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P.D. GRIFFIN
ENCYCLOPEDIA OF MODERN BRITISH ARMY REGIMENTS

THE ROYAL REGIMENT OF ARTILLERY

The regiment expanded throughout the Victorian era and reached a peak in the First World War. In the Second World War a quarter of all serving soldiers were gunners, and today the army's largest regiment provides 80 per cent of its firepower. Each of the Royal Artillery's fifteen regiments specialises in one of its sophisticated weapons: the self-propelled gun, the light gun, rocket launchers and air defence missiles. One regiment is responsible for unmanned air vehicles and another for surveillance and target acquisition.

In 2006, after 300 years in Woolwich, the RA moved its headquarters and principal messes to Larkhill, home of the Royal School of Artillery on Salisbury Plain.

RA captain in No. 1 dress

His cap lines mark him out as belonging to an RHA regiment

DRESS DISTINCTIONS

The universal blue peaked cap bears the scarlet band of a royal regiment and the familiar gun badge. This 1902 design sites a cannon between two scrolls, the upper inscribed Ubique (Everywhere) and the lower scroll Quo fas et gloria ducunt (Whither right and glory lead). Cannons have been part of the regiment's insignia since the eighteenth century, originating with the three cannons on the shield of the Board of Ordnance. Senior NCOs wear the gun without motto scrolls as a sleeve badge. Trade badges are also worn on the sleeve.

The collar badge (a grenade with Ubique scroll), dates back to 1832 and, in the case of this regiment, represents an early mortar shell. NCOs and gunners of the Royal Horse Artillery' wear its own badge on the collar - the sovereign's cypher within an oval Garter belt above a title scroll.

No. 1 dress 'blues' show the regimental broad scarlet stripe on the trousers. RHA personnel wear half-ball buttons and gold or yellow cap lines around the neck, relics of their old full dress. Only the ceremonial King's Troop now wear RHA full dress.

RA full dress, issued to the regimental band, displays the regimental busby (with its scarlet bag and frontal plume) and the blue tunic with scarlet facings. The fur busby, confirmed for RA full dress in 1928, was first used in the regiment between 1857 and 1878 to complement its grenade badge.

Stable belts are red with a blue band in the centre divided by a yellow stripe. RHA have a light blue belt with a yellow stripe in the middle.

MUSIC

The regimental quick march, British Grenadiers, relates to the grenade badge. It was authorised to the regiment in 1882 and was adapted a hundred years later to include Alford's Voice of the Guns. The RA slow march, adopted in 1836, is The Duchess of Kent's March. The regimental trot past is The Keel Row, the gallop past, Bonnie Dundee.

Guest nights in the officers' mess have been marked by Kipling's Screw Guns sung to The Eton Boating Song.

TRADITIONS

Royal Artillery Day (26 May) celebrates the formation of the first independent companies of 1716. The date of 11 November marks the birth of the Royal Horse Artillery in 1793.

Bandmaster and trombonist of the South Notts Hussars TA Band in 2001

Bandmaster and trombonist of the South Notts Hussars TA Band in 2001. The uniform evolved by 1880. The SNH was one of twenty-one yeomanry regiments converted to the RA in 1920. It was first moved to RHA in 1938

St Barbara's Day is celebrated at Woolwich (and in some batteries and RA Association branches) on the Sunday closest to 4 December, with a church parade or old comrades' social. St Barbara, the patron saint of artillerymen everywhere, is said to have been avenged by a bolt of lightning, which is represented by a zigzag pattern on the regimental tie. She was invoked to grant safety in thunderstorms, and latterly the thunder of guns. The day is seen as an appropriate time to exchange greetings with artillery regiments of allied armies.

The prestigious spring and autumn dinners held at the main mess provide an opportunity to entertain guests. In the 1980s the autumn dinner was renamed Alamein Dinner in honour of the batteries which served in the desert victory of 1942. The regiment's annual Ceremony of Remembrance takes place at the Royal Artillery Memorial at Hvde Park Corner.

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