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Northumbrian Gunner meanderings

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Choques Military Cemetery - Nothumbrian Gunners

A number of years ago (January 2010 to be precise) I posted a request regarding a row of graves in Choques Military Cemetery where 12 men from D Battery 251 Brigade were buried. From   The origins of the Battery lie with the 5th Durham Battery, 4th Northumbrian (County of Durham) Howitzer Brigade. Prior to the War the Brigade was headquartered in South Shields, on the south side of the mouth of the River Tyne. The Hebburn Battery lay 5 miles upstream on the south bank of the Tyne.   The men were killed in a single incident on the evening of 18th April 1918. This evening it is exactly 100 years since they were killed, so I though it would be appropriate to leave a post to remember those men.   After many years I found what actually happened on that fateful evening from an account in Regimental Archives:   Gronnenhem April 1918 The morning brought sad news from our wagon lines. The bombardment which had provided us with a lively interlude had visited our comrades with disastrous results. A shell struck the barn in which they were sleeping, bursting amongst the sleepers with deadly effect. Many of the survivors rushed for the open, to be met by a second shell, adding materially to the already heavy list of dead and wounded.   The men are buried together in a single row in  Plot II Row A in the Choques Military Cemetery.   Grave - Killed 18th April 1918
1. Hillbeck A Driver MM 2555
2. Wilson F Driver 127301
3. Allcott H Driver MM 4678
4. Fewings RT Gunner 52505
5. Harris AS Gunner 10235
6. Hunt JAF Gunner 234324
7. Bennet H Gunner 10315
8. Jewell WS Driver 1288
9. Maidment A Driver 10318
10. Pearce EG Driver 82773
11. Rich WG Driver 4546   Grave - Died 25th April 1918
12. Richardson JH Driver 755887   In March 2018 I was able to visit the Graves of the men. Northumbria Gunner Blog:   Lys - Choques Military Cemetery            

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15 Pounder QF Ehrhardt Gun

As the end of the 19th century approached, the Royal Artillery was untested in general war. The focus of Army was colonial in nature, mainly waged against an enemy with practically no artillery. As a consequence the Royal Artillery was slow to realise changes in warfare over that century. The expanding empire saw the Royal Artillery engaged in many colonial actions.  Frequent small wars in Africa, Far East, India and other colonies occurred throughout the Victorian Era. The Army was engaged in active campaigning in one location or another every year of Queen Victoria’s reign except for 1883.  The Honour Titles of today's Royal Artillery bear testimony to those ubiquitous actions.        In October 1899 the Right Honourable Sir Henry Brackenbury was appointed Director General of Ordnance. He undertook a review of artillery and concluded there were deficiencies in armament  and no reserve of guns. He came up with a series of papers to address the shortcomings including the replacement of obsolete guns. The situation was highlighted in South Africa where the Boer Artillery outgunned the Royal Artillery. This raised serious concerns as to the ability of the Gunners to deal with threats from a more sophisticated enemy, notably Germany who had supplied the Boers with artillery.   To meet what would today be termed an Urgent Operational Requirement (UOR), Brackenbury requested £15 million. The Mowat Committee was formed to consider Brackenbury's recommendations and as a result of the committee's  work, Parliament voted £10 million pounds for the purchase of guns from ….. Germany. The British would purchase the 76mm Quick Firing Ehrhardt gun.   The order was placed with the Rheinische Metallwaaren- und Maschinen-Fabrik for 108 guns, 275 limbers, 162 ammunition wagons, stores, and 54,000 rounds. These were delivered five months after the contract was signed. The Government expressed a wish that no further supply of guns would be made. This lead to the formation of Equipment Committees who called upon " the inventive genius of the country" to come up with new guns to meet the Army's requirements.   The guns Ehrhardt Guns  werereceived in secrecy at the Woolwich Arsenal and entered service with the Royal Field Artillery in 1901. The gun was termed the Ordnance 15 Pounder QF.     The efforts of the Equipment Committees led to the development and introduction of new equipment's. In 1906 the cavalry Division and Six divisions re-equipped with 13 pounder & 18 pounder. When the Territorial Force as formed in 1908, the Ordnance 15 Pounder QF was issued to the Royal Horse Artillery Batteries.   STATION OF UNITS 1914  ROYAL HORSE ARTILLERY TERRITORIAL FORCE BATTERIES   15 Pounder QF Ehrhardt Gun - HAC Fargo Camp 1914    The 15 Pounder QF Ehrhardt gun would see active service with the TF RHA in the Middle East.  A Battery HAC and the Nottinghamshire RHA were engaged in the Senussi Campaign in Egypt and Libya. In Aden B Battery HAC and the  Berkshire RHA were in action during July 1915 in the recapture of the Sheikh Othman District ( a key water supply to Aden) from the Turks.   15 Pounder QF Ehrhardt Gun - HAC Sheikh Othman 1914   In 1916 the Territorial Force Royal Horse Artillery Batteries were equipped with the 13 pounder.   15 Pounder QF Ehrhardt Gun     Calibre 3 in 76 mm Shell Weight 14 lb 6.4 kg Range 6,400 yards     Rate of Fire 20 rounds per minute      

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UBIQUE - Thank God for the Guns

