- 1716 two companies of field artillery raised at Woolwich
- 1720 first called Royal Artillery
- 1748 Presidential Artilleries of Bengal, Madras and Bombay formed
- 1793 Royal Horse Artillery (RHA) raised to provide fire support for the cavalry
- 1862 absorbed artillery of the British East India Company (21 horse batteries & 48 field batteries) bringing its strength to 29 horse batteries, 73 field batteries and 88 heavy batteries
- 1899 divided into Royal Horse Artillery, Royal Field Artillery and Royal Garrison Artillery
- 1924 amalgamated again into one regiment Royal Artillery
- Today Royal Regiment of Artillery comprised of Royal Horse Artillery (King's Troop & 3 regiments) and Royal Artillery (18 regiments)
Service in India
The first company of the Royal Artillery to serve in India sailed in November 1747. During the 1800s the service in the East Indies was mainly in Ceylon, until the Indian Mutiny in 1857. In 1859, the companies of the Royal Artillery in India were formed into the 11th, 13th and 14th Brigades.
Absorbing the Company artillery regiments
“In accordance with the instructions of her Majesty's Government, the Bengal, Madras, and Bombay Regiments of Artillery will be formed into the 2nd, 3rd, 4th and 5th Royal Horse Brigades, and the 16th, 17th, 18th, 19th, 20th, 21st, 22nd, 23rd, 24th, and 25th brigades of Royal Artillery.
The 2nd Royal Horse Brigade will be formed of seven troops of Bengal Horse Artillery, the 3rd brigade of the four troops of Madras Horse Artillery, the 4th brigade of the four troops of Bombay Horse Artillery, and the 5th brigade of six troops of Bengal Horse Artillery.
The brigades of Royal Artillery will be formed:—16th of 5 companies of Bengal Artillery ; 17th of 6 companies of Madras Artillery; 18th of 6 companies of Bombay Artillery ; 19th of 5 companies of Bengal Artillery; 20th of 5 companies of Madras Artillery ; 21st of six companies of Bombay Artillery ; 22nd of 5 companies of Bombay Artillery; 23rd of 5 companies of Madras Artillery ; 24th of 5 companies of Bengal Artillery; 25th of 4 companies of Bengal Artillery".
History of the Royal Regiment of Artillery Duncan, vol 2, (1873) lists the batteries in existence in 1872. The names of the Horse Artillery Brigades have changed since 1861, and the 24th and 25th Brigades are no longer in existence.
For information for the period 1863-1911, refer Stations of Royal Artillery in India
First World War
The British artillery of 1914-1918 from "The Long, Long Trail The British Army in the Great War", which indicates there were some Regular Army Brigades in India throughout the War , examples being
- 6 (Howitzer) Brigade (regular, VI (How))
- Comprising only number 77 Battery and based at Jhansi, this brigade came under command of the 7th (Meerut) Division of the Indian Army. It remained in India throughout the war, leaving the Division when it went to France. In 1915-6 it was under the 1st (Peshawar) Division.
- 7 Brigade (regular, VII)
- Comprising numbers 4, 38 and 78 Batteries RFA plus 68 and 84 Companies RGA and 104 Battery RGA and based at Rawalpindi, this brigade came under command of the 2nd (Rawalpindi) Division of the Indian Army. It remained in India throughout the war.
- XVI Brigade, RFA A unit of Britain's pre-war regular army and comprising 89, 90 and 91 Batteries, this brigade came under command of the 1st (Peshawar) Division of the Indian Army and was based at Nowshera. It remained in India throughout the war, only leaving Nowshera for Rawalpindi in November 1918.
- Royal Regiment of Artillery 1747-1749 - 135 officers and soldiers of the RA who sailed for India to fight with Admiral Boscawen
- Royal Artillery Muster Rolls 1748 pay list related to above source
- K Battery, Royal Horse Artillery, Memorial at Bandariabagh (photo)
- "Life in a British Cantonment in India: Nasirabad, 1929-1930" by John Sworder FIBIS Journal Number 23 (Spring 2010) pages 40-48. For details of how to access this article, see FIBIS Journals.
