Among the Heavy Batteries of the Royal Garrison Artillery listed on the Long Long Trail is Richards Battery. An unusual designation outside the normal numbering system. Once again GWF Pals had the the answer; Richards Battery, RGA, XVII Corps June/July 1916.
The Richards Battery was formed on 16th June 1916 with details from 105 Siege Battery and the 51st (Highland) Division Heavy Trench Mortars. On the 21st June Captain Richards and three subalterns took over 3 x 220mm French Guns. The battery included 80 ORs from the 51st (Highland) Division, though they would return to their unit on 14th July. The Battery was assisted in their training by Brigadier Mirambeau and two French Artillery Junior NCO's.
The story of the Richards Battery appears to start with the arrival of 106 Siege Battery personnel in theatre without guns. They were trained on French 220 mm Mortars, the personnel of the battery then proceeding to La Targette 6.5 km north of Arras, taking over guns and stores in position from a French Battery, on the 9th June 1916. They would register the gun before personnel were ordered, on the 14th June, to proceed to Abeele, near Ypres. They took one of the four mortars out of action , leaving three in situ. (WD 106 SB - June 14th 1916)
It would now seem that there were three mortars that were required to be manned. On the 16th June, Captain DJR Richards formed a battery. It would later take over 3 X French 220mm' guns', at La Targette, presumably those left by 106 Siege Battery. With no establishment, it would seem Captain Richards would need to find some men to man the 220 mm Mortars. He received details from 105 Siege Battery, who would have knowledge of working on French equipment, and 51st Trench Mortar Battery, who would understand mortars.
As this was ad hoc battery with no establishment and no British Guns it would have fallen outside of the numbering system, hence it's title being taken from the Battery Commander, a practice used by the Royal Artillery before a numbering system came in.
22cm How Mle 16 220mm 1915
The Battery's first action took place on 25th June 1916. Located at LATARGETTE 6.5km north of ARRAS it conducted a firing programme on numerous trench junctions and strongpoints, repeating the program the following day.
Captain Richards left the Battery that bears his name on 1st July 1916 to take command of 105 Siege Battery. He would go onto win the DSO and MC and rise to the rank of Brigadier commanding anti-aircraft units in the Second World War.
Over the next month the Battery would conduct various shoots under the command of the 50th Heavy Artillery Group (HAG), including an interesting night shoot on the 18th July against German searchlights.
The Battery was visited by King George V on 9th August 1916, who watched them fire 3 rounds on THELVS MILL.
The last recorded action of the Richards Battery was on the 3rd September 1916. The XVII Corps Heavy Artillery diary details 'Richards Battery expended it's last five rounds on an enemy bombstore'.