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The Royal Garrison Artillery

The Royal Garrison Artillery was formed in 1899 when the Royal Artillery was divided into two groups. The coastal defence, mountain, siege and heavy batteries of the Royal Artillery formed the new Royal Garrison Artillery. The Royal Horse Artillery and Royal Field Artillery comprised the other group, but in effect the three operated as separate corps until they were amalganated in 1924.


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      Oct 2015

          Please note we currently have a backlog of submitted material, our volunteers are working through this as quickly as possible and all names, stories and photos will be added to the site. If you have already submitted a story to the site and your UID reference number is higher than 220734, your submission is still in the queue, please do not resubmit without contacting us first.

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      Did you know? We also have a section on World War Two. and a Timecapsule to preserve stories from other conflicts for future generations.

      Those known to have served with The Royal Garrison Artillery during the Great War 1914-1918.

      Select a story link or scroll down to browse those stories hosted on this site.

      The names on this list have been submitted by relatives, friends, neighbours and others who wish to remember them, if you have any names to add,, or any recollections or photos of those listed, please get in touch.


      Acting Bombardier J. J. Hope MM. Durham. Royal Garrison Artillery

      Acting Bombardier Hope was awarded the Military Medal on the 16th of December 1914 during the Bombardment of the Hartlepools when he was manning the guns at Heugh Battery.


      Sjt. T. Douthwaite DCM. Durham. Royal Garrison Artillery

      Sjt Douthwaite was awarded the DCM for his swift action in removing a live cartridge from the Lighthouse gun at Heugh Battery on the 16th of December 1914 during the bombardment of the Hartlepools. The gun had misfired on the fourth shell, one of the leads carrying the electrical charge to fire the cartridge had become detached. The drill was that the cartridge should be left in the barrel for 10 minutes until it cooled. This would mean the gun being out of action. As they were under fire from the German ships. Sjt Douthwaite ordered his men away from the gun emplacement, and at great risk of the cartiridge exploding, withdrew it from teh gun and placed it in a bucket of water. The gun was then switched to percussion firing.


      Gnr. Robert Spence Durham. Royal Garrison Artillery (d.16th Dec 1914)

      Gnr. Spence was killed by a German shell at Heugh Battery whilst acting as a stretcher barer along with Gnr Houston, attempting to rescue those men wounded by the first shell of the Bombardment.


      Gnr. William Houston Durham. Royal Garrison Artillery (d.16th Dec 1914)

      Gnr. Houston was killed by a German shell at Heugh Battery whilst acting as a stretcher barer along with Gnr Spence, attempting to rescue those men wounded by the first shell of the Bombardment.


      Gnr. Harry Tyson Durham Royal Garrison Artillery

      Gunner Tyson was serving at the Heugh Battery on the 16th December 1914 when the Bombardment of the Hartlepools took place.

      The men were billeted at the Borough Hall and at 7.30 that morning, they marched to the battery singing 'Tipperary'. Each man was issued with 250 rounds of .303 for their Lee Enfield rifles, at this time there was a shortage of webbing so the ammunition had to be carried in the pockets of their Greatcoats. Harry Tyson and Jack Wilkinson were assigned to look out duty and whilst most of their fellow gunners retired to the shelters, they marched back and firth btween the Heugh guns with bayonets fixed. As dawn broke the German raiderswere spotted by the gunners aty South Gare on the southern bank of Teesmouth, and Heugh Battery was alerted by telephone,though at this stage the ships were beleived to be British as they were flying the White Ensign and had responded to the signal. There was a British ship in the area, HMS Doon, whose Captain was aware of the true nationality of the newcommers but was out of range of his guns. He led HMS Moy, Test and Waveney as they closed the range and began firing.

      At Heugh Captain Trenchman ordered the gun crews to man the guns, Tyson and Wilkinson took up their posts at No. 1 gun as Number 2 and Loading number respectivley. The rangefinder crew took the barings and the guns were laid on the inavders.

      "Then all of a sudden the three ships gave us a broadside and Captain Trenchmann called 'Action'"

      The first of the shells began to fall and the men at the Maxin machine gun post were wounded. Shells also fell on the houses behind the Battery. The elctrical firing mechanism of No 1 Gun failed after firing two shots and it too several minutes to change to percussio firing whilst No 2 gun continued to get off 30 rounds. The German fire was very accurate, the shells hitting the concrete and bouncing over the Battery to explode on the houses and in the field behind. One shell landed next to the doors of teh ammunition locker but fortunatley did not explode. Teh German ships continued to fire on the Battery and the town for about 15 minutes before repossitioning and aiming at the docks and West Hartlepool. The ceasefire was ordered at 8.53, after 38 minutes in action, as the German ships retreated into the mist. Gunner Tyson noted in Ward's book "Dawn raid"

      "I would like to say a word of praise to our cooks, Billy Sanderson and Arthur Hall. They must have been making tea all the time we were in action. As soon as we stopped firing out came buckets of hot tea."

