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    The Royal Artillery

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    Present at all of the British army’s campaigns, The Royal Artillery has but one Battle Honour, “Ubique” – “Everywhere”, granted by King William IV in 1833, & a subsidiary motto “Quo Fas et Gloria Ducont” – “Where Right and Glory Lead”.

    (I've deliberately misspelled the fifth word of the subsidiary motto, otherwise I can't get it past GMIC's automatic censor).

    Royal Artillery regiments and batteries carry a unique number, other than Royal Horse Artillery batteries which bear letters.

    Most batteries bear an honour title commemorating an exceptional act of service.

    Queen Elizabeth II is The Captain General of The Royal Artillery (the title was previously Colonel in Chief but was changed by King George VI), the head of the regiment is The Master Gunner,its guns (or rocket launchers) are its “colours”, & on parade the Royal Horse Artillery takes precedence as “the right of the line” ahead of every other regiment and corps of the regular army.

    Prior to the 18th century artillery trains were raised & then disbanded according to the passing requirement of specific campaigns, but in 1716, 2 companies of field artillery were raised at Woolwich & retained in service, in 1722 these companies increased to 4 & combined with independent artillery companies from Gibralter & Minorca to form the Royal Regiment of Artillery.

    In 1741 a cadet company was formed & the Royal Military Academy, “The Shop” as it came to be known, was opened at Woolwich to provide training for Royal Artillery & also for Royal Engineer officers.

    In 1748 the presidential artilleries of Bengal, Madras and Bombay were formed, in 1756 The Royal Irish Regiment of Artillery.

    By 1757, The Royal Artillery had 24 companies forming 2 battalions, by 1771, 32 companies forming 4 battalions & in addition 2 "invalid companies" engaged on garrison duties.

    During 1782, the regiment moved to The Royal Artillery Barracks at Woolwich, which became the home of The Royal Artillery for 300 years, until a recent move to The Royal Artillery Barracks Larkhill, which was officially opened by the Queen in 2008.

    The Royal Horse Artillery was formed in 1793 to provide mobile fire support for the cavalry, initially 2 troops, then a further 2 by the end of the year.

    By 1801 when the The Royal Irish Artillery were absorbed by The Royal Artillery, there were 12 Royal Horse Artillery Troops & 100 Royal Artillery Companies forming 10 battalions.

    In 1825 batteries were designated by number, Royal Horse Artillery by letter rather than by their commanding officer’s name. Most batteries bear an “honour title” whch commorates an exceptional act of service by the battery or its predecessors.

    During The Crimean War the Royal Artillery increased to 199 batteries, in 1855 control being transferred from the Board of Ordnance which closed that year, to the War Office which had responsibilty for the rest of the army.

    The School of Gunnery established at Shoeburyness, Essex in 1859.

    In 1861 the British East India Company’s artillery was absorbed – The Royal Artillery now had 73 field batteries & 88 heavy batteries & The Royal Horse Artillery 30

    In 1899 The Royal Artillery was divided into:

    The Royal Horse Artillery of 21 batteries & Royal Field Artillery of 95 batteries,

    The Royal Garrison Artillery, which had heavy, siege, coastal defence & mountain batteries in 91 companies,

    The Royal Artillery, with responsibilities for ammunition storage and supply.

    Effectively separate corps, the artillery reunited in 1924.

    In 1938, Royal Artillery Brigades were renamed Regiments.

    In 1947 The Riding Troop Royal Horse Artillery was renamed The King's Troop Royal Horse Artillery.

    During WWI The Royal Artillery grew enormously in size to be the largest corps or regiment, by 1917 it contained over 548,000 men forming 1,769 batteries in more than 400 brigades, during WWII over 1,000,000 men formed nearly 1,000 regiments of artillery.

    Following WWII The Royal Artillery reduced to 250,000 men in 365 batteries, in 106 regiments. With the ensuing reductions of force numbers, & following the end of National Service and of the Cold War, the manpower of The Royal Artillery dropped to 15 Regular and 7 Territorial Artillery Regiments.

    "Officer Royal Artillery c 1716, painted by Lt Colonel R. J. MacDonald in 1930, & published as a postcard by the RA Printing Press Ltd., London, SE28 0AQ, circa 1960's.

