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From: Lance Bombardier & Bombardier in the RA

The rank structure within the Royal Regiment can cause confusion around lance bombardiers / bombardiers and corporals, not to mention that the gun above a sergeant stripes means every body thinks he is a staff sergeant.

A very interesting ACI appears from Kevin adds further to this confusion !!! :wacko:

For anyone who may be interested I will post the ACI 1743 instruction dated 30th November 1917. This is the reference one most often sees in gunners records. This has been crossed out on the page, in red, reading "153961 AI Canceled ACO 699/nil" or that's what I think it says. Obviously this later changed.

1743. Alteration in Nomenclature of Appointments in the Royal Artillery

1. Owing to the operations of ACI 1701 of 1916 and ACI 337 of 1917 only granting "acting" ranks and appointments respectively at home, it is necessary to alter the nomenclature for the appointment of "acting bombardier" shown in King's Regulations, para. 282 (vii), for clearly defining the rank of bombardier and the appointment of acting bombardier.

2. From the date of this ACI the appointment of "acting bombardier" will be changed to "lance-bombardier." The necessary amendments to King's Regulations, &c., will be issued in due course.

3. The titles which have been used in making entries in documents and those to be used in future for promotions to the rank of bombardier and appointments to lance-bombardier are detailed as under:-

Old Title. ----------------------------------- New Title.

Bombardier ----------------------------------- Bombardier

Acting (full) bombardier --------------------- Acting bombardier

Paid acting Bombardier -----------------------Paid lance-bombardier

----------------------------------------------Acting paid lance-bombardier

Unpaid acting bombardier ---------------------Unpaid lance-bombardier

7/Gen.No./8290 (A.G. 4a)

Given there are other ACIs and AOs to look up the use of Lance-Bombardier during the war still needs clarifying.

Thanks for the look up Paul.


Source: Lance Bombardier & Bombardier in the RA

Steve identifies he has a chap who changes rank when going on leave.......



Although the ACI was issued in 1917, on wonders if it was the 1920's before everyone figured out what it was about. !!!!!

I could certainly see it being actioned in a piecemeal fashion as Battery Commanders et all were trying to sort it out, handle the soldiers inquiries, and get the paperwork done. No doubt there would have been a return to fill in, no numbers would agree between some establishment figure and the battery returns ,leading to the inevitable questions from some poor staff captain tasked with personnel matters at a HQ somewhere.

At this stage it would be easier to have some one at a rank in the unit, but a different externally., and get on with the operational task.

So wonder what rank this chap is... :unsure:



Duties of a Section Commander

Notes from a Section Commanders note book recording his duties before action and in action.

Section Commanders duties before ACTION


Section Commanders duties IN ACTION



293 Siege Battery - New RGA website

Any new web site on the Royal Artillery is welcome and a great deal of work and research by seany [/url] has obviously been undertaken to bring us this interesting resource.


Source: New RGA website

Even better looking at seany's grandfather who he has been researching;

Scotswood – Newcastle-upon-Tyne

"George Hamilton finished his last shift serving the blast furnaces of Armstrong’sworks in Newcastle". - a Tyneside Gunner

Very interesting following the detailed timeline, bringing together the general detail, war diary at Battery / HAG and formation level, as well as the personal diary of one of the Gunners. Interestingly there are entries from the controversial book the 'reluctant Tommy' (aka Robert Skirth the Battery Walt). Some good group photographs.



Remembered Today:

Gunner William Corbett FOSTER,

46th Heavy Trench Mortar Battery, RFA who died on 8th January 1917, Foncquevillers Military Cemetery

William Corbett Foster of Wolverhampton was died 8th January 1917 whist serving with the Trench Mortar Battery of the Territorial 46th (North Midland Division). The 46th Heavy Battery were formed 20th June 1916.

Long Long Trail: 46th (North Midland) Division

CWGC Information :poppy:


Initials: W C

Nationality: United Kingdom

Rank: Gunner

Regiment/Service: Royal Field Artillery

Unit Text: V/46th Heavy Trench Mortar Bty.

Age: 20

Date of Death: 08/01/1917

Service No: 845

Additional information: Son of George Henry and Eliza Jane Foster, of Corbett House, Bushbury Rd., Fallins Park, Wolverhampton.

Casualty Type: Commonwealth War Dead

Grave/Memorial Reference: I. H. 35.


The Foncquevillers Military Cemetery is situated 18 kilometers south west of Arras.


Prior to World War One he worked as a clerk for the London and North Western Railway (LNWR) based at Ettingsall Road, near Wolverhampton. He is recorded in the LNWR Roll of Honour and on the Wolverhampton railway station memorial.

London and North Western Railway Roll Of Honour

Foster, W.C. Clerk Ettingshall Road Gunner

London and North Western Railway Staff Record

A memorial dedicated to 3,719 men of the London and North Western Railway who lst their lives in World War One was unveiled at Euston Station 21st October 1921.

Euston Station War Memorial


Wolverhampton Railway Station Memorial

Born Wolverhampton,employed as a carter.

Killed in Action 08/01/1917 Age:20


Barr & Stroud Range finder

A post regarding a Barr & Stroud Range finder prompted some research into this interesting piece of equipment, Used by both the Artillery and Infantry to determine ranges to targets.


Barr & Stroud Range finder (Front View)

Barr & Stroud Range finder (Rear View)

The principle is the instrument formed a fixed length base with prisms at each end picking up the target, so effectively forming two triangles, allowing trigonometrical principles to determine the range. One eyepiece was used to line up the target picture which each showed half of the picture. By lining the images up (coincidence) , the range could be read off in the second eyepiece.


Barr & Stroud Range finder Principles

Barr & Stroud Eyepiece Coincidence of Targets


Length: over all 44 1/4 inches. Base length, 1 metre (39.3 inches)

Diameter of body, 3 inches

Maximum diameter (over end caps), 5 1/2 inches.

Weight, 13 1/2 lbs

Range scale graduated from 500 to 20,000 yards.

Magnification of Telescope X 13.

Field of view, horizontal 3 degrees 10 minutes

Field of view, vertical 2 degrees 40 minutes

Eyepieces inclined to the horizontal at 60 degrees


Sct 126 The Barr and Strange Range Finder

The instrument in a "one observer"instrument with

horizontal base, and depends in principle on rays reflected

through prisms at either end of the tabs which forms the



It is portable and simple to work. It measures ranges from a fixed horizontal base and can there-

fore be used at any height and requires no leveling or datuming points. It is a one-observer instrument, therefore

errors inherent in many horizontal base instruments are eliminated. It is very simple and easy to learn. It has no

micrometer screws or easily wearing delicate parts. It does not easily get out of order and can be readily re-adjusted.

Range finding with it is easy and accurate at night as in the day time. When properly adjusted it will work to

an accuracy of nearly 98 percent at 5,000 yards range, and in this respect compares favorably with D.R.F

and depression P.F. from heights below 50 feet


It is only accurate up to medium range. Gun differences will be as necessary as with D.R.F., hence it

will be desirable to keep the instrument close to the battery,involving risk of damage, &c.


Barr & Stroud Range finder Think these chaps might be infantry


Artillery in the Great War - Strong and Marble


Just finished reading what I found was a fascinating book.

Moving through the Great War it documents the development of the use of Artillery by all the major Armies, British, German, French, Russian, Austro-Hungarian, as well as Italian, Serbian, Bulgarian, Romanian and American. Looking at the development as a whole across the Western, Eastern Fronts and the Italian campaign, one can see that the Artillery War went beyond the trenches of the Western Front.

The impact of Artillery I think is well brought out. At the strategic level the availability of guns and ammunition shaped the timing and scope of operations, the tactical level influenced the planing of battles, and the outcome of battles being decided by the execution of those tactics. The cat and mouse of the tactics of close support and counter battery fire , the organisational changes to meet the ever evolving the handling of Artillery, and technical advances, are all fascinating, however, it must be remembered that this for what to my mind was experimenting in operational situations, cost many many men their lives.

The account of Bruchmullers fireplan in the Battle of Riga begins to show the value of concentration of force, co-ordination and surprise, three principles of war essential to the conduct of Artillery operations.

Unlike Farndale, History of the Royal Regiment of Artillery Western Front 1914 - 1918, where one is left with the impression the infantry need not have turned up, Strong and Marble rightly conclude " Nevertheless, even with all the technical and tactical innovation combined, even when they were orchestrated as part of a coherent strategy, success in Battle still depended on infantry advancing into a grim and confusing wasteland strewn with strong-points, machine gun nests and pockets of desperate men driven into a primeval need for revenge for the artillery fire they had just survived."

As well as providing a very good overall account of Artillery in the Great War, the organisation of the book into Years and within that chapter Battles, should make this a good reference book..

http://www.amazon.co...23028073&sr=1-1 .


Remembered Today:

Gunner John RADFORD, Royal Field Artillery, who died on 28th November 1916, Port Said War Memorial Cemetery

Territorial from 211th Brigade RFA , formerly 2nd East Lancashire Brigade RFA, the Batteries, 15th / 16th / 17th Lancashire Batteries being based in Hyde Road, Manchester. They provided the Divisional Artillery support for the 42nd (East Lancashire)Division.

