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16th Regiment Royal Artillery

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Based at North Luffenham in Rutland, 16th Regiment Royal Artillery (The London and Kent Gunners) is an Air Defence Regiment equipped with the Army's most technical and expensive weapons system: Rapier FSC. The Regiment lives at the historic home of the Royal Artillery, Woolwich has housed the Gunners since 1716. The Regiment move back from its former residence of Napier Barracks Dortmund, Germany in 1995. Then equipped with Tracked Rapier. As of 2008 it continues to provide personnel to man the C-RAM effort in Iraq.

ORBAT

History

16th Coast Regiment Royal Artillery was formed in 1947 as a direct result of the post war shake up within the Royal Regiment. Comprising 26th, 30th and 32nd Coast Batteries it was re-organised and equipped with 3.7 inch HAA guns. During the last fifty years the Regiment has seen active service across the globe, been equipped with some of the best Air Defence equipment in the world, and seen generations of soldiers pass through it's ranks.

Formally re-titled in 1950 as 16th Light AA Regiment RA, the Regiment moved fromRosyth in Scotland to Bulford on Salisbury Plain to become part of 1st Armoured Division. Due to the huge number of National Servicemen still serving this was a period of great instability, most soldiers would only serve for an average of 15 months with the burden of training and administration falling heavily on the regular Officers and Senior NCOs.

After a short spell in Osnabruck, Germany, the Regiment found itself back again in Bulford, but this time preparing for operations. Intensive Internal Security (IS) training was carried out in preparation for employment in Cyprus where the Enosis terrorist movement was becoming formidable. Throughout 1955 however, the Anglo-French relationship with Egypt over the Suez Canal had deteriorated rapidly and the warning for Cyprus was cancelled in July 1956. The Regiment was subsequently brought to higher establishment for active service in the Suez Operation. All the Anglo-French airborne operations on Port Said were mounted from Cyprus and after month's spent in Malta the Regiment embarked on the tank landing ship "Humfrey Gale" destined for protection of Tymbou Airfield against possible Egyptian air strikes.

By the time the Suez Crisis was over the Enosis Terrorist campaign had once again heightened. 16th Regiment, already in Cyprus, laid aside their guns and proceeded to carry out there is duties as previously trained in the areas of Dhekelia and Larnaca until October 1957, when they returned to Bulford. On arrival back they were re-equipped with Bofors L40/70 guns, and 26 LAA Bty was replaced by 73 (Sphinx) Bty. This proved to be a short stay in the Regiment for 73 Bty. Due to changes in establishment, there was provision for only 2 gun batteries with the new Fire Control Equipment No7 (FCE) and by November 1959, 73 Bty were converted to Field Artillery and regrouped.

This establishment remained in place for at least ten years and covered several operational tours. The Regiment was warned in November 1963 to move to Singapore and Borneo as a result of the increasing threat to Malaysia] from Indonesia. Land operations on the Indonesian, Sarawak, Brunei and Sabah frontiers largely depended on Short Range Air Support and Defence. 22 Light AD Regiment provided this for a short emergency tour to be replaced by 16 Regiment on a 2 year tour in March 1965, working with 12 Regiment on individual battery tasks. For the period from 23 March 1965 until 2 June 1966 the Regiment was continuously on "10 minute alert". This was the longest duration of action maintained in the Far East of any unit. Although the threat was chiefly from the Indonesian Air Force it inevitably included a ground defence aspect. In addition to the Air Defence tasks, the batteries operated in many other roles including helicopter operations (badly), infantry patrols, jungle tracking, recce and fighting patrols, IS riot squads and cordon and search operations.

The need for another gun battery arose again in 1969 in preparation for the receipt and conversion to Rapier. (It's arrival at the time was imminent, however did not actually happen for another 10 years). To achieve this it was decided to reform 14 (Coles' Kop) Bty, which had been in suspended animation, which once again became effective from 1 Jan 1970. Another change was also marked by this date, when it was decided by HQ DRA that 32 (Minden) Bty was senior to 30 Bty (Rogers' Company). Although the recently reformed 14 Bty had been originally formed before either 32 or 30 the official ruling was that because Irish Service did not count it was junior to both. The seniority has since remained 32, 30, 14 Bty.

The Regiment's first call to Northern Ireland came in June 1970. The order came initially for a three week deployment to Belfast, which was subsequently extended to a four month emergency tour. Since that time the Regiment has returned on no fewer than four occasions, with individual batteries also doing additional tours independently. The last of these was 14 Bty who spent six months as Prison Guard Force at the Maze returning in June 1997 and Regimental tour to Armagh in October 1998. 16 Regiment as a whole did not go to the Falklands conflict or the Gulf, however elements of the Regiment took part in both campaigns.

Personal Anecdotes

From David Winmill, ex-16 Regt RA

In 1949, 16 Regt had 30 32 and 3 Bty. 3 Bty was at Kincraig Camp, Elie, Fife.

We had 6in guns in turrets of two guns. Two 3.7" AA guns. We were a active bty firing at towed targets. I worked in the underground control room, controlling the guns.

From Ron Morris - Fife

I am currently researching the history of Kincraig Battery and also Fidra battery which was sited on the opposite shore in the Firth of Forth. I would appreciate contact with anyone who served at these batteries and would like to know if they have photos of the personnel, guns, etc. Many thanks.

My e-mail address is ronmorris617@hotmail.co.uk

Cross-posted into the RAA forum, 16 Regt RA section

External links

16 Regt RA Website