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The Honourable Artillery Company (HAC) is the oldest surviving regiment in the British Army, and the second most senior in the Territorial Army.

History

The HAC can trace its history as far back as 1296, but it received a Royal Charter from Henry VIII on 25 August 1537, when Letters Patent were received by the Overseers of the Fraternity or Guild of St George authorising them to establish a perpetual corporation for the defence of the realm to be known as the Fraternity or Guild of Artillery of Longbows, Crossbows and Handgonnes. This body was known by a variety of names until 1656, when it was first referred to as the Artillery Company. It was first referred to as the Honourable Artillery Company in 1685 and officially received the name from Queen Victoria in 1860. However, the Archers’ Company of the Honourable Artillery Company was retained into the late 19th century, though as a private club. Founded in 1781 by Sir Ashton Lever, it met at Archers’ Hall, Inner Circle, Regent's Park, London. The Archers Company remained a part of the regiment operated from 1784 to the late 1790s, along with Matross, Grenadier and Light Infantry companies/divisions, with a Rifle or Yager Company introduced in around 1803.

The regiment has the rare distinction of having fought on the side of both Parliament and the Royalists during the English Civil War 1642 to 1649.

In 1658 the Company moved from the site it had occupied at the Old Artillery Ground in Spitalfieldsmarker to the current site south of Bunhill Fieldsmarker Burial Ground on City Road.

Until 1780 captains of the HAC trained the officers of the London Trained Bands.

The Company served in Broadgate during the Gordon Riots of 1780, and in gratitude for its role in restoring order to the City, the Corporation of London presented "two brass field-pieces", which led to the creation of an HAC Artillery Division. (These guns are on display in the entrance hall of Armoury House.)

In 1860, control of the Company moved from the Home Office to the War Officemarker and in 1889 a Royal Warrant gave the Secretary of State for War control of the Company’s military affairs.

South Africa 1900-02

Members of the Company first served as a formed unit overseas in the South African War (1899–1902). Almost two hundred members served; the majority in the City Imperial Volunteers (CIV) as infantry, mounted infantry and in a Field Battery that was officered, and for the most part manned, by members of the Company.

Territorial and Reserve Forces Act 1907

In 1907, the Company became part of the newly formed Territorial Force with the passing of the Territorial and Reserve Forces Act. The HAC Infantry was due to become part of the newly formed London Regiment as the "26th (County of London) Battalion", but instead managed to retain its own identity as the Honourable Artillery Company Infantry Battalion. The HAC also had its property and privileges protected by the Honourable Artillery Company Act 1908.

First World War

Three infantry battalions and seven artillery batteries were raised for service during the First World War. Elements of an HAC Infantry Battalion was used to help quell the Étaples Mutiny. The 2nd Bn HAC fought in the Italian Campaign under the command of the then Lt Col Richard O’Connor and in the Battle of Vittorio Venetomarker in 1918 led a force of Italians, Americans and British compelling the garrison of the strategic island of Papadopoli in the main channel to surrender. For this remarkable feat of arms the HAC was awarded two Distinguished Service Orders, five Military Crosses, three Distinguished Conduct Medals and 29 Military Medals.

Two officers serving with the HAC were awarded Victoria Crosses at Gavrellemarker in 1917. The Company suffered 1,600 killed.

Second World War

In 1939 the Infantry Battalion became an Officer Cadet Training Unit, leading to 3,800 commissions, while four regiments of artillery were provided.The 11th and 12th HAC Regiments of the Royal Horse Artillery served in North Africa and in Italy and in 1942 were re-equipped with M7 Priest self-propelled guns. The 13th HAC Regiment of Royal Horse Artillery (equipped with Sexton self propelled guns) fought in Normandy and the Netherlandsmarker and across the Rhine into Germany as part of 11th Armoured Division. The Company also provided a Heavy Anti-Aircraft Regiment and two Heavy Anti-Aircraft Batteries. Over seven hundred members of the Company lost their lives during the Second World War.

Post-War

In 1947 the Company was reorganised into:
  • an Infantry Battalion
  • a Royal Horse Artillery Regiment of self-propelled Artillery
  • a regiment of mobile heavy Anti-Aircraft Artillery (disbanded 1955)
  • a Locating Battery (disbanded 1961)


In 1973 the Regiment was again reorganised and given the role of providing 'Stay Behind' Observation Posts for the British Army of the Rhine as one of the three TA units making up the Corps Patrol Unit (with 21 and 23 SASmarker), the new structure was:
  • Three patrol squadrons (1, 2 & 3), a fourth patrol squadron was formed for a short period in the 1980s
  • HQ Squadron, including Training Wing
  • The Gun Troop (a battery of 6 25 pounder guns and not part of the OP role)
  • Band
  • Corps of Drums


In 1992 the signals troops that had been integrated into the patrol squadrons were brought together to form the Signal Squadron.

