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Remembered Today:

Regular artillery units pre-war


SFayers

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Hi folks,

I'm researching a chap who was a pre-war regular in the RA, and his WWI service documents (if they survive) aren't on Ancestry as yet. The 1901 census has him as a gunner based at Maidstone Infantry Barracks in Kent. Does anyone have any idea what artillery units were based there at the time?

I'm not sure if this thread counts as being off-topic (in which case moderators please delete), but if anyone can help I'd like to hear from you.

Kind regards

Steve

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Hello Steve

According to the Dec 1900 Army List the nearest batteries were:

104, 105, 106 Batts RFA at Shorncliffe

107, 108, 109, 122. 123. 124, 136 Batts RFA at Woolwich

131 Batt RFA at Chatham

22 and 27 Cos RGA Eastern Division at Sheerness.

There were also some Militia and Volunteer artillery units in Kent, to which he might have been attached, but none of these were at Maidstone.

Ron

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Thanks for that information Ron, very much appreciated!

In that case I wonder why artillery gunners would have been based at Maidstone?

Kind regards

Steve

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In that case I wonder why artillery gunners would have been based at Maidstone?

Maidstone was the depot for the Queen's Own Royal West Kent Regiment. Perhaps they had some gunners attached to help recruits and Militiamen train in inf/art co-operation?

Ron

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Thanks Ron,

I guess that could well be a possibility. One other thing, which I don't know if is of any significance, is that in the Maidstone barracks my man was living with his wife and child - perhaps Maidstone was the only place locally with available married quarters?

Kind regards

Steve

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104, 105, 106 Batts RFA at Shorncliffe

Still there in 1902

107, 108, 109, 122. 123. 124, 136 Batts RFA at Woolwich

107, 108, 109 at Brighton in 1902.

Dave

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... my man was living with his wife and child - perhaps Maidstone was the only place locally with available married quarters?

Very possibly, Steve. This suggests that he may have been in one of the batteries in my earlier list, since he would have to travel from his quarters to duty, presumably on a daily basis.

Ron

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Just a thought... I believe that part of the Barracks may have been used as a Riding School.

Which may have been attended by RFA men for riding instruction.

May be a red herring though.

Dave

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As mentioned before, Maidstone was the HQ Depot and Centre for the Queen's Own (Royal West Kent Regiment). During the Great War the barracks was vast. If you have a look on Google Earth you will see that the barracks is still very large and used by a number of units including - 36 Engineer Regiment and more recently the Gurkhas. During the war there would have been many many trades present including most types of combat units (including of course the Artillery - RFA,RGA,RHA). The barracks was used to train new recruits and drafts were then sent to field battalions overseas. If you want more info on the West Kent's, you need to get in touch with Johnathan Saunders who has over the years become quite an expert on the West Kent's...

I have never heard of a riding school there though. Canterbury was where the cavalry were in Kent not Maidstone. But I guess you never know for sure....

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have never heard of a riding school there though. Canterbury was where the cavalry were in Kent not Maidstone. But I guess you never know for sure....

This quote is what prompted my thought, how long the establishment survied at Maidstone I don't know hence I use the word 'may' in my first post.

The barracks remained empty for several years whilst the Board of Ordnance tried in vain to sell the lease. In 1823 it was decided to move the Cavalry Riding Establishment from Pimlico to St John's Wood. The present riding school was completed in 1825, it was large, solid and carefully built and although now over 150 years old, the building remains structurally very strong. For some reason, the Cavalry Riding Establishment abandoned the barracks only seven years later, when ordered to Maidstone and the vast building, which had cost nearly £6000, stood empty. During this period, no stables were built in the barracks and the 78 horses on the Establishment's strength had been housed in a hired stable outside. The latter no longer exists, but the name remains in Ordnance Mews, near the top end of St John's Wood High Street.

Source: http://www2.army.mod.uk/kingstprha/st_johns.htm

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I did add "But I guess you never know for sure". I'm sorry if you took offence to my doubting what you stated....

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Neil

Sorry if I gave the wrong impression I certainly did not take offence to your post/comments. :o Thanks for the courtesy though.

I was just trying to get across the reason for my thinking and as I said it could be just a red herring. :)

Dave

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This quote is what prompted my thought, how long the establishment survied at Maidstone I don't know hence I use the word 'may' in my first post.

The barracks remained empty for several years whilst the Board of Ordnance tried in vain to sell the lease. In 1823 it was decided to move the Cavalry Riding Establishment from Pimlico to St John's Wood. The present riding school was completed in 1825, it was large, solid and carefully built and although now over 150 years old, the building remains structurally very strong. For some reason, the Cavalry Riding Establishment abandoned the barracks only seven years later, when ordered to Maidstone and the vast building, which had cost nearly £6000, stood empty. During this period, no stables were built in the barracks and the 78 horses on the Establishment's strength had been housed in a hired stable outside. The latter no longer exists, but the name remains in Ordnance Mews, near the top end of St John's Wood High Street.

Source: http://www2.army.mod.uk/kingstprha/st_johns.htm

Around the time you mention I believe the barracks at Maidstone was home to a Dragoon unit ... 7th Dragoons I think. I dont think the Royal West Kent's made Maidstone their home until 1881 with the reconstruction of the army although I am happy to be corrected.

Around turn of last century there were also a Militia unit in Maidstone and there was a Yeomanry that would have been in part based in Maidstone. I cant specifically think why an Artillery man would have been at Maidstone barracks for any period of time.

Regards,

Jonathan S

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Thanks Jonathan,

Looking at the 1901 census returns there seems to be a number of artillerymen there - those I've seen all appear to be married and living with their spouses in the barracks, so again I wonder if it simply reflects Maidstone being the only local barracks that could provide married quarters.

cheers

Steve

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Thanks Jonathan,

Looking at the 1901 census returns there seems to be a number of artillerymen there - those I've seen all appear to be married and living with their spouses in the barracks, so again I wonder if it simply reflects Maidstone being the only local barracks that could provide married quarters.

cheers

Steve

I have a feeling it may have been more specific than that. These artillerymen must have had a role at Maidstone.

This whole part of Kent was largely service-based. As well as the barracks at Maidstone you had barracks at Brompton, Naval dockyard at Chatham, barracks at Sittingbourne, Gravesend, Sheerness etc. The War Office and Admiralty owned land all along northern Kent.

Regards,

Jonathan S

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  • 2 weeks later...

Bit of an update - my mans pre-war service papers survive at the NA, and I now have a copy of them (thanks Mike!). It seems around this time he wasn't with a battery; in early 1898 he was briefly with the ammunition column of 3rd Corps Troop, and then Ammunition Park (RA) No. 3, where he would have been in 1901. So I can only assume Ammunition Park No. 3 was at or near Maidstone!

cheers

Steve

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Thanks for that information Ron, very much appreciated!

In that case I wonder why artillery gunners would have been based at Maidstone?

Kind regards

Steve

As Spike Milligan said 'everyone's got to be somewhere!'

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