Ubique Rudyard Kipling   There is a word you often see, pronounce it as you may –
“You bike,” “you bykwee,” “ubbikwee” – alludin’ to R. A.
It serves ‘Orse, Field, an’ Garrison as motto for a crest;
An’ when you’ve found out all it means I’ll tell you ‘alf the rest.   Ubique means the long-range Krupp be’ind the long-range ‘ill –
Ubique means you’ll pick it up an’, while you do, stand still.
Ubique means you’ve caught the flash an’ timed it by the sound.
Ubique means five gunners’ ‘ash before you’ve loosed a round.   Ubique means Blue Fuse, an’ make the ‘ole to sink the trail.
Ubique means stand up an’ take the Mauser’s ‘alf-mile ‘ail.
Ubique means the crazy team not God nor man can ‘old.
Ubique means that ‘orse’s scream which turns your innards cold!   Ubique means “Bank, ‘Olborn, Bank – a penny all the way” –
The soothin’, jingle-bump-an’-clank from day to peaceful day.
Ubique means “They’ve caught De Wet, an’ now we shan’t be long.”
Ubique means “I much regret, the beggar’s goin’ strong!”   Ubique means the tearin’ drift where, breach-block jammed with mud,
The khaki muzzles duck an’ lift across the khaki flood.
Ubique means the dancing plain that changes rocks to Boers.
Ubique means mirage again an’ shellin’ all outdoors.   Ubique means “Entrain at once for Grootdefeatfontein.”
Ubique means “Of-load your guns” – at midnight in the rain!
Ubique means “More mounted men. Return all guns to store.”
Ubique means the R.A.M.R. Infantillery Corps.   Ubique means that warnin’ grunt the perished linesman knows,
When o’er ‘is strung an’ sufferin’ front the shrapnel sprays ‘is foes;
An’ as their firin’ dies away the ‘usky whisper runs
From lips that ‘aven’t drunk all day: “The Guns! Thank Gawd, the Guns!”   Extreme, depressed, point-blank or short, end-first or any’ow,
From Colesberg Kop to Quagga’s Poort – from Ninety-Nine till now –
By what I’ve ‘eard the others tell an’ I in spots ‘ave seen,
There’s nothin’ this side ‘Eaven or ‘Ell Ubique doesn’t mean!

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ianjonesncl

 

Lesson on accuracy of artillery

An interesting extract from a letter sent by 2nd Lieut. Humphrey Arden (RGA) to his old school which was published in the school magazine.   Humphrey Arden attended the Dragon school, then   Radley and went on to Queens College Cambridge. He was about prepare for holy orders when war broke out. He was commissioned into the Royal Garrison Artillery in 1915. He died of wounds near Messines 6th June 1917 whilst serving with 156th Heavy Battery RGA. He is buried Bailleu Communal Cemetery Extension.  CWGC Information: 2/Lt. Humphrey Warwick Arden      Dragon Portrait Gallery: 2nd Lt Humphrey Arden R.G.A.   2/Lt Arden obviously had a keen interest in Gunnery - So few think it worth while to understand guns, whereas really they are the most interesting things in the War.   2nd Lieutenant Arden outlines the lessons of Zone. Source: The Skippers War    “Those who are not gunners mostly have two delusions and if the same men rise to command without having learnt better, silly things will happen – but of that more presently.   A lesson that many Gunner has experienced over the subsequent years.   The two delusions are (i) that, when a gun is laid in such a way that the shell hits a particular spot, it will hit the same spot if it is laid in a similar way. With regards to the first, it is only necessary to remember that gunnery is a mechanical science and not a game of skill. Experts find out the laws of the science and the Royal Regiment follows the law. The personal element practically does not, or should not come into it.   With regard to (ii), it would take too long to explain the ‘error of the gun.’ But it is a fact that if a gun is laid in exactly the same way for a hundred rounds, the shells will cover an oblong some hundreds of yards long and several yards wide. This ‘zone’ varies according to the gun and the range – any gun being much more accurate for line than it is for range.   Royal Artillery Glossary of Terms and Abbreviations - Philip Jobson Zone of the Gun - A series of shells from a gun firing at a given elevation will not fall in exactly the same spot but will be spread around the theoretical impact point....... It is impossible to guarantee to hit a precise spot and gunners need to be mindful of the zone of the gun when ranging onto a target.         2/Lt Arden outlines a situation where the gunners were mindful of the zone, however Those who are not gunners mostly have two delusions and if the same men rise to command without having learnt better   Take an example.    Some months ago a cunning man thought unto himself a scheme. ‘We will bombard a piece of trench,’ said he, ‘and start at the outside ends together, gradually working in to the centre. The Boche will be forced to crowd in and finally will have to jump out of the trench and run for his life. Whereupon the Field and the Heavies (60 pdrs) shall slay him.’ Well, a Siege Battery was allotted some 200 rounds for the job and the trench selected was at right-angles to the line of fire, i.e the shells would have to drop at precisely the same range to a yard every time to hit the trench.   The Battery Commander calculated that 5 of the 200 might fall in the trench. That is to say. with the most perfect laying, ammunition and weather conditions, the gun itself could not put more than 2½ % of rounds in exactly the same spot at that range, and of course the ammunition, wind, temperature, barometer etc. never are perfect. So the Battery Commander did pretty well to get 3 of the 200 in the trench.   So if the desired effect requires 200 rounds on target. BC does well to get 3 in the trench, so taking account of zone, to get 200 in the trench , he would needed to have fired 13,333 rounds. As it was a Siege Battery it would be probably 4 guns, so 3,333 per gun. Imagine the logistical effort to achieve the effect !.   Taking zone into to account If this lot of shells were fired around 15 would roughly hit the same spot.   It looks like the Field and Heavies may have realised that this was not aplan that was going to be successful.....and put a brew on: The Field and the Heavies waited in vain, or realising the fatuousness  of the whole proceedings, did not wait at all.     Rather than being asking for excuse for being didactic, it is a valuable lesson still for Gunners and Those who are not gunners and delusional. = ARTILLERY IS AN AREA WEAPON   You must excuse this didactic letter. So few think it worth while to understand guns, whereas really they are the most interesting things in the War.”      

