Royal Garrison Artillery
The Royal Garrison Artillery (RGA) was an arm of the Royal Artillery
Royal Artillery
The Royal Regiment of Artillery, commonly referred to as the Royal Artillery , is the artillery arm of the British Army. Despite its name, it comprises a number of regiments.-History:...

 that was originally tasked with manning the guns of the British Empire
British Empire
The British Empire comprised the dominions, colonies, protectorates, mandates and other territories ruled or administered by the United Kingdom. It originated with the overseas colonies and trading posts established by England in the late 16th and early 17th centuries. At its height, it was the...

's forts and fortresses, including coastal artillery
Coastal artillery
Coastal artillery is the branch of armed forces concerned with operating anti-ship artillery or fixed gun batteries in coastal fortifications....

 batteries, the heavy gun batteries attached to each infantry division, and the guns of the siege artillery.


The Royal Garrison Artillery came into existence as a separate entity when existing coastal defence, mountain, siege and heavy batteries of the Royal Artillery were amalgamated into a new sub-branch. A royal warrant provided that from 1 June 1899:
"... the mounted and dismounted branches of the Royal Regiment of Artillery shall be separated into two corps... to be named respectively (a) the Royal Horse Artillery and the Royal Field Artillery: (b) the Royal Garrison Artillery."

The RGA retained the badge and dress uniform (dark blue with scarlet facings) of the Royal Artillery Regiment but personnel were normally clothed and equipped as dismounted men. After 1920 all RGA personnel were classified as mounted men, whether serving in horse-drawn, mountain or tractor-drawn batteries,

From 1914 when the army possessed very little heavy artillery, the RGA grew into a very large component of the British forces on the battlefield, being armed with heavy, large-calibre guns and howitzers that were positioned some way behind the front line and had immense destructive power. The corps name was discontinued in 1924, when the RGA was re-amalgamated into the Royal Artillery.

Pre-WWI artillery tactics

Prior to the First World War artillery would manoeuvre on the battlefield beside the infantry and cavalry. The field artillery
Field artillery
Field artillery is a category of mobile artillery used to support armies in the field. These weapons are specialized for mobility, tactical proficiency, long range, short range and extremely long range target engagement....

 would form part of a battle line alongside the infantry and, on occasion, the horse artillery would charge alongside the cavalry with guns, limbers and caissons and all.

First World War

With the new long-range small arms
Small arms
Small arms is a term of art used by armed forces to denote infantry weapons an individual soldier may carry. The description is usually limited to revolvers, pistols, submachine guns, carbines, assault rifles, battle rifles, multiple barrel firearms, sniper rifles, squad automatic weapons, light...

 available to the infantry in the era before World War I, artillery fighting in the infantry line was increasingly brought under fire. The solution to this was the principle of standing off and engaging the enemy with indirect fire
Indirect fire
Indirect fire means aiming and firing a projectile in a high trajectory without relying on a direct line of sight between the gun and its target, as in the case of direct fire...

. However, even after this became official military doctrine
Military doctrine
Military doctrine is the concise expression of how military forces contribute to campaigns, major operations, battles, and engagements.It is a guide to action, not hard and fast rules. Doctrine provides a common frame of reference across the military...

, field and horse artillery on both sides kept trying to fight in the old way. One instance was a gun duel fought between British and German horse artillery units using open sights during the Retreat to the Marne
Great Retreat
The Great Retreat, also known as the Retreat from Mons, is the name given to the long, fighting retreat by Allied forces to the River Marne, on the Western Front early in World War I, after their holding action against the Imperial German Armies at the Battle of Mons on 23 August 1914...

In the quagmire of trench warfare that followed it was finally realised that it was not the place for the artillery to be in the infantry line.

Henceforth the artillery would be positioned well behind the infantry battle line, firing at unseen targets, at co-ordinates on a map calculated with geometry and mathematics. As the war developed, the heavy artillery and the techniques of long-range artillery were massively developed. The RGA was often supported by the Royal Flying Corps (RFC) who had devised a system where pilots could use wireless telegraphy to help the artillery hit specific targets. The RFC aircraft carried a wireless set and a map and after identifying the position of an enemy target the pilot was able to transmit messages such as A5, B3, etc in morse code to a RFC land station attached to a heavy artillery units, such as Royal Garrison Artillery Siege Batteries .

The Siege batteries (such as 9th Siege Battery at the Battle of the Somme) had the largest guns and howitzers; mounted on railways or on fixed concrete emplacements .


In the interwar period
Interwar period
Interwar period can refer to any period between two wars. The Interbellum is understood to be the period between the end of the Great War or First World War and the beginning of the Second World War in Europe....

 the artillery arms were re-amalgamated into the Royal Artillery
Royal Artillery
The Royal Regiment of Artillery, commonly referred to as the Royal Artillery , is the artillery arm of the British Army. Despite its name, it comprises a number of regiments.-History:...

and the RGA ceased to exist.
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