ROYAL GARRISON ARTILLERY
taken from 'Our Regiments in South Africa' by John Stirling
ROYAL GARRISON ARTILLERY
4TH MOUNTAIN BATTERY. - Joined General Buller in January 1900. They do not seem to have got into action at Spion Kop, but they had their guns on the top of Swartz Kop, opposite Vaal Krantz, in the beginning of February (see 2nd Queen's), and they were engaged in the final effort at Colenso and Pieter's Hill. In the second phase of the war the battery was engaged in many different parts of the country In the first half of 1901 they had two 2.5 guns with Spens in the Eastern Transvaal (despatch of 8th July), and part of the battery was that year in Cape Colony, where they gained several mentions.
10th Mountain Battery — Was in Ladysmith when war broke out , was present at Rietfontein, 24th October 1899 , and on the night of 29th October was sent out as part of the ill-fated column intended to seize Nicholson's Nek (see 1st Gloucester Regiment and 1st Royal Irish Fusiliers). It will be remembered that the mules with the ammunition and the screw guns stampeded. Mules with two guns and about 70 men of the battery managed to get back to the camp. In Sir George White's despatch of 23rd March 1900, 8 non-commissioned officers and men were mentioned. After being rearmed with more useful weapons the battery advanced north with Genera Buller and was present at Bergendal (see 2nd Rifle Brigade) and other actions. One officer and 1 non commissioned officer were mentioned in General Buller's final despatch. In the second phase of the war the battery did much hard and useful work, chiefly in the Eastern Transvaal. It appears from Lord Kitchener's despatch of 8th July 1901 that during a great part of that year the 10th Mountain Battery had one gun with Spens, one with Benson, one with Babington, and one with F W Kitchener. All these columns operated in the Eastern Transvaal.
The R.G.A. was represented in South Africa by many companies, but it is scarcely possibly to give any detailed account of their work, admirable though it was. When they sailed it was contemplated that their services would be required in working the heavy guns against the defences of fortified towns, but no attempt was made by the enemy to hold any of their towns. The vaunted defences of Pretoria might as well never have existed. The Garrison Artillery, if they did not get the work they expected, made themselves very generally useful. The Boers had taught the military world the feasibility of trailing about very heavy guns, pitted against which our horse and field batteries were at much disadvantage. To cope with these big guns the Naval Brigade and their weapons had at Ladysmith proved of immense value. After 30th October 1899many more naval guns were brought ashore, and were used at Colenso, Swartz Kop, opposite Vaal Krantz, Pieter's Hill, Magersfontein, and practically all the big engagements. On 2nd March 1900 there were in Natal the following naval guns six 4'7, one 6-inch, and eighteen 12-pounders. Part of these were handed over to the Garrison Artillery in March, and when the sailors went back to their ships about August and September 1900, many of their other guns were left in charge of the R.G.A., who also worked and moved about the country the 5-inch guns, for a time popularly called "cow-guns." The 4.7 does not seem to have got that title so generally During one phase of the war almost every column had a 4'7 or 5-inch gun , but as the enemy's heavy artillery was captured or destroyed, the need for pulling about these unwieldy monsters decreased, and ultimately they were seldom taken out.
In General Buller's final despatch he highly praised the work of several “position-batteries” worked by the R.G.A., and he mentioned about 9 officers and 3 men, apart from those of the Mountain Batteries.
In General Clements' mishap at Nooitgedacht, 13th December 1900 (see 2nd Northumberland Fusiliers), one 5-inch gun, manned by men of the 5th company Eastern Division R.G.A., was with the column, and by a magnificent effort on the part of all the gun was got away Nine non-commissioned officers and men of the company were mentioned in Lord Kitchener's despatches, evidently all for gallantry on this occasion, although in the case of one batch the " cause " was not given. Two men of the Western Division were subsequently mentioned for gallantry displayed in a woodcutting expedition. Several officers of the R.G.A. were mentioned by Lord Kitchener, but the numbers of their companies were not given.
to the Army List of December 1900 the R.G.A. then had at the front the
A detachment numbering about 50 of the Durham Militia Artillery was part of the little garrison of Fort Prospect (see Dorsetshire Regiment) when that place was attacked on 26th September 1901. The detachment behaved admirably, and 1 officer and 4 non-commissioned officers and men gained mention in despatches.
Other companies of Militia Artillery were in South Africa and performed excellent service.
Last updated 12 September, 2010