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Raleigh Field Gunners prepare for battle

31 May 2018
HMS Raleigh’s Field Gun crew have been given a rousing send-off by their home supporters ahead of the Royal Navy and Royal Marines Charity (RNRMC) Field Gun competition this Saturday (2nd June).

HMS Raleigh Field GunnersThe crew ran a time of 1:39, their best time so far this season, in their last practice run at HMS Raleigh, when they were cheered on by the friends and families attending the passing-out-parade.

Coached by Petty Officer Physical Trainer Stephen Edwards as Number One trainer, the Raleigh crew is made up of experience field gunners and those new to the sport.

They will be among crews from across the UK and as far afield as Gibraltar competing for the coveted Brickwoods Trophy at HMS Collingwood.

This year’s HMS Raleigh Field Gun Officer is Lieutenant Mark Jones.

He said: “The crew are aiming to come back with a plate trophy, and looking forward to competing. The crew have been well supported by both HMS Raleigh and our sponsors and are keen to repay that support.”

The crew are aiming to come back with a plate trophy, and looking forward to competing

Lieutenant Mark Jones RN, HMS Raleigh's Field Gun Officer

The RNRMC Field Gun Competition is one of the highlights of the Royal Navy sporting calendar. The competition is fast and furious. 

Each crew of 18 has to run, dismantle, reassemble and fire the gun in the shortest time, traditionally in heats of six crews at a time. With penalties added for incorrect drill, strength, stamina and team-work are essential.

The origins of Royal Navy Field Gun lay in 1899, in the Second Boer War, and in particular the epic 119-day Siege of Ladysmith. As the British Army was besieged by Boer fighters in the garrison town of Ladysmith, Natal, the Royal Navy landed guns from HM Ships Terrible and Powerful to help in the relief of the siege. 

Special carriages and mountings for these guns had been improvised by Percy Scott, before the Naval Brigade manhandled six field guns each weighing nearly half a metric tonne over rough terrain to assist their opposite numbers of the British Army.

The gallant defenders were helped enormously by the arrival at the last minute, of Captain the Hon Hedworth Lambton of the Naval Brigade with his 280 Blue-Jackets, four 12 pounders and two 4.7 inch guns. 

After the siege of Ladysmith was finally lifted on 28 Feb 1900, Her Majesty Queen Victoria I sent a telegram: ‘Pray express to the Naval Brigade my deep appreciation of the valuable services they have rendered with their guns'’. 

Displays of this magnificent feat began in London that year.

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