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Portuguese Independent Artillery Corps - CAPI

When World War One broke out in 1914, Portugal was a neutral country. However colonial clashes in Africa, in Angola,  and the effect of the German U-boats on Portuguese trade routes to the UK, her main partner, caused tensions with Germany. In February 1916, Portugal at Britain's request seized German and Austro-Hungarian shipping in Portuguese ports, and a month later Germany declared war on Portugal. Portugal during World War One   In response to the declaration Portugal raised an expedition force of an infantry division of 55,000 men, The Portuguese Expeditionary Corps (Corpo Expedicionário Português or CEP). The CEP deployed to the Western Front in February 1917 and came under the command of the British Expeditionary Force.   Portuguese Expeditionary Corps (Corpo Expedicionário Português or CEP)   Portuguese Independent Artillery Corps   The French Army requested assistance from the Portuguese on 26th December 1916 for artillery personnel to man French heavy artillery batteries. In response an independent Heavy Artillery Corps (Corpo de Artilharia Pesada Independente or CAPI) was formed in January 1917. The CAPI would come  under French Army command and operate independently  of the Portuguese Expeditionary Force (CEP). The personnel would be recruited from the Army together with some Navy personnel.   Corpo de Artilharia Pesada Independente or CAPI   The advance party moved to France in May 1917 to await the arrival of the first gunners, under the command of Colonel John Climacus Man Teles.   Preparation of barracks and administration was complete by August. The main body from the 2nd Lisbon Coast Artillery and Naval personnel began arriving in September, being complete on 17th October 1917.  The total personnel from the CAPI consisted of 44 officers and 750 OR's.   Portuguese CAPI Soldiers   On 22nd October 1917, the Portuguese Gunners began training at  Bailleul-sur-Thérain, and Mailly , in conjunction with French Artillery units being rested from front line service.  Those at Bailleul- would be instructed of 320 mm rail guns, at  Mailly Paris 190mm rail guns.   Four 320mm rail guns that were at rest and were known by the names of "Bourrasque", "Tempête", "Simoun" and "Cyclone".   Portuguese Independent Artillery Corps 320 mm Rail Guns   Portuguese Independent Artillery Corps 190 mm Rail Gun   Training was completed on 4th November, equipment had been taken over, and the Corps was ready to fight.   The Corps was now absorbed into the French Order of Battle and designated Corps Artillerie Lourde Portugais. It was to consist of three Groups of 3 batteries and a Depot Battery.   A second contingent of Gunners arrived in January 1918 consisting of 26 officers and 500 OR's bringing the total CAPI personnel in theatre to 70 officers and 1,258 OR's.   Colonel Tristan da Câmara Pestana took over command from Colonel Man Teles on 15th January 1918. Colonel Tristan da Câmara Pestana   In February, personnel from the the 2nd and 3rd Groups moved to Le Havre where in April they moved to the UK to train on British equipment. They trained at Horsham where there are references to problems of indiscipline, causing problems for the British. http://comum.rcaap.pt/handle/10400.26/6864   Corps Artillerie Lourde Portugais   The Corps Lo Artillerie  Lourde Portugais would consist of  three Groups, each consisting of three batteries of one rail gun.  In each Group, one Battery would operate  320-millimetre (12.6 in) railway guns the other two 240-mm (9.5in) or 190-mm (7.5 in) railway guns.  There was also a Depot Battery.   Group 1 - 1st / 2nd / 3rd Battery | Group 2 - 4th / 5th / 6th Battery | Group 3  - 7th / 8th / 9th Battery   Equipment   Calibre Range Shell Matériel de 194 mm TAZ Modèle 1870/1893     194 mm 18,300 m 83 kg Matériel de 240 mm TAZ Modèle 1893/96 Colonies     240 mm 22,700 162 kg Matériel de 320 mm à glissement  Modéle 1870/80, 1870/84 et 1870/93   320 mm 20,500 m 387 kg   The establishment of the CAPI was:     Group 3 x Group Others CAPI Officers 20 60 2 62 Sergeants 41 123 2 125 OR's 467 1401 33 1444 TOTAL 528 1584 37 1631   The batteries were single gun batteries. The Combat Train consisted of a single gun, ammunition wagons, gun stores wagon, and wagons with material for fixing tracks. There was  also  a  Cantonment Train  consisting of command cars , accommodation, dining room and kitchen, infirmary, and workshops.   Combat Actions   1st Battery - 320mm   12 March 1918 - 1st Battery under command of Captain Gonçalo Pinto moved to Vailly (15 km W of Soissons) in the Aisne Sector under the control of French 6th Corps awaiting orders.   16 March 1918 - Aerial photography identified German gun batteries hidden in woods and the Battery deployed to Soupir (5 km W of Vailly) south of the Plateau of Chemin des Dames. They engaged the target at a range of  18 km and  firing 60 rounds with observation conducted by air plane.  The mission was reported as being successful.   27 March 1918 - The next action was firing from the  Sommesous extensions, in the South of the Marne Sector. This was in support of a French  counteroffensive.   Portuguese Independent Artillery Corps 320 mm Rail Gun firing     2nd / 3rd  Battery - 240 mm   18 May 1918 the 2nd and 3rd battery deployed in the Hurlus (65 km W of Reims) network positions engaged targets at a range of 10 km.   Post Armistice On 10th November an order was issued which disbanded the CAPI. At the end of November the personnel were informed they would remain in France to work on removal of trenches and barbed wire. They continued on this work until March 1919.  The men of the CAPI finally got to go home in April 1919, boarding an English steamer in Cherbourg on 3rd to return to Portugal.   A total of 1, 639 Portuguese served with the CAPI, five of whom died from accidents and other non combat incidents. Portuguese National Cemetery Richebourg France    

