Toshi celebrates 10 years in the UK’s Royal Marines

07 Nov 2023

Toshi Westbury (13797) has just clocked up a decade as part of the prestigious Royal Marines in the UK.

The Royal Marines are the UK's Commando Force and the Royal Navy's own amphibious troops. They are an elite fighting force, geared for worldwide rapid response and are able to deal with a wide spectrum of threats and security challenges.

After finishing his education as a boarder at Christ’s College, Toshi volunteered as a teacher in Madurai, India for two months before working a ski season in Hokkaido, Japan while preparing to join the Royal Marines. Primarily inspired to join the Marines by the men and women who served on Operation HERRICK in Afghanistan (2002–2014), he passed the selection and basic training to qualify in late 2013.

Toshi can be away from his Cornwall home for up to 10 months of any given year in his role as a Captain. Much of the time, he is deployed overseas, but he also spends time in the UK during regular training or readiness packages. Being away from friends and family, including his wife and young son, are pretty much the only downside, Toshi says.

“The positives of being in the Royal Marines far outweigh the negatives. The highlight, without doubt, is the opportunity to work alongside some of the most humble, motivated and interesting people I could have dreamt to have met. To be able to lead those people in some of the places I've been, while fulfilling the roles I have, has been the pinnacle of my career so far.”

Having spent several periods on ship, Toshi is generally land based which has seen him taken to destinations such as Nigeria, Ghana, The Gambia, Senegal, Oman, Kenya, Malaysia, Brunei, America, Cape Verde, and other Western/Eastern European countries.

His career has been centred at 42 Commando RM, which is now the Maritime Operations Unit. Here, he’s had the privilege to lead teams on deployments such as: support and influence operations, predominantly in West Africa; joint personnel recovery taskings, aligned to the US carriers; and counter-piracy operations along the west coast of Africa.

“The regular work-pattern at 42 Commando is quite unique. Deployments can come at short notice and are on a smaller scale. I've personally enjoyed this, as it has allowed my teams and I to work in a much more agile and autonomous manner, with freedoms to shape our activity to a greater extent than others may find in larger groupings,” Toshi says.

His current role primarily balances the management and care of those who he is responsible for, while ensuring that they are suitably preparing as a collective for the requirements of the next deployment.

The complications of Covid and struggling to get suitably long leave into his busy schedule, mean Toshi hasn’t yet been back to New Zealand since school days.

“Luckily, a good cohort of friends are now moving across to the UK or are visiting more regularly, and those opportunities have allowed me to see some Old Boys.”