Jump to content
Great War Forum

Remembered Today:

Northumbrian Gunner meanderings

  • entries
  • comments
  • views

About this blog

Royal Artillery information



Entries in this blog


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.


From: Railway mounted 6 inch naval guns

Interesting post by RobL regarding rail mounted Anti-Aircraft guns in the NE. First time I have come across the use of rail for AA Guns

I've been trying to research these interesting anti-aircraft pieces, piecing together information from various sources, so far, i've found the following;


Firstly, here's a write-up i've done based on information from 'Baby Killers - German air raids on Britain in the First World War' by Thomas Fegan and 'Air Defence of Britain 1914-18' by Christopher Cole and EF Cheesman. The bit about them being mounted on wagons by the NER comes from 'Guns of the North East' and also a NER Magazine issue from 1919, I presume they're the same guns that Fegan describes as otherwise they are identical;

"At thirty minutes past midnight on 16th June 1915, Kapitanleutnant Hirsch arrived over Tyneside in Zeppelin L10. The industrial buildings along the Tyne were lit up and an inviting target, there was no searchlights and only ineffective fire from HMS Brilliant, an old cruiser that was guarding the Tyne. The first bombs were dropped over Wallsend on the Eastern Marine Engineering Works causing heavy damage. Palmers Shipyard at Jarrow was then bombed, killing seventeen workers and injuring seventy-two. Pochins Chemical Works was then hit, and housing at Willington, killing a policeman. After thirty destructive minutes, L10 left, dropping bombs over coal mines at South Shields. The glare from fires caused by the raid could be seen from the Zeppelin when it was thirty nautical miles away on the journey home. Five British home defence aircraft took off to intercept the raider including two BE2c aeroplanes from RNAS Whitley Bay, but none sighted the Zeppelin (although one aircraft was spotted by the Zeppelin crew). The lack of effective defence resulted in two 12 pounder anti-aircraft guns on mobile mountings being issued to Newcastle, and provoked the mounting of twelve 6 inch naval guns fitted for anti-aircraft use and mounted on railway wagons by the North Eastern Railway at Darlington"

According to 'The Guns of the North East', one was based at Port Clarence, and another at Saltburn (later sent to the Western Front). 'Railways of Teesside' by Ken Hoole describes a railway mounted anti-aircraft gun being mounted at Skinningrove, and although I don't have it, from a flick through 'Hartlepool Railways' by George Smith does I believe mention one being based at Hartlepool (I know it has a photo of one in it) - so that makes four so far, and presumably at least others were based further north in the Tyneside area. As for the guns and wagons themselves, I presume the guns are from the same stock that were used to make the 6 inch guns and 8 inch howitzers for the Royal Garrison Artillery - the wagons appear to be Great Western Railway 'Crocodile' wagons

I'd be very interested in learning the locations of the other guns, whether any were sent to the Western Front or elsewhere, and which units used them in the hope of sourcing war diaries with details of them firing on the further Zeppelin raids on the North East

Thanks, Rob

Source: Railway mounted 6 inch naval guns


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.

large.Arden-Humphrey.jpg 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 !.


large.BritishAmmunitionDump.jpgTaking 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.”





UBIQUE - Thank God for the Guns






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!


4th Highland (Mountain) Brigade RGA - Pack Horses

Going back to the original posting (which I can't believe I missed!) the only British Army mountain gunners were the TF group, 4th Highland (Mountain) Brigade, RGA. Other mountain gunners were Indian Army gunners who used mules for transport. Before and after the brigade was mobilized they used Highland Ponies. When they were posted to the 29th Division for Gallipoli, they suffered losses and these lost ponies were replaced by mules. By the time they had fought in Egypt and moved to Salonika in August 1916, all of the animals were mules.

4th Highland Mountain Brigade, RGA


Source: A Mountain Battery's animals - each carried what?


Remembered Today: Gunner 48865 John BOYD, D Battery 312 Bgde Royal Field Artillery, HAC Cemetery Ecoust-St Main

:poppy:CWGC Information


Rank: Gunner

Service No: 48865

Date of Death: 26/05/1917

Age: 29

Regiment/Service: Royal Field Artillery

"D" Bty. 312th Bde.

Grave Reference III. B. 26.


Additional Information:

Son of Patrick and Ellen Boyd, of Knockmore, Moss-side, Co. Antrim.

John Boyd's MIC records him under 32nd Brigade RFA, shows he qualified for the 1914 Star entering theater 23-Aug-1914. It would therefore appear John was a regular soldier (enlisting in Glasgow) , and at some stage was posted to the Territorial 312th Brigade. The 32nd Brigade RFA were part of the 6th Division's artillery, who were engaged on the Marne, Aisne, Messines 1914, 2nd Ypres and the Somme.

The 312th Brigade were a Territorial Force unit and part of the 62nd (West Riding) Division, a second line TF formation. On the 23rd December 1916 the 62nd Divisional Artillery was given orders to deploy to France, and arrived in Le Harvre 17th January 1916. After initially supporting various divisions on the Somme, the Brigade moved north in April 1917 to support the 62nd Division in the Battle of Arras. They subsequently moved to the area of Bullecourt.

The incident that killed Gunner John Boyd is recorded in the War services of the 62nd West Riding Divisional Artillery (page 16)

On the 26th May a sad disaster occurred in D/312 Howitzer Battery. The camouflage over one of the howitzers caught fire and blazed up. It was merely a question of a few moments when the flames should reach the ammunition and cause a terrible

explosion, but there was a slight chance of the fire being put out in time, and Capt. H. B. Gallimore, who was temporarily commanding the battery, with Lieut. G.Hardy and a party of N.C.O.'s and men, made a gallant attempt to extinguish the flames. Unfortunately their efforts were vain, and there was a tremendous explosion.

Poor Gallimore was killed, and also ten others (including all the six "Numbers One" of the battery), while Hardy was dangerously wounded, and also five gunners more or less severely. The loss of two such officers and six of the most valuable N.C.O.'s was a very serious blow to D/312, but the splendid act of devotion, in which they sacrificed their brave young lives, conferred a lustre not only on their own battery, but on the whole of the Divisional Artillery, and will not soon be forgotten. Hardy, unhappily, died of his wounds on the 28th.

John Boyd is buried with his comrades in the H.A.C. CEMETERY, ECOUST-ST. MEIN


Sad Disaster D/312 Battery 26-May-1917

Came accross an account from the War services of the 62nd West Riding Divisional Artillery whilst researching one of those remembered on Remembered Today.

In one incident D/312 battery lost two officers, all thier number ones and experienced soldiers. A tragic loss of life that removed many of the key elements for the running of an efficient battery.

Thanks to ororkep aka Paul the war diary entry has been recorded on another post:


26/5/17, at St. Mein. Time 1.30pm.