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Gunner Edwin Henry WOODWARD

Remembered Today: Gunner Edwin Henry WOODWARD 1st South Midland Brigade, Royal Field Artillery who died on 25th December 1916, Gloucester Old Cemetery      The Territorial 1st South Midland Brigade RFA formed part of the 48th Divisional Artillery. The Brigade consisted of the  1st Gloucestershire Battery  and  2nd Gloucestershire Battery (both based in Bristol) and the  3rd Gloucestershire Battery based Gloucester.   In 1914 the Brigade had departed for annual summer camp when they were recalled and mobilised, concentrating in Chelmsford.  The Division embarked  for France in March 1915, the Artillery travelling from Southampton to Le Harve, and concentrated near Cassel, 20km west of Ypres.   On Easter Sunday, 4th April,  1915, the Brigade saw it’s first action at Neuve Eglise, 6 miles NW Armentieres. During 1915 the Brigade was engaged in Messines, Festubert, and the Somme., remaining there for much of 1916. The 1st South Midland Brigade was renumbered 240th Brigade RFA in May 1916. As Gunner Woodward is listed under 1st South Midland Brigade by the CWGC, he may have sustained injuries that would ultimately lead to his death prior to May 1916.  
1st South Midland Brigade Royal Field Artillery   Gunner Edwin Woodward died on Christmas Day 1916 and was buried in Gloucester Old Cemetery.   CWGC Information : WOODWARD, EDWIN HENRY Rank:                         Gunner Service No:                3221 Date of Death:           25/12/1916 Age                           :20 Regiment/Service:     Royal Field Artillery                         1st South Midland Bde. Grave Reference:      NG. 6488. Cemetery:                  GLOUCESTER OLD CEMETERY   Additional Information: Son of Frank and Emma Woodward, of 18, St. Paul's Rd., Gloucester   Edwin Woodward is remembered on the screen wall behind the Gloucester  Cenotaph.          

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2/Lt ER Hayward RFA

Remembered Today: Second Lieutenant Edward Ronald HAYWARD, 99th Battery Royal Field Artillery who died on 20th December 1916, Mikra British Cemetery, Kalamaria     Edward Ronald Hayward was born at Salt Lake City, USA around 1897. Source: http://www.roll-of-honour.com/Sussex/CopthorneSchool.html   Second son of Robert Francis Hayward of Vancouver, British Columbia and Alfreda Hayward, daughter of the Reverend Frederick Toulmin. He had three brothers, two of whom also came to Kingsgate House – Gerald Baldwin Hayward (K 1918-1923) and Henry O’Brien Frederick Hayward (K 1926-1931) who died of polio whilst serving with the Royal Buckinghamshire Yeomanry in 1943. Edward Hayward came to Winchester from Copthorne School: he played for Lords in 1915 and was Captain of his House cricket team.   On leaving Winchester he passed into RMA Woolwich and then into the Royal Field Artillery, joining the British forces at Salonika where he was killed on December 20th 1916.   Source: http://www.winchestercollegeatwar.com/archive/edward-ronald-hayward/             CWGC Information: HAYWARD, EDWARD RONALD      

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US Navy 14 Inch Rail Guns firing in France 1918

When America entered the Great War in 1917, the UD Navy deployed five 14inch / 50 calibre rail guns into France, each gun being a separate battery.   The video of the rail guns in action shows the guns firing, use of aircraft for controlling fire, command post operations, and the administration of the battery    

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2nd Northumbrians Re-internment - Ypres

