The Dutch Marine Corps Rifle Platoon, 1978

The logo of the Dutch Marine Corps<br>Qua Patet Orbis – As Far as the World Extends

For today’s post, we will consider the 1978 infantry platoon of the Dutch Marine Corps (Korps Mariniers).

During the second half of the Cold War, the Dutch Marine Corps played a role on NATO’s Northern flank in Norway. As part of the British 3 Commando Brigade, the 1 Amphibious Combat Group could be quickly deployed to Northern Norway to meet Soviet aggression. Befitting its role in Norway, 1 ACG was trained for mountain and arctic warfare.

Meanwhile on the other side of the spectrum – and planet for that matter – 2 Amphibious Combat Group was stationed on the Dutch possessions in the Caribbean, principally Curaçao and Aruba. Trained in jungle warfare, these units could be deployed to the UK/NL Landing Force, but only to non-arctic areas.

As a source for this post, the Handboek voor de Marinier of 1978 is used. A Marine Corps equivalent to the Army’s Handboek voor de Soldaat, this handbook/manual contains the basic information every marine should know. Consequently, it also contains the table of organisation and equipment for the infantry platoon.

This post is further supported by a number of Army manuals, including those on the MAG, LAW, and a general weapons manual. As the Handboek voor de Marinier itself quotes from Army manuals, it would appear manuals are entirely interchangeable between the two services.

The manual's page concerning the platoon

Infanteriepeloton (infpel)

a. Commandogroep

Functie:   Rang: Bewapening:
schutter TLV 84 mm   KPLMARNALG P
helper TLV 84 mm   MARN 1 P
ordonnans   MARNVB 1 P
schutter mortier 60 mm   KPLMARN ALG P
helper mortier 60 mm   MARN 1 P

(1-4-5-24) = 1 off./4 kpls en 24 manschappen
cogp = commandogroep
gewgp = geweergroep
pc = pelotonscommandant
opc = opvolgend pelotonscommandant
pm = pistoolmitrailleur
P = pistool

Infantry platoon (inf plt)

a. Platoon headquarters
Function:   Rank: Armament:
PL   1st Lieutenant SMG
PSG   Sergeant major SMG
Carl Gustav Gunner   Corporal P
Carl Gustav Assistant [gunner]   Marine 1st class P
Messenger   Signals Marine 1st class P
Gunner 60 mm mortar   Corporal P
Assistant [gunner] 60 mm mortar   Marine 1st class P

(1-4-5-27) = 1 off./4 NCO/5 corporals and 24 enlisted men
plt hq = platoon headquarters
rifle sqd = rifle squad
PL = platoon leader
PSG = platoon sergeant (deputy platoon leader)
SMG = submachine gun [Uzi]
P = pistol [FN High Power]

The manual's page concerning the squad

b. Geweergroep

Functie:   Rang:   Bewapening:
gpc   SGTMARN ALG   pm
opvgpc   KPLMARN ALG   G
agsch   MARN 1   LM 7,62
hlpagsch   MARN 1   G
agsch   MARN 1   LM 7,62
hlpagsch   MARN 1   G
gewsch/mitrsch   MARN 1   G/MAG 7,62
gewsch/hlpmitrsch   MARN 1   G/MAG 7,62
gewsch   MARN 1   G



opvgpc = opvolgend groepscommandant
agsch = automatisch-geweerschutter
hlpagsch = helper automatisch-geweerschutter
mitrsch = mitrailleurschutter
hlpmitrsch = helper mitrailleurschutter
gewsch = geweerschutter
G = geweer
LM 7,62
mitrailleur FAL

b. Rifle squad

Function: Rank: Armament:
SL Sergeant SMG
ASL Corporal R
AR Marine 1st class LMG 7,62
A AR Marine 1st class R
AR Marine 1st class LMG 7,62
A AR Marine 1st class R
Rman/MG Marine 1st class R/MAG 7,62
Rman/A MG Marine 1st class R/MAG 7,62
Rman Marine 1st class R



squad leader
ASL = assistant squad leader
AR = automatic rifleman
A AR = assistant automatic rifleman
MG = mitrailleurschutter
A MG = helper mitrailleurschutter
Rman = rifleman
R = rifle [FN FAL]
LMG 7,62
light machine gun FAL [FALO]

