This comprises of the
following 4 sections:-
Volunteer Artillery History (Short Version)
Volunteer Artillery History (Long Version)
HQ (TVA) Battery RA (V) Battery History
Volunteer Artillery Association was first founded on Armistice
Day 1959, by serving members of 439 Regt and ex members of 404
(Coast Artillery) Regt and 64 (HAA) Regt to commemorate the
100th Anniversary of the formation of the first volunteer
artillery unit in the British Army. When in 1956 the Coast
Artillery was disbanded the Tynemouth gunners then became ‘Q’
(Tynemouth) Battery, 439 (Tyne) LAA Regt RA TA and in 1967 came
the last change when the Territorial Army was re-organised and
the local units were taken into the fold of :-
Regiment Royal Artillery (Volunteers).
In 1992 the then
Commanding Officer of the Regiment and now President of the
Association, Lt Col W. A. McCracken was instrumental in getting
the title T.V.A. back on the Army List. Today H.Q. (TVA) Battery
wears the insignia with pride. Sadly, the Gunners no longer
serve at Tynemouth, but in order to perpetuate the name, the
Tynemouth Gunners still meet once a month with that same pride
and enthusiasm that in 1959 generated the formation of what is
THE FIRST VOLUNTEER ARTILLERY
Tynemouth Volunteer Artillery History (Short Version)
2 May 1859
W. F. Pilter called a meeting at the Assembly Rooms, Tynemouth
at which a movement started for a Volunteer Corps to be raised.
On 2 August 1859 official blessing was given to the
reconstitution of the 1st Northumberland Volunteer Artillery and
Mr Addison Potter was appointed to command. This event marked
the formation of the first such unit in the British Army Order
of Battle. Their descendants
today are Headquarters Battery (The Tynemouth Volunteer
Similarly a public
meeting was held in South Shields Town Hall on 28 November 1859.
As a result on 23 December 1859 the 3rd Durham Volunteer
Artillery was formed and Mr James Cochran Stevenson was
appointed to command. Over the next years
further batteries were raised on both sides of the Tyne.
The Duke of
Northumberland was appointed Honorary Colonel North of the
South of the River
Major W J Dawson succeeded Colonel J C Stevenson and
remained in command of the 3rd Durham's until 1891. These
are the predecessors of 205 Battery today.
At the start of the
campaign against Kruger in South Africa in 1900 the War
Office decided that Volunteer Artillery should not be sent.
However, Lady Meux, the wife of one of the directors of
Armstrong Whitworth, had 6 twelve pounder field guns made by the
company ordnance works at Elswick. These were presented to Field
Marshal Lord Roberts, who directed they should equip the
"Elswick Battery" and be manned by the men who built them. These
are the origins of the present 203 Battery.
204 Battery trace
their origins to the actions of the 4 Battalions of Tyneside
Scottish at the Somme during World War 1, where their
reputation was gained. The Tyneside Scottish re-roled as
Artillery (Territorial Army) in 1947. To this day 204 (Tyneside
Scottish) Battery retain their Pipes and Drums and wear the Tam
efforts in both World Wars, amalgamation took place on
several occasions and on 1 April 1967 the remaining
Artillery Regiments in the area, 272nd and 274th Field
Regiments, 439 and 463 Light Air Defence Regiments and 324
Heavy Air Defence Regiment, were formed into 101st
(Northumbrian) Medium Regiment equipped with the ubiquitous
5.5 inch gun.
The Regiment was
subsequently re-named 101st (Northumbrian) Field Regiment on
re-equipping with the Light Gun in 1980.
In October of the
same year the Regiment was honoured by the City of Newcastle
upon Tyne when it was granted the Freedom of the City at a
parade which took place within one month of the Regiment's
return from participation in its first major exercise in
Germany, "Crusader 1980".
The 1st Volunteer
Artillery (Tynemouth) is incorporated into the 101 Regiment HQ (TVA) Battery RA (V).
101 Regiment HQ (TVA) Battery RA (V)
is disbanded, with the TVA name passing on to Radar (TVA) Troop,
204 (Tyneside Scottish) Battery RA (V).
Volunteer Artillery History (Long Version)
beginning of the Volunteer Artillery came in 1858, when the
Secretary of State for War, Sidney Herbert, in response to
French re-armament, acted under the Volunteer Act of 1804 and
sent a circular to the Lord Lieutenant of each county
authorising them to accept the services of any companies of
volunteers. The following month the War Department issued the
regulation under which the volunteers would serve.
There had by this
time already been great agitation on Tyneside for some form of
defence of the area. The guns at Tynemouth Castle for instance,
were obsolete and of little practical use against the new
iron-clad ships being developed by France.
Visiting the Tyne
at this time was Captain Bodford Pim RN and in an address to the
population of North Shields, pointed out that an enemy gun-boat
could cause untold damage to the town without the loss of a
single man, due to the poor state of the defences.
