The history of artillery in Australia

Australian artillery marked its 150th anniversary on 1 August  – a century-and-a-half of continuous service.

CAPTION: An M2A2 105 mm Howitzer crewed by Army soldiers from the 9th Regiment, Royal Australian Artillery, fires an 18-gun salute during the 150th Anniversary of Australian Artillery Commemorative Service at the Hobart Cenotaph. Story by John Cox. Photo by Private Hamish Rogers.

By the end of 1870, as British forces withdrew, the separate colonies of Australia each became responsible for providing its own defence.

Before 1871, all Australian colonies had their own volunteer artillery batteries to augment permanent garrisoned British forces.

The departure of the British batteries meant the loss of artillery technical proficiency.

Colonies needed their own permanent artillery forces to sustain the necessary expertise, particularly for the defence of their ports.

The story of today’s Australian artillery originates on 1 August 1871 when the NSW Colonial Government funded and raised its first permanent battery.

Officers, gunners, guns and equipment formerly with the original NSW Artillery Battery helped form subsequent batteries in 1876 and 1877, serving as both garrison coast artillery and mobile field artillery.

Army’s longest continuous serving permanent unit is A Battery, currently part of the 1st Regiment, Royal Australian Artillery.

A Battery traces its history to that original NSW battery.

Soon after, the other colonies raised permanent batteries to complement their volunteer and militia batteries, as the demands for self defence grew across Australia.

Eighteen months before federation, Queen Victoria conferred the title of Regiments of Royal Australian Artillery on the permanent artillery units of the Victorian, Queensland and NSW colonies from 14 July 1899.

It foreshadowed cooperation across the colonies to establish a coherent, modern and capable Australian artillery force.

In the years that followed, these regiments combined with all other Australian artillery forces.

Over 150 years of distinguished service, this united group has evolved to become today’s Royal Regiment of Australian Artillery.

1 August 1871 unites all regiments and gunners, serving and retired, across all states and territories, as the date that captures and symbolises the beginning of Australian artillery.

The 1 August 2021, anniversary recognised and celebrated 150 years of distinguished service.

It’s because of artillery’s widespread and diverse role that the Royal Australian Artillery has one single battle honour, royally conferred, which is also its motto: Ubique – “everywhere”.

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