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Royal Field Artillery experts


shutt
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I am getting a bit confused trying to trace my great uncles movements before he was sent to France, using the few letters I have from the time. I understand that the "Soldiers Died" gives him as being in the Royal Horse Artillery and the Royal Field Artillery. I have no other evidence for the RHA. I do have a fibre ID tag with the number 185554 & RFI stamped on it. His medal card and another tag have his number as 651943, which I am informed would have him as being with either the 257th Brigade 1/1 (Lowland) Division or the 325th Brigade, 2/1 (Lowland) Division when it was assigned to him in May/June 1916. He went on to join the 383rd Battery, 179th Brigade RFI in October 1916 so far as I can determine, and was on their Battery photo taken at Redford Barracks before they left for France. I have an envelope bearing his writing addressed to his parents and post marked "April 1917 Edinburgh". But just to confuse things, a letter to him from a friend dated December 1916, refers to his training at Swanage.

My first question is whether the Lowland unit was based at Redford Barracks at the time he joined it. Next, were the 179th at Swanage at all before going to Redford Barracks. Finally, were the RHA and RFI seperate units or were they basically the same thing ?. Any help would be much appreciated again.

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Are you sure the initials are "R.F.I." and not "R.F.A."? The RFA and the RHA were in the same branch of the RA during the Great War that was denoted as the 'Royal Horse and Field Artillery'. 179th Brigade, RFA served with the 39th Division until 30 January 1917. It was broken up on 18 January 1917. The brigade trained at Aldershot and at Milford Camp near Goldalming prior to embarking for France. Regards, Dick Flory

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Sorry Dick, it should have been RFA, guess my brain was not in gear last night !. Still a bit confused, not easy this research lark is it, especially as my knowledge of the army is somewhat lacking !. Would I be correct in thinking that when he was with the "Lowland", they were at Redford Barracks at Edinburgh. Seems to tie in with the listing of unit locations kindly posted by another member today. His time with the 383rd Battery, 179th Brigade, throws up a question or two. The letter I have from one of my gt uncles friends from the 383rd to his sister, appears to have been written after the Armistice, as he refers to the war now being over. He sent her a photo of the Battery, and says how few of the originals are left compared to the photograph they had taken at Redford Barracks. He signs it, followed by 383rd Battery, 179th Brigade RFA. (Did you mean 18th November for the date the 179th was broken up ?). I guess from that the Battery must have been at Edinburgh at some point, before training at Aldershot and Goldalming ?. I know from another letter, my gt uncle trained somewhere near Swanage in 1916, but have to check a map as I am unsure if that is anywhere near Aldershot or Goldalming.

Thanks for your help again Dick, very much appreciated.

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There are two episodes in the life of 179th Brigade, RFA:

1. 179th Brigade was formed at Lee Green and joined the 39th Division at Aldershot on 1-2 Oct 15. It underwent training at Aldershot and at Milford Camp. The brigade disembarked at Havre, France on 5 March 1916. At that time the brigade was formed of four 4-gun batteries designated as A, B, C, and D batteries. The brigade served in France and Flanders with the 39th Divisional Artillery until being broken up on 18 Jan 17. A Battery became A/277 Army Field Artillery Brigade, RFA; B Battery became C/119 Brigade, RFA; the right section of C Battery became part of D (H)/174 Brigade, RFA; the left section became part of D (H)/186 Brigade, RFA; the right section of D Battery became part of D (H)/277 Brigade, RFA; and the left section of D Battery became part of D (H)/119 A F A Brigade, RFA; HQ, 179th Brigade was absorbed by the 39th Divisional Ammunition Column.

2. 179th Army Brigade, RFA was formed in the UK and went out to the Western Front on 11 May 17. It was formed of 383, 462, 463, and 464 Batteries (all with 18-pdrs).

The War Diaries of 179th Brigade can be found at The National Archives as follows: (1) for the period March 1916 to January 1917 under WO95/2574 and (2) for the period May 1917 to June 1919 under WO95/538.

Regards, Dick Flory

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  • 5 years later...

The howitzer designation was shortlived. 462 to 466 Bty were armed with 6 x 18pdr each under ACI 2403 of 1916, dated 22-12-16, having being raised at Bordon from 14-11-16 as 4.5 in Howitzers (ACI 2203 of 1916).

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