The history of the Royal Artillery goes back to 1716 when the first two permanent companies of artillery were formed at Woolwich.
The use of artillery itself predates Roman times when slings, catapults and ballistas were used to project missiles. Later, longbows propelled arrows both as direct and indirect fire. The English first used guns in battle alongside longbows at Crécy in 1346. Since then the Army has used them in almost every war and campaign it has fought throughout the world, but it was almost four hundred years before a permanent force of artillery was formed.
In peacetime, guns were kept in castles and were looked after by Master Gunners, skilled in their manufacture and so most knowledgeable in their use. In wartime, men were recruited, trained and formed into a Trayne of Artillery, which disbanded when the war ended.a
The Cap Badge
The mottos, UBIQUE, surmounting the gun, means ‘Everywhere’ and QUO FAS ET GLORIA DUCUNT, below the gun (or on the lower scroll) means ‘Where Right and Glory Lead’.
The guns of the Royal Artillery are the Regiment’s Colours, in the same way that the Standards and Guidons of Infantry and Cavalry Regiments are theirs, traditionally the rallying point in battle. The Colours represent pride in the Regiment, so the guns are protected and retained at all costs. If the situation demands that they are left behind they must be disabled or destroyed. The gun depicted on the cap badge is based on a 9pdr Rifled Muzzle Loader of about 1871, and the rammer used to ram the charge into the muzzle is also seen, to the left of the carriage wheel. A gun of this type can be seen in Firepower.
The patron saint of artillerymen is Saint Barbara and her feast day in the Orthodox calendar is 4th December. There are several legends about her life and martyrdom but most share several common elements.
She was Greek living in Heliopolis, Egypt in the 3rd or 4th century AD, and converted to Christianity against her father’s wishes. Some legends say that her father, Dioscorus, presented her with a prospective husband whom she refused to marry as he was not a Christian.
He had a tower built for her, either to imprison her or to house her hamman, but she ordered three windows to be installed as a symbol of the Holy Trinity and an outward demonstration of her faith. Her father was so angered he ordered her to be beheaded (some say he carried out this act himself). Suddenly, a violent storm broke out and he was struck by a bolt of lightning, which killed him, outright.
Barbara seems to have been canonized by the 7th century and her story introduced to Britain during the time of the Crusades. Saint Barbara was invoked to grant safety from lightning, later becoming the Patron Saint of Gunners, who were at risk from fiery elements.
To find out more about Gunners around the world, visit globalgunners.com, an Australian site that advertises and provides a link to all Artillery Association websites and Artillery orientated websites worldwide.