53 (Louisburg) Battery RA

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53 (Louisburg) Air Assault Battery, Royal Artillery
53 Bty Logo200.jpg
Active 1 Apr 1740 – date
Country UK
Branch Royal Artillery
Type Regular Army
Role Surveillance and Target Acquisition
Size Battery
Part of 5th Regiment Royal Artillery
Location Catterick Garrison
Anniversaries 26 July
Equipment LCMR
Engagements Louisburg
Battle honours Ubique

53 (Louisburg) Air Assault Battery is the second most senior Artillery Battery (non-amalgamated – 19/5 Bty is senior if counted) in the Royal Artillery behind the King's Troop, Royal Horse Artillery. Formed in 1740 the Battery is currently part of 5th Regiment Royal Artillery and is based at Marne Barracks, Catterick, North Yorkshire.The Battery operates in a Surveillance and Target Acquisition role.

Dress[edit]

Former Shield of Nova Scotia

The Battery wears a gold-blue-gold stable belt derived from the "Shield" of Nova Scotia 1867–1929, representing the earth banks either side of the St Lawrence River as authorised circa 1904. The shield depicts 3 thistles, which represent the 3 Municipalities of Nova Scotia (New Scotland) at the time and the salmon is shown swimming west – up-river to the capital, Quebec.

History[edit]

53 (Louisburg) Air Assault Battery descended from Captain Melledge's Company, formed in 1740 at Royal Artillery Barracks, Woolwich.[1] It then departed and saw service in the Caribbean protecting and expanding British interests until 1743 when it returned to Woolwich. In 1745 the Company departed for the territories, newly acquired from the French, in Canada and commenced garrison duties. From 1751–1758 the Company was commanded by Captain Charles Brome.

Seven Years' War[edit]

The Seven Years' War then provided a major period of activity for the Company. It was in 1758 that the second Battle of Louisbourg took place, and the Company, commanded by Captain T Ord from 23 May 1758, played a pivotal role in securing the town. The honour title "Louisburg" commemorates the first stage of the campaign in Canada against the French in the Siege of Louisbourg <---!notice the French spelling!--->, which were first launched from Halifax (Nova Scotia). The Company's contribution to the siege was an integral part of the sea-borne assault to capture the Fortress of Louisbourg which would allow the Royal Navy to sail down the St. Lawrence River for an attack on Quebec unmolested. The ground around Louisburg did not lend itself well to artillery, being composed mainly of swamp and marsh. Thus, the naval 18 Pounder and 24 Pounder Guns had to be manhandled over the sodden ground before being brought into action against the French. The landing of Guns was an extremely difficult task but sheer grit and determination assured success.

The Battle of Louisburg – The Details

The British Force arrived at Louisburg on 2 June 1758. Reconnaissance showed that there were only three possible landing sites west of the fortress. It was thought that the furthest site from Louisburg would be the one least suspected by the French. The French defence was led by a Naval Officer, Augustin de Boschenry de Drucour. His wife, Marie-Louise assisted in the battle by firing 3 cannons every day to give moral support to the French troops. In doing so she was given the nom-de-guerre La Bombardier.

The attack was launched on 8 June and the British Light Infantry were able to land enough troops to attack the French and force them to withdraw into the fortress. The disembarkation of the British force and its establishment on shore followed.

During the period of 12 to 19 June, eight 24 pounder and three 12 pounder guns and ammunition were landed and proceeded to bombard the Island Battery. After five days and nights of continuous fire, the Island battery was silenced and the British then dominated the harbour. From then on the British were required to conduct a siege operation.

Skill and heavy labour were required to bring the siege artillery ashore, which included twelve 24 pounders, six 12 pounders, four 32 pounders and a further two 24 pounder guns from the Royal Navy. It was necessary to devise a means of getting the guns across the marsh, which lay to the west of the fortress. 500 men were tasked to build a road made of brushwood fascines. However, part of the new road was in view of the enemy and came under regular fire. As a result, a bank of earth nine feet high had to be built to cover the road.

