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The Royal Regiment
of Artillery

History of the Regiment

There have been gunners ever since the invention of guns in the 13th century, and the first official gunners were appointed

in 1485, as part of what became the Board of Ordnance. Throughout the next 400 years the forts around Britain had

master gunners permanently appointed by the Board of Ordnance. Trains of artillery were formed for campaigning both

at home and abroad, with guns and the men to serve them.


1716 to 1800


In 1716, under a Royal Warrant, two companies of artillery, each of 100 men, were formed at the Woolwich Warren

(later the Royal Arsenal) to ensure that a regular force of gunners was available when needed. Woolwich has been the

spiritual home of the 'Gunners' ever since that time, although the Regiment had moved to its famous barracks on

Woolwich Common by 1805.


The Regiment expanded rapidly in the 18th century and saw service in every campaign and every garrison world-wide.

In 1793, the Royal Horse Artillery was formed to provide greater mobility in the field, and soon became associated with

the role of supporting cavalry. The RHA performed so well that it became a corps d'elite within the Regiment.


The 19th Century


The 19th century saw the Regiment heavily engaged in the Crimean War and the South African War. Throughout the

century, it was campaigning in India alongside the separate artilleries of the East India Company. This led to their

amalgamation with the British Army after the Indian Mutiny, bringing some famous batteries into the Regiment.


The 20th Century


The science of artillery grew rapidly under the pressure of the Industrial Revolution and by the end of the 19th century,

the need for indirect fire brought major changes. Guns became ever more powerful, firing more efficient munitions to

longer ranges with increased accuracy and greater speed. The Great War of 1914-18 was to prove an artillery war, and

the number of gunners increased dramatically, serving 6,655 guns by the end of the war, with anti-aircraft (AA) guns

joining in against the new threat from the air.


The inter-war years provided active service on the fringes of the Empire, but the 1930s saw the Regiment once again

arming for war. Full mechanisation now replaced the horses which had served the Regiment for so long. In the war

which ensued, the Regiment again provided firepower in every theatre, on land, at sea in the Maritime Artillery, and in

the air with Air Observation Posts. Gunners manned huge numbers of AA guns both in the field and in the home base.

Many of the AA Regiments were formed from Territorial Army units. Most of the Light AA gunners began the war

as infantrymen. Despite the reduction of the Army in the post-war years, the Regiment has been armed with some

of the most potent, long-ranged weapons it has ever manned. Today it uses the wide span of technology of all

the Arms, with virtually no branch of military science unexplored.


But the Regiment's history is the foundation stone on which it rests. For over 280 years of unbroken service since 1716,

and reaching back a further 400 years to the first bombard, artillerymen have provided the Army with the firepower it

has needed in Defence and attack. In 1833, King William IV recognised that to continue granting Battle Honours to

the Regiment would result in an excessive list, and granted instead a single Battle Honour, the motto Ubique

(Everywhere), with an accompanying motto Quo Fas Et Gloria Ducunt (Whither Right and Glory Lead).


Today, the Royal Regiment of Artillery forms a powerful and complex branch of the Army. It is the only section of the

Army which has employed Nuclear weapons, and during the Cold War formed one of the premier deterrents to a

Soviet Armoured advance through Central Europe. US and British Lance missiles would have almost certainly been

used to even the odds, the far-outnumbered NATO Armoured forces would have had to face.

Indirect fire forms the Artillery's second role, providing a depth of fire designed to disrupt, delay and destroy

enemy forces before they can come into contact with friendly forces. And in the third role, defends the mobile Army

from air attack. Although it did have the role of Anti-tank Swingfire operation for a time, that role has been

absorbed by the Royal Armoured Corps.


The Royal Regiment of Artillery has operated in its existence everything from light cannon, to huge siege pieces, through

to the end of the Cold War and Nuclear Weapons, and now onto the realm of smart munitions and the MLRS. Today

the Royal Regiment of Artillery is combined with the Royal Horse Artillery to form the Royal Artillery.


