The history of modern artillery spans thousand of years, with the earliest and most primitive types of artillery being the ballista and the catapult. Continual innovation resulted in massive, complex weapons – like the Russian Great Mortar of Moscow - and then a gradual return to the smaller, more mobile artillery pieces we are familiar with today.
On 1 September 1905, by General Order 200, the Royal Canadian Field Artillery became the Royal Canadian Horse Artillery - support cavalry rather than infantry. The Regiment served honourably during the Boer War, at the battles of Mafeking, Faber’s Putt, Belfast Station and Leliefontein. The Regiment continued to serve its country during the First and Second World Wars and the Korean Conflict. It was at Vimy Ridge in 1917 that the Regiment truly shone.
By the morning of 9 April 1917, more than a million rounds, with a total weight of 50,000 tons, had battered the German positions. The Second World War saw great developments in the technology of artillery and ballistics, with Canadian gunners playing a role in the advancements. These advancements included the development of the discarding sabot anti-tank round, and fire control, voice procedure and fire planning.
Since Korea, the Regiment has continued to deploy on UN and NATO operations overseas, and has continued its long affiliation with Petawawa, a tradition started over 100 years ago, when the first gunners traveled from Kingston for summer militia training. In August 2006, “E” Battery deployed to Afghanistan. While they recognize the seriousness of the deployment, the gunners of “E” Battery are looking forward to doing what they have been trained to do – firing the big guns. We wish them well, a safe deployment and a speedy return!
Garrison Petawawa maintains a small artillery collection. Most material resides at the Royal Canadian Artillery Museum in Shilo, Manitoba. Our Museums are particularly interested in obtaining material directly related to the early years of Camp Petawawa as summer training camp.