Also in 1992, on Salisbury Plainmarker, the HAC was the last British Army unit to fire the twenty-five pounder in the field, as the Gun Troop retrained onto the 105mm Light Gun. The 25 pounder continued to be fired ceremonially until replaced by the Light Gun.

In 1996 the first formed unit of the Regiment to be mobilised for active service since the second world war was called up for service on Op Resolute with the NATOmarker IFOR in Bosniamarker. Since this time the Regiment has always had soldiers on operational service overseas.

The Regiment participated in the celebration of HM The Queen's Golden Jubilee on 4 June 2002 by firing a 62 gun salute at HM Tower of London, and by providing a Guard of Honour (including the Regimental Band and the Massed Corps of Drums of the 1st Bn Grenadier Guards and the HAC) at St Paul's Cathedral. In December of that year the Captain General visited and dined with the company to commemorate her Golden Jubilee as Captain General.

In 2005 the guns were withdrawn from Gun Troop and the Troop was renamed Liaison Troop (L Tp) with the role of providing liaison officer parties. The majority of L Tp deployed to Iraq over winter 2006/7. The ceremonial Light Guns were retained by the Regiment to fire salutes at the Tower of London.

In 2006 the HAC was the first major unit of the Territorial Army to convert to the Bowman communications system. When Bowman was withdrawn from the Territorial Army in 2008/9 it was one of the few units to retain the equipment.

In 2007 one of the patrol squadrons (3 Sqn) was redesignated as the Training Squadron and took on the role of Regiment's Training Wing.

Current role

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


The HAC is currently a unit of the Territorial Army based just north of the City of Londonmarker and has an important historical and ceremonial relationship with the City. It provides the British Army with its only dedicated Surveillance and Target Acquisition patrol regiment—operating small covert reconnaissance patrols gathering intelligence and target information. The regiment includes a dedicated long-range communications capability. In recent years its role has expanded to include liaison tasks. It is assigned to the Headquarters Allied Command Europe Rapid Reaction Corpsmarker.

The HAC has a ceremonial role in providing guards of honour at the Guildhallmarker in the City of London during state visits, and since 1924 (when the Royal Artillery ceased to be stationed at the Tower) has provided the saluting battery at the Tower of Londonmarker for state occasions.

In peacetime, the HAC is under the operational command of London Districtmarker, however it would form part of 1 Artillery Brigade on mobilisation as a Regiment. It is a rarity in that it is required to train at a regimental level unlike most TA units who are only required to train at up to sub-unit (company or squadron) level.

Although the HAC is operationally an Artillery regiment, it is not part of the Royal Regiment of Artillery; being a separate Regiment with its own uniform, insignia and colours. The HAC's regular Army counterparts are 4/73 (Sphinx) Special OP Battery from 5th Regiment Royal Artillery. This battery would, in the event of full mobilisation of the HAC, form the Regiment's fourth patrol squadron. The HAC's Permanent Staff Instructors are drawn from across the British Armed Forces.

Due to the demanding requirements of their role the HAC is privileged to be one of only a small number of TA units with responsibility for the carrying out the Phase 1 and 2 training of its own recruits 'in house' rather than sending them to Regional Training Centres and Army Training Regiments.

Recent operational service

The Regiment has had individuals or sub-units on active service at all times since 1996 in a wide variety of roles in Northern Ireland, Bosnia, Kosovo, Iraq and Afghanistan. Commitments included the deployment of patrols to Bosnia and Kosovo and independent sub-units to Operation Telic 4 and 5 in Iraq and L Troop to Operation Telic 9 in addition to individual and group reinforcements to other infantry and artillery units.

On Tuesday the fourth of December 2007, Trooper Jack Sadler was killed when his vehicle was hit by a blast north of Sangin, in Helmand province. Two other soldiers were injured in the attack.

In 2008 the Runner-Up for the Cobra Trophy for as Volunteer Reservist of the year was Trooper Adam Cocks of 2 Squadron HAC, who was severely injured in Afghanistan when his vehicle struck a mine. While recuperating at Headley Courtmarker rehabilitation centre he and a friend came up with the idea of a rugby match at Twickenhammarker to help to raise money for the charity Help for Heroes.