This led to
certain prominent citizens of the town forming a committee to
raise a volunteer corps for local defence and they appointed as
Hon. Secretary Mr. W. F. Pilter. On the 7th of May, 1859 a
meeting was held for those interested and 30 persons present put
down their names for membership, a requisition, signed by the
Mayor, asking him to convene a public meeting to consider the
formation of a Volunteer Rifle and Artillery Corps, to be formed
on a similar lines to the Honourable Artillery Company of
This meeting was
duly held in the Town Hall on the 17th of May, 1859, officers
were elected including Mr. F.W. Pilter who became 2nd
On the 25th of
May the first drill was held at the George Tavern and 120
prospective members attended and on the same date the formal
application for enrolment under the title TYNEMOUTH RIFLE AND
ARTILLERY CORPS was made.
selected was a grey tunic, black braided grey trousers and black
stripes, black belts with bronze furniture embellishments. The
officers wore sliver furniture, whistles and chains and a grey
However, the War
Office objected to them bearing two arms, therefore two separate
corps were sanctioned, one of rifles and one of artillery to be
raised in the town and neighbouring Tynemouth. The formal
enrolment began on the 2nd of August, 1859.
Making the now
1st NORTHUMBERLAND ARTILLERY, the senior unit of its kind in the
country. The strength of the unit was to be, at first, 3
officers and 80 men.
On the 18th
November the unit underwent it's first official inspection, when
a Capt. Carpenter R.A. was sent from Manchester to Tynemouth to
hold the first major gun practice. This was carried out on two
70 year old, 17 pounders, long smooth bore guns, and took place
at the north battery of the castle. Fortunately the guns held
and good practice was had and a favourable impression was made.
continued to grow and in December, 1860, a second company was
raised at Tynemouth with a further unit at Howdon and two more
At this time the
volunteers did not specifically serve on the coastal guns, which
was to become their main role in the future, as their original
function was to provide Field Artillery units. However, coast
artillery was to go through major changes over the next 25 years
and gradually the volunteers role changed. In the early stages
the unit did have close links with Tynemouth Castle, as it was a
major artillery depot and had the guns for the volunteers to
practice with, it was from this liaison that the change to
coastal gunnery developed.
For the next 10 years practice took part on whatever pieces
came to hand. In 1869 they did receive four light 9-pounder guns
for which they had to provide their own horses and harness,
often at the expense of the officers. By 1870 Major Pilter had
become the commander of the unit which was still expanding due
to the many war scares at the time
In 1876 the Northern Artillery Association was formed, of which
the Tynemouth Volunteer Artillery became a member and was to
have a very tine record in competitions field by this group.
With a further war scare in 1878 a fourth battery was raised.
This growth in numbers meant that the existing drill hall on
Albion Road, North Shields was no longer large enough, Funds
were raised by public subscription and a new building erected at
Military Road, North Shields, on land gifted by the
Duke of Northumberland.
The volunteers were at this juncture still consolidated as a
regiment, but with a further growth in numbers two extra
batteries were raised, one at Tynemouth and one at Backworth.
The unit was then raised to Brigade standing.
In the same year the War Office decided to consolidate the 1st
Artillery Volunteers with
that of a much later formed and less numerous body at Newcastle,
which would lead to the Tynemouth Brigade disappearing, but due
to the great public interest and
enthusiasm shown, petitions were sent to the Secretary of
State for War, to His Royal Highness
the Commander in Chief, to the Officer Commanding the
district and to all M.P.'s for the borough and county.
This succeeded in halting the amalgamation, but
army list the Tynemouth Volunteers stood at only 3rd place,
behind the 3rd Northumberland and 1st Durham, an injustice
again opposed by the local population, who were
justly proud of their "Senior" title. Due to this pressure and
the fact that the unit was at Brigade strength it was again
placed No. I on the; army list, at the same time regaining it's
original title THE Tynemouth
With the rise to Brigade strength the unit could now appoint a
colonel as commander and Major Pilter was promoted Colonel and
continued to serve as commander of the regiment until 1898,
when he became the oldest volunteer in the British Army.
During the 1880's the government was again proceeding with a
coastal artillery review, it was agreed that the castle should
be re-armed, but no definite decision on which type of gun
and when they would be installed was taken, the volunteers
however did practice on the guns present,, which did at times
In 1889 the government increased the grants to the volunteer
units all over the country and the Northumberland and Durham
Volunteers received 20 and 40-pounder guns in 4-gun batteries.
This shows that the main role of the volunteers was still seen
as mobile field rather than as static coastal gunners. This did
not effect the popularity of the local units, for one year later
the roll stood at
In 1893 the castle was at last re-armed with two new 6-inch
breech loading guns, mounted on hydro-pneumatics disappearing
carriages. These were the must modern and up to-date guns
available at the time and the first new guns for the castle in
In January of that year No. I and No. 2 Batteries were
re-designed 1st and 2nd Position Batteries respectively. This
is the first time the Tynemouth
Volunteers were linked to a
static role at the castle, later in the month they were again
re-designated as 1st Position Batteries Left and Right Half..
