Artillery Regiments That Served With The 7th Armoured Division
During its history the 7th Armoured Division many Artillery Regiments units served with the Division and it's Brigades. I have tried to include as many as possible with as much information as possible, but I apologise if I have omitted any.
This page will provide more details of the history of the various the Artillery Regiments that served with the Division.
Brief History Of Artillery
The story of artillery goes back to pre-Roman times when slings, catapults and ballistas were used to project missiles. Later, longbows propelled arrows both as direct and indirect fire.
The English first used guns in battle alongside longbows at Crécy in 1346. Since then it has used them in almost every war and campaign it has throughout the world, but it was almost four hundred years before a permanent force of artillery was formed.
In peacetime, guns were kept in castles and were looked after by Gunners, skilled in their manufacture and so most knowledgeable in their use. In wartime, men were recruited and trained into a Trayne of Artillery, until on 26 May 1716 the first two Companies of Artillery were formed by Royal Warrant at Woolwich.
The guns of the Royal Artillery are the Regiment's Colours, in the same way that the flags and guidons of infantry regiments are theirs, leading them into battle.
The Colours represent pride in the Regiment, so the guns are protected and retained at all costs. If the situation demands that they are left behind they must be disabled or destroyed.
The gun depicted on the cap badge is a 9pdr Rifled Muzzle Loader of about 1871, and the rammer used to ram the charge into the muzzle is also seen, to the left of the carriage wheel.
"Ubique", surmounting the gun, means "Everywhere", and the Motto below Quo Fas et Gloria Ducunt, "Where right and glory lead us".
Prior to 1900 artillery batteries were independent units, being attached to brigades and divisions as necessary, but early in the 1900's Brigades of Artillery were formed consisting of 2 to 4 batteries. In the 1930's these Brigades became the Regiments we now know.
Artillery Regiments, (including Anti-Tank and Anti-Aircraft)
For the following units, please read the information provided against each parent regiment. Each section will provide as much information as possible including regimental badges, associations, war diaries, museums, web sites and information available from the Army today.
The Regiments detailed are;
Royal Horse Artillery Regiments
Although part of the Royal Regiment of Artillery, the RHA wore their own cap badge in the Second World War as show above. The 'Grenade' badge on the right is the one worn on the collar of the uniform by all RHA and RA units.
1st Royal Horse Artillery
2nd Royal Horse Artillery
3rd Royal Horse Artillery
4th Royal Horse Artillery
5th Royal Horse Artillery
RA Regimental Museum,
Old Royal Military Academy,
102nd Royal Horse Artillery (Northumberland Hussars)
Museum - Northumberland Hussars (102 RHA/RA)
Newcastle Upon Tyne
0191 232 6789
106th Royal Horse Artillery (Lancashire Hussars)
106th RHA - Lancashire County & Regimental Museum
(Duke of Lancaster's Own Yeomanry, Lancashire Hussars Yeomanry, Queen's Lancashire Regiment, 14th/20th King's Hussars).
Tel: 01772 264075
The 1st Regiment Royal Artilleryis the senior Regiment in the British Army when on parade with its guns. The Regiment has a long and proud history stretching back over 200 years and fought in virtually every major action since its formation.
It served as part of the 1st Support Group for 1st Armoured Division, in the BEF, during the Fall of France, along side 2nd RHA, where it was 'lost' at St. Valery, in May 1940, but later reformed back in the UK. In May 1941 it served in the Tobruk Garrison, during 'Operation Brevity', along side M and J Batteries of 3rd RHA. Latter it served with 7th Armoured Division during the Gazala battles, having fought with 2nd Armoured Division, during Rommel's first offensive in March 1941.
The unit was formed in March 1901 as 5th Brigade Royal Horse Artillery, with A Bty in Meerut, India and BB Bty at Christchurch. In 1904 it was based at Woolwich. In October 1906 it was renamed 1st Brigade Royal Horse Artillery, serving in South Africa in 1911.
In 1920 it served in Iraq, returning to the UK in 1923. It the served in Egypt, in 1931, before being mechanised in Aldershot in 1936.
In November 1938 it was re-titled 1st Field Regiment Royal Horse Artillery.
It was in the UK as the start of the war and was mobilised in Bulford consisting of two eight gun batteries A/E and B/O. Although part of 1st Support Group of 1st Armoured Division, it deployed as an Army regiment because the armoured division was not ready. As such the Regiment, less A/E, joined 51st Highland Division, on the Saar Front in the French Sector in April 1940. In June 1940, the Regiment was captured with that Division at St Valery after severe fighting, whilst A/E Battery, also heavily engaged got out at Dunkirk. The Regiment reformed in North Wales around the survivors of A/E Battery and many others who managed to escape from France and went to Egypt in October 1940. It was still organised as A/E and B/O Batteries until February 1942 when O Battery left it to join 6th RHA, at which time its was re-organised as A, B and E batteries.
It served with the 7th Armoured Division during the Gazala in April 1942, before joining 10th Armoured Division in October 1942, at El Alamein and later Syria/Iraq. After being re-equipped with US M7 Priest 105mm self propelled guns, it move to Italy in 1944 where it served until the end of the war.
After the war it returned to Egypt equipped in 1947, before briefly serving in the UK in 1951 and the moving to Munster, Germany, in 1952.
It was rename 1st Medium Regiment Royal Horse Artillery (March 1964), 1st Light Regiment Royal Horse Artillery (September 1965) and 1st Field Regiment Royal Horse Artillery (June 1966).
In April 1993 O Headquarters Bty (The Rocket Troop) & L (Néry) Bty Joined the Regiment after the disbandment of 2nd Regiment Royal Artillery and November 1999 - N Bty (The Eagle Troop) moved from 3 RHA and amalgamates with L Bty to become L/N (Néry) Bty (The Eagle Troop).
2nd Regiment Royal Artillery;In 1939, 2nd Royal Horse Artillery Regiment, consisted of H/I, L/N Batteries and was based in England. It served in France in support of 1st Armoured Division, along side 1st RHA, and was evacuated at Dunkirk. It later served with 1st Armoured Division in Greece, in 1941. It the served with 7th Armoured Division during 'Operation Crusader' in November 1941, before returning to 1st Armoured Division in April 1942. It remained with 1st Armoured Division until it was transferred to 8th Army from 1st Armoured Division in September 1944 in Italy.
The unit was originally formed in March 1901 as the 6th Brigade Royal Horse Artillery, consisting of B Battery in Lucknow, India and C Battery in Mhow, India. In 1902 it returned to Ipswich, in Suffolk, moving to Woolwich, in 1902. In Oct 1906 it was re- titled 2nd Brigade Royal Horse Artillery.
In 1919 it consisted of C Battery in Risalpur, India, H Battery in Sialkot, India, & K Battery in Meerut, India, moving to Egypt in 1926.
In November 1938 it was re-titled 2nd Field Regiment Royal Horse Artillery and by September 1939 it consisted of H/I, L/N Batteries in support of 1st Armoured Division. It was later re-organised as H, I and L Batteries. It the saw service in 1942 in Middle East, Greece, Italy with both 1st & 2nd Armoured Divisions.
In December 1951 O Battery joined the Regiment and in February 1958 it was re-titled 2nd Field Regiment Royal Artillery, and N Battery joined the Regiment. It the moved to Malaya being equipped with the Sexton SPG.
In November 1961 it was re-titled 2nd Airportable Regiment Royal Artillery, and joined 3rd Division in Cyprus equipped with pack Howitzer. In March 1964 it was renamed 2nd Light Regiment Royal Artillery and then 2nd Field Regiment Royal Artillery in August 1965 when it joined 6th Brigade, Germany.
In December 1993 it was placed into Suspended Animation.
3rd Regiment Royal Horse Artillery'shistory dates back to 27th August 1938 when it was formed at Abassia Barracks, in Cairo, from 3rd Brigade Royal Horse Artillery. When formed it was armed with World War One vintage 3.7 inch Howitzers, but by May 1940 it was half equipped with 25-pdr Field guns and half with 37mm Bofors Anti-Tank guns. Since that time the Regiment served in the desert campaigns of 1939 - 1943 and the North West European campaign of 1944 - 1945 supporting the 7th Armoured Division, throughout the entire war. Originally, it consisted of two batteries (M/P and D/J), which soon became four as D, J, M and P batteries in its anti-tank roles, which was reduced to three on 15th March 1941, when P Battery left the regiment and in name went home to the UK to be reformed as part of 6 Regiment RHA. Many NCO's and men were absorbed by other Batteries. This left just D, J and M Batteries. It continued as an Anti-Tank Regiment until 1942 when it was converted to a Field Regiment. This is the role that it then served with the Division until the end of the war, mainly supporting the Infantry of 131st (Queen's) Lorried Infantry Brigade. It had the honour of leading the Division in the victory parade through Berlin, in July 1945 and also firing the 18 gun salute in honour Winston Churchill, which started the parade.
The unit was formed in March 1901 as the 10th Brigade Royal Horse Artillery, consisting of D Bty in Umballa, India & E Bty in Kirkee, India, being renamed 3rd Brigade Royal Horse Artillery, in October 1906.
It was disbanded in September 1914, but reformed in March 1916.
In 1919 it consisted of D Bty in Lucknow, India, F Bty in Umballa, India & J Bty in Secunderabad, India.
By September 1937 the unit was in Egypt and in August 1938 it was renamed 3rd Field Regiment Royal Horse Artillery. Consisting of D/J, and M/P Batteries.
In 1955 it returned to Libya, the scene of many of its wartime engagements, equipped with the Sexton SPG. In February 1958, C Bty joined the Regiment from 5 RHA and M Bty was placed in suspended animation.
In December 1961 it was renamed 3rd Airportable Regiment Royal Horse Artillery, followed by 3rd Light Regiment Royal Horse Artillery (March 1964) and 3rd Medium Regiment Royal Horse Artillery (May 1965). In Apr 1966 it was re-titled 3rd Field Regiment Royal Horse Artillery.
In 1975, M Battery was revived, but in 1978, 3 RHA was disbanded.
In April 1984 the Regiment reformed as 3rd Field Regiment in Paderborn, West Germany with C, D and J (Sidi Rezegh) Batteries , but M Battery was again placed in suspended animation.
In 1993, N Battery joined the Regiment from 2 Field Regt RA, M Battery reformed as M/HQ Bty and the Regiment was re-titled 3rd Regiment Royal Horse Artillery.
Finally in 1999, N Battery (The Eagle Troop) left the regiment and amalgamated with L (Nery) Battery and joined 1 RHA.
The Regiment continues it relationship with the heritage of the Desert Rats as it provided artillery support for the modern 7th Armoured Brigade and is only only RHA Regiment to be allowed to wear a red flash behind its cap badge in honour of the VC won at Sidi Rezegh.
Click here to read the War Diaries of 3rd Regiment, RHA, for 1943 and 1944, though many months are missing.
4th Regiment Royal Horse Artillerywas formed at Helmieh in Egypt in May 1939 from three batteries drawn from independent commands in India. The batteries were C Battery, F (Sphinx) Battery and G Battery (Mercer's Troop), with the latter as F/G Battery. It was initially equipped with the 18/25 pdr MK VP. When 'G' Battery left in 1939 and was sent home to the UK 'on paper' to join 5th Regiment RHA, with the Regiment consisting of C and F Batteries until it was reorganised into three batteries it was joined by DD Battery, which was formed from C and F Batteries in October 1941.