On the 24th May 1915 the 2nd Northumbrian Brigade RFA were at Potijze, two miles NE of Ypres. The Brigade deployed one month earlier as part of the Northumbrian Division and was immediately engaged in the 2nd Battle of Ypres.   The Germans had released gas and tried to breakthrough the British lines, but were held by gallant actions.   The 50th Northumbrian Division were used to reinforce formations fighting in the Salient. The 2nd Northumbrian Brigade RFA deployed in support of 28th Division.   2nd Northumbrian Brigade RFA Location 24th May 1915   It was on the 24th May the Germans renewed their attack on this date in an attempt to
capture the Bellewaarde Ridge. The Brigade War Diary of records intensive artillery fire from the early morning.
At 7pm a German shell exploded on No. 1 gun killing 5 of the detachment and severely wounding the No 1. The war dairy records the loss of;
Corporal JA Carr and Gunners JW Clarke, G Robinson, JW Rowbottom, AW Venus.     At 08:30 Driver Wilson was killed.     The six men were buried at 11:20      The Gunners remains were discovered  in 2013. They were identified from their shoulder titles which identified them as members of the North Riding Battery from the 2nd Northumbrian Brigade RFA.  Two of the six men could be identified; Gunners JW Rowbottom, AW Venus.   They were all reinterred on April 20th 2016 at a ceremony held in Ypres Town Cemetery Extension Cemetery. In the presence of the British Ambassador to Belgium and families, a burial party from 4th Regiment RA finally laid the men to rest.                         Burial Party 4th Regiment RA           Burial Service Ypres
                      Ypres Town Cemetery Extension Cemetery   The opportunity was taken whilst in Ypres to visit the graves.     North Riding Battery Graves Ypres Town Extension Cemetery The six men are buried in Plot F II - Graves 33 to 38     F II Grave 33   A SOLDIER OF THE GREAT WAR Royal Field Artillery   F II Grave 34   A SOLDIER OF THE GREAT WAR Royal Field Artillery  F II Grave 35   1308 Gunner A.J. ROWBOTTOM Royal Field Artillery   F II Grave 36   A SOLDIER OF THE GREAT WAR Royal Field Artillery   F II Grave 37   A SOLDIER OF THE GREAT WAR Royal Field Artillery    F II Grave 38   1817 Gunner A.W. VENUS Royal Field Artillery  

 

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2nd Lieut. WC Hickman RFA - KIA 1st July 1916

Ovillers Military Cemetery Cross of Sacrifice Ovillers Military Cemetery is situated 1 km north of La Boisselle. It originated as a battle cemetery behind a dressing station. After Armistice, it was expanded as the fallen from the battlefields of Pozieres, Ovillers, La Boisselle and Contalmaison were buried in the cemetery.   CWGC OVILLERS MILITARY CEMETERY   Ovillers Military Cemetery The Cemetery contains 3,440 graves of which 2,480 are unidentified. Of the 960 identified casualties, 290 are recorded as bring killed on 1st July. The proximity to La Boisselle and lying on the top of  what was called Mash Valley the effect on the Tyneside Brigades who advanced can be seen, with 76 Tyneside Scottish and 27 Tyneside Irish graves. There are many unidentified Tyneside Scots, many of who would have probably lost their lives on 1st July 1916.   Whilst the infantry bore the brunt of the casualties on the first day of the Somme, the Gunners were firing in support and suffered counter battery fire. The Ovillers Cemetery contains one Gunner who was killed on the 1st July - Second Lieutenant William Christie Hickman, RFA.  2nd. Lieut. Hickman was serving with 'B' Battery175 (South Staffordshire) Brigade Royal Field Artillery, part of the 34th Divisional Artillery. Born in 1889/90, he was educated at Marlborough College, then proceeded to Caius College Cambridge, where hr gained a MA. After Cambridge he went to Canada, returning home on the outbreak of war.   After joining the Army he was commissioned into the Royal Field Artillery 17th May 1916. 2nd Lieut. William Christie Hickman Royal Field Artillery  He joined the 175 (South Staffordshire) Brigade on the Somme in France.   175 (South Staffordshire) Brigade Royal Field Artillery   The Brigade, as part of the 34th Divisional Artillery were deployed just outside Albert, north of the road to Bapaume.   On 2th June 1916 the start of what would be 6 days of bombardment commenced. The 175th Brigade's prime task was wire cutting in the area of the 102nd (Tyneside Scottish) Brigade.   On the 1st July the Brigade were firing a creeping barrage in support of the 4 Tyneside Scottish Battalions, the War Diary recording hearing their Pipers leading the men into Battle. The German artillery retaliated and shelled the gun lines. In the ensuring chaos, 2nd. Lieut. Hickman  was posted missing, but a statement from a wounded soldier in hospital confirmed he had been killed on the 1st July was killed by the first German shell to hit the gun position. William Christie's wife was informed of his death in a telegram she received on 15th July 1916.   Second Lieutenant William Christie Hickman is buried in Ovillers Military Cemetery.  2nd. Lieut. William Christie Hickman KIA 1st July 1916   CWGC INFORMATION HICKMAN, W C            

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Bi-Centary Royal Artillery 1916

