This article provides an overview of the British Army’s National Reserve Headquarters, a unit of the Royal Artillery.
2.0 National Reserve Headquarters Royal Artillery
The National Reserve Headquarters Royal Artillery (NRHQ RA) is located in Woolwich. As part of Army 2020, an organisational change programme, the NRHQ RA was renamed from the Central Volunteers Headquarters Royal Artillery (CVHQ RA).
NRHQ RA is composed of (ARQ, 2015):
- A Regimental HQ.
- An All Arms Staff Pool provides dedicated staff officers to support:
- All Reaction and Adaptable force Brigades;
- Divisional HQs;
- HQ ARRC (Allied Rapid Reaction Corps); and
- HQ UK SJC (Standing Joint Commitments).
- 221 (Wessex) Battery, a specialist RA battery (Section 5.0).
- 255 (Somerset Yeomanry) Battery, a Tactical Air Control Party (TACP) (Section 6.0).
The NRHQ RA also provides Army Reserve officers and soldiers in support of operations and exercises in the UK and worldwide.
It is classified as a National Reserve and as a Specialist Unit, whose members are required to be ‘fully trained’ when recruited.
3.0 Commander NRHQ RA
The NRHQ RA is led by a Lieutenant Colonel (OF-4).
4.0 All Arms Staff Pool
The CVHQ RA was established in 1967 to manage the Royal Artillery’s Specialist Pool of Reservist Officers and Soldiers, whose role was to support the Regular Army with specialist skills for both exercises and operations.
During the height of the Cold War these highly experienced professionals were much in demand by the British Army of the Rhine (BAOR), swelling in number to a pool of over 650 personnel. Successive reorganisations have reduced this number to just over 320 personnel, with most being Majors (OF-3) – although there are a number of Lieutenant Colonels (OF-4) and Captains (OF-2).
5.0 221 (Wessex) Battery
221 (Wessex) Battery RA is a specialist RA battery located in Larkhill. It is led by a Major (OF-3) and provides gunnery staff support to:
- 1st Artillery Brigade;
- The Royal School of Artillery;
- The RA Gunnery Training Team; and
- Regiments on operations and exercises.
There are opportunities for all soldiers, from Gunner to Warrant Officer Class 1 (WO1), as well as Reserve officers.
The Battery provides:
- Training teams;
- Naval Gunfire Liaison Officers (NGLOs);
- Gunnery Safety Staff;
- Battlespace Managers; and
6.0 255 (Somerset Yeomanry) Battery
255 (Somerset Yeomanry) Battery RA is a Tactical Air Control Party (TACP) Battery located in Bath. It is led by a Major (OF-3) and provides TACP parties and individual Joint Terminal Attack Controllers (JTAC) in support of operations and exercises. These are highly skilled personnel who control combat aircraft in support of ground troops.
It is the only dedicated TACP and JTAC unit in the British Army, and JTAC instructors instruct and supervise Regular Army JTAC’s on training exercises. TACP-qualified personnel have the opportunity to become JTAC once they reach the rank of Bombardier (aka Corporal).
In 2013, as part of Future Reserves 2020, it was announced that the Forward Air Control Troop (FAC Tp) Royal Signals, located in Bath, would re-subordinate to the Royal Artillery and be renamed 255 Battery (Falcke, 2013; RFCA Yorkshire, 2013). On 23 September 2014, 255 Battery became part of NRHQ RA, which also became part of 1st Artillery Brigade.
255 Battery can trace its lineage to the West Somerset Yeomanry, which was a Yeomanry regiment of the British Army first raised in 1794. It participated in the Second Boer War (1899) and World War I (1914-1918) before being converted to an artillery regiment. It served in World War II (1939-1945, as two field artillery regiments). Post-war it was gradually reduced in strength until the yeomanry lineage of the successor unit was discontinued on 9 November 1988.
ARQ (Army Reserve Quarterly) (2015) National Reserve Headquarters Royal Artillery: Not Just Gunners! Army Reserve Quarterly. Winter 2015/16, pp.24-25.
Falcke, D. (2013) MoD Plans will be Good for TA. Available from World Wide Web: http://www.salisburyjournal.co.uk/news/forces_focus/10537979.MoD_plans_will_be_good_for_TA/. [Accessed: 10 July, 2018].
RFCA Yorkshire (Reserve Forces’ and Cadets’ Association Yorkshire) (2013) Summary of Army 2020 Reserve Structure and Basing Changes. Available from World Wide Web: https://www.rfca-yorkshire.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2013/07/1372848176SUMMARYOFA2020RESERVESTRUCTUREANDBASINGCHANGES.pdf. [Accessed: 10 July, 2018].