4th Regiment RHA fired the opening rounds of the campaign in North Africa on 8 December 1940 against the Italians at Sidi Barrani. During this time it was commanded by Lt-Colonel 'Jock' Campbell, who later was to command the Support Group and the Division itself. As part of 7th Armoured Division, the Regiment was involved in numerous subsequent battles in the desert, being re-equipped with 25pdr MK1 guns, towed by the 4x4 Quad and Limber during this period. These included Bardia, the capture of Tobruk, Beda Fomm, Sidi Rezegh and the withdrawal from Gazala to El Alamein. It the took part in the Battle of El Alamein as part of 1st Armoured Division, later taking part in the battle for the Mareth Line and the capture of Tunisia. With the Germans defeated in North Africa, the Regiment returned to England in November 1943 to train for the invasion of Europe as part of 5th A.G.R.A under I Corps. It landed in France on 8th June 1944 and as an AGRA unit it supported many units in many action in Normandy, including 15th (Scottish), 53rd (Welsh) Divisions, plus also 4th Armoured Brigade and 11th Armoured Division, and periodically 7th Armoured Division. On 25th June 1944 the Regiment was permanently attached to 4th Armoured Brigade for the rest of the war and by 5th September 1944 it had converted from towed 25 pdrs to Sexton Self-propelled Guns. It continued to see action right up until the end of the war, where it halted outside Hamburg.
The unit was formed in March 1901 as the 9th Brigade Royal Horse Artillery consisting of F Bty in Sialkot, India & J Bty in Bangalore, India, being renamed 4th Brigade Royal Horse Artillery in October 1906.
It returned to the UK in 1908 but was disbanded in September 1914, only to be reformed in October 1914 serving with 3rd Cavalry Div (Western Front). By 1919 it consisted of N, J & L Batteries, but was disbanded in October that same year.
In May 1939 it was reformed as 4th Field Regiment Royal Horse Artillery, comprising of C Battery, F (Sphinx) Battery and G Battery (Mercer's Troop). Being equipped with the 25 pdr Howitzer. In 1939 G Battery left to serve in 5th Regiment Royal Horse Artillery and DD Battery was formed to replace it as part of the re-organisation of the Royal Artillery after Dunkirk, in October 1941.
In 1942 the Regiment left 7th Armoured Division at the end of September and joined 1st Armoured Division until the end of hostilities in Tunisia in May 1943. In November 1943 it returned to England and in June 1944 it landed in France, as part of 5th AGRA (Army Group Royal Artillery) under I Corps. On 25th June 1944 the Regiment joined 4th Armoured Brigade for the rest of the war.
After the war it re-titled 4th Anti-Tank Regiment Royal Horse Artillery in April 1947, but was re-equipped with the Sexton SPG in 1950. In 1949 the Regiment received a great honour in that it was chosen to provide the Guard of Honour for the dedication of the 1939-1945 addition to the RA War Memorial at Hyde Park Corner in London.
It was re-titled 4th Field Regiment Royal Horse Artillery in 1951, with P Battery joining the Regiment, in December of that year.
In February 1958 - G and I Battery's joined the Regiment, but in June 1961 it was renamed 4th Field Regiment Royal Artillery and it lost F, G and I Batteries to the newly formed 7th Parachute Regiment RHA. However it gained 29 (Corunna), 88 (Arracan) and 97 (Lawson's Company) as its batteries.
It was re-titled 4th Light Regiment Royal Artillery in August 1964, the 4th Field Regiment Royal Artillery in August 1966 and 4th Field Regiment Royal Artillery, in November 1983.
In 1993, 52nd (Niagara) Battery joined the Regiment following the disbandment of 45th Regiment RA and 29th (Corunna) Battery combined with 3rd Battery (from 47th Regiment RA) to become 3rd/29th (Corunna) Battery and Headquarters Battery became 94th (New Zealand) Headquarters Battery. It was the re-titled 4th Regiment Royal Artillery.
5thRegiment Royal Horse Artillery fought in the Fall of France, as part of 3 Corps, losing E and F troops in the process. When it was reorganised CC Battery was created out of G and K Batteries. The Regiment then served in the UK until it sailed to the Middle East as part of 8th Support Group of 8th Armoured Division. Upon arrival the Regiment supported units of 1st Army Tank Brigade until the end of August 1842. It the served with 8th Armoured Brigade from El Alamein to Libya and Tunisia, when the Brigade took over from 22nd Armoured Brigade in 7th Armoured Division, while it re-equipped, in November 1942. The Regiment then remained with 7th Armoured Division after the return of 22nd Armoured Brigade in February 1943 and served with until the end of the war. After the end of the war in North Africa the Regiment remained there with the rest of the Division, until going to Italy in September 1943. At the end of November 1943, the Regiment was taken out the the line, with the rest of the Division and started back for the UK in December, arriving at Gourock, Scotland in January, 1944. In February and March 1944 it was re-equipped with Sexton Self-Propelled Guns so that it could better support the armour on the move. It the served with the Division until the end of the war, supporting 22nd Armoured Brigade in actions such as Villers-Bocage and The Battle of the Brigade Box, where it fired over open sights at the advancing Panzer Grenadiers and German armour. When the Division moved to Berlin after the end of the war the Regiment and took part in the Victory Parade through Berlin in July 1945. During the period the Colonel in charge of the Regiment referred to 'G' Battery as his 'Good Boys', 'K' Battery as his 'Bad Boys' and 'CC' Battery as his 'Children'. The latter was evident when 'CC' Battery suffered such heavy casualties at El Aghelia that the Colonel almost cried!
The unit was formed in March 1901 as the 11th Brigade Royal Horse Artillery, comprising of G Battery & O Battery stationed in South Africa., but by 1903, G Battery in Bangalore, India & O Battery in Lucknow, India. It was renamed 5th Brigade Royal Horse Artillery, in October 1906.
It returned to the UK in 1911 and by 1919, it comprised of E, G & O Batteries all stationed in Aldershot. It served in India in 1920, before returning to the UK in 1922. It was then disbanded in October 1926.
It was reformed in November 1939 as 5th Field Regiment Royal Horse Artillery, with 'G' Battery and 'K' Battery, and after service in France, in late 1940 'CC' Battery formed from 'G' and 'K' Batteries.
1942-45 The Regiment saw service in Middle East, Italy and North West Europe initially with 8th Armoured Brigade and then the 7th Armoured Division which it joined in November 1942 until the end of the war.
In 1948 it returned to the UK.
In 1958 it was renamed 5th Field Regiment Royal Artillery and P and Q Batteries joined the Regiment.
It was re-titled 5th Airportable Regiment Royal Artillery, in December 1961; 5th Light Regiment Royal Artillery, in March 1964; 5th Field Regiment Royal Artillery, in August 1964 and 5th Light Regiment Royal Artillery in August 1966.
It changed its name again in November 1972 when it was re-titled 5th Heavy Regiment Royal Artillery and equipped with M107.
In April 1993 it became 5th Regiment Royal Artillery, with Q Battery re-titled Q Headquarter Battery and 4 Battery merged with 73 Battery to become 4/73 (Sphinx) Battery.
Click here to read the War Diaries of 5th Field Regiment, RHA, for 1944 and 1946, though many months are missing.
102nd Regiment Royal Horse Artillery (Northumberland Hussars)served with 2nd Support Group, as part of 2nd Armoured Division in North Africa, before joining the 1st Armoured Brigade in Greece, in February 1941. After evacuation to Crete, following the fall of Greece, it took part in the defence of the island as infantry before again being evacuated to Egypt in June 1941. After being strengthened by men from the suspended 106th RHA, the Regiment then served, with 7th Armoured Division during 'Operation Crusader' in November 1941 and at Gazala in 1942 as an Anti-Tank unit. It then reverted to RA status and served with 50th (Northumbrian) Division at El Alamein, in Italy and in Normandy in 1944. When the 50th (Northumbrian) Division returned to the UK it joined 15th (Lowland) Division, with which it remained until the end of the war in Northern Europe.
The unit was formed in 1797 as the 'Newcastle Troop' and then disbanded in 1802. In 1819, it was reformed as Northumberland and Newcastle Yeomanry Cavalry, changing its name in 1901 to Northumberland Imperial Yeomanry (Hussars) and again in 1908 to the Northumberland Hussars (Yeomanry).
In 1939 it was a Territorial Army unit based in Newcastle Upon Tyne and was mobilised and Cavalry at the start of the war. The official change to an artillery unit was made on 20th February 1940 when it become the 102nd Light Anti-Aircraft and Anti-Tank Regiment, RA (The Northumberland Hussars). Unlike most other Anti-Tank Regiments (like the 65th Anti-Tank Regiment (Norfolk Yeomanry) the Northumberland Hussars Batteries were A, B, C & D and not numbered. A few other Anti-Tank Regiments, did use the same system, but it is important not to confuse these batteries with the Royal Horse Artillery Batteries which always used a letter designation system. The War Office had agreed it could continue to wear the Northumberland Hussars badge its and for the name to be included in the Regimental title. In 1941 it was re-titled 102nd Anti-Tank Regiment, RHA (The Northumberland Hussars), but later lost its RHA status to become a RA regiment again.
NB. The RHA status of the Regiment is an interesting one, as officially, 102nd RHA never existed as far as the War Office and Royal Artillery records are concerned! However, in many books about the 7th Armoured Division and the Royal Artillery in North Africa in 1941, 102nd Anti-Tank Regiment. RHA is mentioned. It is believed that in common with other Yeomanry artillery units serving with an armoured division it was awarded RHA status, albeit only locally in North Africa. However, this was never confirmed by HQRA in London and the RHA status was rescinded with the Regiment reverting to RA status, thus explaining why 102nd RHA does not appear in any official list as they were never officially granted RHA status. The fact that many men from the suspended 106th RHA (Lancashire Hussars) were assigned to the Regiment, may have also caused it to have been awarded the RHA status, as it was normal practice for men not to transfer to a lower precedence unit as the RA were considered in comparison to the RHA.
The Regiment is specifically referred to
as RHA in "The History of the Royal Regiment of Artillery - The Years of
Defeat 1939-41" by Gen Sir Martin Farndale. As this is a book written by a
senior gunner officer, it is not likely to be an error. The author would be very
much aware of the elite status of RHA units and would not assign that status to
a unit that did not warrant it. In this book it refers to 102nd Anti-Tank
Regiment in the index. It covers their time with 7th Armoured Division and in
the final reference it refers to them as 102nd RHA. The passage refers to the
27th December 1941, mention that "102nd Anti-Tank Regt RHA, had 36 x
2-pdrs". 102nd Anti-Tank RHA is also referred to by Major-General
C. L. Vernery, in his book on The Deserts Rats, plus other books by Patrick
Delaforce and Robin Neillands referred to on the Books
and Other Websites page. Finally, the British National Archives records show
information being available to 102 L.A.A. A.tk. Regt and 102 A/Tk. Regt for all
years apart from 1941, but does show records for '102 Regt. R.H.A. 1941
Jan.-Oct, Document Ref: WO 169/1433' and '102 R.H.A. Regt. Sig. Sec 1941
WO 169/2008'. This is the time the regiment served with
1st Armoured Brigade and 7th Armoured Division and would have merited RHA status as did the
other Yeomanry Regiments.
In 1947 the Regiment became The Northumberland Hussars, RAC, and in 1967 it changed to The Northumberland Hussars (Territorials), being reduced to cadre in 1969.
Later in 1971 it formed the HQ Squadron, The Queen's Own Yeomanry, then NH (Northumberland Hussars) Squadron, The Queen's Own Yeomanry, in 1972 and in 1986 it was 'NH and D' (Northumberland Hussars) Squadrons, The Queen's Own Yeomanry. In July 1999 this was changed to 'D' (Northumberland Hussars) Squadron, The Queen's Own Yeomanry,
106th Regiment Royal Horse Artillery (Lancashire Hussars)served with 7th Armoured Division in November/December 1940 during Operation Compass, in an anti-tank role being equipped with 37mm Bofors anti-tank guns and captured Italian 20mm Breda AA/AT guns and later at Beda Fomm. It also served with the Division again during Operation Battleaxe, in June 1941. It then served on Crete in 1941 as a Light Anti-Aircraft unit and as infantry, before being put into suspended animation in July the same year.
