Royal Artillery

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Royal Regiment of Artillery
Royal Artillery Badge.jpg
Royal Artillery Cap Badge
Active 1716 – Present
Allegiance  United Kingdom
Branch  British Army
Role Artillery
Size 15 Regular regiments
6 Reserve regiments
Garrison/HQ Various: Larkhill (Regimental HQ), Catterick, Tidworth, Colchester, Hohne
Motto Quo Fas Et Gloria Ducunt ("Where Right And Glory Lead"; in Latin fas implies "sacred duty")
Ubique (Everywhere)
Colours The guns are regarded as the regimental colours and are accorded the same compliments as the Standards, Guidons and Colours of the Cavalry and Infantry
March British Grenadiers / Voice Of The Guns (Quick); The Royal Artillery Slow March colloquially known as The Duchess of Kent (Slow)
Captain General HM The Queen Elizabeth II
Master Gunner, St James's Park General Sir Timothy Granville-Chapman
Tactical Recognition Flash Royal Artillery TRF.svg
British Army arms and services
Flag of the British Army.svg
Combat Arms
Royal Armoured Corps
Special Air Service
Army Air Corps
Special Reconnaissance Regiment
Combat Support Arms
Royal Artillery
Royal Engineers
Royal Corps of Signals
Intelligence Corps
Combat Services
Royal Army Chaplains' Department
Royal Logistic Corps
Army Medical Services
Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers
Adjutant General's Corps
Small Arms School Corps
Royal Army Physical Training Corps
General Service Corps
Corps of Army Music

The Royal Regiment of Artillery, commonly referred to as the Royal Artillery (RA), is the artillery arm of the British Army. Despite its name, it comprises a number of regiments.

General George Campbell of Inverneill CB., Esquire, commander of the Royal Artillery from 1874.
Red and Blue Tactical Recognition Flash of the Royal Artillery


BL 8-inch Howitzer Mk 1 – 5 8 in (200 mm) howitzers of the 39th Siege Battery, Royal Garrison Artillery, in action near Fricourt in WWI.
Officers and senior enlisted men of the Bermuda Contingent, Royal Garrison Artillery (Bermuda Militia Artillery).

The introduction of artillery into the English army came as early as the Battle of Crécy in 1346.[1] Henry VIII made the army's artillery semi-permanent in the sixteenth century but the recognition of the need for a permanent body of artillery did not happen until 1716.[1]

Before the 18th century, artillery 'traynes' were raised by royal warrant for specific campaigns and disbanded again when they were over.[1] On 26 May 1716, however, by royal warrant of George I two regular companies of field artillery, each 100 men strong, were raised at Woolwich.[1] The title "Royal Artillery" (RA) was first used in 1720.[1] On 1 April 1722 the two companies were increased to four and grouped with independent artillery companies at Gibraltar and Minorca to form the Royal Regiment of Artillery, commanded by Colonel Albert Borgard.[1] In 1741 the Royal Military Academy was formed in the Royal Arsenal at Woolwich (RWA) to provide training for RA and Royal Engineers (RE) officers.[1] The regiment expanded rapidly and, by 1757, had 24 companies divided into two battalions, as well as a cadet company formed in 1741.[1] During 1748, the presidential artilleries of Bengal, Madras and Bombay were formed.[1] 1756 saw the creation of the Royal Irish Regiment of Artillery.[1] In 1762 the Royal Artillery Band was formed at Minden. By 1771 there were 32 companies in four battalions, as well as two "invalid companies" comprising older and unfit men employed in garrison duties. During 1782, the regiment moved to the current Royal Artillery Barracks (front parade) on Woolwich Common.[1] In January 1793, two troops of Royal Horse Artillery (RHA) were raised to provide fire support for the cavalry, augmented by two more in November 1793.[1] All RHA personnel were mounted. The Royal Irish Artillery was absorbed into the RA in 1801.[1] During 1805, the Royal Artillery moved to Woolwich Common.[1] In 1819, the Rotunda was given to the regiment by the Prince Regent to celebrate end of the Napoleonic Wars. (It was originally built in St. James's Park as the outer casing of the tent in which the Prince Regent entertained the Allied sovereigns in 1814.[2]) In 1832, the regimental mottoes were granted.[3]

The regiment was under the control of the Board of Ordnance until the board was abolished in 1855. Thereafter the regiment came under the War Office along with the rest of the army.[1] The School of Gunnery established at Shoeburyness, Essex in 1859.[1] In 1862 the regiment absorbed the artillery of the British East India Company—21 horse batteries and 48 field batteries—which brought its strength up to 29 horse batteries, 73 field batteries and 88 heavy batteries.[1]

