Kent Militia Artillery

The Kent Militia Artillery was a part-time reserve unit of Britain's Royal Artillery based at Dover in Kent, from 1853 to 1909.

Kent Militia Artillery
2nd Brigade, Cinque Ports Division, RA
Kent Artillery (Eastern Division) RA
Kent Royal Garrison Artillery (M)
Country United Kingdom
Branch Militia
RoleGarrison Artillery
Part ofCinque Ports Division, RA (1882–89)
Eastern Division, RA (1889–1902)


The long-standing national Militia of the United Kingdom was revived by the Militia Act of 1852, enacted during a period of international tension. As before, units were raised and administered on a county basis, and filled by voluntary enlistment (although conscription by means of the Militia Ballot might be used if the counties failed to meet their quotas). Training was for 56 days on enlistment, then for 21–28 days per year, during which the men received full army pay. Under the Act, Militia units could be embodied by Royal Proclamation for full-time home defence service in three circumstances:[1][2][3][4]

  • 1. 'Whenever a state of war exists between Her Majesty and any foreign power'.
  • 2. 'In all cases of invasion or upon imminent danger thereof'.
  • 3. 'In all cases of rebellion or insurrection'.

The 1852 Act introduced Artillery Militia units in addition to the traditional infantry regiments. Their role was to man coastal defences and fortifications, relieving the Royal Artillery (RA) for active service.[1][2]


The unit was raised in Kent in May 1853 with six batteries under the title of Kent Militia Artillery with headquarters at Dover. The colonel was John Townshend, 3rd Viscount Sydney and the first commandant was Lieutenant-Colonel John Farnaby Cator, a Half-pay Captain in the RA, who later changed his surname to Lennard and was created a Baronet. Several of the other early officers were half-pay or retired officers of the Royal Engineers or Brigade of Guards or were prominent personages in Kent, including Major the Hon. Charles Stewart Hardinge, MP, son of the Commander-in-Chief.[5][6][7][8] Captain Walter G. Stirling, RA, (later 3rd Baronet Stirling, was appointed Lt-Col on 24 April 1876, having been the major since 5 December 1871.[7]

The Artillery Militia was reorganised into 11 divisions of garrison artillery in 1882, and the Antrim unit became the 2nd Brigade, Cinque Ports Division, RA. When the Cinque Ports Division was abolished in 1889 the title was altered to Kent Artillery (Eastern Division) RA.[1][5][7][9]

From 1902 most units of the Militia artillery formally became part of the Royal Garrison Artillery, the Dover unit taking the title of 'Kent RGA (M).[1][5][7]


The unit was embodied for home defence twice:[5][6][7]

Although the Kent Artillery volunteered for overseas service during the Boer War, this offer was not accepted. However, two officers of the regiment did serve as individuals, and both were Mentioned in dispatches: Capt C.E. Schlesinger was attached to 8th Division Ammunition Column,[5][10] and Capt R. De B. Hassell was attached to the Remount Department. On 8 December 1900 he was in charge of a train of remounts that was derailed and shelled between Kokomere and Klerkensdorp. Hassell personally uncoupled the engine and sent it for help while he and 11 others held off 100 attackers and saved the train.[5]


After the Boer War, the future of the Militia was called into question. There were moves to reform the Auxiliary Forces (Militia, Yeomanry and Volunteers) to take their place in the six Army Corps proposed by St John Brodrick as Secretary of State for War. Some batteries of Militia Artillery were to be converted to field artillery. However, little of Brodrick's scheme was carried out.[11][12]

Under the sweeping Haldane Reforms of 1908, the Militia was replaced by the Special Reserve, a semi-professional force whose role was to provide reinforcement drafts for Regular units serving overseas in wartime. Although the majority of the officers and men of the Kent RGA (M) accepted transfer to the Special Reserve Royal Field Artillery, all these units were disbanded in March 1909.[1][5][13][14][15]

Uniform and insignia

In 1853 the officers of the Kent Militia Artillery wore badges that were unique to the unit. Their black leather helmet carried a plate consisting of an ornate silver shield surmounted by a crown. The shield bore a gilt grenade, on the ball of which was the Royal 'VR' Cypher. Below the grenade were crossed gilt cannons. A separate silver scroll beneath the plate was inscribed 'KENT'. The officers' black leather pouch belt bore a white metal plate comprising a simple shield with the White horse of Kent stamped in the centre. Below the shield was a scroll inscribed with the Kent motto 'INVICTA', and either side of the shield was a spray of leaves. After 1882 the officers wore the standard gilt Cinque Ports Division helmet plate. An 1896 photographs shows that the Kent was one of the few artillery militia corps to issue all ranks with the standard British Army blue cloth helmet of the period.[5]



  1. Litchfield, pp. 1–7.
  2. Dunlop, pp. 42–5.
  3. Grierson, pp. 27–8.
  4. Spiers, Army & Society, pp. 91–2.
  5. Litchfield, pp. 102–4.
  6. Hart's Army List, 1855.
  7. Army List, various dates.
  8. Burke's, Hardinge', 'Lennard', 'Townshend'.
  9. Spiers, Late Victorian Army, pp. 63–4.
  10. Lord Roberts' dispatch of 4 September London Gazette, 10 September 1901.
  11. Dunlop, pp. 131–40, 158-62.
  12. Spiers, Army & Society, pp. 243–2, 254.
  13. Dunlop, pp. 270–2.
  14. Spiers, Army & Society, pp. 275–7.
  15. Litchfield, Appendix 8.


  • Burke's Peerage, Baronetage and Knightage, 100th Edn, London, 1953.
  • Col John K. Dunlop, The Development of the British Army 1899–1914, London: Methuen, 1938.
  • Lt-Col James Moncrieff Grierson (Col Peter S. Walton, ed.), Scarlet into Khaki: The British Army on the Eve of the Boer War, London: Sampson Low, 1899/London: Greenhill, 1988, ISBN 0-947898-81-6.
  • Norman E.H. Litchfield, The Militia Artillery 1852–1909 (Their Lineage, Uniforms and Badges), Nottingham: Sherwood Press, 1987, ISBN 0-9508205-1-2.
  • Edward M. Spiers, The Army and Society 1815–1914, London: Longmans, 1980, ISBN 0-582-48565-7.
  • Edward M. Spiers, The Late Victorian Army 1868–1902, Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1992/Sandpiper Books, 1999, ISBN 0-7190-2659-8.

External sources

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