The platoon
As we can see above, the infantry platoon is composed of a commando groep (platoon HQ) and three geweergroepen (rifle squads). With a total strength of 1 officer, 4 non-commissioned officers, 5 corporals, and 24 enlisted men, the size of the platoon is comparable to the Army’s infantry and mechanized infantry platoons.

The platoon HQ’s command consists of a pelotonscommandant (platoon leader), holding the rank of 1st lieutenant, an opvolgend pelotonscommandant (second-in-command) with the rank of sergeant-major.

For anti-tank purposes, the platoon possesses a single Carl Gustav M2, manned by a schutter TLV 84 mm and helper TLV 84 mm, the gunner and assistant [gunner] respectively. The gunner holds the rank of corporal, whilst the assistant is a marine 1st class. To maintain communications within the platoon and with the company, a single ordonnans (messenger) holding the rank of marine signaller 1st class is part of the platoon HQ.

Finally, the platoon has the means to deliver indirect fire with a 60mm mortar. Said mortar is operated by a schutter and helper, who are similarly to the Carl Gustav the gunner and assistant gunner. They hold the rank of corporal and marine 1st class respectively. For personal armament, the platoon leader and platoon sergeant both have an Uzi, whilst the rest of the platoon HQ had Browning High-Power Pistols. This is of course in addition to the crew-served weapons, the 60mm mortar and the Carl Gustav M2.

The squad
As the core of the infantry platoon, there are three heavily-armed rifle squads.
Led by a groepscommandant (squad leader) holding the rank of sergeant, an opvolgend groepscommandant (assistant squad leader) with the rank of corporal is present to take command in case the former becomes a casualty.

The bulk of the squad consists of two automatic rifle teams, both made up of an automatisch-geweerschutter (automatic rifleman) and helper automatisch-geweerschutter (assistant automatic rifleman). All four hold the rank of marine 1st class.
The bulk of the firepower, however, is provided by a three-man machine gun team. Although all three are given the role of geweerschutter (rifleman), the first two members of the team also take on the role of mitrailleurschutter and helper mitrailleurschutter, machine gunner and assistant machine gunner respectively.

Given his leadership role, the squad leader is provided with an Uzi submachine gun – a far lighter weapon than the FAL. The rest of the squad is equipped with some variant of the FAL, in case of the automatic riflemen, the FALO. Indeed, even the machine gunner carries an FAL, in addition to his MAG.
The main part groups of the Uzi, as carried by the platoon leader, platoon sergeant, and squad leader

This is quite out of the ordinary, as the FAL itself weighs 5.7 kilogrammes loaded (12.6 lbs). It would make for a heavy load indeed, when the 10.5 kg (23.1bs) MAG and ammunition for both are added. It would appear the MAG is carried by both the machine gunner and his assistant, suggesting they take turns in carrying the heavy weapon.

For a discussion of the FN Browning High Power, Uzi, FN FAL, and FN FALO, the reader is referred to the previous post.
By 1978, the platoon was equipped with a number of new heavy weapons and launchers, whilst its personal weaponry had remained the same.
The MAG general purpose machine gun

Key amongst these new weapons was the FN MAG, known in full to the Marines as the Mitrailleur van 7,62 mm NATO MAG FN. The FN MAG was introduced in 1961 , although some Army units had not yet received the weapon by 1965 . This would explain the weapon’s exclusion from the 1963 infantry platoon.

