103 Medium Battery 1975
Laurie Skinner in Vietnam
3.7 inch Mark 3 Heavy Anti Aircraft Gun - Live Firing North Head Manly
No 53 of 1974 Gun Course - School of Artillery 1974
Anti Aircraft Radar No 3 Mark 7
25 Pounder New Guinea 1944




IGs, AIGs and SMIGs.    Do or have the RAA Instructors in Gunnery (IGs) ever worn the service dress forage cap with a red hatband and do RAA Assistant Instructors in Gunnery (AIGs) the forage cap with a white cap cover and/or red hat band similar to the RA?  If they do not, do they or did they ever wear some other type of distinctive dress?  Are AIGS called AIGs or Sergeant Major Instructor in Gunnery (SMIG) like the RA?


Up until the mid-1960's IGs (Instructor-in-Gunnery) and Ack IGs (Assistant Instructor-in-Gunnery) wore white cap covers whilst out in the field on (Australian) School of Artillery course-related exercises; however, they weren't worn by staff whilst in the School's barracks.

Instructional staff at the School (ie. commissioned officers, warrant officers and NCOs) also wore and continue to wear, a green and gold coloured arm band, incorporating a black silhouette of a field gun, on the right arm; this identifies the personnel as gunnery instructors.

The Commanding Officer of the School is also the School's Chief Instructor (CI); the senior officer of a School wing, a major, is the relevant wing's Senior Instructor (SI); and the other instructional officers are Instructors-in-Gunnery (IGs).

Up until 1980 the School's warrant officer class two (WO2) instructors were known as Ack IGs - Assistant Instructor-in-Gunnery. The School's senior technical warrant officer, a WO1, was the School's Master Gunner (MG) and the senior warrant officer in each wing (a WO1) was known as the Senior Ack IG. In early 1981 the title Ack IG was replaced with that of Sergeant-Major Instructor-in-Gunnery (SMIG) and for a short period the title of Senior Ack IG was replaced with Senior SMIG, however, that was quickly replaced with the title (Wing) Master Gunner.

The red hat band has never been worn by Australian Gunnery staff.



21 Gun Salute.   If our Governor-General is entitled to a 21 gun salute why do we only use 6 artillery pieces.

My question is, why use an even number of pieces for an uneven numbered salute.  What is the protocol used to get from the 18 shots to the 21 shots. Which pieces fire the extra 3 shots? I am 62 years old and my knowledge of the army is one of precision, when it comes to protocols.



The reason that six guns are used to fire the 21 Gun Salute is because that's the number of guns in an Artillery battery.

The first three guns each fire a total of four rounds and the other three guns each fire a total of three rounds, ie. a total of 21 rounds.

The guns fire the salute one round at a time from (looking at the guns from the rear) right to left (Alpha gun first, then Bravo gun, Charlie gun, Delta gun, Echo gun, Foxtrot gun, and then back to Alpha gun, and so-on). To use 21 guns would be impossible because the most guns an Artillery regiment has is 18; six guns to a battery, three batteries to a regiment. However, all salutes are fired from one battery (and in most cases there is not enough space at Saluting Stations to accommodate 21 guns.


Colour Patch.   Why is the Australian artillery flash red over blue?  

The reason that the Gunner colour patches are red and blue is because these are the Regiment's livery colours; however, not all of the Regiment's patches have the red over the blue. The red colour is 'senior' to, or takes precedence over, the colour blue (all Artillery unit signage has the Regimental badge in the centre, backed with the colours red over blue for the reason previously explained). If a Gunner colour patch doesn't have the two colours one-over-the-other the colour red takes the leading edge. The patch for 1st Regiment is red in the upper portion, from the top right-hand corner down across to the bottom left-hand corner, and blue in the lower portion (see the attachment); however, if worn on the right shoulder the colours are back-to-front. The leading edge always faces to the left, as seen on signage and documents, and when worn on clothing the leading edge always faces to the front (you'll notice on QANTAS aircraft and RAAF/RAN/Army aircraft, that the ANF on the left-side of the aircraft has the Jack facing to the front of the 'plane, however, on the right-side of the aircraft the Flag is 'around the wrong way' with the Jack still facing towards the front of the aircraft).

The 8th/12th Regiment colour patch the red stripe is superimposed over the blue background (ie. the colour red has precedence over the blue).

Colour patches based on Second World War unit patches (ie 2nd AIF) have grey boarders.



Queens Gunner.   Is there such a thing as a Queens gunner.


I don't know how this story got started, however, there's no truth in it. I and a number of my good mates, have served with British gunners and I have a good mate who is ex-RA (he was a warrant officer class one in the RA and then joined the RAA as a warrant officer class two), and none of us have ever heard of the term. It's something someone has made-up and it's gathered momentum.

Further on the topic from Phil Jobson, UK Artillery:  Contrary to Chris's earlier post, this position did exist.  As the last holder held the position in 1912 (presumably then called teh King's Gunner, but not confirmed, it is understandable that it has become somewhat clouded in history.   The holder of this post used to reside in the Round Tower at Windsor Castle with the responsibility of raising and lowering the flag there.   His rank insignia consisted of a crown over the Royal Cypher which was in turn over a gun in gold on his forearm.  The post was last filled by Gunner Samuel Parsons, who held the post for over fifty years,  until he was discharged in 1912.  The exact date on which the post was abolished is unclear.

Thanks Phil.



Saluting the Colours.   On what occasions do the Colours have to be saluted besides ceremonial ones.


“On what occasions do the Colours have to be saluted (besides ceremonial ones)” isn’t all that easy. But in simple terms it is as follows:

Colours are not saluted when they’re in a case, or when they’re displayed (eg. at a mess dining-in night). However, the Colour party presents arms just before the Colours are placed into the case or positioned, and just before being removed. Should a Colour party pass one on its way to, or from, the relevant location you would halt, face the party and salute.

