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The Great War (1914-1918) Forum

Remembered Today:

King George V - Colonel in Chief Royal Artillery





A post from Andrew Upton on King George V having a MIC https://www.greatwarforum.org/topic/55721-lieutenant-colonel-the-prince-de-mahé/?do=findComment&comment=2981042  led me to wonder what his appointments were in the Royal Artillery. Did he have two appointments as Captain General; Royal Horse & Field Artillery and Royal Garrisons Artillery ? First learning point - the appointment of Captain General was not instituted till 1951 by King George VI. [1]


The Army List for 1914 confirms that the sovereign was Colonel in Chief, [2] not Captain General  and it was a single appointment to the Royal Regiment of Artillery.





Kings George V and Queen Mary visiting Woolwich 1913


King George V played an active role during World War One, visiting troops on the Western Front, wounded soldiers, and all parts of the country to encourage the war effort. 



King George V visiting Indian Gunners on the Western Front



King George V visiting gun emplacement on the Western Front


See the source image

Visiting wounded soldiers Torquay Red Cross War Hospital 1915



King George V would fulfil his role as a Gunner on a visit to the Western Front in August 1918 as the Allied Armies launched their offensive. On the first day of the Battle of Amiens (8-17th August 1918), the King visited the 14 inch railway gun 'Boche Buster' of 471 Siege Battery RGA at Maroeuil. During the visit the King selected the station at Douai as a target with the intention of disrupting German re-enforcements moving south towards Amiens. The round reputedly hit Douai Station, a target round, excellent credentials for the Colonel in Chief of the Royal Artillery. It would become known as the 'Kings Shot'

The King's Shot - Northumbrian Gunner meanderings - Great War Forum



King George V visiting 'Boche Buster' of 471 Siege Battery RGA at Maroeuil 


The Royal Artillery records the loss of 49,076 Gunners during the First World War. [3] In 1919 King George V, accompanied by Field Marshall Sir Douglas Haig, attended a memorial service in St Paul's Cathedral to remember those lost from the Royal Artillery.



King George V was a keen philatelist and during the war would retreat to his Stamp Room, where no one was allowed to disturb him barring a dire emergency. There he could absorb himself in his stamp collection,  a relaxation from his constant and anxious duties, declaring the hobby 'saved his life in the War'. [4] 




One post war visitor to the King was Walter Holman, a Fellow of the Royal Philatelic Society, and both collectors would discuss stamps. During WW1, Holman enlisted into the  Artists Rifles commissioning into the Royal Garrison Artillery in January 1918,  serving with 374 Siege Battery. On the 21  March 1918, on  the first day of the German Spring Offensive he  suffered a shrapnel wound to his left forearm which left him partially disabled. [5]




Post War 1928, so slightly off topic, King George V visited the Royal Artillery Depot at Woolwich. Forty years ago I passed out from Woolwich, standing and marching past in the exact same places as those parading in front of the King. 




[1] Royal Artillery Glossary of Terms and Abbreviations -  Phil Jobson

[2] Army List August 1914 Section 506 - 509

[3] RA Memorial Hyde Park - Northumbrian Gunner meanderings - Great War Forum

[4] The Queens Stamps  page 137 -  Nicholas Courtney

[5] https://www.greatwarforum.org/topic/74665-rga-railway-gun-what-unit/?tab=comments#comment-686113 - rflory



Edited by ianjonesncl


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