Grounds

Site

From 1538 to 1658 the HAC occupied and trained at the Old Artillery Ground in Spitalfieldsmarker on the site of the outer precinct of the dissolved Priory and Hospital of St Mary Spital. In 1658, following disputes over use of the Ground with the Gunners of the Tower, it moved to its current site south of the Bunhill Fieldsmarker Burial Ground continuing to the south as far as Chiswell St. This area is described in a map of the area of 1677 as the 'New Artillery Garden' and has variously been referred to as the Artillery Groundmarker and the Artillery Garden.This current site now falls in the London Borough of Islingtonmarker, and is just north of the City of Londonmarker, the main entrance being in City Roadmarker.

In the 1990s an underground garage was built beneath the Artillery Garden playing fields.

During the aftermath of the 7 July 2005 London bombings on the London transport system the Artillery Garden was used as a temporary mortuary.

The Grounds are also used for corporate events during the summer and winter periods, creating one of London's most prestigious party venues.

Armoury House

Armoury House stands at the north of these grounds, and is the home of the HAC. It was built to replace a smaller 17th century armoury, the central portion being completed in 1735 to designs by Thomas Stibbs financed in part by a gift of £500 from King George I. Subscriptions were also received from members of the Company and from the Court of Lieutenancy for the City of London. The building cost £1,690, which included the price of the furniture.

In 1802 a distinctive flag tower was added to the roof. The East and West Wings were built in 1828, replacing much smaller buildings on either side of Armoury House. A cottage, originally for the Sergeant Major, was built against the West Wing in 1850.

1862 saw the completion of a Victorian drill hall attached to the rear. The Albert Room, as it was called, featured an iron trussed roof and was named in honour of the then recently deceased Prince Albert.

In 1901 a third storey was added to each of the two wings.

In 2006/7 the Albert Room, Sergeant's Cottage and associated buildings next to the West Wing were redeveloped. The work included the excavation of a new basement underneath. This new facility (named The Prince Consort Rooms to continue the reference to Prince Albert) were opened by the Captain General on 18 May 2007 shortly after she had presented new colours to the Regiment.

Finsbury Barracks

Finsbury Barracks is the TA Regiment's Headquarters and is leased by London RFCA from the HAC itself. Completed in 1857, it was designed by the architect Joseph Jennings and built in Kentish Ragstone. An extension, faced in striped stone and granite, linking Finsbury Barracks to Armoury House was designed by Arnold & Boston and added in 1994. Finsbury Barracks was also refurbished in the same year and was re-opened by the Captain General in 1996.

The HAC Shooting Lodge / "Bisley Hut"

Built in 1928 on land leased from the National Rifle Association at Bisley and replacing the original hut on the site, The Bisley Pavilion as it was initially named is the 'shooting lodge' of the HAC. It was built as a memorial to members of the Company killed in the First World War and is a two storey building with an oak-panelled dining room on the first floor and sleeping accommodation on the second.

Virgin Active

Virgin Active (formerly Holmes Place) lease part of the grounds for a fitness club and gym, as part of the lease Active Unit members of the HAC are entitled to free membership of this club.

Pencelli Estate

In 1999 the Company acquired the Welsh Pencelli Estate near Breconmarker as an area that could be used by the Regiment for military and adventurous training. The historic estate lies in the heart of the Brecon Beaconsmarker National Park and comprises approximately 14,000 acres (57 km²) of hill land that is subject to common rights of grazing.

Soldier ranks

The non commissioned ranks of the HAC are as follows

  • Trooper
  • Lance Corporal
  • Lance Sergeant
  • Sergeant
  • Colour Sergeant
  • Warrant Officer Class 2
  • Warrant Officer Class 1 (there are no TA WO1 posts in the HAC, however HAC soldiers can achieve this rank on Extra Regimental Employment)


Dress

In 1830, King William IV ordered that the uniform of the HAC should be based on that of the Grenadier Guards, except that where the Grenadiers wear gold, the HAC were to wear silver. This tradition is continued today by the wearing of the silver coloured grenade in the forage cap similar to the brass one of the Grenadiers, and the buttons and lace on HAC dress uniforms being silver coloured instead of gold. The Corps of Drums wear the Household Division's blue red blue TRF.

Berets

The HAC wear the same khaki beret as the Footguards, but with the HAC's own cap badge ("short arms") in white metal on a black backing. Officers and Warrant Officers wear an embroidered cloth version of the same badge. The Corps of Drums and Regimental Band wear the HAC infantry grenade on a blue red blue backing which is superficially identical to that of the Grenadier Guards.

From July 2008 members of 4/73 (Sphinx) Special OP Battery, the HAC's regular 'sister' unit adopted the khaki beret to mark their close working relationship.

