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The Great War (1914-1918) Forum

Coastal batteries/fortresses/garrisons etc.


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I wonder if anyone has any information on coastal batteries, searchlight units,anti-aircraft batteries, etc.?

How many of these coastal defence/fortresses/garrisons/observation posts were there?

What sort of numbers of men are we talkng about - Regular Army RGA and RE men, TF RGA and RE men, and others?

I'm trying to get an idea of just how many men in total might have been allocated to these duties throughout the war. Approximate numbers will suffice.

The only definitive information I have comes from ""Defending Albion", where author Mitchinson quotes "In April 1917 the total number of RGA personnel serving the coastal batteries amounted to 527 officers and 9910 ORs." But this is only one piece of the jigsaw.

I'd appreciate anything that anyone can come up with.

Thank you,


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Trying to determine the number of men devoted to coast defense in World War I is like trying to figure out the population of a railway station. The task is not impossible, but you need to be careful how you count those who are just passing through.

A good place to start is with the peacetime organisation of the coastal defence, which is well described on this website.

Soon after mobilisation, the coast artillery companies of the Regular Army began to serve as training and replacement units of sorts. They took in more recruits and newly commissioned officers than had previously been customary and provided officers, non-commissioned officers and trained men to siege and heavy batteries that were being formed.

The mobilised coast artillery companies of the Territorial Force did not form second-line counterparts in the way that most other Territorial Force units did. They did, however, take in new members. This allowed them to take responsibility for duties that had previously been performed by the Regular Army companies and thus enabled the Regular Army companies to accomodate a larger number of untrained officers and men. Later in the war, the Territorial Force companies also provided drafts for the creation of new siege batteries.

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