The Principles of War Podcast

150 continuous years of Royal Australian Artillery – RAA

August the 1st, 2021 represents the 150th Anniversary of the founding of the first Permanent Artillery unit in Australia, when the NSW Colonial Secretary’s Office proclaimed the raising of a Permanent Military Force which included one battery of Artillery, the ‘New South Wales Artillery’.  Over the 150 years, Australian Artillery has participated in countless engagements in support of our troops, our Allies troops, as lone sections or batteries, as a part of combined arms engagements and joint operations.

As a part of the 150th Anniversary of Australian Artillery, we are looking to identify the 10 most important Artillery engagements that the ADF and it’s precursors have been involved with and produce a podcast series around those decisive engagements to educate about the contribution of Australian Artillery to our Nation’s proud history.  We also intend to educate about the role of Artillery and to commemorate the sacrifice of Australian’s gunners.

Decisive engagements will be decided upon based on the following criteria.

  • Lessons from the principles of the employment of Artillery – Cooperation, Concentration of Fire, Economy of Effort and Sustainment for the RAA.
  • Lessons from a range of conflicts, pre Federation, WW1, WW2, Korea, Vietnam, and Afghanistan.
  • Lessons from important engagements where Artillery played a decisive role.
  • Lessons to highlight the different artillery tasks – suppression, neutralisation, destruction, harassment, illumination, interdiction, CBF and coordination of fires.
  • Lessons from different components of Artillery – Anti Aircraft, Anti Tank, Counter Battery, Div Loc capabilities, field, garrison, and the heavies.

The history of Australian Artillery over the last 150 years features many great leaders, great displays of bravery and great changes in the employment and capability of Artillery.  Here is a short list to start everyone’s thinking about some of the actions that might make great podcasts to commemorate 150 years of Australian Artillery.

  1. South Africa / de Wet’s guns / A Bty / the private Batteries pre Federation and finishing with the SS Pfalz
  2. Bullecourt – a great example of security for the guns at Lagnicourt, and the lack of co-operation and planning and the impact it can have
  3. Hamel – surprise, coordination and the birth of modern combined arms
  4. Brallos Pass – artillery in the defence
  5. Divisional Fireplanning with 9th Div at El Alamein
  6. The guns of Ioribawia / Kokoda – the morale impact of receiving artillery support vs receiving artillery
  7. Nadzab air insertion – flexilibity along with domestic supply chain given that the 25 pounder short was made in Victoria
  8. Defence of FSB Coral
  9. Long Tan
  10. A good account if possible of Aus gunners spt to British in Helmand
  11. Air Defence – Crete
  12. Arty Int – the development of the CBSO and Arty Int fusion

There will also be a special series on Vimy Ridge, a classic artillery battle in recognition of the Royal Canadian Artillery’s sesquicentennial anniversary.

I want to finish with an expert from a contemporary near-peer engagement, eg Armenia or the Zelenopillya rocket attack to highlight the future for integration, ISTAR and long range fires

This was the initial long list of items.

  • 1871: Inaugural A Bty battery scene
  • 1900: A Bty in action during the Boer War (capture of de Wet’s guns)
  • 1914: Point Nepean fort gun engages ‘Pfalz’ as first shot of WW1
  • 1915: 9 Bty, 3 FA Bde gun in artillery duel with Ottoman gun ‘Beachy Bill’, Gallipoli
  • 1916: Lt Thurnhill and detachment of 6 Bty 2 FA Bde direct fire action at Pozieres
  • 1918: 13 FA Bde guns blunt German attack at Villers Bretonneux
  • 1941: 2/3 A-Tk Regt gunners hold off Rommel’s tanks at Tobruk
  • 1941: Cutler and FO party at Merdjayoun, Syria
  • 1941: Guns of 2/2 Fd Regt cover withdrawal of Allied forces, Brallos Pass, Greece
  • 1942: 2/15 Fd Regt guns defend Singapore in vain
  • 1942: Divisional fireplanning: Brig Ramsay’s 9th Aust Div Arty HQ, El Alamein
  • 1942: Anti aircraft defence of Northern Australia
  • 1942: The Guns of Ioribawia – stopping the Japanese on the Kokoda track
  • 1942: 2/4 Fd Regt guns conduct first Australian parachute insertion, Nadzab
  • 1964: 111 AD Bty deploy to Malaysia to defend airfield at Penang
  • 1965: 102 Fd Bty support 3 RAR, Sarawak, during Confrontation
  • 1966: 103 / 105 Fd Bty in spt of 6 RAR, Long Tan
  • 1968: 102 Fd Bty defend FSB Coral
  • 2003: 111 Bty RBS-70s aboard HMAS Kanimbla, Persian Gulf
  • 2009: Australian gunners fire L118 in spt of British troops, Helmand
  • 2010: Australian JFOs call in fire mission against Taliban insurgents, Uruzgan

Some of the episodes have already been covered in the Firepower:  Lessons from the Great War Seminar series in conjunction with the Royal Australian Artillery Historical Company.

Related posts

63 – Beginnings – the 150th Anniversary of Australian Artillery

James Eling

Firepower 20: The First Air Observation Posts

James Eling

81 – The 2nd Battle of El Alamein



John Macpherson November 2, 2020 at 3:35 am

There is a too wide a gap between 1942 and 1964.
Korea deserves mention. While there were no Australian guns deployed, several gunner officers were posted within or attached to the units of the Commonwealth Division; eg 16 Fd Regt RNZA, while others (five) were posted to 1903 Independent Air OP Flight (RAF).
The deployment of 105 Fd Bty to Malaya in 1957 is worthy of note as is the expansion of the ‘locating’ role
in SVN which should not be overlooked.

Ian Rufus November 27, 2020 at 5:35 am

One of the often overlooked pieces is the 5.5 inch medium gun. From 1942 at the Battle of El-Alamein till 1984 I understand they were in use, and some held by Australia. There are few available to view in NSW at least.
I am sure readers of this would be able to advise of this gun and its use in Australian service, or even Australians who used the guns.
I understand there is a movie about El-Alamein in preparation. It would be great to include some information about those guns at this time.

James Eling March 1, 2021 at 2:44 am

We will be discussing the 5.5 as we look at the 2nd Battle of El-Alamein. There is one out the front of the depot on Chapel St in Melbourne. A great looking bit of kit.

Graeme phillpotts December 27, 2020 at 11:42 pm

I have a pre fed nsw artillery tunic and early 20th century helmet if interested in pics gor your records

Scott January 3, 2021 at 8:22 pm

Engagement of Japanese sub of Newcastle by Coastal Artillery


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