42div.gifLong Long Trail: 42nd (East Lancashire) Division

The East Lancashire Division were the first Territorial Division to deploy overseas, being sent to Egypt to defend the Suez Canal in October 1914. The majority of the Division were sent to Gallipoli, one Infantry Brigade, the Manchester Brigade stayed in Egypt, and the 2nd East Lancashire Brigade RFA also remained. The Division, along with all other units in the Helles bridgehead, made a successful withdrawal from Gallipoli by 8 January 1916.

The only other engagement noted was the Battle of Romani (5th / 6th August) 1916, when the Division suffered greatly from the extreme sun and lack of water.

:poppy: CWGC Gunner John Radford


Initials: J

Nationality: United Kingdom

Rank: Gunner

Regiment/Service: Royal Field Artillery

Unit Text: 211th Bde.

Age: 26

Date of Death: 28/11/1916

Service No: 1780

Additional information: Son of Mary Emma Radford, of 122, Catherine St., Denton, Manchester, and the late John Radford.

Casualty Type: Commonwealth War Dead

Grave/Memorial Reference: K. 35.


Location: http://maps.google.c...=h&z=19&vpsrc=6

From the CWGC: In February 1916, Port Said contained No 31 General Hospital, No 15 Stationary Hospital and No 26 Casualty Clearing Station.



Denton Roll of Honour

Name:RADFORD JohnAddress:122 Catherine StreetRank:GunnerService Number:1780Regiment:Royal field Artillery 112th Brigade Killed / Wounded / Missing:DiedRemarks:Died at Port Said, Egypt.Date of Death:28/11/1916Additional Information:Born Denton. Enlisted Manchester. Son of Mary Emma Radford, of 122, Catherine St., Denton, Manchester, and the late John Radford. Died age 26.


Denton War Memorial


Remembered Today: 2nd Lt Wilfred Seaton Baggot PARRY, 53 Brigade Royal Field Artillery, who died on 24th November 1915, Bedford House Cemetery

From the Long Long Trail the 53rd Brigade RFA were part of the 9th (Scottish) Division, a K1 New Army Division deploying to France 9th - 12th May 1915. The Division were engaged in the Battle of Loos 25th September to 18th October 1915.

From the London Gazette it would appear 2/Lt Parry was commissioned as a temporary Second Lieutenant 27th January 1915.

Gazette Issue 29055 published on the 2 February 1915.

:poppy:CWGC 2/Lt W B Parry


Initials:W S B

Nationality:United Kingdom

Rank:Second Lieutenant

Regiment/Service:Royal Field Artillery

Unit Text:"D" Bty. 53rd Bde.


Date of Death:24/11/1915

Additional information:Son of William Henry and Fanny Parry, of 83, Sunny Gardens, Hendon, London.

Casualty Type:Commonwealth War Dead

Grave/Memorial Reference:Enclosure No.3 A. 3.



Bombardier. Alfred Edward Roads. 18360 R.G.A.

Another diary find...this one by Dick Flory, and obviously a great deal of work by his son Richard John Roads, not only copying out the diaries word by word, but also constructing the web site so we can all share the experiences.

As well as a record of Alfred Roads experiences, the picture of the progress of the war from snippets of information gives an indication of how the ordinary soldier understood what was going on.

Bombardier. Alfred Edward Roads. 18360 R.G.A.

Pre war Coastal Gunner serving in Mauritius and Sierra Leone, completing his 9 years service to the colours in January 1913, transferring to the Reserve. Remobillised in 1914, he was posted to 121st Heavy Battery RGA which was a New Army unit formed at Woolwich in October 1914. Equipped with 60 pounders they deployed to France in February 1915.

Topic: 121st Heavy Battery RGA

Bombadier Roads served as a driver, a reminder that although the Heavy Batteries were part of the dismounted branch of the Royal Artillery, the reliance on horses as as great as the mounted branch (RHA and RFA). He later manned E sub of the Battery serving on the gun line.

Ypres Salient 1915

By the end of February 121 Heavy Battery were in the Ypres Salient. The next two months were a routine of looking after the horses, sporadic fire on both sides, and for the Gunners the main pre occupation was dodging the German Shrapnel. The routine was broken 22nd April 1915:

Thurs. 22nd 1915

Steady firing all night by our Bty. went in Vlamertinghe. Several rounds drop inside our battery, several narrow squeaks for the gunners. early this evening we heard a furious bombardment on our left, later we hear that the Germans have broken through the French using acid to clear them out of the trenches. Although 4 or 5 miles away we felt the effects of it, all around our quarter it making our eyes water and burn this is our worst night since we came here.

The Second Battle of Ypres has begun.

The Battery remained in the Salient, and it was not until 1 year later Bombadier Rods got leave:

Sunday 7th 1916

Day of all days, going on leave. Inspected for lice by Doctor. 40f pay arrived at H.A.R. at 6pm, spent miserable night there slept in a draughty corridor till about 3 am, left by lorry 4 o/c for Poperinghe, after a long weary journey we arrived Boulogne about 11 am left by mail boat 12.30 arriving at Victoria station at 4.50. Got home about 5.40 found all well.

Sunday 14th 1916

Made up in Y.M.C.A hut CALAIS . Leave over, had a most enjoyable time journeys to and from being the worst part. We left Vic: about 7.20 yesterday, on arriving at Folkestone found we could go no further that night, as we were kept on the boat in harbour all night. we left this morning for Calais, and we don't know when we are going to move from here. We have been pushed all over the place. I now hear we are going to leave for our destination at 9 o/c.

Mon. 15th 1916

Back once more, had another rotten journey up on the rail. Got into Poperinghe at 4 o/c this morning, walked back to Bty. about 8 mile, I've had a sleep all day since. Tonight the Germans put over some heavy shell. We returned the compliment with our heavies. weather fairly decent.

Ypres Salient 1916

New years Day 1916 - Sat 1st Jan.

New years Day, hope this year will see the war finished. Usual shelling of the roads leading up to Ypres.

Thurs. 16th March 1916

3rd Anniversary of my wedding day. The second I've had out here, roll on when this beastly war is over, we will have to keep up all these lost days. There is nothing much doing this part of the line. Weather still keeping fine. Strong rumours our brigade is going to another part of the line. We have been in this position 11 months, nearly time we made a move somewhere

Somme 1916

Somewhere turned out to be th Somme.

The Battery prepares for the Bombardment

Sat 17th

Bty: Dragging store again today back at billets at 8 o/c. all guns in action. 750rds: of ammo: to go up today. several whizz-bangs dropt in valley. Found out young Currell from N.B.

Sun 18th

Up to Bty: with ammo today, 1200 rds: Plenty of work doing, little rest for us the next few days. Enemy heavily shelling the Bray main road.

and the preliminary bombardment commences:

Sun 25th

Lovely weather. Bombardment commenced early this morning and again this evening. Went this evening to the top of the hill to watch our shells bursting in the enemy lines around Fricourt. Germans not replying top any extent. Plenty of balloons up , all ours. Our guns brought down a German observation B today.

Mon. 26th

Bombardment going on no enemy returns. 19 A.B. Balloons up, the most I have seen. Picquet tonight (raining).

Tues. 27th

Plenty of rumours going around. Bomb: still going on, plenty of aircraft rotten weather.

Wed 28th

turned with wagon for Heilly, went thro' Mericourt Ville. Lots of rain.

Thurs. 29th

Quiet again intermittent shelling both sides. Rumours of all sorts very thick counted 24 observ: balloons up (all allies). Lovely day (Pay up)

Friday 30th

Heavy bombardment this morning, hear the infantry are attacking. can hear nothing definite as to results of last few days fighting, but believe we are doing well all along the line. Up to battery with ammo: plenty of strafing going on. Our guns are doing good work and fairly eating ammunition. got back 11.30p.m.

The entry for the First Day of the Somme simply states

July sat 1st 1916

Lovely day. Infantry "went over" this morning. Our artillery going at it as hard as possible:.

For those to the rear, the events of that day would not be fully understood till later. The scale of the bombardment obviously had an affect on the guns:

July Mon. 3rd1916

Line a little quieter, expecting to move up anytime, only heavies left in Morlancourt. /guns nearly worn out, expect we will be going for new ones before advancing to new positions.

The new few months records the advance onthe right flank, guns moving up to Mametz, Flers, Baxentin. By Novemeber Bombadier Roads is in the Arras sector;

Arras 1916 / 1917

October 1916 Thurs. 31st

Disentrained at midday at Sav Berlette. Marched to our new quarters near Habarcq. Plenty of mud about, but roads are good. Bty: about 7 miles away.

December 1916 Tues. 12th

Name taken for leave, don't want to go for another week so as to catch Xmas at home. Three planes brought down yesterday.

December 1916 Sat 16th

No sign of going on leave yet. Cold, weather wet and miserable

Bombadier Roads made it home fro Christmas, his no diary entries from 16th to 28th December 1916 and he records:

1916 December 29th

Calais rest camp. Left London at 7.11am this morning, rather rough crossing over, marched to Beaumaris. Left at 6.15 next morning for Aubigny, arrived there at 9.30pm. stayed in church Army until the morning, got into Lines about 7am. Found everyone fed up only 3 gone on leave since I left.

However his wish from the 1st January 1916 that the war would be over has not been fulfilled:

1916 December 31st

Last day of the old year. Weather rotten. None on leave.


January 1st

Nothing doing. Big do expected1916

The Battery engaged in the Battle of Arras, retruning back Ypres in May 1917.

