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Remembered Today:

Northumbrian Gunner meanderings

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From: Remembering Today on the GWF

Some parents shouldn't be allowed to name their children :P:poppy:



Initials: F

Nationality: United Kingdom

Rank: Lance Bombardier

Regiment/Service: Royal Garrison Artillery

Unit Text: 37th Siege Bty.

Date of Death: 17/08/1918

Service No: 177121

Casualty Type: Commonwealth War Dead

Grave/Memorial Reference: I. AA. 4.



Source: Remembering Today on the GWF


From: Moving RGA Siege Battery Positions

Hi folks,

Something I've been pondering for quite a while, and I wondered if any of the artillery experts on the forum might have any ideas.

On the western front (particularly), in instances where a RGA siege battery moved to a new position (let's use 6" howitzers as an example), apart from the actual movement of the guns and ammunition, I was wondering exactly what other work and logistics were involved?

Presumably if a battery was taking over a position from another battery (i.e. one that had already had the gun pits, dugouts, BC post, etc. prepared) it would simply have been a case of moving the guns into position (though I suppose during the winter of 1916 / 1917 on the Somme and during the 3rd Ypres 'simply' is probably not the right word to use!). But what about instances where a battery was moving to a completely new position? Would the battery members be responsible for preparing and constructing the new pits, dugouts, etc., or would this be done wholy or partly by RE, Labour Corps, or other personnel? Also, would the wooden gun platforms and other material be dismantled from the former position and brought up and reused in the new?

It's not something I've ever seen referred to in text before, and I wondered if anyone on the forum has any insights wrt this.

All the best


Source: Moving RGA Siege Battery Positions


From: Royal field Artillery insignia

This is 14829 Herbert Hole 123 Bde RFA, photo taken in 1918 (three service chevrons). He arrived in France on 30/7/1915 and was wounded at the end of october 1917 and evacuated to Blighty.

I have his service record and I am trying to work out precisely when this photo was taken. He joined the Regulars in 1919.

When has was wounded has was a Bombadier and was promoted L/Cpl on 23/8/1918.

I am confused about the insignia above the stripe. A highly experienced and well-respsected member of this forum has already seen the photo, and has cast some doubt on my possible interpretation........................



Source: Royal field Artillery insignia


From: Artillerymen wore bandoliers -

An interesting topic on the Bandoliers worn by men of the Royal Artillery. Many photographs of individuals or batteries can be seen with this item of equipment being worn - great question from Tyrim - where are the rifles ?

It transpires there were 36 rifles allocated to a battery, so they were not personal weapons (100 plus in a Battery), and as the can be allocated to anyone, everyone carried ammunition.

So 5 pouches .... 2 for ammo (10 rounds), 1 for cigarettes, 1 for matches, 1 for choccy bar :P

From Firepower

Source: Artillerymen wore bandoliers -


Royal Garrison Artillery - Heavy Batteries.

Heavy Batteries were initially part of the Divisional Artillery, each Regular Amy Division being allocated a Battery of 60 pounders, Territorial’s 4.7" gun. Some coastal artillery defended ports had a Heavy Battery where no fixed coast defences were in place. The Durham Heavy Battery, for example was, deployed on mobilisation in 1914 to cover the River Wear. Territorial Batteries were also tasked to raise a second battery at the start of the war. With the formation of New Army Divisions, additional Heavy Batteries were formed.

In 1916 the Heavy Batteries were grouped at Army and Corps level, and would be allocated as part of Heavy Artillery Groups (HAG). Like Siege Batteries and HAG's, they would move for major offensives or for different phases of battles to provide specific capabilities. Information on their movements and engagements can therefore be found in individual Battery war diaries, or the war diaries of the HAG to which they were allocated.

The GWF has a number of posts on individual Heavy Batteries, and there are some individual web sites as well. A listing can be found on this blog.

Long Long Trail

Heavy Batteries of the Royal Garrison Artillery


Strength of the RGA in 1918


Royal Garrison Artillery - Siege Batteries

There are many requests on the GWF for information about Siege Batteries of the Royal Garrison Artillery.

By the end of WW1 there were at 401 Siege Batteries ranging from 60 pounder guns to 12 inch railway guns, yet in 1914 only 5 Siege Companies existed, of which 2 were in India.

In 1914 the RA doctrine was very much based on mobile warfare, recognition being there would be times when a town would be laid to siege. The Western Front changed that, it was not a single location that was going to be laid to siege, but a whole front of 50 or so miles. Hence the expansion in siege artillery.

And that expansion seems to be all with the New Army. By July 1916 the RGA consisted of 132 Siege Battteries. To meet the expansion intially experienced men from coastal artillery companies had been used to form the nucleus of new batteries, both Regular an Territorial Force. The coastal units would also pay a part in training new recruits, peparing them for units in operational theatres. It is interesting to look at Soldiers Who Died in the Great War (SDGW), and listed under RGA are sections for the losses for the different coastal units, the majority of losses being in France and Flanders.

