Lowland Gunners march into army’s history books

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THE artillery regiment which recruited gunners from across the Borders has ceased to exist, after Whitehall defence chiefs ordered its soldiers posted elsewhere as part of the 2010 defence review.

Troops from 40th Regiment Royal Artillery – The Lowland Gunners – and approximately 400 veterans paraded on Edinburgh Castle Esplanade for the last time on Friday, as the regiment was placed in suspended animation.

All members of the regiment will be posted to new units in the coming months. Commanding Officer Lieutenant Colonel Baz Bennett, said the disbandment parade represented the final homecoming of the Lowland Gunners to their spiritual home, in Edinburgh.

“The occasion provided an opportunity for regimental members, past and present, to reflect on their part within the regiment’s 65-year history,” he said.

“While it is with sadness that we see the regiment move into suspended animation, this is a time to celebrate the history, tradition, and service that The Lowland Gunners have contributed during the last seven decades.

“The parade also provided the opportunity for the regiment to thank the people of Edinburgh for the extremely warm welcome that we have always received on the numerous occasions that we have come home to conduct ceremonial duties over the years.

“We are also greatly honoured to have been awarded the Privilege [freedom] of Edinburgh, prior to the regiment being placed into suspended animation.

“While this parade marks the end of an era, I am confident the memory of 40th Regiment Royal Artillery will live on for years to come, not only in Edinburgh, but throughout the Scottish Lowlands.”

The 2010 Strategic Defence and Security Review concluded that there was a requirement for force reduction across all three Armed Services.

As part of this reduction it was decided that the Northern Ireland-based 19 Light Brigade would disband, and the brigade’s combat support and combat service support elements be placed in suspended animation – including the 40th Regiment Royal Artillery.

Regiments and battalions placed in suspended animation have not formally been disbanded, but effectively they cease to exist.

During Friday’s parade, the regiment’s 137 (Java) Battery members were presented with their operational service medals for a recent tour of duty in Afghanistan.

Saturday night also saw an all-ranks function at Murrayfield Stadium for 40th Regiment members past and present, and their guests, at attended by more than 1,200 people.

A light gun regiment based in Thiepval Barracks, Lisburn, Northern Ireland, 40 Regiment comprised three gun batteries and a headquarters battery, with each battery consisting of six towed 105mm light guns.

In December, elements of its 6/36 (Arcot) and 38 (Seringapatam) batteries re-subordinated respectively to 4th Regiment Royal Artillery, based in Topcliffe, and 19th Regiment, based in Tidworth.

Recently returned from operations in Afghanistan, 137 (Java) Battery, is set to re-subordinate to 26th Regiment, based in Germany, while 49 (Inkerman) Battery will join Joint Ground-Based Air Defence, at North Luffenham.

While the regimental title is only 65 years old, the gun batteries have long histories, stretching back to the War of Austrian Succession and Robert Clive’s siege of Arcot, in India, in the 18th century.

To ensure the unit’s heritage lives on, its regimental property, and pipes and drums will be placed with 19th Regiment Royal Artillery (The Highland Gunners).

This is in line with 19th Regiment becoming the Scottish Gunners where the identity of both Highland and Lowland Gunners will be represented.