The Lancashire Hussars were originally formed in 1798 as independent troops, before becoming the Lancashire Yeomanry Cavalry in 1828 and then being disbanded in 1832. In 1848 the regiment was reformed as the Lancashire Hussars, becoming the Lancashire Hussars Imperial Yeomanry in 1901 and the Lancashire Hussars Yeomanry, in 1908
In 1920 it became the 2nd (Lancashire) Army Brigade, RFA and in 1921 the 106th (Lancashire Yeomanry) Brigade, RFA and in 1924 the 106th (Lancashire Yeomanry) Field Brigade, RA
In 1938 it was re-titles the 106th (Lancashire Yeomanry) Field Regiment, RA. At the start of the war it consisted of 423rd and 424th Batteries, based in Liverpool. By November 1939 it was part of 1st Cavalry Division in the UK before moving to Palestine in January 1940, equipped with 4.5 inch Howitzers (424 Bty) and 18 pdr Field Guns (423 Bty). Later in 1940 it became 106th RHA, consisting of 423 and 424 Batteries. It moved to North Africa in August 1940, after serving in Crete, by which time 424 Bty had become No. 1 and No. 2 Batteries (Anti-tank) and 423 Bty had become No. 3 and No. 4 Batteries (Anti-aircraft), known as 1/106 Bty, 1/102, Bty, etc. The former teo were equipped with 37mm Bofors anti-tank guns on Portees and the latter two with captured Italian 20mm Breda AA/AT guns. Each new battery consisted of only two troops, A and B (No. 1 Bty), C and D (No. 2 Bty), E and F (No. 3 Bty) and G and H (No.4 Bty). It served with 7th Armoured Division during many of the earlier battles in North Africa.
At the end of February 1941 the regiment was advised it was to become a LAA regiment of just three batteries and was then later known as 106th Light Anti-Aircraft Regiment, RA (Lancashire Hussars). It was placed in suspended animation in July the same year, with many of its men going to reinforce the Northumberland Hussars, who were being strengthened and re-equipped after being evacuated from Greece and Crete.
After the war in 1947, it was renamed 306th (Lancashire Hussars) Heavy Anti-Aircraft Regiment, RA, before being amalgamated with 390th (King's Own) LAA Regiment, RA in 1950
Later in 1956 it had become 'P' (Lancashire Hussars) Battery, of 287th (1st West Lancashire) Medium Regiment, RA and by 1967 it was just 'A' Troop (Lancashire Hussars), P (1st West Lancashire) Battery, The West Lancashire Regiment, RA (Territorial)
In 1969 the regiment reduced to cadre, and Yeomanry lineage discontinued. However, in 2004, 106th (TA) RA re-adopted the Yeomanry status of the old 106th Regiment RHA.
RHA Battery Histories
Please note that the regular Royal Horse Artillery always designated its Batteries by the use of letters instead of numbers as Royal Artillery and Yeomanry with Royal Horse Artillery status did. Even when extra batteries were formed double letters such as CC and DD were used. It is important to remember this researching batteries, as some Royal Artillery Anti-Tank Batteries did not conform to the convention and consisted of A, B, C & D batteries, but as part of the higher regiment and not separate units as the RHA batteries were considered. i.e. 'A' Battery, 102nd Anti-Tank Regiment is completely different from 'A' Battery RHA.
The Battery histories below are related to the Batteries that formed 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th and 5th Regiments, RHA, who served with 7th Armoured Division.
A Battery (The Chestnut Troop) Royal Horse Artillery
A Troop Royal Horse Artillery was formed on 1st February 1793 during the reign of George III. During the Netherlands campaign of 1799 the Troop was horsed with chestnut horses and was known as the `Chestnut Troop’. At Waterloo, Lord Wellington referred to the Troop as the `Chestnut Troop’ and it was unofficially called this until 24th May 1902 when the name was officially recognised by His Majesty King Edward VII as A Battery 'The Chestnut Troop' Royal Horse Artillery.
The honour title given to the Chestnut Troop is unique in not being associated with any one particular incident or service. Apart from the Kings Troop RHA, it is the only Battery in the Royal Regiment of Artillery, which has the honour of bearing a title personally given by the Monarch and one, which is officially recognised outside the Royal Regiment. As the senior Battery within the whole of the Royal Regiment of Artillery, it takes position at the 'Right of the Line' on the parade.
A Troop was raised as the first fully self-contained and fully mounted unit equipped with first four, then later six, 6 Pounder guns. The Troop first saw action in the Irish Rebellion in 1798 and then in the Netherlands in 1799. In 1806 Captain Hew Ross assumed command of the Troop and his tenure was to last for an unrivalled period of 19 years, through campaigns in Spain, Portugal, France and at Waterloo. Captain Ross went on to be knighted and become the first ever Gunner Field Marshal. The Troop fought in the Peninsula War from 1809. Following its exploits in Portugal was a protracted period of peace until the Crimean War from 1855-56. Until the turn of the century the Troop served in both the UK and India, before serving in the South African War.
Since its formation, the Chestnut Troop has maintained an unbroken history of service up to the present time. The Chestnut Troop fired its first round in First World War, at Givenchy on 20th December 1914. It took part in the Battle of the Somme and was continuously involved in trench warfare. In 1918 it took part in the general offensive that broke the Hindenburg Line. The Chestnut Troop fired its last round in WWI at Orrs on 4th November 1918.
In between the two World Wars the Troop saw a variety of service that included deployment to Basra in 1921 and also saw service in Mesopotamia and Cairo before moving back home to Aldershot and then Bulford. In 1938 The Chestnut Troop became part of 1st Regiment Royal Horse Artillery which involved, at the outset, the formation of A/E Battery as a 12 gun composite Battery and was mobilised in Bulford. Although 1st RHA was part of 1st Armoured Division, it deployed as an Army regiment because the armoured division was not ready. While the rest of the Regiment joined 51st Highland Division, on the Saar Front in the French Sector in April 1940, A/E Battery, saw service in the retreat to Dunkirk, before being evacuated. It was around the survivors of A/E batter that the Regiment reformed in North Wales before sailing to Egypt in October 1940, having been re-equipped.
The Battery, as part of 1st Regiment Royal Horse Artillery, came under the command of the 7th Armoured Division. It took part in the first Libyan Campaign, including the capture of Tobruk. The Battery remained in Tobruk and was involved in the siege that lasted from April to December 1941. After withdrawing to El Alamein from Gazala it fought at El Alamein and but with the rest of 1st RHA was taken out of the line to refit, and took no further part in the war in North African campaign. It later fought in Italy until the end of the war, being equipped with US M7 Priest 105mm self propelled guns until the end of the war. The Battery remained in Africa during 1942 and 1943 before moving to Taranto in Italy in May 1944. It remained in Italy until the end of the war, being equipped with US M7 Priest 105mm self propelled guns until the end of the war.
B Battery Royal Horse Artillery
The Battery was formed on the 1st February 1793 as B Troop, in Woolwich by Royal Warrant of George III, they were equipped with 6 Pounder Smooth Bore Muzzle Loading Guns. However, unlike other Artillery units at that time all the men in the new Horse Artillery were mounted and better able to support fast moving Cavalry. After a short period of service in Ireland the Troop moved to Spain and saw action against Napoleon’s armies, just 4 weeks after landing by supporting the 15th Dragoons at the Battle of Sahagun on the 21st December1808. So fast was the action that they did not have time to unhitch the guns and bring then into action, so they charged the French along with the Cavalry with the guns still attached and forced the French to surrender. They also fought in the main battles during the retreat to Corunna.
In 1856, B Troop was renamed B Battery RHA and was equipped with six 9 Pounder rifled breech loading guns. In 1900, the Battery was on its second tour of Garrison duty in India when it was deployed as part of the international force that was formed to quell the Boxer uprising in China. During this time they were equipped with 12 Pounders and were the only Horse Artillery to be deployed. It is from this time that most of the Batteries Silver comes from.
During the First World War the Battery was part of the 29th Division and was the first and last Artillery to land and leave Gallipoli and fired more artillery rounds than any other unit during that time. They then moved to France and taking part in the Somme offensive in 1916 and also Paschendaele and Ypres during this period the Battery was equipped with six 13 Pounder and also six 18 Pounder guns.
Between 1919 and 1936 the Battery deployed as mounted Rifles in Ireland before moving to Egypt in 1930 and then Palestine in 1936. In 1936 the Battery lost their horses and become mechanised with 3.7 inch howitzers. The Battery was equipped with 25 Pdr Guns for the Second World War and saw action in the Dunkirk evacuation at St. Valery. Shortly after this the Battery deployed to the Western Desert fighting in all the major Battles of 1941-42. At the Battle of El-Tamar, during the withdrawal from Gazala to El Alamein the battery fought its fiercest battle, unsupported by Infantry or armour they engaged 60 German tanks at ranges varying between 800 to 1500 yards. When the ammo had run out the Battery had destroyed 12 tanks, but had 5 guns destroyed with high casualties.
After being re-equipped it and the rest of 1st RHA served at El Alamein and but with the rest of 1st RHA was taken out of the line to refit, and took no further part in the war in North African campaign. It later fought in Italy until the end of the war, being equipped with US M7 Priest 105mm self propelled guns until the end of the war
C Battery Royal Horse Artillery
The Battery was formed at Woolwich as C Troop, on 1st November 1793. It fired its guns in anger for the first time at Vinegar Hill, County Wexford. The Troop the fought in The Peninsular War and The Crimean War. During the latter, it gained its most notable achievement when on 25th October 1854 it fought at the Battle of Balaclava. After returning from duty at Inkerman, C Troop where preparing for a rest, when they were called upon to provide further support to the Heavy Brigade (Cavalry) at Balaclava. After an exhaustive night ride over treacherous terrain the Troop joined the battle and came into action immediately. When the Heavy Brigade withdrew, the Troop continued to fire at the Russian forces, and the 49 rounds they fired was sufficient to stop the advance of the Russian Calvary, which turned and fled the field. Balaklava day is still celebrated by the Battery every 25th October.
In 1901, having become a Battery it was part of 6th Brigade Royal Horse Artillery, stationed in Mhow, India. In 1902 it returned to the UK as what was to become in October 1906 2nd Brigade Royal Horse Artillery. After service in the First World War, the battery returned to Risalpur, India, in 1919, before moving to Egypt in 1926.
In May 1939 it was it helped reformed 4th Field Regiment Royal Horse Artillery along with F (Sphinx) Battery and G Battery (Mercer's Troop), with the latter two batteries being F/G Battery, before G Battery returned to the UK.
Since 1939 C Battery RHA has served with 4th Regiment RHA (1939 - 1946), 5th Regiment RHA (1946 - 1958) when it was formed out of CC Battery (as part of the re-organisation and reductions in man-power after the war). It was hoped that the title (Campbell's) which had been provisionally granted to this Battery during the war would be confirmed and granted later to the new Battery, but this never happened. Finally, since 1958 the Battery has been part of 3rd Regiment RHA, apart from a brief period 1977 - 1984, when it was an independent battery.
Click here to read the War Diaries of C Battery, RHA, for 1941, though many months are missing.
D Battery Royal Horse Artillery
D Battery Royal Horse Artillery was formed as F Troop RHA on 1 November 1794 and first fired its guns in anger against the French at the Battle of Victoria. In 1816 F Troop became E Troop RHA. Under this name D Battery RHA won its most notable victory at the Battle of Secundra Gunge during the Indian Mutiny on 5 January 1858. Having located a large formation of mutineers, the commander of the troop, Major Anderson ordered his men to leave their guns, draw swords and charge the enemy. After fierce hand to hand fighting, and hundreds of enemy casualties, the mutineers fled. D Battery RHA still celebrate Secundra Gunge every year on 5th January.
In 1889 E Troop RHA became D Battery RHA. It fought in France in the First World War and as D/J battery was part of 3rd RHA at the start of the Second World War. It soon became D battery again and saw action throughout the North African campaign and in Italy. It landed in Normandy in 1944 on D-Day and with the rest of 3rd RHA and 7th Armoured Division fought its way across Northern Europe to Hamburg in May 1945. As an anti-tank battery it consisted of A, B and C Troops, but when it became the senior battery in 3 RHA as a Field Regiment, it consisted on A and B Troops. Further honour was given to the Battery by taking the salute and leading the Victory Parade through Berlin in 1945. In 1977 D Battery RHA became an independent Anti Tank Support Battery and then reformed in 1984 as part of 3rd RHA.