Image:HAC Officers Beret Badge.jpg |Officer's and Warrant Officer's beret badge (Other Ranks badge is shown at the top of the page)Image:HAC_grenade.jpg|Grenade worn by ranks below Sergeant in the forage cap, and by the Band and Corps of Drums in the beretImage:HACSNCOGrenade.JPG|Grenade worn by SNCOs of all sub units in forage cap, and Band and Drums in the beretImage:HAC_Officers_Forage_Cap_Badge.jpg |Officer's forage cap badge (Infantry)Image:HAC_Gunner_Badge.jpg|HAC Gunner Badge worn by Officers in No 1 Dress (Gunner) on Artillery ceremonial duties

Other headdress

On the forage cap, the HAC infantry grenade (white metal) is worn by junior ranks of all subunits of the regiment. Sergeants and Warrant Officers wear a different version of the grenade which has the letters HAC in brass on the ball of the grenade.

Officers wear an embroidered silver grenade on their forage caps in No 1 Dress (Infantry) and on the Service Dress forage cap but when in No 1 Dress (Gunner) they wear the HAC Artillery cap badge. The latter is similar to that of the Royal Artillery but with "HAC" and "Arma Pacis Fulcra" replacing "Ubique" and "Quo Fas et Gloria Ducunt".

In Full Dress (normally only worn by the Band and Corps of Drums) the Bearskin is worn without a plume.

Badges of rank

HAC officer's rank stars.
Combat, Service and Mess Dress
In No 2 dress Soldiers wear the larger Foot Guards badges of rank and qualification. Lance Corporals wear two chevrons and Lance Sergeants three. In Number 1 dress WO2 wear a large colour badge of the same pattern as the Grenadier Guards but in silver rather than gold.

Officers' crowns and stars are of the same pattern as those of the Grenadiers (Order of the Garter), woven for combat uniforms but in silver for Service and Barrack Dress.

Stable belts

Each Squadron wears a different stable belt:

  • HQ Sqn and Band - red and blue edged with narrow yellow stripes
  • 1 Sqn - red
  • 2 Sqn - green (Identical to that worn by The Rifles)
  • 3 Sqn - blue
  • Signal Squadron - black
  • L troop - blue with a narrow yellow stripe (Identical to that worn by the Royal Horse Artillery)
  • Corps of Drums - blue red blue (Identical to that worn by the Foot Guards)


Other distinctions

HAC medal ribbon
In 1906 King Edward VII gave the HAC the distinction of a special ribbon for the Volunteer Decoration and Volunteer Long Service Medal. The ribbon, based on the King's racing colours, is red and blue edged with narrow yellow stripes. This ribbon has been carried forward to subsequent Territorial long service medals awarded to HAC members.

Each year the Captain General awards a prize to the member of the Regiment who is deemed to have made an outstanding contribution to the Regiment. Holders of this prize, known as the King's or Queen's Prize wear a badge incorporating the Captain General's cypher and the year of award on Numbers 1, 2 and 10 (Mess) Dress.

B Battery HAC supported the 10th Hussars during the Second World War and in 1972 the Captain General approved the Battery wearing a 10th Hussar button as the top button on Numbers 1,2 and 10 dress. This privilege is carried on by 2 Sqn following the 1973 re-organisation.

Battle honours

  • South Africa 1900–02.
  • The Great War (3 Bns and 7 Btys): Ypres 1915 '17, Somme 1916 '18, Ancre Heights, Ancre 1916, Arras 1917 '18, Scarpe 1917 '18, Arleux, Bullecourt, Pilckem, Polygon Wood, Broodseinde, Poelcappelle, Passchendaele, Amiens, Albert 1918, Bapaume 1918, Drocourt-Quéant, Hindenburg Line, Épèhy, St. Quentin Canal, Cambrai 1918, Selle, Sambre, France and Flanders 1914-18, Piave, Vittorio Veneto, Italy 1917-18, Rafah, Egypt 1915-17, Gaza, El Mughar, Jerusalem, Jordan, Megiddo, Sharon, Damascus, Palestine 1917-18, Aden.
  • The Second World War: Bourguébus Ridge, Antwerp, Le Havre, Rhine, North-West Europe 1944-45, Knightsbridge, El Alamein, El Hamma, Sbiba, Thala, Tunis, North Africa 1941-43, Sicily 1943, Cassino II, Coriano, Senio, Italy 1944-45.


Note: The battle honours listed were awarded for services of both infantry and artillery units of the HAC. Those in bold are borne on the Colours.