      Later that afternoon a group photograph of the gunners was taken


      Capt. Oscar Trenchmann Durham. Royal Garrison Artillery

      Capt Trenchman was the Battery Commader at Heugh Battery during the Bombardment of the Hartlepools on the 16th December 1914.

      He left the battery in 1915 with many of the gunners who had served with him, to join 41st Seige Battery RGA in France, returning to Hartlepool to become fire commander in 1918. His brother Richard also served at Heugh Battery.


      Sjt. F. W. Mallin MM. Durham. Royal Garrison Artillery

      Sjt Mallin was awarded the Military Medal for his part in the Bombardment of the Hartlepools on the 16th of December 1914. He was the Gun Captain of the No 2 gun at Heugh Battery.


      Capt. Jack Farmer Durham. Royal Garrison Artillery

      Capt Farmer was the gun Captain at the Lighthouse Battery, at Heugh Battery on the 16th of December 1914 during the Bombardment of teh Hartlepools.The third shell from his gun scored a direct hit on the "Bulcher's" forebridge at a distance of some 4,000 yards.


      Lt -Col. Lancelot Robson DSO. Durham. Royal Garrison Artillery

      Lt Col Robson was the fire commander of Heugh Battery and also the Battery Medical Officer, being a Doctor in civilian life. He was at home in Hartlepool when the Bombardment began and rushed to the Battery on his bicycl, leaving his breakfast half eaten, when gunfire first sounded. The journey was not an wasy one as the townsfolk were filling the streets, some fleeing away from the coast, others running towards the sea to look at the spectacle.

      "The guns were going by that time and the first thing that cheered me was the sight of the old battery dog barking away beside the guns! So then I knew that everything was alright" (Northern Daily Mail, 29th March 1935)

      On reaching the lookout Robson found that the telephone lines had been brought down by the shelling, he had long argued that they should be routed underground, but he was relieved to see that the battery was acting under standing orders, as he could not contact his gunners to issue orders.


      Cpl. Godfrey Charles Edwards 9 Pack Bty. Royal Garrison Artillery

      The man on the left is believed to be. Godfrey Charles Edwards

      2nd Pack Brigade. R.G.A. -Royal Guard- 1921

      2nd Pack Brigade. R.G.A. Royal Guard, 1921

      9 Pack Battery at Lavington Camp.

      9th. P. Bty. RGA

      These are some photos that I came across when I was going through some of my late Uncle's papers. He was Mr. Godfrey Charles Edwards born in 1899, at Crofton Farm, Great Bedwyn, Marlborough, Wiltshire. At 6ft 4ins tall, he joined the Army during 1914-18 war, becoming a Corporal, and he would appear to be in each of these pictures.

      In 1921 he was serving with 2nd Pack Brigade. R.G.A. Also I would be very interested in any information anyone may have.

      Joy Aust.


      Kenneth Henry Alexander Durham RGA caa Battery

      My grandfather, Kenneth Alexander, Service number 166096, was a member of the Durham RGA, caa Battery, and served from 27.4.1914 until 10.3.1919, being discharged at Dover. A family story says that he worked on the "big guns" at Hartlepool and spent time on active service abroad. I have been unable to find his service record, possibly one of the burned ones, and would be grateful for any information.

      Margaret Alexander


      William Brown Royal Garrison Artillery

      William Brown probably enlisted in Portsmouth and probably served in Jersey possibly around 1889 before going to McNabs Island, Halifax, Nova Scotia in 1897. On Jersey, they were part complementing four local batteries (Elizabeth Castle?) There is a chance he married there to Alice Jane Mauger. His service number prior to 1914 could be 6942. Assuming he rejoined the service in 1914, his service number could be 296116. That is all the information I have. Can anyone help put me in the right direction or give me further information?

      Desira Smith


      2nd Lt. Peter Robertson Purdie M.C Royal Garrison Artillery (d.17th Aug 1917)

      My great uncle, Peter Roberson Purdie died in Flanders and is burried at Coxyde Military cemetery in Belgium. I Would like more information about him and about the circumstances of his Award.