Guns, the Artillery’s Colours, may be saluted at the appropriate times; eg. the unit guard is at times called-out to fall-in and then presents arms as the regiment, battery or troop drives past on their way out of the unit lines. Those present at the time would also halt and salute.


Origins of St Barbara.   Could you confirm the origins of St Barbara as the Patron Saint of Gunners and the day for 2011.


There are three versions of St Barbara; the most accepted version being the third as listed on the attachment. The official date for St Barbara's Day is 4th December.   View attachment



Master Gunner.   Fort Scratchley at Newcastle has a Master Gunner's Cottage.   What is a Gun Master?  Duties and rank?


The term master gunner is somewhat confusing; it depends in what context it’s being used.

In the Royal Artillery the Master Gunner St James’ Park is the senior Gunner Officer in all Regimental duties serving directly under the Captain-General (The Sovereign). Although the responsibilities associated with the appointment do not extend formally to the Royal Regiment of Australian Artillery, the views and advice of the Master Gunner are still respected within the Australian Gunner community; the appointment is held by a field marshal or general. However, during the period 1770 – 1782 the position was occupied by an unnamed non-commissioned officer.

Today the appointment is made by The Sovereign, on the recommendation of the serving and retired Colonels Commandant, and the incumbent is commonly referred to as the Master Gunner. Although the Master Gunner’s responsibilities do not formally extend to the other Regiments within the Commonwealth, the Regiments, including the Royal Regiment of Australian Artillery, accord the Office the due respect; this is highlighted by the position being accorded precedence on official occasions ahead of the Regiment’s Colonels Commandant.

Originally a master gunner was a civilian craftsman who made the cannon of his time, and his assistants were known as gunners. As the workings of these 14th and 15th centuries artillery pieces were beyond the understanding of the normal fighting soldier, these craftsmen and their assistants were also employed to serve the equipments in action. Hence the master gunner and the gunners found their places on the battlefields soon after introduction of artillery. They became the nucleus around which artillery trains for war were formed.

In January 1571 the establishment of the office of ‘Master Gunner of England’ saw the centralisation of these duties and responsibilities; he was the chief artilleryman for both war and peace. This appointment continued to exist until 1731. In 1678 a distinctly different post of ‘Master Gunner of Whitehall and St James’ Park’ was established. The responsibilities associated with this new appointment included the command of artillery detachments within the forts and redoubts on the eastern and southern coasts of Great Britain; as well as those at Whitehall and St James’ Park in London. His duties also involved the demolition of houses in London to prevent the spread of fire. As the stature of this appointment increased, the relevance of the ‘Master Gunner of England’ diminished until it ceased to exist in 1731.

The Whitehall artillery train was first raised in 1650 for the safety of Parliament, but was disbanded in 1660, although the guns remained there until 1723. During this period the responsibility for the disused equipments appears to have fallen to the ‘Master Gunner of England’. On the 1st December 1678 six cannons were placed in St James’ Park and in November 1679 a warrant was issued, on behalf of the King, backdating an allocation of monies to the 1st December 1678, for one Captain Silver to pay himself and the 11 gunners manning the cannons. This event establishes the first appointment of a Master Gunner of Whitehall. Depending on the warrant (the entry in State papers, or the entry in the Treasury books) the Master Gunner was sometimes referred to as of: ‘St James’ Park’, and on other occasions as ‘Whitehall’. As a consequence of the removal of the Whitehall cannons (sometime around 1723) the title of ‘Master Gunner of Whitehall and St James’ Park’ was amended to remove the reference to Whitehall. By 1742 the number of gunners working for the Master Gunner had been reduced to 8; this was properly due to the removal of the Whitehall cannons, and their duties included the firing of salutes for ceremonial occasions.

By the mid-18th century the Master Gunner had become very much involved in (Royal) Court duties. The office continued to be a paid position until 1914, with the death of the then Master Gunner, Field Marshal The Earl Roberts, who had received a payment of three shillings and sixpence a day (roughly 35 cents). The appointment is now commonly referred to as ‘The Master Gunner’, as it no longer has any specific association with St James’ Park, and is an honorary appointment.

Certain warrant officers class one appointments within the Regiment are classified as master gunner. It could be said that these postings are very loosely ‘linked’ with the role of the master gunner of the 14th and 15th centuries, when “artillery pieces were beyond the understanding of the normal fighting soldier”. At the School of Artillery the Regimental Sergeant-Major is the senior warrant officer position, however, it is the role of the School’s Master Gunner to advise both the Commanding Officer/Chief Instructor and other instructors (commissioned officers/warrant officers/NCOs) on technical gunnery matters. Added to this it's also the title of the RAA’s senior warrant officer class one: the Regimental Master Gunner (RMG).

The role of the master gunners at the Army’s two Proof and Experimental Establishments (P&EE) is to also give technical advice on matters relating to the testing and proofing of equipments and munitions.



RAA VC's.   Apart from Sir Roden Cutler have any other Australian 'Gunners' been awarded the Victoria Cross?


Sir Roden Cutler is, to date, the only Australian gunner to have been awarded the Victoria Cross.



RAA (M), RAA (P).   I am currently preparing some records for transfer to NAA (National Archives) and have come across the acronyms RAA(M) and RAA(P). I believe that RAA(M) is Royal Australian Artillery (Militia) but I haven't been able to find RAA(P),  other than a reference to someone having a posting at discharge being 7 Heavy Bty RAA(P). I would appreciate any assistance you could give me in this matter.


With regard to your question about Artillery and the letters P and M. Yes, you’re quite right, M is for ‘militia’; the P is for ‘permanent’.

Prior to 1936 the Royal Australian Artillery referred to the permanent (regular) gunners only; however, in 1936 the militia artillery units were granted the title Royal and, along with the permanent gunners, became known as the Royal Australian Artillery.  To differentiate between the two ‘bodies’ the permanent (regular) gunners were referred to as the RAA (P) and the militia gunners were the RAA (M).

