Origins of the 2nd Field Artillery Regiment
This is a transcript of a history of 2 Field Artillery Regiment, compiled by Lt Col W.G. Donnelly, Commanding Officer of the Regiment from 1950-1957. It was held within the Unit Headquarters of 2 Field Artillery Regiment, McKee Barrack, Dublin 7. Its importance lies in the chronology of events and the inclusion of the names of various officers associated with the institution of the unit.
The II F.A. Regiment was formed in 1943. In order to appreciate the events leading up to its formation, it has been necessary to go back some years – to 1934, to be exact. In the spring of this year, on foot of a Government decision shortly before, the Volunteer Force came into being. The Organisation of the Artillery Corps at the time of the decision to raise the Volunteer Force was as follows:
|a.||Office of the Director of Artillery|
|b.||1st Field Artillery Brigade||Comprising the 1st, 2nd and 3rd Field Batteries (18 Pdr) and the 4th Field Battery (4.5 How)|
|c.||1st Anti-Aircraft Battery|
|d.||1st Light Battery|
|e.||The Artillery School|
|f.||Depot Detachment Artillery Corps|
|g.||Cadres for non-permanent Force Units|
|Note||The 4th Field Battery (4.5 How) and the 1st Light Battery (3.7 How) were ‘A’ Reserve Units. For the Organisation, see DFR A9 – 40/34|
The initial training of the Volunteer Force batteries was undertaken in Kildare Barracks by the Regular Batteries. The scheme was as follows;
- 1st Field Battery was responsible for training the volunteers from the Southern Command. Capt C. Trodden is listed as I/C.
- 2nd Field Battery was responsible for training the volunteers from the Eastern Command. Capt B.S.C. Thompson is listed as I/C.
- 3rd Field Battery was responsible for training the volunteers from the Western Command. Lt W.Donnelly is listed as I/C.
The first draft of Volunteers arrived from the Commands on 17th April 1934. The period of training was for 28 days. At the end of this period, Potential NCO material was selected and proceeded for a further three months of training as NCO’s. Again at the end of the NCO period of training, candidates were selected for Potential Officers Courses. Thus, by Spring of 1935, each Volunteer Battery had a number of Officers and NCO’s trained.
The Regular Batteries continued this training of Volunteers at Kildare Barracks until September 1934, and then proceeded to the Commands as shown above. They remained there until October 1935 carrying out Weekend Camps and Nightly Drills, in October they returned to Kildare Barracks leaving behind a small Cadre to continue the training of Volunteers.
This Organisation and Training of Volunteers continued up to April 1939 with the exception that all Volunteer Light Batteries were converted to 81mm Mortar Batteries in 1938. By April 1939, world affairs, particularly in Europe, seemed to be drifting towards another world war. The position of the Artillery Corps at that time was:
|a.||Office of the Director of Artillery, GHQ|
|b.||1 Field Artillery Brigade at Plunkett Barracks, Curragh Camp|
|c.||1st Anti-Aircraft Battery stationed at McKee Barracks, Dublin|
|d.||The Coastal Defence Artillery with HQ at Spike Island, and all the forts in Cobh Harbour, Berehaven (sic) and Donegal fully manned|
|e.||Field Artillery Cadres functioning in each Command Area|
|f.||The Depot and School Artillery Corps stationed at Plunkett Barracks, Curragh Camp, during the building of the new Barracks in Kildare|
At this time, April 1939, Capt R. Callanan, with Capt W. Donnelly was posted to Dublin to organise the II Field Artillery Brigade and to push on training with all possible speed. As a result of representations made by Comdt Callanan O.C the following Units were organised and were being trained:
|a.||5th Field Battery (Regular Cadre)||Capt D.Cody OCLt J GriffinLt P O’Neill|
|b.||6th Field Battery (Volunteer Force- Bray)||Lt J S Nolan|
|c.||7th Field Battery (Volunteer Force – Dublin)||Lt J Murray|
|d.||8th Field Battery (Volunteer Force – Drogheda)||Lt R Carew|
|e.||2nd Mortar Battery (Volunteer Force – Monaghan)||Capt W Donnelly|
Prior to the outbreak of War on 3rd September 1939, in addition to training large numbers of Volunteers, the process of mechanising the guns and trailers of the II Field Artillery Brigade went on with all possible speed. A number of sets of Martin Parry Adapter Equipment were received from abroad (which embraced dropped axles and pneumatic tyres). The work of fitting this equipment was undertaken by the Great Southern Railway Works at Inchicore. Prior to this work being carried out, when guns had to be moved, special ramps were required to load the wooden wheels on to lorries. It was hard work and time-devouring and the cause of minor injuries, no matter how carefully the loading and unloading was carried out.
