Royal School of Artillery
|Royal School of Artillery|
|Active||1915 – Present|
|Part of||Army Recruiting and Training Division|
The Royal School of Artillery (RSA) is the principal training establishment for artillery warfare in the British Army. Established in 1915, it is located at Larkhill, Wiltshire, on the south edge of Salisbury Plain in the United Kingdom. The School is the primary training facility for Royal Artillery recruits, and is also home to the Gunnery Training Team.
The Royal School of Artillery was established in 1915 as the School of Instruction for Royal Horse and Field Artillery (Larkhill), on land previously used for tented accommodation at Larkhill. The 1,200-bed Fargo hospital, which was built to the West of the School, opened around the same time to tend for wounded soldiers returning from the First World War; it closed after the War and is now the main ammunition compound for the School. The first commandant of the school was Brigadier-General Henry Newcome after whom Newcome Hall at Larkhill is named. In 1920 it expanded to become the School of Artillery, Larkhill.
In 1970 the title Royal School of Artillery was conferred on the School when the Anti-aircraft School at Manorbier was amalgamated with it. At that time the school was made up of seven 'wings': Gunnery, Air Defence, Tactics, Locating, Signals, Administrative, and REME.
In 2007 the Headquarters, Royal Artillery moved from Woolwich to Larkhill, where it is co-located with the RSA.
From 1778, specialist training for Artillery officers was undertaken at the Royal Military Repository in Woolwich. The Repository was based in the Royal Arsenal until 1802, when it relocated to an area of land alongside the nearby Royal Artillery Barracks. In the early 19th century, gun drill took place on the Gun Parks, manoeuvres in the Repository Grounds and target practice (using mortars and howitzers) on Woolwich Common.
Use of the common as a firing range ceased when the Regiment's first School of Artillery (then called the School of Gunnery) was established at Shoeburyness, Essex, in 1859. To ensure parity of training for the Reserve Forces, the School of Gunnery established a branch at Woolwich, which in 1874 took over responsibility for training Militia and Volunteer Artillery; its instructors were based at the Repository, but live firing now took place on Plumstead Marshes. The Royal Military Repository closed in 1890, whereupon its staff and activities moved to Lydd where they formed the Siege Artillery branch of the School of Gunnery; Shoeburyness continued to provide training in Field, Horse, Mountain and Garrison Artillery.
In 1915, the Field Artillery and Horse Artillery elements from Shoeburyness were transferred to Larkhill (where over 22,000 acres (8,900 ha) of land had been acquired in 1897 for use as firing ranges). Chapperton Down Artillery School was established in 1916, to the west of Larkhill, to train French battery commanders; the following year it expanded to run courses for the Home Defence Artillery. Also in 1916 a Training Centre for Heavy Artillery was established, at Woolwich; the following year it moved to Winchester.
In December 1919, the Army Council decided to combine the School of Instruction for Royal Horse and Field Artillery with the Chapperton Down Artillery School and the Heavy Artillery Training Centre to form an expanded School of Artillery. This took place in 1920; the following year the Siege Artillery School moved to Larkhill from Lydd and was likewise merged into the School. Shoeburyness, though, retained the Coast Artillery School of the Royal Garrison Artillery; in 1940 it moved to Great Orme near Llandudno, where it stayed for the duration of the war, before moving again to the Royal Citadel, Plymouth (where it remained until 1956, when the UK's coastal artillery network was disbanded).
The School provides Phase 2 training for recruits to the Royal Artillery: this training includes gunnery, air defence, surveillance and signals. Trained officers and gunners are then posted to units worldwide, but return to the School for frequent refresher courses. The School is also the home of the Gunnery Training Team, which provides a training consultancy service to the Royal Artillery and the wider Army.
Facilities which have grown up around the school include the Royal Artillery Barracks which accommodates 14 Regiment Royal Artillery and Roberts Barracks, named after Field Marshal Lord Roberts, which accommodates 32 Regiment Royal Artillery as well as Horne Barracks, named after General Lord Horne, which accommodates 47 Regiment Royal Artillery.
The Officers' Mess and Quarters, designed by William A Ross, Chief Architect to the War Office, and built between 1936 and 1941 is a Grade II listed building. Much of the rest of the camp was rebuilt in the 1960s.
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