The P and the M were dropped in September 1947 with the official forming of the Australian Regular Army and the militia then became known as the Citizens Military Forces (CMF) – now the Army Reserve (out of interest this information is covered in Chris Jobson’s two books; the Royal Regiment of Australian Artillery Customs and Traditions and his recently published Looking Forward, Looking Back  - Customs and Traditions of the Australian Army).



DIRECTION OF GUNS.   My children who live in the eastern states have asked me a question that I have been unable to answer for I do not know the answer and therefore I ask of you. There are a couple of military barracks in the east that have guns placed at the entry gates that are turned inward and my kids are wondering as to why this would be when they would normally be seen facing outward and at an angle. Can this be explained or perhaps be advised where else to turn.


I'm not aware of any barracks that have "inward facing guns" and I'd very much like to know which barracks have these guns facing the 'wrong way'.

You and your children are quite correct; the guns should be facing-out, thereby "defending the barracks". The only place that I'm aware of that has guns facing-in is the parade ground at RMC, Duntroon. When I was posted to the College, in 1985-86, I had the guns turned around, so they faced out; however, when I was re-posted the guns were turned around again, to face in.

The reasoning they came-up with was so spectators could see them face-on.

Despite many complaints they remain-so to this day.



OUR COLOURS.   Our Colours namely "The Guns" are emblazoned with the Royal Cypher:

It has been said that the cypher does not represent the colours but is a manufacturers mark attesting to quality control.

I have a problem accepting such statement. It would seem that if a manufacturers mark was used why the Royal cypher and not a number system such as on ammunition and nomclature plates affixed to the ordinance.

Way back in the fifties it was taught that the Guns were the colours of the "Regiment" and each gun was emblazoned accordingly. Now it is stated that this cypher is a manufactures mark???

Also if so, why do current Australian made guns have the Australian cypher ie Australian coat of Arms. Would have been easy to have something else.

Also wartime guns made in Australia were emblazoned with the Royal Cypher. Perhaps more definitive research is required before it can be categorically stated that the cypher is not the "Colours"



The use of the Cypher as a proofing stamp on British pieces goes back many hundreds of years and has nothing to do with the individual equipment as such. Yes, numbers were used to identify a particular piece, but not to indicate that it had been proofed.

All British made pieces have the Royal Cypher as a proofing stamp, but no equipments used within the Royal Artillery, that were manufactured overseas (e.g. the M110 - 8 inch SP howitzer and the M107 175mm SP gun) had the Cypher, yet these were very much a part of the Regiment's Colours. The exception to this was the L5 Pack Howitzer; these were bought from the Italians, however, Britain wasn't convinced about the initial testing procedures and, as a result, had the guns re-proofed when they arrived in the UK (hence the Cypher). The L5's that we had in the Royal Australian Artillery were purchased from Britain.

The guns that were manufactured here in Australia, during the Second World War, had the Cypher as a proofing stamp, but remember we were very British orientated in those days. The 40 mm Bofars anti-aircraft guns also had the Royal Cypher on the barrels but, whilst these were a Swedish designed equipment, those used by both Britain and Australia were manufactured in the UK.

Neither the M2A2's or the current (155 mm) M198's have Cyphers on them, because they're US made pieces, yet when the M2A2s were in service they were our Colours and the M198s are the current Colours within 8th/12th Medium Regiment.

The current (Hamel) Light Gun is Australian made and they were proofed, but there is no physical indication of same. The reason behind placing the Australian Coat-of-Arms on the guns had nothing to do with them being the Colours (or being proofed); it was simply decided to do so to indicate that they were manufactured here in Australia and not the UK.



WALKING OUT DRESS.   I've seen many photos of OR's in walking out dress and especially from the WW1 period carrying swagger sticks/riding crops. Yet today in ASOD only Officers and SNCOs are entitled to carry them when did this become the case?

STABLE BELTS.   Also was the RAA stable belt identical to the RA, and is it within the the head of corps power to reintroduce this?


Firstly with regard to the carrying of canes. The only ranks permitted to carry canes (‘swagger sticks’) are commissioned officers, warrant officers and senior NCOs; however, I know of a number of junior NCOs who carried canes. A number of these were instructors at the recruit training centres (ie. 1RTB and 2 RTB) – I was one of them, but officially they weren’t authorized to do so. I’ve never seen any photos of private ranks carrying canes and the ones you’ve seen could perhaps be of senior NCOs wearing their ranks on the right arm only (I’d be interested in seeing some of them, if that’s possible?).

Canes were introduced as an item of commissioned rank equipment in the time of King Charles I (early 17th century) but were used for a much more serious purpose than they are today. At this time all junior officers were empowered to inflict punishment on the spot for minor offences. Misdemeanours such as sneezing in the ranks, spitting, or scratching one’s head earned immediate punishment to the tune of twelve strokes across the back.

Today, in the majority of cases, officers carry a leather-covered cane, whilst the canes of warrant officers and senior NCOs are either wood or bamboo.

Secondly, the stable belt. Stable Dress in the British Army was worn by both the cavalry and the Royal Artillery for stable duties. It was a simplified working dress with a cap and a loose fitting jacket and trousers (usually made out of a coarse material such as canvas). The Stable Belt was introduced as a practical item to keep up the trousers, and the buckles were worn over the left hip so as not to scratch and annoy the horse whilst being groomed.

In time the belt was adopted by other corps’ and developed into coloured stripes with regimental and corps patterns. It is thought that perhaps the coloured girdles worn before The Great War may have been the inspiration for the design. The belts became very popular in the British Army during the 1950s, as a colourful item of dress on what was then a very drab uniform.

The belt was adopted by the Australian Army in the late 1970s and, contrary to popular belief, they weren’t very popular, for a number of reasons. However, the RAA belt was the same design as that of the RA.