- "The Mysterious Murder at Agra" by Rosemary Reardon FIBIS Journal Number 28 (Autumn 2012) pages 3-14. Charles Low a Corporal in O Battery, 3 Brigade stationed at Agra was murdered in October 1882. His wife and another Corporal were charged with the murder but acquitted. For details of how to access this article, see FIBIS Journals.
The National Archives
The most accessible soldiers’ records, including for soldiers of the Royal Artillery, are the WO 97 series Royal Hospital Chelsea pension records, many of which are available online.
Muster rolls (effectively a pay list register of soldiers in a company) can provide excellent information, however it must be noted that there are almost no muster rolls for the Royal Artillery in India, except a few in very early years. However, checking the rolls for the period before and after an artilleryman is in India can be very useful. The National Archives has an online guide covering British Army muster rolls and pay lists. Be sure to know the brigade and battery of your man before you attempt to find the muster roll and be aware that name changes did occur. Law's Tables can be useful for sorting out the correct titles.
Also refer to the guide produced by Firepower, The Royal Artillery Museum called "Is There A Gunner In Your Family Tree?", see below.
The main record series, with catalogue entries, are:
- WO 10: Commissary General of Musters Office and successors: Artillery Muster Books and Pay Lists 1708-1878. Arranged by unit; often battalion and company, or brigade and battalion.
- WO 16: War Office: Muster Books and Pay Lists 1878 to 1898. From 1888 onwards the series consists of muster rolls only.
- WO 23: Royal Hospital Chelsea: Admission Books, Registers and Papers
- WO 23/63: Horse Artillery to 16 Brigade (Artillery) 1865-1875 and WO 23/64: 17 Brigade to Depot (Artillery) 1865-1875
- WO 54: Ordnance Office and War Office: Entry Books and Registers. WO 54 subgroups include:
- WO 69: Royal Artillery Records of Service and Papers 1755-1917. A large number of volumes were destroyed during World War 2. WO 69 subgroups include:
- The records for WO 69/1-177 together with WO 69/583-597 "Description books: Registers of deceased soldiers, with indexes" are available on LDS microfilm, (107 reels) with this catalogue entry
- WO 74: Army Purchase Commission Records. Royal Artillery:Bengal Bombay and Madras 1871-1891 WO 74/173
- WO 116: Registers of the award of out-pensions
- Some of the WO 116 records mentioned above are available online free of cost from The National Archives Documents Online: Digital Microfilms. Those available online are
- WO 116/125 1 November 1833-08 February 1837 to WO 116/165 3 January 1893 to 26 December 1893
- These are stated to be large pdf files, which need a broadband internet connection
- The findmypast website holds two nominal rolls for Royal Artillery soldiers. One is a list of men who were awarded the Military Medal between 1916-1993. The other reveals the officers and men who were decorated for Gallantry during the Second World War. Searching is free but charges apply for examination of the record.
For Overseas Army records of baptisms, marriages and burials, see Chaplains Returns
Firepower, The Royal Artillery Museum
Firepower, The Royal Artillery Museum has a Library and Archive with extensive holdings including battery records. A research service is available. Note that charges apply to consult records in the Reading Room.
Firepower has produced a guide for family history researchers called "Is There A Gunner In Your Family Tree?" The sixteen page guide outlines how the Museum's extensive archives can help researchers. It also details the other main UK sources and archives to explore when researching army service. Available from the Firepower Museum Shop.
For items in the India Office Records refer India Office military records at the British Library.