On the 26th May 2016 the Tri Centenary of the Royal Artillery was commemorated by a Queen's Review at Larkhill.   RA300 - Royal Artillery Tercentenary - Royal Review   To commemorate the  Bi-Centenary on 26th May 1916 a parade was held at Woolwich adjacent to St George's Garrison Church.   http://1914-1918.invisionzone.com/forums/index.php?/gallery/image/5003-bicentenary-ra-parade-1916/   What of the Royal Regiment of May 1916……   The strength was over 408,000 officers and OR's, representing nearly 14% of the Army. Of the strength, 321,000 were manning the guns of the divisional artillery (RHA / RFA), and 87, 000 serving the Royal Garrison Artillery.   The Ubiquitous Royal Regiment was serving on all Fronts with the main concentration if France and Flanders.   In Sinai and Egypt the defence of the Suez Canal from Turkish disruption or capture was vital for shipping routes to India, and the British Empire . In Mesopotamia British Forces were trying to exert their force in that region having lost Kut in a long Siege at month earlier. Whilst in East Africa reinforcements were arriving to  counteract German forces. A garrison was still being maintained in India, whilst coastal stations and ports throughout the Empire were being protected by the Coastal Artillery of the RGA.   It should also be remembered that  in the UK many Gunners were undergoing training, particularly to man newly formed Siege Batteries. The Military Conscription Act became law in  January 1916, so the RA expansion included newly conscripted men.  There had been a number of zeppelin raids in northern and southern England in April 1916, so Anti-Aircraft defence was gaining in importance. In Ireland, tensions were still high following the Easter Rising in April when artillery was deployed onto the streets of Dublin.   In May 1916 there was a re-organisation of the RA taking place. Brigades were being re-organised to consist of three gun and one howitzer batteries, leading to the breakup of howitzer brigades. Units were to be numbered, the old Territorial Force tiles disappeared.   The British Army manned 90 miles of the Western Front, continuously from Boesinghe to Maricourt . The Second Army was in the Ypres Salient, with the First Army to its south in the Armentieres sector. Third Army covered the Arras sector, Fourth Army the Somme. The Fifth, Reserve Army, had been formed only a few days before the RA Bi-Centenary.    The war on the Western Front had stagnated in an artillery war of attrition requiring vast amounts of ammunition and guns.  The failure of the attack on Aubers Ridge in March 1915 due to lack of ammunition had brought about a change of government and the establishment of the Ministry of Munitions. In the week of 26th May nearly 2. 5 million artillery rounds were produced, some in Woolwich Arsenal nearby to the Bi-Centenary parade.   In the month of May 1916, the number of guns of all calibres on the Western from rose from 3,700 to over 4,000. The number of rounds expended during the week of the Bi-Centenary the Western Front was 120,922 Rounds of all calibres.   The Fourth Army was preparing for the 'Big Push'.  On the 26th May Generals Foffre and de Castelnau held a conference with Sir Douglas Haig and Sir William Robertson at Montreuil to discuss the situation at Verdun and the necessity for the British to launch an attack in June to relieve the pressure on the French Army.  Over 1,000 guns and 1.6 million rounds were being readied for the Somme Offensive   Whilst commemorations took place in Woolwich, 7 Gunners would lose their lives that day.

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Mountain Battery - How were the Guns carried ?

Always fascinated by different types of Artillery and the Mountain Artillery and the use of mules is of particular interest. A previous post looked at the Indian Mountain Artillery 1914 - 1918 after reading the book Indian Mountain Artillery by Brigadier CAL Graham. RobL also pointed out that the 10 pounder also carried by highland pony by the three batteries of the 4th Highland Mountain Brigade, RGA both in the UK and in Gallipoli. michaeldr asks an good question - A Mountain Battery's animals - each carried what? Source: A Mountain Battery's animals - each carried what? Many thanks to RobL who provided information from the manuals for the 10 pounder, 2.75 inch gun and 3.7 inch howitzer. Rob also pointed out that the 10 pounder also carried by highland pony by the three batteries of the 4th Highland Mountain Brigade both in the UK and in Gallipoli. ----------------------------------------------0------------------------------------------- 10 pounder Gun chase mule Gun breech mule Axle Mule Wheel Mule Carriage Mule Then you have others, such as the ammunition mule, wheel and axle mule (spare wheel and spare axle tree etc) 10 Pounder Mule Team 10 Pounder Gun ----------------------------------------------0------------------------------------------- 2.75 inch gun Wheel and axle mule Trail, front part, mule Trail, rear part, mule (would also carry the shield) Recoil cradle mule Breech mule Chase mule Plus ammunition mule, pioneer mule etc 2.75 in Mountain Gun ----------------------------------------------0------------------------------------------- 3.7 inch howitzer Breech mule Chase mule Wheel and axle mule (carrying both wheels) Trail, front part, mule Trail, rear part, mule Pivot mule Cradle mule Slipper mule (including two shields) Then others, including ammunition mule, pioneer mule, ammunition shield mule (which also carried shields) ----------------------------------------------0------------------------------------------- Also bear in mind that for all of these mules carrying gun/howitzer parts, there would be a duplicate 'relief' mule. Plus additional baggage and ammunition mules ----------------------------------------------0------------------------------------------- Some interesting photographs provided by Pals

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Tynemouth RGA - Siege Batteries

