Royal Artillery

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Royal Regiment of Artillery
Royal Artillery Badge.jpg
Cap Badge of the Royal Regiment of Artillery
Active1716–present
AllegianceFlag of the United Kingdom.svg  United Kingdom
BranchFlag of the British Army.svg  British Army
RoleArtillery
Size13 Regular regiments
5 Reserve regiments
Garrison/HQVarious: Larkhill (Regimental HQ), Catterick, Tidworth, Colchester
Motto(s)Ubique Quo Fas Et Gloria Ducunt [lower-alpha 1]
ColoursThe guns are regarded as the regimental colours
March British Grenadiers / Voice Of The Guns (Quick); The Royal Artillery Slow March colloquially known as The Duchess of Kent (Slow); The Keel Row (Trot); "Bonnie Dundee" (Canter)
Commanders
Captain GeneralHM The Queen Elizabeth II
Master Gunner, St James's Park Lieutenant General Sir Andrew Gregory KBE CB
Insignia
Tactical Recognition Flash Royal Artillery TRF.svg

The Royal Regiment of Artillery, commonly referred to as the Royal Artillery (RA) and colloquially known as "The Gunners", is the artillery arm of the British Army. The Royal Regiment of Artillery comprises thirteen Regular Army regiments, King's Troop Royal Horse Artillery and five Army Reserve regiments. [2]

Contents

The Royal Arsenal and the Royal Military Academy, ca 1770 Greenwich Heritage Centre, Woolwich - RA & RMA exhibition 30 (cropped).jpg
The Royal Arsenal and the Royal Military Academy, ca 1770

History

Formation to 1799

Artillery was used by the English army as early as the Battle of Crécy in 1346, while Henry VIII established it as a semi-permanent function in the 16th century. [3] Until the early 18th century, the majority of British regiments were raised for specific campaigns and disbanded on completion. [4] An exception were gunners based at the Tower of London, Portsmouth and other forts around Britain, who were controlled by the Ordnance Office and provided personnel for field artillery 'traynes' as needed. [5] Their numbers were extremely small; as late as 1720, the total establishment for the whole of Britain was 41 master gunners and 178 gunner assistants. [6]

During the 18th century, the military became increasingly professional, particularly in the fields of artillery and engineering; Britain lagged behind others in this area, with Vauban establishing the French Corps royal des ingénieurs militaires as far back as 1690. [7] When Marlborough was restored as Master-General of the Ordnance in 1714, he initiated a series of reforms, which included splitting the existing Ordnance Service into artillery and sappers or engineers. [8]

This was approved and two permanent companies of field artillery were established in 1716, each 100 men strong; this became the "Royal Artillery" in 1720. [3] These were increased to four companies and on 1 April 1722 grouped with independent artillery units at Gibraltar and Menorca to form the Royal Regiment of Artillery; the first commander was Colonel Albert Borgard, a Dane who served in the British army since 1698. [3]

Selection and promotion within the Royal Artillery was largely based on merit, rather than the commission purchase system used elsewhere until 1870. A cadet company was formed at the Royal Military Academy or RMA Woolwich in 1741; this trained artillery and engineering officers for the regiment, the East India Company and the Royal Irish Artillery. [3] In 1757, it split into two battalions, each of twelve companies; by 1780, it contained 32 companies in four battalions, two "invalid companies" used solely for garrison duties and the Royal Artillery Band, with a total strength of 5,241 men and officers. [9]

Royal Horse Artillery units, Hyde Park, 1804 A Review of the London Volunteer Cavalry and Flying Artillery in Hyde Park in 1804.tif
Royal Horse Artillery units, Hyde Park, 1804

Originally based in the Royal Arsenal, beginning in 1770 the regiment was rehoused in the Royal Artillery Barracks on Woolwich Common. [10] A major innovation in 1793 was the establishment of the Royal Horse Artillery, designed to provide mobile fire support for cavalry units. [3] The same year saw the foundation of the Corps of Royal Artillery Drivers to provide transport for the artillery. [11]

