.

CTC History (2)Flags Records for 1946 show that 3,000 officers and men were living in 74 wooden huts at Lympstone, with an average 1,000 recruits under training at any one time. Dalditch was closed and Lympstone renamed, the Infantry Training Centre. Its role began to expand with both the Officer and Non Commissioned Officer schools being transferred to the base.

During the 1960s the majority of the Corps' specialist infantry training, command and communication courses, and virtually all other aspects of Commando Training held at Bickleigh camp, near Plymouth, were relocated to Lympstone. A major building programme commenced and the first of the new accommodation blocks was opened on 12 July 1963. In 1970 the camp was finally renamed The Commando Training Centre Royal Marines (CTCRM). Four years later, in 1974, the move to put all elements of training and continuation courses under one roof was completed when the first phase of the Junior Royal Marine Course, which until then was held at Deal in Kent, transferred all training to CTCRM.

Throughout the 1970s work continued to shape Lympstone into a centre of military excellence with a swimming pool and gymnasium complex, Medical Centre, indoor range, lecture complex and even its own railway station being constructed. In 1976 the trees which held the 30 foot high Tarzan Course were retired and replaced with a safer metal frame structure. The Commando Training Centre at Lympstone has seen many changes since 1939, although it still retains one of the old wooden huts as a mark of respect to the pioneers of World War Two. Changes in management structure and training procedures and syllabi have occurred in response to lessons learned from practical experience and in response to the changing geopolitical environment.

In the 1990s the ability of commanders to recognise the need for change and implement it in an efficient and effective manner has led to the creation of a well balanced and inter-dependent unit at Lympstone ready to face the future. Having embraced the concept of Output Budget Management and Resource Accounting and Budgeting, CTCRM can accurately forecast and manage both training and administrative budgets.

CTC History (3)Kings Squad 2000's Today CTCRM provides for all aspects of new entry training and continuation courses within one establishment, ensuring the highest standards are maintained, so guaranteeing the Royal Marines Command has personnel for its major manoeuvre element, 3 Commando Brigade Royal Marines and other operational units. Historically it is the quality of training maintained by Lympstone that has proved so vital to the success of 3 Commando Brigade on operational deployments such as Operation Corporate (the Falklands) and Operation Haven (Northern Iraq). It has also ensured that the Royal Marines have a lead role in the Joint Rapid Reaction Force (JRRF).