BREIF HISTORY OF THE 66 ARTILLERY REGIMENT

The present 66 Artillery Regiment came into existence on 16 April 1966. It was referred to as the Medium Mortar Regiment until 3 June 2002, when the unit took delivery of new artillery pieces and was redesigned the 66 Artillery Regiment. The object of the formation of the then Medium Mortar Regiment on 16 April 1966 was to increase the fire power potential of the Ghana Army, as hitherto, its only existing fire support had come from the 81mm Mortars. This situation was created after the disbandment of the Royal West Africa Frontier Force (RWAFF) of British West Africa in 1956, which saw the departure of the Artillery Battery. This Battery had been an integral part of the Gold Coast Regiment since its inception.  The Gold Coast Regiment, however, dates back from 1865, when it was raised in Lagos for service in that country then a dependency of the Gold Coast. This force was brought to the Gold Coast in 1873. The Gold Coast Regiment signaled its appearance in many of the colonial campaigns vis-à-vis the Ashanti campaign in 1873-1874. In 1879, by an ordinance, the force became the Gold Coast Constabulary. From this time it took part in the following expedition; JESA 1892, ASHANTI 1895-1896, NORTHERN TERRITORIES 1897-1898, YENDI 1898.

In 1899 it was recommended that all the Colonial Military forces in West Africa should be amalgamated under the designation of the West African Frontier Force. By the year 1901, the Constabulary had become the Gold Coast Regiment of RWAFF consisting of two Battalions. The first Battalion quartered mainly in ASHANTI, consisted of one Battery of 5 guns and nine Infantry Companies. Of these, the Battery and four Companies were in KUMASI (HQ) and one Company in ACCRA with a Detachment at CAPE COAST. One Company was at KWESA with a Detachment at BEPOSO, one Company at MAMPONG with a Detachment at ATEBUBU. The Second Battalion consisting of a Battery and six Infantry Companies was situated in the Northern Territories with the HQ, the Battery and four Companies at TAMALE. There was one Company at WA with a Detachment at BOLE and one Company at KINTAMPO, with a Detachment at SALAGA.  On the disbandment of the Second Battalion in 1907, a new Constabulary took its place. The first Battalion with its Battery became the Gold Coast Regiment.

At the outbreak of war in 1914, the Gold Coast Regiment was composed of one Artillery Battery (armed with 7×2.95 QF Mountain Guns), one Pioneer Company and seven Infantry Companies.

TOGOLAND CAMPAIGN

The British troops actually employed in the short and successful campaign in the Togoland of August 1914 against the Germans, were men entirely drawn from the Gold Coast. The British force under LT-COL consisted of 500xRiflemen, 3xMountain Guns and 4xMGs of the Gold Coast Regiment. This Campaign ended in the 26 August 1914 after the Germans had been forced to abandon a strong hold at KHRA.

THE CAMEROONS CAMPAIGN

The Gold Coast Artillery Section and the Pioneer Coy formed part of the column which in December 1914-1915 pushed up the northern railway, occupied the railhead some 50 miles further and destroyed CHANG and then withdraw to Basanoongsamba (railhead). Again the Gold Coast Detachment took part in the successful advance to YOUNDI in October 1915, which was finally occupied on 1st January 1916.   This victory spelt the doom of the Germans’ operations in the Cameroon’s in the middle of February 1916.

THE CAMPAIGN IN EAST AFRICA

The Gold Coast Regiment after the Cameroon’s Campaign return to its cantonments in Kumasi on the 1th April 1916.   Shortly afterwards, the Gold Coast Sent an expeditionary force to East Africa.   The Composition of the forces was as follows:

  • Four double Companies.
  • One Pioneer Company.
  • One battery (2.95 in Howitzer Guns).
  • 12 MGs.
  • A large number of carriers.

During these campaigns the Gold Coast force took part in the Battle of Narumgombe on 18 June 1917.   On the 15 December, the same year, the attack on Gold Coast Hill was commenced.   This is looked upon as the most successful engagement the Regiment took part in during the whole war as in spite of many casualties the Regiment captured its objective.

THE BATTLE OF EL-WAK

16TH DECEMBER 1940

The Battery of the Gold Coast regiment played a very significant role during this battle. The enemy had persistently continued to deliver 3 inch shells on the HQ of the Gold Coast Regiment. The Battery of the Gold Coast regiment carried out a counter battery, which quickly silenced the enemy’s guns. By this singular effort, a Gold Coast Field Engineer Company managed to blow gaps in the enemy’s wire through, which the allied force passed to capture EL-WAK.

A detachment of the Gold Coast Regiment accompanied the Anglo French Expeditionary Force under General Debell to fight against DUALA in September 1914. This Detachment consisted of a Regimental HQ, the Pioneer Company and two Infantry Companies and One Section of the Battery. The Section of the Battery played a prominent role during this campaign in the advance against YOBESI.

THE BATTLE OF THE JUBA RIVER

Though the battery accompanied the gold Cost Regiment during the battle, it played just a minor part because this was a battle fought in a jungle where artillery had a little part to play.

