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374th Siege Battery Royal Garrison Artillery

Tony Rednall

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I am trying to research the following 129018 Gunner Archibald Ewen Noble RGA (1888-1967) who was born in South Leith, Edinburgh, Midlothian. Unfortunately he has no papers but the medal roll for the BWM & Victory lists his unit as 374 SGE BTY RGA.


I am having great difficulty finding this unit and the only reference I have been able to find was the following in an online commemoration of T/1582 Armament Staff Sergeant Douglas Arthur Elliot Army Ordnance Corps

Which states 374th Siege Battery Royal Garrison Artillery operated two railway mounted 12-inch howitzers.


In early 1918 it was located on a railway line near Villers-Faucon, behind the British lines south-west of Cambrai. At 9.40 a.m. on Thursday 21st March, with the German Spring Offensive the 374th Battery position was deluged with gas and high explosives. The German infantry made rapid progress under the cover of a dense mist and even the heavy artillery positions were in danger of being overrun. As the track behind the battery had been broken it was impossible to move the guns, so in the evening the decision was taken to destroy them and to retreat. Elliott was killed during the day as were three gunners of 374th Battery.

A search of one volume of the medal roll turned up another 9 men who had 374 Sge Bty RGA listed as their unit for anyone who has looked at the medal roll this is more helpful than the usual entry of  ‘Base Details RGA’. When I searched for service papers for the 9 two had papers which suggested the Battery was formed from men posted in March/April 1917.


It has been suggested to me that 374th Siege Battery, RGA went to the Western Front on 15 August 1917 armed with two 12-inch howitzers with road mountings.


I understand that if they were a railway battery they would have most likely operated the Elswick Ordnance Company made 12-inch railway howitzer either Mark I, Mark III or Mark V. I see the Imperial War Museum does have a photo of a captured MkIII and MkI although no information online of when these guns were taken. I also understand that a battery would have operated a pair of such guns.


I would be grateful if anyone could confirm that 374 Siege Battery RGA did operate railway guns and that they were forced to destroy their guns and retreat. Also if anyone knows what they did afterwards I think they were still operating as a battery at the end of the war.





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I  don't know what particularly is in it, but under Army Troops the National Archive has one entry that reads 545 Siege Battery Royal Garrison Artillery Jan-Sept 1918. 499 Siege Battery Royal Garrison Artillery Nov 1917. 494 Siege Battery Royal Garrison Artillery Apr 1918. 374 Siege Battery Royal Garrison Artillery Sept-Nov 1917. 243 Siege Battery Royal Garrison Artillery Apr 1917-July 1918. 222 Siege Battery Royal Garrison Artillery Aug 1916-Aug 1917



(My highlight). War diaries can currently be downloaded for free from the National Archive, so might be worth a look,


Edited by PRC
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This post outlines the destruction of 374 SB Guns


During the March Offensive the rail lines behind 374 had been broken which meant they couldn’t get the guns away and therefore, on the night of the 21st March they destroyed the guns prior to abandoning them and retiring. 374 Siege along with the rest of the VII Corps Ha had been under intense counter-battery fire. The more forward 6” batteries also taking machine gun fire such was the advance.

I’ve attached a small map which covers the area in which 374 were located, square 24a. They would have been on the part of the line cutting across the top left hand corner of this square.

I appreciate I can’t be 100% certain but given the number written on the rail how. in the painting, 379, being possibly 374 and the actions and dates it certainly is a good candidate. Also the March offensive mostly took place in the 3rd & 5th Army areas, this alone precludes a number of the suggested batteries.

If you are to go to Kew, then a look in the 5 Brigade RGA & 47 Brigade RGA diaries for this period would be a good idea.





From <


The personnel were without guns so they ended up being assigned to take the captured Amiens Gun to Paris.


Amiens Gun - 374 SB Paris - Northumbrian Gunner meanderings - Great War Forum

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Both of you thank you for the leads - Stuart what can I say thank you for the confirmation, map and the additional information on the Amiens gun I loved the picture including the battery mascot - I appreciate the time taken.



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