Events from the History of the Royal Regiment of Artillery


1346 - Battle of Crécy. First recorded use of cannon.

1544 - Term "Train of Artillery" noted for the first time.

1678 - Appointment of Master Gunner of Whitehall and St James's park instituted.

1716 - First two Companies of Artillery formed br Royal Warrent at Woolwich.

1720 - Title 'Royal Artillery' first used.

1722 - Royal Regiment of Artillery of four Companies formed.

1741 - Royal Military Academy formed in Royal Arsenal at Woolwich.

1748 - Presidential Artilleries of Bengal, Madras and Bombay formed.

1756 - Royal Irish Regiment of Artillery formed.

1762 - RA Band formed in Minden (oldest British orchestra).

1782 - RA moved to current RA Barracks (Front Parade) on Woolwich Common.

1793 - First Troop of Royal Horse Artillery Formed.

1801 - Royal Irish Regiment of Artillery incorporated into the Royal Artillery.

1805 - Royal Military Academy moved to Woolwich Common for RA and RE Officers.

1819 - Rotunda given by Prince Regent to celebrate end of the Napoleonic Wars.

 - First military museum and training centre.

1832 - Regimental Mottoes granted.

1855 - Control of the Royal Artillery was transferred from the Board of Ordnance to the War Department.

1859 - School of Gunnery established at Shoeburyness, Essex.

1862 - Presidential Artilleries of Bengal, Madras and Bombay transferred to the Royal Artillery.

1920 - Rank of Bombardier instituted in the Royal Artillery.

1924 - The Royal Regiment once more became one Regiment.

1947 - The Riding Troop RHA was renamed The King's Troop RHA.

1951 - The appointment of Colonel-in-Chief became Captain General.


The Royal Regiment of Artillery


 When guns were needed to serve at home or abroad, a train of artillery had to be authorized by a royal warrant, and

it was disbanded again on the cessation of hostilities.  This system led to much confusion and delay, and in the Jacobite

Rebellion of 1715 it took so long to mobilize a train that the rebellion was over before the guns were ready.

 It was then decided to organize a permanent force of artillery, and so on the 26th May 1716 two companies of artillery

were created by royal warrant of King George I and were formed a Woolwich.  Six years later on 1st April 1722 these

two companies were grouped together with companies at Gibraltar and Minorca to form the Royal Regiment

of Artillery, Colonel Albert Bogard being appointed as its first Colonel.

During the eighteenth century the Regiment continued to grow and by 1757 there were 24 companies apart from the

Cadet Company formed in 1741.  They were divided into two battalions of 12 companies each, with appropriate staffs.  

In 1771 there were four battalions consisting of eight companies and an additional two Invalid companies each, the latter

being raised for garrison duties in order to free other companies for active service overseas.

 Civilian wagons and horses were still being hired to move the guns and it was only in 1794 that the `Corps of Captains

Commissaries and Drivers' was formed to provide drivers and teams for the field guns.  (The RHA formed in 1793 already

had its own horses and teams for each troop).  In 1801 this Corps was replaced by a similar organisation called the Corps

of Gunner Drivers.  This was also unsatisfactory, and in 1806 its title was changed to the Royal Artillery Drivers.  Finally

in 1822 this Corps (already greatly reduced in establishment since 1815) was disbanded and recruits were enlisted as

`Gunner and Driver'.  This continued until after 1918 when enlistments were made as Gunner only.


In 1833 King William IV granted the Regiment the privilege of bearing the Royal Arms over a gun with the Motto

UBIQUE (Everywhere), followed by QUO FAS ET GLORIA DUCUNT (Whither right and glory lead).  In 1855

the Board of Ordnance was abolished, and the Royal Artillery, together with the Royal Engineers, came under the

Commander-in-Chief and the War Office like the rest of the Army.