The siege batteries were grouped together in Heavy Artillery Groups (HAG), and from 1917 Brigades. Individual batteries or HAG's would move for major offensives, 's or for different phases of battles to provide specific capabilities. It is often quite difficult to piece together events as information can be held not only in battery war diaries, but HAG diares as well.

The GWF has many posts on theses Batteries, when and where it was formed, type of gun / howitzer, deployment to theatre and movements around the various HAG's. Links to some of those posts can be found on the Siege Battery listing on the blog.

Long Long Trail

The Siege Batteries of the Royal Garrison Artillery


Strength of the RGA in 1918


18 Pounder Orbat

An 18 pounder detachment had 6 men actualy manning the gun. An additional 4 men were back in the wagon lines where the horses and first line ammunition was held. There were 7 drivers for the gun and ammunition limbers. In addition to these 17 men (commanded by a Sergeant) there would have been 15 horses.

This slide may help:


Source: RFA


From: Howitzer Brigade RFA

Hello Phil

Regulars in 1914:

August 1914 Field Artillery (Howitzer) Brigade (3 batteries of 6 x 4.5" how)

HQ: Lt-Col cdg, Adjutant, Orderly Officer, Medical Officer, Vet Officer, Serjeant-Major, Armament Artificer, Trumpeter,

2 Corporals, 2 Bombardiers, 7 Gunners, 9 Drivers, 1 Clerk, 2 MO's Orderlies, 8 Batmen, Corporal RAMC, 3 Privates RAMC.

3 Batteries, each: Major, Captain, 3 Subalterns, BSM, BQMS, Farrier-Serjeant, 7 Serjeants, 4 Shoeing-Smiths (incl 1 Corporal), 2 Saddlers, 2 Fitters or Wheelers, 2 Trumpeters, 7 Corporals, 11 Bombardiers, 74 Gunners, 70 Drivers, 10 Batmen.

Amm Col: Captain, Subaltern, BSM, BQMS, Farrier-Serjeant, 4 Serjeants, 4 Shoeing-Smiths (incl 1 Corporal), 2 Saddlers, 2 Fitters or Wheelers, Trumpeter, 4 Corporals, 4 Bombardiers, 23 Gunners, 70 Drivers, 2 Batmen.

Tf Howitzer brigades had two four-gun batteries so were about 400 all ranks. New Armies were of similar size to Regulars, but had four four-gun batteries.

After 1916 there were no separate Howitzer Brigades. Most field brigades then had four six-gun batteries: theree of 18-poundres and one of howitzers.

January 1917 Field Artillery Brigade (3 batteries of 6 x 18 pdr, 1 battery of 6 x 4.5" how)

HQ: Lt-Col cdg, Adjutant, Orderly Officer, Medical Officer, Serjeant- Major, Fitter Staff-Serjeant, Armament Artificer, 4 Serjeants AVC, 2 Corporals, 2 Bombardiers, 6 Gunners, 10 Drivers, 1 Clerk, 2 MO's Orderlies, 1 Corporal & 4 Privates RAMC, 7 Batmen.

3 Batteries, each: Major, Captain, 3 Subalterns, BSM, BQMS, Farrier-Serjeant, 7 Serjeants, 4 Shoeing-Smiths (incl 1 Corporal), 2 Saddlers, 2 Fitters or Wheelers, 2 Trumpeters, 7 Corporals, 11 Bombardiers, 75 Gunners, 71 Drivers, 10 Batmen.

1 Battery: Major, Captain, 3 Subalterns, BSM, BQMS, Farrier-Serjeant, 7 Serjeants, 4 Shoeing-Smiths (incl 1 Corporal), 2 Saddlers, 2 Fitters or Wheelers, 2 Trumpeters, 7 Corporals, 11 Bombardiers, 75 Gunners, 71 Drivers, 10 Batmen.

There were only minor changes thereafter.

Because there was originally a shortage of the 4.5" howitzers, you often find fewer guns per battery, or even an absence of howitzers altogether, in divisional artilleries, esp[ecially in those divisions cobbled together from Regulars at the end of 1914.


(who wrote the article Dick has mentioned, though not in 1931! I think it was in the April 1989 Stand To)

Source: Howitzer Brigade RFA


Div. Artillery War Establishments

Hello Ian

If you can get to London (and I appreciate you may not be able to do this easily) go to the National Archives at Kew and look at the following items:

WO 24/898 War establishments 1907-1912

WO 24/899 War establishments 1913-1914

WO 24/900 1-26 Amendments 1914

WO 24/901 1-50 Amendments 1915

WO 24/902 51-100 Amendments 1915

War Establishments, Part II, Territorial Force, 1911 was the version in force in August 1914 but a revised edition was issued in October. Another edition was issued in June 1915 and you should find it in WO24/902.

You may find copies of the 1990s reprint of the Territorial Year Book 1909, produced by Ray Westlake, rather easier to find. These give the Peace Establishments current at the time.

