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RGA 4 gun Siege Batt


paul leeson
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Does any one know what the theoretical full strength of a 4 gun RGA Seige Battery would have been. I am curious about the mechanised batteries [ie no horses] formed from 1916 onwards.

I have been told by a Pal that 140SB had 36 casualties in one month as so am wondering what percentage that would have been.

Thank you in advance.

Paul

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That seems a lot for just 4 guns. Do you have a breakdown of their roles ?

Thank you.

Paul.

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Thank you for the explaination. SHIFTs for 24 hr working, that had never occured to me. Its amazing what I have learned from this forum.

Thank you.

Paul.

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Although that may be a theoretical establishment, the RGA Siege Battery in which I am interested, (160 SB) with its 4 BL 25cwt howitzers left Newbury for Southampton on 17th September 1917 with a total strength of 130 men and officers, according to its War Diary. Already some 40 men short of the official establishment.

Peter

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Peter,

Possibly without its signallers who may have been attahced from elsewhere eg Catterick. Also it was normal to send an advance party to sort billets and make contact with the HAG etc.

Roop

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I am not certain for Siege Battery allocation but normally a battery would have 22 signallers and NCO's. On rechecking my numbers this would make about 152 men all told. The 170 men I noted earlier included men that wer enot mobilised so is a bit of a red herring, I apologise.

Roop

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Hello,

Does anyone have a full breakdown of a SB in 1917? ie, how many Cooks, Clerks gunners and gun numbers [Layers etc per gun].

Also, is there a standard layout for a Gun position and how does it fit into the layout of an RGA Brigade layout?

Regards,

Stewart

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Stewart

The following is extracted from an official publication dated Sept’16 which was passed onto me a little while ago by ORORKEP (PAUL)

Looking forward at the Distribution of the Army Sept’17, the Establishment of a 4 Gun 6” How (mechanised) Siege battery is 136, so the following details from Sept’16 still appear relevant a year on.

6” Battery Establishment

Major 1

Captain 1

Subalterns 4

BSM 1

BQMS 1

Serjeants 5

Smiths 2

Wheeler 1

Trumpeter 2

Corporals 6

Bombardiers 6

Gunners 100 Includes 8 acting Bombardiers, and 21 Signallers and Telephonists

Batman 6

Total 136

Attached personnel

Armament Artificers 1

ASC. MT

Subalterns 2

Sargeants 3

Batmen 2

Drivers lorries 34

Motor car 1

Spare 15% 6

Total attached 49

Battery total including attached - 185

Stuart

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I like that Stuart, first time I've actually seen it written down. Traction engined wheeled batteries would not require a wheeler of course, and motorised units no smiths. 21 signallers includes 1 bombardier I presume, 5 sergeants would be insufficient for 24 hour operations, so this must have changed towards the end of the war, I have photos with 8 sergeants for a four gun battery, plus 1 BSM, 1 BQMS.

Roop

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Roop

My post lost its formatting on being posted and is not as clear as it might be.

The Drivers of the ASC.MT numbered 41; 34 lorry drivers, 1 car driver and spare drivers at 15% = 6.

I missed out the note showing 3 Corporals and 3 Lance Corporals included in the above driver numbers

The photo you have would be correct for a four Gun 6" Howitzer battery at 8 sergeants; 5 battery sergeants, 3 ASC.MT sergeants, 1 BSM and 1 BQMS

The Distribution of the Army Monthly Returns is interesting with regard to the Heavy Artillery in that it not only shows the Establishment of the batteries, different between Siege and Heavy batteries and different again between horse drawn and mechanised, but also the Effectives.

The Effectives number goes up and down like a yo-yo as the War progresses, men being replaced from base units or returning to the battery following illness or injury, some of these numbers are at times remarkably low. My Grandfathers battery, a four gun 6" Howitzer battery was down to 78 all ranks at one point. However, when you realise that the battery had lost two guns to shell fire the above number is enough to see the battery in action albeit as a section. The number of batteries that operated with less than their full number of guns, be it 4 or 6, was at times far higher than you might imagine.

Stuart

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This is all great stuff - thanks. Following on from Stuarts's question, are the cooks, clerks and gun layers etc all lumped in as gunners ?

Thank you.

Paul.

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Hello Paul

Yes, and the signallers. Here is an extract from War Establishments, dated Sep 1916, for this type of battery:

Battery: Major, Captain, 4 Subalterns,

BSM, BQMS, 5 Serjeants, 2 Smiths, 1 Wheeler, 2 Trumpeters, 6 Corporals, 6 Bombardiers, 100 Gunners, 6 Batmen.

Attached: Armament Artificer AOC.

Transport personnel: 2 Subalterns, 3 Serjeants, 3 Corporals, 38 Drivers, 2 Batmen.

I think that they operated a two-shift, rather than a three-shift, system. A book on 138 Heavy Battery includes a comment that "the 'hows' have double detachments." For four guns with a crew of ten each per shift (including NCOs) and double shifts, the figure of 100 gunners seems to have scope to include signallers and other non-crew men.

Ron

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Would I be pushing my luck to ask if anyone can say what was the establishment of gun tractors, ammo wagons, staf cars etc for the mechanised battery.

Thank you in advance.

Paul.

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Hello Paul

I can't help you from my own notes, I'm afraid, but if no-one else here can help you I can give you a file reference at Kew where you should find the answer. Whether you fancy a trip there, especially in current weather, is up to you!

Ron

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Ron

Excellent stuff as always, you mention "A book on 138 Heavy Battery includes a comment that "the 'hows' have double detachments." Do you have the title to hand?

Cheers

Phil

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Paul

Transport for a mechanised 6” How battery consisted of:-

1 motor car

7 motorcycles

13 3-ton lorries

4 quadruple driven lorries

35 drivers

Broken down as follows:-

For Guns and equipment….4 quadruple driven lorries….8 drivers

For ammunition….8 x 3-ton lorries…..16 drivers

For baggage and stores….3 x 3-ton lorries….6 drivers

For personnel….1 x car….1 x driver

For personnel….7 x motorcycles

For supplies….1 x 3-ton lorry….2 drivers

Spare…. 1 x 3-ton lorry….2 drivers

Each battery supplied with one water tank.

2 x 3-ton lorries for platforms and 4 drivers to be added to the above if a 30 cwt battery

Again this is taken from ORORKEP’s copy of War Establishments part VII, Sep’16

Stuart

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That's great information. It's the sort of thing that you spend time trying to find and never seem to get to the bottom of.

Many thanks for taking the time to post it.

Regards,

Stewart

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you mention "A book on 138 Heavy Battery includes a comment that "the 'hows' have double detachments." Do you have the title to hand?

Phil

"The Hampstead Heavies" by Walter Wright. Privately printed in the 1920s for the members of the Battery, so you may find copies difficult to find outside the Copyright Libraries. Wright was a member of the battewry HQ - a signaller, IIRC - and a friend of mine was the daughter of one of the Gunners who was killed in May 1918.

Ron

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Ron

Thanks for that, I'll see if we have a copy in the Library at Firepower.

Phil

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Thank you Gents one and all. When I first asked the question I never expected to find out so much.

Paul.

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