 In 1859 the companies ceased to be organised into battalions, and were brigaded instead, at the same time being

referred to as batteries instead of companies.  In 1861 after the Indian Mutiny the Royal Artillery received the addition

of 21 troops of Horse Artillery and 48 batteries from the three Indian Presidencies, and so now comprised

29 RHA batteries, 73 field batteries, and 88 garrison batteries.

On 1st July 1899 the Royal Artillery was divided into two distinct branches - mounted and dismounted.  A royal

warrant established the Royal Garrison Artillery as a separate Corps from Royal Horse Artillery and Royal Field Artillery,

and decided that it was to man the Coast Defence Units, the Mountain Batteries, and the Heavy and Siege batteries.

 However, this decision was reversed in 1924 and both branches were united into a single Corps - The Royal Artillery.

In 1938 the decision was taken to mechanise the Horse and Field Artillery, and to adopt a new organisation for

 these units, and for the medium artillery.  In place of `brigade' the term `regiment' was substituted.


On 1st April 1947 all batteries except RHA were placed on a single roll.  Batteries were numbered on this roll

throughout the whole regiment, so that there was only one battery bearing any particular number.

Changes after the second World War comprised the abolition of Anti-Tank Artillery, and in the middle of the

1950s the abolition of the Anti-Aircraft Command and the entire Coast Artillery organisation.

 In 1993 after the Strategic Defence Review the Royal Artillery was cut down to 17 Full Time Regiments

(Inc 4 RHA) and 7 Territorial Regiments.


The Royal Horse Artillery

Until the end of the 18th century gunners had to walk beside their guns, which meant that movement was slow.  

On many occasions the officers (who were mounted) had to manhandle the guns into action before their men arrived.

The solution was obvious and in January 1793 two troops of Horse Artillery were raised, differing from field units in

that all personnel were mounted.  Two more troops were formed in November 1793, and each troop had six 6-pounder

guns with 45 drivers and 186 horses on their establishment, a self-contained mobile fighting unit of artillery had at last

come into existence.  The superior organisation of the RHA troops enabled them to develop from the first a very high

standard of discipline and efficiency, which has never been allowed to weaken.

After Waterloo, seven troops of RHA were disbanded between 1816 and 1819 (including 2nd Rocket Troop) and

the others were reduced to a skeleton establishment, barely sufficient to man two guns apiece.  Nevertheless the corps

survived, and after the Crimean War the Royal Horse Artillery was formed into a Horse Brigade.  In 1861 the Horse

Artillery batteries from the Indian establishment increased the strength by four brigades, making a total of five.  


In 1871, under the stimulus of the Franco-Prussian War, a further reorganisation took place, whereby one RHA

battery was added to the Regiment, making a total of 31 batteries in the RHA.  Six years later, however the RHA was

again reorganised, this time into three brigades (10 batteries and one Depot Battery to each brigade).  In 1882 the

brigades were reduced to two (each of 13 batteries) and a depot (a reduction of 5 batteries).  Following the outbreak

of the South African War in 1900 there was an increase of 7 batteries, and during the 1st World War the Regiment

expanded to 50 RHA batteries.  But the end of the war brought the inevitable reductions, and by 1936 the strength

was 3 brigades and five unbrigaded batteries, a total of 14 batteries.  By 1940 the batteries were mechanised,

except for a ceremonial RHA Troop in London (The Riding Troop).


In 1947 King George VI inspected the Riding Troop (which had been formed for ceremonial duties) at St. John's Wood.  

He created history by erasing the title of the troop and inserting the words `The King's Troop' a title which

Queen Elizabeth II was pleased to leave unchanged.

 In 1959 there were five RHA Regiments with a total of 15 batteries and the King's Troop making the sixteenth.  

But by 1969 further reductions had taken place and the strength now comprises:

 The King's Troop RHA

1st Regiment RHA

3rd Regiment RHA

7th Parachute Regiment RHA

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The Regimental Cap Badge and Crest is a Gun surmounted by a crown with the Regimental Mottoes

'Ubique' meaning "Everywhere" and 'Quo Fas et Gloria Ducunt', "Where right and glory lead" on

scrolls above and below the gun (approved 1902).


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.