The belts went out of service in the Australian Army at the end of 1995 and no, the head of corps/regiment are not in the position to re-introduce them. It would be up to the Chief of Army on a recommendation from the Dress Committee and this is not going to happen.



ARTILLERY GUN CARRIAGE USE AT FUNERALS.   Where, Why and How did funerals using a gun carriage come about and do they still use a actual gun as such. Does Artillery provide the gun and members?


Artillery gun carriages are synonymous with military funerals. However, despite popular belief and Hollywood-made history, this has not always been the case. It was not until the mid-1800s that Queen's Regulations authorized the use of a gun carriage and team, when available, to carry a coffin to a burial ground, providing said ground was more than a mile (1.6 kilometres) away. Today the carriage and procession combine for the departure of the coffin from the church or chapel, and again on its arrival at either the cemetery or crematorium (in between the two locations the coffin/casket is transported by a hearse).

The carriages today, in the RAA, are 25pdrs with a platform attached above the gun to carry the coffin and, yes, they should be manned by gunners (each Military District has a carriage for funerals).



COVERING MEDALS.   At funerals and memorial services it is customary to  place the right hand over ones medals or left breast pocket.   When, where and why did this custom come into effect.

FOLLOW ON:   With respect I offer an alternate comment regarding the hand salute. It is my understanding that the hat/hand/ over medals originated with the AIF at ANZAC Day marches. By covering their medals initially by removing their hats and of recent times by placing the right hand over their medals as hats are not worn to the same extent it shows that no matter what award is worn even the VC it does not compare to the those fallen who had made the supreme sacrifice.



The accepted civilian-attire equivalent to the military salute is, depending on the occasion, the doffing of one's headdress, the complete removal of the headdress, the right hand up across the heart, or the bowing of one's head.

There really isn't an origin as such to the hand over the heart 'salute'.   The hand is placed over the heart (the salute isn't over the medals, it's just that medals are worn over the heart) because the heart is considered to be the life and soul of the body (the same as some people swear or promise with their hand over their heart).

FOLLOW ON REPLY:   If one is wearing a hat the hat is removed, as a salute, and placed over the heart. If you're not wearing headdress then the hand is placed over the heart in lieu (as you would do if you were wearing a hat).

The placing of headdress over the heart was in place long before The Great War; however, as time has moved-on, and less people wear hats, the hand (only) goes over the heart (the heart representing the life & sole of the person). The wearing of medals has nothing what-so-ever to do with the salute; if this were so, next-of-kin, who wear their relative's medals on the right, would salute with the left hand.

It is also said that medals are worn by the recipient on the left so that they are positioned over the heart.

If one is wearing a hat the hat is removed, as a salute, and placed over the heart. If you're not wearing headdress then the hand is placed over the heart in lieu (as you would do if you were wearing a hat).

The placing of headdress over the heart was in place long before The Great War (it can be traced back to the Roman Empire, were the salute was a clenched fist (of the right arm) over the heart); however, as time has moved-on, and less people wear hats, the hand (only) goes over the heart (the heart representing the life & sole of the person). The wearing of medals has nothing what-so-ever to do with the salute; if this were so, next-of-kin, who wear their relative's medals on the right, would salute with the left hand.

It is also said that medals are worn by the recipient on the left so that they are positioned over the heart.

FOLLOW ON REPLY (from Mr Jim Sprice):  
In London on Armistice Day 1920, during the ceremony to unveil and dedicate the Cenotaph in Whitehall, a funeral procession accompanying the remains of The Unknown Soldier, which had arrived from France the previous day, was to halt at the Cenotaph during the ceremony before proceeding to Westminster Abbey for internment.

The official party included the Empires senior soldiers, sailors and politicians and as many Victoria Cross recipients as could be assembled. The ceremony concluded with a march past.

The R.S.M of the Guards Regiment conducting the ceremony, faced with a gathering of highly decorated and high ranking military men (including V.C recipients), all wearing rows of medals, decreed that all would salute the Cenotaph as they marched past by placing their hand over their medals, signifying that "NO MATTER WHAT HONOURS WE MAY HAVE BEEN AWARDED THEY ARE NOTHING COMPARED WITH THE HONOUR DUE TO THOSE WHO PAID THE SUPREME SACRIFICE".

The RSL maintains that tradition to honour the dead by placing the right hand over medals (not our heart, our medals) during a march-past at a ceremonial occasion, or at a wreath laying ceremony.



DIFFERENCE BETWEEN RA AND RAA HAT BADGE.   How can you tell the difference between the Australian cap badge compared to the Royal Artillery badge, as the wording is the same.

  The scrolls on the RAA badge tend to be more curved than those on the RA badge; particularly the scroll below the Crown bearing the motto/Battle Honour UBIQUE. The RA also has two different sized badges; a cap badge and the smaller beret badge.

The Australian badges have a 'ring' at the back of each corner point, for securing the badge to the headdress, whilst the British badges tend to have a vertical bar coming-off the rear of the Crown for sliding down into the headdress.


FORMAL DINNER.   What is the history of and the procedure for a formal dinner.


The origin of the mess dinner goes back several hundred years and over this time many of the dinner customs have been modified according to individual regiments' own traditions and traits.

The origin of the word mess (itself derived from the Latin missus) goes back to France, where it was used to describe a serving of food, in a dish, for four people. In time it was used to describe a group of people who continually sat eating together at a table. Now it is the name used to describe the places where officers, and warrant officers and senior NCOs, eat and live.

At a formal dinner in the mess, when the meal has been served, the first person to eat is the Dining President; this custom dates back to the days of Queen Victoria when, at dinners given by Her Majesty, no one at the table would start to eat until she, the Hostess, did so. In those days, it was also the custom that everyone would cease eating when Her Majesty had
finished her meal; this presented some problems to those who were served later rather than earlier. The story told is that at one such dinner a certain distinguished gentleman, who had been on the receiving end of this etiquette once too often, removed himself from his seat, approached the Queen at the Top Table and, in no uncertain terms informed Her Majesty that
he had not yet finished his meal, was hungry, and intended to return to his seat and finish same. That part of the custom was from then on discontinued.