This would have reflected the position of the new guns at the
left and right angles of the castle peninsular. (One of the
emplacements for these guns still exists at the northern cone of
the peninsular, though
in the plaque can still clearly be seen).
In the Brigade Orders published weekly in the local press,
training for the new guns is listed for some time before their
installation had been completed in 1893, this
reflects the eagerness of the volunteers to keep
their good reputation, as they were most proficient in their use
before the guns came into service.
So began the local association of the volunteers with coastal
gunnery. In 1895 the Brigade consisted of one Position Battery
(6-inch guns) and seven Garrison Companies. The castle armament
had also been expanded with the addition of two 64-pounder
rifled muzzle loading guns, then in 1900 the armament of the castle
underwent another review and two new 6-inch breech
loading guns on static mountings and a 9.2-inch were emplaced,
the work being completed in 1903. (The emplacements for these
are those recently restored by English Heritage).
1902 the title of the unit was again changed and they became
TYNEMOUTH GARRISON ARTILLERY (VOLUNTEERS) and in the same year
the Position Battery became the Heavy Battery.
With the coming of the First World War in 1914 the coastal guns
at the castle had their first emergency for many years and the
volunteers found themselves in the regular army and in demand as
experienced personnel and units of the Tynemouth Volunteers
were used to defend most major ports in the North East. With the
demands of the war in France the trained staff were spread all
over the country and the unit was called upon to provide the
44th SIEGE BATTERY R.A. for service in France.
volunteers name was again changed in 1922 when they became the
TYNEMOUTH HEAVY BRIGADE.
From this time until the beginning of the Second World
War the castle returned to its role as District Depot and then
later as the main training camp on the East coast. This led to T.A. units from all over Scotland, Northern Ireland and Northern
England coming to Tynemouth for training.
When hostilities commenced in 1939 the units name was changed
one again and they were now known as the TYNEMOUTH HEAVY
REGIMENT (T.A.) During the war the volunteers served in coastal
defence all over the North East and also formed the 64th H.A.A.
Regt R.A.T.A. which saw service in many theatres of war.
After the war the Volunteer units were re-organised and the
Tynemouth unit was re-designated the 404th (TYNEMOUTH) COAST
REGIMENT R.A.T.A.. At the same time Her Majesty The Queen gave
her approval for the name TYNEMOUTH to be worn under the Royal
Artillery flash on their battle dress. This was a most unique
distinction for a town's name to be allowed rather than a
county's, as was usual.
When in 1956 the Coastal Artillery was disbanded the Tynemouth
gunners then became "Q" (TYNEMOUTH) Bty. 439 (TYNE) L.A.A.
REGIMENT R.A.T.A. and in 1967 came the last change when the
Territorial Army was re-organised and the local units were taken
into the fold of 101 (NORTHUMBERLAND MEDIUM REGIMENT (V).
In 1992 the then CO of the Regiment, now
president of the Association, Lt Col W. McCracken was
instrumental in getting the title TVA back on the Army List.
At a meeting of the Council in 1993 the Borough of North
Tyneside decided to recognise that the Tynemouth title
was back on the Army List, and bestowed the honour of Freedom of
the Borough upon HQ(TVA) Battery., and until 1st July 2006, the
soldiers of the battery wore the insignia with pride.
The TA Future Army Structure in 2006 has brought about the
closure of HQ(TVA) Battery, but the title of Tynemouth Volunteer
Artillery will remain with the newly formed Radar Troop of 204
(Tyneside Scottish) Battery Royal Artillery (Volunteers).
HQ (TVA) Battery RA (V)
16th August 1859
Raised at Tynemouth as 1st Northumberland corps.
The first Artillery unit based in the United Kingdom
Renamed as the 1st Northumberland and Durham Artillery Volunteer Corps
Reformed as 3rd Northumberland Artillery Volunteer Corps
and renamed the Tynemouth Artillery Volunteer Corps
Renamed as Tynemouth Royal Garrison Artillery
Renamed as the Tynemouth Coast Brigade RGA(TA)
Renamed the Tynemouth Heavy Brigade RA(TA)
Renamed the Tynemouth Heavy Regiment RA(TA)
Regiment is reorganised as 508th, 509th, 510(Tynemouth)
1st September 1948
Redesignated as 404(Tynemouth) HAA Regiment
1st January 1954
Amalgamated with 464 Regiment as 404 (Tynemouth) HAA Regiment
10th March 1955
Amalgamated with 324 Regiment to form 324 (Northumbrian)
18th March 1964
Renamed as 324(Northumbria Artillery) Heavy AD Regiment
Amalgamated into 101(Northumberland)Regiment RA (V) as
Renamed as Headquarter( Tynemouth Volunteer Artillery)
Battery RA (V)
Headquarter (Tynemouth Volunteer Artillery)
Battery RA (V) disbanded, with the TVA name incorporated
into Radar (TVA) Troop, 204 Battery RA (V).