Due to the foresight of the Directive and Planning Section at GHQ, it can be seen from the forgoing, that a reasonable number of trained Office, NCO’s and Volunteers (approximately 3 Officer, up to 10 NCO’s and 50 Volunteers were available in most batteries) were ready on the outbreak of war. These Volunteer formed the bulk of the Field Artillery.
II F.A Brigade proceeded to its War Statiion, Mullingar Barracks, on the outbreak of World War 2 on the 3rd September 1939. The Units were accommodated under canvas on the green portion of the Barracks Square (where now stands the Dining Facility). A small party was left behind in McKee Barracks to complete the mobilisation and forward the troops in drafts to Mullingar. This work was completed in seven days. The delay resulting in the fact that quite a number of Volunteers were in England and found great difficulty in getting back.
The 5th Field Battery and 2nd Motor Bty took over Knockdriu Castle, Mullingar in October 1939 from the 11th Infantry Battalion. Capt D Cody was Camp Commandant and OC 5th Bty; the Battalion remained in Mullingar.
The Artillery position at this time in Mullingar was that the Volunteers of the Western Command Artillery were amalgamated with the II F.A. Battalion (with the exception of the 15th V.F Battery, Letterkenny) which was allocated to the Northern Forts at Dunree and Lenan.
2 Field Artillery Brigade
|II F.A. Brigade||OC Comdt R. CallananAdjt Lt C MattimoeNo QM – Btys were self contained|
|a.||5th Field Battery (Regular Cadre)||Capt D. Cody OCLt J. GriffinLt P .O’NeillLt M. Buckley (R.O)Lt C O’Sullivan (Mullingar V.F)|
|b.||6th Field Battery (Volunteer Force, Bray)||Lt J. S. Nolan (Later Comdt F. Aherne)Lt W. Reeves (Mullingar V.F)Lt M. Touhy (Castlebar V.F)Lt J.McDermott (Mullingar V.F)|
|c.||7th Field Battery (V.F Dublin)||Lt J.Murray, Bty Comd (BC)Lt J. Nolan (Dublin V.F)Lt Halloran (Mullingar V.F)Lt J. Kane|
|d.||8th Field Battery (V.F Drogheda)||Lt R. Carew BCLt J McEvoy (Ballinasloe V.F)Lt J. Sweeney (Ballinasloe V.F)Lt M. Monaghan (Ballinasloe V.F)Lt Byrne (Drogheda V.F)Lt T. Walsh|
|e.||2nd Mortar Battery (V.F. Monaghan)||Capt W. Donnelly BCLt V. SmithLt F. Mulligan (Monaghan V.F.)Lt T. Lyons (Monaghan V.F.)Lt S. Gibbons (Castlebar V.F.)|
Artillery organisations again underwent a change in June 1940. The II F.A. Brigade was changed into two Field Artillery Battalions. The Mortar Organisation was also changed and the mortars were sent to the Infantry Battalions. When this reorganisation was completed, the following position pertained:
2 Field Artillery Brigade
|II F.A. Battalion|
|a.||II F.A. Battalion HQ||OC Comdt R. CallananAdjt Lt Dempsey (from OTC)QM Lt Smithwick (from OTC)I.O. Lt Sheridan (from OTC)|
|b.||6th Field Battery (attached to 2 Inf Bn, Ballsbridge)||BC Lt J.S. NolanGPO Lt Byrne (Drogheda V.F.)Sec Offr Lt Barry-Lunders (OTC)Attached Lt DeasyAttached Lt Farrell M (transferred from Kerry Bty V.F.)|
|c.||10th Field Battery (attached to 11th Inf Bn, Gormanston)||BC Capt W DonnellyGPO Lt J.J. Nolan (Dublin V.F.)Sec Offr Lt M.T. Duggan (Dublin V.F.)Lt Crogan (OTC)|
|d.||11th Field Battery (This was a new unit formed and training at McKee Barracks)||BC Lt C. MattimoeGPO Lt T Quirke (OTC)Sec Offr Lt Slattery (OTC)Sec Offr Lt Lennon (Emergency Officer)|
IV F.A. Battalion (Mullingar)
|e.||IV F.A. Battalion HQ||OC Comdr D. CodyAdjt Lt R. CarewQM Lt M. Monaghan (Ballinsloe V.F.)TO Lt T. Fallon (Emergency Offr)|
|f.||5th Field Battery||BC Lt V. Smyth (Monaghan V.F.)GPO Lt C. Sullivan (Mullingar V.F.)Sec Offr Lt P. McLynn (Emergency V.F.)Sec Offr Lt McDermott (Mullingar V.F.)|
|g.||7th Field Battery||BC Lt J. GriffinGPO Lt J. McEvoy (Ballinasloe V.F.)Sec Offr Lt J. Murray,Bty Comd (BC) Lt M. Greaney (Ballinasloe V.F.)Sec Offr Lt J. McDonnell (Emergency Offr)|
|h.||8th Field Battery||BC Lt J. KaneGPO Lt T. WalshSec Offr Lt Halloran (Mullingar V.F.)Sec Offr Lt J. Sweeney (Ballinasloe V.F.)Sec Offr Lt Jc|
On this re-organisation, all the officers with the Mortar Units proceeded to Infantry Battalions and became the Bn mortar Officers.
