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The Batteries

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56

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36th Regiment Royal Artillery

37th Regiment Royal Artillery

On this page we will try to tell you some of the History of the Batteries that have been associated

with 36th & 37th Regiment's Royal Artillery.  I will try to find out as much as is possible about

each Battery and update this page as I progress.

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56 (Olpherts) Battery

Royal Artillery

56 (Olpherts) Special Weapons Battery has its origins in India as 5th Company

3rd Battalion Bengal Artillery formed on 2nd June 1786. It was frequently in action,

most notably during the siege of Pondichery in 1793, the Nepal war 1814 and the second

 siege of Bhurtpore in 1805, the Nepal war 1814 and the second siege of Bhurtpore in 1825.

 

The Indian Mutiny of 1857 played a significant part in Battery history. During the first

 relief of lucknow, Captain Olpherts or “Hellfire Jack” as he was known

(later General Sir William Olpherts) won the Victoria Cross for conspicuous gallantry; he

charged the enemy on horseback and captured two rebel guns which were pouring fire

onto the flanks of the advancing forces. To commemorate this distinction on 19th October

 1966, the honour title “OLPHERTS” was awarded to 56 Battery Royal Artillery as the

direct descendants of Captain Olpherts Battery.

 

The First World War saw the Battery in action in places whose names have become

 famous in the annals of the British Army, Mons - Hooge - Arras - Bethune -

 Le Cateau - Cambrai and Le Bassee.

 

In the Second World War Olpherts was predominantly involved in Malta and Italy

as both a field and medium battery equipped with 25pdrs and 5.5in guns. It was

reformed on 1st April 1947 as an anti-aircraft battery, which it remained, serving with

both guns and guided weapons in 36 Regiment until 28th March 1968. The battery then

moved to 50 Missile Regiment Royal Artillery, changing role and taking on towed

8” Howitzers. In April 1972 Olpherts became self - propelled with the introduction of

M110 and moved to 27 Regiment Royal Artillery in Lippstadt on 2nd November 1972.

 

On the formation of 39 Heavy Regiment Royal Artillery in April 1982 Olpherts

moved to Paderborn to support 4th Armoured Division. On 1st November 1987 the Battery

 was re-designated 56 (Olpherts) Special Weapons Battery and assumed its operational role of

 nuclear support to 1st British Corps M109 regiments on 1st July 1988. The Battery lost its

role on 31 July 1992. It then amalgamated with Headquarter Battery  39 Heavy Regiment

 to form 56 (Olpherts) Headquarter battery.

1857                           2nd Company, 3rd Battalion, Bengal Artillery

1889                          23 Field Battery formed from A Battery, 3rd Field Brigade

1901                          23 Battery became part of 40 Brigade RFA and served on the Western Front 1914-1918

                                  with the 3rd Division.

1920                          23 Battery in 12 Brigade RFA

1938                          23 Field Battery in 12th Field Regiment. Served in Malta from April 1940, and Eygpt March 1942.

Nov 1943                   Converted to 252 Medium Battery and served in Italy

1.1.1947                    Converted to 56 HAA Battery, 36 HAA Regiment

23.8.1968                  Left 36 Regiment for 50 Missile Regiment

2.11.1972                  Moves to 27 Medium Regiment

Feb 1993                    Moves to 39 Regiment                

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As far as I can assertain, this is the origin of 60 Battery. You will notice the frequent

re-numbering of many Batteries. The term "Brigade" was replaced by "Regiment".