Explosion at D Battery causing death of Capt.H. B. Gallimore and 10 other ranks. Lt. G Hardy and 3 others seriously wounded. (over written at later date- later died of his wounds) Fire caused by a spark from firing gun that ignited the overhead fishing net camouflage. It spread to the gun pit. Officers and NCO hurried to extinguish it with earth and spades. 3 minutes later the shells exploded. One gun destroyed and another damaged. Incident caused CRA order to be issued that if future fire occurs men are to evacuate and not try to extinguish it.

Mjr. F. H. Lister CO 312 Bde.

From War services of the 62nd West Riding Divisional Artillery

On the 26th May a sad disaster occurred in D/312 Howitzer Battery. The camouflage over one of the howitzers caught fire and blazed up. It was merely a question of a few moments when the flames should reach the ammunition and cause a terrible

explosion, but there was a slight chance of the fire being put out in time, and Capt. H. B. Gallimore, who was temporarily commanding the battery, with Lieut. G.Hardy and a party of N.C.O.'s and men, made a gallant attempt to extinguish the flames. Unfortunately their efforts were vain, and there was a tremendous explosion.

Poor Gallimore was killed, and also ten others (including all the six "Numbers One" of the battery), while Hardy was dangerously wounded, and also five gunners more or less severely. The loss of two such officers and six of the most valuable N.C.O.'s was a very serious blow to D/312, but the splendid act of devotion, in which they sacrificed their brave young lives, conferred a lustre not only on their own battery, but on the whole of the Divisional Artillery, and will not soon be forgotten. Hardy, unhappily, died of his wounds on the 28th.

:poppy: The gallant men of D Battery 312 Brigade RFA are burried in the H.A.C. CEMETERY, ECOUST-ST. MEIN

Gunner J BOYD grave ref III.B.26

Acting Bombardier GE BUCKNALL grave ref III.B25

Captain HB GALLIMORE grave ref III.B.24

Acting Bombardier F HARDAKER grave ref III.B.19

Serjeant JH JENKINS grave ref III.D.23

Driver J KEMPLAY grave ref III.B.30

Serjeant EJH KNIGHT grave ref III.D.21

Corporal BJ PEPPER grave ref III.B.27

Gunner H STOTT grave ref III.B.27

Gunner N VAUGHAN grave ref III.B.28

:poppy: Second Lieutenant G.Hardy was burried at ACHIET-LE-GRAND COMMUNAL CEMETERY EXTENSION

Second Lieutenant G HARDY grave ref I.A.14


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







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


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:




3 x Group
























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





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.




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.



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











Mountain Battery - How were the Guns carried ?

blog-0432007001455145109.jpgAlways 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.


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 Pdr Mule Team

10 Pounder Mule Team


10 Pounder Gun


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


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)



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


Some interesting photographs provided by Pals

Indian Mountain Artillery mule with gun barrel



Artillery Survey in World War One

The adoption of indirect fire as the main methodology necessitated the need for accurate mapping and survey in order to establish the exact location of our own guns, and to provide a mechanism to know the enemy target. At the battle of Mons, british artillery was ofter located near the infantry positions, shrapnel direct fire augmenting their rifle and machine gun fire. By November 1917, Cambrai became the first bnattle which relied on wholly predicted fire.

In addition to the survey role, the location of enemy artillery for counter bombardment became another essential role of the surveyors.

As ever the Long Long Trail provides essential information: http://www.1914-1918.net/re_survey.htm

I have Peter Chasseaud's Artillery's Astrologers - A History of British Survey and Mapping on the Western Front 1914-1918 on my reading list;


I came accross a paper to presented at the RA Historical Society which provides an good overview

Source: ROYAL ARTILLERY HISTORICAL SOCIETY A Presentation by Brigadier Fraser Scott MA

A Royal Engineer Ranging Section was sent to France in November 1914. It fixed enemy batteries using air or ground observers. Aeroplanes had no wireless so enemy batteries were fixed by the pilot dropping a smoke bomb over one. This was intersected by ground observers which meant that the observers had to be surveyed in. So too had the guns which were to engage them. This was the nucleus for surveying in the artillery. The aircraft were soon issued with wireless so that they could report enemy battery positions on the map. And, as artillery ammunition was in short supply, they needed to reduce the amount used in adjusting fire onto targets and in registering them. This meant surveying in our own battery positions. At the start of 1915 the Ranging Section had a strength of only 19, then in April 1915 it became the 1st Ranging and Survey Section RE under GHQ and a circular went out to Army and artillery commanders:

“The primary objects of this Section were:

1. To determine a means of obtaining, in conjunction with aeroplane signals, the ranges of targets invisible from the ground.

2. To carry out survey work and revision of maps in the area occupied by the British Army.

In addition to the above, the Section has, on several occasions, done useful work in determining the coordinate positions of heavy guns or batteries and supplying bearings and ranges to various conspicuous objects round them” (this was the original of the “bearing picket” ).


The Ranging Section started flash spotting in the winter of 1914-15 using a bearing and range from the angle of depression (the observer was in a commanding position higher than the enemy battery). The results were poor due to the state of the maps (for range accuracy you had to know the difference in height between the observer and the gun). They also used the time from flash to bang to determine range but this wasn’t accurate. Allenby, who was commanding the Third Army, authorised a flash spotting course to be held for 12 officers to select five to be in charge of OPs which were being constructed. Men were provided by artillery units, and flash spotting started. On the Somme front in October 1915 (the front line ran east of Albert) flash spotting, posts named after London music halls were chosen to give as good a coverage as possible..

At this time enemy gun location was mostly done by air reconnaissance which did not satisfy the commander of Second Army who ordered, in October 1915, that

“Counter-battery work must be a matter chiefly for the heavy artillery, and it has therefore been decided that the work of locating the enemy’s batteries shall in future be done at the HQ of the Groups of Heavy Artillery Reserve. For this purpose a special officer, with the necessary assistants, will be attached to the staff of each Group Commander. This officer will be called the Artillery Intelligence Officer”.

This was the start of a proper counter-bombardment system.


Sound ranging began, for the British, when Lawrence Bragg, a Territorial RHA officer and Nobel Prizewinner, was sent to France in October 1915. The French and Germans had already started. Lucien Bull in Paris had developed a recorder based on his work on recording heartbeats. He proposed using an Einthoven string galvanometer with the movement of the strings, and that of a timing device, recorded photographically. Bragg got a Bull recorder and started to sound range just south of Ypres in the Second Army area. He had a mathematician, and electrician, an instrument maker and five others. He got going and persuaded the authorities to add more recorders. He had worked at Manchester under Rutherford and got eight other scientists from there. But the real problem was the microphone type – carbon granule – this was excellent for high frequencies but useless for the low frequency of guns firing (40 hertz or 40 cycles per second).