Ypres 1917

The Battle of Messines:

June 1917 Thurs. 7th

Taken all our objectives, saw hundreds of prisoners come down. We started off at 3 am. Mines went up, we got going with gas shell, continued until about 7 am.

The remainder of the year records the constant straffing by German guns (Fritz keeps us on the jump again today. We are like a lot of rabbits or rats, running into our holes),the artillery duel with the British Artillery, and the slow advance. In October the Battery move to the Arras sector taking part in the Battle of Cambrai, by this time serving on E sub. The battles were tasking the toll on the Guns:

1917 November Thurs. 29th

Our gun condemned 6,209 rounds fired out of it.

1917 December Sun 9th

Ordered at 4am. To pull our gun out for exchange. Took it to Bapaume put it on truck at railhead, returned to horselines with carriage.

Christmas 1917 was not pleasant

1917 Xmas Day Tues. 25th

Oh Lp. What a day more snow, some rain, rotten dinner, rotten turnout altogether


At New Year he is back on the Somme:

1918 January Tues. 1st

Went to Barastre this morning for gun, then on to Albert, arrived there at 8.30. Rotten journey roads very slippy. Stopping C.A.hut.

but the beginning of 1918 did bring some respite as Alfred went homr on leave:

1918 January Fri. 11th

Left for Blighty at 11.30 got to Vic at 6o/c. Found everyone alright at home

Spring Offensive 1918

In March 1918 the Germans launched their Spring Offensive:

Thurs. 21st

This morning Fritz let go, we were ready to move off all day. I got relieved off my first guard to go up with gun. Went into action left front of Fremicourt so think we must have got pushed in a bit. Two villages in our area were captured.

Fri. 22nd

Gay times. Took up position in the open, working hard all night. Pulled out to go further back about 4 o/c. Got another position on left of Bap:- Haplincourt Rd near Bancourt.

Sat 23rd

All sorts of rumors. Plenty of people on the move H.D. Quarters and such like. Think we are holding our own, as our range has increased a little. Weather splendid but very cold and frosty. At night we sleep on the guns. When we are lucky enough to get any time. Horse lines have moved back to near Le Sars.

Wed 27th

Into action behind Beaucourt near Mailly-Maillet after a very rough time our line of retirement was Grenvillers, Achiet-le-Grand, Miraumont, Puisieux Serre and Mailly. Coming to action at several places, but always moving back. Got to within 8 Kilo's of Doulliens. But returned into the line dropt into action here, fire quite a lot. Our brigade appear to be the only one in the vicinity. 12 heavy lost one gun. The Major was killed by a caterpillar. We stayed in action at several places until we were almost too late. Shelicker and the Major wounded, three men got lost no news of them yet. All called back off leave. Lost all our grub, forage the lorries, hope we have brought them to a standstill. Have got a rotten cold, could do with a good sleep, feel proper done up. One of our fellows shot a pig, some got pork for dinner, quite a treat. All the villagers on the move out of the villages near the line. Fritz has reached Lucirie? Just outside Mailly. Plenty of troops coming up. So perhaps we may push forward. Hope so.

Good Friday 29th

Digging in now, suppose we will stay here. The retirement has apparently stopped. A heavy strafe going on to our right. Showery plenty of reinforcements coming up.

The offensive stopped, Bombadier Roads with 121st Battery join the counrt offensice driving the Germans back till the news long awaited by all:

Peace 1918 - 1919

1918 November Mon. 11th

Jemappes range 5,400 yard. Fired 60 per gun at midnight. Message at 9am. Hostilities to cease at 11am. Great excitement. Days weather fine. Went into Frameries.

Bombadier Roads first peacetime Christmas since 1913:

Wed 25th

Proper Xmas weather, snow on ground, had fairly decent feed on guard at 6pm.

The New Year of 1918 and Alfred is now in Germany

Tues. 31st

Still at Enderniche, having a fairly easy time. Several went on de-mob yesterday, more today. Hope my time will come soon. Went into Bonn last night.

thought peace, military durties continues, as the new year of 1919 finds:

<a name="01_01_1919">January Weds 1st

On guard tonight

His lat entry:

1919 January Fri. 10th

Still at Enderniche. Weather fair a cold. Demobilisation very slow

Demobilising was slow indeed, Alfred's service not ending till April 1919.


Great find by Kate Wills

Just discover this excellent site showing the illustrated diaries of Bbr Charles Bertram Spires from Derby, recording his war on the Western Front and in Italy.

Bert Spires Diary

Source: Bert Spires MM of Derby, 103 Brigade, 23 Division RFA

Excellent discovery by Kate Willis and definitely work alook.

and the sketches of locations and layout of the battery offer a good insight tothe operation of a RFA Battery.BertSpires Diary

Source: Bert Spires MM of Derby, 103 Brigade, 23 Division RFA

The diary entries are very interesting offering a good insight to the work ofsignallers in the Royal Field Artillery. The sketches of the of the battery positions in Ypres providememories of briefing every on the layout of the gun position, and vital for thesignallers, the communications plan.

Some snippets and thoughts from the diary:


After numerous parades and inspections was detailed to signaller's lines (Ltroop 11 camp).

It is amazed me many parades and inspections could be undertaken in a day -so no change there.

Second day had tests on buzzer, flags, disc and lamp. Flag drill in the orchardand station work on fields…. Had tests in Chateau on buzzer, lamp, helio,Semaphore and morse. Saw a Fuller phone for the first time.

Quite a variety of methods ofcommunication - these are highly skilled men. Flags, semaphore, morse, as well as the ubiquitous line is quite adiverse skill set.

Joins 103 Brigade RFA

CBatteryin orchard and men billeted in barns. Battery on manoeuvres. Detailed to beOC's signaller for 17th (Capt Warden). Had a full day mounted on open actionwork and was a dud at it.

Unfortunately you will not last long as the Battery Commanders Signaller ifyou are a dud, so not surprised at the next entry !!

Itransferred 'B' Battery/103 Bde

Into The Ypres Salient

Passed through Ypres, the ruined city, inpitch darkness. The Cloth Hall was a mass of debris but the cathedral tower wasstill standing and the enormous shrine on the eastern side wasuntouched.Passing through the Lille gate we traversed 'Hellfire corner','Shrapnel Corner' down by 'Transport Farm' and so to 'Bleuport Farm' ourposition in a belt of' trees.

'Bleuport Farm' on right of Zillebeke. Thefarm consisted of two heaps of rubble, cookhouse under one and the officersmess under the other. The guns were some distance to the right on rising groundand gunners and telephonists dugouts between the gun pits.

Bleauport Farm position

Signallers in action

Cuth and I patrol lines (telephone) up to thefront line on the 11th and Fritz chased us with Whizz-bangs for about 3 hrs.

We were in action for 7 weeksand it would need a family bible to enter all the details of this period.

Fritz continually shelling balloons withnaval gun. Interesting time watching observers descending by parachute whenballoons are hit.

We were in the most advanced position and used Fritz's concrete machinegun emplacements as telephone pit and officers quarters.

Rumour Control

All sorts of rumours floating about. Off toSalonika, Egypt, Italy, Ireland, Russia and Heaven Knows where else. Suppose wewill get somewhere.

Always someone who knows someone in the mess who bumped into a chap called Bernard who was at school with a chap at HQ who has it on good authority from someone .

Off toItaly

Manytroop trains of French en route same direction. Romanche, St Germain, Lyons(this is a splendid town and station), Serzin, Vetesse, Vienne, Vaugris,Valence, Marseilles, St Marcel, Aubagne, Bandol (beautiful town on bay in Med),Toulon, La Farades, Monaco, Nice

In an age when we take travel for granted, one must remember that for many in 103 Brigade RFA, the Army was the only opportunityto see many of these places.

In Action in Italy

Spent from 17-30 to 23-00 on top of mountainon look-out and to signal A' & 'B' batteries when rocket went up to let usknow that the boys had crossed the Piave and required the assistance of ourartillery.

RGA fellows afterstruggling with horses on icy roads for hours chanting "Its a long,longtrail awinding" at midnight. Sounded well in the valley.

Have just heardreason for chanting: RGA's knocked-out four Austrian batteries so have avengedtheir five comrades now in the soldier's cemetery at Montebelluno

Warned to proceedup line. Left WL 21-30 for gun position. One gun on motor lorry and another guntrailing. 3 cars loaded with baggage stores and detachments etc. Climbed MtGrappa to Asiago plateau, which must be the top of the earth. Entered zone ofsnow and pine forests. Beautiful scenery by moonlight. Roads good but all havehairpin bends one after the other. Italians and French in wooden huts. Arrivein position at 05-00. Deep snow drift 3' to 5' deep. Issued with alpenstocksand spikes for boots. Guns had to be manhandled up tremendous hill through snowand pine forest. Position beautiful beyond words. All billets built of wood andtrees. Log huts true Canadian backwood style. Splendid strong gun pits.Italians helped us pull up guns. Took nearly 100 men to get guns up and it washard graft. Italians and ourselves have glorious mix-up on lines ofcommunication.