1800-1899

Royal Artillery Officers uniform, 1825 RAUniform1825.jpg
Royal Artillery Officers uniform, 1825

The regiment was involved in all major campaigns of the Napoleonic Wars; in 1804, naval artillery was transferred to the Royal Marine Artillery, while the Royal Irish Artillery lost its separate status in 1810 after the 1800 Union. This period also saw development of the Congreve rocket; based on an existing Indian design, these were the first solid-fuel projectiles used by the British army and two Rocket troops were established in 1814. Their use in the War of 1812 is referenced in the line 'rockets red glare' which appears in the Star-Spangled Banner. [12]

After Waterloo in 1815, Europe was at peace until the 1853 Crimean War. Overall supervision of the regiment was transferred to the War Office when the Board of Ordnance was abolished in 1855 and the War Office School of Gunnery established in Shoeburyness in 1859. [3] When the British East India Company was dissolved in 1862, its artillery function was absorbed by the Royal artillery, giving it a total strength of 29 horse batteries, 73 field batteries and 88 heavy batteries. [3] Military expenditure estimates for 1872 list the regimental strength as a total of 34,943 men and officers, including those in India. [13]

1900 to present day

Royal Artillery repository exercises, 1844 Royal Artillery Repository Exercises, 1844.jpg
Royal Artillery repository exercises, 1844
Soldiers of the Bermuda Contingent of the Royal Garrison Artillery in a Casualty Clearing Station in July, 1916 Soldiers of the Bermuda Contingent of the Royal Garrison Artillery in a CCS in July 1916.jpg
Soldiers of the Bermuda Contingent of the Royal Garrison Artillery in a Casualty Clearing Station in July, 1916

On 1 July 1899, the Royal Artillery was divided into three groups: the Royal Horse Artillery of 21 batteries and the Royal Field Artillery of 95 batteries composed one group, while the coastal defence, mountain, siege and heavy batteries were split off into another group named the Royal Garrison Artillery of 91 companies. [3] The third group continued to be titled simply Royal Artillery, and was responsible for ammunition storage and supply. Which branch a gunner belonged to was indicated by metal shoulder titles (R.A., R.F.A., R.H.A., or R.G.A.). The RFA and RHA also dressed as mounted men, whereas the RGA dressed like foot soldiers. In 1920 the rank of Bombardier was instituted in the Royal Artillery. [3] The three sections effectively functioned as separate corps. This arrangement lasted until 1924, when the three amalgamated once more to become one regiment. [3] In 1938, RA Brigades were renamed regiments. During the World War II there were over 1 million men serving in 960 gunner regiments. [14] In 1947 the Riding Troop RHA was renamed the King's Troop Royal Horse Artillery [15] and, in 1951, the title of the regiment's colonel-in-chief became Captain General. [3] When The Queen first visited the Troop after her accession, it was expected that it would become "The Queen's Troop", but Her Majesty announced that in honour of her father's decision it would remain "The King's Troop". [16]

BL 8-inch Howitzer Mk 1 - 5 8 in (200 mm) howitzers of the 39th Siege Battery, Royal Garrison Artillery, in action near Fricourt in World War I. British 39th Siege Battery RGA Somme 1916.jpg
BL 8-inch Howitzer Mk 1 – 5 8 in (200 mm) howitzers of the 39th Siege Battery, Royal Garrison Artillery, in action near Fricourt in World War I.

