The Royal Regiment of Artillery, commonly referred to as the Royal Artillery (RA) and colloquially known as "The Gunners", is the artillery arm of the British Army. The Royal Regiment of Artillery comprises thirteen Regular Army regiments, King's Troop Royal Horse Artillery and five Army Reserve regiments.


Formation to 1799

Artillery was used by the English army as early as the Battle of Crécy in 1346, while Henry VIII established it as a semi-permanent function in the 16th century. Until the early 18th century, the majority of British regiments were raised for specific campaigns and disbanded on completion. An exception were gunners based at the Tower of London, Portsmouth and other forts around Britain, who were controlled by the Ordnance Office and provided personnel for field artillery 'traynes' as needed. Their numbers were extremely small; as late as 1720, the total establishment for the whole of Britain was 41 master gunners and 178 gunner assistants. During the 18th century, the British regular military forces, including the Board of Ordnance's military corp (the Royal Artillery, Royal Engineers and later the Royal Sappers and Miners) and the British Army (composed mostly of infantry and cavalry) became increasingly professional (various reserve, or ''local'', forces also existed, including: the Militia, or old Constitutional Force, normally made up of infantry units; the mounted Yeomanry; and Volunteer units of various types, normally raised only during wartime), particularly in the fields of artillery and engineering; Britain lagged behind others in this area, with Vauban establishing the French ''Corps royal des ingénieurs militaires'' as far back as 1690. When Marlborough was restored as Master-General of the Ordnance in 1714, he initiated a series of reforms, which included splitting the existing Ordnance Service into artillery and sappers or engineers. This was approved and two permanent companies of field artillery were established in 1716, each 100 men strong; this became the "Royal Artillery" in 1720. These were increased to four companies and on 1 April 1722 grouped with independent artillery units at Gibraltar and Menorca to form the Royal Regiment of Artillery; the first commander was Colonel Albert Borgard, a Dane who served in the British army since 1698. Selection and promotion within the Royal Artillery was largely based on merit, rather than the commission purchase system used elsewhere until 1870. A cadet company was formed at the Royal Military Academy or RMA Woolwich in 1741; this trained artillery and engineering officers for the regiment, the East India Company and the Royal Irish Artillery. In 1757, it split into two battalions, each of twelve companies; by 1780, it contained 32 companies in four battalions, two "invalid companies" used solely for garrison duties and the Royal Artillery Band, with a total strength of 5,241 men and officers. Originally based in the Royal Arsenal, beginning in 1770 the regiment was rehoused in the Royal Artillery Barracks on Woolwich Common. A major innovation in 1793 was the establishment of the Royal Horse Artillery, designed to provide mobile fire support for cavalry units. The same year saw the foundation of the Corps of Royal Artillery Drivers to provide transport for the artillery. Fixed Coastal Artillery batteries were generally manned in peacetime by a handful of Royal Artillery personnel primarily responsible for maintenance, who were reinforced in wartime by drafts of infantrymen from the British Army or the Militia, or by temporarily-raised Volunteer Artillery corps. This was to remain the case through the Naploeonic Wars.