Click here to read the War Diaries of D Battery, RHA, for 1939, 1940, 1944 and 1945, though many months are missing.
E Battery Royal Horse Artillery
The Battery was raised at Woolwich on 1st February 1794, as E Troop. It embarked for the Peninsular Campaign in 1811 fighting at Cuidad Rodrigo. It played a conspicuous part in the Battle of Salamanca, and was also at Vittoria. In 1815 the Troop fought at Waterloo under the Command of Lt-Col Robert Gardiner, having previously fought a gallant rearguard action at Quatre Bras, the day before.
Between 1815 and 1914 E Battery saw service in England, Ireland, the Indian Mutiny and the Second Afghan War. In 1914 E Battery fired the first artillery round of the Great War, at 09:30 hrs on 22 August 1914, during a cavalry skirmish the day before the Battle of Mons began. The cartridge case was preserved in the trail leg of the gun of D Sub-Section and is now with the Battery in Tidworth.
During the Second World War E Battery served with 1st Regiment Royal Horse Artillery in World War two in France and later in the Western Desert and Italy, distinguishing itself at the siege of Tobruk. that lasted from April to December 1941. After withdrawing to El Alamein from Gazala it fought at El Alamein where it fought with rest of 1st RHA but along with the rest of 1st RHA was taken out of the line to refit, and took no further part in the war in North African campaign. It later fought in Italy until the end of the war, being equipped with US M7 Priest 105mm self propelled guns until the end of the war
F Battery (Sphinx) Royal Horse Artillery
The history of the Battery dates back to 1800 when a troop of the Bengal Horse Artillery was first formed to accompany the expedition to Egypt later that year. Between 1801 and 1817 the Troop saw active service in Egypt, the Mahratta war, the Gurkha War and finally the Siege of Hathras. After fighting the first Burma war from 1824-26, the Troop found itself involved in the famous retreat from Khabul (1842) during the Afghan campaign. It was during this retreat that all the guns were lost, mainly due to lack of feed for the horses, which rendered them unable to drag the guns of the Battery through the deep snow and rugged mountain passes. One by one the guns were spiked and abandoned. The Captain, two officers and 102 NCO's and men were killed in the retreat, with in one case an entire gun crew perishing rather than desert their charge!
During the Great War the Battery was rarely out of action. For its share of these operations, seeing action at Ypres 1914, Loos and Somme 1916, Arras 1917, Messines 1917, Italy 1917-18, Arras 1918, Bapaume, Hindenburg Line, Canal Du Nord, Cambrai 1918, France and Flanders 1914-18.
In 1926 the honour title Sphinx was awarded to the Battery for services in the 1801-2 campaign.
During the 1930's the Battery spent most of its time at St Johns Wood and in 1939, when the Battery moved to Cairo, it became part of the 4th Regiment Royal Horse Artillery, as F/G Battery with 4th RHA and was in action with the ‘Desert Rats’ of 7th Armoured Brigade. The ‘Yellow Dog’ as the battery is affectionately known continued to gain acclaim in North Africa, Italy and North West Europe. The latter was mainly in support of 4th Armoured Brigade (The Black Rats).
G Battery (Mercer's Troop) Royal Horse Artillery
Creation of Horse Artillery
When the Napoleonic Wars started after the French Revolution, the British cavalry soon realised they had a glaring deficiency, compared to their continental Counterparts. Although pulled by horse the British Artillery was served by gunners who marched on foot with the guns and thus it was too slow and cumbersome to keep up with their cavalry. This meant that much of the power of the cavalry’s charge was often lost when they outran their artillery support. Therefore in January 1783 it was decided to raise the first 2 troops of Horse Artillery, which would be able to move rapidly around the battlefield and support the cavalry.
The Army equipped these elite troops with the best equipment available, the 6 Pounder guns with 45 drivers and 190 horses. From the outset the Horse Artillery’s officers and men were viewed as something special. As a result of this 'G’ Battery (then still just G Troop) was formed in - 18O1 at Mallow in Ireland when it was decided to form a seventh troop of Horse Artillery from divisions of ‘A’, ‘B’, ‘C’ and ‘F’ Troops. In its first campaign, in 1807, the Troop took part in the ill-fated expedition to take the vital port of Buenos Aires and although the campaign ‘G’ Troop proved itself to be a Horse Artillery unit of very fine quality. No one ever had anything but praise for ‘G’ Troop.
In 1815, when the campaign started 'G' Troop was actually commanded by Sir Alexander Dickson, who was at the time temporarily assigned to other duties. It therefore fell to Captain Cavalië Mercer (who then held the rank of "second captain") to command it at Waterloo.
It was a fine troop, perfect in drill and splendidly horsed, being composed of the best elements of Two Horse Artillery Troops broken up after Napoleon’s exile on Elba. ‘G’ took the best picked horses of both batteries and consisted of 80 gunners and 84 drivers who drove no less than 226 horses. So proud was the Duke of Wellington of 'G' Troop that in the Grand Cavalry Review held at Gramont, on the eve of the battle, the Duke of Wellington himself brought the Prussian Prince Blücher’s attention to what he called "the beautiful Battery.
On the 16th June 1815 the Battery moved forward to the field of Quatre Bras close to the advancing French Army, travelling 38 miles that day over baggy, congested tracks with their 9 Pounders. The French advanced all day long on the sixteenth and after the Battle of Quatre Bras, the British were retreating towards Waterloo by 17th June 1815. It was then on 17th June 1815, that Mercer’s Troop were ordered to cover the retreat as the British Cavalry and the Prussian Infantry began to panic. To steady the situation the Troop opened fire on the French Cavalry Squadrons at a range of 1,200 yards and the French called off the chase, allowing the British to withdraw intact.
The night fall of 17th June and it was a miserable night for Mercer’s men as they spent the night in a newly ploughed field being soaked by 6 hours heavy rain, with a thin blanket as their only shelter. They found their feet 8 inches deep in mud and they were cold, wet, hungry, without a fire, without meat or drink, having spent 48 hours on the march.
The Battle of Waterloo began at about 11a.m. on the 18th June and within the first 90 minutes, Wellington had lost a quarter of his cavalry killed or injured and the Allied troops appeared much shaken. The Battle raged on into the afternoon with Wellington’s position looking more fateful by the minute. Then, at about 3.15 pm, the French launched Three full divisions of cavalry against the Allied infantry. The situation was desperate and ‘G’ Troop were ordered to abandon their guns when the French Cuirassiers were upon them and then to take shelter in the nearest infantry square. However Captain Mercer did neither!
Seeing that the suspect Brunswick Infantry seemed ready to throw down their arms and flee, he was convinced that if the Horse Artillery retreated the Brunswickers would run away. Therefore his Battery stood firm under their Battery Commander, and indeed Mercer’s Troop was the only Battery on the field of battle to drive the French Cavalry off unaided. Later, a French soldier wrote:
"...through the smoke I saw the English gunners abandon their pieces, all but 6 guns (Mercer’s Troop) stationed under the road...now, I thought, those gunners will be cut to pieces, but no, the devils kept firing with grapeshot which mowed us down like grass."
Although Captain Mercer disobeyed the orders of the Duke of Wellington, by standing firm, his action and that of his unrivalled gunners took a terrible toll of the French Cavalry. In all the Troop suffered 140 horses dead or injured and it had fired a total of 700 rounds. The latter was more than any other Horse Artillery Troop in the battle. The fighting around Mercer’s men had been so intense that one English General said after the battle said;
"...he could plainly distinguish the position of ‘G’ Troop from the other side of the battlefield by the dark mass of dead French Cavalry which, even at that distance, formed a remarkable feature on the battlefield.".
If Captain Mercer had obeyed orders and abandoned the guns the outcome may have been very different. As it was the Battle of Waterloo was won by the evening of the 18th June 1815 and Captain Mercer was later promoted after the battle and sent to command ‘D’ Troop RHA.
The Indian Mutiny
In July 1857, after a tortuous 90 day voyage, the Troop, now called a Battery, sailed to India to help suppress the mutiny of the Indian Army. This marked the beginnings of an association with the "Jewel of the Empire" which was to last into the next century. After participating in the relief of Lucknow the Battery supported the attack on Fort Munstrigury and the successful campaign of Oude, which helped to bring about an end to the ill-fated mutiny.
Second Egyptian Campaign
The Battery joined B Brigade in and sailed from Woolwich in August 1882 and landed in Alexandria Egypt a short while later. It was soon in action and was involved in the action at Tel El Kabir on 12th/13th September 1882.
The Boer War
At the outbreak of the Boer War, ‘G’ Battery were in St. John’s Wood. In February 1900 the Battery became part of the Horse Artillery of 2nd Cavalry Brigade and fought in the famous Relief of Kimberley. At the Battle of Diamond Hill in June, the Battery came under very heavy enemy fire, but it still managed to engage and destroy two Boer 15 Pounders in a heroic counter battery struggle. When peace was finally declared in June 1902 the Battery sailed back to India. During the heavy fighting in South Africa, over a period of 3 years, the Battery had marched some 6,000 miles and had fired 5,059 shells from its 12 Pounders. The Battery spent the next decade in relative tranquillity in Secunderabab, India before returning to England in 1914.
World War I
The war broke out in August 1914, G Battery went to France as part of the British Expeditionary Force (BEF) and it fired its first rounds near Gongue on 17 November 1914 when, it helped to stop a strong German assault. Although the war soon became the bloody trench warfare of history, Mercer’s spirit never deserted the Battery. This spirit is well shown by how at Mont Kemmel on the 22nd April 1915 when the Battery stood firm in the face of 100 minutes of continuous bombardment by heavy German 6 inch howitzers.
In September 1915 the Battery took part in the Battle of Loos, and in January 1916 provided support for the dismounted Cavalry Division. Throughout the Somme Offensive ‘G’ Battery were stood by ready to follow up the expected breakthrough the German lines, which never materialised.
In April 1917, as part of 8th Cavalry Brigade, the Battery advanced with the attack on Arms. Then in November at the Battle of Cambrai, 'G’ Battery were again in action during the first ever tank battle. Here, in the fierce fighting of the spring of 1918 G’ Battery lost all its officers killed and the Battery as a whole suffered 20% casualties. Throughout the summer of 1918, however, ‘G’ Battery fought on and took part in the great advance that ended in the signing of an armistice on 11th November 1918.
In the War years the Battery returned to India and also served in the Middle East.
WORLD WAR II
Before war broke out in September 1939, the battery had been serving as F/G Battery with 4th RHA, before returning to the UK (in name only) again only when war seemed inevitable in the spring of 1939. In November 1939 the War Office reinforced ‘G’ Battery with new personnel and the Battery became part of 5th RHA serving alongside 'K' Battery, during the Fall of France, being evacuated at Dunkirk, being formed by A, B and C Troops at that time. It was then was reorganised, with CC Battery being formed from part of it and in March 1941 was it re-equipped with 25 Pounders, and with the rest of 5th RHA sailed to Egypt that summer, consisting of A and B Troops.
The Battery arrived on 6th July, as part of 8th Armoured Division, and by this time Rommel’s Africa Corps was only 60 miles from Alexandria, following the battles at Gazala and First Alamein. This only allowed the Battery a mere 10 days to prepare for desert operations. The Batteries long established adaptability meant that it was ready to play a key part in the Battle of Alam Haifa in August 1942 and subsequently at El Alamein in October 1942. In the latter battle alone the Battery fired 3,400 rounds.
In November 1942 G Battery and the rest of 5th RHA joined 7th Armoured Division, with which it was to serve for the rest of the war and on 7th May 1942 ‘G’ Battery neared Tunis and the war in Africa was over. Since El Alamein, the Battery had advanced over 1,500 miles and suffered 25% casualties.
