Monday, 2 April 2007

Chapter 39: Reserve Brigade Australian Artillery (RBAA) Heytesbury

From service record:

1 May 1918 Dvr: Detached to R.B.A.A England
(Reserve Brigade Australian Artillery)

6 May 1918 Dvr: m/In from France to R.B.A.A. Heytesbury

3 June 1918
Driver. Offence: Heytesbury 3.6.18 from m/n 2.6.18 till 8.45am 3.6.18
Award: 3 days C.B. by Lt Col B.W. James
Forfeits: 1 days pay

From: Standing Orders RBAA (AWM 25 Control 709/24)

Part 1 Organization

The reserve brigade Australian Artillery is established for the purpose of training reinforcements for Australian Field Artillery on their arrival from Australia, and for re-training personnel who have been evacuated from the front through wounds or sickness.

The Personnel of the Brigade consists of:-

(a) A Permanent cadre composed of Officers and others who are normally sent to the Brigade from Units overseas for a period of six months.
(b) Reinforcements arrived from Australia
(c) Personnel marched in from O.T.B. &c. prior to return to the Front (“Casuals”)
(d) Personnel medically unfit for service at the front but employed at the R.B.A.A (“Class men”)
(2) Such Officers and Others as may be attached for special duties.


Reveille 6.30 a.m.
Morning Stables 6.40 to 7.30
Breakfast 7.45 a.m.

Boot & Saddle 8.30 a.m.
Quarter 8.45 a.m.
Short Warning 8.55 a.m.
Morning Parade 9 a.m.
Morning Break 10.15 to 10.30
Midday Stables 11.30 to 12.30
Orderly Room Noon (Sat 10.30 a.m.)
Dinner 12.45 p.m.

Boot & Saddle 1.30 p.m.
Quarter 1.45 p.m.
Short Warning 1.55 p.m.
Afternoon Parade 2 p.m
do Break 3 to 3.15 p.m.
do Stables ? to 5 p.m.
Quarter for Guard 3.45 p.m.
Five Minutes for Guard 3.55 p.m.
Guard Fall In 4 p.m.
Feed 4.55 p.m.
Turn Out 5 p.m.
Tea 5.30 p.m.
Defaulters 6 p.m. (Every half hour 6 to 9.30 p.m)
Retreat 6 p.m.
First Post 9.30 p.m.
Tattoo 10 p.m.
Lights Out 10.15 p.m.

Photo of group outside their hut, early 1918 [AWM J06315]
Photo of group and some of the huts, early 1918 [AWM J06317]
Photo of group waiting for a parade, early 1918 [AWM J06316]
Photo of billiard tournament in YMCA hut [AWM H01177]
Photo of Heytesbury Camp, early 1918 [AWM J06314]
Photo of Lt Col TBW James, 22 Aug 1918 [AWM D 00012]

War Diary May 1918

Friday 24 May “Empire Day”. The afternoon was observed as a half holiday and Sports were held in the grounds of Heytesbury House. The mounted events being keenly contested by all competitors. Prizes were presented by Lieut.-Colonel T.B.W. James, D.S.O. [Heytesbury House was owned by the Holmes a Court family who were Barons of Heytesbury. In the 1930s it was bought by poet Siegfried Sassoon, who lived there until his death in 1967]

War Diary June 1918

6 June Major General Sir J.M. Brunker, KCB inspected the Brigade.

26 June The usual monthly Sports Meeting took place in the Heytesbury grounds; a general half holiday was granted and the sports were pronounced success. Lieut. Colonel T.B.W. James, DSO presented the prizes.

War Diary July 1918

4 July Independence Day, July 4th was observed by a half-holiday and Sports in honour of the United States of America.
18 July On Thursday 18th July, General Sir William Robertson, G.C.B., K.C.V.C., D.S.O, A.D.C., inspected the Brigade mounted at Sherrington.
The G.O.C. in Chief expressed his appreciation of the excellent appearance and conduct of the troops he inspected, and his pleasure in noting the business like look and turn-out of the R.B.A.A. This parade was held in conjunction with the R.F.A. Brigade.

War Diary August 1918

A regimental Laundry has been established for the use of members of the Brigade.

21 July A Sports meeting was held on 21st instant under the auspices of the A.I.F. Depots in U.K. , on Victoria Park Grounds, Salisbury. This Brigade won 1st Prize for highest aggregate points won by competitors from Depots competing.

27 July The usual monthly Sports Meeting was held on 27th instant by permission from Lieut.-Colonel T.B.W. James, DSO, on the Heytesbury Estate ground. During the afternoon Sir Joseph Cook paid a visit to the Sports.