In 1916 things started to get more settled. In February the surveyors were organised into Field Survey Companies RE, one per Army. Each Army had an Observation Section (for flash spotting) and a Sound Ranging Section. So the field survey companies were responsible for:

Fixing British batteries - topographic section

Map drawing, printing and distribution - map section

Flash spotting - observation section

Sound ranging - sound ranging section

all under a Company HQ which also had a compilation section responsible for artillery intelligence.

1916 saw the system develop - more men were made available so that flash spotting could operate with their posts manned effectively all the time. There was also a Group HQ connected to the posts by telephone exchange so that the posts could communicate to each other too. But it was still difficult to know which flashes were which. The bearings had been measured using theodolites but these presented an upside-down image. They were replaced with Apparatus, Observation of Fire, Instrument used by Coast Artillery; it had a spider’s web graticule, black by day and lit, at night, by a bulb controlled by a resistance. If the flash was dim you decreased the brightness: if it was bright, or you were only seeking a sky reflection, you made the graticule brighter so you only saw the core of the flash and could take the bearing to it.

The telephone lines were provided by the Royal Engineers Signal Service: they could be on the ground, on ‘cosmic’ poles or buried (above ground ones were more vulnerable but easier to repair, buried ones lasted longer but harder to mend). In May 1916 Hemming had a bright idea on how to ensure that the posts were observing the same flash – it was to have a telegraphic key in each post so that when an observer saw a flash he pressed his key and lit a lamp in the HQ – but there wasn’t enough current to light the lamp. He wrote to Bragg who suggested a sensitive relay so when Hemming went on leave he went to Lisle Street in London and bought six relays, keys and buzzers. Coming back after only four days of a fortnights leave (his fellow officers thought he was mad), he mocked up a system that worked. The GPO built Flash & Buzzer Boards for all the flash spotting bases and flash spotting became effective. And in 1916 a School for Observers was inaugurated.

Sound ranging too improved. Bragg had noticed how, when sitting on the privy of his billet, he was lifted when the noise of a gun firing arrived. This indicated that the gun sound moved the air. Corporal Tucker had arrived in this section: he had experimented at Imperial College on the cooling of hot platinum wires by air currents and they thought that such wires would respond to the gun sound but not to higher frequencies. They got some thin wire, put it across a hole in an ammunition box, connected it to their recorder and, when a German gun fired, there was a large ‘break’ in the film record as shown in this diagram of a film showing the breaks and the timing marks:


As Bragg had written “ it converted sound ranging from a very doubtful proposition to a powerful practical method. They also realised that, if the microphones were set out regularly, it was much easier to pick out the signal from one gun, or from a battery. A map of the bases in 1916 shows the section bases are lettered ound rangers are physicists and serious) and the flash spotting posts named after the villages they are near – Lavender for Lavendie – Bullrush for Bully etc.

As the battle fromt moved, the locators had to move forward which the flash spotters did post by post. The sound rangers now had the Tucker microphone, which meant that out own shell bursts could be located so far out that CB fire could be adjusted accurately onto an enemy battery thus avoiding any errors due to wind etc. Tucker himself was commissioned and sent to the Artillery School on Salisbury Plain to form an Experimental Section to work on sound ranging. And early in 1917 they had a series of sound ranging conferences to disseminate new ideas. Ludendorff, directly under Hindenberg, issued an order summarised:

“The English have a well-developed system of sound ranging. Precautions are accordingly to be taken to camouflage the sound eg registration when the wind is contrary, many batteries firing at the same time, simultaneous firing from false positions”.

He also wanted to have a British sound ranging apparatus captured.


For the Battle of the Somme each Corps had a Counter Battery Staff Officer to make sense of the gun location now being obtained. He reported up the Gunner chain of command. Besides the CBSOs there were also Royal Artillery Reconnaissance Officers (RAROs), which caused some confusion. Hemming became the RARO for VI Corps: he couldn’t order any counter battery fire but had to deal through the CBSO, Colonel Fawcett the explorer, who would consult his ouija board to see if Hemming’s location should be “confirmed”. However, British CB had an effect on the German artillery tactics. For them protection gave way to concealment and positions changed with a rapidity that made our hostile battery lists out of date. The CBSO dealt with immediate problems and the RARO with longer-term assessments. Proper CB plans were now being made. For this First Army’s attack CB destroyed or neutralised 90% of the German batteries.

The Germans withdrew to the Hindenberg Line in March 1917. R Sound Ranging Section noted that the Germans were shelling inside their old front line but didn’t report it until the Corps Commander rang up to enquire. T Section made no locations west of the Hindenberg Line but didn’t report this for 24 hours. So they all had to move eastwards. Studies were made of locating accuracy: 4th Field Survey Company found that of 230 German battery positions 86.5% had been correctly located. More sound ranging sections were authorised.

It took about two weeks to install sound ranging sections due to the time taken to lay the lines (the ground was in a bad state). Studies were made to improve mobility which were to be useful later.

In June 1917 First and Second Armies instituted report centres to warn all locating units of activity. These centres were connected to the Flying Corps, balloons, flash spotters, sound rangers, anti-aircraft and wireless stations as well as to corps report centres, corps heavy artillery and divisional HQs.

Before the Messines battle in June 1917 the British put in a false attack to draw German fire so as to get locations. After the battle it was found that the sound rangers had accurately located over 93% of the German battery positions so the Germans had to adopt various ruses - alternative positions, dummy flashes, wandering guns etc. As a result the British CB wasn’t as effective as it had been especially in the flat country around Ypres.

After the Passchendaele battle, the Canadians criticised the locators for being too far back, the reason being the Signal difficulties. They recommended transferring them from intelligence to artillery command. GHQ immediately put them under the Royal Artillery for tactical purposes and this must have influenced the post-war decisions. The Corps HQRAs now directed them.

Schools of instruction were established: each Army had an artillery school and there were also an Observation School for flash spotting and a Sound Ranging School.

In November 1917 the battle of Cambrai became the first battle when all the artillery fire was to be predicted, with no preliminary registration,in order to achieve maximum surprise. All the heavy and siege batteries were surveyed in and provided with bearing pickets as well as some of the field ones. 90% of the hostile batteries had been correctly located, mostly by the locators. Besides this, specially trained mobile flash spotting and sound ranging detachments followed up the advancing troops: one base was in action 56 hours after zero. however, the Germans counterattacked and some apparatus had to be thrown into a pond to avoid capture.

When the Russians collapsed, Germany could now reinforce their Western Front. The focus on the western front was to prepare for defence and reserve bases were prepared. An an experiment was done which showed that a long base further from the enemy was better than a short one near him.

Hemming had a great moment as RARO when, in March 1918, Field Marshal Haig visited VI Corps HQ and came to the artillery office.

He asked Hemming “Could the Germans attack tomorrow?”

Hemming said “I don’t think they could”.

“Why not?”.