The custom of drinking the Sovereign's health (which, at dinners, is toasted after the meal is completed) originated during the exile of Charles II in France. His Royal Bodyguard toasted him with the words "Here's a health unto His Majesty, confusion to his enemies and a safe return to reign over the
Kingdom of his forefathers". Later, during the reign of the Hanoverian Georges, and with the threat of a Stuart restoration, the Duke of Cumberland, who was then Commander-In-Chief, ordered that the toast be always honoured. The Royal Australian Navy, carrying on the traditions of the Royal Navy, toast the Sovereign seated; this custom dates back to the days when there was little head room in the men-o'-war and standing up for the toast was both difficult and impractical.

There are many variations of passing the port, varying from corps to corps, and from unit to unit. There is though, no 'right' or laid-down way of passing the port, except it is always passed from right to left.


CORPS BELT COLOURS.   Some of the other corps try and wind us up by saying that the yellow on our corps belt stands for cowardice, relating it back to some old myth that an Artillery unit abandoned their guns in battle and they were saved by the cooks and drivers. Is there any truth at all to this story?


The Artillery colours are red, blue and gold. Gold has always been a part of the colours and the "Records of the British Army" lists the Regiment's colours as ".scarlet and blue, with gold cord".

The original colours of the Regiment, when it was a part of the Board of Ordnance, were red and black (a red coat with black velvet trimming). In 1689 the Duke of Schomberg was appointed the Master-General of Ordnance by the Dutch-born King William III and he changed the gunners' coats to blue with orange trimmings (the colours of Holland). In time the King was forced to change the colours to sooth patriotic discontent within England; the red coat was re-introduced, but with blue facings and linings, and the breeches and waistcoat were blue too.

Later the Army's coat's button-holes were strengthened with braid; the Infantry regiments used white braid and the gunners gold. In time the Infantry adopted the white for their chevrons and the gunners gold for their chevrons (it is also interesting to note that red and blue are considered to be the "Royal colours"). In the mid-1700s the gunners changed the colour of their coats from red to blue because it was found that the colour blue was more practical in hiding the stains caused by the flash and smoke of guns when they fired.

The supposed story of a colour in relation to cowardice (with gunners deserting their guns) is aliened to the white lanyard; it is often said, by ignorant bastards who know no better (in most cases the Infantry), that the gunners wear a white lanyard due to the (RA) gunners deserting their guns during the Battle of Colenso, in South Africa, in 1899. Firstly, and most importantly, the gunners did not desert their guns during the Battle; a large majority were either killed or seriously wounded whilst serving the guns (in one case a whole detachment was killed) and the guns were over-run whilst being served. The guns were later re-taken and the force that did so consisted of a good number of gunners. Secondly, the lanyard was initially worn by both the cavalry and the gunners, and its purpose was to hold a jack-knife, and it was white long before the South African War. The knife had a number of uses; the blade was for cutting-loose horses which became entangled in the head and heel ropes of the picket lines, and the spike was used as a hoof pick, for the removal of stones from horses' hooves. The gunners also attached a fuze key to the lanyard.

The lanyard was blanched white to match both the white bandolier and the white waist belt worn on the gunners' blue uniform. The lanyard was worn on the left shoulder with the knife (and fuze key) tucked into the left pocket; however, in 1920, because it was finally agreed that it was difficult to remove the knife from under the bandolier, the lanyard was moved to the right shoulder and in 1933 the practice of carrying the knife on the lanyard ceased (however, many Australian gunners still carry a clasp knife on a (brownish) lanyard in the field).

It is often stated that the red and gold (yellow) represent the flash of the gun firing and the blue the subsequent smoke; a nice 'story' but there's no substance to this fable.


HOW MANY TRADITIONS.   Exactly how many traditions does Australia have.


When you ask how many traditions does Australia have do you mean the Australian Army, or the Country as a whole?

The Army has a great range of traditions; those belonging to the Army as a whole, then each corps has its own traditions and within the corps all the individual units (eg. regiments, battalions, squadrons, batteries, etc) have theirs.

The Royal Australian Navy has its own traditions as does the Royal Australian Air Force. Then there are the eight individual Australian police jurisdictions; they too have a number of traditions.  The various Australian parliaments have their traditions too. You could then look at our schools and universities; they also have customs & traditions, especially the older ones.


WEARING OF GUN CHEVRONS.   What custom or special rank, if any, is denoted by the wearing o a "Gun" above chevrons in the same manner as worn by Staff Sergeants etc.


In the Royal Australian Artillery gun detachment commanders (gun sergeants) used to wear a badge of a 9 pounder RML gun (as incorporated within the Regimental badge) above the chevrons. The practice ceased within the Regiment in 1964.


RIGHT OF LINE.   As Artillery is "The Royal Regiment" when does it take the right of line.  

In the British Army the "Right of the Line" is a privilege bestowed solely upon King's Troop, Royal Horse Artillery, and is only applied when the Unit is on parade with its guns (the honour means that the Troop is positioned on the right of the parade ground (the left as seen by the observer), taking
seniority over all other corps and regiments on the Order of Battle.

In the Australian Army the Royal Regiment of Australian Artillery takes precedence after the Corps of Staff Cadets and units of the Royal Australian Armoured Corps, The term "Right of the Line" does not apply to the Royal Regiment of Australian Artillery.

Within the Regiment units take precedence according to numerical order by regiments and then by independent batteries; however, A Field Battery, if on the Order of Battle as an independent unit, has precedence within the Regiment.



SPECIAL CUSTOMS AND TRADITIONS.   Do Gunners have any special customs or Traditions relating to Messes such as when passing the "Port" it is not to touch the table.