War Diary September 1918

His Majesty King George V passed through the R.B.A.A. Capm Heytesbury on Monday 16th Sept en route to witness Artillery demonstration at Chapperton Downs Artillery Range. The personnel of the R.B.A.A. lined the route from a point some 200 yards west of the Camp to the Eastern Boundary.
His Majesty detrained at Heytesbury Station and was met at Head of Column by Brigadier-General J.P. McGlinn, CMG V.B.- G.O.C. A.I.F. Depots in the U.K. and Lt. Colonel T.B.W. James D.S.O. C.O.R.B.A.A.
A mounted escort of 4 officers and 8 Cadets proceeded with His Majesty’s car through the camp.
The number on parade for this event were 19 officers 18 Cadets and 1265 other ranks.

Remarks by C.O.

Training proceeded according to Syllabus during the month except that during the last week it was intensified to allow of a larger number of trained Reinforcements going Overseas early in October in view of the large draft requirements anticipated by the release of 1914 men on leave to Australia.
The same cause also led to the whole of the St. John’s Wood graduates referred to in my remarks in August War Diary being commissioned and sent to France rather earlier than would otherwise have been the case. No others have yet arrived to take their place.
The additional Guns asked for for training purposes, have not yet been received.
State of Equipment and Discipline is normal.
Health is good, though a few cases of measles occurred toward the end of the month.
Messing is satisfactory, though considerable trouble is experienced in combating flies, which are a great pest in the cookhouses, probably due to the proximity of a number of the latter to the stables.
State of horses is still satisfactory, and Veterinary Officer’s reports are uniformly good.
The only outstanding event during this month was the visit of his Majesty the King to Heytesbury on 16th September. Copy of Brigade Orders giving details of arrangements for this is attached. Everything was carried out according to programme, and his Majesty, before leaving, expressed to the C.O. his satisfaction at seeing the personnel of the R.B.A.A. and with their appearance and turn out.

War Diary October 1918

Owing to large drafts sent overseas and to the Influenza epidemic football and other sports was seriously hampered at the beginning of the month but is now receiving due attention. A new Sports Committee has been appointed.

Remarks by the C.O.

. . .

The standard of Reinforcement now arriving is not as good as hitherto. This is mainly attributable to the fact that recruits now arriving are not specially selected for Artillery. It is probable that owing to this minimum period of training at R.B.A.A. must be lengthened by three weeks.
The extensive withdrawal of 1914 personnel to go on leave threatens to seriously hamper instruction owing to the number of trained Officers and NCOs thereby lost to the Brigade.
Early in the month the influenza epidemic was serious, though mainly confined to reinforcements just arrived from Australia. By the end of the month great improvement was shown and medical conditions were normal.

War Diary November 1918

Towards the end of the month, as it became more certain that hostilities were concluded, instructional training was in some degree relaxed and the time thus made available devoted to Sports and Recreation. Training is still being continued on these lines.

The conduct of troops in the Camp on , and subsequent to, announcement of the Armistice was excellent in every way and the interest that is still taken in training is most creditable to men, who might reasonably have been expected to slacken off a great deal in this respect.

On Thursday, 13th, a general holiday was given by the G.O.C., A.I.F. Depots in celebration of the Armistice. A Sports Meeting and Concert were held.
. . .

Notification was received that it was intended to concentrate all 1915 Personnel at R.B.A.A. prior to return to Australia. This has since been done and will be dealt with in the December remarks.

War Diary December 1918

It was decided to utilise R.B.A.A. Camps vacated for concentration of personnel enlisted before June 30th, 1915, prior to their embarkation for Australia. The first draft of such personnel arrived on 7.12.18, since which date drafts of varying strengths have been moving in and out.
A special wing known as “1915 Company” was formed with a small staff from R.B.A.A. personnel to deal with these drafts. Captain Snodgrass, 2nd Div. Artillery was placed in charge.
Artillery training was greatly reduced owing to technical stores being collected for return to Ordnance, and also at the end of the month to large numbers of men being sent on special Christmas and New Year Leave. . . Sports were given much prominence.

Christmas and New Year Leave was granted to all ranks.

On Christmas Day, Dinner and entertainments were provided for the men. Pantomime was played at 1700 and 2000 at Anzac Theatre.

Concerts at Anzac Theatre by various parties of Entertainers. Pictures were run at Y.M.C.A. and also interesting lectures.

Health The health of the Camp has been excellent. There have been very few cases of Influenza, and these are doubtfully real Influenza. The prevailing complaints have been common coughs and colds.

Sanitation Until the onset of Christmas Leave, this was very good, but for a time with the shortage of men the condition of the camp for a time deteriorated. There is even now a slight general untidiness – rags, paper, tins, but nothing grossly insanitary throughout the occupied lines.

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