There were more than 16,500 military medals awarded to members of the Royal Regiment of Artillery from WWI to the Falklands War. This is a nominal roll of those awards.
These records could provide you with the following information about your ancestor:
• Soldier's first name (sometimes only initials), last name, rank and number
• Soldier's post nominals at the time of the award
• Date it appears in the London Gazette
• Unit the man was serving in at the time of the award, when known
• Award itself
• Branch of the regiment: RHA, RFA or RGA
• Type of service: TF (Territorial Force soldier) or blank (everything else)
• Theatre of operations in which the soldier was serving at the time
• Any other service notes discovered about the soldier
• Date on which the soldier entered his first theatre of operations during WWI
• First theatre of operations
• Soldier's domicile
All the recipients are listed, as are their service numbers, the date of the award and the award type. Many of the other details are being added as they are discovered.
The records explained
Soldiers' numbers were not uniquely issued until 1920, which means that many soldiers had the same number in WWI. Sometimes numbers had a prefix. 'L' and 'W' were common in the artillery – 'L' stood for 'locally raised volunteer', the artillery equivalent to the 'Pals Battalion' and 'W' equivalent the Welsh version of the same system.
On 1 January 1917 all territorial force soldiers serving in the artillery were renumbered. This means a recipient of a bar to his medal may be recorded under two different numbers. Where known, the new or previous numbers have been listed in the 'notes' field. After WWI ended, the entire army was demobilised and took the opportunity to reorganise and make soldiers' numbers unique to the individual.
Those soldiers remaining in the army had to re-enlist and were issued new, longer numbers. Where known, these longer numbers are also added into the 'notes' field.
Many of the ranks within the Royal Artillery have been abbreviated. The soldier's full substantive rank is given with any acting 'A' or temporary 'T' rank in brackets afterwards. During WWI, the artillery rank structure included corporal which was removed from the regiment in the 1920s and Serjeant became Sergeant. The WWI War promotion ladder consisted of:
• Gnr – gunner
• Bdr – bombardier (one stripe)
• Cpl – corporal (two stripes)
• Sjt – serjeant (three stripes with a gun above)
The WWII promotion ladder was:
• Gnr – gunner
• L/Bdr – lance bombardier (one stripe)
• Bdr – bombardier (two stripes)
• Sgt – sergeant (three stripes with a gun above)
Between gunner and bombardier there was a lance bombardier (L/Bdr) and between bombardier and corporal there was a lance corporal (L/Cpl). During WWII there was also the rank of lance sergeant 'L/Sgt'. The names of some of the ranks also denoted their role, for example:
Dvr – driver
A driver was a soldier trained in the management and use of horses. The six horses drawing the gun, or wagon, were driven by three drivers, all on the nearside horses, and much training was required before drivers would be rated as competent. The drivers, of course, also looked after the horses and the management, condition and state of health of these animals was regarded as one of the most important functions in the battery.
All branches of the artillery used horses, not just the RHA. By WWII, mechanisation had replaced the horse but the gun limbers, lorries and self-propelled guns all required drivers and the rank remained.
The number of horses meant specialist roles of saddler, farrier, and shoeing smith were used and added to the name of the rank. Horse-drawn equipment needed wheelers and fitters and the officer needed clerks who could write in artillery code and signallers who could send it.
• S/Sjt – staff serjeant
• SM – serjeant major
• QMS – quartermaster serjeant
• BQMS – battery quartermaster serjeant
• BSM – battery serjeant major (warrant officer class II)
• RSM – regimental sergeant major (warrant officer class I)
The unit the man was serving in at the time of the award
The Royal Field Artillery comprised batteries within brigades. They also supplied men to the ammunition columns and HQ staff.
The Royal Garrison Artillery comprised companies for coast defence, sections for anti-aircraft defence grouped together in large batteries and the siege and heavy batteries for supporting the army in the field who were grouped into heavy artillery groups (HAGs). Mountain batteries comprised batteries within brigades.
The Royal Horse Artillery followed the RFA model of batteries and brigades. The Territorial Force (TF) had a similar structure but using their county name. By mid-1916, this had all become very complicated and TF brigades were renamed with numbers rather than county titles, although many units continued to add their old name into their new title. Volunteers were taken from anywhere to man trench mortar batteries, infantry brigades were supported by numbered trench mortar batteries and the divisions by lettered trench mortar batteries.
The award itself
The military medal could be awarded more than once to the same soldier. This was denoted by the addition of a bar to the original medal. Here each award is listed separately, so checking the 'soldier's post nominal' field is a must to ensure success.
The branch of the regiment: RHA, RFA or RGA
Ever since 1716, men have been recruited into the 'Royal Regiment of Artillery'. In 1899 and until 1924, however, the royal regiment was divided into two branches. Between these years, men were recruited into one or other branch and tended to remain in that branch throughout their service.
There was the mounted branch, comprising the Royal Horse Artillery (RHA) and the Royal Field Artillery (RFA), known as the 'RH & RFA' and the dismounted branch, the Royal Garrison Artillery (RGA). The RGA manned garrisons and coast defences and had the heaviest guns; however, there was an anomaly in that the RGA also included the mountain artillery. The RHA and RFA, with their lighter field guns, were more mobile for use in the field army. During WWII, soldiers were either RHA or RA.
Type of service
A soldier could enlist under various terms of service. He could join the regular army on a fixed term of service, he could join the Territorial Force (TF), become a wartime volunteer via the New Army Scheme or he may be conscripted.
The theatre of operations
This is normally the country in which the award was won. During WWII, however, this was expanded to include 'special operations', 'ex-prisoners of war' and 'escapees'.