The regiment was involved in all major campaigns of the Napoleonic Wars; in 1804, naval artillery was transferred to the Royal Marine Artillery, while the Royal Irish Artillery lost its separate status in 1810 after the 1800 Union. This period also saw development of the Congreve rocket; based on an existing Indian design, these were the first solid-fuel projectiles used by the British army and two rocket troops were established in 1814. Their use in the War of 1812 is referenced in the line "rocket's red glare" which appears in the Star-Spangled Banner. After Waterloo in 1815, Europe was at peace until the 1853 Crimean War. The Militia, which had been a paper tiger since the end of the Napoleonic Wars, was re-organised under the Militia Act of 1852 in response to the threat of invasion by France, changing it from a conscripted force to one made up of volunteers who engaged for terms of service. The force continued to be a reserve tasked with home defence, embodied for annual training, and for the duration of wars or emergencies.''The Militia Artillery 1852-1909'', by Norman EH Litchfield. The Sherwood Press (Nottingham) Ltd. 1987 The Militia had been principally an infantry force to this date, but Militia Artillery units were added from this point, and some existing Militia Infantry regiments were converted to coastal artillery. The role of the Militia Artillery was to man coastal defences and fortifications in wartime, relieving the Royal Artillery (RA) for active service. The Royal Artillery (and also of the Royal Engineers, Royal Sappers and Miners, the Commissariat Department, and various barracks, ordnance stores, and transport departments) was transferred to the British Army when the Board of Ordnance was abolished in 1855 (the administrative branches of the Board were absorbed by the War Office) and the War Office School of Gunnery established in Shoeburyness in 1859. When the British East India Company was dissolved in 1862, its artillery function was absorbed by the Royal Artillery, giving it a total strength of 29 horse batteries, 73 field batteries and 88 heavy batteries. Military expenditure estimates for 1872 list the regimental strength as a total of 34,943 men and officers, including those in India. Although the Militia and the Volunteer Force remained separate forces, during the latter half of the Nineteenth Century they were re-organised through a succession of reforms, and increasingly integrated with the British Army. In 1882, the Militia Artillery units lost their individual identities, becoming numbered brigades organised within Royal Artillery territorial divisions (two brigades of horse artillery, four brigades of field artillery and eleven territorial divisions of garrison artillery). In 1889 the number of divisions was reduced to three, and the Militia Artillery brigades were renamed again, mostly regaining some variation of their original territorial names. Prior to 1882, each Militia Artillery unit in the United Kingdom wore a unique badge. Between 1882 and 1889, Militia Artillery brigades wore a divisional badge based on that of the Royal Artillery, except that the lower scroll and upper scroll, which on the Royal Artillery badge were inscribed "Quo Fas Et Gloria Ducunt" and "Ubique" (which indicated the regular Royal Artillery, like the Royal Engineers, served everywhere), were respectively inscribed with the name of the territorial division name (by example, North Irish Division) and left blank or covered in a spray of laurel (as the Militia and Volunteer Force were both home defence forces, the members of which could not be sent abroad on expedition without their consents). From 1889 to 1902, the lower scroll was inscribed with the name of the unit (by example, Antrim Artillery) and the upper scroll left blank or covered in a spray of laurel. Grenade badges, whether worn as a collar badge or elsewhere, lacked the scroll inscribed "Ubique" that was part of the regular Royal Artillery version. Militia Artillery units were made up of Militia officers and other ranks, with a Permanent Staff made up of seconded Royal Artillery officers and senior other ranks, including a single officer acting as both Commandant and Adjutant (where a suitably qualified Militia officer was unavailable to serve as Commandant), or only as Adjutant where the Commandant was a Militia officer.

1900 to present day

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 composed 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. 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. Following the separation of the regular garrison companies into the Royal Garrison Artillery in 1899, the Militia Artillery units were re-titled accordingly in 1902 (by example, ''The Antrim Royal Garrison Artillery (Militia)'', which would usually be rendered ''Antrim R.G.A (M)''). The badge adopted was the same as that of the regular Royal Regiment of Artillery, from that point including the "ubique" and "Quo Fas Et Gloria Ducunt" scrolls, with a letter "M" fixed at the bottom of the gun badge, and on the body of the grenade on the grenade badge (also with the "ubique" scroll), whether worn on the collar or on a cap. Alternately, Ubique was replaced on scrolls with the name of the city, county or colony for which the unit was named. When the Volunteer Force and the Yeomanry in the United Kingdom (including the Volunteer Artillery) were merged to create the Territorial Force in 1908, the Militia was re-designated the Special Reserve. At the same time, plans were made to convert all of the Royal Garrison Artillery (Militia) units to Special Reserve Royal Field Artillery, but all Home units other than the The Antrim Royal Garrison Artillery (Militia) (converted in 1956 to ''74 (Antrim Artillery) Engineer Regiment (V)'') were instead disbanded (although Militia Artillery units remained in some of the colonies, and these were not re-designated as Special Reserve; The most notable of these was the Bermuda Militia Artillery, which, like the Bermuda Volunteer Rifle Corps, formed part of the garrison of the important ''Imperial Fortress'' colony of Bermuda). The remainder of the Special Reserve was re-designated as the Militia again after the First World War and permanently suspended. The Territorial Force was renamed the Territorial Army. The division of the Royal Regiment of Artillery lasted until 1924, when the RFA, RHA, and RGA amalgamated once more to become one regiment. In 1938, RA Brigades were renamed regiments. During the World War II there were over 1 million men serving in 960 gunner regiments. In 1947 the Riding Troop RHA was renamed the King's Troop Royal Horse Artillery and, in 1951, the title of the regiment's colonel-in-chief became Captain General. When The Queen first visited the Troop after her accession, it was expected that it would become "The Queen's Troop", but Her Majesty announced that in honour of her father's decision it would remain "The King's Troop". The Royal Horse Artillery, which has separate traditions, uniforms and insignia, still retains a distinct identity within the regiment. Before World War II, Royal Artillery recruits were required to be at least tall. Men in mechanised units had to be at least 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. 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.