1791             60 Bty came into existence with the East india Company

                             60 Coast Battery

                             19 Heavy Battery

                             13 Battery  8th Brgade

1882               4 Battery, 1st Brgade

1889               8 Company   Eastern Divsion RGA, Aden

1901               Became 40 Company RGA, Sierra Leone

1904               Moves to Dover     

1920               L Battery RGA, Dover

1924               24 Heavy Battery, Dover

1927               19 Heavy Battery, Bereheven

April 1933        Battery became part of 2 Heavy Brigade

1938               2 Coast Regiment, Colchester, Regiment remained and 

                       became16 Coast Regiment in 1947

1940                19 Coast Battery, 2 Coast Regiment

22.3.1946        19 Coast Battery         Disbanded

1.1.1947          60 Coast Battery, 16 Coast Regiment

1.10.1948        60 Heavy Anti-Aircraft Battery, 36 HAA Regiment, Malta

1.4.1959          60 (GW) Anti-Aircraft Battery, Shoeburyness                             17.3.1964 - 1.4.1968  60 Heavy Air Defence Battery

 

Suspended Animation

60 Battery was put into Suspended Animation when 36 and 37 Regiments

amalgamated at Shoeburyness.

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As far as I can assertain, this is the Origin of 168 Battery. You will notice the frequent

re-numbering of many Batteries. The term "Brigade" was replaced by "Regiment".

           3 Battery           10th Brigade        Suspended Animation

1882              6 Battery             1st Brgade

1894             19 Company, Eastern Division RGA      Gibraltar

1901             76 Company RGA                             Aden

June 1924       35 Heavy Battery                              Aden

July 1927        29 Heavy Battery                              Gibraltar 

26.6.1937     19 Anti-Aircraft Battery, Became part of 3 Coast Brigade                                    Gibraltar

1.6.1940 - 10.3.1941   19 Heavy Anti-Aircraft Battery

10.3.1943      29 Heavy Battery

Dec 1943 - Jan 1944  168 Light Anti-Aircraft Battery     

                                  56 Light Anti-Aircraft Regiment, Italy

1.1.1947        168 Light Anti-Aircraft Battery, 36 HAA Regiment, Malta

1.10.1948      168 Light Anti-Aircraft Battery, 36 Regiment Malta,                                           Shoeburyness

1.4.1959  Suspended Animation

1.1.1962   Disbanded

168 Battery was put into Suspended Animation and later disbanded when the Regiment gave up its Guns, and re-equipped with the Thunderbird 1 Missile.

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171 ( The Broken Wheel) Battery became part of 37th Field Regiment in April 1947,

in June 1955 the Regiment amalgamated with 63rd HAA Regiment as 37th HAA Regiment.

The Battery remained with the Regiment whilst the Regiment served in Malta. When the

Regiment returned to the UK in September 1959 it was re-titled as 37th Guided Weapon Regiment

 (Anti-Aircraft) in November 1959.

The Battery was placed into Suspended Animation in October 1959.


 

Here is the story of how this Battery received its Honour Title "The Broken Wheel".

 

This battery was raised as the 2nd Battery Reserve Battalion of the Bombay Artillery in the year

of the Indian Mutiny of 1857, and was shortly afterwards plunged into service which tested it

as no peace-time soldiering could have done.

 

The rebel held City of Delhi had been recaptured and the siege of Lucknow was about to be

completed when General Sir Hugh Rose was given the task of clearing a vast area in Central India

which was still infested with large forces of mutinous sepoys, disaffected irregular troops, and evilly

disposed persons seeking plunder whereever they could find it. They were inspired, and to a great

extent physically led, by a most re-doubtable Indian princess the Rani of Jhansi, and an equally

formidable rebel leader, one Tantia Topi. The Rani's implacable hatred of British rule was

accompanied by fiendish cruelty towards any Europeans who fell into her hands, but she was

at the same time a lady of dauntless courage and great resource.

 

These two leaders used the great fortresses which dominated Central India as the pivots

on which they manoeuvred and brought into the field forces which far outnumbered those

with which Sir Hugh could counter them. The short campaign in which he cleared the whole

area and signally defeated the rebel armies is a model of bold offensive action. Armed primarily

only with light guns and howitzers Sir Hugh's 2nd Brigade, supported by 2/Res Bn., Bombay

Artillery, was first flung against the hill fortress of Rahatgarh which it took after beating off a

relieving force. Joined by Sir Hugh's 1st Brigade, the whole force swept on to the fortress of

Jhansi which was held by 10,000 Native levies and 1,500 rebel sepoys under command of the Rani.

