The Minute Book
Saturday, 22 February 2014

The British Royal Artillery (1893)
Topic: British Army

The British Royal Artillery

The Quebec Saturday Budget, 6 May 1893

The British Royal Artillery is a peculiar organization, constituting as it does only a single regiment. That regiment is, however, the largest in the world and comprises 1,700 officers and 35,400 men. From a lecture recently delivered by an officer of the Royal Artillery, I take the following interesting details concerning this arm of the service. It is divided into four branches, the Horse, Field, Mountain and Garrison Artillery. The Royal Horse Artillery has an establishment of 20 service batteries, the Field Artillery of 80, the Mountain of 10 and the Garrison of 72.

The role of the Horse Artillery is to operate in conjunction with cavalry, a part which it is well fitted to play by its great mobility; the role of Field Artillery is to operate with Infantry, whose movements being slower than the Cavalry, demand a less mobility from the Artillery that supports it. The Mountain Artillery as its name implies is for operation in mountainous or broken country unsuitable for horses or wheeled carriages.

The British Garrison Artillery has an establishment of 684 officers and 16,380 men stationed in every quarter of the globe, subdivided into three Grand Divisions, viz., the "Eastern," "Southern" and "Western." The strength of each company varies according to local requirements; the strongest is at Halifax, N.S., and consists of 316 of all ranks; the weakest consists of 99. Out of the Garrison Artillery a force of 1,200 are employed as Siege Artillery—four heavy Field Batteries for service in India and three companies as a Siege Train in England. The former are armed with 4 40-pounder R.M.L. Guns and 2 6.3" Howitzers, drawn by elephants and bullocks, the officers and some of the N.C.O's. Being mounted on horses, and such a diversity of animals has gained for them the nickname of "Menagerie Batteries." The Siege Train, it is observed, is a small one, consisting of only three companies. There have only been two important sieges undertaken by British arms in the last half of this century, viz: the sieges of Delhi and Sebastopol, and it is not considered necessary to maintain a large permanent Siege Train, but different companies are detailed to go through a course of practice in siege operations and bring at Siege camps of Instruction at Lydd and Chatham every year.

The Mountain Artillery are affiliated with the Garrison Artillery to the extent that the officers and men are appointed and drafted to it from the latter. It is a much coveted branch of the Artillery and special qualifications are required for it. It makes a valuable outlet for the Garrison Artillery and gives all ranks of this branch an opportunity of seeing active service which those employed exclusively in coast defence would otherwise not get. You will scarcely see an officer or man in a Mountain Battery who does not wear at least one war medal and often several, The same remarks applies in a less degree to the Heavy batteries in India.

The Field and garrison Artillery are not interchangeable, the authorities having come to the conclusion that an individual cannot be both an efficient Field Artilleryman and garrison Artilleryman at the same time, and that if he tries to, he will stand a good chance of resembling Dr. Johnson's Dragoon, who is defined by that great man in his dictionary as a "soldier who fights indifferently on horse and on foot!"

With regard to the Militia Artillery with Royal Artillery, the Irish and Scotch are affiliated with the Southern Division, and the Welsh to Western Division. They are under the General Officer Commanding and train in our forts with our guns. In 1885 the Hants Artillery Militia were embodied for nine months at Gosport and took over Fort Grange from the Royal Artillery.

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EST

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