The Royal Artillery today

The Royal Artillery is equipped with a variety of equipment and performs a wide range of roles, including: *Surveillance and Target Acquisition/Unmanned Air Systems *Commando and Airborne artillery *Self-Propelled Artillery *Multiple Launch Rocket Systems *Air defence 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. The Royal Regiment of Artillery is unusual in that it has sub-units that often move between regiments, or are placed into suspended animation. See List of Royal Artillery Batteries.

Regular Army

The Royal Regiment of Artillery comprises 13 Regular Army regiments and are designated by a number and the name Royal Artillery (RA) or Royal Horse Artillery (RHA). Historically these names reflected the role the units performed, but in the modern era are retained purely for historical reasons. Regular regiments of the Royal Horse Artillery *The King's Troop, Royal Horse Artillery – a ceremonial unit equipped with 13 pounder guns for firing salutes. Now located in Woolwich Garrison, London. *1st Regiment Royal Horse Artillery – equipped with AS90 self-propelled artillery and MLRS at Assaye Barracks in Tidworth. The Regiment will move to Larkhill barracks by 2020. *3rd Regiment Royal Horse Artillery – (The Liverpool and Manchester Gunners) are equipped with L118 105mm light gun based at Albemarle Barracks outside Newcastle-Upon-Tyne. *7th Parachute Regiment Royal Horse Artillery – (The Airborne Gunners) are equipped with L118 105mm light gun and are currently part of 16th Air Assault Brigade based in Colchester. Regular regiments of the Royal Artillery *4 Regiment Royal Artillery – (The North East Gunners) are equipped with L118 105mm light gun at Alanbrooke Barracks in Topcliffe. *5 Regiment Royal Artillery – (The North, East & West Yorkshire Gunners) are equipped with Surveillance and Target Acquisition assets and are based at Marne Barracks in Catterick, North Yorkshire. *12 Regiment Royal Artillery – (The Lancashire and Cumbrian Gunners) are an air defence unit equipped with Starstreak HVM and are based at Baker Barracks, Thorney Island. *14 Regiment Royal Artillery – are the Training and Support Regiment based at Stirling Barracks in Larkhill. *16 Regiment Royal Artillery – (The London and Kent Gunners) are an air defence unit equipped with Rapier and are based at Baker Barracks, Thorney Island. *19 Regiment Royal Artillery – (The Highland Gunners) are equipped with AS90 self-propelled artillery and MLRS at Assaye Barracks in Tidworth. They are expected to move to Larkhill Barracks by 2020. *26 Regiment Royal Artillery –– (The West Midland Gunners) are equipped with AS90 self-propelled artillery and MLRS at Mansergh Barracks, Guttersloh, Germany. They are expected to move to Larkhill barracks as a dedicated MLRS Regiment by 2021. *29 Commando Regiment Royal Artillery – (The Commando Gunners) are equipped with the L118 105mm light gun, and are currently part of 3 Commando Brigade. Most batteries are currently based at the Royal Citadel, Plymouth, with one battery (148 (Meiktila) Battery) based at RM Poole and 7 (Sphinx) Battery based at RM Condor, Arbroath. *32 Regiment Royal Artillery – (The Wessex Gunners) are equipped with Unmanned Air Vehicles and are based in Roberts Barracks in Larkhill. *47 Regiment Royal Artillery – (The Hampshire and Sussex Gunners) – are equipped with the Thales Watchkeeper WK450 and are based in Horne Barracks in Larkhill.

Army Reserve

*National Reserve Headquarters, Royal Artillery - Watchkeeper and specialist pool *101 (Northumbrian) Regiment Royal Artillery – MLRS *103 (Lancashire Artillery Volunteers) Regiment Royal Artillery – equipped with L118 light gun. *104 Regiment Royal Artillery – equipped with the L118 light gun *105 Regiment Royal Artillery 'The Scottish & Ulster Gunners' – equipped with the L118 light gun. *106 (Yeomanry) Regiment Royal Artillery – Air defence.


Air defence

The Royal Artillery utilises two different air defence weapons: *Rapier FSC – Rapier is a Short Range Air Defence weapon (SHORAD) that is operated by 16th Regiment. *Starstreak HVM – Starstreak HVM is a Very Short Range Air Defence (VSHORAD) system that is a continuation of the Blowpipe and Javelin series. It is operated as either a shoulder-launched weapon, in the Lightweight Multiple Launcher mode or mounted on the Alvis Stormer armoured vehicle. The weapon is operated by 12th Regiment and 106 Regiment RA.

