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Royal Regiment of Canadian Artillery

Royal Regiment of Canadian Artillery

Designated: 29 October 1956

Preceded by: Royal Canadian Artillery

Status as of 1 Jan 2000: Active branch of Canadian Forces

The Royal Regiment of Canadian Artillery was was designated on 29 October 1956, amalgamating both the regular and reserve components of the Royal Canadian Artillery into one administrative regiment.

Lineage

See Royal Canadian Artillery for lineage to 29 October 1956.

History

Post Korean War

The Reserve Force had been reorganized after the Second World War, with the artillery component authorized at six divisions and corps troops. This provided for six divisional headquarters, RCA, eight medium regiments, 20 field regiments, eight anti-tank regiments, nine HAA Regiments, 18 LAA Regiments, five coast regiments, two survey regiments and nine AA gun operations rooms. That organization had only lasted until 1954 when a second reorganization substantially reduced the artillery's establishment. Coastal and anti-tank artillery ceased to exist, and the RCA was pared down to just 21 field regiments, six medium regiments, three independent medium batteries, nine HAA regiments, two harbour defence batteries, a locating regiment and an anti-aircraft fire control battery. It would be another 10 years or so before any other major changes were made to Militia artillery establishments.

In 1959 the word “Artillery” was authorized to be incorporated into the title of each artillery Militia unit, for example, the 20th Field Regiment, RCA now became the 20th Field Artillery Regiment, RCA.

Unification

On 1 Feb 1968, when Canada’s three services ceased to exist as separate entities, another severe reduction in the establishments of the Militia occurred. Reserve Force artillery units were either converted to field artillery regiments and independent batteries, or else struck off the order of battle or converted to other arms.

NATO Brigade 1951-1992

In 1951, 79th Field Regiment RCA joined the newly formed 27th Canadian Infantry Brigade Group in Northern Germany under command of the British Army of the Rhine (BAOR). Instead of the 25-pounder Gun, the regiment was initially issued the American 105mm towed howitzer, which was the standard NATO gun at that time. The changeover was short-lived, and the 25-pounders were reintroduced to solve problems with supply and a lack of uniformity with British units. The regiment was first quartered at Hohne, and then later at Fort Prince of Wales, near Soest in the Upper Ruhr Valley. Re-named the 3rd Regiment RCHA in 1953, the regiment was replaced in Nov 1953 by 2 RCHA during the changeover of 27 CIBG with 1 CIBG. Over the next thirteen years, 1, 2, 3 and 4 RCHA would rotate to Germany. In 1967 1 RCHA became the permanent artillery regiment in Germany as part of 4 CIBG (later - 4 Canadian Mechanized Brigade Group (CMBG) as the Army replaced its wheeled troop transport with tracked armoured personnel carriers). The Regiment moved south to the Schwarzwald (Black Forest) with the rest of the brigade group in 1970, to become Central Army Group’s reserve force, and was based in Lahr, Germany. It would remain there until 1992, when the brigade group began pulling out of Europe.

Additionally, with the organization of a new 1st Canadian Division being formed, a divisional artillery organization was also created with the formation of a Divisional HQ RCA, the 1st LAA Regiment, the 1st Locating Battery and the No.1 Air OP Flight. Anti-tank gunnery had become the field of expertise of another corps, and increasing aircraft speed made the usefulness of anti-aircraft guns dubious; missile systems began to replace the anti-aircraft gun.

In the mid 1950s, when the RCHA regiments were re-equipped with US 105mm M1A1 howitzers (dubbed the C1 in Canada), the fourth battery of each regiment was also re-equipped, losing the 4.2-inch mortars used from the early 1950s with M114 155mm medium towed howitzers. The Militia continued to use the 25-Pounder for several more years until enough 105mm howitzers were available to replace them. In 1968, 1 RCHA was equipped with the M109A1 self-propelled 155mm howitzer, replacing their towed guns.

The 1st Light Anti-Aircraft Regiment RCA was formed in October 1953. It consisted of a HQ and the 2nd and 3rd LAA Batteries, and it was located with the RCSA (Anti-Aircraft) at Picton, Ontario. The remaining battery, the 4th LAA Battery was at Esquimalt. The Regiment was originally equipped with 40mm Bofors, but converted to 90mm guns and M33C fire-control equipment in 1955. The 4th LAA Battery in Esquimalt was reduced to nil strength in 1957. The remainder of the regiment continued to function for three more years during which it helped to train anti-aircraft Gunners of the Militia.