The Battery rested and refitted in North Africa, before seeing service in Italy in the Autumn of 1943. The Battery then returned to the UK, in January 1944, to be re-equipped along with the rest of 7th Armoured Division in preparation for the D-Day landings.
It landed in Normandy on D-Day + 1 (7th June 1944) the Battery and went into action almost immediately in the fierce fighting in the Bocage country of Normandy, including the engagements at Villers-Bocage and the Brigade Box. After the breakout from Normandy it crossed the Seine with the rest of 5th RHA and 7th Armoured Division and headed for Ghent in Belgium. Then between March and April 1945 the Battery advanced some 230 miles across Germany and still had the audacity to engage a German Naval Cruiser and a 10,000 ton merchant ship when it reached the Elbe before Germany surrendered unconditionally on 8th May 1945.
After the end of the Second World War, the Battery was stationed in Germany as part of the British Army of the Rhine (BAOR) where it formed a close relationship with the City of Osnabruck. Mercer Barracks stands silent witness to this era in the Battery’s history.
Despite its previous strong ties with the cavalry and broke away from their traditional role in support of tanks - to become Parachute Artillery. The Battery was re-designated ‘G’ Parachute Battery (Mercer’s Troop) RHA. The Battery became part of 7 Para RHA in 1962 and began an affiliation with 1 PARA which has taken the Battery all over the World.
Click here to read the War Diaries of G Battery, (Mercer's Troop) RHA,for 1939, 1940, 1941, 1944 to 1946.
H Battery (Ramsay’s Troop) Royal Horse Artillery
Since its formation in 1804 as H Troop Royal Horse Artillery, the Battery has experienced 19 changes of its title. H Troop fought alongside Mercer’s, Bull’s and Ramsay’s Troops at Waterloo before returning to Woolwich in 1816, where it was renamed G Troop RHA until it was placed in suspended animation in 1819. It was reformed in 1857 and despite name changes it went on to serve in the Boer War and WWI but now as H Battery RHA. The Battery started World War Two in 2nd RHA as H/I Battery and fought with the BEF until evacuated at Dunkirk. The Battery was renamed H Battery (Ramsay’s Troop) RHA whilst serving in North Africa in 1942. The post war period saw another period of title changing until 1994 when the Battery came out of suspended animation and joined 7 Para RHA.
I Battery (Bull's Troop) Royal Horse Artillery
Captain Robert Bull commanded the Battery between 1805 and 1821, hence its honour title awarded after the Battle of Waterloo. However it is Drivers Day that the Battery commemorates, when in Portugal, under Captain Ramsay, the Battery charged through the enemy ranks in order to rejoin friendly forces at the Battle of Fuentes D’Onoro. The 19th Century saw the Battery on operation in India and Afghanistan before returning to Aldershot. After constant action during the Great War, the Battery was deployed to Ireland to help quell the Sinn Fein rebellion. The battery started the World War Two as H/I Battery before becoming I Battery again and was part of 2nd RHA and being evacuated at Dunkirk. It subsequently served in Egypt, Greece and Italy. The Battery became part of 7 Para RHA in 1962 and is affiliated to 3 PARA.
J (Sidi Rezegh) Battery Royal Horse Artillery
J Battery RHA was formed as The Troop Madras Horse Artillery on 4 April 1805, and was soon renamed as The 1st Half Squadron Madras HA. Having gained a succession of titles the Troop became J Battery in 1889. Having served in France in World War One the battery moved to India in 1920 and served with 3 Brigade RHA. The Battery was awarded its honour title in April 1954 for its actions at Sidi Rezegh in November 1941.
As D/J battery it part of 3rd RHA at the start of the Second World War. It soon became J battery again and saw action throughout the North African campaign and in Italy. Equipped with the 2 Pounder Anti Tank gun the battery found itself hopeless outnumbered during one of Rommel's 8th Afrika Korps Panzer advances in the Western Desert. The Battery took part in the siege of Tobruk until 21st September 1941 when it and M Battery were evacuated by sea to rejoin 3 RHA. The Battery then took part in Operation Crusader and the battles around Sidi Rezegh airfield. Here the battery fought off innumerable attacks until all guns where virtually wiped out. The Battery Commander, Major Piney and 2nd Lt Ward Gunn and other survivors fought to maintain one gun until they where eventually killed or too badly injured to continue. 2nd Lt Ward Gunn was awarded a Victoria Cross for his actions. As an anti-tank battery it consisted of A, B and C Troops, but when it became the senior battery in 3 RHA as a Field Regiment, it consisted on C and D Troops. J Battery RHA then served as part of Operation Overlord, the allied invasion of Europe, and fought all the way to Berlin and took part in the Victory Parade in Berlin in 1945, where it fired the salute. In 1977 J Battery RHA became an independent battery after 3rd RHA was placed into suspended animation, only to be reformed in 1984.
Click here to read the War Diaries of J Battery, RHA, for 1939, 1940, 1941 1942, 1944 and 1945, though many months are missing.
K (Hondeghem)Battery Royal Horse Artillery
K Battery was formed by the East India Company as 2nd Troop Bengal Horse Artillery on the 4th of August 1809 in Acra, India, with the majority of the other ranks being British. This fact and that the Battery were all mounted to ensure greater maneuvrability, was unusual during this period. During the next 100 years the Battery came under command of the Bengal Horse Artillery then the Royal Horse Artillery and is now under command of the Royal Artillery.
At outbreak of the war, K Battery was the current Riding Troop at St Johns Wood, and the Battery, joined 5th RHA serving alongside G Battery, as part of the BEF during the Fall of France, consisting of D, E and F Troops. It was during the retreat to Dunkirk in 1940 with the British Expeditionary Force, that During the Battery was to gain its honour title. With the British Expeditionary Force retreating towards the Belgium coast as the German forces streamed through Belgium, the small village of Hondeghem lay on one of the Germans' main lines of advance and it became essential to hold it. However, the only troops available were K Battery, Royal Horse Artillery, and a detachment of 1 officer and 80 men of the 2nd Search Light Regiment.
The Battery was armed with First World War Mark 11, 18 pdr guns which had been modernised by the fitting of road wheels and pneumatic tyres. Two of the guns of 'F' Troop were situated inside the village and the other two on the outskirts of the village. At about 07:30 on the morning of the 27th May the enemy, in the form of 6th Panzer Division, appeared and were engaged by the two outer guns. These guns destroyed several enemy vehicles and two or three tanks as they approached. An enemy tank closed on gun of J Sub Section firing its machine gun, the number 2 was killed. The tank then fired it main armament and scored a direct hit killing another member of the detachment and wounding Gunner Manning and Troop Sergeant Major Opie. Small arms fire poured into the gun pit wounding Gunner Manning again, but he gallantly insisted on remaining in action. The enemy tank was then engaged by the gun of I Sub Section just before it was destroyed while enemy infantry dashed in a captured the last few men of J Sub Section. Gunner Manning was taken to hospital by the Germans but died later of his injuries.
The battle then surged into the streets of the village, with continuous, violent and sometimes confused street fighting was carried out for the next eight hours. The two remaining guns kept firing throughout at a very reduced range, as the Germans tried to establish machine guns in the upper windows of the houses. Throughout the day, as the battle continued, the guns were constantly being moved to fresh targets firing at 100 yards or less, but by 3pm the gun ammunition began running short, so the artillerymen used their rifles to fire at any Germans who showed their heads. Then at 4:15pm it was decided to try and save the last two guns and the survivors of the small force headed towards St Sylvestre, where the village was found to be occupied by the Germans with both infantry and medium tanks. It was now that the troop commander decided that the best course of action was to charge the enemy without delay. So at his command every man shouted at the top of their voice and assaulted the German position. The Germans lost their nerve and ran. After firing what little ammunition they had into the surrounding countryside, the little column resumed its retreat.
The Battery had suffered heavy losses, with 'F' Troop alone losing 45 men out of 63. However, they were rewarded with Major Hoare being awarded the D.S.O., Captain Teacher the M.C., Battery Sergeant Major Millard receiving the D.C.M., and Gunner Kavanagh was honoured with the M.M. In addition three men were Mentions-In-Despatches.
After evacuation at Dunkirk the Battery was rebuilt, with men from it going to help form CC Battery, as part of the re-organisation of the Royal Artillery, with the battery consisting of D and E/F Troops. It then, served along with G Battery and CC Battery, in 5th RHA, originally sailing to the Middle East as part of 8th Armoured Division, before 5 RHA joined 7th Armoured Division. It served in North Africa, Italy and North West Europe.
L (Néry) Battery Royal Horse Artillery
The Battery was formed in India, in 1809 as 3rd Troop The Bengal Horse Artillery, along with N Battery, and served with distinction on the Indian Sub-continent for over 100 years. It spent most if its formative years on the sub-continent. Its time was there was distinguished by service in the Indian Mutiny in 1857. In an action on 7th July 1857, Gunner William Connolly in an act of valour, where he was repeatedly injured, refused to leave his post on the gun. He was subsequently awarded the first of L Battery's Victoria Crosses. After the Indian Mutiny, the Bengal Horse Artillery was disbanded and in 1889 the Battery was subsequently renamed L Battery Royal Horse Artillery At the outbreak of the First World War L Battery RHA accompanied the British Expeditionary force to France. During the retreat from Mons the 1st Cavalry Brigade stopped overnight in Néry, some 60 miles Northeast of Paris. On the morning of 1st September 1914 the German’s attacked with ‘murderous fire’. During the battle, 'L' Battery engaged several German batteries, with the three guns that could be put into action. Two guns were quickly silenced, but the remaining Gun, F Sub-Section, appeared to have a charmed life and even though reduced to just one gun in action continued to fire, being served by the Battery Captain, Captain F K Bradbury with the immortal words "‘whose for the guns?", Battery Sergeant Major Dorrell and Sgt Nelson along with Gunners Osbourne and Darbyshire, who kept the Gun firing and continued to engage the enemy until all the ammunition was expended. This action allowed valuable time for a successful counter attack by 1st Cavalry Brigade to be launched and the Germans were defeated.
For this action the three men from the battery received Victoria Crosses:Captain E Bradbury, Battery Sergeant-Major G Dorrell and Sergeant D Nelson.
It served with 2 RHA throughout the Second World War later joining 1 RHA, in 1993.
M Battery Royal Horse Artillery
M Battery was formed as part of 2nd Troop Madras Horse Artillery on 23 January 1809, and after a succession of titles became M Battery RHA in July 1889. During the First World War the battery served in the North West Frontier Province of India until 1917 with 4 guns. In 1934 the battery exchanged its much loved 13-Pdrs, and became mechanised with the 3.7 inch howitzer. Having been linked with P Battery RHA for a short period in Abbassia, Egypt, the battery reformed as part of 3 RHA in August 1938.
During the 2nd World War the battery served with the Division in all the opening battles and was also part of the Tobruk Garrison during the first part of the siege, until 21st September 1941 when it and J Battery were evacuated by sea to rejoin 3 RHA. The Battery then took part in Operation Crusader in the Sidi Rezegh battles in the Western Desert in 1941. After conversion to a Field Battery in 1942 it served with 3 RHA as part of the Division for the rest of the North African Campaign and in Italy. As an anti-tank battery it consisted of A, B and C Troops, but when it became the senior battery in 3 RHA as a Field Regiment, it consisted on M (Madras) and J (Java) Troops, after where the Battery was formed and where it fought its first battle respectively.
With the Division it returned to the UK in 1944 and took part in Operation Overlord in 1944, and the rest of the war on Northern Europe, culminating with the Victory Parade in Berlin in 1945. In February 1958 the battery was placed into suspended animation until 1977 when it reformed as an independent anti tank battery and back into suspended animation in 1984 as 3 RHA reformed. During options for change in the 1993 the Headquarter Battery was renamed and became M (Headquarter) Battery RHA.
Click here to read the War Diaries of M Battery, RHA, for 1939, 1940, 1944 and 1945, though many months are missing.