In or around June 1941 the organisation again changed, and the II and IV Battalions merged into the II F.A. Battalion with its HQ at McKee Barracks.
2 Field Artillery Battalion
|Headquarters McKee Barracks||OC Comdt R.Callanan2I/C Capt W. DonnellyAdjt Capt R. CarewQM Capt M. MonaghanA/QM Lt SmithwickTO Lt T. Tallon|
|a.||5th Field Battery||Mullingar|
|b.||6th Field Battery||Ballsbridge|
|c.||7th Field Battery||McKee Barracks|
|d.||8th Field Battery||Longford|
|e.||10th Field Battery||Gormanston|
|f.||11th Field Battery||McKee Barracks|
With the exception of the 7th and 11th Btys, all the others were attached to Infantry Battalions. In July 1941, the Battalion was transferred to Colins Barracks, and assumed responsibility for the Barracks in every respect.
The II and IV Regiments moved to Hibernian Schools, Phoenix Park (now St Marys Hospital) A portion of the Barracks had been used and continued to be used until the end of the Emergency as St Mobies Military Hospital. Collins Barracks was then vacated and both Regiments moved to Hibernian Schools on 8th October 1943, As the IV Regiment was with the 6th Brigade, OC VI Regiment was appointed OC Hibernian Schools. The organisation of the II Field Artillery Regiment was then as follows:
2 Field Artillery Battalion
|Headquarters||OC Comdt W. DonnellyAdjt Capt J.O’BrienQM Capt M. MonaghanCPO M. SheridanTO Lt W. Atkins|
|a.||10th Field BatteryArmament: 75mm Guns||BC Capt P. GriffinGPO Lt KellegherSec Offr Lt J KerrSec Offr Lt Mason|
|b.||14th Field BatteryArmament: 75 mm Guns||BC Capt T. WalshGPO Lt N. FarrellSec Offr Lt H. ShortallSec Offr Lt C. Smyth|
|c.||19th Field BatteryArmament: 4.5’ Hows.||BC Capt R. CarewGPO Lt G. ByrneSec Offr Lt N. BoyleSec Offr Lt G. Kiernan|
|d.||2nd Anti-Tank BtyArmament: 2 Pdr Anti-Tank Guns||BC Capt DineenSec Offr Lt P. McDonald|
All during the Emergency period, the II F.A. Regiment proceeded with the Brigade on all exercises that were carried out from Dublin to the Border. Due to the rapid expansion of the Artillery Units during 1929-1945 periods, the training of large numbers of Officers, NCO’s and Men had to be undertaken. In October 1945, Higher Authority boarded Volunteer and Emergency Officers, with a view to permanent commissions in the Army. In November 1945, the Director of Artillery discussed with OC’s II and VI Regiments the question of amalgamation of both units into II Field Artillery regiments. Instructions were issued for the work to be completed by January 1946. A board of three officers interviewed NCO’s both Regular and Emergency to be retained in the Regular Army and Reserve. At the same time recruiting for the regular army was re-opened. The order of the amalgamation was:
2 Field Artillery Battalion
|Sub-units||New Amalgamated Sub-units|
|a.||Headquarters, Anti-Tank Bty and 5th Field Battery||10th Field Battery|
|b.||6th Battery||19th Field Battery|
|c.||11th Battery||14th Field Battery|
When this work was completed the following Officers, NCO’s and Men were taken on the strength of the 2nd Field Artillery Regiment. On the 16th November, the Peace Establishment was received and put into operation. An order was received from Brigade that the Hibernian Schools was to be vacated and handed back to the Board of Works, and the Regiment moved to McKee Barracks, this move was completed by 18th December 1946.
11 JANUARY 1946
AMALGAMATION OF UNITS
Authority is sought for the posting of the undermentioned personnel of the VI F.A. Regiment to the II F.A. Regiment.
(Signature) R Carew (Rank) Comdt
Date 5th January 1946 O.C. VI Field Regiment.
(a) REGULAR PERSONNEL
(b) RESERVE OF MEN – 1st LINE
(c) RESERVE OF MEN – CLASS ‘A’
(d) VOLUNTEER FORCE
I recommend the posting of above personnel WEF 17th inst.
All postings approved
WEF 17 JAN 1946
Signature (R. J. Callaghan)