74 Battery (The Battle Axe Company) Royal Artillery

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74 Battery (The Battle Axe Company) Royal Artillery
Active 1 April 1801 to present
Country United Kingdom
Branch Army
Type Artillery
Part of 39th Regiment Royal Artillery
Equipment UAVs
Engagements Invasion of Martinique (1809)
War of 1812
World War II
Korean War
Northern Ireland
1990–1991 Persian Gulf War

74 Battery (The Battle Axe Company) Royal Artillery is part of the Royal Artillery. Its name is pronounced "seven four", The battery is one of the sub-units of 39th Regiment Royal Artillery, part of the British Army. It was formed in 1801. Its based in Albermarle Barracks in Northumberland. Under Army 2020, it will move to Larkhill and provide UAS support for the UAS Battalions/Batteries there.[1]


74 Battery(The Battle Axe Company)Royal Artillery. was raised at Kilkenny on 1 April 1801 from men of the disbanded Royal Irish Artillery. A Regiment described by Brigadere General James Pattison as "Diminutive Warriors", "Bare Breeched" and "Lower than Serpents"[2] During the Napoleonic Wars it helped capture the Caribbean island of Martinique on 24 February 1809. The battle for Fort Desiax is said to be one that was won truly by Artillery alone. There was no breach of wall followed by rush of infantry; instead exploding shells replaced round shot. The Battery had dragged their guns a wicked long 6 miles across the island beforehand and so was even more of a smashing for the French. Having distinguished itself the Force Commander wished to give a captured French gun to the Company. The Battery Commander petitioned that the gun be replaced by something more easily carried and two French trophies captured at Martinique were given in its place. These trophies were a Brass Drum(lost over board on the way home after a particularly roudy and drunken celebration) and a Battle Axe. The Company has been known as Battle Axe Company Royal Artillery since, although the title was not officially recognised in Army Orders until 1926, 117 years later.

19th century[edit]

From Martinique The Battle Axe Company, went to Canada and in 1813–1814 took part in the American War. The Company came home in 1822 after 14 years in the West Indies and North America and was not to fight again until 1903–1904, when it was organized as a Camel Battery and helped to quell the disturbances in the Aden protectorate.

First World War[edit]

Soon after this the Company was involved in the expansion of Coastal Artillery caused by the German Naval threat. It was reorganised as Medium Battery in 1927.

Second World War[edit]

In World War II the Company served in North Africa, Crete and North West Europe. After the first desert campaign the Company went to Greece whence it escaped to Crete after destroying all its guns. The Company was soon in action again and helped to relieve Tobruk. On 1 June 1942 the Company was in support of 150 Infantry Brigade west of Bir Hachem. After being cut off from the rest of 50th Division and having fired all its ammunition the acting Brigadier ordered all organised resistance to cease. Once more the Company destroyed its guns and 12 Officers and 218 Other Ranks fell into the hands of the enemy.

The Company was reformed late in 1943 and fought in France, Belgium, the Netherlands and Germany from D Day+1 to Victory in Europe Day.

Post-Second World War Operations[edit]

  • Korean War
  • Cyprus
  • Belize
  • Northern Ireland:
    • 1971 Belfast as Province reserve. Based on HMS Maidstone, Flax St Mill and Albert St Mill
      • 6 February 1971: Robert Curtis became the first British soldier to be killed in the troubles, when he was shot by the IRA on New Lodge Road, Belfast, attached to the battery.
    • 1973 Patrolling the borders and Guarding Long Kesh Detention Centre.(5 month tour)
    • 1974 Girdwood Park. (5 month tour)
    • 1976 Girdwood Park. (5 month tour)
  • 1982 Falklands War
  • Northern Ireland:
    • 1987 The Maze (6 Month tour)
    • 1989 Omagh, county Tyrone (6 month tour)
    • 1989 tour lengthened to provide protection for border construction work in Armagh (6 weeks)
  • 1991 First Gulf War

Equipment Change[edit]

The Battle Axe[edit]

Battle Axe Day

On 24 February, the Battery celebrates the capture of the island of Martinique and the bestowing of its Battle Honour. It is not known when the Battle Axe was first trooped, but it seems fairly certain that the custom was established by the time the Company came home in 1822.

The Battle Axe has always been trooped for the Company Commander and for him alone. It has been suggested, though no written authority exists, that the reason for this is that it was only by the Company Commander’s importunity that the Company obtained a Battle Axe instead of the conventional gun.

The tallest man in the Company always carries the Battle Axe on parade. As a reminder of “les Moustaches” from whom the Battle Axe was taken, the bearer wears a moustache. This is the full set to represent the status of the veterans of battle as was the custom at the time.( Currently a member of the Intelligence Corps)

The Battle Axe is trooped through the ranks of the Company to commemorate the valour and sacrifices of our forebears and to remind us of the standards they set and to encourage us to maintain them.


External links[edit]