“Because we had one gun per three yards of front at Ypres and he will want more. I’ve only found one third so far though more have just moved in”

“All right, as soon as you have found half of the missing batteries send me a telegram”. Hemming sent the telegram on 18th March and the offensive started on 21st March. He used air photographs for this as the Germans had copied us by using predicted fire.

When the Germans attacked the locating lines were cut and no locating could be done. As it was essential to avoid the sound ranging apparatus and the flash and buzzer boards being captured, the locators moved out and through the new British front. As each post only had a two-wheeled cart much had to be left behind or destroyed. Some were taken prisoner: others found themselves formed into ad hoc defence forces digging trenches as infantry. The situation stabilised, gun survey done and locating bases established: In May Bragg and Hemming were brought back to actual locating to work on the GHQ Defence Line, our most rearward position.

In July 1918 the Field Survey Companies became Field Survey Battalions, commanded by Lt Cols, representing the increased strengths. And in July the Allies (the Americans had now joined in) started their offensive using the now established predicted fire. For the battle of Amiens in August the locators were ready to move with the attack and the flash spotters had wireless (attempts to do a radiolink for sound ranging had not been successful).

During the Hundred Days leading up to the Armistice the locators followed up the Allied advance as best they could. Among their problems were deaths from Spanish flu. It is worth noting the batteries located by 4th Field Survey Company/Battalion:

Flash Spotting Sound Ranging`

1917 Dec 800 1500

1918 Jan 342 1047 bad weather for flash spotting

Feb 441 991 bad weather for flash spotting

Mar 1017 2125 German attack

Apr 417 747

May 680 1094

Jun 808 1005

Jul 803 1112

Aug 1002 1260

Sep 1230 434

By the end of the war there were field survey battalions in France, Salonika, Egypt and Italy. What sort of people had been involved? All sorts: they volunteered from the rest of the Army and were recruited from universities. They welded themselves into small groups with a remarkable esprit de corps (even though there was no formal corps). The posts operated on their own with little supervision by officers (the officers were too few and too busy). The nature of the war was such that many groups integrated themselves into the local populace aided, for the flash spotters, by the fact that the positions of their observation posts were dictated by the command they had to have over the countryside so a post was used for months, if not for years. For example Lavender, in Laventie Church, was first used in 1915; 2 Field Survey Company took it over in March 1916 handing it over to 1 Field Survey Company in July and stayed until the German attack in April 1918 (which destroyed the church). But by August 1918, the flash spotters were back in Laventie. Chasseaud wrote in his book Artillery Alchemists: “The men of the group … were practically villagers in their own right”. Here is a drawing of one of them in his billet:


Their self-reliance was well demonstrated in the German 1918 attack: many posts were cut off from their HQ so they had to make their own decisions as to when and where to go.


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


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.

NeryGun.jpg 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.

Nery1Sep1914.jpg 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


From: 1915/16: Reserve Batteries, RH & RFA

As ever brilliant information from David Porter

For the benefit of others this is my current crib sheet - i.e. not 100% accurate with some based on guesswork.

No. 1 Depot RFA (1 Reserve Brigade) at Newcastle-on-Tyne

1A Reserve Brigade consisting of 1, 2 and 3 Batteries. Newcastle upon Tyne (55 Battery added)

1B Reserve Brigade consisting of 4, 5 and 6 Batteries. Forest Row (initially Leeds then Ipswich in March 1916)

No. 2 Depot RFA (2 Reserve Brigade) at Preston

2A Reserve Brigade consisting of 7, 8 and 9 Batteries. Preston

2B Reserve Brigade consisting of 10, 11 and 12 Batteries. Brighton (also No. 4 RFA Officer Cadets School)

No. 3 Depot RFA (3 Reserve Brigade) at Hilsea, Cosham Railway Station

3A Reserve Brigade consisting of 13, 14 and 15 Batteries. Larkhill (57 Battery added)

3B Reserve Brigade consisting of 16, 17 and 18 Batteries. Topsham Barracks, Exeter (also No. 2 RFA Officer Cadet School)

No. 4 Depot RFA (4 Reserve Brigade) at Woolwich

4A Reserve Brigade consisting of 19, 20 and 21 Batteries. Woolwich (56 Battery replaced 20)

4B Reserve Brigade consisting of 22, 23 and 24 Batteries. Boyton, Wilts

No. 5 Depot RFA (5 Reserve Brigade) at Athlone

5A Reserve Brigade consisting of 25, 26 and 27 Batteries. Athlone

5B Reserve Brigade (28, 29 and 30 Batteries ??) broken up ??

No. 6 Depot RFA (6 Reserve Brigade) at Glasgow, Maryhill Barracks (possibly Edinburgh in 1918)

6A Reserve Brigade (31, 32, and 33 Batteries ??) broken up ?? - 31st Reserve Battery remount training unit. Glasgow

6B Reserve Brigade consisting of 34, 35 and 36 Batteries. Piershill Barracks, Edinburgh

No. 7 Depot RFA (7 Reserve Brigade) at Romsey

Added later

1C Reserve Brigade consisted of 37, 38 and 39 Batteries. Hemel Hempstead - 37th Reserve Battery remount training unit. Northampton

2C Reserve Brigade consisting of 40, 41 and 42 Batteries. Catterick - 40th Reserve Battery remount training unit. No.8 Camp, Bulford

3C Reserve Brigade consisting of 43, 44 and 45 Batteries. Deepcut - 43rd Reserve Battery at Swanage in 1917 & 1918

4C Reserve Brigade consisting of 46, 47 and 48 Batteries. Weedon

5C Reserve Brigade consisting of 49, 50 and 51 Batteries. Charlton Park - 49th Reserve (Ballincollig) Battery

6C Reserve Brigade consisting of 52, 53.and 54 Batteries. Maryhill Barracks, Glasgow, or Redford Barracks, Edinburgh - 146 and 147 Batteries replaced 53 and 54

new 6C Reserve Brigade consisting of 53, 54.and 55 Batteries, Waterloo Barracks, Aldershot (relocated from Glasgow, Edinburgh & Newcastle ??)

new 5B Reserve Brigade consisting of 59, 60 and 61 Batteries. Edinburgh (58 Battery missing !!) (50, 59 and 60 Batteries moved to Lessness Park Camp in 1918)

62nd Reserve Battery remount training unit. Ripon

63rd Reserve Battery remount training unit. Bulford

Source: 1915/16: Reserve Batteries, RH & RFA


Territorial Force Renumbering 1917

Picked this up from a post by David Porter on the renumbering of the Territorrial Force in 1917. David says " I've looked at this aspect for several years and I'm still getting to grips with it" , so even complex for an expert !!

Source: Birmingham and the Royal Field Artillery? .