    Edited by leigh kitchen
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    "The King's Troop, Royal Horse Artillery

    Gunners of the King's Troop of the Royal Horse Artillery firing a Royal Salute in Hyde Park to mark an important occassion such as the visit of a foreign monarch or president to London.

    Photograph by Wilfred W. Roberts, BA, FZS, FRHS, FRPS."

    A Dixon Production - Printed in Great Britain.

    Circa 1960's?

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    In 1899 The Royal Artillery was divided into:

    The Royal Horse Artillery of 21 batteries & Royal Field Artillery of 95 batteries,

    The Royal Garrison Artillery, which had heavy, siege, coastal defence & mountain batteries in 91 companies,

    The Royal Artillery, with responsibilities for ammunition storage and supply.

    Effectively separate corps, the artillery reunited in 1924.


    Do you know what the reason was for the BWM and VM showing just RA whereas the 14/14-15 Star had RGA or RFA? Which unit abbreviation is impressed on Boer War medals?


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    I would suggest that only 'RA' is shown on the BWM and VM to save money as it would have taken considerable research to determine the corps of many men (i.e. RHA, RFA or RGA) as many served in more than one corps during the Great War. Many Boer War medals were named to the battery the man served in while others were only named to RHA, RFA or RGA. Gunner 1

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    • 2 months later...

    Hello Leigh.

    Is "A Field Battery Royal Artillery, Marching Order, Circa 1830, published by RA Printing Press Ltd, circa 1960's" in your post #5 by any chance:

    a print published by Ackermann in 1840 entitled "Royal Artillery"? I'm reasonably certain the artist was William Heath.

    If not, I would appreciate anyone directing me to where I could find an image of that print.

    I'm interested in the mounted Trumpeter that's reported as "in the centre in the background". Although not in the centre, the horseman in the front extreme left does appear to be wearing the Trumpeter's red coat.


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    • 2 months later...

    At the moment I can't find the card concerned, it's somewhere around, when I find it I will check for the original artist's signature (1840 would be post his use of "Paul Pry").

    Perhaps answering my own question (Post #12),

    there is a clearer image of the print posted by Leith in Post #5 on http://www.britishempire.co.uk/forces/armyuniforms/britishartillery/ra1840.htm

    i) Titled: Artillery Exercising, 1840

    ii) Litho print by William Heath

    iii) which clearly shows mounted trumpeter in a red coat

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    Continuing to answer my own question (Post #14), the print in question is included on the Grosvenor Prints web site with the following details:

    British Royal Artillery. Field Battery Marching Order.

    Drawn by Wm. Heath. Printed by Graf and Soret.

    London, Published by Colnaghi & Co., No. 23, Cockspur Street, Charing Cross. Printsellers in Ordinary to His Majesty & to H.R.H. the Duchess of Kent. [n.d. c.1840.]

    Lithograph in frame. 277 x 407mm. 10¾ x 16".

    From "Heath's Royal Artillery. c.1840. No. 1."

    From the Collection of Major J.B. Talbot M.C. R.A. Ogilby: 410.

    [(Grosvenor Prints’:)Ref: 12998]

    The print I am endeavouring to identify / locate is described:

    “In a coloured print published by Ackerman in 1840, entitled “Royal Artillery”, a field gun is shown in action.

    “In the centre of the picture, in the background, is a Trumpeter, mounted – red coat, and blue grey trousers.

    “The NCO and Gunners of the detachment are in full dress – dark blue coatee ……. blue grey trousers ….. ”

    (Journal of the Society For Army Historical Research, Vol II, 1923, October, No 10, Replies. 88, p 163)

    As an aside, these three separate images of the same print illustrate the difficulties that can be encountered in relying on postings of images. Whereas the British Empire image depicts a clear and definite red coat of a Trumpeter; Leigh’s is a muted brown colour; and Grosvenor Prints’ is a definite blue!, albeit a mid blue compared with the dark blue coatees of the other artillerymen. On the other hand, only the Grosvenor Prints’ image depicts blue grey trousers.

    Incidentally, full details of the corrupted link in my previous post:

    britishempire.co.uk, Armed Forces, Army, Uniforms, Artillery, Royal Artillery, Pre 1850

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