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53 (Louisburg) Battery RA

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53 (Louisburg) Battery is the second most senior Artillery Battery in the Royal Artillery behind the King's Troop, Royal Horse Artillery. Formed in 1740 the Battery is currently part of 5th Regiment Royal Artillery and is based at Marne Barracks, Catterick, North Yorkshire. The battery operates in a Surveillance and Target Acquisition role.


53 (Louisburg) Battery descended from Captain Mellidge's Company, formed in 1740 at Royal Artillery Barracks, Woolwich. It then departed and saw service in the Caribbean protecting and expanding British interests until 1743 when it returned to Woolwich. In 1745 the Company departed for the territories, newly acquired from the French, in Canada and commenced garrison duties.

Seven Years War

The Seven Years War then provided a major period of activity for the Company. It was in 1758 that the second Battle of Louisburg took place, and the Company played a pivotal role in securing the town. The honour title "Louisburg" commemorates the first stage of the campaign in Canada against the French in the Siege of Louisbourg (1758) (notice the French spelling!), which were first launched from Halifax (Nova Scotia). At the time, Captain Mellidge's Company was then commanded by Captain Brome and it was an integral part of the sea-borne assault to capture the Fortress of Louisbourg which would then allow the Royal Navy to sail down the St. Lawrence River for an attack on Quebec unmolested. The ground around Louisburg did not lend itself well to artillery being composed mainly of swamp and marsh. Thus, the naval 18 Pounder and 24 Pounder Guns had to be manhandled over the sodden ground before being brought into action against the French. The landing of Guns was an extremely difficult task but the company managed it and they reduced the walls of the fortress to rubble, thus silencing the French guns.

The British effort was made all the more difficult by small French defensive positions. With the eradication of all of the outer positions, the Company then turned their guns, and the captured French guns, on the main fort which fell on 26 July 1758. In the words of the French Garrison Officer "Each cannon shot from the English Batteries shook and brought down immense pieces of the ruinous walls". Louisburg surrendered on the 27th of July 1758. Once the fort was taken the British Fleet had free access to the river as planned and could carry British power deep into Quebec without having to fight across inhospitable terrain. In recognition of the tremendous achievement of the Company it was awarded the honour title, Louisburg.

The Company spent the rest of the eighteenth century in various theatres of the British Empire ranging from Canada, the Mediterranean, and the Caribbean.

Nineteenth century

The first half of the nineteenth century was a relatively quiet one for the Company, bearing in mind it was the period of the Napoleonic Wars. The Company did however receive its fair share of action and aggression by bombarding the French invasion fleet in Dieppe in 1801 and taking part in the Siege of Copenhagen in 1807. The Company then spent a long spell in Ireland from 1811 until 1849 when it took up coastal defence duties.

For the remainder of the nineteenth century the Battery, as it was renamed in 1859, served around the Empire in Aden, India, Burma and United Kingdom. Notable achievements during this time included the Crimea and Afghanistan. In the Crimea, the Company took part in the Siege of Sebastopol, and the relief of Kandahar Garrison, Afghanistan in 1880.

Twentieth century

By the 1900s, the Battery returned to Britain and became part of the Coastal Defence Forces until 1926. The Battery then became a heavy gun battery until 1947.

In 1947, the Battery was reformed and armed with Bofors 40/L60 Mk 3. It became part of 22nd Light Anti Aircraft Regiment RA based in Germany. It was then reequipped with Bofors 40/L70 and FCE (Fire Control Equipment) No 7 Radars. During the period of the Emergency in the Far East, the Battery deployed to Changi, Singapore in 1964. The Battery then undertook a further tour to ensure stability in the region in 1966 to Tampin and Kuching, Borneo.

In 1969 the Battery title finally becomes recognisable as 53 (Louisburg) Light Air Defence Battery RA.

The outbreak of the Troubles in Northern Ireland led to the Battery deploying in the infantry role in 1972 to Londonderry. It then undertook further tours to Northern Ireland in 1973, 1974, 1978, 1987, 1993, 1997, and 1999. The Battery also re-armed several times over this period with equipment changing from Bofors to the introduction of Rapier, Tracked Rapier, and finally Towed Rapier FSB2 (Field Standard B2).

Elements from the Battery deployed in 1990 in support of the first Gulf War against Iraq. During the Nineties, the Battery also deployed twice to Cyprus. The first time was in 1990, first as Soveriegn Based Area forces from May to August in Dhekelia. The Battery’s role then changed in August until December to join UN forces based in Nicosia as part of UNFICYP. The second Cyprus tour was in 2003 when the Battery again deployed in support of UNFICYP, that time as part of the Mobile Force Reserve based in Blue Beret camp, Nicosia.

Following the suspended animation of 22nd AD Regiment RA in April 2004 the Battery joined 5th Regiment RA in Marne Barracks, Catterick, which was made official on 21st July 2004. It has since converted to a Surveillance and Target Acquisition (STA) Role.

Recent operations

Since joining 5th Regiment RA, 53 (Louisburg) Battery has also served on Operation TELIC in Iraq twice and on Operation HERRICK in Afghanistan twice also.

53 (Louisburg) Battery was also the first within 5th Regiment RA to convert to Bowman (communications system) in 2006.

Chronology of campaigns

53 Company/Battery served in:

Year Campaign Remarks
1758 Siege of Louisburg Canada
1801 Dieppe Nil
1807 Siege of Copenhagen Nil
1854–1855 Siege of Sevastopol (1854–1855) Crimea
1857 Indian Rebellion of 1857 Nil
1878-80 Second Anglo-Afghan War Nil
1914-18 Sulva, Gallipoli Campaign The Great War
1939-45 World War II Europe
1964 Indonesia–Malaysia confrontation Changi, Singapore
1966 Indonesia–Malaysia confrontation Tampin and Kuching, Borneo
1972 Operation Banner Londonderry, Northern Ireland
1973 Operation Banner Unstated, Northern Ireland
1974 Operation Banner Unstated, Northern Ireland
1978 Operation Banner Unstated, Northern Ireland
1987 Operation Banner Unstated, Northern Ireland
1993 Operation Banner Unstated, Northern Ireland
1997 Operation Banner Unstated, Northern Ireland
1999 Operation Banner Unstated, Northern Ireland
1990 Operation Granby Iraq
1990 Sovereign Base Areas / UNFICYP British Forces Cyprus
2003 Operation Tosca, UNFICYP British Forces Cyprus
2005 Operation Telic 6 Iraq
2007 Operation Telic 10 Iraq
2007 Operation Herrick 6 Afghanistan
2009 Operation Herrick 11 Afghanistan

External links