The Royal Horse Artillery, which has separate traditions, uniforms and insignia, still retains a distinct identity within the regiment. [3]

Before World War II, Royal Artillery recruits were required to be at least 5 feet 4 inches (1.63 m) tall. Men in mechanised units had to be at least 5 feet 8 inches (1.73 m) tall. They initially enlisted for six years with the colours and a further six years with the reserve or four years and eight years. They trained at the Royal Artillery Depot in Woolwich. [17]

From its beginnings, the Royal Artillery has been based at Woolwich, in south-east London. In 2003 it was decided to move the headquarters to Larkhill on Salisbury Plain in Wiltshire (the RA's training ground, where the Royal School of Artillery has been based since 1915). The last Royal Artillery troops left Woolwich Barracks in 2007; in 2012, however, the King's Troop, Royal Horse Artillery was relocated to Woolwich from their former headquarters in St John's Wood. [18]

The Royal Artillery today

The Royal Artillery is equipped with a variety of equipment and performs a wide range of roles, including:

The Captain General of the regiment is Queen Elizabeth II. The post was previously known as Colonel-in-Chief until King George VI expressed the desire to be known as Captain General. The head of the regiment is the Master Gunner, St. James's Park.

The Royal Regiment of Artillery comprises both Regular (full-time) and Reserve (part-time) units. The Royal Regiment of Artillery is unusual in that it has sub-units that often move between regiments, or are placed into suspended animation. See List of Royal Artillery Batteries.

Regular Army

The Royal Regiment of Artillery comprises 13 Regular Army regiments and are designated by a number and the name Royal Artillery (RA) or Royal Horse Artillery (RHA). Historically these names reflected the role the units performed, but in the modern era are retained purely for historical reasons.

Regular regiments of the Royal Horse Artillery

Regular regiments of the Royal Artillery

Army Reserve

Equipment

Air defence

The Royal Artillery utilised two different air defence weapons:

Close support artillery

The Royal Artillery field the following Close Support/Offensive Support weapons:

Intelligence, surveillance, target acquisition and reconnaissance (ISTAR)

Ceremonial

List of obsolete Royal Artillery equipment

St. David's Battery, Bermuda in 1942, completed in 1910 with two 9.2" and two 6" coastal artillery guns St. David's Battery, Bermuda in 1942.jpg
St. David's Battery, Bermuda in 1942, completed in 1910 with two 9.2" and two 6" coastal artillery guns

Surface-to-air missiles

Surface-to-surface ballistic missiles

Unmanned aerial vehicles

Order of precedence

Preceded by
Royal Armoured Corps
Order of Precedence Succeeded by
Corps of Royal Engineers
Gunners of the 78th Field Regiment, Royal Artillery make use of two sunshades from a cafe to keep the rain off while making a brew, Anzio, Italy, 27 February 1944. Gunners of 78th Field Regiment, Royal Artillery make use of 'liberated' sunshades to keep the rain off while making a brew, Anzio, Italy, 27 February 1944. NA12275.jpg
Gunners of the 78th Field Regiment, Royal Artillery make use of two sunshades from a cafe to keep the rain off while making a brew, Anzio, Italy, 27 February 1944.

In the British Army Order of Precedence, the Household Cavalry is always listed first and always parades at the extreme right of the line. However, when the Royal Horse Artillery is on parade with its guns, (usually in the form of The Kings Troop, Royal Horse Artillery) it will replace the Household Cavalry at the extreme right of the line. [21]

Museum

The Regimental museum, "Firepower" located in the Royal Arsenal at Woolwich closed in 2017.

Affiliations

The Royal Artillery have a traditional rivalry with the Royal Engineers (the Sappers). [22]

See also

Notes

  1. "Everywhere That Right And Glory Lead"; in Latin fas implies "sacred duty") [1]

Related Research Articles

Royal Horse Artillery part of the Royal Regiment of Artillery of the British Army

The Royal Horse Artillery (RHA) was formed in 1793 as a distinct arm of the Royal Regiment of Artillery of the British Army. Horses are still in service for ceremonial purposes but were phased out from operational deployment during the 1930s.

47th Regiment Royal Artillery is a regiment of the Royal Artillery in the British Army. It is equipped with the Thales Watchkeeper WK450. It is located at Horne Barracks, Larkhill in Wiltshire.