Bert Spires Military Medal

Onceagain a reminder of a sign The RoyalSchool of Artillery Signals Section displayed

"No Comms - No Bombs"

which meant that Artillery support relied heavily on thebravery of men like Bert Spires to keep the communications working under fire:

15th/16th June 1918

Fritz opened up a terrific bombardment we had a hell of a time for6 hours



Bombr Charles Bertram Spiresof the R.F.A. has been awarded the Military Medal for gallantry in the field inItaly. The report states that "On the 15th of June 1918, this NCO was incharge of the Battery signallers. During an intense bombardment the telephonedugout had a direct hit and all wires were destroyed. He immediately ran out anew line to group headquarters under extremely heavy fire, and it was entirelydue to his gallantry that communications with group headquarters wasre-established."



From: ASC relationship to RGA

This one shows the depth of knowledge of Pals - Ron Clifton's study over 40 years !!!!!

Interesting that the best way to work with the ASC (well the RCT / RLC) was still subject to change many many years later, having worked with both general support units providing ammunition and also dedicated artillery support squadrons and with various Representatives at different levels of Headquarters. Not sure if this falls under adapting to change or people not understanding anatomy.

Hello Seany

This is a very tricky area. I have been studying the composition of units and formations, mostly from the War Establishments in class WO24 at Kew, for about forty years and I stll haven't found a definitive answer! Forum Pal Peridot has also wrestled with it in some threads he has started in this subforum, headed "293 SB" and "717 Company ASC", I think.

The easiest approach is to divide the war into three stages, as far as the RGA is concerned. This applies to France, and with modifications to the other theatres of war as well. They do not include the AA units.

1. The build-up phase. In this period, from Aug 1914 until March 1916, heavy and siege batteries were sent out from the UK as brigades of (usually) two or three batteries of the same type. Most of these batteries had horse-drawn transport, manned by RGA personnel, including integral ammunition columns.

2. The middle phase, from April 1016 to January 1918. Heavy and Siege Batteries were grouped into Heavy Artillery Groups, of variable composition, dictated by the needs of the moment. This is the tricky period.

3. The final phase, from Feb 1918 onwards. By this time the composition of each HAG had become more static and they were grouped into five different types. These were re-designated Brigades RGA (Mobile, Mixed, 8" Howitzer, 9.2" Howitzer and Army), with each of which was associated a particular ASC MT Company, as Steve says in the previous post.

During the middle period, each Army and each Corps was allocated an "ASC MT Company attached for Heavy Artillery" which was responsible for the movement and ammunition supply of the RGA of that Army or Corps, and the numbering given in the various orders of battle suggests that, with a few exceptions, the same company served with each Army or Corps throughout. In early 1917 the nomenclature of (Corps) Siege Park was adopted, but seems to have been discontinued later that year.

My belief is that these Siege Parks contained a small nucleus of administrative personnel (and, thanks to Peridot, I have a sample breakdown of this showing about 40 all ranks) and a number of separate detachments, each representing a Siege Battery Ammunition Column (SBAC). An establishment dated Sept 1915 shows the transport personnel of a four-gun Siege Battery as follows:

"2 Subalterns, 3 Serjeants, various Drivers (68 for 6"h, 120 for 6"g, 99 for 8"h, 126 for 9.2"h), 3 Batmen.

In each case drivers include 2 for motor cars and 50% spare."

The real unanswered question is how permanent the assignments of men, or whole detachments, were to individual batteries during what I have called the middle period. In his book Army Service Corps 1902-1918, Colonel Mike Young lists all the ASC Companies and some are described as SBACs, but I don't know whether we should infer from this that the same company constituted the SBAC for the same Siege Battery throughout.

I hope this helps, though of course it doesn't fully answer your question!


Source: ASC relationship to RGA


Ammunition Supply of a Division



The Captain in the wagon lines was responsible either from direct observation of ammo states or comminication from the Gun line to send wagons forward to replenish the Guns.

Brigade Ammunition Columns (BAC)

Brigade Ammunition Column commanders were responsible for establishingcommunications with the Batteries.

An NCO from the BAC was sent ot the Artillery Brigade HQ for the purposes of"intercommunications"

The BAC commander would appoint and orderly and a mounted guide for eachBattery / Infantry Brigade

On receipt of an order from the Battery the BAC would send wagons forward -preferably under command of an Officer.

Indents to ammunition columns were not required. Officer handing over wouldprepare a receipt; Officer receiving would sign for the ammunition.

Ammunition accounting for the number of rounds fired wasthe responsibility of the Battery.

Divisional Artillery Columns (DAC)

The Divisional Artillery Column was responsible forammunition replenishments within the limits laid down by the DivisionalArtillery Commander. Presumably this would originate in the Operation Order.

The DAC commander was responsible for establishingcommunications forward to the Brigade Ammunition Columns.

The DAC would establish refilling points as order by DivisionalHQ.

Each section commander within the DAC would send anorderly to each BAC to establish communications

Divisional Ammunition Parks

Divisional Ammunition Parks and ammo supply on the Linesof Communion Points were the responsibility of the Inspector General Lines of Communicationunder direction of GHQ.

The Divisional Ammunition Parks were to establishReplenishment Points (RV) for DAC re-supply.

From the Ammo Parks, sections were to be sent forward tothe Replenishment Points.

The commander of the DAC was responsible for regulatingthe amount of ammunition going forward from the Ammunition Park to the DAC.

Ammunition required to replenish Ammunition Parks will bedemanded by the Ammunition Park Commander through HQ Inspector General ofCommunications.

HQ Inspector General of Communications was responsiblefor filling the Ammunition Parks and movement of ammunition to the parks byrail.

As the Divisional Ammunition Parks were theresponsibility of the Army Ordnance Corps, an Artillery Officer was allotted toa park who was responsible for ensuring ammunition moving forward was of thecorrect nature.


Source: Supply of ammunition


Remembered Today: Gunner Harold John ARTHUR, Royal Field Artillery, who died on 8th November 1917, Baghdad North Gate War Cemetery

As we approach Remembrance Sunday a reminder that Iraq (or as was known in WW1 - Mesopotamia) has been the scene of conflict in Two World Wars and a modern conflict.

Gunner Arthur is listed as serving with 63rd Battery RFA. A look at the Long Long Trail for 10th Brigade RFA "63 Battery replaced 81 before the Division sailed for Mesopotamia. It arrived there in 1914 and saw service in the Tigris campaigns before being besieged at Kut-al-Amara. The gunners were taken prisoner when the garrison of Kut was surrendered on 29 April 1916. The brigade was not rebuilt until after the war"

One wonders if Gunner Arthur lost his life as a Prisoner of War.

:poppy:CWGC Gunner JH ARTHUR


Initials:H J

Nationality:United Kingdom


Regiment/Service:Royal Field Artillery

Unit :63rd Bty.

Date of Death:08/11/1917

Service No:91150

Additional information:Son of Mrs. Edith Arthur, of Long Marston, Stratford-on-Avon.

Casualty Type:Commonwealth War Dead

Grave/Memorial Reference:Nisibin Mem. 220.


It is unfortunate that the CWGC is unable to maintain the graves at the Baghdad Cemetery, so it good that Gunner Arthur is remembered on the forum

The location of the cemetery has been discussed on the forum before, Baghdad North Gate Cemetery, Iraq and information can be found on the CWGC Cemetery Report

Google Earth

"Whilst the current climate of political instability persists it is not possible for the Commission to manage or maintain its cemeteries and memorials located within Iraq. Alternative arrangements for commemoration have therefore been implemented and a two volume Roll of Honour listing all casualties buried and commemorated in Iraq has been produced. These volumes are on display at the Commission's Head Office in Maidenhead and are available for the public to view"



Interesting research from corisande and usual meticulous detail from Dick Flory

WW1 --> Military Medal - Commissioned - Military Cross - Croix de Guerre

Ireland 1920's --> Served as an intelligence officer and was on an IRA hit list - OBE

Post War --> Spell as an adjutant in Portsmouth - seconded to the TA - court martial ed and dismissed from the service in 1928

WW2 --> George Medal in the ARP

and....... a spot of bigamy !!!! Wife and Bar

Web Site: Web Site: Campbell Joseph O'Connor Kelly OBE GM MC MM

Clearly a Gunner whose professionalism and conduct in an operational sitaution was in the highest traditions of the Royal Regiment. He appears to have had problems when not in action.

Still a problem Combat Stress

Campbell Joseph O'Connor Kelly (the Army List shows him as 'Campbell Kelly' through January 1928)

Born on 21 Sept 1892

MM London Gazette, 12 Dec 1917, as a Sergeant, RGA

In the ranks for seven years and 47 days

Served in France and Flanders from October 1916 to June 1918

Commissioned 2nd Lieut, RGA on 7 Jan 18

Served with 185th Siege Battery, RGA

MC, London Gazette 24 Sep 1918 as a 2nd Lieut., RGA: 'For conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty. While out with a patrol he encountered a strong hostile party, who bombed him, but by using his revolver he succeeded in getting away and bringing back information. Again he did excellent work with a party of gunners, with rifles, in holding up the enemy while the guns were being withdrawn. He frequently returned to the battery under heavy fire to obtain further supplies of ammunition, though at the time he was suffering from the effects of gas.'

Croix de Guerre, London Gazette 7 Jan 1919 as 2nd Lieut, RGA

Also received the BWM and VM and was once wounded.

Lieut, RGA, 7 July 1919

From 1 May 1919 to 20 May 1922 he held a special appointment with the Intelligence Division, Irish Command, and was responsible for interrogating members of the Irish Republican Army. Became a major target for the IRA (see On Another Man's Wound.