The Royal Horse Artillery Cap Badge and Crest is the Royal Cypher encircled by a Garter bearing the Royal Motto

'Honi Soit Qui Maly Pense' meaning 'Woe to he who think ill of it'. It is surmounted by a crown over a scroll bearing

the words 'Royal Horse Artillery', the badge has no backing and the centre is not coloured (Granted in 1948).

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The Regimental Monogram consists of the letters R and A reversed and interlaced and surmounted by a crown.

The Monogram may be used instead of the Crest on note - paper etc.


The Grenade badge has been used since at least 1831, and has been worn mainly as a collar badge but also

as a cap badge for the first service cap. Although called the 'Grenade' badge its artillery origin is that of a mortar shell.

It was originall without the 'Ubique' scroll.


Origins of the Lanyard

by The Royal Artillery Institution

There has long been a tale about the Gunners wearing a white lanyard for cowardice, allegedly for deserting their guns,

but the story is nothing more than a piece of leg-pulling. However, it is time to put this particular story to rest.


Lanyards came into use in the late 19th century when Field Gunners manned the 12 and 15 Pounder equipments,

ammunition for which had a fuze set with a fuze key. The key was a simple device, and every man had one, attached

to a lanyard worn around the neck. The key itself tended to be kept in the breast pocket until needed. The lanyard was

simply a piece of strong cord, but in time it was a typical soldier's reaction to turn it into something a bit more decorative.

It was smartened up with white ink or even blanco, and braided, gradually taking its present form.


Prior to the South African War, Gunners were issued with steel folding hoof picks, carried on the saddle or in the jacket.

In about 1903 these were withdrawn and replaced by jack-knives, which were carried in the left breast pocket of the

Service Dress attached to the lanyard over the left shoulder.


During the two World Wars, the lanyard could be used as an emergency firing lanyard for many of the guns, because

they had a firing mechanism which operated like a trigger. The lanyard could be attached to the trigger mechanism and

allowed the Gunner to stand clear of the gun's recoil.


The question of which shoulder bore the lanyard depends on the date. There is no certainty about this, but the change

from the left shoulder to the right probable took place at about the time of the Great War, when the bandolier was

introduced, because it was worn over the left shoulder. But there are some who insist that 1924 was the date of change,

when the sloping of rifles over the left shoulder would soil the white lanyard.


Eventually, in 1933, the end of the lanyard was simply tucked into the breast pocket without the jack-knife, though

many will remember that it was often kept in place with the soldier's pay-book! On the demise of Battledress, the

lanyard disappeared for a short time, but returned as part of the dress of the Royal Regiment of Artillery in 1973.


For those still plagued by jokers, the simplest answer to any leg-pulling is to invite the joker to produce evidence:

no change can take place to any of the Army's dress regulations without an appropriate order,

and since no such evidence exists, the joker's story falls flat on its face.


. One might even ask why other arms and corps wear lanyards -

They say that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery!!!




Battle Honours seek to record occasions when a unit has distinguished itself in war. Commemorations

of suchnotable exploits of a unit's past help create and maintain a pride within itself.

The first Battle Honour, or Honorary Distinction as it was correctly called, was awarded in the British Army

to the 18th Royal Irish Regiment by King William III for its service at the siege of Namur in 1695.

Thereafter the custom of granting Battle Honours became more common.


All the regiments which took part in the defence of Gibraltar (during the Great Siege of 1779-83) were

 allowed to bear the title "GIBRALTAR". This included a number of batteries from the Royal Artillery.

The Gunners were also awarded the Battle Honour WATERLOO.


In 1833, the Gunners were granted two mottos, "UBIQUE" and "QUO FAS ET GLORIA DUCUNT".

It was stated that "UBIQUE" (Everywhere) was also to be granted as a Battle Honour and was to substitute

for "all other terms of distinction for the whole Regiment".

This was the end of all other Battle Honours in the Royal Artillery.


A committee was assembled in 1882, under Major General Sir Archibald Allison, to review all the past

history of the British Army and to regularise the holding and the granting of Battle Honours, less the

Royal Artillery who had already been given the single Battle Honour UBIQUE.


