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5th Regiment Royal Artillery
Active 1939 – present
Country  United Kingdom
Branch  British Army
Type Royal Artillery (Regular Army)
Role Surveillance and Target Acquisition
Size Regiment
Part of 1 Artillery Brigade
Location Catterick Garrison
Nickname(s) The Yorkshire Gunners
Equipment COBRA, MAMBA, LCMR, ASP
Battle honours Ubiquedisambiguation needed

5th Regiment Royal Artillery is a regiment of the Royal Artillery in the British Army. It currently serves in the Surveillance and Target Acquisition role and is equipped with radars and acoustic sound ranging equipment; it also provides Special Observation Post teams.

Formation[edit | edit source]

The regiment was formed as 5th Regiment Royal Horse Artillery on 25 November 1939 at Wotton-under-Edge, Gloucestershire and consisted of K Battery (the Riding Troop at St John's Wood) and G Battery (Mercers Troop), RHA (from 4th RHA).[1]

In 1940, the regiment formed part of the British Expeditionary Force to France; after Dunkirk it moved to North Africa, where it joined 7th Armoured Division.

Along with 7th Armoured Division, the regiment fought throughout the Western Desert and, for a limited period, took part in the Italian Campaign. On return to the UK in early 1944, it took part in the Normandy landings and fought in Northwest Europe to VE Day. In 1946, CC Battery became C Battery.

Reorganisation[edit | edit source]

Because of the reorganisation of the Royal Horse Artillery in 1958, the regiment became the 5th Field Regiment RA. On 1 February 1958, C Battery moved to 3rd RHA and G Battery (Mercer's Troop) moved to 4th RHA. P Battery (The Dragon Troop) left 4th RHA and Q (Sanna's Post) Battery moved from 10th Field Regiment on 5 February 1958 to join K Battery and form the regiment. After a short period near Crickhowell, the regiment left the UK in September 1958 for a 3-year tour of Hong Kong. After an enjoyable tour equipped with 25 lb guns, the regiment returned to Salisbury Plain in Southern England in October 1961 as 5 Light Regiment RA.

The Sixties[edit | edit source]

During its stay at Perham Down, the regiment had many equipment changes. In 1961, K Battery had 5.5" guns, while P and Q Batteries were equipped with 25 pdrs; then, in 1962, all batteries were allotted 4.2" mortars as well as other guns.

In 1963, the regiment converted to 105mm Pack Howitzers and took part in exercises in Libya, Canada and Norway with this versatile new gun. In August/September 1964, the regiment moved to the British Army of the Rhine (BAOR) in Germany, reverted to its title of 5th Field Regiment RA and was stationed in Gutersloh as a Close Support Regiment. Once again K Battery had 5.5" guns and P and Q Batteries 25-pounders, but these later gave way to the Abbot Self Propelled (SP) gun in 1966. In 1968, the regiment again exercised in Libya, and shortly afterwards the south of France.

Sports-wise, skiing and hockey featured as the major successful sports before the regiment returned to Southern England in 1969, this time to Bulford. The regiment now formed part of 3rd Division and the Strategic Reserve.

The Seventies[edit | edit source]

The next three years at Bulford were dominated by four emergency tours of Northern Ireland (NI). The regiment was mostly operating in the Londonderry area and had 3 fatalities from terrorist actions. At this time, the regiment was equipped with the 105mm pack howitzer (towed by Landrover) and served in the light airborne role. In 1972, the regiment moved to Hildesheim, Germany and re-equipped with M107 SP 175mm Guns; and again changed its name to 5th Heavy Regiment RA. 18 Battery joined the regiment in February 1977 following the disbandment of 42 Regiment RA.

The Eighties[edit | edit source]

After 12 years at Tofrek Barracks in Hildesheim, the regiment moved to West Riding Barracks in Dortmund in 1984. 18 (Quebec 1759) Battery and Q (Sanna's Post) Battery (which was renamed as 74 Battery (the Battle-Axe Company)) left the regiment to join 32 Heavy Regiment RA. 73 (Sphinx) Locating Battery moved from 94 Locating Regiment to 5th Regiment in January 1985 and was renamed Q (Sanna's Post) Battery. During this period, the Gun Batteries both carried out operational tours of Northern Ireland.