The only mess-related traditions that the Gunners have are the Grace, the Loyal Toast and the toast to the Regiment.

The Gunners have a laid down Regimental Grace; "For what we are about to receive. thank God"

All the other corps' and regiments toast "The Queen", however, the Gunners toast "The Queen, our Captain-General" (the dining president taps the gavel and says "Mr Vice, the Queen, our Captain-General", Mr vice stands and calls the dinner to order by saying "Gentlemen (Ladies and gentlemen)". all stand
and then Mr vice will say "The Queen"; all respond by saying "The Queen" - no other words are added, such as "God bless Her").

The toast to the Regiment starts with the dining president taping the gavel and saying "Mr Vice, the Regiment", Mr vice stands and again calls the dinner to order by saying "Gentlemen (Ladies and gentlemen)". all stand and then Mr vice will say "The Royal Regiment", all respond by saying "The Royal

There is NO Gunner tradition with regard to the passing of the port, As with all messes the port is passed to the left, starting with the dinning president and Mr vice (who, initially, only half-fill their glasses - they top-up their glasses on the return of the decanters; the stoppers are not replaced until such time as the dinning president decides that no more port is to be circulated and poured. There is NO tradition within Gunner messes with regard to the decanter touching the table - it is accepted and allowed that the decanters may touch the table during their rounds.



WEARING OF ARTILLERY TIES.   What is behind the tradition, if any, of Gunners wearing a "Gunner" tie on Fridays when in mufti.


It used to be a custom that gunners, when wearing 'civvies' on a Friday, would wear a Gunner tie. There's no record of the tradition as such, it was just that ex-serving gunners (mainly those in a Gunner association) would get together for drinks on a Friday evening.

Times have changed in many ways and less people wear ties nowadays when socialising. However, it was nice custom.



ARTILLERY TIES.  I have seen two different pattern ties worn.    One with a lighting bolt and the other with Corps Gun Badge.    Is one more recognised/Official than the other.


There are, in fact, a number of "official" Gunner ties. The most common is the blue tie with the red lightning bolts; another is the A Field Battery Centenary Tie, it's a blue tie with the red lightning bolts and between each bolt is the Gunner grenade above the Roman numeral C (for 100).

A number of unit ties are also blue with the red lightning bolts and between each bolt is the Gunner badge with the unit's number in Roman numerals (eg. 4th Field Regiment has the badge with the Roman numeral IV).

There are also some ties, in blue, with just the Gunner badge (in gold) and there is a maroon tie out with the gold badge; however, in reality it's the British RHA airborne tie (the maroon representing the maroon beret).



REVERSE ARMS & REST ON ARMS REVERSE.   Please explain the significance and symbolism of the following Funeral Drill movements:

a. Reversed Arms, and

b. Rest on Arms Reversed


The origin of the tradition of resting on reversed arms is lost in time. However, it was used by a Commonwealth soldier at the execution of King Charles I in 1649 (the soldier was duly punished for his symbolic gesture towards the King’s death), and it is recorded that at the funeral for Marlborough, in 1722, the troops carried out a formal reverse arms drill which was especially invented for the service, as a unique sign of respect to the great soldier.



ARMS EXTENDED FIST CLENCHED.   During WW2 I believe it was the custom that 2 soldiers were stationed either side of field guns holding their right arms up with fists clenched as the gun was fired.  Was this a residue from earlier times when gun carriages were horse drawn and the horses needed to be restrained from bolting because of the loud bang when the gun fired?


Yes, a gunner within the RHA (Royal Horse Artillery) used to stand behind the gun and hold the horses by the reigns, if there wasn't time to re-position them, to prevent them from bolting when the gun fired; this practice was, at times, carried-out during The Great War. At times, as a joke, the 'drill' was carried-out even if the horses weren't there (a gunner standing with his arms out-stretched holding imaginary horses), and there are stories of this procedure being carried-out when RHA SPs (self-propelled guns) were being fired in the 60s & 70s.



THE LANYARD.   I have heard many theories about the origin of the lanyard, the RSL Handbook 2005  states that the Lanyard was originally used by mounted regiments while foraging to attach hay to the saddle. I imagine there may be some truth to this story, however as the webmaster of a Cadet Website (www.122acu-mackay.org) I would like to get it right. Could you please clarify and if possible provide sources / references.

  If the RSL Handbook 2005 states that the lanyard was originally used by mounted regiments (while foraging to attach hay to the saddle) it is wrong; Please find attached a paper on the origins of both the lanyard and the aiguillette.   To view Click Here.


SPURS.   Although Army Standing Orders for Dress states that only Armoured and Transport officers may wear box spurs with mess dress, some Gunner officers still wear spurs. They cite that Gunners used to wear spurs (since the guns were drawn by horses) but the practice just fell out of favour.
Is there (or was there) a legitimate precedent for Gunners to wear spurs? If so, when did it die out?


Yes, I know some gunner officers wear spurs with their Mess Dress, however, they're not entitled to do so. In the Royal Artillery spurs are worn by officers (and by all ranks of the King's Troop when in ceremonial dress), but this item of dress is not authorized to be worn by Australian gunner officers.

Spurs were worn by Australian gunners, as an every-day accruement, prior to The Great War (WWI), but they then disappeared - I must confess I don't know exactly when or why  ('though I would suspect it was when our guns ceased to be drawn by horses).


COLLAR BADGES.   Why does the Royal Regiment Australian Artillery bursting bomb (Officers) collar badge have two less "flames" than the Royal Australian Engineers and do the number of flames have any significance.


No, there is no significance with regard to the number of flames on either badge; however, the different numbers (seven for the Gunners and nine for the Sappers) is purely to denote the difference between the two corps'.


COLLAR BADGES. What is the history behind the Royal Regiment Australian Artillery being different from other corps by having two different collar badges. Namely "bursting bomb" worn by Officers and "Scroll" worn by other ranks.