Published histories in the catalogue include:
- The History of the Royal Artillery, Crimean period by Colonel Julian RJ Jocelyn (1911)
- The History of the Royal and Indian Artillery in the Mutiny of 1857 by Julian RJ Jocelyn (1915). Available from the FIBIS Amazon Shop
- The History of the Royal Artillery : from the Indian Mutiny to the Great War by Sir Charles Callwell and Sir John Headlam (1931, 1940)
- History of the Royal Regiment of Artillery : Western Front 1914-18 by Sir Martin Farndale (1986)
- History of the Royal Regiment of Artillery : the Forgotten Fronts and the Home Base 1914-18 by Sir Martin Farndale (1988)
- History of the Royal Regiment of Artillery : Between the Wars, 1919-39 edited by BP Hughes (1992) (Nb: the catalogue entry does not use the subtitle)
- History of the Royal Regiment of Artillery: The years of defeat Europe and North Africa, 1939-41 by Sir Martin Farndale 1996
- History of the Royal Regiment of Artillery. The Far East Theatre, 1941-1946 by Sir Martin Farndale (2000), revised ed The Far East Theatre, 1939-1946, Farndale (2002).
In addition to the books available through the FIBIS Shop, some of the Histories have been reprinted by the Naval and Military Press.
Other books in the catalogue:
- Battery Records of the Royal Artillery compiled by M. E. S. Laws. Volume 1, 1716-1859 and Volume 2, 1859-1877 published in 1950 and 1970 . Also known as ‘Laws Tables’.
- Minutes of Proceedings of the Royal Artillery Institution. Volume 1 (1858) -Volume 32, no. 3 (June 1905). Volume 12 is missing. The name then changed to
- The Journal of the Royal Artillery, Vol 32, no. 4 (July 1905). This was published monthly, 1905-July 1924; quarterly Oct 1924-1958; 3 times a year, 1959-1961; half-yearly, 1962-.
- General Report of the Practice in the Royal Artillery, Poona Circle (Annual Report on Royal Artillery Practice, Bombay Command) for the season of 1894-95 (1896-97-1899-1900)
Royal Artillery Historical Society
Previously there were details of the Royal Artillery Historical Society in the Royal Artillery section of the Army website. This link has now disappeared. Previously it was advised that there were meetings four times a year. Issues of the Gunner Magazine give details of future meetings and the June 2012 Gunner Magazine advised that the RAHS Secretary is Lt Col R S Clayton: email@example.com Papers previously presented include "The History of 10 Assaye Battery, Royal Artillery" which was originally part of the Bombay Artillery. Refer External links below for some of the papers.
The Gunner has been published monthly since 1919. Its aims include providing a record of regimental history, social affairs, sporting activities, equipment, dress etc
The Royal Artillery Journal is published twice annually, and offers a more in-depth, scientific look at continuing operations and lessons that can be learned from previous campaigns, as well as features on memorable moments and characters from the Gunners' 300 year history. Originally published from 1858 as Minutes of Proceedings of the Royal Artillery Institution, the name was changed in 1905. Both series of journals are available at the British Library.
Garrison Gunners' life in India
An Officer’s wife wrote
"Yesterday the Captain Sahib was on a board to award prizes to the gunners’ gardens at the Fish Market Fort [Lucknow] The men are given seeds and encouraged to grow vegetables and flowers, as the life of a garrison gunner in an Indian Fort is a very dull one."
- ↑ "The Royal Artillery in the East Indies" provides more details
- ↑ "The New Artillery Amalgamation", pages 606-607 (December 1861) from Colburn’s United Service Magazine, Volume 97, 1861 Part 3 Google Books
- ↑ TNA Catalogue description
- ↑ Gunner Magazine British Army website.