OBE,London Gazette, 1 Jan 1923 as Lieut, RGA for services in Ireland

Adjutant, Portsmouth Docks, RA from 3 Feb 1923 to 10 Jan 1926

Temp. Captain, 11 Jan 1926

Adjutant, Glamorgan, Heavy Brigade, RA, TA from 11 Jan 1926 until he was dismissed the Army, 24 July 1928

GM,London Gazette, 28 Jan 1941 as Control Officer, Works Air Defence Department, Coventry.

His medal group was sold by Sotheby's in 1973, Lusted in 1980 and Christie's in 1989.

Source: Lt Campbell Joseph O'Connor Kelly, OBE, GM, MC, MM


From: Viscount Alanbrooke

Alanbrooke has a outstanding reputation as a planner, his contribution during WW2 as Chief of the General Staff, and Churchill's reliance on his advice are testimony to his ability. His biography is sitting on the bookshelf - must get around to reading it.


Vicount Alanbrooke.

Many thanks to Andrew for detailing his WW1 appointments:

In 1916 Major Alan Brooke was BM RA with 18 Division. Can anyone outline his other appointments during WW1 please?

Old Tom

From Who's Who:

* 1914: N Battery RHA, Seconded Cavalry Brigade.

* Sept 1914 - commanded ammunition column (per notes in Vol. 2 of the Official History, p 484, this is presumably H Section of 2nd Indian RHA Brigade)

* Feb 1915: Adjutant, 2nd Indian RHA Brigade in 2nd Indian Cavalry Division

* Nov 1915: Brigade-Major RA 18th Division (presumably transferred when Indian divisions withdrawn?)

* Feb 1917: GSO2 RA, Canadian Corps

* Jul 1918: GSO1 RA, First Army, until end March 1919, when he went to Camberley.

Hope that helps...


Interesting that Alanbrooke was a Brigade Major and was responsible for the 18th Divisions fireplan. This was a notable sauces on the first day of the Somme, the 18th Division attacking Montauban on the left flank of XIII Corps. The Artillery contribution in which Alanbrooke played a major part. :Artillery

Counter Battery fire had destroyed many of the German gunsso there was little enemy artillery response to the British advance.

The preliminary bombardment had been effective. The Frenchheavy artillery had destroyed many German dugouts. The intensity of thepreliminary bombardment was such that the relief of the regiment manning thatsector was not possible. Many of the German soldiers were suffering fromexhaustion and shell shock. Consequently only small pockets of resistance existed;many were killed in the area of the Glatz Redoubt and Montauban. In Montaubanit’s self the only thing found alive was a fox.

He was a GSO2 RA handling Corps Artillery - I have something in common !!! However, he was never a Battery Commander, though Lt Col with 2 DSO's by the end of the war serving as a staff officer is good going.

Source: Viscount Alanbrooke


From: 6" howitzer gun crew


Please find attached an extract from 6" B.L. Howitzer 26 cwt dated June 1918.


Excellent information from John Reed - Gun Drill for 6 inch Howitzer. Always interested in the workings of the gun detachment.

Source: 6" howitzer gun crew

The importance of a good ram is highlighted:

With a Howitzer, especially when worn and when firing at high angles of elevation, unless the shell is rammed well home, there is a danger of it slipping back in the chamber when the gun is elevated. This is liable to produce large errors, and is also a possible source of danger to the detachment, as it may cause a premature.

Certainly not good news for either the supported infantry or the gun detachment.

When rammed home properly, the sound of the driving band meeting the rifling can be distinctly heard

Love that sound :thumbsup:

And the gun drill in action:

Drill for 6" B.L. Howitzer 26 cwt.

Detailed detachment consists of 10 men.

Their duties are as follows:-

No. 1 (Normally a Sergeant could be bombardier)

  • He commands and is responsible to his Section Commander for the regular and efficient service of his gun in all respects.
  • Before leaving the gun park, or on his relief taking over, he must satisfy himself that the equipment of his sub-section is complete reporting the fact to his Section Commander.
  • He frequently tests the clinometer and elevation indicator, and in conjunction with the No. 4 supervises the testing the sights for line.
  • He is responsible that the buffer is properly filled and that there is no leakage in the stuffing box, that the buffer is firmly nutted up to the lug on the howitzer and the piston rod to the front cap on the cradle.
  • He tests the air pressure in the recuperator, sees that there is no leakage at the stuffing box of the liquid cylinder, and that the ram is nutted up to the front cap of the cradle.
  • He sees that the actuating gear of the piston rod is properly assembled.
  • He sees that the various oil holes in the carriage are supplied with oil, and that the guides on the gun are free from grit and burrs, and slightly oiled.
  • He sees that the wood block stop, for the quick loading gear, is in the correct position at all times, except when the gun is required to be fired at less than 7½º elevation, or when testing the sights, or filling, or emptying, the buffer and recuperator.
  • He supervises the arrangement of ammunition at the gun; cartridges will be segregated in lots, and shell grouped by nature, fuze, weight, and driving band. All grit and dirt should be removed from shell, particular attention being paid to the groves in the driving band. He inspects all charges before loading.
  • If the choice of ground for the gun platform rests with him, he is responsible that the most suitable ground available is selected. It is of the greatest importance to have a firm and level platform. When in action on a side slope the higher wheel should be dug in, if possible, to assist in steadying the carriage.
  • On coming in to action he, assisted the No. 4, fits the rocking bar sight (this must be done before girdles are fitted) and places the clinometer, spanners for buffer and recuperator, and pressure gauge, in a convenient position for use, to the right rear of the gun.
  • He acknowledges all orders affecting his sub-section by saluting, also any orders he may be required to pass down the battery. The salute must be given accurately and unmistakably so that it can be plainly seen.
  • When his gun is in action, he ascertains the aiming point or auxiliary aiming point used by the No. 4.
  • On receipt of the elevation he chalks the recoil indicator scale a distance of 3 inches on either side of the mark corresponding to the elevation. If the elevation is altered he rechalks the scale.
  • He supervises the ramming home.

It is of the most utmost importance, in order to get the most accurate results, that the shell should be rammed home properly. It should be sent home vigorously with a good travel; its not sufficient to push the shell up to its place and the press against the base. When rammed home properly, the sound of the driving band meeting the rifling can be distinctly heard. Uniformity in ramming from round to round is of the most utmost importance.

N.B.—Witha Howitzer, especially when worn and when firing at high angles of elevation,unless the shell is rammed well home, there is a danger of it slipping back in the chamber when the gun is elevated. This is liable to produce large errors,and is also a possible source of danger to the detachment, as it may cause a premature.

16. He applies the correction forM.V., also any corrections ordered in the form of "add" or "drop"-

(a) When the elevation indicator is being used, on the sight clinometer.

(B) When the Watkin clinometer is being used, to the elevation ordered by the Section Commander.

17. He lays for elevation, and passes on the angle form the dial sight and the deflection to the No. 4. When setting the elevation indicator the last motion should be to increase the elevation, this is order to counteract any play that may develop in the sight. When setting the sight clinometer the last motion should be one of depression that is turning the micrometer counter clockwise.

18. The gun is never to be fired without his order. Before giving this order, he is responsible that the breech screw is properly locked and that the firing plunger on the quick elevating gear is engaged. When the breech is properly closed the red lines on the breech and breech screw are coincident. He is responsible that the interval ordered between rounds is properly kept as regards to his own gun.

19. During firing he satisfies himself that the recoil is correct, by observing the mark of the pointer on the scale when the gun has fired. If at any time the recoil is 1 inch or more shortor long, the No. 1 reports this to the Section Commander before ordering the gun to be loaded, so that the cause can be ascertained. He watches the action of the recoil as regards the spade,and gives such orders to run up and adjust the trail support as mey be necessary.

20. As soon nas his gun is fired he gives the order to load, if the B.Cs., orders indicate that this is the intention.

21. When rapid or continued firing takes place, he is responsible that during any cessation of fire every opportunity is taken to cool the gun --- by swabbing it out with wet sponge cloths on the rammer. The buffer, breech, mushroom head, and breech block should also be cooled with wet swabs of sponge clothe, sack etc

22 To avoid damage when traveling the rocking bar sight complete should be taken off and the elevating gear should invariably to be thrown out of engagement with the cradle after the latter has been secured in the cradle clamp.


  • He attends to breech and muzzle covers.
  • He is responsible for the breech mechanism and service of the vent, he will see that all bearing parts are kept well lubricated and free from grit or dirt.

He opens and closes the breech as follows:-

To open the breech.

Take hold of the lever breech mechanism with the left hand, thumb uppermost, and slide the hand down the catch retaining, at the same time pulling the lever to the rear, and then swinging it round to the right as far as it will go.

To close the breech

It is the reverse of the above.

He tests the obturating pad (vide care of breech fittings) and, if necessary, adds adjusting discs until the proper fit is obtained.

  • He periodically dismounts the mechanism in order that it may be thoroughly cleaned. By this means stiffness is prevented.
  • He tests the gear for rapid elevating in the following manner:-

To bring the gun into the loading position (7½º elevation),he raises the quick motion elevating lever, and sees the loading plunger engages in the socket on the right of the cradle. He then returns the gun tithe firing position by lowering the quick motion lever,and sees that the firing plunger engages in the socket in the elevating arc.