Artillery isn't the only corps that has two different collar badges; the Engineers also have two designs.

In the British Army most corps' and regiments have two types of collar badges, one for the officers and warrant officers class 1, and one for warrant officers class 2 and below (it's an old British "Class" thing); however, only two Australian corps' carried the custom across (RAA & RAE).



PURCHASE OF A PENNANT OR FLAG.   The son of a deceased member has asked if there is a pennant or flag available which he could fly in memory of his father. He had in mind one of the 4 Field Regiment - his fathers unit.


I'm sorry to say that there's really no satisfying answer to this question.   The Regiments don't have unit flags as such; the flag flown is the Regimental Flag, that is the one with a red and blue field defaced by the Regimental badge (the number of the regiment doesn't appear on the flag).   The only devices with a unit number (eg. 4) are the RAA regimental standards
and theses are not for public use.

The only answer, perhaps, is to approach the Regiment and ask if the relative could purchase an RAA regimental flag.


MASTER GUNNER.   does the Master Gunner St James park have any link to the RAA? does the colonel commandant RAA consult him?


The Master Gunner St James’s Park’s responsibilities do not extend beyond the Royal Artillery; but other Artillery Regiments of the Commonwealth accord the Office its due respect. However, at times, in special circumstances, the advice and assistance of the Master Gunner may be sought by the (Australian) Regiment’s Representative Colonel Commandant (eg. the Colonel Commandant may wish to sound-out the Master Gunner before putting forward a special request to the Regiment’s Captain-General – ie. The Queen).   



HOW DOES A MINUTE GUN SALUTE DIFFER FROM A CONVENTIONAL SALUTE.   In the reply to Salutes for decommission warships mention is made of "Minute Gun" salutes eg 15 minute guns.   How does a minute gun salute differ from a conventional salute and why are not all salutes "conventional" gun salutes


The origin of the gun salute is that by firing the guns and making of noise one honoured a guest and, at the same time, because they were then empty (ie. unloaded and could not be easily and quickly reloaded) it was a friendly and trusting gesture to the guest; a sign that he was trusted and considered an ally. Hence the term GUN salute rather than ROUND salute.

The timing between the firing of guns during a salute is based on the actual number of equipments (guns) taking part in the salute; six pieces fire with an interval of five seconds, whilst four equipments has an interval of 10 seconds (a 'larger' time gap allowing for re-loading).

At Defence conducted funerals certain personages and military ranks are entitled to the firing of a Minute Gun, which fires a relevant laid-down number of rounds (each at a minute's interval) during the procession away from the church at the completion of the funeral service. The firing of the gun adds solemnity to the occasion and is the military equivalent of a church bell tolling at a civilian funeral service.


WHAT IS A GUIDON.   And what do they look like  

Standards and Guidons are the Armoured Corps' equivalent of Colours. Standards were carried only by heavy horse units and today they are carried by heavy armour units (in Australia the only unit to carry a Standard is the 1st Armoured Regiment). Guidons are, in the main, carried by light armoured organizations. However, for a unit to receive a Standard, it must first have had a Guidon for 25 years and have been on operational service.

The Guidon was considered an easy item to carry, being small in size, and it easily flew free due to its swallow-tail shaped fly. The heavy units removed the tail, making the Standard more square-shaped and thereby easily distinguishing them from the light regiments. Within the Armoured Corps, units with Standards take the right of the line on parade over units with Guidons.

In 1913 approval was granted for the Light Horse regiments of the Australian army to possess and carry Guidons. However, it was not until 1926 that the Military Board published instructions (Instruction A 120) which laid down the design details, with the first presentations being made to units in 1927. The instructions were later amended to authorize armoured units that had converted from Light Horse regiments also to carry a Guidon. Both Standards and Guidons, like Colours, carry Battle Honours.


ARTILLERY SALUTES.   What is the significance of Artillery doing a seven gun salute for the decommissioning of a Navy ship?


It's not Defence policy for artillery salutes to be fired for the de-commissioning of war ships (nor is there any tradition for this); however, for "sentimental" reasons the RAN decided to fire a salute for the recent de-commissioning of HMAS ADELAIDE (it was a request from the Navy, to the Army). The number seven was decided-on because it is the lowest recognized salute. The recognized personages for whom salutes are fired, and their numbers, are as follows:

* Royalty, foreign sovereigns (and their family members), foreign heads of state and the Governor-General: (21 guns);

* State Governors (19);

* Commonwealth and foreign heads of government (19);

* Funerals of admirals of the fleet, field marshals and marshals of the RAAF (19 minute guns);

* Funerals of a foreign high commissioner or ambassador in Australia (19 minute guns);

* Opening, proroguing or dissolving of Federal or State parliaments (19);

* Funerals of admirals, generals and air chief marshals (17 minute guns);

* Retiring Chief of the Defence Force (17);

* Funerals of Service chiefs (15 minute guns);

* Lieutenant-Governors - if administrating a government (15);

* Funerals of rear admirals, major generals and air vice marshals (13 minute guns);

* Funerals for charges d'affaires and British consuls-general (13 minute guns);

* Funerals for foreign consuls-general (11 minute guns);

* Funerals for foreign consuls (7 minute guns); and

* Salutes to foreign (non-British Commonwealth) war ships (a number agreed-on on a case-by-case basis).

PARADE GROUNDS A SACRED FEATURE.   Why is the parade square such a sacred feature?

The parade ground is considered to be a sacred feature because (in days of old) after a battle, when retreat was sounded and the unit had re-assembled to call the roll and count the dead, a hollow square was formed. The dead were placed within the square and no one used this area as a thoroughfare. Today the parade ground represents this square, and hence a unit's dead. It is deemed to be Hallowed Ground, soaked with the blood of our fallen, and the area is respected as such.