Once available, a three-man team was assigned to the weapon. For the gunner and assistant gunner, we turn to the MAG manual, albeit dated 1987.The gunner carries the MAG itself, the tool bag, and a single ammunition box. The assistant carries the spare barrel in its bag, and two ammunition boxes.

An ammunition bearer is not explicitly assigned in the above manual, but it would appear the Marine rifleman functioned as such nonetheless. Two ammunition boxes would seem to be a fitting load for him. For comparison’s sake, a modern American three-man MAG (or rather, M240B) crew may carry between 900 to 1200 rounds of ammunition , putting the Dutch total of 1150 rounds at the upper end of typical.

As the 230-round boxes cannot be attached to the weapon, the gunner is advised to divide his belt into four lengths of approximately 60 rounds when moving, so as to allow him to fire on the move.

Note that these men are soldiers, not marines, as the image is scanned from an army manual

The Carl Gustav M2 (Terugstootloze Vuurmond 84 mm) is the platoon’s principal anti-tank weapon. Operated by a well-trained two-man crew, a fire-rate of 6 to 7 rounds per minute can be achieved. The two-man crew is more than needed, as the weapon and ammunition are quite heavy: the Carl Gustav itself weighs 15.3kg (33.7lbs) with bipod and muzzle and breech covers. The 2× power scope has a 17 degree field of view, and adds another 1.43kg (3.2lbs) when carried in its pouch.

The assistant carried two ammunition cases which in turn carry two rounds each, for a total weight of 14.4kg (31.7lbs). Said ammunition is the Antitankbrisantgranaatpatroon lsp (HEAT-T) nr 97 met sb, capable of 30 to 40 centimetres (11.8-15.8in) of RHA penetration.

As the reader may have noticed, the Dutch language is capable of lengthy composite words, this one translating in full to “Anti-tank high explosive grenade cartridge tracer (HEAT-T) no. 97 with impact fuze”.

Information on the 60mm mortar is rather scarce: the current website of the Ministry of Defence notes that the current mortars are “French Hotchkiss-Brandt mortars which have been transformed at the end of the 70s to the current model TDA MO-60 Commando Mortar, in the MO-60 CV (drop-fire) and MO-60 CA (trigger fire) variants.”

The Handbrandpatroon van 35 mm, DM 34 is a single-shot disposable white-phosphorus munition. Regarding the name of this weapon, it is a literal translation of the German Handflammpatrone; DM34 is a number within the German ordnance system denoting Deutsche Munition 34. Both names translate to as much as hand [held] fire cartridge.

The weapon consists of a aluminium tube covered in cardboard, with a pistol grip at one end, and a muzzle cap at the other.

Specifications are as follows:

Length width extended pistol grip 440 mm 17.3 in
Calibre 35 mm 1.38 in
Weight 620 grammes 1.37 lbs
Weight of the [explosive] charge 240 grammes 0.53 lbs
Maximum firing range 90 m 295 feet
Maximum time of flight 1.9 sec
Covered area with a 3m high explosion 15×20m 49×66ft

After the weapon is deployed by extending the pistol grip, the striker is cocked, allowing the trigger to be operated. Upon firing, a primer triggers the first (expulsion) charge, in turn activating a second (expulsion) charge which expels the actual phosphorus charge.

The DM34 compared to an M72 LAW

If said phosphorus charge impacts a hard object within 8 metres, it is activated; otherwise, the phosphorus charge is activated after 1.9 seconds, equalling 50 to 90 metres of flight.

The DM34 munition is regarded as well suited to use:

- Against troop formations
- Against strengthened positions and bunkers
- Against vehicles
- During urban combat
- For marking purposes (due to the generation of smoke)

The DM34 munition is provided in a 3-cell pouch.