- ↑ My Garden in the City of Gardens: A Memory, page 86 by Edith E Cuthell 1905 Archive.org. She was married to Army Officer Thomas G Cuthell, possibly in the Royal Artillery
- Royal Artillery Wikipedia
Royal Regiment of Artillery Wikipedia
- Royal Artillery Barracks, Woolwich, London Wikipedia
- British Army Artillery Victorians at War Google Books
- Gunner (rank) Wikipedia
- Bombardier Wikipedia
- Glossary of Royal Artillery. Terms and Abbreviations (Historical and Modern) by Philip Jobson. 7fd-regt-raa-association.com Appear to be extracts from the book Royal Artillery Glossary of Terms and Abbreviations by Philip Jobson 2008
- Ian Paterson’s page on the history of many Artillery Regiments including Royal Horse Artillery, Artillery Regiments That Served With The 7th Armoured Division. Includes details of regiments whose history dates back to the Bengal, Madras and Bombay Artillery.
- Transcription of the Long Service & Good Conduct medal register for the Royal Artillery (including RA, RFA, RGA & RHA) for 1902-12 . The List includes name, year of issue, rank and regimental number. The Asplin Military History Resources
- "The History of 9 (Plassey) Battery Royal Artillery" Royal Artillery Historical Society Spring Meeting 19th April 2007. Word version, html version. This regiment was originally part of the Bengal Artillery.
- "The History of 10 Assaye Battery, Royal Artillery", Royal Artillery Historical Society Spring Meeting 2nd April 2003 Word version, html version. This Battery was originally part of the Bombay Artillery.
- "The History Of 8 (Alma) Battery Royal Artillery" Royal Artillery Historical Society Spring Meeting 22nd April 2004 Word version, html version. This Battery was raised in 1755 and immediately proceeded to India, until it returned to England in 1765. It took part in the 2nd China War and the Boxer Rebellion in addition to further garrison duty in India.
- "The History of 1st Battery Royal Artillery (The Blazers)" Royal Artillery Historical Society Spring Meeting 26th April 2006 Word version, html version. This Battery was in India 1926 to 1940, and was then part of the Divisional Artillery of the 5th Indian Division
- 2 Heavy Battery Royal Artillery Hinds Company includes History, with details of India 1883-1920 and deployments and battery names during that time.
- Barkachha, (Barkacha) located about five miles south of Mirzapur, was the site of an Artillery camp c 1900. This newspaper article advises: Barkacha had, previous to this year's work, been exclusively an artillery camp for the annual practice of batteries and brigade divisions, a certain number of senior officers of the other arms being detailed to attend for instruction... There is no doubt that Barkacha is one of the finest artillery practice grounds in India. The Brisbane Courier (Qld.) Saturday 16 March 1901 page 12 from trove.nla.gov.au
- WW2Talk Forum post with 1930s photographs showing the drive past of 98 Battery/1st Field Brigade RA on Proclamation Day. The exact year and location are unknown, but possibly Quetta. (Images only available to logged in members of WW2Talk Forum)
- Photographs: India 1930s 14th Corunna Field Battery taken by the father of Peter Bullous. Includes photographs at Ghalanai during the 1935 Mohmand Operations. Flickr.com. This Battery is now called 17 (Corunna) Battery and appears to have been in India until 1939.
- British Artillery in World War 2 including Field Artillery Formations and Regiments of the Royal Artillery in World War 2. Website by Nigel F Evans
- The Royal Artillery 1939-45 ra39-45.pwp.blueyonder.co.uk
- Monument to those who died in Cawnpore 1892-1895, 31st Field Battery Royal Artillery. Monumental Inscriptions from Cawnpur Cantonment Cemetery , page 139 Miscellanea Genealogica Et Heraldica: Fourth Series Volume 2 1908 Archive.org
- Monument to those who died 67th Battery Royal Field Artillery 1904-1906 at Tehkal Cemetery, Peshawar indian-cemeteries.org
- Monument to those who died No 6 Mountain Battery Royal Garrison Artillery 1914-1921 at Tehkal Cemetery, Peshawar indian-cemeteries.org
- From Stephen Lewis’ Soldiers Memorials
- Memorials: Afghanistan 1878-80 Scroll down for Artillery Officers from Stephen Lewis’ Officers Died
- Photograph: Royal Artillery Officer in India c 1860 flickr.com
- Photographs from Soldiers of the Queen: The Jewel in the Crown
- Lt. John Keith, R.A. and the newspaper article relating to his death after being attacked by a wounded tiger. He was commissioned into the Royal Artillery on 1 April 1861 and was assigned to the 13th Brigade, 8th Battery in Secunderabad, India on in May 1861. He died 24 April, 1867 at Nagpore. He was stationed at the nearby cantonment of Kamptee where he was buried
- Bombardier Sturgeon of the 3rd Mountain Battery, Royal Artillery Quetta, c 1890's
- Gunner George Thomas Sida of the Royal Artillery served in India with "F" Battery, Royal Horse Artillery.for only a few months - from 11 March, 1893 to 4 July, 1893 before he died from being kicked by a horse at Mhow.