The Royal Naval dominance of the North Sea reduced the German threat on the coast and the requirement for coastal artillery. This coincided with increased demand for heavy artillery for the Western Front, and skilled RGA gunners to man those guns. Consequently RGA gunners from the coastal batteries were formed into siege batteries for deployment overseas. The coastal units would also provide the basis for training and the raising of future RGA Batteries. The following Siege Batteries were formed from the Tynemouth RGA (TF) personnel and or / at Tynemouth Sources: Fredericks Lineage vol 2 page 702 to 708 / Siege Battery 94 1914-1918 / The History of the 135th Siege Battery RGA 21 Siege Battery - formed 15th January 1915 at Tynemouth. Equipped with 9.2 in howitzers
25 Siege Battery - formed at Tynemouth 15th Feb 1915. Armed with four 8" Howitzers went out to the Western Front on 3 Aug 15
35 Siege Battery - formed at Tynemouth 15th Feb 1915
44 Siege Battery - formed at Sheerness 12th July 1915. Formed from Tynemouth RGA (TF) and regulars from units in Gibraltar.
46 Siege Battery - formed at Tynemouth 30th July 1915 Nucleus from Cornwall RGA
53 Siege Battery - formed at Tynemouth 25th August 1915
80 Siege Battery - formed Tynemouth 15 Nov 1915
94 Siege Battery - formed 16th December 1915 at Tynemouth. Personnel 40 % New Army / Regulars from Tynemouth RGA & 60% Durham RGA. Deployed to France April 1916 with 4 x 9.2in Howitzer
100 Siege Battery - formed 13th January 1916 Tynemouth Defences
115 Siege Battery -- formed at Tynemouth 3rd March 1916
128 Siege Battery - formed at Tynemouth 8th April 1916
135 Siege Battery - formed at Tynemouth 3rd May 1916 - Nucleus from 12 & 47 Company's RGA (Tynemouth) and recruits from Derby
169 Siege Battery - formed at Tynemouth 13th June 1916
186 Siege Battery - formed at Tynemouth 13th July 1916
217 Siege Battery - formed at Tynemouth 13th July 1916 - Equipped with 4 x 6in howitzers (26cwt) Went to Western Front 2oth Jan 1917 Increased to 4 guns 10-Mar-1918
223 siege Battery - formed at Tynemouth 12th August 1916
247 Siege Battery - formed at Tynemouth 13th September 1916
260 Siege Battery - formed at Tynemouth 28th September 1916
288 Siege Battery - formed at Tynemouth 1st November 1916 - Went out to the Western Front 4th April 1917. Equipped with of 4 x 8in Howitzers
302 Siege Battery - formed at Tynemouth 17th January 1916
339 Siege Battery - formed at Tynemouth 15th January 1917
A review of Soldiers who died in the Great War for the Tynemouth RGA details 18 soldiers who lost their lives. They served in the following Siege Batteries; 13, 44, 76, 100, 113, 132, 135, 199, 228, 286, 290, and 384. In addition one Tynemouth RGA gunner was lost with the 1st/1st (Essex) Heavy Battery. This shows the variety of batteries with which Tynemouth RGA gunners served, and includes service in Salonika and Mesopotamia. Surname Initials Rank Unit Baker IO BSM 228th Siege Bty. Bennett W Gunner 286th Siege Bty. Brown JE Bombardier 113th Siege Bty. Chapman E Gunner Tynemouth Daniel F Gunner Royal Garrison Artillery Flett R Gunner 44th Siege Bty. Gallon J Gunner Royal Garrison Artillery Hills J Gunner 76th Siege Bty. Howe HD Gunner 290th Siege Bty. Kelly J Bombardier 132nd Siege Bty. Levitt W Gunner 13th Siege Bty. Lynch W Gunner 135th Siege Bty. McDonald N Moffatt AE Gunner 199th Siege Bty. Mordue T Gunner 384th Siege Bty. Neil A Gunner 1st/1st (Essex) Heavy Bty. Richardson SG Bombadier 100th Siege Bty. Todd G Gunner 384th Siege Bty.

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Durham RGA - Siege Batteries

