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.
- 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.
There 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.
- South Africa / de Wet’s guns / A Bty / the private Batteries pre Federation and finishing with the SS Pfalz
- 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
- Hamel – surprise, coordination and the birth of modern combined arms
- Brallos Pass – artillery in the defence
- Divisional Fireplanning with 9th Div at El Alamein if I can find enough information
- The guns of Ioribawia / Kokoda – the morale impact of receiving artillery support vs receiving artillery
- Nadzab air insertion – flexilibity along with domestic supply chain given that the 25 pounder short was made in Victoria
- Is there a decent story to be told about Korea? I don’t think Aus guns were deployed, but significant rates were fired, so it may be worthwhile story
- Defence of FSB Coral
- Long Tan
- A good account if possible of Aus gunners spt to British in Helmand
- Air Defence – Crete
- Arty Int – the development of the CBSO and Arty Int fusion
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 episodes will roll up some of the important engagements across themes, technologies and capabilities, others will look at single engagements in depth.
Which engagements should we add to the list for consideration? Leave a comment below if there is an artillery battle you would like us to cover.