      L. Robertson-Mackay


      2nd Lt. Charles Colville Kelly Royal Garrison Artillery

      This photo includes my husband's grandfather Charles Colville Kelly who joined up in the South African Infantry and as a Private and then the Royal Garrison Artillery as a Second Lt.

      Julie Kelly


      Gunner Jack Stallard Royal Garrison Artilery

      I have been asked to enquire by Joseph Stallard about his uncle Jack Stallard and his brother Robert who served together in the RGA. Robert is the father of my negbour Joseph Stallard. Jack Stallard was badly wounded and discharged but died as a result of his wounds on 20 Oct 1918. The family have always said that he was promoted on the field to W.O., but there is no evidence for this. Can you possibly provide any information or the service records of the two brothers Jack and Robert Stallard, please. Thank you

      Gwilym Davies


      Gunner Henry Charles Ault Royal Garrison Artilery

      My grandfather, Henry charles Ault is one of those soldiers whose records apart from medal card are lost. He was a Gunner with the RGA and I believe he was with the seige batt. Mobilised to No 1 Depot, Fort Burgoyne, Dover at the end of August 1916. His Regt no is 115850, Roll RGA/166B. Thats it thats all I have and up until 2 months ago I didn't even know he was a soldier in the 1914-1918 war, I'm sure he was brave and hopefully may even have helped save a life.

      Susan Ault


      Gunner Henry Clarke 103rd TR Battalion Royal Garrison Artillery

      Sorry I was wondering if you had any pictures of the Guns he may have used during WW1? I know he was based at Dover. His Regimental number was I think 191913. If you can help it would be fantastic.

      Ian Clarke


      Gunner Thomas Frederick "Pick" Lawton 45 &138 Siege Battery Royal Garrison Artillery

      Thomas Lawton, enlisted in the Army at Grange Road Middlesbrough on 9/10/11 when he was aged 18 years & 6months He Trained at Newhaven & was posted to Bermuda from 14/11/12 to 14/11/14. Then he went to to France aboard the SS. Oratava. His brothers James & George are named on Thomas' Military history sheet as next of Kin They both served with the Royal Navy, James Henry Lawton for 22 years 1900 - 1922 and George Robert Lawton served 15 years from 1904 to 1919.



      James Hodkinson Royal Garrison Artillery

      All I know is what my Grand Mother told me, and that is James Hodkinson moved from Wrexham to Bath and served with an Artillery Garrison in Bath ,and he was gassed in the the war.



      Cpl Thomas Stroud 141st Siege Battery Royal Garrison Artillery

      My Grandfather, Thomas Stroud served in the Boer War in the Army and I have the New Testament Bible given to him by Queen Victoria (not in person of course!). He joined the 141 Siege Battery R.G.A. in WW1. I know this much from the trench art bracelet with a German coin soldered onto it made for his wife and engraved on it was 141 S.B.R.G.A. and he made WW1 tank money box and 2 coal-scuttles which I still have. I did not know what the insignia was until today when I looked through the internet. He died in 1945 a few months before I was born so I never got to meet him.

      My other Grandfather on my mother's side served in WW1 in the R.E.M.E. and I have his diary from the trenches and also some trench art also.

      Victor Stroud


      Pte. Charles Francis Royal Garrison Artillery

      Charles Francis was my grandfather, he served with the RGA and I am trying to trace him for my mother. She was born in 1920. She is the only offspring of Charles Francis and Margaret Annie Kennedy who were married at Mablethorpe in April 1920.

      Robert Smith


      2nd Lt. William James Knox Bell M.C 9th Siege Bty. Royal Garrison Artillery (d.5th Apr 1918)

      I am trying to obtain more information on William James Knox Nell, whose name appears on our village War Memorial in Orton. The CWGC says that he was Second Lieutenant in 9th Seige Bty. Royal Garrison Artillery and his parents were apparently of Ashbrook, Coltraine. Nothing else is known about him in our small village of Orton in Cumbria. Can anyone help, please?

      Mary Jenkin


      Gnr. James Worsnip 395th Siege Battery, B3 Royal Garrison Artillery

      James Worsnip was in the English Artillery Group in Italy. I have a certificate from the Italian Army which awards him with a decoration, It is dated 4 October 1917 and signed by the commandant of the regiment - E. Picconey. I would like to know more about this as he was my grandfather. From Italy he was sent to Mesopotamia in October 1917 and was there at the end of the War.