N Battery (The Eagle Troop) Royal Horse ArtilleryThe Battery was formed in India as the 1st Troop Bombay Horse Artillery in the early part of the eighteenth century, along with L Battery, and served with distinction on the Indian Sub-continent for over 100 years. The Battery forged its reputation at the Battle of Hyderabad on 24th March 1843. Again the Battery's exploits were decisive in the outcome of the Battle. Here the Troop took part in a decisive Cavalry and Artillery Charge, which turned the flank of a 40,000 strong native Army. At the same time Her Majesty’s 22nd Regiment of Foot (The Cheshire Regiment) attacked the enemy at a total cost of only 270 British lives compared with the enemy’s losses of between six and eight thousand. Quick actions by the guns under command of Major J T Leslie, enabled the General Napier's forces to inflict staggering losses on the enemy with minimal British casualties. The Battery was subsequently awarded the title "The 1st or Leslie's Troop Horse Artillery" by the Governor General of India. In 1889, the Battery was renamed N Battery RHA. Subsequently the Battery had the honour of bearing both Queen Victoria's coffin in 1901 and that of the Unknown Warrior in 1920. On the 18th October 1926, N Battery was awarded the honour title "The Eagle Troop" for its exploits in both Afghanistan and Hyderabad It was during this period that N Battery RHA received its honour title, as after the original the action of the troop, the governor of India declared that the troop should, ‘hereafter upon its appointments bear the Eagle’.
The Battery was part of L/N Battery in 2nd RHA at the start of the war soon reverting back to N Battery in 1940, leaving 2nd RHA at that point.
O Battery (The Rocket Troop) Royal Horse Artillery
Formed on 1st January 1813, by order of the Prince Regent, The Rocket Brigade was armed with the Congreve rocket system. Later a second troop was added and they became 1st and 2nd Rocket Troops RHA. The unit first saw action in Oct 1813 at Leipzig (Battle of Nations) against the French where 2nd Troop were the sole British representative. Having terrified a French brigade with their rockets, Captain Richard Bogue led his mounted gunners in a charge and was killed. Bernadotte, Crown Prince of Sweden, in recognition of the Troop’s action ordered that they should be allowed to carry the Swedish Royal colours of blue and gold. Later the battle honour "Leipzig 1813" was awarded and both are still carried on the Battery’s badge and the anniversary of the Battle of Leipzig (18th October) is still celebrated. On the Eve of Battle Dinner, 17th October, the Battery toasts the King of Sweden.
2nd Rocket Troop was also at Waterloo being armed with 6 pdrs at Wellington’s insistence but were also allowed to retain their rockets. The 1st Rocket was disbanded in 1816 but the 2nd Troop absorbed its Commander and many of its men so that O Battery can be said to inherit the whole of the British rocket tradition. The Rocket Troop served in the Crimea War and after becoming O Bty in 1889, in the South Africa War. During World War One they served on the Western Front and supported the last successful charge by British cavalry against a modern enemy at Villeselve on 24th March 1918.
Between the Two World Wars they were combined with B Battery as B/O Bty, 1 RHA, before forming two separate batteries, when the Second World War started, with the Battery leaving to join 6 RHA. In 1951 O Bty transferred to 2 RHA and in 1958 the regiment lost its Horse Artillery status becoming 2 Field Regt RA. In 1993 the Bty regained its RHA status becoming O HQ Bty (The Rocket Troop) 1 RHA.
P (The Dragon Troop) Battery Royal Horse Artillery
The Rocket Troop Madras Horse Artillery was formed in 1805, at the request of the Madras Government and East India Company and it served with distinction in the Pindari and Mahratta Wars 1817-19. It was redesignated as 'C' Troop Madras Horse Artillery 1825.
In 1840, the Troop was sent to China as part of an expeditionary force to fight in the Opium Wars, during which the British forces quickly captured the Island of Hong Kong. Then in 1841, it provided artillery support for a combined land and sea force assaulted the formidable line of forts guarding the mouth of the Siakiang River, which cleared the way for an attack on Canton and by 1842, after the international port of Shanghai and the strategic city of Chinkiang were captured hostilities were ceased. For its contribution in the campaign, 'C' Troop was conferred the Honour title 'Dragon', and given permission to include the China Dragon and the years '1840-1842' in its insignia.
The Troop then served in the second Burma War 1853-55, and after many title changes, it became 'P' Battery Royal Horse Artillery in 1889. The Battery subsequently served in the Boer War 1900-02 and as a training Battery during the First World War. The Battery was part of M/P Battery in 3rd RHA at the start of the Second World War and was equipped with the 2-pdr anti-tank gun. It then became just P Battery (consisting of A, B and C Troops at this time), still serving with 3rd RHA until the Battery ceased to be part of the Regiment on the 15th March 1941. After having its farewell dinner on the 10 March, when in name, it went home to the UK to be reformed as part of 6 Regiment RHA. Many NCO's and men were absorbed by other Batteries of 3 RHA. It then served in 6th RHA, seeing service in Palestine, Libya and the Central Zone until 1951 and become 'P' Field Battery Royal Artillery in 1958.
Click here to read the War Diaries of P Battery, RHA, for August 1939 to March 1940.
CC Battery Royal Horse Artillery
The Battery was a wartime battery formed after the Fall of France from G and K Batteries. It was formed at Great Dunmow, Essex, in November 1940, from men from 'G' and 'K' batteries, plus reinforcements from training regiments and Royal Artillery Depots. It consisted of 'C' and 'H' Troops and saw service with 5th RHA and was in action from the time of its arrival in the Middle East (July 1942) in support of 44th and 50th RTR of 1st Army Tank Brigade until after Alam Halfa. At El Alamein it supported the Staffordshire Yeomanry of 8th Armoured Brigade, including their time attached to 7th Armoured Division, while 22nd Armoured Brigade was re-fitting. When 22nd Armoured Brigade returned it took over the support of primarily 1st RTR for the rest of the war in North Africa, Italy and North West Europe, including in the liberation of Ghent in early September 1944. As the 'junior' Battery in 5th RHA, it had the 'privilege' of leading the Regiment so that it could win its 'Battle Honours'. After the end of the war the battery continued to serve with 5th RHA, but as a wartime battery its future was uncertain and by November 1946 it had been reduced to a cadre of 50 Officers and men. As recorded in 5th RHA Quarterly Report for the period ending 31st December 1946 [PRO Ref - 267/309] on 22nd November 1946, just over six years after its creation, CC Battery ceased to exist and all personnel and equipment remained in the Regiment known as C Battery, Royal Horse Artillery. The title was received from 21st Field Regt (S.P.) R.A., late 4th RHA and it was hoped that the title (Campbell's) which had been provisionally granted to this Battery during the war would be confirmed and granted later to the new Battery. Click here to read the War Diaries of CC Battery, RHA, from November 1940 to August 1944. Diaries from September 1944 to May 1945, are missing.
DD (Jerboa) Battery Royal Horse Artillery
The Battery was a wartime battery formed after the re-organisation of Royal Artillery regiments after Fall of France from C and F Batteries on 13th October 1941, consisting of 'C' and 'D' Troops. It served with 4th RHA and was in action with the of 7th Armoured Division in North Africa from Sidi Rezegh (November 1941) through to the end of the Gazala battles of 1942, before the regiment left the Division. With the rest of 4th RHA the battery served throughout the remainder of the North African Campaign. It then returned to the UK in November 1943 and then served in Normandy and North West Europe. The latter was mainly in support of 4th Armoured Brigade (The Black Rats). It fired its last shots in anger near Bremen in May 1945. It was disbanded in 1946. To read more about the story of DD Battery, please go to the History of DD (Jerboa) Battery RHA pages.
|Army Web Page for L Battery RHA|
|Army Web Page for M Battery RHA||Army Web Page for O Battery RHA|
|War Diaries of CC Battery, RHA||History of DD (Jerboa) Battery RHA||The role of the Artillery in an Armoured Division|
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Royal Artillery Regiments
The 57th (East Surrey) Anti-tankRegiment (TA) served with the BEF (British Expeditionary Force) in France in 1940, in the 44th (Home Counties) Division and was evacuated at Dunkirk. At that time it consisted of 225th, 226th, 227th and 228th Batteries. It arrived in North Africa in July 1942, with two Batteries serving with the 7th Armoured Division, during the Battle of El Alamein, with the regiment being part of 44th (Home Counties) Division. In September 1943, it saw service in Italy with 8th Army, where it remained unit the end of the war. By May 1944, it consisted of 192nd, 225th, 226th and 227th Batteries.
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Weybourne Military Camp,
Tel: 01263 588210
Norfolk Yeomanry (The King's Own Royal Regiment)
The Regiment was originally formed in 1782 as the Norfolk Rangers, changing its name to the Norfolk Yeomanry Cavalry in 1794
About 1803 three Cavalry units were formed as the 1st West Norfolk, Yeomanry Cavalry; 2nd Mid Norfolk, Yeomanry Cavalry; 3rd East Norfolk, Yeomanry Cavalry, but the Regiment was disbanded in 1828. In 1831 it was reformed as the Norfolk Yeomanry Cavalry, only to be disbanded again in 1849.
In 1901 Norfolk Imperial Yeomanry (King's Own) was formed by expansion of Norfolk squadron of Suffolk Imperial Yeomanry (The Duke of York's Own Loyal Suffolk Hussars) and in 1905 it was re-named Norfolk Imperial Yeomanry (The King's Own Royal Regiment), followed by the Norfolk Yeomanry (The King's Own Royal Regiment) (Dragoons) in 1908. During the First World War it formed 12th (Norfolk Yeomanry) Bn. Royal Norfolk Regiment, between 1917 and 1919.
In 1922 the Regiment became 429th -430th Batteries, 108th (Norfolk Yeomanry) Brigade, RFA and then in the following years it changed its name as below;
1923: 429th-430th (Norfolk Yeomanry) Batteries, 108th (Suffolk and Norfolk Yeomanry) Brigade, RFA (united with Suffolk Yeomanry)
1924: 429th-430th (Norfolk Yeomanry) Batteries, 108th (Suffolk and Norfolk Yeomanry) (Army) Field Brigade, RA
1934: 429th-430th (Norfolk Yeomanry) Batteries, 108th (Suffolk and Norfolk Yeomanry) Army Field Brigade, RA
1938: 429th-430th (Norfolk Yeomanry) Batteries, 108th (Suffolk and Norfolk Yeomanry) Army Field Regiment, RA
1938: 219th-220th (Norfolk Yeomanry) Batteries, 55th (Suffolk and Norfolk Yeomanry) Anti-Tank Regiment, RA
Later in 1938 the Suffolk Yeomanry separated from the regiment to form 55th Anti-Tank Regiment, RA (217th, 218th, 219th and 220th Batteries), leaving the Norfolk Yeomanry as the 65th Anti-Tank Regiment, RA, with 257th-260th Batteries. 257th (Norfolk Yeomanry) Battery was formed by the re-designation of 219th Battery, 258th (Norfolk Yeomanry) Battery was formed by the re-designation of 220th Battery, with 259th and 260th Batteries were both newly formed.
It remained as 65th Anti-Tank Regiment, RA until February 1942 when it became 65th Anti-Tank Regiment, RA (Suffolk and Norfolk Yeomanry) and the 65th Anti-Tank Regiment, RA (Norfolk Yeomanry), in November later the same year, still as part of the Territorial Army.
At the outbreak of the Second World War, the regiment (with all its batteries 257th, 258th, 259th and 260th) was stationed at Bury St. Edmunds, Suffolk, as part of 18th Infantry Division. During the Fall of France, it served with 50th (Northumberland) Division, fighting at Arras. It arrived in North Africa in May 1941, with 260th Battery serving with 22nd (Guards) Infantry Brigade. The Regiment joined 7th Armoured Division in July 1942 and served with it throughout the rest of the North African Campaign and in Italy. When it returned to the UK in 1944, it was re-equipped with two batteries (257th and 259th) of 17 pdr Anti-Tank guns and two batteries (258th and 260th, respectively) with Achilles Tank Destroyers and US 76mm armed M10 Tank Destroyers, prior to it embarking for Normandy, in June 1944. It the served with the Division until the end of the war, where it finished the war in Kiel. The regiment transferred to 11th Armoured Division in June 1945.
