Honourable Artillery Company

From Academic Kids

The Honourable Artillery Company (HAC) is the oldest surviving regiment in the British Army, and the second most senior.



The HAC can trace its history as far back as 1296, but it received a Royal Charter from Henry VIII on 25 August 1537, when Letters Patent were received by the Overseers of the Fraternity or Guild of St George authorising them to establish a perpetual corporation for the defence of the realm to be known as the Fraternity or Guild of Artillery of Longbows, Crossbows and Handguns. This body was known by a variety of names until 1656, when it was first referred to as the Artillery Company. It was first referred to as the Honourable Artillery Company in 1685 and officially received the name from Queen Victoria in 1860.

Until 1780 the HAC trained the officers of the London Trained Bands. Contingents first served overseas in the South African War (18991902) and three infantry battalions and seven artillery batteries were raised for service during the First World War. In the Second World War the 12th (HAC) Regiment, Royal Horse Artillery served in North-West Europe, North Africa, Sicily and Italy.

Current role

The HAC is currently a unit of the Territorial Army based in City Road in Islington, just north of the City of London: the regiment has an important historical and ceremonial relationship with the City. It is part of the NATO rapid reaction corps, supplying a Surveillance and Target Acquisition function - operating small covert reconnaissance patrols gathering intelligence and target information.

Although closely linked to the Royal Artillery, it is a separate regiment and not part of the RA. Its Permanent Staff Instructors are drawn from the Foot Guards and Household Cavalry and it is generally considered to be the TA equivalent of these regiments, wearing their khaki beret (with its own cap badge).

The HAC is divided into three Patrol Squadrons, a Signal Squadron, a Headquarters Squadron, a Liaison Troop (formerly the Gun Troop), a Corps of Drums and a Regimental Band. The regiment also has two ceremonial units: the Company of Pikemen and Musketeers (formed 1925), and the Light Cavalry Troop (formed 1979, given Royal Warrant 2004).

The HAC also has a ceremonial role in providing honour guards at the Guildhall in the City of London during state visits, and providing the saluting battery at the Tower of London for state occasions. The Light Cavalry and the Company of Pikemen and Musketeers form the guards for the Lord Mayor of London.

The Honourable Artillery Company Museum

Honourable Artillery Company Museum opened in 1987. The collection includes uniforms, armour, silver, medals and decorations, weapons, equipment and applied art. The archives date from 1657 and are of particular interest for 17th and 18th century militia and City of London matters.

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