N.B.- The gun should not be slammed into the firing position, as there is a danger of a rebound action taking place, which prevents the plunger from entering the hole in the arc and may lead to grave errors in the fall of the next round.

6. On coming into action he places his stores as follows:-

Handspike, bevel up, on the right side opf the carriage, close to and parallel to it; iron shod lever, outside the handspike, and head to the front; the lanyard, round his neck; the wrench breech mechanism, vent bit, and rimer, convenient for use, on the right of the carriage. He removes the breech and muzzle covers, if these have been replace dafter "preparation for action."

Except when the girdles are used during firing, he puts on the right brake as soon as the laying for direction with handspikes has been completed. When the gun has to be moved in action he takes off the brake, and puts it on again when the gun is in the correct position. He attends to the right brake when travelling (horse drawn batteries).

  • He inserts tubes in the vent, and locks them by turning them to the right with his left hand; during action the vent should be rimed out frequently, the bodies of tubes be slightly oiled to ensure free working, and the pad be kept greased with tallow.

When the rifle mechanism is being used, the sequence of his duties will be:-

    • Open lock and eject S.A. cartridge
    • Open breech, wipe the head of the vent axial with a wet cloth and complete the loading of shell and charge.
    • Close breech.
    • Elevate the howitzer
    • Inset small-arm cartridge in lock.
    • Inset the firing peg with lanyard attached.
    • Close the lock.
    • Fire the gun.

Note.---If for any reason the gun is not to be fired at once, the lanyard should be unhooked from the firing peg.

If the howitzer is being fired at such an elevation that it is inconvenient to load the small arm cartridge after elevating to the firing position, operation4 above will be carried out after operations 5,6, and 7, in which case great care should be taken that no fouling of the lanyard occurs whilst the howitzer is being elevated.

On no account should the lock be closed with a cartridge in it, unless the firing peg is in position.

  • He assists No. 3 in lifting and traversing the trail.
  • On receiving orders from No. 1, he fires.

He "makes ready" by hooking the lanyard to the tube with his left hand and then steps clear of the wheel,facing the front. Holding the toggle of the lanyard in his right hand, he fires by jerking the lanyard smartly.

In the event of the tube failing to ignite a charge, care should be taken in extracting the fired tube that no one is standing directly in rear of the vent, as the gas generated will cause the tube to fly out with some violence as soon as the T head is clear.

The vent channel sometimes becomes choked with residue from the cartridge. When this occurs, the taper portion should be cleared with na "rimer vent T" sufficiently to allow the insertion of a tube, which, when fired will remove the rest of the obstruction.

When the rifle mechanism is being used.

He "makes ready" by hooking the lanyard to the firing peg with his left hand, and stands facing the front, ready to fire, holding the togglein his left hand. He fires by pulling the lanyard directly towards him. He should be careful to see that the pull given is in direct prolongation of the firing peg. Fair leads will be fitted to ensure this, at any angle of elevation.

The vent should be rimed out at least one a day, and the the lock cleaned with paraffin. The lock should also be oiled out every 50 rounds.

To removed the lock.---Remove the keep split pin retaining the vent axial nut. Disengage the pin retaining from the "nut vent T axial" and unscrew and remove the lock.

Note. ---Before unscrewing the lock it is necessary to open it,otherwise the jaws of the extractor will not clear the recess cut for them inthe head of the vent.


1. He cleans and lubricates the threads of the breech as required, and examines the chamber and bore.

On coming into action, he places his stores as follows:- Handspike, bevel up, and iron shod lever, on the left of the carriage, heads to the front; the rammer on the left of the trail. head in line with the centre of the trail, and about one yard clear; the lanyard of the fuze key round his neck and the key in his pocket; and the oil can, tallow, and waste convenient for use on the left of the carriage.

  • Except when the girdles are used during firing, he puts on the left brake as soon as laying for direction, with the handspike, has been completed. When the gun has to be moved in action ha takes off the brake, and puts it on again when the gun is in its correct position. He attends to the left brake when traveling (horse-drawn batteries).
  • He uncaps fuzes, assists to ram home. He picks up the rammer with his right hand and passes it over his head.
  • The shell is rammed home by No. 3 and No. 5 as follows:- After the loading tray is in position the No. 3 will push the shell into the chamber, with his right hand, till the base of the shell is flush with the face of the breech of the gun.

No. 3 and No. 5 will place their inner feet inside the trail, and their outer feet on the rear pump brackets of the trail, reach out and grasp the rammer at the end, inner hands back up, and the outer hands back down. No. 1 gives "home" as soon as they are ready, and the shell is sent home in one motion with full force.

6. He assists the No.2 in lifting and traversing the trail.

No. 4

1. He removes and replaces the sight cover, as necessary.

2. He examines and lubricates the traversing gear and elevating gears, and assists the No. 2 to test the quick elevating gear.

3. He frequently tests the sights, in conjunction with the No. 1.

4. Oncoming into action he assist No. 1 to place the rocking bar sight in position, he clamps the dial sight with carrier in its bracket, and clips the sight clinometer on its bracket

5. He directs No. 6 to plant aiming posts,when used, and No. 6 and No. 9 to plant the picket that is used for night firing, or for a close auxiliary aiming point. The picket should, if possible, to be planted in rear of the gun, as if to a flank, and close, the recoil of the carriage which takes place until the spade grips, will produce considerable errors in line. When required, he will hold an aiming post over the centre of the dial sight.

6. With indirect laying, he lays conjointly with the No. 1 in a set sequence.

7. He continually checks the settings on the dial sight and on deflection scale of the dial sight carrier during firing, and will record the readings to the auxiliary aiming point and to the picket, in chalk, on the gun, or on a board provided for that purpose. In setting the sight to any angle, the whole degrees R. or L.will be put on the dial plate, and the minutes R. or L. on the micrometer scale; care should be taken when recording angles, to see that minutes on the micrometer head correspond with the direction recorded on the dial plate.

8. Whenever the trail is moved he sets the internal traverse central.

No. 5

1. He assists the No. 10 in cleaning andfuzing the shell.

2. Oncoming into action, he places his stores as follows:-

Loading tray and McMahon spanner convenient for use;

3. He assists in ramming home.

No. 6

1. Oncoming into action, he places his stores as follows:-

Drag rope, pick, and shovel, on the right of the carriage, clear of the other stores; picket and maul, on the right of the carriage, outside No. 2's handspike,heads to the front; aiming posts, on the left of the carriage, outside No. 3's handspike.

2. When laying out the line of fire with aiming posts, he doubles out about 50 yards

to the front, or rear, with two aiming posts and plants them under the direction of the No. 4, in line with the dial sight at zero or 180º as the case maybe. The farthest aiming post should be planted first, and in aligning the posts, he should hold each at the extreme top, with the thumb and forefinger allowing it to hang vertical by its own weight until the signal to plant the post is given. If new lines of fire are ordered No. 6 doubles out, and on a signal from No. 4, picks up the aiming posts, near one first, replanting them as above.

3 When a picket is required to be planted, No 6 assists the No 9

4. He assists the No 8, in the preparation of charges, and carries them from the section cartridge store to the gun and loads them. In wet weather he must be careful to keep the igniter portion of the charge dry. In loading the cartridge he will be careful to place it in the chamber with the igniter to the rear and so that it will not be touched by the breech screw in the act of closing the breech, or the igniter may be displaced from its proper position. It should however, only just clear of the breech screw to ensure its ignition when the tube is fired.

5. He assists the No. 7 inn clearing the spade when choked.

No. 7 and 9

1. They assist No. 10 in the preparation of shell, No. 7 and No. 9 work alternately in carrying shell to gun with No. 7.

2. Oncoming into action No. 7 places hisdragrope, pick, and shovel on the left of the carriage, clear of the other stores.

3. No.7 assists the No. 6 in clearing the spade when choked.

4. No.9 plants picket, assisted by No. 6.

No. 8

1. He should be an N.C.O., if it can be arranged. He is responsible for the

preparation of charges, and the grouping of cartridges in lots

N.B.- These are very important duties, as different lots of corditeor N.C.T. may give varying velocities, in spite of the fact they are marked"adjusted charge." He informs the No. 1when the last cartridge of any particular lot goes up to the gun, in order that the battery commander may be informed.

2. He personally examines thestencilling on the cartridges as to the lot No., and should place no reliance on the stencilling on the cylinders or metal-lined cases.

3. He keeps a list of lots of cordite and N.C.T. showing exactly how many cartridges there are of each lot,and amends it from time to time.

4. He must use every endeavour to keep the cartridge magazine dry, and as far as possible free from sudden changes in temperature. He records charge temperatures in the magazine.

5. On coming into action he takes the metal-lined case and key to section cartridge store.

The N.C.T. cartridge consists of a core, numbered 1, with 3 sections attached, numbered 2, 3, and 4respectively. The cordite cartridge consists of a core numbered with 2 sections attached numbered 2 and 3 respectively. The charge will be ordered as charge 1,charge 2, etc. when all sections will be removed which bear a higher than the charge ordered..

No. 10

1. He is responsible for the issue of tubes, and fuzing,cleanliness, and issue of shells to the gun.

2. Shell should be kept scrupulously clean, all traces of grit or dirt being removed by washing, and once cleaned should not be oiled.