On 1 July 1899, the Royal Artillery was divided into three groups: the Royal Horse Artillery of 21 batteries and the Royal Field Artillery of 95 batteries comprised one group, while the coastal defence, mountain, siege and heavy batteries were split off into another group named the Royal Garrison Artillery of 91 companies.[1] The third group continued to be titled simply Royal Artillery, and was responsible for ammunition storage and supply. Which branch a gunner belonged to was indicated by metal shoulder titles (R.A., R.F.A., R.H.A., or R.G.A.). The RFA and RHA also dressed as mounted men, whereas the RGA dressed like foot soldiers. In 1920 the rank of Bombardier was instituted in the Royal Artillery.[1] The three sections effectively functioned as separate corps. This arrangement lasted until 1924, when the three amalgamated once more to became one regiment.[1] In 1938, RA Brigades were renamed Regiments. During the Second World War there were over 1 million men serving in 960 gunner regiments.[4] In 1947 the Riding Troop RHA was renamed The King's Troop RHA and, in 1951, the title of the regiment's colonel-in-chief became Captain General.[1]

The Royal Horse Artillery, which has always had separate traditions, uniforms and insignia, still retains a separate identity within the regiment.[1]

Before the Second World War, Royal Artillery recruits were required to be at least 5 feet 4 inches (1.63 m) tall. Men in mechanised units had to be at least 5 feet 8 inches (1.73 m) tall. They initially enlisted for six years with the colours and a further six years with the reserve or four years and eight years. They trained at the Royal Artillery Depot in Woolwich.[5]

From its beginnings, the Royal Artillery has been based at Woolwich, in south-east London. In 2003 it was decided to move the headquarters to Larkhill on Salisbury Plain in Wiltshire (the RA's training ground, where the Royal School of Artillery has been based since 1915). The last Royal Artillery troops left Woolwich Barracks in 2007; in 2012, however, the King's Troop, Royal Horse Artillery was relocated to Woolwich from their former headquarters in St John's Wood.[6]

The Royal Artillery today[edit]

The Royal Artillery is equipped with a variety of equipment and performs a wide range of roles, including:

The Captain General of the regiment is Queen Elizabeth II. The post was previously known as Colonel-in-Chief until King George VI expressed the desire to be known as Captain General. The head of the regiment is the Master Gunner, St. James's Park.

The Royal Regiment of Artillery comprises both Regular (full-time) and Reserve (part-time) units. Under Army 2020, many units are under the 1st Artillery Brigade.[7]The current regiments of the Royal Artillery are:

Regular Army[edit]

The Royal Regiment of Artillery comprises the Royal Artillery and the Royal Horse Artillery. The Regular Army units are:

Regular regiments of the Royal Horse Artillery

Main article: Royal Horse Artillery

Regular regiments of the Royal Artillery

Army Reserve[edit]

The Royal Regiment of Artillery is unique in that it has sub-units that often move between regiments, or are placed into suspended animation. See List of Royal Artillery Batteries.


Air defence[edit]

The Royal Artillery is equipped with two main weapons in the air defence mission;

  • Rapier FSC – Rapier is the standard Low Level Air Defence (LLAD) weapon in the British Army. In the Royal Artillery, it equips 16 Regiment. No Army Reserve unit will be armed with Rapier under Army 2020.
  • Starstreak HVM – Starstreak is a continuation of the Blowpipe and Javelin series. In the RA it can be used as a shoulder-launched weapon, in the Lightweight Multiple Launcher (LML) or mounted on the Alvis Stormer armoured vehicle. The weapon equips 12 Regiment and two batteries of 106 Regiment RA(V) by Army 2020.

Close support[edit]

In the support mission, the Royal Artillery has three types of weapon;

  • MLRS – the Multiple Launch Rocket System provides a precision fire capability out to a range of 80km. It is operated by 39th Regiment and 101 (v) Regiment. In 2014 39th Regiment will be disbanded and a Battery of MRLS will be attached to each of the Armoured Close Support Regiments (1st RHA, 19th & 26th Regiments).
  • AS-90 – the AS-90 is a 155mm self-propelled gun and is utilized by the 3 Armoured Regiments (1st RHA, 19th & 26th)
  • Light gun – the Light Gun is a 105 mm gun used in the close support mission in support of light or specialist forces. It is used by 3rd RHA, 4th Regt, 7 (Para) RHA, 29 (Commando) Regt RA, as well as three Army Reserve regiments – 100 Regt RA, 103 Regt RA and 105 Regt RA.

Intelligence, surveillance, target acquisition and reconnaissance (ISTAR)[edit]

  • MAMBA (Mobile Artillery Monitoring Battlefield Asset) uses radar to track enemy mortar and artillery shells out to a range of 40km. It can be used to predict the point of impact, thereby giving a number of seconds warning, but is usually deployed to trace the point of origin of mortar/artillery rounds and then provide correction for counter-battery fire. It is operated by 5th Regiment RA.
  • ASP (Advanced Sound ranging Program) is an acoustic triangulation system that used a series of sensor posts (microphones) to triangulate the point of origin and point of impact of enemy mortars and artillery. It is also operated by 5th Regiment RA along with 101st (Northumbrian) Regiment Royal Artillery.
  • BASE ISTAR - 5th Regiment RA also operates a number of telescopic camera systems that are designed to provide surveillance and target acquisition in static locations.
  • Thales Watchkeeper WK450 (UAV) (replaced the Hermes 450) and is operated by 32nd Regiment Royal Artillery
  • Desert Hawk III UAV – the DH3 is a smaller, more discreet vehicle that is designed to be hand launched and provide intimate surveillance and target acquisition. It is operated by 32nd, 47th and 104(V) Regiments.