Colours

The HAC is unique within the British Army in having two types of Colours. The HAC has its ceremonial Guns (which are considered Colours in Artillery regiments) but also carries a stand of traditional Colours of the Infantry. These Colours follow the pattern of line infantry regiments: the Queen's Colour being a version of the Union Flag, the Regimental Colour being blue with the HAC Coat of Arms in the centre.

The last 4 occasions that new Colours have been presented to the Regiment were in 1928 by Edward, Prince of Wales (later Edward VIII), and in 1955, 1980 and on 18 May 2007 by HM Queen Elizabeth II, the regiment's Captain General.

The 1928 Colours are now on display in the Medal Room at Armoury House.

Squadron Affiliations

Each of 1, 2 and 3 Squadrons is affiliated to several of the historic sub-units of the HAC and carries on their traditions, hence 2 Squadron wearing the 10th Hussar Button. For example:

  • 2 Squadron is affiliated to B Battery, No 3 Company, No 4 Company and the Yager Company.
  • 3 Squadron is affiliated to 2nd Regiment HAC, C Battery, G Locating Battery, Headquarters, Support and Light Companies.


"The Company"

Another distinction of the HAC is that, as well as the Territorial Army Regiment (the "Active Unit"), it exists as a separate charitable organisation - often colloquially referred to as "The Company" or "The House". The Company owns Armoury House and the Regiment's current grounds and in addition to supporting the Active Unit it provides the basis for a very active social calendar.

Membership of the Company is separate from membership of the TA Regiment, and there are two distinct classes of member. The first, Regimental Members, are those who are currently serving or who have previously served in the HAC TA Regiment or Special Constabulary. The second, Members, must have served at least two years in Regular or three years in Volunteer units of any of the British Armed Services. Some members are people who have reached senior rank (for example Major General The Duke of Westminster) and they provide some 17% of the overall membership of the Company.

Since 1633 the Company has been governed by a Court of Assistants, like many of the City Livery Companies. The first Annual General Court for which a record can be found was held in 1660. In the early part of the 17th Century the Court of Aldermen of the City of London appointed the chief officers and paid the professional soldiers who trained members of the Company. The Lord Mayor and Aldermen are honorary members of the Court of Assistants.

There are a number of organisations other than the TA Regiment that are part of the HAC.

City of London Police Special Constabulary

The HAC Detachment of Special Constabulary (volunteer police officers), established in 1919 and containing Officers who are City of London Police Special Constables, retains the Detachment's unique identity by wearing the HAC Regimental Titles in addition to their Divisional identification. They are considered an 'Active' unit of the HAC as is the Regiment and continue the HAC's tradition of keeping order within the City of London.

Pikemen and Musketeers



The Pikemen and Musketeers (formed 1925, given a Royal Warrant 1955) are made up of veteran members of the Active Unit. They are the personal bodyguard of the Lord Mayor of the City of London and form his Guard on ceremonial occasions.

Light Cavalry

The Light Cavalry Troop (formed 1979, granted Royal Warrant 2004) is open to both Regimental and Non-Regimental members of the Company. They escort the Lady Mayoress, and particularly provide her ‘Travelling Escort’ at the Lord Mayor's Show. This and other public activities around the City of Londonmarker gives to the public an additional view of the organisation, both Mounted and Dismounted elements of the Light Cavalry also supply guards at polo matches at Smith’s Lawn Windsor during the summer months.

Famous members of the HAC

Captain Generals of the HAC
DateAppointed Incumbent
1657 Major General Philip Skippon
1660 James II
1690 William III
1702 Prince George of Denmark and Norway, Duke of Cumberland
1715 George II
1760 ???
1766 George IV
1830 William IV
1837 Prince Augustus Frederick, Duke of Sussex
1843 Prince Albert, the Prince Consort
24th Jul 1863 Edward VII
7 May 1910 George V
1st Feb 1936 Edward VIII
10th Dec 1936 George VI
6th Feb 1952 Elizabeth II




Affiliations





See also



References

Much of this information can be confirmed in G. Goold Walker's The Honourable Artillery Company, 1537-1947 2nd edition (Aldershot: Gale and Polden, 1954)
  1. after the Royal Monmouthshire Royal Engineers
  2. TA units take precedence after regular units
  3. Justine Taylor, Archivist, Honourable Artillery Company, Armoury House, London, 2009
  4. List of units of the British Army Territorial Force 1908
  5. Patrick Delaforce served with the regiment through this campaign
  6. Text of The Queen's speech at presentation of colours 18th May 2007
  7. HAC Financial Statements and Report of the Court of Assistants for the year ended 31 October 2007
  8. Fraser (1982) p. 517


External links




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