 

The City's fortified perimeter was 4 and a half miles in circumference with granite walls 20-30

 feet high and 6-12 feet thick, and with the usual bastions covering the approaches. In one corner

was the Citadel, towering high above the city on a huge rock with inner defences of daunting strength.

To stand today on the plain south of the city, alongside the fine memorial to the Rani, and to look

up at this great fortress dominating the surrounding country makes it seem incredible that it could

have been taken by a force of a total strength of less than 2,000 men.

 

There were two small hills a few hundred yards from the city walls and on them the

breaching batteries were established, one of them manned by 2/Res Bn. By nightfall of the first

day of action practicable breaches had been made, but, before the assault could be made,

news came of the approach of a relieving force, 22,000 strong with 25 guns, under Tantia Topi.

Without the slightest hesitation Sir Hugh recalled the columns that were poised for the storm,

brought his guns out of action, and, with no more than 1,500 men, launched that tiny force in a head

on action attack on the rebel army. The audacity of this move, and the excellent support provided

 by his guns, utterly routed Tantia Topi's army which was dispersed to the winds. Sir Hugh then

 returned to his siege, the storming columns flung themselves through the breaches and the

fortress was captured. The Rani however, who had often been seen with her ladies in royal

apparel on the ramparts during the siege, was let down a precipice below the walls and

escaped with her adopted son.

 

And so the campaign continued. The fortresses of Kunch and Kalpi were taken, and finally Gwalior -

another gigantic hill fort which had been the Capital of the Mahratta prince Sindhia - fell to this

invincible army and peace was restored to Central India. Having started its life in this stirring way,

under a commander to whom nothing was impossible, 2/3 Bombay Artillery (as the unit became in 1859)

was absorbed, with the other European units of the Indian Artilleries, into the Royal Artillery after

the Mutiny. It then led a quiet life until it went to war again to win its Honour Title in the

Egyptian campaign of 1882.

 

This war followed an armed rising in which Europeans in Alexandria were massacred and to

 counter which an expedition was launced underSir Garnet Wolseley's command. With it went N/2 RA

 armed with 16 pounder RML guns, and, throughout the operations the loose sand of the desert

was to prove a serious obstruction to the movement of all wheeled vehicles and often prevented

the ammunition wagons from keeping up with the guns.

 

Landing at Ismailia the British force advanced towards the Nile delta, met and defeated the

Egyptian army at Kassassin, and finally confronted it in a well prepared and entrenched position

at Tel-el-Kebir. It was essential if the war was to be won quickly not merly to manoeuvre the

enemy out of that position but actually to crush him there for good.

 

It was decided to attack at dawn after an approach march by night. The latter difficult

operation was to be carried out by the two infantry and one cavalry divisions moving in line,

 in an echelon from the left with all the seven field batteries, also in line, in an interval between

 the two infantry divisions.The left hand infantry division arrived first at the enemy's entrenchments in

the half light and was met by a blaze of fire. Their attack was not at first completely successful but

with the aid of their supports they and the other division forced their way into the entrenchments

where hand to hand fighting continued.

 

Meanwhile the guns had been halted until there was enough light to see what was going on;

but, as dawn broke, they were ordered forward to come into action inside the entrenchments in

 positions from which they could engage the defences in enfilade. N/2 galloped forward with the

 rest and, in the words of an officer of the battery writing just after the battle, "All of a sudden the

 smoke lifted like a curtain and we found ourselves close to a long line of entrenchments....

We at once went on and Major Branker found an angle in the line just in front where the ditch was

not so deep, so the right gun galloped straight at it. It went with a bump into the ditch, and stuck fast

on the face of the parapet, with most of the horses over; but a lot of 42nd rushed to our help,

and we lifted and shoved the gun over; but found one of the wheels smashed to pieces".