Some key points:

  • All Territorial Force RH & RFA were renumbered as per ACI 2198 (Appendix 183) of November 1916 implemented on January 1, 1917.
  • The renumbering didn't happen during the reorganisation of May 1916 but curiously (sometimes) refers to the unit they were in at that time.
  • It appears the renumbering was more related to the previous number which didn't change if they transferred to another TF RH or RFA unit.

One assumes that there would have been a cut off point in the records office whereby the new numbers were allocated from the nominal role at that point in time to reduce the problems of continually changing lists due to casualties and replacements. Given the time to collate all the information, publish and print the ACI the nominal role at May 1916 may have been used.

Chris on the Long Long Trail outlines the overall mechanism Renumbering of the Territorial Force in 1917, and concludes "The ACIs are sometimes contradictory, are susceptible to different interpretations and there were doubtless many errors made by the clerks responsible for actually executing the changes." .

Those who served post war may also have another number issued on the re-establishment in 1920. I have a soldier who was a pre and post war Territorial and has three numbers.

Always grateful for a post by Kondoa which details the TF numbers for thr Royal Artillery.

Royal Artillery Units



1 - 99999


1 - 49999


11 Hull HB 290003 290324

158 Hull HB " "

38 Howitzer Brigade " "

38 Welsh HB 290325 290590

122 Oxford HB

124 Hull HB 290601 290850

126 Camberwell HB 290851 291008

199 Camberwell HB 291001 291145

127 Bristol HB 291146 291300

128 Oxford HB 291350 291500

129 Bristol HB 291580 291780

132 Oxford HB 291780 292000

125 County PalatineHB 292001 292250

133 County PalatineHB 292251 292450

134 Cornwall HB TF ------- -------- see TF lists

135 Oxford HB 292451 292700

137 Deptford HB 292726 292975

138 HampsteadHB 292951 293200

140 HammersmithHB 293201 293415

136 County PalatineHB 293401 293700

141 East Ham HB 293701 293950

142 Durham HB -------- -------- see TF lists

143 Ashton Under Lyne 293951 294150

144 York HB 294151 294350

145 Stockport HB 294351 294600

146 Hull HB 294601 294800

147 Leicester HB 294801 295000

148 Smethwick HB 295051 295300

149 Wakefield HB 295301 295550

150 Rotherham HB 295551 295750

151 Darlington HB 295751 296000

152 Hackney HB 296001 296250

153 Tottenham HB 296251 296500

139 HampsteadHB 296501 296700

154 Halifax 296701 296850

155 E. CheshireHB 296851 297100

156 Oxford 297101 297400

157 Leicester HB 297401 297600


300001-306000 4 HIGHLAND MTN BDE, RGA









313001-314000 2/1 N MIDLAND HVY BY, RGA /N MIDLAND DIV






317001-318000 KENT HVY BY, RGA/ HOME CO DIV

318001-321000 1 LONDON HVY BY, RGA/ LONDON DIV

318001-321000 2 LONDON HVY BY, RGA/ LONDON DIV


326001-329000 CLYDE FORTRESS RGA

329001-334000 DEVON FORTRESS RGA







358001-362000 KENT FORTRESS RGA









602001-604000 1/AYRSHIRE BTY, RHA/ AYR, RHA



608001-610000 C/264 W RIDING RHA





618001-620000 A/264 HANTS RHA


622001-624000 B/264 ESSEX RHA


630001-635000 255 BDE, RFA TF/ 1/1 HIGHLAND BDE

630001-635000 320 BDE, RFA TF/BDE, 2/HIGHLAND

635001-640000 256 BDE, RFA TF/ 1/ 2 HIGHLAND BDE

635001-640000 321 BDE, RFA TF/ 2/HIGHLAND

640001-645000 258 BDE, RFA TF/ 1/2 HIGHLAND BDE

640001-645000 322 BDE, RFA TF/ 2/HIGHLAND

645001-650000 51 DAC/ HIGHLAND

645001-650000 64 DAC/ 2/HIGHLAND

650001-655000 257 BDE, RFA TF/ 1/1 LOWLAND BETWEEN 11 MAY 16-3 JUN 16

650001-655000 325 BDE, RFA TF/ 2/LOWLAND

655001-660000 261 BDE, RFA TF/ 1/2 LOWLAND (260, 28 MAY 16-SEP 16)

655001-660000 326 BDE, RFA TF/ 2/LOWLAND

660001-665000 262 BDE, RFA TF/ 1/3 LOWLAND (261, 28 MAY 16-SEP 16)

660001-665000 327 BDE, RFA TF/ 2/LOWLAND

665001-669000 263 BDE, RFA TF/ 1/4 LOWLAND BDE (BROKEN UP DEC 16)

665001-670000 328 BDE, RFA TF/ 2/LOWLAND

669001-671000 264 BDE, RFA TF/ LOWLAND

670001-675000 65 DAC/ 2/LOWLAND

671001-675000 52 DAC/ LOWLAND

675001-680000 275 BDE, RFA TF/ 1/1 W LANCS

675001-680000 285 BDE, RFA TF/ 2/1 W LANCS

680001-685000 276 BDE, RFA TF/ 1/2 W LANCS

680001-685000 286 BDE, RFA TF/ 2/2 W LANCS

685001-690000 277 BDE, RFA TF/ 1/3 W LANCS

685001-690000 287 BDE, RFA TF/ 2/3 W LANCS (BROKEN UP FEB 17)

690001-695000 278 BDE, RFA TF/ 1/4 W LANCS (BROKEN UP OCT 16)

690001-695000 288 BDE, RFA TF/ 2/4 W LANCS

695001-700000 55 DAC/ W LANCASHIRE

695001-700000 57 DAC/ 2/W LANCASHIRE

700001-705000 210 BDE, RFA TF/ 1/1 E LANCS

700001-705000 330 BDE, RFA TF/ 2/1 E LANCASHIRE

705001-710000 211 BDE, RFA TF/ 1/2 E LANCS (BROKEN UP FEB 17)

705001-710000 331 BDE, RFA TF/ 2/2 E LANCASHIRE

710001-715000 212 BDE, RFA TF/ 1/3 E LANCS (RENUMBERED AS 211 BDE ON DEC 16)

710001-715000 332 BDE, RFA TF/ 2/3 LANCASHIRE (BROKEN UP, APR 17)

715001-720000 213 BDE, RFA TF/ 1/4 E LANCS BDE (BROKEN UP DEC 16, BTYS TO 120 & 211)

715001-720000 333 BDE, RFA TF/ 2/4 LANCASHIRE

720001-725000 42 DAC/ E LANC

720001-725000 66 DAC/ 2/E LANCASHIRE

725001-730000 265 BDE, RFA TF/ 1/1 WELCH BDE (BROKEN UP DEC 16)(RENUMBERED FROM 267, DEC 16)

725001-730000 340 BDE, RFA TF/ 2/1 WELCH (BROKEN UP MAY 16, BTRYS TO 342 & 343 BDES)