      Barbara Charlton


      Bdr. Arthur Duncan Whyte MID. 118th Siege Battery Royal Garrison Artillery

      My grandfather Arthur Duncan Whyte was a signaller in 118th Siege BAttery RGA served from June 1916 to 1919 just about everywhere on the Somme and Ypres battlefields. His story is told in a book 'Gunfire :Diary of a Siege Gunner' by A.W. Paton and published in 1927. He was a very proud man and spent many hours helping those returned servicemen who did not come away from the war unscathed.

      The battery was a Scots battery and was raised round Edinburgh in 1915. It was nicknamed the "Crown Nine" battery.



      Gnr. Stephen Powell Royal Garrison Artillery

      I'm searching for information on Stephen Powell of the RGA. Stephen was my wife's Grandfather. We know little other than he was at the Somme and mentioned Flanders. He was also gassed but survived. He was born in 1897, Longton Staffs.



      Gnr. Antonio Edward Mussalli Royal Garrison Artillery (d.22nd Apr 1917)

      I have recently acquired a large portrait photograph of Antonio Mussalli which has the notation of his name, regiment and the day he died at Arras. I would like to trace any family members who may want to have this portrait of one of their ancestors.

      Ann Robinson


      Gnr. Arthur Hills "K" Anti-Aircraft Bty. Royal Garrison Artillery (d.17th Oct 1918)

      Arthur Hills died on 17th Oct 1918 aged 31. I have a card of him with an unknown female, with the writing on the back, to Mary with love dated 02/03/18. I would be interested in any further information


      Gnr. Robert Brown Royal Garrison Artillery

      I have in my possession a world war one medal awarded to Gnr. Brown, 176780, RGA, it was purchased by myself at a car boot sale in Bury, Lancashire, I would appreciate any information that would lead to the recipients family having the medal returned to them.

      M Dempsey


      Dvr. Thomas Hole Y Bty. Royal Garrison Artillery

      My Granddad Thomas Hole joined in 1916 as a gunner but I don't really know anything more. On a card I have from 1919 he transferred to the reserves at the end of the war and it says one of his specialist military qualifications was as a driver, not that this seems something that would be classed as specialist but maybe then it was. If anyone could help with any information or knows where I could find information that would be a great help and then I could add more to his story.

      Allison Hole


      Ronald Cecil Elliott 144th Heavy Battery Royal Garrison Artillery

      My father, Ronald Elliott served with the 144th Heavy Battery, RGA, but I can find no record of him at Kew, he did not come home until 1919, having been there from June of 1916, we know this by the postcards he sent to my Mother. He also had four brothers serving in the army, at the same time, one taken prisioner. I can find none of these records either. Any help or suggestions would be gratefully received.

      Pam Murphy

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      Recomended Reading.

      Available at discounted prices.

      Dawn Raid: Bombardment of the Hartlepools

      J M Ward

      An excellent account of the naval bombardment on the 16th of December 1914.

      Guns of the Northeast: Coastal Defences from the Tyne to the Humber

      Joe Foster

      A detailed study of the coastal defences of North East England, including accounts of the bombardment of the East coast in 1914, with many excellent photgraphs and diagrams.

      Bombardment: The Day the East Coast Bled

      Mark Marsay

      A well researched book with many personal accounts of the events of the 16th of December 1914

      Retreat and Rearguard 1914: The BEF's Actions from Mons to the Marne

      Jerry Murland

      The British action at Mons on 23 August 1914 was the catalyst for what became a full blown retreat over 200 blood drenched miles. This book examines eighteen of the desperate rearguard actions that occurred during the twelve days of this near rout. While those at Le Cateau and Nery are well chronicled, others such as cavalry actions at Morsain and Taillefontaine, the Connaught Rangers at Le Grand Fayt and 13 Brigades fight at Crepy-en-Valois are virtually unknown even to expert historians. We learn how in the chaos and confusion that inevitably reigned units of Gunners and other supporting arms found themselves in the front line.

      Can you help us to add to our records?

      The names and stories on this website have been submitted by their relatives and friends. If your relations are not listed please add their names so that others can read about them

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      If so please let us know.

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      We are very keen to track down these often forgotten documents and obtain photographs and transcriptions of the names recorded so that they will be available for all to remember.

      Help us to build a database of information on those who served both at home and abroad so that future generations may learn of their sacrifice.

      Celebrate your own Family History

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