British M107

loaded

cleaning

gun firing

The Nineties[edit | edit source]

On 2 November 1990, 73 (Sphinx) Battery was formed as an Observation Battery from the OP Troops of 5 and 32 Regiments. In 1991, many of the soldiers were attached to 32 Regiment RA for Operation Granby, the Gulf War. K (Hondeghem) Battery was attached to 18 (Quebec 1759) Battery and P Battery (The Dragon Troop) was attached to 74 Battery (The Battle-Axe Company). In addition, several soldiers went with 40 Regiment RA earlier in the operation. 73 (Sphinx) OP Battery joined the 16/5th Lancers and was organised into two Forward Air Control parties, one Tactical Air Command Post and five Armoured Mobile OPs.

After Operation Granby, the regiment converted from the M107 SP Gun to the M270 Multiple Launch Rocket System (MLRS). The regiment carried out several dry and live firing exercised on Hohne Ranges. On 1 April 1993, 73 (Sphinx) OP Battery became 4/73 (Sphinx) Special OP Battery. On 1 May 1993, Q (Sanna's Post) Battery amalgamated with the regiment's Headquarters Battery to become Q (Sanna's Post) Headquarters Battery. The majority of the locating troops in Q Battery were posted to other locating units within the Royal Regiment.

In late 1993, the regiment carried out a Regimental Arms Plot from Dortmund to Catterick in North Yorkshire. After nearly nine months of unsettled transit period working in Towthorpe line, Strensall, near York, the regiment moved into the former RAF Catterick Barracks, now renamed Marne Barracks after the Battle of the Marne, alongside the A1. At the time, it was co-located with the Regiment's Artillery Support Unit, 8 (Artillery Support) Regiment, RLC. That regiment has now moved on and the barracks are currently shared with 1st Bn, The Mercian Regiment.

In October 1994, the regiment redeployed to Northern Ireland; this time to South Armagh as the Drumadd Roulement Battalion (DRB). K Battery was deployed to Bessbrook with P Battery being deployed in both Keady and Middletown; the tour was cut short by 3 weeks due to the IRA cease-fire.

On their return to Catterick, the regiment was busy carrying out its primary role training in addition to supplying soldiers to man a permanent special OP Patrol to Bosnia and various overseas exercises.

In early 1996, the regiment was called upon to assist the Derbyshire civil authorities during a fire-fighters dispute (Op FRESCO), a commitment led by K (Hondeghem) Battery. In addition, the regiment supplied soldiers to 3 RHA for an operational tour of Northern Ireland.

On 1 April 1997, the regiment rejoined 1st Artillery Brigade on its reformation as an operational element of the UK's framework nation commitment to Allied Rapid Reaction Corps (ARRC). At the same time, 4/73 Battery was formally committed to the Joint Rapid Deployment Force (JRDF). The battery's commitment to the JRDF was to maintain six patrols and a command and control element ready to deploy worldwide with the Force at short notice.

On 10 June 1997, the regiment, less 4/73 Battery, deployed to Cyprus on Operation TOSCA. Taking over responsibility for Sector 2 of UNFICYP from 32nd Regiment RA. Soldiers from 1 RHA, 3 RHA, 32 Regt RA, 1 DWR, 1 RRW, 9 Parachute Squadron RE and soldiers from the TA reinforced the Regiment for the tour. Sector 2 covered the UN Buffer Zone in the area of Nicosia. P Battery deployed as Line Battery West and K Battery as Line Battery East. The tour was a great success and the regiment returned to Catterick on 10 December 1997.