40th Regiment Royal Artillery

40th Regiment Royal ArtilleryThe Lowland Gunners – was a regiment of the Royal Artillery in the British Army. It supported 19 Light Brigade in the field artillery role. It was structured into Fire Support Teams equipped with MSTAR, and the regiment's three gun batteries, equipped with eighteen L118 Light Guns. The Clan Home tartan was worn by the regiment.

39 Regiment Royal Artillery was part of the Royal Artillery. Its name is pronounced "three nine", The Regiment was one of the Depth fire units of 1st Artillery Brigade, part of the British Army. It was formed in 1947, and placed into suspended animation on 20 February 2015. The Regiment was based at Albemarle Barracks in Northumberland.

26th Regiment Royal Artillery is a regiment of the Royal Artillery in the British Army. It served in the armoured field artillery role, and is equipped with the AS-90 self-propelled gun and one battery with GMLRS. It is transiting to a divisional fires regiment with purely GMLRS.

4th Regiment Royal Artillery

The 4th Regiment Royal Artillery is a regiment of the Royal Artillery in the British Army. It was formed in 1939 as 4th Regiment Royal Horse Artillery before being redesignated in 1961. It is currently based at Alanbrooke Barracks in Topcliffe and serves in the light field artillery role, equipped with 105mm light guns. The regiment's tactical groups can direct air, rocket, and artillery support from other formations, services, or allies.

1st Regiment Royal Horse Artillery is a regiment of the Royal Horse Artillery in the British Army. It currently serves in the armoured field artillery role, and is equipped with the AS90 self-propelled gun. The regiment is currently based at Larkhill Garrison, Larkhill. The Regiment completed its move from Assaye Barracks, Tidworth to Larkhill in June 2019.

5th Regiment Royal Artillery regiment of the Royal Artillery in the British Army

5th Regiment Royal Artillery is a regiment of the Royal Artillery in the British Army. It was formed in 1939 as 5th Regiment Royal Horse Artillery before being redesignated in 1958. It currently serves in the Surveillance and Target Acquisition role and is equipped with radars and acoustic sound ranging equipment; it also provides Special Observation Post teams.

14th Regiment Royal Artillery is a training regiment within the Royal Artillery, part of the British Army.

132 Battery (The Bengal Rocket Troop) Royal Artillery

132 Battery Royal Artillery is an MLRS Battery, that is part of the Royal Artillery. Its name is pronounced "one three two" or it is known as "The Bengals". The battery is one of the sub-units of 26th Regiment Royal Artillery, part of the British Army. It was formed in 1816 and is based in Albermarle Barracks in Northumberland

E Battery Royal Horse Artillery is a Close Support Battery of 1st Regiment Royal Horse Artillery. It is currently based in Purvis Lines in Larkhill Camp.

L (Néry) Battery Royal Horse Artillery is the Tactical Group Battery of 3rd Regiment Royal Horse Artillery.

M (Headquarters) Battery Royal Horse Artillery is the Headquarters Battery of 3rd Regiment Royal Horse Artillery, part of the Royal Horse Artillery of the British Army. As of 2015, it is based at Albemarle Barracks, Northumberland, England. The Battery Commander is Maj B Johnston RHA.

N Battery Royal Horse Artillery is a Tactical Group Battery of 3rd Regiment Royal Horse Artillery. They are currently based in Albemarle Barracks in Northumberland and the Regiment is equipped with the 105 mm Light Gun. The Battery is commonly known as a Tactical Group Battery and provides the artillery support to a light role Brigade Formation Reconnaissance Regiment.

53 (Louisburg) Battery RA British artillery unit

53 (Louisburg) Air Assault Battery is the second most senior Artillery Battery, non-amalgamated – 19/5 Bty is senior if counted in the Royal Artillery behind the King's Troop, Royal Horse Artillery. Formed in 1740 the Battery is currently part of 5th Regiment Royal Artillery and is based at Marne Barracks, Catterick, North Yorkshire.The Battery operates in a Surveillance and Target Acquisition role.