The stowed DM34

The stowed DM34, with the following parts:

1. Storage notch to the pistol grip
2. Pistol grip
3. Pistol grip stops
4. Trigger
5. Trigger slide
6. Striker
7. Striker spring
8. Expulsion charge I
9. Launching tube
10. Muzzle cap
11. Phosphorus charge container
12. Expulsion charge II
13. Incendiary element
14. Explosive charge
15. Phosphorus charge

The antitank-raketsysteem van 66 mm, M72A2 (LAW) – LAW for short – is a single-shot disposable anti-tank weapon, rated for use up to 200 metres. Technically speaking, the LAW is not regarded as a weapon, but rather a munition. Introduced circa 1964 as a 200-metre complement to the Carl Gustav M2, the LAW is distinguished by its small size and low weight.

Specifications are as follows:

LAW complete 2.16 kg 4.8 lbs
Launcher 1.155 kg 2.5 lbs
Rocket 1.005 kg 2.2 lbs
Launcher, closed 650 mm 25.6 in
Launcher, open 878 mm 34.6 in
Maximum effect range (moving targets) 200 m 218.7 yds
Maximum effect range (static targets) 300 m 328.1 yds
Penetrative capacity
Homogenous steel 25-30 cm 9.8-11.8 in
Concrete 75 cm 11.8 in
Sandbags 180 cm 29.5 in

The exact number of LAWs carried is hard to pin down, though an Army manual implies 1 LAW per rifleman is normal.
In any case, the number would vary heavily depending on the expected number of enemy tanks.

Finally, we have a number of hand grenades, rifle grenades, and flares.

Although not named explicitly, the fragmentation grenades are the Nr 1C1 as manufactured by Artillerie Inrichtingen (Perhaps best known for manufacturing the AR-10), and the American Mark IIA1, either from American or Dutch production.

As an offensive grenade, the Nr. 13C1 is available, being manufactured by Artillerie Inrichtingen as well.

Finally, two smoke grenades are available, the Nr. 7 and Nr. 16, the latter utilizing white phoshphorus.

The (incomplete) specifications of the above grenades are sourced from, and are as follows:

Length Diameter Weight Explosive weight
Nr 1C1 Frag 115mm (w/o fuze) 55mm 670 gram 60 gram TNT
Mk 2A1 Frag 114mm 57mm ? 55 gram TNT
Nr. 13C1 Offensive 147mm 56mm 475 gram 225 gram TNT
Nr. 7 Smoke 151mm 63mm ? 200 gram HC
Nr. 16 WP 101mm 50mm ? 180 gram WP

Perhaps uncommon for a military force, three pages are dedicated to the teargas rifle grenade LAC M2A.

This dual purpose rifle grenade can be fired from the FAL or thrown as a hand grenade, and produces a cloud of tear gas for two minutes.

The presence of riot-control rifle grenades is most probably explained by the role Dutch Marines played in restoring order on Curaçao in 1969.

No mention is made of the Energa-rifle grenade, as the LAW had replaced it. Nonetheless, it is worth noting the FAL could use any NATO-standard rifle grenade.

In a sense, the Marine rifle squads have returned to their American roots, once again being capable of dividing in three teams. Nonetheless, the two-man automatic rifle teams and three-man MAG team should not be considered full-fledged fireteams, indeed, they are too small to act as such.

In any case, the squad is well-supplied with automatic weapons. Compared with Army units possessing a single MAG, the Marines possess far more firepower. Whilst anti-tank weapons (the M72 LAW is technically speaking not regarded as a weapon, instead being a munition) are absent at the squad level, this would appear to be a conscious decision. Given the terrain of Northern Norway compared with the Northern German Lowlands, the necessity for anti-tank weapons is far lower.

Although the platoon layout is solid, some modifications could be suggested. One area Dutch forces were extremely lacking compared to Soviet forces was in terms of scoped weapons: whereas a Soviet platoon would have one or perhaps multiple designated marksmen, the Dutch armed forces had a total of 885 KRR AI62 scopes for their FALs.

Nonetheless, the Dutch Marines would have been more than capable in meeting Soviet forces head-on.