It retained this name of 65th Anti-Tank Regiment, RA (Norfolk Yeomanry), until 1947 when it was re-named 389th (The King's Own Regiment, Norfolk Yeomanry) Light Anti-Aircraft Regiment, RA.
The Regiment became 284th (King's Own Regiment, Norfolk Yeomanry) Light Anti-Aircraft Regiment, RA (amalgamated with 284th (1st East Anglian) (M) HAA Regiment, RA), in 1955, until in 1961 when it was amalgamated with 358th (Suffolk Yeomanry) Field Regiment, RA, to form 308th (Suffolk and Norfolk Yeomanry) Field Regiment, RA.
The Norfolk and Suffolk Yeomanry now form 202 (Suffolk and Norfolk Yeomanry) Battery of the 106th (Yeomanry) Regiment RA (Volunteers), which was formed on 1st July 1991.
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The Regiment was under the command of the 11th Indian Brigade at the start of Second World War, in the Nile Delta. It consisted of the 4th, 7th, 14th, 66th Field Batteries. It then served with 4th Indian Division from May 1940, in North Africa, before moving to Sudan to serve with 9th Indian Brigade and 5th Indian Division, serving with the latter at Keren, Eritrea in March 1941.
It returned to North Africa in May 1941, briefly serving with 6th Infantry Division, before again serving with 5th Indian Division in Crete and North Africa, including the Cauldron in 1942. It then served with 4th Indian Division and 44th Infantry Division, before serving with 7th Armoured Division at El Alamein having become a Field Regiment. It left 7th Armoured Division sometime in late 1942, serving briefly with 1st Armoured Division, before returning to Egypt.
It then remained as part of the Royal Artillery Base Depot in Egypt, until February 1943, when it rejoined 5th Indian Division serving in Palestine, It then moved to India with 5th Indian Division and served with it in Burma until June 1945 when it joined 17th Indian Division.
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The Regiment was stationed at Aldershot when war was declared, as part of 1st Infantry Division and consisted of 22nd/56th, 50th/70th Field Batteries. It served with the 1st Infantry Division during in the B.E.F. during the fall of France, equipped with 18/25 pdrs. After being re-formed, following its evacuation it served with 48th (South Midland) Infantry Division from January 1940 and by August 1942 it was a Home Forces unit under Army or Corps command, by now consisting of 22nd, 50th and 56th Batteries. In January 1943, the regiment move to the Middle East and by July 1943 was under 8th Army Command for the invasion of Sicily as part of 6th AGRA (Army Group Royal Artillery), XIII Corps.
In September 1943, the regiment was part of 2nd AGRA, X Corps, equipped with 105mm M7 Priest Self Propelled Guns. As an AGRA unit it was attached to 7th Armoured Division as needed for various engagements. In June 1944, it was back under command of 1st Infantry Division, taking part in the Anzio landings. The regiment then remained in Italy until the end of the war.
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This Territorial Army (TA) Regiment originally consisted of 203rd (Cumberland) and 370th (Cumberland Yeomanry) Batteries,and served in Norway in 1940, having been detached from the 42nd (East Lancashire) Division, before being evacuated back to Scotland at the end of the Norwegian campaign. As well as one Battery serving with the 7th Armoured Division in November 1941, the other batteries fought with the 9th Australian Infantry Division within the Tobruk Garrison, during the siege of that year. In February 1942, it was in Ceylon (now Sri Lanka) as part of 16th Infantry Brigade, but by February 1943, it had joined 70th Infantry Division, serving in India, before being put into suspended animation in September 1943.
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The 53rd (Bolton) FieldRegiment (TA), consisting of 209th and 210th (East Lancashire) Batteries served with the BEF (British Expeditionary Force) in France in 1940, in the 42nd (East Lancashire) Division, along side the 51st Field Regiment, and was evacuated at Dunkirk. Later 438th Battery joined the Regiment and it served with the 7th Armoured Division during El Alamein in October 1942. Later it served with the 8th Indian Division in Italy, including the battles for Cassino. It returned to the UK in July 1945.
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The badge of the Royal Artillery includes the word 'Ubique', which is the Latin word for 'everywhere'. This was particularly appropriate the 60th Field Regiment, two batteries of Territorial Army part-time soldiers from the Lincoln and Grimsby areas.
During World War II they fought in Belgium, France, Iraq, Syria, Libya, India and Burma—quite possibly the only regiment in the British Army to do so. So they were not only 'Ubique', they were probably unique as well.
1939/40 - France & Belgium
The men from Lincolnshire were called-up just before the outbreak of war in 1939. A few weeks later both batteries came together when they set off for Bordon, in Hampshire. They called themselves the 'Lincolnshire Gunners' On the 1st of January 1940 the regiment left for France. When the Germans invaded Holland and Belgium on the 10th of May, the 60th Field Regiment, with the rest of the British Army, moved into Belgium But the Germans had a much larger force further south, and once they had crossed the River Meuse they moved rapidly through France. Within a few days they reached the Channel and the British army was cut off from the French army.
1940 - Evacuation & Defending Britain
The Lincoln battery (237) went into action along the Ypres canal, whilst the Grimsby battery (239) was rushed to Nieuport where they fired their guns until there were no shells left. The regiment had to destroy all their guns and equipment and make their way to Dunkirk, where they joined thousands of others to be picked up by ships and taken back to England. The Germans might have invaded England at any time and the regiment had a stretch of the south coast to defend. There were no artillery guns and for many weeks they only had their rifles. There was a great deal of activity in the air overhead as The Battle of Britain was being fought.
1941 - The Gulf War
Late in 1940 the regiment received twenty-four 18/25 Pounders and in January 1941 they left to go to the Middle East. The 60th Field Regiment was part of a pathetically small force of less than 2000 men which was gathered to go to Iraq, where a pro-German dictator had seized power. The force included men from Glubb Pasha's Arab Legion, known to the troops as 'Glubb's girls' because of their long-flowing robes. They were facing the entire Iraqi army of four divisions that had been trained and equipped by the British. Astonishingly, thanks to good luck and sheer audacity on the part of the Allied forces, the Iraqi army surrendered - under the impression that they were facing a heavily armed Allied force of 60,000 troops!
1941 - Syria - Fighting the French
Whilst in Iraq, the Allied forces had been strafed by German and Italian planes which were thought to be using bases in the neighbouring country of Syria, which was administered by the Vichy French and was supposed to be neutral. Two troops from 239 battery were sent back to assist an Allied force (which included Australians and Free French) to invade Syria from Palestine, whilst 237 battery was sent to attack Syria from the east. It was thought that the French would not offer any resistance against their former allies. But they put up strong resistance, and several thousand men on both sides were killed or wounded in this little known conflict between former Allies.
The 60th Field Regiment returned to Egypt in September 1941 and 'C' troop rejoined them from Cyprus. They were re-equipped with brand-new 25-pounder guns.
They were now in the 7th Support Group of the 7th Armoured Division of the 8th Army—the famous 'Desert Rats'. The regiment crossed the frontier wire between Egypt and Libya with the rest of the 7th Armoured Division in November 1941 to take part in 'Operation Crusader'.
On 21st November the 7th Armoured Brigade had just started to mount an attack to relieve the beleaguered garrison in Tobruk, when they were attacked in the rear by the Afrika Korps. For three days the 60th Field Regiment was in the forefront, trying to repel the might of both of Rommel's Panzer Divisions. The Grimsby battery fared particularly badly. Many of their men were killed, wounded or taken prisoner and almost all of their guns were put out of action.
February, 1942, and Japan had entered the war. The regiment boarded a troopship and landed at Bombay. They crossed India overland and were based at a large camp not far from Calcutta. They stayed here for about a year.
In September 1943 there was a bombshell. The regiment was ordered to hand over their precious guns and start training in jungle warfare infantry. The regiment was now part of the 23rd Brigade, one of Wingate's six Chindit brigades.
The Japanese had invaded India, and there was desperate fighting around Imphal and Kohima. The 23rd Brigade did not join the rest of the Chindits, but were ordered to go behind the lines of the Japanese who were attacking India instead.
The regiment's two columns climbed up and down the mountains of the Naga Hills, deep behind the enemy lines, in a climate that has the highest rainfall in the world. Most of the men suffered malaria and the agonies of dysentery.
Because of the weather it was sometimes impossible for supply drops to be made. After three months, only 300 men from the 800 in the two columns were in any sort of state to go on. But the tide had turned in the Allies' favour, and so, at last they came out of the jungle. Their long trek on foot through several hundreds of miles of forest and mountainous country, in incessant pouring rain, was over at last.
Shortly afterwards came the stupendous news that men who had been overseas for longer than 3 years and 9 months were to be repatriated home. The 60th Field Regiment just qualified, and they were home for Christmas 1944.
After leave, the men reported to the Royal Artillery depot at Woolwich to be told that the regiment had been put into a state of 'Suspended Animation'—in other words, it no longer existed. Gradually the men were posted to other units, and one or two even returned to active service in Germany.
Most of the men were de-mobbed in the spring of 1946, having served in the regiment for six and a half years and having been in action in Belgium, France, Iraq, Syria, Libya, India and Burma
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The Regiment was part of the Territorial Army, based in Bangor, Wales, at the start of the Second World War, consisting of 241st (Carnarvon) and 244th (Denbigh) Batteries. It served with the BEF during the fall of France in 1940. It joined the 8th Army in late 1942, serving in the Western Desert and Palestine, before serving under the command served with the 7th Armoured Division, in Italy, until the Division returned to England. In September 1943, the regiment was part of 2nd AGRA, X Corps, equipped with 7.2 inch Howitzers and an AGRA unit it was attached to 7th Armoured Division as needed for various engagements. After serving as part of 2nd AGRA (Army Group Royal Artillery), in Italy and the Middle East, the regiment returned to the UK and then moved to Northern Europe, finishing the war as part of the 2nd Army in North West Europe.
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Kent and Sharpshooters Yeomanry Museum
The collection of uniforms, badges, medals, weapons, models, paintings and photographs belonging to the East Kent Yeomanry, West Kent Yeomanry and the 3rd/4th County of London Yeomanry (Sharpshooters) is displayed here.
Museum Website: http://www.ksymuseum.orguk/ksytop2.htm
The 6th (Kent) Army Brigade, RFA formed by amalgamation of The Royal East Kent Mounted Rifles (The Duke of Connaught’s Own), and The West Kent Yeomanry (Queen’s Own), in 1920. In 1921 it became the 97th (Kent Yeomanry) Brigade, RFA, consisting of 385th and 386th (Duke of Connaught's Own Yeomanry) Batteries, and 387th and 388th (Queen's Own Yeomanry) Batteries.
In 1938 the unit was re-designated as the 97th (Kent Yeomanry) Army Field Regiment, RA and in 1939 the 143rd Field Regiment, RA (Kent Yeomanry) was formed as a duplicate of 97th Regiment, as part of the Territorial Army, with 385th and 387th Batteries.
It served with 5th Infantry Division, during the Fall of France, though 385th Battery saw action at St Valery en Caux, with 51st Highland Division in June 1940. Most of 385th Battery were captured along with the Highlanders, but some escaped back to the UK arriving many days after the end of the evacuation from Dunkirk. The regiment then served with 10th Army and 10th Indian Division in Iraq in 1941, by which time 470th Battery had been formed. It joined 7th Armoured Division in July 1942 and remained with it until December 1942.
In 1942 it was re-titled as the 97th (Kent Yeomanry) Field Regiment, RA, and in October 1943 it rejoined 10th Indian Division, serving in North Africa, Palestine and Italy, until the end of the war.
In 1947 it became the 297th (Kent Yeomanry) Light Anti-Aircraft Regiment, RA, before being disbanded.