The Honour is unique to the Gunners. It simply means that wherever there is a battle the

Gunners are there, serving and supporting.






The Royal Horse Artillery, when on parade with its guns, takes precedence over all other Regiments and Corps of

the British Army. Otherwise the precedence is LG and RHG/D, RHA, RAC, RA followed by other Arms and Services.




The Colours of the Royal Regiment of Artillery are its Guns or Guided Weapons. When on parade on Ceremonial

occasions the Guns and Guided Weapons are to be accorded the same compliments as the Standards, Guidons

and Colours of the Cavalry and Infantry.


Mottoes and Arms


The Regimental Mottoes and Arms were granted by King William IV in 1832.


 Ubique - Everywhere,

 Quo Fas et Gloria Ducunt - Where Right and Glory lead.


A general Regimental Order was published in 1833 which stated that the word 'Ubique' was to be substituted in lieu

of all other terms of distinction hitherto borne on any part of the Dress of Appointments, throughout the whole Regiment.

The motto 'Ubique' thus took the place of all battle honours conferred on the Regiment prior to that date and all which

have been earned by the regiment since then. The Regiment proudly refers to 'Ubique' as its Battle Honour.




The Coat of Arms of the Regiment is the Royal Arms and Supporters over a gun with the mottoes Ubique and

Quo Fas et Gloria Ducunt on scrolls above and below the gun.




The Regimental Tie is a zigzag red line on a blue background. The line represents the lightning which, according to

legend, killed Dioscorus in retribution for beheading his daughter Barbara for refusing to marry a heathen suitor.

Before her death she turned to Christianity and was later canonized. In the early ages St Barbara was frequently

invoked to grant safety during thunderstorms and on the advent of artillery, became the Patron Saint of Gunners.


Regimental Marches


The Following Regimental marches may be played at concerts, guest nights 'At Homes' and similar occasions in the

order given. When only one Regimental march is played the Royal Artillery Slow March is to be used.

> The Royal Artillery Quick March (from 1983 to date) - an arrangement of the British Grenadier

and the Voice of the Guns.


> The Regimental Trot Past - The Keel Row.

> The Regimental Gallop Past - Bonnie Dundee.

> The Royal Artillery Slow March (from c.1836 to date).




The Royal Artillery Standard (Approved in 1947) is for ceremonial use only, and is flown by RA Headquarters

and formations, units and sub units during visits by Royalty and the Master Gunner, the representative Colonel Commandant

and the DRA. When flown at a Regimental Headquarters the Regimental Number is inserted in white Arabic numerals

 in the lower portion.


Regimental Flag


The Regimental Flag is flown for day-to-day use at Headquarters but is not carried on parade.


Trumpet Calls


The following trumpet calls are authorised for the Royal Artillery:


The RA Regimental Call

The RHA Regimental Call

The King's Troop RHA Call


Honour Titles


Honour Titles may be granted to individual batteries to commemorate exceptional acts of service by the unit or a

major part thereof. they are not to be confused with Battle Honours such as are conferred on cavalry and infantry regiments.


Alliances, Affiliations and Bonds of Friendship


The Royal Regiment of Artillery has alliances with the Artilleries of other nations and affiliations with other regiments

and naval ships. Some batteries are able to wear honorary distinctions in recognition of services in the field.


The Royal Artillery Collect


The Royal Artillery Collect may be used on occastions when appropriate.

Lord Jesus Christ, who dost everywhere lead Thy people in the way of righteousness, vouchsafe so to

lead the Royal Regiment of Artillery that wherever we serve, on land or sea or in the air, we may win the

glory of doing Thy will.




Gun salutes are fired at set saluting stations as laid down in Queen's Regulations for the Army.

On other appropriate occasions a Feu-de-Joie may be fired when authorised.


The Royal Artillery Prayer


O Lord Jesus Christ,

Who dost everywhere lead thy people in the way of righteousness,

Vouchsafe so as to lead the Royal Regiment of Artillery,

That wherever we serve, on land or sea or in the air,

We may win the glory of doing thy will



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