END OF THE WAR

After the East Africa campaigns the Gold Coast regiment went through several changes, until 1 April 1938, when the regiment was again reorganised, this time with the object of maintaining one Battalion at war strength in personnel and armament with a second cadre Battalion.

POST WAR YEAR/DISBANDMENT

The Artillery Battery had therefore always remained an integral part of the Gold Coast Regiment, now the Ghana Army, throughout its metamorphic stages. It took part in many campaigns and battles as part of Gold Coast Regiment both on the continent and in the far East and was with equipped with 7 pounders, 75mm Guns,2.95 in Howitzer, Mortars and later 3.7 in howitzers. In 1948 the 3.7 in Howitzer were replaced by the 25 Pounder and this became the main support weapon until the disbandment of the Royal West African Frontier Force in 1956. Four Troops of Guns and 2  Aircraft Troops together with their ammunitions were sent to Nigeria.

Four of the 25 pounder Guns were however left behind and converted to Saluting Guns for Ceremonial duties. The personnel and equipment left behind were then used to form 1 Recce Sqn. The name Field Battery was changed to Reconnaissance Battery. The Unit Flag of Red over Blue black was changed to red over Yellow. The saluting Guns remained with 1 Recce Sqn until the Mil 1960’s with one company at ODUMASI with detachments is SIKARI and ASAFO in the western Frontier District and NKORANSA.

With the passing away of the Field Battery, the Ghana Army lost its most vital fire support. In 1960, in an effort to increase the existing fire power of the Army, the 81 mm Mortars were introduced. This, however, did not produce the required fire power. Consequently, in 1965 Lt Ekow Jones and sergeant Robert B Namale both from MATS and WOI Thomas Quaye and Sgt Emmanuel Mensah, both old Gunners from the disbanded 2 Field Battery now 1 Recce Sqn were selected for a 6 Months course at Israeli School of Artillery. After the successful completion of the course on the 120mm Tampella Heavy Mortar, they returned to the country and in November that same year 17 Junior Leaders were recruited from the Armed Forces Training Centre Kumasi.  They were taken on strength on 18 January 1966 and attached to MATS initially where they trained under the selected personnel who had returned from Israel.

FORMATION/RE DESIGNATION

On 16 April 1966 the Medium Mortar Regiment was born under the authority of the HQ Ghana Armed forces and was located at Medo Lines. Approval for the establishment was given on 31 May 1966 with the Establishment Number as G/8. It had as its Commanding officer Capt Ekow Jones. On 19 may 1966 the first batch of officers were posted to the Regiment and 4 of them were Taken on Strength that same day. Two more officers were taken on Strength on 2 June 1966.

On 21 July 1966 the troops of saluting Guns together with manning personnel were posted to Mortar Regiment. Thus the old battery for the last time broke its remaining links with 1 Recce Squadron and once more joined a Field Unit to form the nucleus of Ghana’s Artillery Unit. In 1968 the unit moved from Medo Lines to Volta Barracks Ho.

From 1988 onwards the regiment saw quite some changes in establishment, resulting in additions to personnel and equipment. On 3 June 2002 and in line with the acquisition of 107mm MRL, 122mm Howitzer and 122mm MRLS artillery weapon, Medium Mortar Regiment was redesignated to 66 ARTILLERY REGIMENT of the Ghana Armed Forces. It was a joyous occasion during which all ranks resolved to work harder as well as re-affirmed their loyalty to the constitution of Ghana, the Ghana Armed Forces, the Regiment and themselves. The Regiment currently has 105mm Howitzer which was acquired in 2016.

OPERATIONS AND MISSIONS

In the professional artillery role, the 66 artillery regiment has provided independent batteries in support of Ghanaian and foreign battalions on peacekeeping duties in UNIFIL, ECOMOG and UNAMSIL. Until March 1992, there had been an independent Mortar battery operating in Lebanon. This battery was designated the ‘Ghana Mortar Coy’ and served as the Force Fire Support unit for 13 years. An Independent Battery from the Regiment operates on a rotational basis in support of the regional peacekeeping force, ECOMOG in Liberia. A Mortar Troops and 107mm RL Detachment from the Regiment also operated on rotational basis as part of supporting elements for the UNAMSIL operation. The unit also formed the nucleus of MONUC GH2 in the DRC from May-Nov 02. UNAMSIL GH 9 in Sierra Leone and UNIFILS GH65 and 80 in Lebanon, MINUCAT GH2 and UNMIL GH15.

UNIT SLOGAN/COLORS/MASCOT

The unit slogan is Once a Gunner, Always a Gunner” The Unit Colours of red over Black depict the artillery jargon, which says ‘Fire before smoke” We have a sheep as the Unit Mascot, Bombardier Kwaku Cannon.

CONCLUSION

Even though the 66 artillery Regiment is barely 38 years old, its history shows that the Artillery regiment Had always remained an integral part of the Ghana Army throughout its metamorphic stages.