 

 Though one of its guns had thus come to grief, since a gun with a broken wheel is a gun out of

action for the time being, N/2 brought its remaining guns into action inside the entrenchments and

engaged the rearward parts of the defences with effective shrapnel fire in enfilade at 1,000 yeard range.

 The enemy, flaided both from the front and in flank, were broken up, the victory was complete,

and N/2 obtained its Honour Title of The Broken Wheel.

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111 (Dragon) Battery

Royal Artillery

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Dragon Battery was founded as G Company, the Madras Foot Artillery in 1806.

In 1840-41,  it was then D Company, 3rd Battalion, Madras Artillery.

 

The Dragon Honour Titles are held by certain units which were previously part of the

Madras Artillery of the Honourable East India Company. They commemorate service in the

expedition to China in 1840-41, for which those units which took part were authorised to wear a

 golden dragon wearing the Imperial Crown and the word China on their appointments.

 

 The Battery was put into Suspended Animation on the 17th March 1984.

 

111 and 10 Batteries have had very similar histories in that they belonged to the same

parent Brigade / Regiment from 1900 until 1977.

 

As far as I can assertain, this is the Origin of 111 (Dragon) Battery.

You will notice the frequent re-numbering of many Batteries.

1806                                G Company             Madras Foot Artillery

1824-25                 Fought in the Burma War 

1840                      D Company, 3rd Battalion         Madras Artillery 

1889                      Formed from O Battery, 2nd Brigade, 48 (Dragon) Field Battery 

March 1900            Battery joind newly formed 36 Brigade RFA. The Brigade served on the Western Front                               1914 and 1919 as part of the 2nd Division.

June 1924               The 36 Brigade was renumbered as 26th Brigade and retained 48 Battery.

May 1938              26th Brigade was re-roled as 26th Anti-Tank Regiment, still with 48 Battery. Initially                                    allocated to the 3rd Division at Bulford, the Regiment was in Malta at the outbreak of                                the war. The Regiment stayed in Malta until September 1943 as a Coast

                              Defence Regiment.

14.12.1940           48 (Dragon) Mobile Coast Battery

March 1941            9/17 Defence Battery

July 1941                48 Defence BatterySept 1943, re-roled as a Medium Regiment, and 48 Battery                                        became 48/71 Medium Battery,26 Medium Regiment

18.10.1943            C (Dragon) Troop 48/71 Medium Battery

23.3.1946             48 Field Battery,26th Field Regiment

Jan 1947                26 Field Regiment became 37 Field Regiment, and

                             48 Battery became 111 (Dragon) Battery

20.10.1948           111 (Dragon) Heavy Anti-Aircraft Battery,37 HAA Regiment

1.10.1959             111 (Dragon) GW Anti-Aircraft Battery, 37 GW (AA) Regiment

1963                     111 (Dragon) Battery in Aden 8 Months

18.3.1964 - 1.4.1968   111 (Dragon) Heavy Air Defence Battery,37 HAD Regiment

1.4 1968                Amalgamated with 36 HAD Regiment at Shoeburyness until Disbandment in                                            Dec1977.

1978                     111(Dragon) Air Defence Battery 2nd Field Regiment           

17.3.1984             111(Dragon) Air Defence Battery   19 Field Regiment                                               

                                                         Suspended Animation

Dragons Farewell

Ubique Barracks, Dortmund

17th March 1984

After a long and eventful life the Dragon Standard was lowered for the last time on Saturday,

17th March 1984, and presented to the MGRA, by Capt PA Lamb, the Battery Commander for

 safe keeping, until hopefully it is needed again in the future.

 

Dragon Battery was founded as G Company, the Madras Foot Artillery in 1806. In 1840 it

took part in the First China War and in recognition of its service was awarded the honour title

 "Dragon". It was during this conflict that the Battery captured a Chinese Dragon Cannon.

