Yomp is Royal Marines slang describing a long-distance loaded march carrying full kit. It was popularized by journalistic coverage in 1982 during the Falklands War. The origin of the word is unclear, and there is no evidence to suggest that it derives originally from an acronym. Various backronymic definitions have however been proposed, including “young officers marching pace”, "your own marching pace" and a connection with the term yump used in rally-driving in the sense of "to leave the ground when taking a crest at speed", apparently a Scandinavian pronunciation of jump.
The most famous yomp of recent times was during the 1982 Falklands War. After disembarking from ships at San Carlos on East Falkland, on 21 May 1982, Royal Marines and members of the Parachute Regiment yomped (and tabbed) with their equipment across the islands, covering 56 miles (90 km) in three days carrying 80-pound (36 kg) loads. They were supposed to be transported by helicopters, but after the Atlantic Conveyor, which carried the helicopters, was sunk by Argentinian Exocet missiles on 25 May, the soldiers had to march on land.
The image of "the Yomper" became one of the iconic images of the Falklands War. The original photograph was taken by Petty Officer Peter Holdgate, Commando Forces Photographer, whilst working as part of the Commando Forces News Team. After landing with 40 Commando at San Carlos, Holdgate accompanied British forces across the Falklands War zone taking hundreds of photographs as the Royal Marines proceeded along the Moody Brook track towards Stanley.
When news of the surrender of Argentine forces was received, Marine Trev Gillingham produced a small Union bunting flag from his bergen ("proffed" (as in the 'acquisition of military resources') from SS Canberra's bunting locker). Marine Gillingham first tied the flag to Corporal Robinson's radio aerial, which eventually blew off. It was then fixed with masking tape to the radio aerial of Corporal Robinson (who was the last man in the patrol). The photograph itself was entirely spontaneous and not staged. The original Union Flag remains in Corporal Robinson's possession.
The image was used as the inspiration of a statue that was unveiled by Margaret Thatcher on 8 July 1992 on the 10th anniversary of the conflict. It now adorns the entrance to the Royal Marines Museum in Southsea.
Media coverage of this war saw the term "yomp" become well known and enter general use. However, the term has since faded somewhat from general use in the decades since the end of the Falklands war.
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