Re-roling[edit | edit source]

Following a period of leave, the regiment returned to work in mid-January 1998 and immediately started the preparations for the re-roling. Because of a decision to transfer MLRS to the TA, it was decided that 5th Regiment would re-role from MLRS/OP to become a Surveillance and Target Acquisition (STA) Regiment. The regiment would also assume responsibility for the provision of the Headquarters Force Artillery (HQ Force Arty) for the Allied Command Europe Mobile Force (Land) (AMF(L)).

The re-roling took effect as of 1 April 1998 and 5th Regiment consisted of one Special OP Battery (4/73), two Weapon Locating Batteries (K and P) equipped initially with Cymbeline Radar and Hostile Artillery Locating equipment (HALO). The Radar Troops came from 1 RHA, in Tidworth, 3 RHA, in Topcliffe, 4 Regt RA, in Osnabruck, 26 Regt RA in Gutersloh and 40 Regt RA in Hohne. The Sound Ranging Troops came from 32 Regt RA, in Larkhill and 39 Regt RA, in Newcastle. The Headquarters Battery (Q) that provides a Headquarters for both the regiment in its STA role and the AMF(L). The Force Artillery AMF(L) role was lost in 2002. The regiment is now equipped with COBRA (Counter Battery Battery Radar) MAMBA (Mobile Artillery Monitoring Battlefield Radar) LCMR (Lightweight Counter Mortar Radar) and ASP (Advanced Sound ranging Programme).

Composition[edit | edit source]

After the Army 2020 refines the regiment now controls the following:

Elitism[edit | edit source]

Special Observer Badge, worn by Soldiers who have passed STA Patrol Training

4/73 Battery is an elite unit formed in 1982 to provide commanders with crucial battlefield intelligence on enemy positions.[2]

Members of this battery are volunteers who have passed a 20-week Special Observer Patrols Course.[3]

Whilst most gunners wear a dark blue beret, since 2008 soldiers of 4/73 Battery have changed to a khaki beret to mark the close working relationship of the battery with the Honourable Artillery Company.

Soldiers within the battery that have passed the 20 week STA Patrol Training selection course also wear the Special Observers badge on their arm as displayed on the right.[4]

Recent operations[edit | edit source]

Due to its unique capability, 5th Regiment RA does not deploy as a regiment; instead the sub-units take turns to support the deployed brigade. Likewise, 4/73 (Sphinx) Battery constantly supplies Fire Support Teams (FSTs) to Op Herrick on a rotational basis. To date, 5th Regiment RA has had troops deployed into Operational Theatres in one form or another since 2003.

References[edit | edit source]

  1. Frederick 1984, p. 444
  2. Heidi Mines. "Covert gunners recall tough Helmand tour". MoD. http://www.mod.uk/DefenceInternet/DefenceNews/MilitaryOperations/CovertGunnersRecallToughHelmandTour.htm. "An elite unit within the Royal Artillery, 4/73 Battery were formed in 1982 to provide commanders with crucial battlefield intelligence on enemy positions and are tasked with directing artillery fire deep into enemy-held territory." 
  3. "Artillery Soldier". MoD. http://www.army.mod.uk/artillery/career/8020.aspx. "Volunteers for 4/73 Bty RA (5 Regt RA) will need to pass a 20 week Special Observer Patrols Course following Phase 2 Training. Further information can be found DIN: 2006 DIN002-211, a useful reference document for potential direct entry recruits." 
  4. "Yorkshire Gunners Honoured For Service In Iraq And Afghanistan". http://www.mod.uk/DefenceInternet/DefenceNews/HistoryAndHonour/YorkshireGunnersHonouredForServiceInIraqAndAfghanistan.htm. "Earlier in the day, in what marks a historic change in the history of one of the Batteries from the Regiment – 4/73 (Sphinx) Battery, the traditional dark blue beret of the Royal Artillery was replaced with a khaki-coloured beret." 

Bibliography[edit | edit source]

  • Frederick, J.B.M. (1984). Lineage Book of British Land Forces 1660-1978. Wakefield, Yorkshire: Microform Academic Publishers. ISBN 1-85117-009-X. 

External links[edit | edit source]

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