ROYAL AUSTRALIAN ARTILLERY 
 
A TASMANIAN GUNNER’S HISTORY. 
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INDEX
1. FOREWORD.  2. THE NEED. 3. THE CONFLICTS. 
4. THE NUMBERS GAME. 5. FACTS AND FIGURES. 6. THEY ALSO SERVED. 
7. The 1914 -1918 Honour Roll  8. The 1939 - 1945 Honour Roll  9. Main References. 
 
 FOREWORD.

Despite many changes of names over the years, a part of the roots of my former regiment, the 6th. Field Regiment, Royal Australian Artillery, is still alive and currently growing in my home city of Launceston and is again known as the 16th. Field Battery, R.A.A.
The 16th. Field Battery, R.A.A., can trace it’s origins back to June 6th. 1860, and still proudly proclaims and retains its heritage as one of our nation’s oldest and finest artillery units still in existence.

My involvement started on August 1st.1956 when, as a fresh-faced 19 year National Serviceman, I was officially transferred from No. 4 Platoon, ‘A’ Company 2/56 Intake R.A.A. of the 18th. National Service Training Battalion to ‘R’ Battery, 6th. Field Regiment, R.A.A. stationed at Paterson Barracks in Launceston.

 
 

Here I was to complete my national service obligation - and to begin an educational experience of a lifetime - under the watchful eyes, and eventual comradeship, of many of the veteran artillerymen who then formed part of this prestigious unit and who still hold its well-being dear to their hearts.

There was a choice of services given to National Servicemen - Navy, Army or Air Force, but because of eligibility rulings on education and health most of us ended up in the Army -although, for some of us, it was a choice tempered by family tradition.
In those days a Tasmanian 18 year old, who ended up as an army ‘Nasho’, served a compulsory 3 months period (actually 98 days) of full-time basic training at Brighton Army Camp and then another compulsory period of 2 years part-time in a local Citizen Military Forces (C.M.F.) unit with an annual 2 week field camp, a total of 142 days in all.

The National Service scheme of compulsory military training for (non-eligible to vote) youths (selected by ballot), commenced in August 1951 and continued until 1959 in this form.
There was some dissension by concerned parents about the ‘marbles out of a barrel’ method of selection when it became law, but most of the youthful participants faced their obligation with good grace and a sense of excitement - and went on to enjoy the experiences that would shape their characters for the rest of their lives.

Because of the world-wide political unrest of the times, the concept of re-establishing, or expanding, local militia units became more than just an idea and a revamped C.M.F. had been formed on July 1st. 1948 and, from 1950 onwards, it’s forces were liable to serve anywhere overseas as an adjunct to the post-war Australian Regular Army, which had been formed on Nov. 30th. 1947, to give Australia a permanent fighting army - in readiness if needed - in peace-time.

While at Brighton Camp, we ‘Nasho’ artillerymen were put through our basic training and taught how to handle obsolete army issue firearms like the trusty old .303 rifle and the Bren and Owen guns, and march and do drill - ad nauseam - who to salute and when, and to ‘never ever volunteer’ and then - half- way through this period - the excitement started to grow as we were designated into 6 man gun-crews and introduced to ‘our guns’ !

At first all we did was paint, clean, grease and oil 19 ft 3 inches of metal, and then pull the 75 cwt. monsters around the paddocks all day, and in the evenings we did lessons on why and how the howitzer gun worked to send it’s 25 pound projectile accurately over a range of 13,400 yards.

Ultimately, the day came when we actually operated and fired our guns - and really learned to respect their power.

The ‘rush’ that came with my first live firing is now a memory - a bright flash of sight, sound and smell that will stay with me forever - but then, over the years, after the physical process of being educated as a ‘gunner’ had long been completed, I found that my involvement had become more than just a string of memories, it had become a deep-seated emotion that brought with it an appreciation of just what it constituted to be a member of a corps with a proud history of service to this nation!

With that appreciation also came the obligation to never let that history be forgotten!

As with any on-going history it is obvious that it will not stop until it does and, as this ‘gunner’s history’ was never contemplated, or prepared, as a completely definitive piece of historical literature, I leave it to our comrades as an interesting reminiscence of times past that may stir a few memories, and, perhaps, a glimpse of times to come, and for any errors or omissions, I beg forgiveness - and hope to encourage others to continue to flesh out the few bones that I have attempted to provide.

Graeme E. Petterwood. 6/705682
(Former) Sergeant ‘R’ Battery,
6th. Field Regiment, R.A.A.
November 1997.
 
 
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INDEX
1. FOREWORD.  2. THE NEED. 3. THE CONFLICTS. 
4. THE NUMBERS GAME. 5. FACTS AND FIGURES. 6. THEY ALSO SERVED. 
7. The 1914 -1918 Honour Roll  8. The 1939 - 1945 Honour Roll  9. Main References.