The Royal Naval dominance of the North Sea reduced the German threat on the coast and the requirement for coastal artillery. This coincided with increased demand for heavy artillery for the Western Front, and skilled RGA gunners to man those guns. Consequently RGA gunners from the coastal batteries were formed into siege batteries for deployment overseas. The coastal units would also provide the basis for training and the raising of future RGA Batteries. The following Siege Batteries were formed from Durham RGA (TF) personnel and or / at Hartelpool: Sources: Fredericks Lineage vol 2 page 702 to 708 / Siege Battery 94 1914-1918 / The Hartlepool Gunners 190 Siege Battery / GWF Forum: kevroww / 41 Siege Battery - formed 2nd July 1915. Half of the Battery were regulars from the Hong Kong and Singapore RGA, half Territorials from Durham RGA. The Battery was equipped with 6 in Howitzers and deployed to France 9th December 1915.
94 Siege Battery - formed 16th December 1915 at Tynemouth. Personnel 40 % New Army / Regulars from Tynemouth RGA & 60% Durham RGA. Deployed to France April 1916 with 4 x 0.2in Howitzers
149 Siege Battery - formed 22nd May 1915 with a nucleus of details form Durham RGA. and equipped with 6inch Howitzer (26 cwt)
190 Siege Battery - formed 13th July 1916 at Hartlepool. The Battery history records that the gunners were mainly from the Durham RGA, the signallers joined the Battery at Bexhill. They were equipped with 6 inch Howitzers (26 cwt) and sailed to France 13th November 1916.
230 Siege Battery - formed 12th August 1916 and equipped with 4 x 6 inch Howitzers (26 cwt)
253 Siege Battery - formed 13th September 1916 and equipped with 4 x 6 inch Howitzers (26 cwt)
265 Siege Battery - 28 Sept 1916 and equipped with 4 x 9.2 Howitzers
295 Siege Battery - formed 1st November 1916 and equipped with 4 x 6 inch Howitzers (26 cwt)
313 Siege Battery - formed 12th December 1916 and equipped with 4 x 8 inch Howitzers
357 Siege Battery - formed 21st January 1917 and equipped with 4 x 8 inch Hows (armed on arrival in France)
400 Siege Battery - formed 19th April 1917 Personnel only to France, one section to 270 SB, one section to 290 SB
An extract of the Durham RGA from Soldiers Who Died in the Great War shoes the variety of units to which the Durham Gunners were posted (excludes the 142nd Heavy Battery RGA which was formed from the Heavy battery of the Durham RGA). Surname Inititials Rank Unit Morgan J Gnr 116th Heavy Bty. Dodd R Gnr 11th Siege Bty. Davidson ADB Gnr 123rd Siege Bty. Wallace JW Gnr 131st Heavy Bty. Allsopp AE Gnr 133rd Heavy Bty. Langley LJ Gnr 140th Siege Bty. Harrison A Gnr 160th Siege Bty. Taylor W Gnr 183rd Siege Bty. Ross TW L/Bdr 202nd Siege Bty. Liddell J Gnr 215th Siege Bty Beedle FW L/Bdr 21st (Forth) Fire Command Stephens R Cpl 229th Seige Bty. Anderson HH Bdr 22nd Anti-Aircraft Coy. Drage A Gnr 234th Siege Bty Swan F Gnr 234th Siege Bty. Welford J Gnr 239th Siege Bty. Bray E Gnr 245th Siege Bty. Cooper T Gnr 265th Siege Bty. Wilson R L/Bdr 26th Heavy Bty. Lynch H Gnr 270th Siege Bty. Banks RC Gnr 284th Siege Bty. Hollings P Sgt 286th Siege Bty. Palmer JE Gnr 286th Siege Bty. Street HJ Gnr 286th Siege Bty. Claridge HJ Gnr 289th Siege Bty. Smith HF Gnr 290th Siege Bty. Proctor FJ 2nd/1st North Midland (Staffs.) Heavy Bty. Holdsworth R Gnr 321st Siege Bty. Hutchinson W Cpl 326th Siege Bty. Gayler H Gnr 327th Siege Bty. Hartley CE Bdr 332nd Siege Bty. Ward A Gnr 351st Siege Bty. Forsyth J L/Bdr 355th Siege Bty. Hampton F Gnr 38th (Welsh) Heavy Bty. Stephens GEW Gnr 38th (Welsh) Heavy Bty. Aiston J Gnr 3rd Siege Bty. Frankland JP Gnr 41st (Durham) Siege Bty. Henderson JH Gnr 41st (Durham) Siege Bty. Lee TW Gnr 41st (Durham) Siege Bty. Sweeting J Gnr 41st (Durham) Siege Bty. Broughton B Cpl 41st Siege Bty. Clementson RS Gnr 41st Siege Bty. O'Boyle J Gnr 41st Siege Bty. Purchas AO A/Bdr 47th Heavy Artillery Group Busfield S Gnr 48th Bty. Bristow H Gnr 51st Siege Bty. Jensen HW Cpl 94th (Durham) Siege Bty. Barr JW Gnr 94th Siege Bty. Eltringham T Gnr 94th Siege Bty. Flewker H Gnr 94th Siege Bty. Mayes E Gnr Whl 94th Siege Bty. Hill N Gnr attd. "V" Heavy T.M. Bty. Agar JR Gnr Durham Bde. Horsley JW Gnr Durham Bde. Houston WS Gnr Durham Bde. Middlemass JG Gnr RGA Spence R Gunner RGA Diver F Gnr RGA

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IWM - Nery Gun

Visited the Imperial War Museum London contains the Nery Gun which was engaged in the Action at Nery 1st September 1914 resulting in the awarding of 3 Victoria Crosses. Nery Gun Imperial War Museum Nery Gun Imperial War Museum During the Retreat from Mons the 1st Cavalry Brigade were on the western flank of the British Expeditionary Force (BEF). In support of the Brigade were III Brigade RHA (D & E Bty) and VII RHA (I & L Bty). On the night of the night of the 31st August 1914 the 1st Cavalry Brigade were billeted in the village of Nery, 65 km (40 miles) NE of Paris. In the early hours of 1st September, with mist as cover, the German 4th Cavalry Division attacked the British in Nery. Action at Nery 1st September 1914 L Battery RHA brought 3 guns into action to engage German Artillery. In the ensuing artillery duel, one of L Battery's guns was immediately destroyed, the second shortly after. Captain Bradbury and Sergeant Nelson continued to fire from the third gun, when they were joined by BSM Dorrell as detachment members became casualties. Under heavy German artillery fire, Captain Bradbury was mortally wounded as he collected ammunition, whilst BSM Dorrell and Sgt Nelson continued firing until ammunition was expended. The action helped to hold the German advance, and causing them to withdraw. L Battery RHA Nery 1st September 1914 For their gallantry, Captain Bradbury, BSM Dorrell and Sgt Nelson were awarded the Victoria Cross. Nery VC's

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IWM - Le Cateau VC's

On a recent visit to Imperial War Museum London took the opportunity to visit the Lord Ashcroft Gallery to view two of the three VC's awarded at Le Cateau. Visited the battlefield in 2014 and saw the area from where the guns were saved: Le Cateau - Saving the Guns During the battle, the 37th Howitzer Battery RFA had withdrawn 4 guns. Captain Douglas Reynolds found two horse teams when he retired to Remount, and decided to rescue the remaining two howitzers. He called for volunteers to assist him and amongst them were Driver Job Drain and Driver Fred Luke. Under heavy fire Captain Reynolds, Driver Drain and Driver Luke were able to rescue one of the guns. For their bravery Captain Reynolds, Driver Drain and Driver Luke were awarded the Victoria Cross. London Gazette, 25th November 1914 At Le Cateau on August 26th, 1914, as volunteers, these two drivers saved their guns from falling into the hands of the enemy, although it was at the time under heavy fire from hostile infantry, who were only 100 yards away.

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