Changes in defence policy resulted in the 1st LAA Regiment being disbanded in Sep 1960, with most personnel forming two new units - the 1st and 2nd Surface-to- Surface Missile (SSM) Batteries RCA - at Hemer, Germany (under 4 CIBG) and Shilo, MB respectively. Each battery was equipped with four 762mm Honest John Rocket launchers. The Honest John was a nuclear tactical weapon capable of carrying a 1-Kiloton nuclear warhead to a range of 40 km. The SSM Batteries remained in service until 1970, when the Canadian NATO Brigade Group’s role was reduced in scope, and the Brigade Group was repositioned to CENTAG.

With the closure of the 1st LAA Regiment and The RCAS (AA) in Picton in 1960, the only remaining school of artillery was at Shilo. The school would remain in Shilo until 1970, when it was moved to Gagetown together with the Infantry and Armour schools (the title “Royal” was dropped from the various Army schools when the services integrated in 1968). They formed the Combat Arms School, part of the Combat Training Centre in CFB Gagetown.

Formation of the 1st Divisional Locating Battery in 1954 at Shilo marked the reappearance of a locating unit in the Order of Battle of the Regular Force after an absence of nine years. After a short, but fruitful existence, during which it played an active role in numerous exercises, the battery fell victim to a general reorganization of close support artillery. Among other changes, locating units were decentralized to the Brigade Group level, and each RCHA regiment in Canada was given a Regimental Locating Battery as part of a new “5-battery organization.”

The 1st Divisional Locating Battery was reduced to nil strength on 30 April 1958. It was revived briefly in 1965, and its Radar Troop equipped with the new AN/MPQ/501 Counter Mortar Radar. At the same time the RCHA and Militia locating batteries disappeared. The revived battery was located at Winnipeg, where it conducted drone and sound ranging trials with the National Research Council. Once the trials ended in 1968, the battery was once again reduced to nil strength.

8. Completing the order of battle of the 1st Divisional Artillery at the time of its formation in 1953 was Canada’s first peacetime Air OP Flight. No. 1 Air OP Flight was formed at Petawawa in 1953, followed by No.2 Air OP Flight in Shilo in 1954.The flights were initially equipped with the British wartime Auster Mark VI aircraft, and in late 1954 were re-equipped with the US-built Cessna L-19. A number of field artillery officers underwent basic pilot training at the Brandon Flying Club. They then progressed to the Light Aircraft School at Rivers, Manitoba for advanced training. Their role was to provide aerial artillery observation, air photography, liaison and reconnaissance. In 1960, Air Observation Troops were added to the four RCHA regiments (Gagetown, Petawawa, Shilo and Fort Prince of Wales, Germany), and the two original Flights were reduced to nil strength. The new Air OP Troops operated under regimental control until 1970-71, when they converted to Kiowa helicopters and were subsequently absorbed into the Air Command helicopter squadron.

The latter part of the 1960s and the early 1970s saw many changes that would affect the Regular component of The Royal Regiment of Canadian Artillery. With the formation of The Canadian Airborne Regiment on 8 Apr 1968, the 1st Airborne Battery RCA was created. It remained in Edmonton as an independent battery until 1977 when the Airborne Regiment re-organized and moved to CFB Petawawa. At that time the 1st Airborne Battery was disbanded and "E" Battery, 2 RCHA was re-designated "E" Battery (Para).

On 6 May 1968 a Regular Force artillery unit returned to Quebec City after an absence of nearly half a century. Le 5e Régiment d’artillerie légère du Canada (5 RALC), the first Regular Force francophone artillery regiment, was formed. Initially equipped with towed 105mm howitzers, it took on its new colours, 105mm L5 pack howitzers, in 1969. Over the next few years, the L5 would also see service in the airborne role and with ACE Mobile Force Batteries in 2 and 3 RCHA. 3 RCHA now found itself in Shilo, and on 15 July 1970, 4 RCHA in Petawawa was reduced to nil strength. The majority of its equipment and personnel were transferred directly to 2 RCHA, which was moved from Gagetown to Petawawa.

A second purchase of M109s in 1977 went to equip 3 RCHA; these vehicles were up-gunned versions with longer gun barrels and other improvements. The guns underwent two additional modernizations before being retired in the 21st Century.

In 1975 two airfield air defence batteries were re-activated in Germany, 128 Airfield Air Defence Battery RCA at Baden-Soellingen, and 129 Airfield Air Defence Battery RCA at Lahr. Both were equipped with 40mm Boffin guns and Blowpipe Very Short Range Air Defence (VSHORAD) missiles. The Boffin was a hydraulically driven naval version of the standard World War Two 40mm Bofors. They had been retrieved from decommissioned minesweepers and the aircraft carrier Bonaventure. In 1976, 1 RCHA and 2 RCHA each received a troop of Blowpipe. The Germany-based units were augmented in 1976 by the formation of two fly-over batteries - H Battery in 3 RCHA, and V Battery in 5 RALC.

