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A Battery, Honourable Artillery Company

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Covid-19
Country  United Kingdom
Type  Artillery
Part of  London Mounted Brigade
Branch  British Army
Size  Battery
A Battery, Honourable Artillery Company
Active  1891 – 16 February 1920

A Battery (1st City of London Horse Artillery), Honourable Artillery Company was a horse artillery battery that was formed from Light Cavalry Squadron, HAC in 1891. It transferred to the Territorial Force in 1908 as artillery support for the London Mounted Brigade.

Contents

During the First World War it was posted to Egypt in 1915, served as part of the Western Frontier Force in the Senussi Campaign in 1916 and in the Sinai and Palestine Campaign with the Imperial (later Australian) Mounted Division in 1917 and 1918. The second line battery – 2/A Battery, HAC – was formed in 1914 and served on the Western Front in 1917 and 1918 as part of an Army Field Artillery Brigade; the third line – A (Reserve) Battery, HAC – was formed in 1915 to provide trained replacements for the 1st and 2nd Line batteries.

Post war, the battery, along with B Battery, Honourable Artillery Company, was amalgamated with the City of London Yeomanry (Rough Riders) to form the 11th (Honourable Artillery Company and City of London Yeomanry) Brigade, RHA.

Formation

The Honourable Artillery Company (HAC) first raised horse artillery in 1860 when Jay's Troop, HAC was formed. This had a brief existence, being disbanded in 1869.

In 1891, the Light Cavalry Squadron, HAC was converted to the Horse Battery, HAC, which in 1899 was redesignated as A Battery (1st City of London Horse Artillery), HAC. At the same time the Field Battery, HAC was converted to horse artillery as B Battery (2nd City of London Horse Artillery), HAC. The Field Battery originated in 1781, but was the second to form a horse artillery battery hence the junior designation.

The batteries sponsored the field battery of the City Imperial Volunteers for service in the Second Boer War in 1900–02.

Territorial Force

The Territorial Force (TF) was formed on 1 April 1908 following the enactment of the Territorial and Reserve Forces Act 1907 (7 Edw.7, c.9) which combined and re-organised the old Volunteer Force, the Honourable Artillery Company and the Yeomanry. On formation, the TF contained 14 infantry divisions and 14 mounted yeomanry brigades. Each yeomanry brigade included a horse artillery battery and an ammunition column. 12 of these were provided by Royal Horse Artillery batteries of the Territorial Force, the other two by the Honourable Artillery Company.

On 1 April 1908, the battery transferred to the Territorial Force without a change in title. The unit consisted of the battery and London Mounted Brigade Ammunition Column at Armoury House, Finsbury. The battery was equipped with four Ehrhardt 15-pounder guns and allocated as artillery support to the London Mounted Brigade.

First World War

In accordance with the Territorial and Reserve Forces Act 1907 (7 Edw.7, c.9) which brought the Territorial Force into being, the TF was intended to be a home defence force for service during wartime and members could not be compelled to serve outside the country. However, on the outbreak of war on 4 August 1914, many members volunteered for Imperial Service. Therefore, TF units were split into 1st Line (liable for overseas service) and 2nd Line (home service for those unable or unwilling to serve overseas) units. 2nd Line units performed the home defence role, although in fact most of these were also posted abroad in due course. Later, a 3rd Line was formed to act as a reserve, providing trained replacements for the 1st and 2nd Line batteries.

1/A Battery, HAC

The 1st Line battery was embodied with the London Mounted Brigade on 4 August 1914 at the outbreak of the First World War and concentrated in Berkshire. A decision was made to form a new mounted division from the mounted brigades in and around the Churn area of Berkshire. On 2 September 1914, 2nd Mounted Division, with Headquarters at Goring, came into being and London Mounted Brigade was assigned to the new division. I Brigade and II Brigade, RHA (T.F.) were formed for the division and the battery was assigned to II Brigade, RHA at Churn, along with B Battery, HAC and Berkshire and Nottinghamshire Batteries RHA.

In November 1914, the division moved to Norfolk on coastal defence duties. Artillery headquarters was established at Cromer, before joining the divisional headquarters at Hanworth in December, and A Battery, HAC was at Mundesley (London Mounted Brigade was at Hanworth).

Overseas service

In March 1915, the 2nd Mounted Division was put on warning for overseas service. In early April, the division starting leaving Avonmouth and the last elements landed at Alexandria before the end of the month. By the middle of May, the horse artillery batteries were near Ismaïlia on Suez Canal Defences.

The 2nd Mounted Division was dismounted in August 1915 and served at Gallipoli. The artillery batteries and ammunition columns (along with the signal troops, mobile veterinary sections, Mounted Brigade Transport and Supply Columns and two of the Field Ambulances) were left behind in Egypt. The division returned from Gallipoli in December 1915 and was reformed and remounted.

The battery rejoined the division on 13 December, but on 20 December it entrained at Alexandria for the Western Desert, concentrating at Mersa Matruh on 7 January 1916. Thereafter, it served as part of the Western Frontier Force in the Senussi Campaign, taking part in the Affair at Halazin (23 January 1916). The battery returned to Alexandria on 6 March and was rearmed with four 18 pounders. It returned to the Suez Canal Defences on 6 April and rejoined the 8th Mounted Brigade (the redesignated London Mounted Brigade). The brigade left for Salonika in November without the battery which joined the Australian 4th Light Horse Brigade when it was reformed in February 1917. It remained attached to the 4th ALH Brigade for the rest of the war.