I have the following "top-level" establishments (Oct 14) in my notes, but with no finer detail:

Field Art (gun) Brigade, 3 Batts of 4 guns plus BAC: 22 officers, 603 men

Field Art (How) Brigade, 2 Batts of 4 guns plus BAC: 17 officers, 384 men

Heavy Batt of 4 guns and AC: 6 officers, 192 men. (This in fact is the same as the Regular 60-pounder battery)

Field Secrice Pocket Book 1914 does not contain separate TF establishments.

Good hunting!


Source: Territorial Force - Div. Artillery War Establishments


Artillery Brigades

The principle fire unit prior to 1898 was the Battery. At the end of the 19th century , the improved command and control of Artillery, particularly to allow greater concentration was seen as being vital to the effective tactical deployment of Artillery. General Marshall's Committee of 1898 declared that the tactical unit "now be called the brigade-division, and that all other matters should give way to the full development of the Lieutenant Colonels command". So the concept of a tactical unit of a number of Batteries was established.

Why call it a Brigade ? Would this not be confused with an infantry brigade ? Why not call it a battalion ? In 1771 battalions had been formed ?

The Long Long Trail details what Brigades of the Royal Field Artillery consisted of and the key changes during WW1:

What was an artillery brigade?

Artillery Brigades Order of Battle:

  • Aug 1914 - Gun Brigades consorted of three batteries. Howitzer Brigades consorted of two batteries
  • May 1916 - Additional Howitzer Brigades formed and Howitzer Brigades broken up to form mixed Gun/Howitzer Brigades. Brigade Ammunition Columns disestablished.
  • Jan 1917 - Some Brigades broken up tp provide additional guns to batteries

Brigades consisted of two or three sections, the section having two guns of sub sections.


From: Royal Artillery Badge


Here is what MUST be the definitive reply, just received from Paul Evans at the Royal Artillery Library, Woolwich:


The gun badge for all members of the Royal Regiment of Artillery was introduced in 1902 to be worn in the Service Dress Cap by all ranks of the Regiment (Regular Army).

The design of the badge derives from the Coat of Arms of the Royal Regiment of Artillery which was granted to the Regiment in July 1832 by His Majesty King William IV. The Royal arms and supporters with a cannon and the motto "Ubique quo fas et gloria ducunt". This was amended in 1833 to "Ubique" and "Quo fas et gloria ducunt", which translates to "Everywhere" and "Whither right and glory lead".

The gun used is said to be a Smooth Bored Muzzle Loading 9 pounder with a wooden trail, the trail was changed to steel in 1872.

The gun badge has both mottoes of the Regiment UBIQUE (EVERYWHERE) on the upper scroll and QUO FAS ET GLORIA DUCUNT (WITHER RIGHT AND GLORY LEAD) on the lower scroll. A modified design was worn by members of the Territorial Force (laurel spray replaced UBIQUE) and the Volunteers (the word VOLUNTEERS replaced UBIQUE).

It was made in brass for Soldiers, also bronze and gilt with a raised wheel for Officers.

The Bronze version is worn on the Service Dress Cap and on the flap of a brown leather pouch attached to a brown leather shoulder belt worn by Officers in Service Dress.

The Gilt version is worn on the Number 1 Dress Cap and on the flap of a black leather pouch attached to a shoulder belt worn by Officers in some forms of dress.

A plastic version was produced during World War 2 for wear by Other Ranks on the Cap General Service (a large khaki gabardine beret).

A brass version with a revolving raised wheel was produced privately for sale through the canteens, the Royal Artillery Association sells a similar version in anodised aluminium.

In 1954 the crown was changed to the St. Edward's Crown.

Marc J Sherriff © April 1997"


Source: Royal Artillery Badge



In July 1899 the Royal Artillery divided it's self in to two separate Corps. The mounted branch of the Royal Horse and Royal Field Artillery, and the dismounted branch, Royal Garrison Artillery.

As I understand it, the Horse and Field Artillery batteries were seen as the units to be in if you wanted promotion to the higher echelons of the Royal Artillery. Consequently many officers tried to avoid coastal, mountain, and heavy artillery batteries. The latter also required officers of a more technical nature, so quite a bit to learn, which I suppose would interfere with the hunting, shooting and fishing.

So, form two corps, RHA / RFA, fast mobile warfare, direct fire over open sights, good exciting stuff. Coastal Artillery, positional warfare (apart from the odd mountain campaign), technical gunnery, but nice big guns to fire.

So what about our Gunners at the beginning of 1914 ?

A look at the station of units:

RHA / RFA - Bulford, Newcastle, Sheffield, Glasgow, Aldershot, Woolwich - ok India could be interesting

RGA - Malta. Barbados, Ceylon, Hong Kong Sierra Leone - ok you may end up in Tynemouth as the wind whips in off the north sea temperatures plummeting (in summer).

So Bulford and exercises on Salisbury Plain, with the RFA or Barbados with the RGA ?

Difficult choice !!


GWF Bloging

Following Mikes lead – will Blogging be of use on the GWF ? The new format of the forum looks like blogging may be easier.

Many of the current blogs have one entry - really a request for information which would be better placed on the main forum.

So will my meanderings work ? Or go the way of the rest - time will tell.

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