In the mid 1980s, The Low Level Air Defence (LLAD) Project, which would be the most expensive single project to date for the Army ($1 Billion), resulted in the procurement of what is considered to be one of the most effective Short Range Air Defence (SHORAD) systems in the world.

In 1985, the air defence troop of 2 RCHA was dismantled and 119 Air Defence Battery reactivated; also newly formed was the Air Defence Artillery School at CFB Chatham.

In 1987, 4th Air Defence Regiment RCA, (127, 128 and 129 AD Batteries), was formed at Lahr, Germany; the latter two batteries were airfield defence batteries equipped with four Skyguard sections (a Skyguard fire control radar and two twin 35mm Oerlikon GDF-005 gun systems each), and a troop of four ADATS SHORAD missile systems. 127 AD Battery was tasked with protection of 4 CMBG, equipped with 12 ADATS. 119 AD Battery was also re-equipped with ADATS. During this period three Militia units were re-equipped as air defence artillery: 18th AD Regiment in Lethbridge, 1 AD Regiment in Pembroke and 58e Batterie d’artillerie antiaérienne, 6 RAC in Levis, Quebec. Each unit received Javelin S-15, the replacement for Blowpipe.

The 4th AD Regiment was reduced to nil strength in 1992 as part of the reduction of forces and the return of units from Germany, but raised again with a smaller establishment on 2l Jul 1996 as a Total Force unit.

The HQ and 128 AD Battery were located in Moncton, with 119 AD Battery and 210 AD Workshop located in Gagetown. A third battery’s worth of equipment was positioned at Cold Lake, Alberta with a small caretaker staff.

An RCA Battle School was formed at Shilo, Manitoba on 19 Sep 1981, giving the artillery a steady flow of trained soldiers, allowing units more time to train for individual unit tasks. The school remained active until Jun 1997, when it was disbanded and replaced by a much smaller artillery detachment of the Western Area Training Center.

In 1995, the Air Defence Artillery School and 119 AD Battery were moved to CFB Gagetown, and in 1996 the Field and Air Defence Artillery Schools were amalgamated to form the Royal Canadian School of Artillery (RCAS).

As a result of the downsizing of the Canadian Forces in 1992, 3 RCHA was reduced to nil strength. RCHA moved from Germany, on the disbandment of 4 CMBG, to replace 3 RCHA in Shilo. At the same time, the weapon resources of the three remaining Regular Force Field Units were re-distributed, giving each Regiment a mix of M109s and 105mm C1 Howitzers. In 1997, the C1 howitzers in the Regular Force units were replaced by a new, longer range, light 105mm gun, the French LG1.

Operations Other Than War

The Royal Regiment of Canadian Artillery, like the infantry and armoured regiments of the increasingly over-stretched Canadian military, contributed large numbers of men to peacekeeping and other UN and NATO missions in the years after the Korean War, bot as individuals and on occasion as formed units,most notably on Cyprus where batteries/regiments served as such in rotation. Sub-units were also tasked to Bosnia and Haiti for NATO peace enforcement missions.

In the summer of 1991, 5 RALC along with elements of the 4th Air Defence Regiment deployed to Montreal in aide of the civil power, when their parent Brigade became involved in the Oka Crisis.

In the spring of 1997, all regular artillery regiments assisted in fighting floods in Manitoba, and in Jan 1998 again provided disaster assistance during severe ice storms in Ontario and Quebec.

RCHA Gunners from Shilo have been involved in avalanche control duties at Roger’s Pass, BC since 1962; each year a detachment of C1 105mm howitzers is used from 1 Dec to 1 Apr to fire high explosive rounds at critical trigger points along 27 miles of highway in Glacier National Park as a means of preventing snow build-up and avalanches.

The spring of 2000 saw 1 RCHA become the first Canadian artillery unit to deploy guns to an operational theatre since the Korean War. "C" Battery deployed as an infantry company as part of the 2 PPCLI Battlegroup on OP PALLADIUM in Bosnia, followed by "A" Battery with six LG1 105mm howitzers, replacing a British light gun battery. The battery operated as both a gun battery and also provided infantry patrols as needed. "B" Battery replaced them in October 2000, in turn replaced in March 2001 by a battery from 2 RCHA.

Gulf War 1991

The 119th Air Defence Battery RCA deployed a 36-member Troop of Javelin VSHORAD missile systems to provide extra air defence protection for the three Canadian Naval ships as part of Canada’s commitment to UN forces during the Gulf War on 9 Aug 1990. Javelin had been procured in a very short span of time for this operation in order to replace the obsolete Blowpipe missile. Due to the two weapons’ general similarities, detachments were trained in a matter of two weeks while they were in transit to the Gulf. The Royal School of Artillery, Larkhill, UK provided an Instructor-in-Gunnery (IG) team, which conducted weapon training while crossing the Atlantic. A successful live fire practice was held when the ships reached the Azores in early September.