3. Fuzed shell should be kept covered from wet if possible.

4. The threads of a fuze should be well lubricated before screwing home, and the operation should be done under cover and inas short timeas possible

5. Shells will be grouped according to their nature, fuze,weight and driving band.

6. Shells after cleaning should rest on planks or battens

7. Any means available locally must be used to hide large dumps of shell from aerial observation.

8. On coming into action he issues tubes to No, 2 and places fuze keys, hammer, file,and brush convenient for use at the shell or lorry.

Extracted from Gun Drill 6" B.L.Howitzer 26 Cwt Dated June 1918


Coastal Artillery - Depression Range Finder

An interesting question from Museum Tom who discovered what looks like a position from a Depression Range Finder. Coastal Artillery question please, what is a Depression Range Finding Pedestal

Quite a simple trigonometrical principle, know the height of the range finder above sea level, measure the angle down to the target, apply a tangent formula and determine the range.


A bit more detail from Nigel aka Bombadier

"Some instrument which would discover the varying range of the target as it steamed through the water was absolutely necessary. The solution of this problem was entirely due to the inventive genius of Capt. H. S. Watkin R.A. who, whilst stationed at Gibraltar during the 'seventies (1870s) produced the Depression Range Finder and the Position Finder. Both of these instruments made their appearance during the 'eighties. The D.R.F., when laid on the bow-waterline of the target, recorded the range of the target as it moved through the sea, the P.F. both the range and bearing. The discovery and development of electricity enabled this vital information to be transmitted direct to the guns by the means of dials so that, in the case of the D.R.F. with the line-layer laying direct on his target, the gun was given the correct elevation, and in the case of the P.F. the correct line and elevation without the layer seeing the target at all. These instruments were gradually installed in the coast-defences at home and abroad during the 'nineties and the early years of the twentieth century, the P.F.s to serve the heavy guns (9.2") and the D.R.Fs the medium ones (6")."

From "The History of Coast Artillery in the British Army" by Col K.W. Maurice-Jones, D.S.O. late R.A.

Published by the Royal Artillery Institution 1959

Hope this adds something


Engaging a moving target is very challenging - not only does the observer need to anticipate the movement, but slick drills are required in the calculation of the firing data in order to minimise the time taken between receiving fire orders and firing.

What is interesting in this case is that presumably the effect of varying levels of sea level must be taken into account.

This Depression Range Finder is at the Heugh Battery in Hartlepool,. The principle obviously worked, The Durham RGA hitting the Blucher during the bombardment of Hartlepool in December 1914.


Source: Coastal Artillery question please, what is


Household Siege Battery - 520th Siege Battery

The Household Cavalry is not an area I have much knowledge of ,so I decided to look at a thread by RogerV Household Cavalry and was surprised to see a reference to the Household Siege Artillery . As ever the Pals pointed me in the right direction, a quick look at the Long Long Trail, Google and Frederick' Lineage book.

Starting with Frederick's Lineage, the Royal Garrison Artillery Siege Battery listing excludes 520 Siege Battery....so look at the Household Cavalry. Obviously they were not seen as an integral part to the Royal Regiment.

520th Siege Battery R.G.A. Formed by 11.17 from Household Cav pers, disb 1918 , pers intended for 141 Bty R.G.A which was never formed.

Spot of Googling...

520th Siege Battery embarked at Southampton on the 31 March 1918 and disembarked at Le Havre on the 1 April 1. On the 11th November 1918 it was an unbrigaded battery as part of First Army Artillery. They were equipped with 4 x 6inch guns.

In 1918 they were commanded by John Jacob Astor 1st Baron Astor of Hever. A member of the Waldrorf Atsor family, gold medalist in 1908 Olympics, and lost a leg at Cambrai in 1918

Additional information: 520th Siege Battery RGA


Territorial Force 1914

Being looking through England's Last Hope, The Territorial Force, 1908-14 by KW Mitchinson at the Library. GWF Review


The move from a disparate number of units into fully formed Divisions in 6 years would have been quite a task. In the Artillery the upheaval for the coastal units of the RGA would probably have been less, as their role remained unchanged. Having gone through a major role change in more recent times , one can emphasise with the Divisional Artillery. Unfortunately the Artillery were often synonymous with Territorial inefficiency, and one association described Artillery units as being their greatest difficulty.

However....the units were not provided with the facilities and equipment to effectively train. It is not surprising there were problems.

The former Volunteer units were equipped with an assortment of elderly guns, most of which were no use in a mobile role. As the Regular Army re-equipped with the 18 poundesr, the TF RFA would receive the 15 pounder Breach Loading Convertible. One problem was the guns were not supplied with their full stores. The 1st West Riding Brigade RFA deployed to camp in 1909 with no dial sights / aiming posts / directors / correctors / plotters and only one clinometer between 4 guns. This would be akin to firing cannons at Waterloo.

Weekend training was also a challenge. The RFA Brigades had no horses, and therefore had to hire them for weekend training. In the early part of the 20th century, working Saturday morning was the norm, consequently the type of horses required for pulling the guns would be working too. The County Associations therefore had a choice of hiring horses either for a Saturday morning, or a full day Sunday. This also meant that only those units near artillery ranges could actually get to fire at a weekend - if they had any ammunition.

Batteries were allocated 200 rounds per 15 pounder Brigade per year, 122 rounds for the 5 inch Howitzer Brigade, per year. They were however only allowed to fire every other year. Consequently Brigades would move ammunition between them, so they could end up with 400 rounds and 244 rounds per Brigade, the Regular Army would receive 600 rounds per year. The majority of firing was at annual camp, so weekend firing only occurred if there were any spare rounds. That is if they could get a range.

In 1913, there were five artillery ranges for the Regular Army and TF. An additional two ranges were added for the TF that year. Some of the ranges were out to sea, of no benefit for observers. Consequently training would be limited to the gun end, one unit did not fire on a land range for 5 years. It may be that not all the guns could go to camp, many being left behind due to a shortage of horses. The War Office proposed that they should purchase 14 horses per Brigade. A gun and limber would require 6 horses, section of two guns could be deployed. The Commanding Officer would obviously have a horse, leaving one horse for the rest of the Brigade. So two guns could deploy with the CO, the detachment would have to walk, as would the rest of the Brigade, and no stores could be moved. Horses were provided for annual camp 117 for an RFA Brigade, 78 RHA Brigade. And to feed the horses... the Brigades had to hire their own hay cutters at camp out of their own funds.

The formation of an Expeditionary Force to move to the Empires trouble spots, and the possibility of it being deployed in a European conflict, raised the question of using the TF for Imperial Service. the conditions of enlistment for Territorials was home defense only. Territorials could volunteer for overseas service, the numbers who did so were relatively small, only 7 percent of the total force in 1912 . Seven units were able to form as a full unit for imperial service, one of which was the Northumberland Hussars. The numbers volunteering across the Territorial Artillery varied. The unit with the most volunteers was the 1st Northumbrian Brigade RFA at 46 % (the predecessors of my Regiment). At the other end of the scale, only 3 Gunners out of the East Lancashire division volunteered.

The preparation for Home Defense were not too good either. It was assessed that the TF Artillery could only deploy against an invader with no Artillery support (not sure if the fuzie wuzies could get them selves to the UK), and should the invasion come from a force with Artillery, 6 to 9 months training would be required. One hopes the enemy would have hung around their landing areas so long.

It was not surprising that many of the TF's detractors called for the disbandment of the TF Artillery.

On the eve of World War One the Territorial Artillery was poorly equipped, poorly trained, and would seemed ill prepared to provide sufficient numbers to serve overseas if required.

On mobilisation the Territorials answered the call to the colours. Most units volunteered to a man to serve overseas, by the end of August 1914, most had started to form second line units.On the 5th September 1914, the East Lancashire Division was the first Territorial Division to deploy overseas, moving to Egypt to defend the Suez Canal.

The TF Artillery would go on to serve with distinction throughout the Great War- Ubique Quo Fas Gloria et Duncunt.



From: Lt. Douglas Campbell Young, RFA

Remembered Today; Lieutenant Douglas Campbell YOUNG, Royal Field Artillery who died on 18th September 1915, Alexander Chatby Military and War Memorial Cemetery

Survived Gallipoli only to loose his life to disease..........................


Initials: D C

Nationality: United Kingdom

Rank: Lieutenant

Regiment/Service: Royal Field Artillery

Date of Death: 18/09/1915

Additional information: Son of Robert Young, of 5, Hamilton Drive, South Side, Glasgow.

Casualty Type: Commonwealth War Dead

Grave/Memorial Reference: Q. 527.

Further information from Kenneth Morrison:

YOUNG, DOUGLAS CAMPBELL Lieut. R.F.A. 18 Sept. 1915

Douglas Campbell Young, Lieutenant 4th Lowland (Howitzer) Brigade, 52nd Division, Royal Field Artillery. Age 29.