- Royal Artillery Gunner Bombay c 1900
- Leonard George Watkins Bombay 1886, with previous information on the India Home page. He was appointed a Gentleman Cadet at the Royal Military Academy on 20 September, 1878 Although is seems the Watkins remained in the Royal Artillery for his entire career to c 1914 it was while seconded to the Indian Ordnance Department
- Colonel James William Howard Fitzmayer , born 1813, with his wife spent nearly six years in India from 1864, first in command of the Artillery at Meerut until January 1866, then at Benares, and in command of an army division at Oude until April 1867, during which time he was promoted to the rank of Major-General. Photo-sleuth,blogspot.com
- Henry Frederick Leake joined the Royal Artillery 18 September 1859. He sailed almost immediately for Madras and remained in India until he was discharged in 1881. Family website.
- Article: "The amazing story of Bobbie, the bravest dog of war, as told in a British soldier's diary of a bloody battle in Afghanistan 130 years ago" by Geoffrey Wansell 19 November 2009 www.dailymail.co.uk. Describes letters written by Captain John Slade of the Royal Horse Artillery about the Battle of Maiwand in 1880, an action in the 2nd Afghan War
- Master Gunner, later Major & Quarter Master, John O'Brien, Royal Artillery His first active service was as an underage Trumpeter in the 2 nd Afghan War 1878-1880, attached to the 6th Battery, 8 th Brigade, Royal Artillery. He saw active service in India to 1888. members.dca.net
- Charles George Thomas Barnes was in the 1/2nd Sussex, Royal Field Artillery (Territorial Force) in Mhow, Central India from 1915-1917, when the Brigade was sent to Mesopotamia where it joined the 17th (Indian) Division. Two photographs taken in Mhow may be seen here, and service details may be seen here Barnes Family History website.
- 17 Pack Battery RGA in India www.king-emperor.com. Contains photographs from an album belonging to Harry Lamming, Battery Sergeant-Major of the 17th Pack Battery RGA. The 17th Pack Battery served in India from 1920 to 1927, and was posted to various stations including Razmak in North Waziristan.
- Photograph: A group of off-duty Artillerymen from No. 3 Bty, 3rd Bde relaxing in fatigues and solar "topees" by Lance Sergeant Thomas Boddington, Quetta, Baluchistan, about 1926. Family website
- Article "Son tells us of gunner's service in 1930s India" by Dan Shaw briefly mentions Albert Bakewell, stationed in India with Royal Artillery 17th Light Battery, between 1929 and 1936, a lot of the time in the tribal territories. blackcountrybugle.co.uk
- Photographs India 1930s. F Sphinx Battery RHA and 4th Light Battery Royal Artillery .rootschat.com. Includes names of the men pictured.