Each ship was provided a section of Javelin, with HMCS Athabaskan and HMCS Protecteur each receiving four detachments while HMCS Terra Nova received three. The ships arrived in the Central Persian Gulf on 23 Sep 1990, and commenced UN Patrol duties, including the halting and boarding of ships in day and night as part of the embargo placed on Iraq. In January 1991 the ships were placed in charge of organizing re-supply for the Multi-National force. HMCS Protecteur was the only supply ship to remain in theatre for the entire operation.

During their tour, the Javelin troop did not have to fire a shot in anger, as the allies quickly grounded the Iraqi Air Force. The operation did allow the Troop to hone their aircraft recognition skills and practice command and control procedures in a highly charged operational setting unlike they had ever been previously trained for. They returned to Canada with the ships on 13 March 1991.

Three Canadian artillery officers saw active service as exchange officers with the British Army in this period. Major Dave Marshall commanded 127 (Dragon) Field Battery RA, an eight-gun M109 battery that was part of the composite 2 Field Regiment RA. 2 Field Regiment supported the 4th Armoured Brigade, 1st British Armoured Division. During the four days of fighting, Major Marshall’s battery fired over 2500 rounds of 155 mm ammunition at Iraqi second echelon armoured divisions. Major Marshall is the only Canadian to have fired a Fire Mission Division in anger since Korea. Captain Brian Travis was employed in the Divisional Artillery Headquarters as a liaison officer to the 7th US Corps Artillery, and Captain Jeff Willis served as a staff officer in the Divisional Artillery Headquarters.

125th Anniversary - 1996

The Royal Regiment of Canadian Artillery marked its 125th Anniversary in 1996 (taking as its birthday the the formation of the Permanent Force component, "A" and "B" Batteries in 1871.) The occasion was marked by units across the country by regular force units in Brandon, MB (1 RCHA), Kingston, ON (2 RCHA), Québec, PQ (5 RALC), Moncton, NB (4 AD Regt) and Oromocto, NB (RCAS). The RCA Band provided public concerts at each location, and helped each unit conduct a Freedom of the City ceremony at their respective locations. Other activities included "C" Battery renewing ties to Esquimalt with excellent support from the 5th Field Artillery Regiment. Headquarters and Services Battery 1 RCHA renewed ties with the NWMP (RCMP) through a visit to Regina and a commemorative march along General Middleton’s route from Fort Qu’Appelle to Batoche. 2 RCHA formed two gun race teams, which participated at the Nova Scotia International Tattoo. In Moncton, a parade was held to re-activate the 4th Air Defence Regiment RCA.

The centerpiece events for the Anniversary were the National Ceremonies held in Ottawa, Ontario during the period 6-7 July 1996, in which all the Regular Force artillery units participated. On 6 July four 100-man guards representing the four Regular Force artillery units paraded on the grounds of Parliament Hill. The event included a mounted RCMP detachment honouring our close historical links. The parade concluded with a 125-round feu de joie fired by 105mm howitzers, followed by a roll-past of artillery equipment from past to present, beginning with a 9-pounder RML gun circa 1871. From Parliament Hill, a contingent of dismounted troops, RCMP, and artillery veterans proceeded to the National War Memorial for a ceremony of remembrance, followed by an all ranks reception at the Cartier Square Drill Hall. A formal dinner followed that evening hosted by Colonel Commandant Brigadier-General Robert P. Beaudry at the Chateau Laurier, followed the next day by a brunch. During both days, equipment displays and demonstrations were provided to the public in Festival Plaza. These included a special display of historical and modern artillery equipment sponsored by the Canadian War Museum.

Mottos

  • "Ubique" - Latin for "everywhere"

  • "Quo Fas Et Gloria Ducunt" - Latin for "Whither Right and Glory Lead"

Insignia

 

The insignia is described as:

"A field gun, with a scroll above inscribed "UBIQUE" and surmounted by the Crown. Below the gun, a scroll inscribed "QUO FAS ET GLORIA DUCUNT".1

Published Histories

  • Falconer, D. W. Battery Flashes of W.W. II: A Thumb-nail Sketch of Canadian Artillery Batteries during the 1939-1945 Conflict 1985.

  • Nicholson, Gerald W. L. The Gunners of Canada: the History of the Royal Regiment of Canadian Artillery McClelland and Stewart, Toronto, ON: c1967-1972 (Two Volumes)

Notes

  1. The Regiments and Corps of the Canadian Army (Queen's Printer, Ottawa, ON, 1964) p.29

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