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An ancestor in The Royal Artillery you say?

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A good proportion of questions are about folk who served in The Royal Artillery because in WW1 it was 20% of the Army, and 25% in WW2.

Aside from the usual advice about the NA, specialist information about the RA that you might find useful includes:

The Royal Artillery also included the Royal Horse Artillery (RHA), Royal Garrison Artillery (RGA) and Royal Field Artillery (RFA).

Other abbreviations you might find in unit titles are:

HAA Heavy Anti Aircraft

LAA Light Anti Aircraft

SL Search Light

Fd Field


The RA museum is in South London at Woolwich. Firepower!. They have excellent archives, but you need to make an appointment to visit the reading rooms. The museum is well worth a visit if you have any interest in the military as it is full of big noisy stuff and rockets.

If you know which unit for ancestor served in (probably detailed as a Battery or Bty), you can find out where they were and which battles they fought in. Watch out though! A Battery usually has a number, but you can have the same number applied to different Btys with a suffix such as HAA or LAA.

The Royal Artiller Association have an excellent guide to tracing your Gunner ancestors, here. Their homepage is worth a look as well, for other interesting Gunner stuff.

An excellent set of books were (and are still being) published covering the history of the Gunners from WW1 through to the mid 50s. They also cover Indian, Australian, NZ and Canadian Army units along with some others. They are all published under the auspices of the Royal Artillery Institution in the History of the Royal Regiment of Artillery series.

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