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The Royal Regiment of Australian Artillery, normally referred to as the Royal Australian Artillery (RAA), is a Regiment of the Australian Army descended from the original colonial artillery units prior to Australia’s federation. Australia’s first guns were landed from HMS Sirius and a small earthen redoubt built, near the present day Macquarie Place, to command the approaches to Sydney Cove. The deployment of these guns represents the origins of artillery in Australia. These and subsequent defences, as well as field guns, were operated by marines and the soldiers of infantry regiments stationed in Australia. The first Royal Artillery unit arrived in Australia in 1856 and began a succession of gunner units which ended with the withdrawal of the imperial forces in 1870 resulting in the raising of the Victorian Artillery Corps in Melbourne in 1870 and the New South Wales Artillery in Sydney in 1871. The First World War saw the raising of 60 field, 20 howitzer and two siege batteries along with the heavy and medium trench mortar batteries. Until 19 September 1962 the Australian Artillery was referred to as the ‘Royal Australian Artillery’, however on this date HM Queen Elizabeth II granted the RAA the title of ‘The Royal Regiment of Australian Artillery’. The Regiment today consists of Regular and Reserve units.

Regular Army

Unlike their British and Canadian relations, there are no regiments of horse artillery in the order of battle of the Royal Australian Artillery. The Australian Regular Army came into being in 1947, while prior to this artillery units were predominantly militia based. The permanent artillery consisted of one field battery, ‘A’ Field Battery, which now perpetuates the New South Wales Artillery raised on 1 August 1871, HQ P Anti-Aircraft Battery with 1st, 2nd and 3rd AA Cadres under command, the independent 4th and 5th AA Cadres, HQ 1st, 2nd and 3rd Heavy Brigades and the 1st to 13th Heavy Batteries.[1] Prior to the Second World War heavy artillery, later called coast artillery, units were established at strategic locations around the coastline, however these units were progressively phased out by 1962. During the Second World War, the RAA raised in excess of 70 regiments of field, medium, anti-tank, anti-aircraft and survey artillery, and in excess of 200 anti-aircraft and coast artillery batteries with their attendant anti-aircraft group or fire command headquarters in the fixed defences. Many saw action in the Middle East, Malaya and Southwest Pacific theatres, with two field regiments, one anti-tank regiment, one independent anti-tank battery, an anti-aircraft battery and two coast batteries being captured by the Japanese in Singapore, Ambon, Timor and New Britain while serving as part of the 8th Division.

The present School of Artillery (completed in 1998) is located in Puckapunyal in central Victoria and maintains modern training facilities. The School of Artillery is co-located with the Australian Army’s Headquarters Combined Arms Training Centre. 53rd Battery, Royal Australian Artillery supports courses run by the School of Artillery.

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