Gunners past and present have gathered at their birthplace, Building 40 at the Royal Arsenal in Woolwich, England, to launch their tercentenary celebrations. In keeping with the Royal Artillery motto “Ubique” (Everywhere) which reflects their service in every conflict, campaign and war since their inception, their 300th anniversary is to be preceded with a global relay of a specially commissioned baton.
The Captain-General’s Baton, named for HM The Queen, contains a vellum parchment of loyal greetings to her Majesty to be opened and read on the anniversary 26 May 2016.The Baton’s design blends old and new technologies synonymous with the Gunners. The barrel is modelled on the original Congreve Royal Artillery 6 Pounder Gun, but the material from which it is crafted , titanium, is that used in the Thales Watchkeeper Unmanned Aerial Vehicle, the Royal Artillery’s latest equipment.
The point of the baton is an original FWW mechanical time fuse, and a WW2 shell primer forms the base. The baton will circumnavigate the globe over the next twelve months, each leg carried by representatives of every unit in the Royal Artillery, Regular and Reserve, to countries of the Commonwealth and our principal allies. The epic journey began today in the Royal Artillery birthplace of Woolwich, and will end in the Regiment’s new home, Larkhill, England, on 26 May 2016, the anniversary of their founding, when the baton will be presented. As the Royal Artillery Band played, Royal Artillery Association Standard Bearers stood to attention, and troops from the Royal Regiment of Artillery marched on parade.
300 years ago only men served as Gunners. Today, illustrating changing times, an all female section of riders from the King’s Troop Royal Horse Artillery led by Captain Julie Navarro on charger Jack Lynchpin, took charge of the Captain-General’s Baton from the Master Gunner for the first leg of the Ubique 300 Relay. The Master Gunner charged the Royal Artillery to “carry this baton around the world with skill and panache, mindful of the precious message it carries”.
Eleven immaculate horses and the FWW 13-Pounder Gun then rode off through the London suburbs to pass the baton to 7 The Parachute Regiment Royal Horse Artillery at Danton House in Bexleyheath who took charge of it for the next leg. “It’s a huge honour to be able to carry the baton on the first leg of the relay” said Julie, 28, from Peterborough. “And it’s thrilling for all of us that it will be The King’s Troop Royal Horse Artillery who will have the double honour of ending the relay next year when it is presented.”
For more information, visit the Royal Artillery Association website.