Gunner History

For those ARRSE members who have been badgering me about the history of the Gunners (ie the Sappers), here is a brief thread regarding the subject.

"the harder the fighting and the longer the war,
the more the infantry, and in fact all the arms,
lean on the Gunners.  The proper use of Artillery
is a great battle winning factor."

                                       Field Marshal Montgomery


There have been gunners ever since the invention of guns in the 13th century, and the first official gunners were appointed in 1485, as part of what became the Board of Ordnance. Throughout the next 400 years the forts around Britain had master gunners permanently appointed by the Board of Ordnance. Trains of artillery were formed for campaigning both at home and abroad, with guns and the men to serve them.

1716 to 1800

In 1716, under a Royal Warrant, two companies of artillery, each of 100 men, were formed at the Woolwich Warren (later the Royal Arsenal) to ensure that a regular force of gunners was available when needed. Woolwich has been the spiritual home of the 'Gunners' ever since that time, although the Regiment had moved to its famous barracks on Woolwich Common by 1805.
The Regiment expanded rapidly in the 18th century and saw service in every campaign and every garrison world-wide. In 1793, the Royal Horse Artillery was formed to provide greater mobility in the field, and soon became associated with the role of supporting cavalry. The RHA performed so well that it became a corps d'elite within the Regiment.

The 19th century

The 19th century saw the Regiment heavily engaged in the Crimean War and the South African War. Throughout the century, it was campaigning in India alongside the separate artilleries of the East India Company. This led to their amalgamation with the British Army after the Indian Mutiny, bringing some famous batteries into the Regiment.

The 20th century

The science of artillery grew rapidly under the pressure of the Industrial Revolution and by the end of the 19th century, the need for indirect fire brought major changes. Guns became ever more powerful, firing more efficient munitions to longer ranges with increased accuracy and greater speed. The Great War of 1914-18 was to prove an artillery war, and the number of gunners increased dramatically, serving 6,655 guns by the end of the war, with anti-aircraft (AA) guns joining in against the new threat from the air.

The inter-war years provided active service on the fringes of the Empire, but the 1930s saw the Regiment once again arming for war. Full mechanisation now replaced the horses which had served the Regiment for so long. In the war which ensued, the Regiment again provided firepower in every theatre, on land, at sea in the Maritime Artillery, and in the air with Air Observation Posts. Gunners manned huge numbers of AA guns both in the field and in the home base. Many of the AA Regiments were formed from Territorial Army units. Most of the Light AA gunners began the war as infantrymen.

Despite the reduction of the Army in the post-war years, the Regiment has been armed with some of the most potent, long-ranged weapons it has ever manned. Today it uses the wide span of technology of all the Arms, with virtually no branch of military science unexplored.

But the Regiment's history is the foundation stone on which it rests. For over 280 years of unbroken service since 1716, and reaching back a further 400 years to the first bombard, artillerymen have provided the Army with the firepower it has needed in Defence and attack. In 1833, King William IV recognised that to continue granting Battle Honours to the Regiment would result in an excessive list, and granted instead a single Battle Honour, the motto Ubique (Everywhere), with an accompanying motto Quo Fas Et Gloria Ducunt (Whither Right and Glory Lead).

Today, the Royal Regiment of Artillery forms a powerful and complex branch of the Army. It is the only section of the Army which has employed Nuclear weapons, and during the Cold War formed one of the premier deterrents to a Soviet Armoured advance through Central Europe. US and British Lance missiles would have almost certainly been used to even the odds, the far-outnumbered NATO Armoured forces would have had to face.

Indirect fire forms the Artillery's second role, providing a depth of fire designed to disrupt, delay and destroy enemy forces before they can come into contact with friendly forces. And in the third role, defends the mobile Army from air attack. Although it did have the role of Anti-tank Swingfire operation for a time, that role has been absorbed by the Royal Armoured Corps.

The Royal Regiment of Artillery has operated in its existence everything from light cannon, to huge siege pieces, through to the end of the Cold War and Nuclear Weapons, and now onto the realm of smart munitions and the MLRS. Today the Royal Regiment of Artillery is combined with the Royal Horse Artillery to form the Royal Artillery.

The Royal Artillery Collect.

The Royal Artillery Collect may be used on occastions when appropriate.

