The Royal Regiment of Artillery in the Great War comprised three separate elements, and this post pays tribute to men from all three.
Four Royal Field Artillery drivers in later years. The R.F.A. was responsible for horse-drawn medium calibre guns and howitzers (and later heavy mortars), all deployed relatively close to the front lines.
Two R.F.A. officers, both lieutenants, flank two gunners.
The man on the left here was a shoeing smith, and the R.F.A. was going nowhere without its shoeing smiths (I know my audience), next to him is an R.F.A. man who ended the war as a private with the Labour Corps, having presumably returned to service following an injury or wound, but no longer deemed to be fighting fit, and on the right two drivers, the man on the far right losing his left leg after a gunshot wound to the thigh sometime in 1916.
More R.F.A. men, from left, a corporal, gunner, sergeant and another gunner; the corporal received a gunshot wound to the spine at Villers Brettoneaux in April 1918, sadly resulting in total paraplegia.
Two R.F.A. bombardiers, left & right, with two gunners in the centre; a gunner was the artillery equivalent to an infantry private, a bombardier to a lance corporal.
Two Royal Horse Artillery gunners flank an acting sergeant and a bombardier; the gunner on the far left was wounded in October 1917 at Passchendaele. The R.H.A. was originally intended to support the cavalry with light, mobile, horse-drawn guns, but as the war progressed, it would mainly provide support for the R.F.A.
Three men of the Royal Garrison Artillery, from left, a corporal/saddler, a gunner and a bombardier. The R.G.A., as the name implies, was originally responsible for the big guns that defended British forts across the Empire. Thus, at the start of the Great War, the British Army had very little mobile heavy artillery, although as time passed the R.G.A., operating large calibre guns and howitzers situated some distance behind the lines, would increase dramatically in size.
Two R.G.A. gunners and, on the right, a signaller of over three years’ service who was wounded at Cambrai in September 1918. The extract from his medical notes below shows quite clearly that, some thirty years later, and after a Second World War, the Great War had claimed yet another victim:
Pyelonephritis is a sudden and severe kidney infection which causes the kidneys to swell; chronic pyelonephritis is when repeated attacks occur.
These are the men who came home.