- Listen to the 1995 interview with Ronald William Swann British NCO with 238 Bty, 115th Field Regt, Royal Artillery in GB, France and Belgium and India 1939-1942; served with 160th Jungle Field Regt, Royal Artillery in Bengal, India, 1943; officer served with artillery unit during Second Chindit Expedition in Burma, 1944 Imperial War Museums
- zahonado's Blog "Before the Show" Diary of a junior officer in India (69th LAA) and Chindit attached to Lancashire Fusiliers Note: latest diary dates are listed first. To read from the beginning, January 1st 1943, scroll to the bottom of the last page. WW2 Talk Forum Blog. 69th LAA [Light Anti-Aircraft] Regiment was part of the Royal Artillery.
- The father of John Cooper A Searchlight Unit was formed from 41st Battalion 5th North Staffs (Originally TA Volunteers). They then were drafted to 126 Light Anti Aircraft Regiment which supposedly never left the UK and then to the 60 Field Artillery Regiment They were in fact transported out to India under the Command of General Wingate and Brigadier Mike Calvert as part of the Chindits Special Forces 77th Brigade. (WW2) www.anti-aircraft.co.uk
- Obituary: Ron Burton 09 October 2013 The Telegraph. He was Sergeant, 125 Anti-Tank Regiment Royal Artillery (125 ATR), taken prisoner after the fall of Singapore.
Historical Books on-line
- England's artillerymen: an historical narrative of the services of the Royal Artillery from the formation of the Regiment up to the amalgamation of the Royal and Indian Artilleries in 1862 by James Alexander Browne 1865 Archive.org including
- History of the Royal Regiment of Artillery Vol I by Major Francis Duncan 1879 Archive.org. Covers the period to the peace of 1783.
- History of the Royal Regiment of Artillery Vol II by Major Francis Duncan 1873 Archive.org. Covers the period 1783 up until the Battle of Waterloo 1815.
- History of the Royal Regiment of Artillery 1815-1853 by Henry W.L. Hime 1908 Archive.org
- List of Officers of the Royal Regiment of Artillery from the Year 1716 to 1899 by John Kane, William Harrison Askwith, 4th edition, 1900 Archive.org
- Remarks on the Organization of the British Royal Artillery by Charles James B. Riddell 1852 Google Books
- "Extract of a Letter, dated January 6, 1855, from J. Mitchell, Esq., Quartermaster of Artillery, Bangalore, on the Influence of Local Altitude on the Burning of the Fuses of Shells" from Proceedings of the Royal Society of London, Volume 7, 1854 pages 316-318
- Minutes of Proceedings of the Royal Artillery Institution
- Volume 1 1858, Contents Google Books
- Volume 2 1861 Google Books including
- Volume 6 1870 Archive.org including
- The Life of Alexander Alexander Volume 1, page 100 by Alexander Alexander and edited by John Howell 1830 ( Google Books). The author arrived in Ceylon in 1803 with the Royal Artillery
- Standing Orders, Dress Regulations, and Trumpet and Bugle Sounds, for the Royal Regiment of Artillery 1864 Google Books. Includes
- "Marriage, and Soldiers' Wives", page 53
- Standing Orders of the Royal Regiment of Artillery 1876 Archive.org
- "Married Soldiers" page 41
- Army Equipment: Part II: Equipment of Artillery by Major Miller RA Prepared at the War Office. 1864 Google Books
- Royal Artillery rates of pay (not India) in 1870, page 126 Revised Army Regulations Volume 1: Royal Warrant for the Pay and Promotion, Non-effective Pay, and Allowances of Her Majesty's British Forces serving elsewhere than in India dated 27 December 1870 HMSO Google Books
- The History of the Dress of the Royal Regiment of Artillery, 1625-1897 compiled and illustrated by R.J. Macdonald 1899. Archive.org Originally some of the prints were in colour, however, the online book is in black and white. This link has coloured illustrations. soldierssoldiers.com
- Modern Pig-sticking by Major A. E. Wardrop, Royal Horse Artillery, with chapters by J. Vaughan, F. W. Caton Jones, M. M. Crawford, and H. E. Medlicott 1914 Archive.org