In 1947 it was renumbered 111 (Dragon) Battery. The Battery had been in Dortmund since 1971, first with 36 Heavy Air Defence Regiment, then 2nd Field Regiment and then finally, in August 1979, it joined 19th Field Regiment.

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10 (Assaye) Battery

Royal Artillery

As far as I can assertain, this is the Origin of 10 (Assaye) Battery.

You will notice the frequent re-numbering of many Batteries.

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1755                    3rd Company Bombay Artillery

1799                    Battle of Seringapataam

23 Sept 1803        Battle of Assaye

1843                    Battle of Hyderabad

1843 - 1914          Battery in service in India, England and Ireland

1889                    Formed from H Battery/2nd Brigade as 15 Field Battery

Mar 1900              Joined the newly formed 36 Brigade RFA

Aug 1914              Battery deployed with the BEF to France. The Brigade served on the Western Front                                      Between 1914 - 1918 as part of the 2nd Division. 

1918 - 1939         The Battery re-roled on a number of occasions, ultimately forming a Coastal Battery.

June 1924             The 36 Brigade was renumbered as 26 Brigade and retained 15 Battery.

May 1938            26 Brigade was re-roled as 26th Anti- Tank Regiment, still with 15 Battery. Initially                                        allocated to the 3rd Division at Bulford, the Regiment was in Malta from 1940 to 1943.                              The regiment stayed in Malta until September 1943 as a Coast Defence Regiment. 

3.9.1940             15 Mobile Coast Battery

Sept 1943             Re-roled as a Medium Regiment, and 15 Battery became A Troop, 40 Medium Battery,                              26th Medium Regiment serving in Syria, Palestine and Italy.

25.3.1946           15 (Assaye) Battery,26th Field Regiment

Jan 1947              26th Field Regiment became 37th Field Regiment, and15 Battery became 10 (Assaye)                                Field Battery

20.10.1948         10 (Assaye) Heavy Anti-Aircraft Battery, 37 HAA Regiment, 3.7inch Guns.

1.10.1959           10 (Assaye) Guided Weapon (AA) Battery,     

                           37 GW (AA) Regiment, Thunderbird 1

                                       18.3.1964 - 1.4.1968   

                                   10 (Assaye) Air Defence Battery, 

   

                           37 HAD Regiment.    Almalgmation with 36 HAD Regiment

                           10 (Assaye) Air Defence Battery until Dec 1977.

1978                   10 (Assaye) Air Defence Battery became an independent Battery within 45 Field Regiment                at Hohne.

1993                   10 (Assaye) Air Defence Battery, 47 Regiment

10 (Assaye) Battery is still in operation with 47 Regiment Royal Artillery.

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Before 1947, the numbers 10 and 111 were used by other Batteries which adopted different numbers in 1947.

10 Battery formed in 1889 and joined 17 Brigade RFA in 1900.  It served with the 29th Division at Gallipoli in 1915,

and on the Western Front 1916-18. In World War 2, 10 Battery continued to serve with 17 Field Regiment.

It served in France in 1940 with 4th then 51st Divisions, and in Tunisia and Italy 1942-45 with the 78th Division.

In 1947 the 17th Field Regiment became 19th Field Regiment, and 10 Battery became 25 Battery.

25 Battery served with 19th Field Regiment until 1999, and is now with 47 Regiment.


 

111 Battery was formed in 1900 and served with the 6th Division on the Western Front 1914-1918.

After some changes of designation, 111 Battery served as part of 30th Field Regiment 1939-45.

As part of the 4th Infantry Division, it served in France 1940, Tunisia 1943, Italy 1944 and Greece 1945-46.

In 1947 30th Field Regiment became 38th Training Regiment, and 111 Battery became 193 Battery

which was disbanded in 1954.

 

Why the Royal Regiment keeps changing numbers of Batteries is a complicated story,

which I cannot begin to understand.

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