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The Great War (1914-1918) Forum

Remembered Today:

Royal Garrison Artillery


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Researching the men from my village who served, I note two or three of them are recorded as part of Royal Garrison Artillery.

I am assuming they were pre-war Regulars, imagining this branch was not open to 1914 + volunteers . Am I correct or was recruitment similar to that of other branches?

Others served wtih Hampshire Regiment which seems more natural to me, as the county regiment.

Many thanks.


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Men from your village could have elected to join the Royal Garrison Artillery as Regulars, prior to WW1. Members of the RGA served both in the U.K., and overseas in the British Empire.

Here is a brief summary.



" At the end of the 19th century the Royal Garrison Artillery, which was part of the Royal Artillery, was divided into 3 Divisions;

The Eastern Division, HQ at Dover. Depot companies at Dover and Great Yarmouth.

The Southern Division, HQ at Portsmouth. Depot companies at Gosport and Seaforth (near Liverpool).

The Western Division, HQ at Devonport. Depot companies at Plymouth and Scarborough.

In 1900, the Garrison Artillery was composed of 104 service companies, forty of them in the UK, 37 in various colonies of the Empire and 27 in India. A company was commanded by a major with 6 or so officers, around 10 NCOs and 100 to 200 men.

The uniform of Garrison Artillery was the same as Field Artillery except that they were more likely to wear trousers instead of boots and breeches. On their shoulder straps were the initials of the name of their Division and the number of their company.

The RGA developed from fortress-based artillery located on British coasts. From 1914 when the army possessed very little heavy artillery it grew into a very large component of the British forces. It was armed with heavy, large calibre guns and howitzers that were positioned some way behind the front line and had immense destructive power.

The Heavy Batteries of the RGA
The Siege Batteries of the RGA
The Mountain Batteries of the RGA
The Anti-Aircraft Artillery of the RGA
The Royal Marine Artillery
RGA Companies at home and in Empire. "
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war time enlistments could certainly land up in the RGA, and indeed in surprising places. A local storeman for a shoe factory who lived a couple of streets away from me in Leicester landed up in the RGA in Hongkong I recently saw... But they provided large numbers of heavy artillery ['Heavy Batteries', 'Siege Batteries' and later Anti Aircraft units} units in France and elsewhere. If you can trace their RGA service numbers there are some members who have a detailed knowledge of RGA numbering and may be able to suggest when they may have enlisted and likely service - assuming their service records have not survived...

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Thank you both for the clarification.

In hope, service number so far are:

40775 Earle Roy Merritt

41339 Frederick E Blanks

Also (I think this is the correct one) 251223 James Tee, Royal Field Artillery

Our village is about 10 miles from Portsmouth, so this proximity may have been a factor.

Thanks again.


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Both the 4xxxx numbers *could* be prewar RGA. the RFA number is a 1915 or more likely 1916. as Earle Merritt was later a serjeant it seems ... i would check the 1911census returns and see if his name comes up in an 'military' listing. As you say plenty of RGA units in the forts around portsmouth and the solent

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Yes Merritt & Banks both technically prewar regulars but only just (i.e. 2nd qtr and 3rd qtr 1914 attestations). Sgt Merritt is recorded as DoW in the service of 255 Sge Bty in the vicinity of Locre, and you will find Driver Blanks in the book ‘9th Heavy Battery RGA 1914-1919’ along with a photograph as he was a member of their football team.



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This information is incredibly helpful, thank you very much.

Was Merritt not rather young to become a Sergeant or does this reflect the situation at the time i e loss of older, senior NCOs?

I have ordered a copy of the book mentioned; I have a feelinging photographs may be a rarity for these men.

I may be back ...


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