<FONT SIZE=6>The Royal Artillery in Worcester <FONT SIZE=5>

THE ROYAL ARTILLERY

in Worcester and the surrounding towns



The Artillery has a long history in Worcester, the first unit being raised as a volunteer corps in 1864. The first guns, muzzle loading 32 pounders with smooth bores arrived in 1865 and were received at the new depot under the railway arches in Infirmary Walk. In 1869, there were sufficient volunteers to establish a second battery in Worcester and these became A and B Batteries with the first annual camp being held later that year in Malvern. The Corps mustered in full dress and marched to the camp with the horse-drawn guns. Volunteers had to buy their own "blues" uniforms for the then princely sum of £5, so there was some financial cost to them as well as cost in terms of their time for weekly drills and annual camps.

The following year, plans were drawn up for a new drill shed in Southfield Street and expansion was now the order of the day. C Battery was formed in Malvern in 1872, D Battery, mainly Claines men, in Worcester in 1874, E Battery at Kings Norton in 1876 and F Battery again in Kings Norton in 1878. The Corps combined with the Monmouthshire Corps and by 1884 totalled twelve batteries.

By 1904 the Corps had batteries in Worcester, Kidderminster and Redditch equipped now with 20 pounders and the Ammunition Column was in Malvern. In this form, with the establishment of the Territorial Force in 1908, the Corps became the 2nd South Midland Brigade, Royal Field Artillery and the guns were again swapped for 15 pounders.

In August 1914 the Brigade went to Lydd in Kent for its Summer Practice, but on arrival it was sent back to Worcester to mobilise for war. The Corps, totalling 23 officers and 613 other ranks went into training and eventually, on 30th March 1915, they embarked at Southampton for the crossing to Le Havre and the beginning of two and a half years on the Western Front as part of the 48th (South Midland) Division of the 5th Army. They were to spend the next three months up and down the front but in June were issued with the new 18 pounder quick firing field guns. In March 1916, reinforcements arrived from home to form a new fourth battery. Within two months, the new battery was swapped with the heavy battery of the Warwickshire Brigade to give them three field gun batteries and a howitzer heavy battery. At this time, they were also re-designated 241 Brigade Royal Field Artillery. They were heavily involved in the bombardment leading up to the Battle of the Somme which began on 1st July 1916 with the Brigade near Beaumont Hamel and in action whilst the infantry of 48th Division were held in reserve.

In July 1917 the Brigade marched North to the Ypres salient and took up positions on the Western bank of the Yser canal a couple of kilometres North of Ypres and between the canal and Reigersburg Chateau. On 21st July, Brigade HQ took over command of Divisional Artillery for the forthcoming battle, later to become known as 3rd. Ypres or the Battle of Passchendaele. At Zero Hour the Brigade advanced over the canal and took up positions along the old British front line along Admirals Road, with HQ established at Hill Top Farm on the one bit of high land in the area and the wagon lines at Vlamertinghe to the rear. They stayed here until October 13th., working with the Australian Division and during this period suffered their greatest casualties.

On September 11th, a day described in the War Diaries as "uneventful," the Brigade lost 8 men killed when a gas shell struck the entrance to their dugout. During the whole of the campaign in France and Flanders, the official history says the total losses were: 2 officers killed and 18 wounded, 17 other ranks killed, 31 other ranks died of wounds and 257 other ranks wounded. In November the Brigade left for Italy and spent the rest of the war there with 48th Division where a further four officers and men were killed and 21 wounded with a further 20 dying of non war-related causes. The Commonwealth Wr Grave Commission has provided me with the details of 102 graves associated with the brigade, however, so there is a discrepancy. However, even with 102 killed and 296 wounded, casualties were actually relatively light in contrast to the experience of many infantry units. The Brigade returned to Worcester and was disbanded by 29th April 1919. This was not to last, however, and late in 1919 it was reconstituted as 67 (South Midland) Brigade RFA with headquarters and battery in Worcester and batteries at Malvern and Redditch with a howitzer battery at Dudley. In this form (and in similar form to its WW1 predecessor apart from the replacement of horses by mechanical transport) the brigade mobilised for war again. Its commanding officer was Lt. Col. A.C.W. Hobson who as a captain had been with 241 Brigade in WW1 as adjutant.. In December 1939 they left for France as part of 48th Division once again. Forced to evacuate from Dunkirk in 1940, the brigade reformed, the 18 pounders now being replaced by 25 pounders, and they took up duties on coastal defence in Lincolnshire. Early 1943 saw them in North Africa in heavy fighting against the Afrika Korps around Tunis: January 1944 saw them at Anzio in Italy. January 1945 brought a move to Haifa in Palestine to help police the disturbances there, and the war finished before they could be returned to Europe. On the suspension of hostilities, the regiment was disbanded again, but reformed in 1947 as 267 (SP) Field Regiment R.A. (T.A.) with batteries at Worcester and Malvern armed with self propelled 25 pounders.

In 1956 the whole of the T.A. was reorganised and the regiment survived by amalgamating with the Warwicks to become 267 (Worcestershire and Warwickshire) Medium Regiment R.A. (T.A.). Further reorganisation in 1961 returned it to county regiment status and it became 267th (Worcestershire) Field Regiment R.A. (T.A.) To commemorate the centenary of its formation, the Regiment was granted the freedom of the City of Worcester. Further changes in 1967 brought an amalgamation of the Artillery and Infantry, but two years later there was a change of mind, the Regiment disbanded and was replaced by the Malvern Battery reorganising as 214 (Worcestershire) Battery, R.A. of 104 Lt. Air Defence Regiment R.A. (V). In 1970 a troop of guns returned to Worcester, with a second one remaining in Malvern along with Regimental HQ.

Major changes came in 1976 when the Battery was re-equipped with Blowpipe missiles and provide air cover for the British Army of the Rhine, one of only three T.A. batteries to do so. 1978 saw a change of name to 214 (Worcestershire) Air Defence Battery R.A. (V) and in November 1985 the Battery Headquarters returned to Worcester where a new T.A. Centre had been built in Silver Street, just off the City centre. Troops were located at Worcester, Malvern and Redditch. In 1987 the Battery was equipped with the Lightweight Multiple Launcher and in 1993 the Blowpipe was replaced by the Javelin. During the previous eighteen months, the Redditch and Malvern Troops had been closed and transferred back to Worcester and the Battery became simply 214 (Worcestershire) R.A. (V).

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