Order of precedence[edit]

Preceded by
Royal Armoured Corps
Order of Precedence Succeeded by
Corps of Royal Engineers

In the British Army Order of Precedence, the Household Cavalry is always listed first and always parades at the extreme right of the line. However when the Royal Horse Artillery is on parade with its guns, (usually in the form of The Kings Troop) it will replace the Household Cavalry at the extreme right of the line.[10]

Army 2020[edit]

Under Army 2020 1st Artillery Brigade and Headquarters South West will be based at Tidworth and the following regiments will continue in operation:[11]

Regular Army

  • 1st Regiment Royal Horse Artillery – AS-90 and GMLRS
  • 3rd Regiment Royal Horse Artillery – 105mm light gun
  • 4th Regiment Royal Artillery – 105mm light gun
  • 5th Regiment Royal Artillery – Surveillance and Target Acquisition
  • 7th Parachute Regiment Royal Horse Artillery – 105mm light gun
  • 12th Regiment Royal Artillery – Air Defence (Starstreak)
  • 16th Regiment Royal Artillery – Air Defence (Rapier)
  • 19th Regiment Royal Artillery – AS-90 and GMLRS
  • 26th Regiment Royal Artillery – AS-90 and GMLRS
  • 29th Commando Regiment Royal Artillery – 105mm light gun
  • 32nd Regiment Royal Artillery – Unmanned Air Systems
  • 47th Regiment Royal Artillery – Unmanned Air Systems
  • The King's Troop Royal Horse Artillery – ceremonial

Army Reserve

  • The Honourable Artillery Company (Not part of the Royal Regiment of Artillery)[12] – Surveillance and Target Acquisition and 105mm light gun (air assault)
  • 101st (Northumbrian) Regiment Royal Artillery (Volunteers) – GMLRS
  • 103rd (Lancashire Artillery Volunteers) Regiment Royal Artillery – 105mm light gun
  • 104th Regiment Royal Artillery (Volunteers) – Unmanned Air Systems
  • 105th Regiment Royal Artillery (Volunteers) – 105mm light gun
  • 106th (Yeomanry) Regiment Royal Artillery – Air Defence (Starstreak)

Three AS-90 batteries and one GMLRS battery will form each of the three artillery regiments support the three Reaction Force Brigades.[13] 1 RHA has announced that it will be one of these.[14]

12th and 16th RA will continue to be under the joint Army-RAF unit, Joint Ground-Based Air Defence Command.[15][not in citation given (See discussion.)] 5 RA, along with 104 RA, will be under the 1st Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance Brigade.[16] 100th (Yeomanry) Regiment Royal Artillery will be suspended in animation.[17]

101st (Northumbrian) Regiment Royal Artillery will be fully re-roled to GMLRS. 106th (Yeomanry) Regiment Royal Artillery will entirely be re-roled to Starstreak missiles, on Stormer vehicles or LML.[18]


The Regimental museum, "Firepower" located in the Royal Arsenal at Woolwich will close by 2017.


See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v History and Traditions of the Royal Artillery
  2. ^ Woolwich Common in Garden and Landscape Guide
  3. ^ The Royal Artillery has the motto and battle honour Ubique ("Everywhere"), granted by William IV in 1833. The subsidiary motto is Quo fas et gloria ducunt ("Where right and glory lead"). Both mottoes are shared with the Royal Engineers, due to the shared Board of Ordnance history.
  4. ^ Royal Artillery History
  5. ^ War Office, His Majesty's Army, 1938
  6. ^ King's Troop moves to its 'spiritual home' in Woolwich at BBC News, 7 February 2012. Accessed 8 February 2012
  7. ^ Army 2020 Report
  8. ^ 39 Regt RA – British Army website
  9. ^ Although the Honourable Artillery Company currently has an artillery role, it is a separate regiment in its own right, with its own colours, uniforms and traditions
  10. ^ Royal horses get their sea legs with a dip in the surf on Cornwall holiday Daily Mail, 21 September 2011
  11. ^ Transforming the British Army
  12. ^ Although the Honourable Artillery Company currently has an artillery role, it is a separate regiment in its own right, with its own colours, uniforms and traditions
  13. ^ "UK Royal Artillery rolls out new structure". 18 February 2013. Retrieved 6 March 2013. 
  14. ^ "Operations & Training – British Army Website". Retrieved 6 March 2013. 
  15. ^ Regular Army Basing Matrix
  16. ^ Army 2020 Report
  17. ^ Summary of Army 2020 Reserve Structure and Basing Changes, pages 4–6
  18. ^ Summary of Army 2020 Reserve Structure and Basing Changes, pages 3,5
  • Graham C A L DSO psc, Brig Gen The Story of the Royal Regiment of Artillery RA Institution, Woolwich 1939

External links[edit]