730001-735000 266 BDE, RFA TF/ 1/2 WELCH BDE

730001-735000 341 BDE, RFA TF/ 2/2 WELCH

735001-740000 267 BDE, RFA TF/ 1/1 CHESHIRE BDE (RENUMBERED 265, DEC 16)

735001-740000 342 BDE, RFA TF/ 2/1 CHESHIRE BDE

740001-745000 268 BDE, RFA TF/ 1/4 WELCH BDE (RENUMBERED 266, DEC 16)

740001-745000 343 BDE, RFA TF/ 2/4 WELCH

745001-750000 54 DAC/ WELCH

745001-750000 68 DAC/ 2/WELCH

750001-755000 250 BDE, RFA TF/ 1/1 NORTHUMBRIAN BDE

750001-755000 315 BDE, RFA TF/ 2/1 NORTHUMBRIAN

755001-760000 BDE, RFA TF/ 251 1/2 NORTHUMBRIAN BDE

755001-760000 BDE, RFA TF/ 316 2/2 NORTHUMBRIAN

760001-765000 BDE, RFA TF/ 252 1/3 NORTHUMBRIAN BDE

760001-765000 BDE, RFA TF/ 317 2/3 NORTHUMBRIAN

765001-770000 BDE, RFA TF/ 253 1/4 NORTHUMBRIAN BDE

765001-770000 BDE, RFA TF/ 318 2/4 NORTHUMBRIAN (RENUMBERED 223, JUL 16)

770001-775000 50 DAC/ NORTHUMBRIAN

770001-775000 63 DAC/ 2/NORTHUMBRIAN

775001-780000 245 BDE, RFA TF/ 1/1 W RIDING BDE

775001-780000 310 BDE, RFA TF/ 2/1 W RIDING

780001-785000 246 BDE, RFA TF/ 1/2 W RIDING BDE

780001-785000 311 BDE, RFA TF/ 2/2 W RIDING

785001-790000 247 BDE, RFA TF/ 1/3 W RIDING BDE

785001-790000 312 BDE, RFA TF/ 2/3 W RIDING

790001-795000 248 BDE, RFA TF/ 1/4 W RIDING BDE

790001-795000 313 BDE, RFA TF/ 2/4 W RIDING

795001-800000 49 DAC/ W RIDING

795001-800000 62 DAC/ 2/W RIDING

800001-805000 230 BDE, RFA TF/ 1 N MIDLAND BDE

800001-805000 295 BDE, RFA TF/ 2/1 N MIDLAND

805001-810000 231 BDE, RFA TF/ 2 N MIDLAND BDE

805001-810000 296 BDE, RFA TF/ 2/2 MIDLAND

810001-815000 232 AFA BDE BDE, RFA TF/ 3 N MIDLAND BDE

810001-815000 297 BDE, RFA TF/ 2/3 MIDLAND

815001-820000 233 BDE, RFA TF/ N MIDLAND

815001-820000 298 BDE, RFA TF/ 2/4 MIDLAND

820001-825000 46 DAC/ N MIDLAND

820001-825000 59 DAC/ 2/N MIDLAND

825001-830000 240 BDE, RFA TF/ 1/1 S MIDLAND BDE

825001-830000 305 BDE, RFA TF/ 2/1 S MIDLAND (BROKEN UP, SEP 16)

830001-835000 241 BDE, RFA TF/ 1/2 S MIDLAND BDE

830001-835000 306 BDE, RFA TF/ 2/2 S MIDLAND

835001-840000 242 BDE, RFA TF/ 1/3 S MIDLAND BDE

835001-840000 307 BDE, RFA TF/ 2/3 S MIDLAND

840001-845000 243 BDE, RFA TF/ 1/4 S MIDLAND BDE

840001-845000 308 BDE, RFA TF/ 2/4 S MIDLAND

845001-850000 48 DAC/ S MIDLAND

845001-850000 61 DAC/ 2/S MIDLAND

850001-855000 215 BDE, RFA TF/ 1/1 WESSEX BDE

850001-855000 225 BDE, RFA TF/ 1/1 WESSEX BDE

855001-860000 'E' RES BDE

855001-860000 216 BDE, RFA TF/ 1/2 WESSEX BDE

860001-865000 217 BDE, RFA TF/ 1/4 WESSEX BDE

860001-865000 227 BDE, RFA TF/ 1/2 WESSEX BDE

865001-870000 218 BDE, RFA TF/ 1/3 WESSEX BDE

865001-870000 228 BDE, RFA TF/ 1/3 WESSEX BDE

870001-875000 43 DAC/ WESSEX

870001-875000 45 DAC/ WESSEX

875001-880000 270 BDE, RFA TF/ 1/1 E ANGLICAN BDE (RENUMBERED 272, DEC 16)

875001-880000 345 BDE, RFA TF/ 2/1 E ANGLICAN (BROKEN UP DEC 16))

880001-885000 271 BDE, RFA TF/ 1/2 E ANGLICAN BDE

880001-885000 346 BDE, RFA TF/ BDE, 2/2 E ANGLICAN

885001-890000 272 BDE, RFA TF/ 1/3 BDE ANGLICAN BDE (BROKEN UP DEC 16)

885001-890000 347 BDE, RFA TF/ 2/3 E ANGLICAN

890001-895000 273 BDE, RFA TF/ 1/4 E ANGLICAN BDE (RENUMBERED 270, DEC 16)

890001-895000 348 BDE, RFA TF/ 2/4 E ANGLICAN

895001-900000 55 DAC/ E ANGLICAN

895001-900000 69 DAC/ 2/E ANGLICAN

900001-905000 220 BDE, RFA TF/ 1/1 HOME CO BDE

900001-905000 335 BDE, RFA TF/ 2/1 HOME CO (BROKEN UP MAR 16)

905001-910000 221 BDE, RFA TF/ 1/2 HOME CO BDE

905001-910000 336 BDE, RFA TF/ 2/2 HOME CO

910001-915000 222 BDE, RFA TF/ 1/3 HOME CO BDE

910001-915000 337 BDE, RFA TF/ 2/3 HOME CO

915001-920000 27 DAC/ HOME CO

915001-920000 338 BDE, RFA TF/ 2/4 HOME CO (BROKEN UP, MAR 16)

920001-925000 43 DAC/ HOME CO

920001-925000 67 DAC/ 2/HOME COUNTIES

925001-930000 280 BDE, RFA TF/ 1/1 LONDON BDE

925001-930000 290 BDE, RFA TF/ 2/1 LONDON BDE

930001-935000 281 BDE, RFA TF/ 1/2 LONDON BDE

930001-935000 291 BDE, RFA TF/ 2/2 LONDON BDE

935001-940000 282 BDE, RFA TF/ 1/3 LONDON BDE

935001-940000 292 BDE, RFA TF/ 2/3 LONDON BDE (BROKEN UP, SEP 16)