Later in 1961 the Kent Yeomanry was amalgamated with 3rd/4th County of London Yeomanry (Sharpshooters), to form Kent and County of London Yeomanry (Sharpshooters).
After many changes during the 1960's, in 1973 the unit became Kent and Sharpshooters Yeomanry, with two squadrons; C (Kent and Sharpshooters Yeomanry) Squadron, The Royal Yeomanry at Croydon and 265 (Kent and Sharpshooters Yeomanry) Squadron, 71st (Yeomanry) Signal Regiment, Royal Signals at Bexleyheath. By 1987 a third squadron had been formed as 71 Signal Regt raised HQ (Kent and County of London Yeomanry) Squadron at Bexleyheath, with 265 Sqn formed Troop at Brighton.
|Army Website for HQ Squadron (Kent and County of London Yeomanry), 71st (Yeomanry) Signal Regiment.|
|Army Website for 265 (Kent and County of London Yeomanry) Signal Squadron, 71st (Yeomanry) Signal Regiment.|
|Kent and Sharpshooters Yeomanry Page for 97th (Kent Yeomanry) Army Field Regiment|
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The Regimental Badge was granted by Royal Warrant from Queen Victoria on 18th May 1853, with ICH DIEN FISHGUARD with FISHGUARD being the battle honour on the original standard. This honour dates back to the last invasion of the UK on 23rd February 1979 when 1400 Frenchmen under the command of the Irish American Colonel William Tate, landed at Carreg Wastad Point near Fishguard. A force of 750 Yeoman under Lord Cawdor convinces Col. Tate to surrender, which he did on Goodwick Sands on 24th February 1797. The battle honour ICH DIEN FISHGUARD remains the only one to be held by any regiment of the British Army for defeating an enemy within the British Isles.
The 146th Field Regiment (TA) started the war as part of 38th (Welsh) Infantry Division, consisting of 407 (Cardigan) and 408 (Cardigan) Batteries. It joined 8th Armoured Division in May 1942 and originally served in North Africa as part the Support Group of the 8th Armoured Division. However, the 8th Support Group was disbanded upon arrival and the Regiment eventually joined the Division in November 1942. It then served with the Division in North Africa with 407 Battery relieving K Battery of 5 RHA in support of 131st Queen's Brigade for an attack on Zuara on 1st February 1943. The regiment continued to serve with the Division until the latter was recalled to the UK prior to its training for the Normandy Landings. The Regiment continued to serve in Italy where it was converted to 146th Medium Artillery Regiment in December 1943. It was taken out of the line at Cassino on 13th January 1944 and returned to the UK in March 1944 as part of the 2nd Army and then served as part of 9 AGRA (Army Group Royal Artillery) in North West Europe until the end of the war.
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In September 1939 the batteries that were later to form 1st Light Anti Aircraft Regiment, RA, were the fourth battery of normal Anti-Aircraft Regiments, as follows;
2nd LAA Battery 2nd Anti-Aircraft Regiment, at Lichfield.
3rd LAA Battery 4th Anti-Aircraft Regiment, at Bulford.
4th LAA Battery 1st Anti-Aircraft Regiment, at Lichfield.
It was as part of these Anti-Aircraft Regiments that they served in the BEF in France 1940. After evacuation at 2nd, 3rd and 4th Light Anti-Aircraft Batteries formed 1st Anti-Aircraft Regiment at Woolwich in June 1940 and were re-equipped with 40mm Bofors and served in the Home Counties until 1941. On 9th May 1941, 1st LAA under Lt. Col. BL de Robeck, arrived Middle East and went straight into the Western Desert, where it joined the Division in late 1941, seeing action during Operation Crusader. In was in these actions that regiment made a name for itself. According to the 7th Armoured Division Order of Battle at the start of Crusader, the regiment was assigned as follows:
On 20th Nov 41 - 2nd Bty reported shooting down Ju 87 and 4 Bty a Dornier Do 215 for loss of 2 men killed and one wounded. Later during 7th Support Group's attack on Sidi Rezegh, 21st November 1941, 2 Bty was assigned to support a mixed group under command 2nd Rifle Brigade. On moving into position at Sidi Rezegh airstrip, a force of 60 enemy tanks appeared and opened a withering fire backed by hidden artillery. The tanks surged across the airfield knocking out 2 Bofors guns. British tanks arrived and met the Germans head on but were shelled to a halt. At dusk two of the LAA Troops withdrew and rejoined the 2nd Rifle Brigade. The column set out again at dawn but enemy tanks appeared and swept pass. The Bty fought a quick halt action engagement but without success. During these actionsB Troop, 2 Bty was engaged by a number of tanks. Returning fire a number of direct hits were observed on the tanks. On withdrawal one gun received a direct hit and was abandoned, 3 OR's were killed and several wounded. Lt McSwiney awarded the MC for his part in the action.
On 22nd November 1941, B Troop 4 Bty in action against Ju 87's, with one enemy aircraft being shot down. Later an attack by Ju 87's on 7th Support Group HQ was countered by strong AA fire from 2 Bty and 1 enemy aircraft was destroyed. On 23rd November, 3 enemy tanks accompanied by staff cars entered A Troop, 2 Bty lines. These were thought to be the first captured tanks brought in but when a few yards from one of the Bofors, the tank commander opened fire with a machine pistol and wounded Lt. Wells and 4 OR's. A second Bofors opened fire on the tank scoring 3 hits with HE causing it to burst into flames. The wounded were taken to the Advanced Dressing Station (ADS) which was later captured. D Troop, 2 Bty was attacked by enemy tanks and 2nd Lt. Brettell and 4 OR's captured. 2nd Lt. Brettell later escaped and for this and his part in various other tank actions was awarded an MC.
On 4th December 1941 - A Troop, 3 Bty engaged a formation of 17 Ju 87's, with 24 hits being registered and 5 planes were seen to be on fire. A Troop then engaged three Me 109's chasing Hurricanes. The first was hit and caught fire and they broke off the action. One was later seen to crash 3 miles away. On 8th December D Troop, 3 Bty salvaged 3 South African Bofors to make up for its losses. On 18th December 1941 - A Troop attacked by 15 Hurricanes and the guns had to open fire in self protection and one plane was brought down and on another occasion C Troop was attacked by 24 Tomohawks and 2 men were killed. Such was the confusion of battle
In the 4 months November 41 to March 42, 1st LAA destroyed 178 enemy aircraft, damaged 53 and destroyed 18 tanks.
In early in 1942, the 15th Light Anti Aircraft Regiment replaced 1st Light Anti Aircraft Regiment in the 7th Armoured Division. It then continued to serve in the Middle East for the remainder of the North African campaign, as part of 21st AA Brigade defending, Suez Canal, Cairo, Suez, in May 1943, before moving in September 1943, to the Dodecanese Islands of Kos and Leros. 1st LAA then ended the war in Palestine in 1945, as part of the 1st Infantry Division. In 1947 it was renamed 80th Light Anti Aircraft Regiment, RA, before being disbanded in 1956.
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Museum of the Manx Regiment
Isle of Man
Tel: 01624 829294
Raised as a Territorial unit in the summer of 1938, the 15th (Isle of Man) Light Anti Aircraft Regiment, Royal Artillery consisted of a Regimental Headquarters and two Batteries, the 41st and 42nd at the beginning of the War. It was armed partly with Vickers, partly with Lewis guns and partly with Bofors. Some months later, and for the rest of the War, it was armed with Bofors.
On 24th August, 1939, the Regiment was mobilised and sailed to Liverpool to take up the anti aircraft defence of the Mersey from Gladstone dock to Princes landing stage. Four days later, 129th Battery was raised on the Isle of Man to complete the Regiment’s establishment of three Batteries. Shortly after the outbreak of war on 3rd September, 1939, a Company of A.T.S. was also raised on the Island and was affiliated to the Regiment for service in Great Britain, joining them for duty at the end of that month.
In October, 1939, the Regiment was dispersed for operational duties in the Midlands and Southwest of England. The Batteries and their Troops first served in the Cotswolds area protecting air fields, and later in places as wide apart as Portsmouth, Southampton, the Isle of Wright, Dorset and Plymouth during the Battle of Britain.
On 19th November, 1940, the Regiment embarked for the Middle East, disembarking in Egypt. There, to meet the great demand for light anti aircraft artillery, the Batteries parted company. 41 Battery sailed for the East African theatre of war and fought with the famous 4th and 5th Indian Divisions in the Sudan, Eritrea and Abyssinia and witnessed the surrender of the Italian forces. 129th Battery sailed for Crete, where in May 1941, all except one officer and thirty others were taken prisoner. 129th was the last defensive Battery in action in Crete before it was overrun by the German forces. In the meantime, Regiment H.Q. and 42nd Battery remained in Egypt and were responsible for the anti aircraft defence of the Suez Canal from Port Said to Suez, in which task they were joined by 41st Battery on its return from East Africa.
Early in 1942, 1st LAA Battery, the Senior Regular Anti-Aircraft Battery of the British Army, with experience in France prior to Dunkirk and the first desert push under General Wavell, joined the Regiment to replace the 129th Battery, from 13th Light Anti-Aircraft Regiment. The Regiment then moved into the Libyan Desert and did forward work with desert columns. Then back to Alamein in the setback of June 1942. In July, 1942, the Regiment joined the famous 7th Armoured Division (the Desert Rats) and remained with the Division until the end of the War.
From 23rd of October, 1942 (Alamein Day), the Regiment moved forward (not without fighting, and not without casualties) from Alamein through Libya, Cyrenaica, Tripolitania and finally Tunisia to witness the final surrender of all the enemy forces in North Africa. The regiment then crossed to Italy, landing at Salerno, before moving onto Naples. It later took part in the crossing of the Volturno and then moved on to the Garigliano river.
In January, 1944, the Regiment returned to England and for five months refitted and trained for the Normandy Invasion on 6th June, 1944. Landing on the beach by Ouvranches, the Regiment were involved in many famous battles on the journey through France, Belgium, Holland and finally to Hamburg and the final surrender of the German armies, and the end of the War in Europe. The regiment remained in the Hamburg area and did not go to Berlin with the rest of the Division. Nor did it take part in the Victory Parade and by September 1945 only 59 'old' members of regiment remained with it having received approximately 800 reinforcements, by the end of the war.
During all their campaigns, men of the Regiment had shot down planes, and shot up tanks and infantry, acting not only as anti aircraft gunners, but also in the role of anti-tank gunners and light artillery as well.
With over 300 planes actually shot down, and with its lengthy record of active service overseas against the enemy, the Regiment is unrivalled by any other light anti aircraft Regiment in the British Army, and can claim to have lived up to the gunners two proud challenges "Ubique" and "Quo fas et gloria Ducunt".
A summary of the Regimental War Diaries and a Roll of Honour of the Fallen, can be found here.
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Counter Mortar Battery
By 1944, Mortars had become a major menace (as were also the infamous Nebelwerfers when they appeared) and being short range weapons in their design, their use was very different to guns. To counter this threat separate Counter-Mortar organisations were created of as part of British Divisions in Italy, in May 1944. Similarly following the invasion of NW Europe, the creation of Divisional counter-mortar batteries were formally authorised, in late 1944. Their role was to gather information using 4-pen sound records and later on radar detection systems to predict where the fighting mortars were located. The Counter Mortar Battery was developed from the Counter Bombardment organise that the Royal Artillery used already at a Corps level, which was devolved down to work with individual Divisions as needed.
When the firing mortars were detected Counter-mortar shoots were organised using a fire usually used airburst HE or other mortars and where possible 4.2-inch Mortars were used when they were available, along with the normal Field Artillery within the Division's compliment. Bombarding mortars was a different matter to bombarding to guns because mortars, being small with few vulnerable parts, and therefore very difficult to destroy. So the main goal was to cause casualties to the mortar crews, instead. It was also essential that a quick response was provided when a mortar was located, as they could easily be moved, so often Counter Mortar officers were assigned a battery, to shorten the lines of communication.
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