Created in 1899, the Royal Garrison Artillery (RGA) was an arm of the Royal Artillery that was originally tasked with manning the guns of the British Empire's forts and fortresses, including coastal artillery batteries. Later, during World War I the units of the Royal Garrison Artillery manned the heavy gun batteries attached to each infantry division, and the guns of the siege artillery.
Royal Garrison Artillery in World War I
For the Companies of the Royal Garrison Artillery and their deployments see the Long, Long Trail web site.
With the new long-range small arms and field artillery available to the infantry in the era before World War I, artillery fighting in long range indirect fire support of the infantry became essential. Initially placed locally in support it became clear early in the conflict that, with trench warfare, it was optimal to provide artillery support from a significant distance from the battlefield.
Thus 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.
After the war, the RGA was amalgamated with the Field Artillery units and now forms part of the Royal Artillery.
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.
Ammunition supply to the Royal Field Artillery (RFA) and other field artillery units was normally the role of the Royal Artillery: that part of the Royal Regiment of Artillery which retained the Royal Artillery (RA) shoulder badges. However during the war the RGA, which had large numbers of men idling in fortified batteries around the World with little chance of seeing action, provided a draft of sub-units to the Western Front to assist with ammunition supply in the field, and the operation of supply dumps
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