By the 14 July, the road had reached the position chosen for the siege batteries. The batteries were no more than 500 yards from the wall of the fortress, and it was therefore necessary for them to be heavily protected against the fire of the defenders' guns.

The British effort was made all the more difficult by small French defensive positions. During the second half of July a preliminary bombardment of the fortress with mortars began. However, the fire of the battering guns, when unleashed from three directions simultaneously, proved devastating to the fortifications and to the defending guns.

With the eradication of all of the outer positions the Company then turned their guns and the captured French guns on the main fort. By 26 July, with just three French guns remaining in action and all their ships either destroyed or blocked in the harbour, the French Governor surrendered. In the words of the French Garrison Officer "Each cannon shot from the English Batteries shook and brought down immense pieces of the ruinous walls". Louisburg surrendered on 27 July 1758. Once the fort was taken the British Fleet had free access to the river as planned and could carry British power deep into Quebec without having to fight across inhospitable terrain.

In honour of the Company Commander during the battle, Captain T Ord, the Battery HQ Troop is called "Ord’s" Troop. "A" Troop is named after Captain J Anderson who commanded the Company in 1858 during the Indian Rebellion of 1857 and "B" Troop after Captain NSK Bayliss who was Company Commander in 1855 during the Siege of Sevastopol (1854–1855).

The Company served in Canada until 1766 and then spent the rest of the eighteenth century in various theatres of the British Empire including the Mediterranean and the Caribbean.

Nineteenth century[edit]

The first half of the nineteenth century was a relatively quiet one for the Company, bearing in mind it was the period of the Napoleonic Wars. The Company did however receive its fair share of action and aggression by bombarding the French invasion fleet in Dieppe in 1801 and taking part in the Siege of Copenhagen in 1807. The Company then spent a long spell in Ireland from 1811 until 1849 when it took up coastal defence duties.

It should be noted that all Batteries in the Royal Artillery were called "Companies" and named after their Company Commander. In 1859 Batteries were formed and the practice of naming the Sub-Units after their Commanders ceased and all new Batteries were given either a letter or number. 53 (Louisburg) Battery is the second senior numbered Battery in the Royal Regiment of Artillery with 19/5 Gibraltar Battery being the senior. In recognition of the tremendous achievement of the Company during the Siege of Louisburg it was awarded the honour title 'Louisburg' on 3 May 1937.

For the remainder of the nineteenth century the Battery, served around the Empire in Aden, India, Burma and Britain. Notable achievements during this time included the Crimea and Afghanistan. In the Crimea, the Company took part in the Siege of Sebastopol, and the relief of Kandahar Garrison, Afghanistan in 1880.

Twentieth century[edit]

By the 1900s, the Battery returned to Britain and became part of the Coastal Defence Forces until 1926. The Battery then became a 'Heavy Gun' Battery until 1947.

In 1947 the Battery was reformed and armed with Bofors 40/L60 Mk 3. It became part of 22nd Light Anti Aircraft Regiment RA based in Germany. It was then reequipped with Bofors 40/L70 and FCE (Fire Control Equipment) No 7 Radars. During the period of the Emergency in the Far East, the Battery deployed to Changi, Singapore in 1964. The Battery then undertook a further tour to ensure stability in the region in 1966 to Tampin and Kuching, Borneo.

In 1969 the Battery title finally becomes recognisable as 53 (Louisburg) Light Air Defence Battery RA.

The outbreak of the Troubles in Northern Ireland led to the Battery deploying in the infantry role in 1972 to Derry. It then undertook further tours to Northern Ireland in 1973, 1974, 1978, 1987, 1993, 1997, and 1999. The Battery also re-armed several times over this period with equipment changing from Bofors to the introduction of Rapier, Tracked Rapier, and finally Towed Rapier FSB2 (Field Standard B2).

Elements from the Battery deployed in 1990 in support of the first Gulf War against Iraq. During the Nineties the Battery also deployed twice to Cyprus. The first time was in 1990, first as Sovereign Based Area forces from May to August in Dhekelia. The Battery’s role then changed; from August until December it joined UN forces based in Nicosia as part of UNFICYP. The second Cyprus tour was in 2003 when the Battery again deployed in support of UNFICYP, that time as part of the Mobile Force Reserve (MFR) based in Blue Beret camp, Nicosia.