Born 1886 at Blairlogie, Perthshire. Son of Robert Young of Hamilton Drive, Glasgow and of Castlehill, Rockcliffe. Served in Egypt and the Dardanelles. Died 18 September 1915 of dysentery at the 21st General Hospital Alexandria, buried in Alexandria (Chatby) Military and War Memorial Cemetery, Egypt.

from Kenneth Morrison's post on The Scottish War Memorials web-site here http://warmemscot.s4...post-40345.html

Lt. Young is listed on the Colvend War Memorial: see Kenneth Morrison's further post on The Scottish War Memorials web-site here http://scottishwargr...-ftopic666.html

There is also a photograph of a family inscription to be seen on the Kirkyards Website here (it's inscription No. 296) http://www.kirkcudbr....asp?offset=299

R. I. P.

Source: Lt. Douglas Campbell Young, RFA


RGA Heavy Battery Orbat (60 pounder)

Excellent information from Ron Clifton on the Orbat of a 60 pounder RGA (Heavy) Battery. In 1914 each Regular Division had a 60 ponder Battery, the re-organisation in 1916 saw them used as part of Heavy Artillery Groups (HAG), then ultimately RGA Brigades

Hello Ron......... My great Uncle was in the 120th Heavy Battery, RGA. Thats the one I'm interested in knowing its composition (big word) ;)

Here is the breakdown as at Aug 1914 (though the battery was not formed until early 1915, and only went to France in April 1916)

August 1914 Heavy Artillery Battery and Ammunition Column (4 x 60-pounder guns)

Battery: Major, Captain, 3 Subalterns, BSM, BQMS, 6 Serjeants, Farrier-Serjeant, 2 Shoeing-smiths, 2 Saddlers, 1 Wheeler, 1 Smith, 2 Trumpeters, 7 Corporals, 6 Bombardiers, 74 Gunners, 51 Drivers, 6 Batmen, 2 Privates RAMC.

Ammunition Column: Subaltern, 1 Serjeant, 1 Shoeing-smith, 1 Saddler, 1 Wheeler, 1 Smith, 1 Corporal, 1 Bombardier, 8 Gunners, 13 Drivers, 1 Batman.

After the increase to six guns:

August 1916 Heavy Artillery Battery and Ammunition Column (6 x 60-pounder guns)

Battery: Major, Captain, 4 Subalterns, BSM, BQMS, 8 Serjeants, Farrier-Serjeant, 3 Shoeing-smiths (incl one cpl), 2 Saddlers, 1 Wheeler, 1 Staff-Sjt Fitter, 1 Smith, 7 Corporals, 8 Bombardiers, 110 Gunners, 71 Drivers, 7 Batmen.

Attached: Serjeant AVC, 3 Drivers ASC.

Ammunition Column: Subaltern, 1 Serjeant, 2 Shoeing-smiths, 1 Saddler, 1 Wheeler, 1 Fitter, 1 Corporal, 2 Bombardiers, 12 Gunners, 35 Gunners as Drivers, 1 Batman. Attached: 1 Driver ASC.

Note that these are nominal figures: the actual strength would have varied, depending on casualties and reinforcements.


Source: RGA Battery


From: Creeping Barrage

Interesting information from John Reed.

The Evolution of Artillery is really what developed my interest in the RA of the First World War. The transition from battery sized shoots over open sights, to indirect fire and scientific gunnery. The development of the concept of the barrage, essentially the first fire planning that took place introduced the tactical use of Artillery in pre planned all arms operations.

The development for the creeping barrage undoubtedly assisted the infantry in achieving their objectives and hopefully reduced casualties. Luckily there were Officers of vision who were able to initiate these concepts, but sadly as Lt. Col Brooke records it was "by a process of trial and error", a process of experiment in battle, experiments which were paid with mens lives. What would also have been hard would have been to gain acceptance of new tactics, with many Corps and Divisional Commanders having a poor concept on the role of Artillery, and certainly not from a a Lt. Col !!! (sadly there are some of this ilk still around in my day).

Interesting reading..........................................

This text is taken from "The Evolution Of Artillery in The Great War" by Lt. Col. A F Brooke DSO psc fisrt published in the Royal Artillery Journal 1924.


With five months of continuous operations, the Battle of the Somme provided suitable conditions for trying out some of the tactical ideas which had resulted from the last year's fighting. We have seen in a previous article that the organisation of the artillery had made distinct strides during the winter months preceding this offensive. We were now provided with artillery capable of exercising a marked influence in the field of battle. Certain refinements in its organisation, and reinforcements to its strength were still required to bring it up to the standard which it reached during the latter part of the war, yet it had attained its early, manhood, and its actions at this period are consequently of particular interest to us.

The policy of destruction received a free rein, both tactical and strategical surprise was entirely sacrificed, the four days' preliminary bombardment of Loos was replaced by one of seven days. We endeavoured to destroy all the wire covering the front system of defences, all fire trenches, strong points, and main communication trenches, whilst the early stage of development of our counterbattery methods prevented us from also including the hostile batteries in our scheme of destruction. Trench mortars were now available in sufficient numbers to be entrusted with the destruction of the front line of wire entanglements. All other wire defences were engaged with 18 pounders firing shrapnel since no efficient wire cutting H.E. Shell was available at that date. The trench destruction was entrusted to the Corps heavy artillery. The decision as to the degree of destruction required was transferred to the actual infantry units destined to carry out the attack. Such a procedure may at first strike one as logical. The individual destined to carry out an assault over a given trench system should be the best judge as to the degree of destruction required to ensure success to his undertaking. On closer examination the procedure presents certain aspects which alter the case. Destruction can only be obtained by protracted methods and by the creation of shell torn areas obstructing forward communication. Yet neither of these factors affected the enterprise of the unit to which a limited objective had been allotted, they only concerned the higher formations, but certainly exercised a vital influence on the operation as a whole. The result of such a decision could only lead to longer periods of preliminary destruction, and greater obstruction through shell torn areas.

Turning to the artillery support during the initial attack and the subsequent operations of the prolonged struggle, we observe distinct progress in the artillery tactics. We had failed to appreciate the paralyzing effects possible in preparatory bombardments but we were beginning to realise the neutralising possibilities in the support, of the actual attack. The germ of the new "rolling" or "creeping" barrage had, as we have already seen, been evident at Loos. The battle opened with the attack of July lst still supported by a system of "lifts" from trench to trench regulated by a pre-arranged time programme. The whole object of this method, being to prevent the defenders manning their trenches until such time as the assault¬ing troops were sufficiently close to them to admit of the trench being rushed before its fire power could be re-established. The Germans were quick to realise that the only method of avoiding such neutralisation of the fire power of the defence lay in siting a proportion of automatic weapons in the space intervening between the trenches. It therefore became necessary to sweep the ground in advance of the attack, irrespective of all visible defences. We produced a curtain of fire moving in advance of the assaulting troops, regulated by a time table based on the predicted rate of advance of the infantry. By a process of trial and error we arrived at the required density of this fire, and the distance of each lift necessary to cover all the ground. With a maximum rate of fire of four rounds per gun per minute we found that one 18 pdr. Per 25 yds. of front would provide a sufficient maximum volume of fire, whilst variations in the density of this fire could be regulated by reduc¬tions in the rates of fire. To ensure that all ground should be covered by our curtain of fire in its forward movement, we decided that lifts of 100 yards would meet requirements. During the course of the attack definite pauses were arranged conforming to the capture of the various objectives and providing the protection required by the infantry against hostile counter-attacks. As the battle progressed our curtain of fire was found to be lacking in sufficient depth. Casualties were suffered from hostile fire origin¬ating in advance of the zone covered by the barrage. This fault was remedied by additional curtains of fire from 18 pdrs., 4.5in hows. and medium artillery in advance of the initial line.

The parent of the rolling barrage, namely the trench to trench lifts, had left an unfortunate legacy to its offspring in the shape of unnecessary complications. The attacking infantry, used to definite lifts from one trench to another, whilst approving of the inter¬vening ground being covered, insisted on the curtain of fire being built tip on each successive trench. Had all trenches been parallel to each other and to the front of attack complications would not have arisen, this was not the case, as a result barrages were attempted necessitating intricate evolutions of fire which were neither possible nor necessary, and calculated to introduce serious errors.

Our tactical conceptions of artillery support in the attack had by now altered materially from those held in 1914. The "accessory" role of the artillery was now left far behind, the days were gone of attacks planned by infantry with artillery requested to co-operate to the best of its ability. The infantry, deprived of its mobility through the hostile fire power, now required a combined plan of attack to regain its power of movement through the proper applica¬tion of the available artillery power. This degree of mobility had, however, only been regained through the sacrifice of the power of manoeuvre in the attack. Our plans of attack were assuming a rigidity which required considerable re-adjustment in our tactical ideas.

The long drawn out nature of the Somme battle provided suit¬able conditions for further developments in our systems of harassing fire, which had already been in evidence during the previous year's fighting. We realised that the efficiency of such fire was dependent on the accuracy of the available intelligence and the care with which programmes of harassing fire were produced.

Our lack of faith in the efficiency of our methods of counterbattery work is well exemplified by the massive gun emplacements constructed to support the initial attack. Gradually the lessons we had learnt in 1915, combined with our daily increasing experience, resulted in the adoption of improvised methods in an endeavour to co-ordinate the various existing counter-battery efforts. A Heavy Artillery Group H.Q. was selected in each Corps, and made responsible for counter-battery work, the commanding officer of the group becoming to all intents and purposes the counter-battery officer of the future. Although at that date still unofficially recognised, this new system at once produced marked improvements in our counter-battery methods. Hostile artillery intelligence now became systematically collected and collated, the work of survey sections was developed and turned to good use, methods of engaging hostile batteries became standardised, and last but not least, the ca-operation of artillery and aircraft was directed into proper channels.


Source: Creeping Barrage

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