Royal Malta Artillery

The Royal Malta Artillery (RMA) was a regular artillery unit of the British Army prior to Malta's independence. It was formed in 1889, having been called the Royal Malta Fencible Artillery from 1861 until 1889.[1][2]

Royal Malta Artillery
Royal Malta Artillery, cap badge.jpg
Cap badge
HeadquartersFort St Elmo, Valletta
ConscriptionVolunteer and Territorial Force
Deployed personnelWestern Desert and BAOR
Soldiers from a RMA living history group wearing WWII-era Khaki Drill uniforms and carrying .303 SMLE rifles on guard duty in Valletta in 2008
A 40mm Bofors Anti-Aircraft gun used by the RMA in WWII. Note characteristic Malta rock camouflage.
A 3.7-inch gun on a travelling carriage (not a Malta battery position)
A 4.5-inch gun and crew (not a Malta battery position).
Gunners of the RMA's 3 Light Anti Aircraft Artillery and 11 Heavy Anti Aircraft Regiments of the Royal Malta Artillery on parade in November 1959
The RMA's war memorial on St. Anne Street in Floriana

Initially on the British Establishment, the regiment was disbanded in 1970 with its personnel and equipment being handed over to the Maltese Government and becoming part of the Malta Land Force.


Victorian EraEdit

The RMA was a compact force in the late Nineteenth Century and in 1891 it is recorded as being deployed as follows:[3]

Initially, the average strength of the RMA was 365 men, but by the beginning of the 20th century, the unit has more than doubled its size, with its HQ still at Fort Lascaris and two companies based at Fort St Angelo and Fort Salvatore at Cottonera. The unit had a total of eight companies two of which were earmarked for service beyond the island and one RMA Company would be deployed to serve in Egypt (Cairo and Alexandria) in the early 1900s. The Malta-based units were arranged as follows:

  • HQ RMA was still at Fort Lascaris
  • 1 Company was based at Fort Lascaris
  • 2 Company was based at the Crucifix Bastion in Valletta
  • 3 Company was based at Spinola Camp in the vicinity of the Spinola Battery
  • 4 Company was based at Fort St Angelo
  • 5 Company was based at Cairo, Egypt
  • Depot Company was based at Fort Lascaris.

World War IEdit

Up until the outbreak of hostilities the RMA had steadily been reduced to a Depot Company and Three Gun Companies (of various types and roles). In 1914 this trend was reversed and the RMA raised an extra company and was deployed thus:

The Inter-war YearsEdit

At the end of the Great War, the RMA were deployed to guarding POWs until 1920 when they were taken off this task and the unit was reduced to its pre-war three company order of battle (ORBAT). The RMA would spend the inter-war years acting as coastal and heavy anti-aircraft artillery. From 1938 onwards the RMA expanded to make up two coast regiments. one of which would become a heavy anti-aircraft regiment.[4]

World War IIEdit

The RMA is known to have had the following units on its ORBAT:[5][6][7]

Post War Service in GermanyEdit

1 Regiment Royal Malta Artillery served in Germany within BAOR from 1962 to 1970.[13] In 1968 the then Prime Minister of Malta George Borg Olivier visited the Regiment in its barracks in Mulheim, and announced that the 1st Regiment RMA would cease to be part of the British Army of the Rhine in 1970 and could return to Malta to form the core of its land forces. 500 officers and men from the Royal Malta Artillery took their oath of allegiance and were enlisted in the Malta Land Force (MLF) on 1 October 1970. Maltese Engineer and Signals personnel were also absorbed into the force that day.[14]

WWII Uniforms and EquipmentEdit

During World War II the RMA wore the same uniform as the British Army.

Make Origin Type
Khaki Drill   United Kingdom Summer Uniform
Battle Dress   United Kingdom Winter Uniform
Side cap   United Kingdom Headgear
Brodie helmet   United Kingdom Helmet
1937 Pattern Web Equipment   United Kingdom Webbing

Most, if not all units stationed in Malta during World War II including the RMA had adopted a unique camouflage pattern on their helmets. This pattern attempted to replicate the rubble walls that are still commonly used to separate fields and properties in Malta. It was also applied to vehicles, bunkers and anti-aircraft guns.

WWII Small ArmsEdit

During World War II the RMA used the same personal and crew-served weapons in service with the British Army.

Make Origin Type
Lee–Enfield (Mk III)   United Kingdom Bolt-action Rifle
Webley Revolver   British Empire Service Revolver
Bren light machine gun   United Kingdom Light machine gun
Thompson submachine gun   United States Submachine gun
Sten   United Kingdom Submachine gun

WWII Heavy WeaponsEdit

During World War II the RMA used light and heavy Anti-aircraft guns and searchlights to help defend the Island against air attack.[15]

Make Origin Type
Bofors QF 40 mm Mark I   Sweden Light AAA
QF 3.7-inch AA gun   British Empire Heavy AAA
QF 4.5-inch naval gun   British Empire Heavy AAA/Coastal Gun

The RMA used a range of UK/US manufactured support vehicles as general duties and logistics support. They also manned a range of searchlight and target acquisition systems associated with the anti-aircraft artillery.

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "The Royal Malta Fencible Artillery". Retrieved 13 July 2017.
  2. ^ "Armed Forces". Maltese History & Heritage. 26 September 2013. Retrieved 13 July 2017.
  3. ^ "The Royal Malta Artillery - 1891". Retrieved 14 July 2017.
  4. ^ "The Royal Malta Artillery". Retrieved 14 July 2017.
  5. ^ "British GHQ, Army Group, Army and Corps Troops Mediterranean Area 1939-1945" (PDF). US Army CAC. Retrieved 13 July 2017.
  6. ^ Allied, Newspapers Ltd (7 April 2013). "The Royal Malta Artillery's role in the Battle for Malta". Times of Malta. Retrieved 13 July 2017.
  7. ^ Doherty, Richard (2016). Ubique: The Royal Artillery in the Second World War. History Press. ISBN 9780750979313. Retrieved 13 July 2017.
  8. ^ Allied, Newspapers Ltd (14 April 2013). "Remembering the Royal Malta Artillery's forgotten thousands". Times of Malta. Retrieved 13 July 2017.
  9. ^ "Armed Forces of Malta - Air Defence Battery". Retrieved 13 July 2017.
  10. ^ Wragg, David W. (2003). Malta, the Last Great Siege: The George Cross Island's Battle for Survival, 1940-43. Casemate Publishers. p. 162. ISBN 9780850529906. Retrieved 13 July 2017.
  11. ^ "The Garrison The RA-RMA Orbat in Malta 1939 - 45". Retrieved 14 July 2017.
  12. ^ J.B.M. Frederick, Lineage Book of British Land Forces 1660–1978, Vol II, Wakefield: Microform Academic, 1984, ISBN 1-85117-009-X, pp. 888–90, 931–4.
  13. ^ "King's own and Royal Malta Artillery". Retrieved 13 July 2017.
  14. ^ "Royal Malta Artillery BAOR". Retrieved 13 July 2017.
  15. ^ "THE ROYAL MALTA ARTILLERY". Retrieved 13 July 2017.