940001-945000 283 BDE, RFA TF/ 1/4 LONDON BDE

940001-945000 293 BDE, RFA TF/ 2/4 LONDON BDE

945001-950000 56 DAC/ 1 LONDON

945001-950000 58 DAC/ 2/1ST LONDON

950001-955000 235 BDE, RFA TF/ 1/5 LONDON BDE

950001-955000 300 BDE, RFA TF/ 2/5 LONDON (BROKEN UP AUG 16)

955001-960000 236 BDE, RFA TF/ 1/6 LONDON BDE

955001-960000 301 BDE, RFA TF/ 2/6 LONDON

960001-965000 237 BDE, RFA TF/ 1/7 LONDON BDE

960001-965000 302 BDE, RFA TF/ 2/7 LONDON

965001-970000 238 BDE, RFA TF/ 1/8 LONDON BDE

965001-970000 303 BDE, RFA TF/ 2/8 LONDON

970001-975000 47 DAC/ 2ND LONDON

970001-975000 60 DAC/ 2/2ND LONDO


4th Highland Mountain Brigade, RGA

A number of postings have been made reagrding the 4th Highland Mountain Brigade RGA and it's constituent sub units. An excellent photo from Mike (aka CSMMo) shows the 4th Highland Mountain Brigade with TOS and RA badge. Having spent a considerable time wearing a TOS / Balmoral as a Gunner I thought this was unique to 204 (Tyneside Scottish) Battery Royal Artillery.

A Mountain Gun in Action reduced.JPG

On the formation of the Territorial Force, the 4th (Highland) Mountain Brigade RGA was the only Royal Garrison Artillery Brigade. All other volunteer units were formed into heavy batteries, or companies for Defended Ports [Fredericks ‘Lineage Book of British Land Forces’ page 696].

The Territorial Force were formed for a home defence role, the 51st (Highland) Division with the highly mountainous area felt they required specialist mountain artillery in their order of battle.

Formed at Tarbet, Loch Fyne in October 1908, the unit consisted of:

(Source: Army List 1914)

Headquarters - Russel Street, Rothesay

Argyllshire (Mountain) Battery - Campbeltown

Ross and Cromarty (Mountain) Battery - Lochcarron,Ross-shire

Buteshire Mountain Battery - Rothesay

4th (Highland) Ammunition Column - Tarbert, Loch Fyne

Source: http://www.butesonsa...k/battery.shtml

The Brigade headquarters was in Rothesay (on Russell Street) as was the Headquarters and one section of the Buteshire Mountain Battery (with their drill hall located nearby, off of High Street), the other section being split between Largs and Millport. The Argyll Battery had one section in Oban and another in Campbeltown. The Ross Battery had elements in Stornoway, Lochcarron and Dingwall, while the Ammunition Column was headquartered in Tarbert, Loch Fyne.

These men worked hard to become qualified Mountain Gunners, imbued in the unique mountain mission. This mission, although originally assigned to them because of the defence needs of the Highlands, would cause them to be used in a very special way in the upcoming World War.

The brigade used Highland Garron Ponies to transport their 10 pounder screw gun.

They entered active service in August 1914 with 130 horses. Each gun section, which accounted for two of the battery's four guns, was allotted 68 horses, while its ammunition column required an additional 19. The Battery also assumed feeding and cleaning responsibilities and veterinary care as well as shoeing and blacksmith responsibilities for all of these animals.




On mobilisation, the Brigade move south into England and concentrated with the rest of the Division at Bedford. As the Western Front developed into static trench warfare, there was no real requirement for light mountain guns, consequently the 4th (Highland) Mountain Brigade RGA left the 51st (Highalnd) Division in March 1915 and became part of the 29th Division bound for Alexandria in Egypt.


Great War Forum

4th Highland Mountain Brigade, RGA

4th Highland Mountain Brigade Royal Garrison Artillery

Argyll Mountain Battery

Ross Mountain Battery

Bute Mountain Battery


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.




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.



Remembered Today:

Corporal Herbert LEE DCM, 246th Brigade Royal Field Artillery who died on 3rd September 1916, Etaples Military Cemetery

:poppy: CWGC Information


Rank: Corporal

Service No: 1039

Date of Death: 03/09/1916

Age: 21

Regiment/Service: Royal Field Artillery "A" Bty. 246th Bde.

Awards: D C M

Grave Reference X. B. 6.


Additional Information:

Son of Fanny Lee, of 13, College Mount, Otley Rd., Bradford.

Herbert Lee enlisted into the Territorial Force 2nd (West Riding) Battery of the 1st West Riding Brigade on the 3rd June 1912 aged 17 years and 6 months. His trade is listed as a Clerk at J. Pickles & Son of Thornbury. The 2nd (West Riding) Battery was based at Bramley, and his medical examination details his service was to be with the 4th (West Riding) Battery, which was based at Valley Parade, Bradford.

His first annual camp was at Salisbury in August 1912 and he was promoted to Bombardier (1 tape) just before he attended camp in 1913. He served as a Territorial for 2 years and 63 days before being mobilised 5th August 1914.

The 1st West Riding Battery were part of the Divisional Artillery of West Riding Division - (would become 49th Division). The Division moved to France in April 1915, Herbert's record details he embarked at Southampton 14th April 1915, disembarking at Le Havre 15th April 1915.

The Long Long Trail for Division outlines;


The units of the Division had just departed for annual summer camp when emergency orders recalled them to the home base. All units were mobilised for full time war service on 5 August 1914 and moved to concentrate in the South Yorkshire / Lincolnshire area by mid August 1914.


On 31 March the Division was warned that it would go on overseas service and entrainment began on 12 April. Divisional infantry went via Folkestone-Boulogne while all other units went from Southampton to Le Havre. By 19 April the Division had concentrated in the area of Estaires - Merville - Neuf Berquin. The Division then remained in France and Flanders and took part in the following engagements:

The Battle of Aubers Ridge (9 May)

The defence against the first Phosgene attack (19 December)

Herbert was promoted in the field to Corporal 17th August 1915. During 1915 he earned the Distinguished Conduct Medal, it's award being announced in the London Gazette 11th January 1916.

Gazette Issue 29438 published on the 11 January 1916




1039 Corporal H. Lee, 4th (West Riding) Battery, Royal Field Artillery, T.F.

2691 Gazette Issue 29503 published on the 10 March 1916


1039 Corporal H. Lee, 4th (West Riding) Battery, Royal Field Artillery, T.F.

For conspicuous gallantry and good work in charge of Signallers. On two occasions

the Infantry in the front trench have been able to use the battery telephone lines when

their own had all been cut.

