About This Unit
The 6th Field Artillery Brigade was raised to support the 2nd Infantry Division.
The 6th Field Artillery Brigade was raised on 19 October 1915 and retained its structure to January 1917 at which point it was disbanded as part of an AIF-wide re-organisation of artillery assets and units. It is explained in more detail below. It comprised:
6th Field Artillery Brigade HQ 19 October 1915 – 20 January 1917
6th Field Artillery Battery
17th Field Artillery Battery
18th Field Artillery Battery
106th Field Artillery (Howitzer) Battery
6th Brigade Ammunition Column
At the outbreak of the War, Australian Artillery was in short supply in both quantitative and qualitative terms.
The standard field gun was the British 18 pounder (so-called because of the weight of the high explosive shell). When the AIF embarked, its artillery was light-on indeed. As it turned out the scope to use it at Gallipoli was extremely constrained anyway so it mattered less than had the AIF gone straight to Europe, where artillery was the definitive feature of the battlefield.
At ANZAC, guns were deployed singly purely because of a lack of suitable fire positions. The 18 pounders were the first into action but later an improvised heavy Battery was formed with two 6 inch (150mm) howitzers and a 4.7 inch (120mm) Naval Quick Firing gun.
Artillery units had arguably the least intuitive structure and organisation of any of the major Corps in the AIF. This in part reflected changing priority and availability of equipment.
The standard organisation of Field Artillery took on the form of the Field Artillery Brigade (FAB) which were formed, at least initially, to be attached to and to support the Infantry Brigades of the same numerric designation.
In 1914 and 1915 the First and Second Division each had three FAB 1st - 6th FAB attached to the 1st-6th Infantry Brigades respectvely. Each FAB had three Batteries with 4 x 18 pounders making a total of 12 guns in each FAB.
On arrival in France, the artillery was reorganised for the first of many times. At the same time a Howitzer-equipped FAB was raised for each division, numbered 21-25. The second digit indicated the Division to which it was to be allocated. Like their field gun equivalents, the Howitzer FAB had 3 x 4 gun batteries, this time of 4.5inch howitzer. However, the Howitzer FAB could not be properly equipped, as manufacture could not initially meet demand.
This resulted in the Howitzer FAB being broken up and their Howitzer Batteries being added to the existing FAB, as they were progressively equipped.
In January 1917, batteries were increased in size to 6 guns each in order to economise on headquarters structures and the number of Field Artillery Brigades in each Division was reduced to two.
The 6th FAB became a casualty of this re-organisaton with its guns being allocated to meet the increase of two guns per Battery across the remaining FAB.
As the war progressed, concentration and weight of fire became the name of the game to facilitate command and control at the highest level.
Later a range of independent Batteries equipped with specialised weapons like Siege Artillery, Heavy Howitzers and Medium and Heavy Mortars were added to the mix, generally at Division level or higher. The allocation of their fire support was managed accordingly. See the entry for Divisional artillery for further information.
A more comprehensive account of the equipment, details of the ammunition, Command and Control and Logistics is located HERE - Field Artillery Brigades
Battle/ Campaign/ Involvement
The 6th FAB's chronology of campaigns matches that of the Brigade (6th) and Division (2nd) to which it was attached.
Defence of ANZAC (Sep-Dec 1915)
Armentieres (May-Jun 1916)
Pozieres / Mouquet Farm (Jul-Aug)
Flers / Guedecourt (Nov 1916)
It was disbanded in January 1917
Steve Larkins Feb 2015 Updated 2021
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Please contact [email protected] for details on how to contribute.