Lord Jesus Christ, who dost everywhere lead Thy people in the way of righteousness, vouchsafe so to lead the Royal Regiment of Artillery that wherever we serve, on land or sea or in the air, we may win the glory of doing Thy will.

The Royal Artillery Prayer.  

O Lord Jesus Christ,
Who dost everywhere lead thy people in the way of righteousness,
Vouchsafe so as to lead the Royal Regiment of Artillery,
That wherever we serve, on land or sea or in the air,
We may win the glory of doing thy will


The Regimental Cap Badge and Crest is a Gun surmounted by a crown with the Regimental Mottoes 'Ubique' meaning "Everywhere" and  'Quo Fas et Gloria Ducunt' (Sorry ARRSEism), "Where right and glory lead" on scrolls above and below the gun (approved 1902).

The gun depicted on the cap badge is a 9pdr Rifled Muzzle Loader of about 1871, and the rammer used to ram the charge into the muzzle is also seen, to the left of the carriage wheel.

The Royal Horse Artillery Cap Badge and Crest is the Royal Cypher encircled by a Garter bearing the Royal Motto 'Honi Soit Qui Maly Pense' meaning 'Woe to he who think ill of it'.  It is surmounted by a crown over a scroll bearing the words 'Royal Horse Artillery', the badge has no backing and the centre is not coloured (Granted in 1948 ).

And the origin of the motto:  Ubique (Everywhere).  It describes the fall of shot rather than the presence of the guns on the battlefield.
excellent Guns,

but please note, the RHA wear a Cypher, not a cap badge!  Ask any walloper.

The Royal Horse Artillery Cap Badge and Crest is the Royal Cypher encircled by a Garter bearing the Royal Motto 'Honi Soit Qui Maly Pense' meaning 'Woe to he who think ill of it'.  
BS i thought that this covered it quite well.  Although i know how pedantic the RHA can be on subjects like that.   Hmm    is it "THE" Chestnut Troop or "THEE"
Good work GQ.

However I think you'll find it is A Battery RHA despite the insistence of The Chipmunk Troop.

The title is actually A Battery (The Chestnut Troop) Royal Horse Artillery.

Worked with them about 14 yrs ago, more interested in bullshit than gunnery!  Not sure what they are like now.
GQ (aka Spotter...)

good little bit of info there, how many google searches did that lot take ;D

serious question.. I AM NOT BAITING HERE...

Is there any truth in the legend of the guns getting overrun by the russians during the Crimean war and the sappers recapturing them??

(please note I did not at any stage utter the words Cowardice, Yellow Stripe or Lanyard of any hue ;D )
;D ;DHumph, welcome back my friend.  In answer to your questions i have covered this subject within the "White lanyard" thread on this board and i started a "Lanyard, a history" thread in your sapper board my brother moderator. ;D  Enjoy
Im just reposting this thread back onto the top due to the amount of people who have been trying to bait the arty lads with infactual comments.  Plus i just love being a gunner.  Ahh the smell of eflux in the morning....
GQ (YD back after prolonged absence)

Not wanting to bait you further anc corect your vernacular but you surely mean "Rocketeer" instead of "Gunner" and "coridte" instead of"eflux" - beware people may confuse you an Air Pretender!.

Stand by for Fire fighting!
GQ (YD back after prolonged absence)

Not wanting to bait you further an correct your vernacular but you surely mean "Rocketeer" instead of "Gunner" and "coridte" instead of"eflux" - beware people may confuse you an Air Pretender!.

Stand by for Fire fighting!
Ahh, the internal baiting by the steamys.  Ref "rocketeer" that conjures up the picture of Flash Gordon and Warship Ajax in my mind.  Any way i have no idea what the AD call the excess from their rockets but hey who cares what they call it.  I expect many crys of outrage from the AD members on this especially from the ones on OP TOSCA who obviously have nothing better to do.  
Just to confirm how wonderful the gunners are, remember that the infantry and cavalry are there to form the buffer between duelling artillery units.

they are the first recorded horse arty.......

but what are they famouse for?
they were the aiming guns for the Duke at Waterloo....
been involved with a number of Napolionic battles...

the right of line....
so what bty is worthy of "the most decorated?"
any thoughts?


War Hero
Kit Reviewer
Book Reviewer

Whether the cloud-punchers have eflux or cordite is a moot point- they fire missiles (or'hit'iles as they like to call them...) rather than rockets which are truly God's thunder!

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