G Parachute Battery Royal Horse Artillery is a close support battery of 7th Parachute Regiment Royal Horse Artillery, part of the Royal Horse Artillery of the British Army, currently based in Merville Barracks in Colchester.

I Parachute Battery Royal Horse Artillery is the Headquarters battery of 7th Parachute Regiment Royal Horse Artillery, part of the Royal Horse Artillery of the British Army, currently based in Merville Barracks in Colchester.

H Battery Royal Horse Artillery is a battery of 1st Regiment Royal Horse Artillery, part of the Royal Horse Artillery of the British Army. As of 2015, it is based at Albemarle Barracks, Northumberland, England and is equipped with GMLRS.

V Battery Royal Horse Artillery was a battery of the Royal Horse Artillery. Formed in 1804, the battery took part in the Napoleonic Wars – notably the Peninsular War and Battle of Waterloo – before being placed into suspended animation in 1816 as part of the usual post-war reductions of the British Army.

T Battery Royal Artillery is an air defence battery of the Royal Artillery that serves with the British Army's 12 Regiment Royal Artillery. It is stationed at Baker Barracks, Thorney Island, West Sussex.

References

  1. "No. 18952". The London Gazette . 10 July 1832. p. 1583.
  2. cgsmediacomma-amc-dig-shared@mod.uk, The British Army. "The British Army - Regiments". www.army.mod.uk. Retrieved 3 March 2017.
  3. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 History and Traditions of the Royal Artillery
  4. Chandler David, Beckett Ian (1996). The Oxford History Of The British Army (2002 ed.). Oxford University Press. p. 52. ISBN   978-0-19-280311-5.
  5. Hogg, Brigadier O.F.G. (1963). The Royal Arsenal. Oxford University Press. pp. 302–344.
  6. Duncan, Francis (1872). History of the Royal Regiment of Artillery: Volume I (1879 ed.). John Murray. p. 435.
  7. Mousnier, Roland (1979). The Institutions of France Under the Absolute Monarchy, 1598-1789 . University of Chicago Press. pp.  577–578. ISBN   978-0226543277.
  8. Latcham, Paul (2004). "Armstrong, John". doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/659.Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  9. Journals of the House of Commons, Volume 37; November 1778 to August 1780. HMSO. 1803. p. 487.
  10. Saint, Andrew, Guillery, Peter (2012). Survey of London; Woolwich Volume 48 (PDF). Yale University Press. pp. 26–28. ISBN   978-0300187229.
  11. "Royal Artillery Drivers, 1812". National Army Museum. Retrieved 10 October 2019.
  12. Stearn, Roger (2008). Congreve, Sir William, second baronet. Oxford DNB Online. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/6070.
  13. Duncan, Francis (1872). History of the Royal Regiment of Artillery: Volume I (1879 ed.). John Murray. p. 2.
  14. Royal Artillery History
  15. Obituary of Brigadier J. A. Norman, The Times , March 1994; ; Trooping The Colour For The King’s Troop Royal Horse Artillery Paramount Magazine, 20 September 2011
  16. "King's Troop: A modern history of 1945 to 2012". Ham & High. Retrieved 13 October 2015.
  17. War Office, His Majesty's Army, 1938
  18. King's Troop moves to its 'spiritual home' in Woolwich at BBC News, 7 February 2012. Accessed 8 February 2012
  19. "Letter from Brigadier Mead". 1st Artillery Brigade and Headquarters South West. Retrieved 16 December 2016.
  20. "In Search of Exactor". Think Defence. 7 April 2014. Retrieved 23 January 2016.
  21. Royal horses get their sea legs with a dip in the surf on Cornwall holiday Daily Mail, 21 September 2011
  22. "Royal Regiment of Artillery/Corps of Royal Engineers". Hansard. 4 July 2016. Retrieved 9 April 2020.

Further reading