About the Honourable Artillery Company

logo HAC

The Honourable Artillery Company (HAC) is the oldest regiment in the British Army and probably the oldest surviving volunteer regiment in the world. It traditionally traces its origins to 1537 when King Henry VIII granted a charter to the Fraternity of Artillery of Longbows, Crossbows and Handguns.

The military side of the HAC has been a regiment of the Territorial Army (now called the Army Reserve) since 1908 and the Ministry of Defence is today entirely responsible for training, equipping and, through the Reserve Forces’ and Cadets’ Association, housing the Regiment (numbering around 400 men and women), although much of the Company’s charitable funding goes towards supporting the Regiment in areas where public money is scarce or unavailable.

Based at Armoury House in the Artillery Garden, just outside the boundary of the City of London, the civil side of the HAC (or the ‘Company’) has around 2,500 members comprising veterans of the Regiment and members of other units of the armed forces. The Company is also a charity registered in England and Wales (no. 208443). The HAC’s charitable activities provide support to the HAC Regiment and the HAC detachment of the City of London Special Constabulary. These charitable activities also support the Company’s ceremonial sub-units, its Benevolent Fund, the conservation of the HAC estate and the preservation of its treasures; other military charities may also receive support.

Military Background

From a 1611 training revival until 1779, members of the HAC trained the officers of the City of London Trained Bands and also aided the civil power by maintaining law and order, especially in the later 18th century. The Regiment initially comprised only infantry sub-units but in 1781 an artillery division was created for the first time. Members of the HAC’s infantry and artillery units fought in the South African War during 1900 as part of the City Imperial Volunteers, with some men remaining in South Africa to fight in other units for the rest of the war. Seven HAC units distinguished themselves in the First World War on the Western Front (winning two VCs in 1917) and in the Middle East. At the outbreak of the Second World War, the HAC’s Infantry Battalion was disbanded and became an officer training unit and the HAC artillery regiments were mobilised for war service overseas: two served in North Africa and Italy and two participated in the Normandy Landings; an infantry unit defended the East London docks. The HAC has long provided a training ground for potential officers and over 4,000 men were commissioned into other units of the armed forces during each of these two wars.

HAC officers and soldiers were deployed to the Balkans from November 1995 (the first deployments since 1945), to Iraq between 2003 and 2010 and have been deployed for operations in Afghanistan since 2007. Today the HAC Regiment has an exacting role, providing patrols in the forward battle area to gather intelligence and identify targets for long-range weapons. For the most part, individual deployments to Afghanistan have been in support of 4/73 Battery of the 5th Regiment RA, the HAC’s Regular Army counterpart. The Regiment and its Veterans have also long contributed to the ceremonial life of the City of London. HM Queen Elizabeth II is the HAC’s Captain-General.

HAC Battle Honours

Those Honours in bold type are borne on the Colours

  • South Africa 1900-02
  • Ypres, 1915, ’17
  • Somme, 1916, ’18
  • Ancre Heights
  • Ancre, 1916
  • Arras, 1917, ’18
  • Scarpe, 1917, ’18
  • Arleux
  • Bullecourt
  • Pilckem
  • Polygon Wood
  • Broodseinde
  • Poelcapelle
  • Passchendaele
  • Amiens
  • Albert, 1918
  • Bapaume, 1918
  • Drocourt-Quéant
  • Hindenburg Line
  • Epéhy
  • St Quentin Canal
  • Cambrai, 1918
  • Selle
  • Sambre
  • France and Flanders, 1914-18
  • Piave
  • Vittorio Veneto
  • Italy, 1917-18
  • Rafah
  • Egypt, 1915-17
  • Gaza
  • El Mughar
  • Jerusalem
  • Jordan
  • Megiddo
  • Sharon
  • Damascus
  • Palestine, 1917-18
  • Aden
  • Bourguebus Ridge
  • Antwerp + Le Havre
  • Rhine
  • North West Europe, 1944-45
  • Knightsbridge
  • El Alamein
  • El Hamma
  • Sbiba
  • Thala
  • Tunis
  • North Africa, 1941-43
  • Sicily, 1943
  • Cassino II
  • Coriano
  • Senio
  • Italy, 1944-45

The HAC Archives and its Membership Records

Almost all of the Honourable Artillery Company’s earliest records were lost during the English Civil War period and today’s holdings date mainly from 1657. Membership records, with varying detail, survive from 1611. A Royal Warrant of 1889 gave the Secretary of State for War full control of the Company’s military affairs. For this reason, most records created by the Company after that date and held in the HAC Archives mainly concern civil rather than military matters. A number of regimental service records survive in the HAC Archives from the First World War period – these are unique due to the destruction of a high percentage of War Office WW1 records in general by enemy bombing during the Second World War. A number of these membership and regimental service records are now available via Find My Past.

Online catalogues of the HAC Archives

Catalogue descriptions of the Company’s archives appear on the websites for the National Archives: Access to Archives (A2A) and the AIM25 Project (archives in London and the M25 area).

Donations of items

The Company preserves records of its property and activities and collects the personal papers and other items belonging to its members wherever possible. If you have any HAC papers, photographs, ephemera or other memorabilia that you would like to donate please contact the Archivist.

Enquiries to the HAC Archives

Members of the Honourable Artillery Company are welcome to consult the Archives during working hours by appointment with the Archivist. Enquiries from academic researchers and members of the public should be made in writing to the Archivist via email or post. A donation may be requested for answering a complex or lengthy enquiry. Some records are subject to lengthy closure rules.

For more information please see the HAC website.