Imperial Mounted Division

The Imperial Mounted Division was formed in Egypt in January 1917; 4th Light Horse Brigade was one of the four cavalry brigades selected to form the division. A Battery, HAC joined the division on formation and was assigned to XIX Brigade, Royal Horse Artillery (T.F.). In practice, the battery remained attached to 4th ALH Brigade.

The battery, and its brigade, served with the Imperial Mounted Division in the Sinai and Palestine Campaign as part of the Desert Column. With the division, it took part in the advance across the Sinai, including the First (26 – 27 March 1917) and Second Battles of Gaza (17 – 19 April 1917).

Australian Mounted Division

In June 1917, the Desert Column was reorganised from two mounted divisions of four brigades each (ANZAC and Imperial Mounted Divisions) to three mounted divisions of three brigades each (ANZAC, Australian – Imperial Mounted Division renamed – and the new Yeomanry Mounted Division). On 20 June 1917, the Imperial Mounted Division was redesignated as Australian Mounted Division as the majority of its troops were now Australian. On 12 August 1917, the Desert Column disappeared and the Desert Mounted Corps was formed.

The battery served with the Australian Mounted Division throughout the rest of the Sinai and Palestine Campaign. As part of the Desert Mounted Corps, the division took part in the Third Battle of Gaza (by now re-equipped with four 13 pounders), in particular the Capture of Beersheba (31 October) and the Battle of Mughar Ridge (13 and 14 November), and the defence of Jerusalem against the Turkish counter-attacks (27 November – 3 December).

Still part of the Desert Mounted Corps, the division took part in the Second Trans-Jordan Raid (30 April – 4 May 1918). XIX Brigade, RHA supported the 4th Light Horse Brigade in the advance on the Jisr ed Damiye–Es Salt track on 30 April. The next day, a strong Turkish force attacked from the direction of Jisr ed Damiye and soon the artillery was in danger. B Battery, HAC was in the rear and managed to get away with all but one of their guns (stuck in a wadi) but the Nottinghamshire RHA and A Battery, HAC were less fortunate. Machine gun fire cut down the horse teams before the guns could be gotten away. XIX Brigade lost 9 guns in total, the only guns to be lost in action in the entire campaign.

Its final action was the capture of Damascus (1 October).

After the Armistice of Mudros, the division was withdrawn to Egypt and started to demobilise. The last of the Australians returned home in April and May 1919. A Battery, HAC were reduced to cadre in Egypt on 25 October 1919.

2/A Battery, HAC

A Battery formed a 2nd line in September 1914, initially designated as the A (Reserve) Battery, HAC. It was redesignated as 2/A Battery, HAC on 26 September.

The battery joined the 2nd line 2/1st London Mounted Brigade when it was formed in March 1915. On 6 March 1915, the 2/2nd Mounted Division was formed to replace 2nd Mounted Division which had been warned for overseas service. The brigade joined the division on East Coast Defences by June 1915 and concentrated at Aylsham with the battery at Reepham.

The batteries of the division were quite unready for war. Three had no horses, the fourth had just 23; three batteries had over 200 men on average, but the other just 91; one battery had no ammunition and another reported that its 15-pounders were "practically useless".

In November 1915, the battery received four Ordnance BLC 15-pounders. It remained with the division when it was redesignated as 3rd Mounted Division in March 1916 and as 1st Mounted Division in July 1916. In early 1917, the battery was armed with four 18 pounders.

Army Field Brigade

CXXVI Brigade, RFA was reformed at Heytesbury, Wiltshire in May 1917 with 2/A Battery and 2/B Battery HAC, both with six 18 pounders. The brigade (with the battery) landed at Boulogne on 22 June 1917 and it became an Army Field Brigade. 2/1st Warwickshire RHA, by now also rearmed with 18 pounders, proceeded to France on 21 June 1917 and joined the brigade there. The battery served on the Western Front for the rest of the war.

At the Armistice, the battery (six 18 pounders) was still with CXXVI Brigade, RFA serving as Army Troops with the First Army. The battery entered Germany on 17 January 1919, and was disbanded later the same year.

A (Reserve) Battery, HAC

A (Reserve) Battery, HAC was formed in 1915 to replace the original reserve battery which had been redesignated as 2/A Battery on 26 September 1914. It never left the United Kingdom and was disbanded later.

Post war

On 7 February 1920, the Honourable Artillery Company was authorized to reconstitute four batteries of horse artillery in the Territorial Force. Only two were actually formed (A and B Batteries), and authorization for the other two was rescinded in 1921. The batteries were amalgamated with the City of London Yeomanry (Rough Riders) on 16 February to form the 11th (Honourable Artillery Company and City of London Yeomanry) Brigade, RHA with

  • Headquarters at Finsbury Barracks
  • A Battery at Armoury House, Finsbury
  • B Battery at Armoury House, Finsbury
  • C Battery at Bunhill Row, formed by reduction of the City of London Yeomanry.
  • References

    A Battery, Honourable Artillery Company Wikipedia


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