|2nd Devonshire Artillery Volunteers|
Devonshire Royal Garrison Artillery
566th (Devon) Coast Regiment, RA
407th (Devon) Coast Regiment, RA
Royal Artillery cap badge
|Active||3 January 1861–31 October 1961|
|Engagements||World War I|
World War II
Occupation of Iceland
The 2nd Devonshire Artillery Volunteers was a unit of the British Volunteer Force and Territorial Army. The unit and its successors defended Plymouth Dockyard and the Devon coast (and, briefly, Iceland) from 1861 to 1961.
The 2nd Administrative Brigade, Devonshire Artillery Volunteers was formed at Devonport, Plymouth on 3 January 1861 as a headquarters for a number of Artillery Volunteer Corps (AVCs) that had been raised in Devonshire in response to the invasion scare of 1859. A 1st Administrative Brigade had been formed the previous year, but the number of units in the county had continued to grow and they were split between the two headquarters. The 2nd Admin Brigade took the units in the western part of the county and was based at Devonport, Plymouth, with the following composition:
The unit's HQ moved from Devonport to Dartmouth in 1874 before returning three years later. The commanding officer from 1864 was Lieutenant-Colonel Charles Hayne, who was also a Captain in the South Devon Militia. He was succeeded by Lt-Col Alex Ridgway, a former captain in the 1st Devon Militia (appointed 1873). By 1866 the 12th AVC had four companies and the 13th had two. A cadet corps was attached to the unit from 1871 to 1879.
In 1893 the HQ and Nos 1 and 3–9 Companies were based at 14 Paradise Place at Stoke in Devonport, and No 2 Company was at Ridge Park Road, Plympton, and Fore Street, Salcombe at Fore Street, Salcombe. In the same year the War Office Mobilisation Scheme had allocated the 2nd Devonshire Artillery Volunteers to the Plymouth fixed defences.
The corps was attached to the Western Division of the Royal Artillery (RA) in April 1882 and changed its name to 2nd Devonshire Volunteer Artillery in November 1891. In January 1902 it was attached to the Royal Garrison Artillery (RGA) and became the 2nd Devonshire RGA (Volunteers). A new cadet corps was formed at Plymouth and Mannamead College in 1900, but was transferred to the 2nd (Prince of Wales's) Volunteer Battalion, Devonshire Regiment in 1907.
When the Volunteers were subsumed into the new Territorial Force (TF) under the Haldane Reforms of 1908, the 2nd Devonshire RGA became simply the Devonshire RGA as a Defended Ports unit with the following composition:
Until 1908, the battery at Ilfracombe (two new 6-inch breechloading guns were installed at Beacon Point in 1905) had been the responsibility of No 10 Battery of the 1st Devonshire RGA (V), which was converted into a field artillery unit under the Haldane Reforms.
The unit was mobilised in the South Western Coast Defences on the outbreak of World War I in August 1914, and raised two additional companies, Nos 1 & 2. Although the unit did not serve overseas, it is probable that volunteers did serve with other RGA units, and there is a memorial to men of the unit who died during the war.
When the RGA was merged back into the RA in 1924, the unit was redesignated as the Devonshire Heavy Brigade, RA. In 1932 it was amalgamated with the Cornwall Heavy Brigade to form the Devonshire and Cornwall Heavy Brigade, with the following composition:
In 1936 'Cornwall' was dropped from the title, and when the RA replaced its unit designation of 'brigade' by the more normal 'regiment' in November 1938, the unit became the Devonshire Heavy Regiment, RA.
As the TA expanded in the months leading up to the outbreak of World War II, a new 193 Heavy Battery at Falmouth, Cornwall was added to the regiment in August 1939. With the threat of invasion after the Dunkirk evacuation, the coastal artillery defending the United Kingdom was greatly increased. In 1940 the Cornish element of the regiment regained its independence as the Cornwall Heavy Regiment, later 523rd (Cornwall) Coast Regiment. Then in April 1941, the Devonshire Heavy Regiment was reorganised to form three Coast Regiments:
All three regiments served in the defences in the Plymouth area, but 566th Coast Regiment was sent for a spell in 1941 to garrison Iceland as part of Alabaster Force. 567th and 568th Coast Regiments were placed in 'suspended animation' in 1944 and 1943 respectively, and their batteries posted to the 566th, after which it was renamed 566th (Devon and Cornwall) Coast Regiment.
The regiment was placed in suspended animation in 1946.
When the TA was reconstituted in 1947, the 566th and 567th Regiments were reformed as 407th/408th (Devon) Coast Regiment, separating into two regiments the following year; 568th was not reformed. Both 407th and 408th were part of the 102nd Coast Artillery Brigade. In 1948 the 408th was redesignated 408th (Devon) Heavy Anti-Aircraft Regiment, Royal Artillery, but was placed in suspended animation in 1949 and subsequently disbanded. 407th (Devon) Coast Regiment continued at Plymouth until 31 October 1956, when it was absorbed by 256th (Wessex) Light Anti-Aircraft Regiment, RA (which had originally been the 1st Admin Brigade of Devonshire Artillery Volunteers, see above).
(Lords St Levan and Astor served as joint Honorary Colonels after their regiments were merged.)