The Long Long Trail for Division outlines for 1916:


The Battle of Albert

The Battle of Bazentin Ridge

The Battle of Pozieres Ridge

The 49th Division were part of X Corps and in Reserve for the battle of Albert, the Corps being Gough's Reserve Army for the subsequent two Battles.

A telegram on the 3rd September from the OC 11 General Hospital Camiers (just North of Etaples) reports Herbert as a C2 casualty with gun shot wounds to his left leg and dangerously ill with a fractured femur. He died of wounds the same day and buried in the Etaples Military Cemetery.

On the 25th March his mother received a letter from OIC RFA / RHA records at Woolwich together with Herbert's DCM, Mrs Lee acknowledging by letter she received it at 2 pm. The following day another letter from records asks if Herbert's mother would like to be presented with the medal publically, Mrs Lee declining saying she is not in good health and "could do without the commotion". In January 1917 she was given a gratuity of £20 in recognition of her sons award of the DCM.

Herbert was not Mrs Lee's only loss. Another son, George, was killed a year later, 9th September 1917, serving with 1st Royal Marine Battalion Royal Marine Light Infantry part of the Royal Naval Division.

Corporal Lee qualified for the 1914/15 Star, British War Medal and Victory Medal. His medals survived:



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.



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.


Image result for gloucester war memorial
Image result for gloucester war memorial

No Comms - No Bombs

The Royal School of Artillery Signals Section displayed a sign "No Comms - No Bombs"

In World War One Artillery communications realy meant line. Radio was in it's infancy and mainly confined to air observation. Signal rockets could be used to call for fire on SOS targets. However, it was line, miles and miles of line and the courage of the signallers of the Royal Artillery, to lay and reapair the line, often under fire, that provided communiations.

Line was required:

  • From Observers to the Battery Gun positions to initiate and control fire
  • From Battery Gun position to wagon lines in order to call ammunition forward
  • Line between command posts and officeres messes
  • Line back from Battery to Brigade Headquarters or Heavy Artillery Group (HAG) Headquarters
  • Line from Brigade and HAG heaquarters to higher formation headquarters

and it was not just one line. In order to ensure communications were maintaned multiple lines would be laid between locations in case one line was cut. In prpearation for the Somme line, was buried to a depth of 6 feet to protect it from the German 5.9" enemy shells; 7,000 miles underground line and 43,000 miles of surface line was laid.

Topic: RFA Brigades Telephonic Communications

Topic: Telephonic Wires


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.



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












From: RFA Battery Positions


Then, as now, the deployment of a battery was subject to numerous factors, perhaps the three most important of which were the ground, the threat and the requirements of artillery survey (which are almost infinitely technical and won't be gone into in detail here). A battery was deployed by the Battery Commander himself, who received orders from his (artillery) brigade as to the area in which he was to deploy the battery and the likely targets he should be able to achieve from that area. The BC then decided where each gun should go, the command post, the wagon lines, etc.

The type of position the battery established - i.e. in the open, in pits, with overhead protection, etc. - depended on the threat, which in turn depended largely on the 'stage of the campaign'. For example, from the war diary of the 35th (Howitzer) Battery RFA, we know that when they came down to the Somme a few days before the preliminary bombardment began, they occupied a position north of Bray, with targets in the vicinity of Mametz/Fricourt. As this position could not be directly observed by the Germans and so was judged to be relatively safe from a counter-battery threat, the guns were in the open 30-50 yards apart with narrow trenches dug to shelter the detachments in case of counter-battery fire. After Happy Valley (less than a mile away) was heavily shelled, it was decided to dig the guns in and improve the trenches. Interestingly, this was done with the assistance of some infantry, who also helped dig-in the telephone lines forward for the FOOs.

On 11 July, the batteries of 22 Bde RFA (which included 35th Bty) moved forward to positions in the vicinity of Bottom Wood, Queen's Nullah and Willow Avenue, a German communication trench which ran up the valley between Mametz and Fricourt Wood. 35th Battery was allocated the Willow Avenue position (as you'd expect, it being a howitzer battery - the 18-pdr batteries got the forward positions). Ammunition had been pre-dumped on the position and the guns came into action on 12 July, cutting the wire in front of the Second Position. As limited time had been available, the guns were once again in the open approximately 50 yards apart, but urgent work went on throughout the next few days to dig shelter trenches next to each gun to shelter the detachment and to dig the guns in. Full use was made of Willow Avenue to shelter the command post and accommodate the detachments. Willow Avenue ran NE/SW, with the guns deployed to the north of the trench on a line N/S.

So as you can see, the deployment of the battery was affected by the ground and the threat. In a low-threat area with no pre-existing trenches, the guns were in the open with the minimum protection for the detachments. This saved labour for the detachments and so prevented fatiguing them unnecessarily. As the threat went up, so extra measures were taken. When the battery went forward, work began on gun pits and trenches as soon as the guns came into action, use was made of pre-existing trenches and the guns were more widely dispersed due to the increased counter-battery threat.

The survey factor (i.e. where exactly is each gun and what direction is it pointing in) also affected deployment during the Somme offensive. The temptation for BCs was to keep the guns as tight together as possible and orientate them on a line a near as possible parallel to any linear features (i.e. trenches) that they were likely to engage. This was due to the difficulty of exactly plotting the location of each gun and producing firing data for each gun to hit the target. The same firing data could be given to each gun for speed and simplicity, which produced a fall of shot which mirrored the deployment of the guns. The fall of shot was therefore easier to adjust. However, the tighter the deployment, the greater the threat from counter-battery fire, so the BC had to find a balance between a deployment which allowed for accurate survey and one which preserved his guns and detachments from enemy indirect fire.

Source: RFA Battery Positions


From: Artillery Board

I have just finished Richard Holmes 'Shots from the front' The British Soldier 1914-1918. Before getting to the point of this post I would like to express the opinion that this book is one of the finest I have read dealing with the generalities of the Great War.

It is, of course, largely a book of pictures with supporting text. One of the pictures - Fig.71 - shows a sergeant of the RGA, a 60 pounder battery, taking notes from an artillery board. The board, chalk on a black surface, is not entirely clear in the picture. It presents in a tubulated form the detail of 5 targets. The column headings are; serial, switch ang, A of SShell, Fuze, Elev and Rate of F. I think I have a general, basic, understanding of gunnery but am floored by the the entires under 'Rate of F'

For each target there are 3 entries, 'Search', 'Sweep' and another illegible in the picture. Search for different targets has values of 200, 50 and 100, while sweep values for those targets are 25, 2 and 1 (not clear).

My question is what do the terms search and sweep mean?

Old Tom

Source: Artillery Board


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



Royal Field Artillery



F II Grave 34



Royal Field Artillery


 F II Grave 35


1308 Gunner


Royal Field Artillery



F II Grave 36



Royal Field Artillery



F II Grave 37



Royal Field Artillery



 F II Grave 38


1817 Gunner


Royal Field Artillery



  • Create New...