The 7th Parachute Regiment Royal Horse Artillery is the primary artillery supporting unit for airborne forces of 16 Air Assault Brigade.
More commonly known as 7 PARA RHA, the unit came into existence as 7th Parachute Light Regiment Royal Horse Artillery, following the redesignation of 33rd Parachute Light Regiment Royal Artillery (also known as 33rd Parachute Field Regiment RA) on 27 June 1961. It can however trace its airborne heritage back to the 53rd Airlanding Light Regiment, RA.
The redesignation was marked by the changing of beret badges from the 'Gun' to the 'Cypher', the changing of pennants and a march past led by the commanding officer, Lt Col Caulfield MBE. The salute was taken by Brigadier Northern MBE who also read out the following message from the Director Royal Artillery, Maj Gen Bate:
"Until today the Royal Horse Artillery has been confined to the support of Cavalry and Armour, a role which demands exceptional ability, quickness of thought and action. It is for this reason that the Royal Horse Artillery has been, ever since Napoleonic times, a Corps d'elite.
Under modern conditions the parachute role demands qualities in its officers and other ranks even more exacting than that required of the Royal Horse Artillery in its traditional role; for this reason its officers and other ranks have always been volunteers and specially selected. This Regiment has already established a proud and splendid tradition. As part of the spearhead of the strategic reserve it is very right and proper that it should now become part of the Royal Horse Artillery.
I know that this change of status is welcomed by the whole Regiment of Artillery. In sending you my best wishes or your success in both peace and in battle I believe I cannot do better than to voice the views of Her Majesty, Our Captain General; she has said that the change now to take place is 'entirely in keeping with the traditions that have made the Royal Horse Artillery famous.' "
In the same year 7 Para Lt Regt RHA was re-equipped with the Italian designed 105mm Pack Howitzer L5 and employed alongside the 4.2 inch mortar. The unit was renamed as 7th Parachute Regiment RHA in 1966.
Over the years, 7 PARA RHA have supported operations of 16 Parachute Brigade in the Near East, Aden and Radfan, Northern Ireland, as well as UN operations in Cyprus.
The Regiment was redesignated as 7th Field Regiment RHA in 1977, after the 1975 Defence Review, but returned to the Airborne fold in 1983, once more designated 7th Parachute Regiment RHA for the new 5th Airborne Brigade. Further Battery operations to Northern Ireland followed in the 1980s and early 1990s, along with another deployment on the UN mission to Cyprus in 1994.
Batteries of 7 PARA RHA also took part in operations in Bosnia, and later Kosovo in the troubled Balkan region in the mid to late 1990s, helping to ensure 7 PARA RHA was retained as an integral part of 16 Air Assault Brigade, following the army reorganisations in 1999.
In the new millenium, operations of 16 Air Assault Brigade have seen 7 PARA RHA provide crucial fire support for operations in Macedonia, Afghanistan (Fingal) Iraq (Telic) and more recently, the deployments to Afghanistan as part of the ongoing Herrick operations.
Batteries under the command of 7 PARA RHA currently include:
The Regiment is also supported by a REME Light Aid Detachment (LAD REME).
7 PARA RHA returned to Afghanistan in Autumn 2010 as part of Operation Herrick XIII.
Record under development
1961 Lt Col T StG Caulfield MBE
(Currently under research)