Dated: January 10, 2001.
British Rocket Troops
French: Fusées Britanniques
German: Britische Raketen
Spanish: Unidades de Cohetes Británicas
Italian: Lanciarazzi Britannici
Dutch: Britse Rakettroepen
The British learnt about the demoralising effects of rocket propelled explosives during the wars of the 1780s when they were used against them by the Mahrattas in India. The Royal Navy adopted and adapted the rockets for use against other vessels and for ship to shore bombardment.
By 1808, the revolutionary projectile had been modified by Major General Sir William Congreve for land combat and came in six different calibres: 3, 6, 9,12, 18 and 24 pounds. The rockets consisted of a steel case, which had a conical or spherical head and was filled with gunpowder.
As part of the Royal Horse Artillery the uniform and equipment of the Rocket Troopers was the same and the horse furniture differed only slightly. The Rocket Gunners carried a bundle of rocket-sticks in a small bucket that was mounted forward of the offside stirrup and four 6-pounder rockets in two specially constructed holsters. Sometimes a small white over blue flag was attached to a rocket stick in the manner of a lance. One in three troopers carried a small trough on their saddlebags in which the rocket was laid when fired. It would not have been used whilst still attached to the horse. The main equipment was carried in a large carriage and included the 'Bombarding Frame' that was used to launch the heavy rockets.
Although no complete batteries of 'Rockets' operated in the Peninsular Wars a detachment under Captain Lane gave a good account of themselves during the crossing of the River Ardour before the battle of Orthez.
Rocket troops were present at the Battle of Leipzig 1813 as part of the Allied Army of the North under the command of Crown Prince Charles John of Sweden formerly known as Marshall Jean Bernadotte in Napoleon's Grande Armee. The Czar was so impressed by their performance that he decorated the lieutenant in charge of them with his own badge, the Order of St. Anne.
The Rocket Troops were at Quatre Bras and Waterloo and although Wellington viewed the rockets' uncertain behaviour with considerable distaste he was aware that their 2000 metre range was acceptable and apart from being useful for setting fire to houses they had an awesome demoralising effect.
Taran Rhuddlan - Britain
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