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Old 29-04-21, 08:23 PM
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Default Southern Nigerian Marine

As well as collecting Royal Navy badges and insignia, I also collect the insignia of the various small colonial 'navies' established by Britain at the height of the British Empire.

One of these was the Southern Nigerian Marine (SNM). Like many of these colonial organisations relatively little is known about its history or its insignia. And when its badges are found by collectors there is often confusion as to their identity. This week I purchased an SNM button. It's not much to look at - a King's Crown naval button with a foul anchor, plain background, rope edging and the letters SNM - but the SNM was a direct ancestor of the modern Nigerian Navy. See image 1 below.

In the late 19th century Nigeria was divided into two - the Southern Protectorate of Nigeria and the Northern Protectorate of Nigeria. The first naval force founded in Nigeria was the Lagos Marine founded in Southern Nigeria in 1887 by the British Colonial Government. This force was later expanded to become the Southern Nigerian Marine in 1893. The SNM was a quasi-military organisation, mostly undertaking coastguard duties. The responsibilities of the Marine included administration of the ports and harbours, dredging of channels, bouyage and lighting. It also operated ferry services, touring launches and other small craft that plied the various creeks and other inland waterways.

In 1900 a Northern Nigerian Marine (NMM) was also established. The buttons worn by the NNM were similar to those worn by the SNM but replaced the S with an N.

In 1914 Nigeria came under a single colonial administration and the two Marines were merged into a new Nigerian Marine. Although it performed mostly coastguard functions, the Nigerian Marine saw action in the First World War as part of the British military offensive against German held Cameroon.

The Nigerian Marine remained the only maritime organisation in Nigeria until 1955 when the British colonial authorities carried out a major reorganisation of Nigeria's maritime administration in order to improve efficiency. Three new organisations were established to undertake the functions previously undertaken by the Nigerian Marine - the Nigerian Ports Authority, the Inland Waterways Department and the Nigerian Naval Force (NNF). The NNF was mostly made up of reserve officers of the Royal Navy and ex-service personnel who were transferred to the Nigerian Ports Authority from the defunct Nigerian Marine. These officers and men never liked the transfer and pressed the colonial authorities to reconstitute them as the nucleus of a future Nigerian Navy. Under pressure from them the Nigerian Naval Force was established on 1st June 1956.

In July 1959, the Nigerian Naval Force became the Royal Nigerian Navy. The title was changed to the Nigerian Navy after Nigeria became an independent republic in 1963.

Below are images of the buttons worn by the Southen Nigerian Marine, the Northern Nigerian Marine and the Nigerian Marine. The earlier pattern buttons had plain lettering but later buttons had the lettering in Gothic script.

Also shown are the officers cap badges of the SNM, the NNM, and the 1953 pattern cap badge of the Nigerian Marine.

Finally, there are two examples of shoulder straps - the 1914 pattern strap of the Nigerian Marine with a diamond replacing the executive curl; and a 1953 pattern strap where the diamond has been replaced with a Queen's Crown.

Pete
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Last edited by Guzzman; 30-04-21 at 06:19 AM.
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Old 30-04-21, 10:44 AM
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Pete,

Not my collecting field however I found this to be a very informative and well illustrated thread on an obviously little known area of Naval collecting, many thanks for posting.

Regards, Simon.
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Old 30-04-21, 12:40 PM
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A very good account of a subject I knew nothing about, thank you.

David.
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Old 30-04-21, 01:29 PM
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Default Southern Nigeran Marine

Simon and David

Thank-you both for your comments

Pete
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