Following the suspended animation of 22nd AD Regiment RA in April 2004 the Battery joined 5th Regiment RA in Marne Barracks, Catterick, which was made official on 21 July 2004. It has since converted to a Surveillance and Target Acquisition (STA) Role. Soldiers in 53 (Louisburg) Battery have the opportunity to become Weapon Locating Radar[2] operators, Acoustic Weapon Locators,[3] Communicators[4] or Logisticians[5]

Recent operations[edit]

Since joining 5th Regiment RA, 53 (Louisburg) Battery has served on Operation TELIC in Iraq twice and also on Operation HERRICK in Afghanistan three times and only recently returned in October 2011.

53 (Louisburg) Battery was also the first within 5th Regiment RA to convert to Bowman (communications system) in 2006.

Re Rolling[edit]

On the 20th of June 2014, the Bty held its re-rolling parade along with it Medals Parade. The means that the Bty will now be affiliated with 16th Air Assault Brigade and wear the prestigious Maroon Beret. This means the Bty will work in tandem with 16AA as the Army's high readiness STA Bty on exercises and operations.

Chronology of campaigns[edit]

53 Company/Battery served in:

Year Campaign Remarks
1758 Siege of Louisbourg Canada
1801 Dieppe Nil
1807 Siege of Copenhagen Nil
1854–55 Siege of Sevastopol (1854–1855) Crimea
1857 Indian Rebellion of 1857 Nil
1878–80 Second Anglo-Afghan War Nil
1914–18 Suvla, Gallipoli Campaign World War I
1939–45 World War II Europe
1964 Indonesia–Malaysia confrontation Changi, Singapore
1966 Indonesia–Malaysia confrontation Tampin and Kuching, Borneo
1972 Operation Banner Derry, Northern Ireland
1973 Operation Banner Unstated, Northern Ireland
1974 Operation Banner Unstated, Northern Ireland
1978 Operation Banner Unstated, Northern Ireland
1987 Operation Banner Unstated, Northern Ireland
1993 Operation Banner Unstated, Northern Ireland
1997 Operation Banner Unstated, Northern Ireland
1999 Operation Banner Unstated, Northern Ireland
1990 Operation Granby Iraq
1990 Sovereign Base Areas / UNFICYP British Forces Cyprus
2003 Operation Tosca, UNFICYP British Forces Cyprus
2005 Operation Telic 6 Iraq
2007 Operation Telic 10 Iraq
2007 Operation Herrick 6 Afghanistan
2009 Operation Herrick 10 Afghanistan
2011 Operation Herrick 14 Afghanistan
2013-14 Operation Herrick 19 Afghanistan

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "22nd Regiment Royal Artillery Old Comrades Association". 53 (Louisburg) Battery descended from Captain Melledge's Company, formed in 1740. 
  2. ^ "GUNNER Radar Operator". Mamba and Cobra are mobile weapon locating radar which detects rockets and mortar/artillery rounds in flight. Mounted on a BV206 over snow vehicle or a Foden truck it can identify eight targets simultaneously out to a range of 25 miles. In service with 5 Regt RA and 101 Regt RA (V) 
  3. ^ "GUNNER Sound Ranger". Working as part of a small team using state of the art acoustic and computer equipment to locate the enemy, missiles, mortars and guns. Used by 5 Regt RA and 101 Regt RA (V). 
  4. ^ "GUNNER Artillery Command Systems (ACS)". Operate and maintain the latest high tech computer and radio equipment to ensure that voice and data messages are passed across the battlefield. ACS is used in every Royal Artillery Regiment. REMEMBER – No Comms – No Bombs! 
  5. ^ "GUNNER Artillery Logistics". Artillery Logisticians store, account for and re-supply Artillery units in battle with fuel, ammunition, food and water. Trained to drive DROPs HGVs, there is the chance to gain motorcycle and tracked licences as well as specialist logistics qualifications. Every Artillery Regiment must have its own supply experts, giving individuals a wide choice of postings. 

External links[edit]