Close support artillery

The Royal Artillery field the following Close Support/Offensive Support weapons: *MLRS – the Multiple Launch Rocket System provides a precision fire capability out to a range of 85 km. In 2014 the dedicated 39th Regiment RA was disbanded and today the system is integrated into 1st Regiment RHA, 19th Regiment RA and 26th Regiment RA. In the future 26th Regiment will take on a dedicated precision fires role and the system will be withdrawn from 19th Regiment RA and 1st Regiment RHA. *AS-90 – the AS-90 is a 155mm self-propelled gun and is utilised by 1st Regiment RHA, 19th Regiment RA and 26th Regiment RA. *L118 light gun – the Light Gun is a 105 mm gun. It is operated by 3rd Regiment RHA, 4th Regiment RA, 7th (Para) Regiment RHA, 29 (Commando) Regt RA, as well as three Army Reserve regiments – 103 Regt RA, 104 Regt RA and 105 Regt RA. *Exactor (Spike NLOS) – a vehicle-mounted high-precision guided missile. It is currently operated by 1st RHA, 19 RA and 26 RA, with the capability passing solely to 26 RA by 2020.

Intelligence, surveillance, target acquisition and reconnaissance (ISTAR)

*MAMBA (Mobile Artillery Monitoring Battlefield Array) uses radar to track enemy mortar and artillery shells out to a range of 40 km. 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. *Thales Watchkeeper WK450 (UAV) is operated by 47th Regiment Royal Artillery. *Desert Hawk III UAV – the DH3 is a hand-launched UAV. It is operated by 32nd Regiment Royal Artillery.


*13 pounder – The King's Troop, Royal Horse Artillery retains six operational First World War-era QF 13 pounders for use as state saluting guns

List of obsolete weapon and equipment

Surface-to-air missiles

*Blowpipe *Javelin *Starburst *Thunderbird *Rapier

Unmanned aerial vehicles

*BAE Systems Phoenix - Operated by the 32nd Regiment Royal Artillery from 1999 to 2008. *Canadair Midge *Radioplane BTT

Nuclear weapons 1950s-1990s

Surface-to-surface tactical ballistic missiles

*Corporal – In service with the 27th and 47th Guided Weapons Regiment RA from 1954 to 1966. See Project E *Honest John – In service with the 24th, 39th, 47th and 50 Missile Regiment Royal Artillery from 1960 to 1977. *Lance – In service with the 50 Missile Regiment Royal Artillery from 1976 to 1993.

Nuclear capable artillery

*155-mm M109 howitzer *203-mm (8-inch) M110 howitzer – See Project E *203-mm (8-inch) M115 howitzer

Nuclear artillery shells

*W33 – In service until 1992. See Project E *W48

Order of precedence

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, Royal Horse Artillery) it will replace the Household Cavalry at the extreme right of the line.


The Regimental museum, "Firepower" located in the Royal Arsenal at Woolwich closed in 2017.


* – Royal Regiment of Canadian Artillery * – Royal Regiment of Australian Artillery * – Royal Regiment of New Zealand Artillery * – Regiment of Artillery * – Regiment of Artillery * – Sri Lanka Artillery * – Singapore Volunteer Artillery * – Armed Forces of Malta * – Rejimen Artileri Diraja * – The Royal Gibraltar Regiment * – South African Artillery Formation The Royal Artillery have a traditional rivalry with the Royal Engineers (the Sappers).

See also

* List of Royal Artillery Batteries * Artillery * Honourable Artillery Company * Royal Artillery Mounted Band * Royal Artillery Band * Royal Artillery Memorial * Royal Artillery Barracks * Royal School of Artillery * Firepower – The Royal Artillery Museum * Bermuda Militia Artillery * Royal Regiment of Canadian Artillery * Royal Regiment of Australian Artillery * Royal Regiment of New Zealand Artillery * 79th Light Anti-Aircraft Battery * Manx Regiment * List of vehicles used by the British Army



Further reading

* *

External links

Royal Regiment of Artillery
{{British Army Artillery Regiments Category:British administrative corps Category:Military units and formations established in 1722 Category:Military units and formations of Great Britain in the American Revolutionary War Category:Organisations based in the United Kingdom with royal patronage Category:Artillery units and formations of the British Army Category:1722 establishments in Great Britain