OLD ARTILLERY BADGE AND MOTTO.   I have found an old Artillery badge with an old motto in latin on it available for sale on ebay.   Can you tell me its origins and the meaning of the motto please.


In 1913 the Royal Australian Artillery adopted a badge based on that of the royal Artillery; the badge contained the 9 pounder RML (rifled muzzle-loader) gun and two scrolls, and was surmounted with the Crown; the motto on the upper scroll (above the gun) was Ubique (Everywhere), however, the lower scroll contained both the motto Consensu Stabiles (Firm and Steadfast) and the title Australia.   The badge remained in service until 1942.


WHITE LANYARD & RED/BLUE INSIGNIA.   Have been asked why we wear a white lanyard and the red/blue corps insignia, but transport corps has a red/blue lanyard. Please help.


The gunners and the cavalry were the first to wear lanyards (as you’re probably aware, it was originally a piece of cord, approximately a metre in length, used to secure a jack-knife which was issued to both corps; the knife had a number of uses: the blade was for cutting-loose horses which became entangled in the head and heel ropes of the picket lines, and the spike of the knife was used as a hoof pick for the removal of stones from horses’ hooves; for the gunners a fuze key was also attached to the lanyard).

Hanging loose, the lanyard soon became dirty and for the day-to-day barrack routine it looked out of place on an otherwise smart uniform. So, for peacetime purposes, the lanyard was plaited and blanched white, to match both the white bandolier and the white waist belt worn by the gunners of the day. The colour of the lanyard has nothing to do with the Regiment’s colours.

The Regiment’s colours are red and blue; the story has it that these two colours were adopted because they’re Royal colours. However, as well as Transport, the Ordnance Corps also has red and blue as their colours (its lanyard is scarlet). In the Australian Army, with the exception of the Gunners, the colours of the various corps and regimental lanyards are based on their relevant colours.


ARTILLERY BADGE SPINNING WHEEL.   Can you please tell me why the wheel on an Artillery Officers hat badge spins, I have heard a number of stories, but would like the definitive answer.


Within the British Army there is a distinction between the badges worn by officers and the other ranks (warrant officers class one wear the officers' badges); the distinctions vary from corps-to-corps and from regiment-to-regiment.

In the RA the officers wear a wire bullion badge on berets, whilst the OR's wear a metal badge. The officers' cap badge has the 'spinning' wheel, whilst the OR's wear the 'normal' badge (the class system is alive & well in the UK).

The RAA took-on the RA system with regard to cap badges.



USE OF THE ROYAL AUSTRALIAN ARTILLERY BADGE IN HEADSTONES.   I wonder if you could assist my family; my father recently passed away and we are in the process of arranging for his headstone at Macquarie Park cemetery (the old Northern Suburbs) in Sydney.

Like many of his colleagues, Dad was very proud of his artillery service and recalled this period of his life with honour, particularly the long-standing friendships which lasted right through his life.

Consequently, one of Dad's requests was to have the RAA badge included on his headstone.

We have approached the War Graves Commission, who can and have given permission for the "Rising Sun" badge, however they have directed us to the association for permission to use the RAA badge.

I'm hoping you could provide a letter giving permission for Dad's headstone to have the badge included.


The Royal Australian Artillery badge is not copyrighted.   Therefore it is believed that no approval is required for the next of kin and/or dependants of a deceased member of the Royal Australian Artillery Corps to display the Royal Australian Artillery badge on the gravestone.

It is not known from whom within the Department of Defence approval is officially sought unlike the Rising Sun badge whereby approval is obtained from the Commonwealth War Graves Commission.



ARTILLERY BADGE - MALE SOVEREIGN.   Can you give details of the Arty Badge (Male Sovereign) "Consensu Australia Stabiles" When & Why ? Look forward to hearing from you , & I Enjoy your book.


The Australian militia artillery units didn't become a part of the Royal Australian Artillery until 1936; prior to this there was a wide variety of Artillery badges and one of these was the badge you refer to. The badge was adopted in 1913 by the (Artillery) Siege Brigade and carried the mottos Ubique and Consenu Stabiles (Firm and Steadfast), along with the title Australia. The badge is surmounted with the 'King's Crown'.

The current style of Crown on Australian Army badges is commonly referred to as the 'Queen's Crown' and is based on the St Edward Crown, whilst the badges worn pre-1954 bore the 'King's Crown', said to be based on the Tudor Crown. All sovereigns select their own style of crown for their cypher and it is this crown that is 'used' throughout their reign. All British sovereigns, however, since Charles II have been crowned with the St Edward Crown (there's no guarantee that the badges will revert to the 'King's Crown' on the succession of Prince Charles to the throne).



ARTILLERY MOTTO.   Artillery history behind "Ubique Quo Fas Et Gloria Ducunt".


The Australian militia artillery units didn't become a part of the Royal Australian Artillery until 1936; prior to this there was a wide variety of Artillery badges and one of these was the badge you refer to. The badge was adopted in 1913 by the (Artillery) Siege Brigade and carried the mottos Ubique and Consenu Stabiles (Firm and Steadfast), along with the title Australia. The badge is surmounted with the 'King's Crown'.

The current style of Crown on Australian Army badges is commonly referred to as the 'Queen's Crown' and is based on the St Edward Crown, whilst the badges worn pre-1954 bore the 'King's Crown', said to be based on the Tudor Crown. All sovereigns select their own style of crown for their cypher and it is this crown that is 'used' throughout their reign. All British sovereigns, however, since Charles II have been crowned with the St Edward Crown (there's no guarantee that the badges will revert to the 'King's Crown' on the succession of Prince Charles to the throne).




A Field Battery in Vietnam - Gunner Tiffy
Sergeants from the No. 1 Queensland Volunteer Artillery
Artillery In Action At Heilly France - Circa 1918
Members of 102 (Coral) Battery in Vietnam
Gunner Claude Rubin Winduss (Second from Left) in World War 1


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