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  • Origins of the Ceuta Artillery

    The origins of the Artillery Units of Ceuta go back to the Portuguese conquest of the city by John I on August 21st, 1415.

    When John I returned to Portugal, leaving the responsibility of the government of Ceuta to Pedro de Meneses, he was careful to leave artillery in the city, delivering “Huua bombarda e mujta poluora e seuo e pez...” —this cannon being the first documented artillery piece in the city. Enemy artillery was also decisive when it came to organizing the defenses of Ceuta. So much so that when John III of Portugal found out that the Muslims also had artillery, he ordered a careful inspection of the defenses of the City and, considering the works carried out by Manuel I insufficient, he ordered they be completely renovated, digging the waterway that still exists today. During the 15th and 16th centuries, the artillery was organized as follows:

    - An Almojarifeo.

    - A Constableo.

    - Artillerymen (200 until 1559 and 180 thereafter)

    - A Crew of foot soldiers to maneuver the artillery pieces, etc.

    - Various pieces of artillery, distributed along the walls of the Fortress – 78 pieces in the year 1550.

    With Philip II, Ceuta continued to belong to the Portuguese crown, and the organization of the garrison Units, including the Artillery, was not greatly affected.

    The new situation meant that, as the City was in a precarious situation, both in terms of human and material resources, it has to be reinforced with Spanish troops, since attacks by the English were feared and, according to Jorge Seco, a visitor sent by His Majesty in the year 1586, "Its store of artillery weapons and ammunition was very disorganized and in complete disorder, the arquebuses full of rust... E tudo entanta desorden e tan mal tratado que nao parecía casa de almasem”. In response to the visitor's questions, the Almojarife referred to the lack of money and men.

    Between the years 1630 and 1640, the number of artillerymen was 100, among them gunsmiths and armorers.

    At the end of the 17th century, the artillery was organized in the following manner:

    - A Company of Gunners.

    - A Company of Miners (created in 1698).

    Both Units reported to the Almojarife of Ammunition.

    On May 2nd, 1710, King Philip V promulgated a new Ordinance, by which the Spanish Royal Regiment of Artillery was organized and initially endowed with three Battalions of twelve Companies each (eight made up of Fusiliers, three of Artillerymen and one of Miners), the third Battalion being assigned to the Army of Andalusia and the African garrisons—among them Ceuta. This Third Battalion was disbanded in 1717, reorganized in 1718, and definitively disbanded again in 1721.

    During the reign of Charles III, the three classes of Artillery were unified as follows: General Staff, Royal Regiment, and Provincial Companies. For this reason, the king promulgated the Reglamento de Nuevo Pie ("New Foot Regulations") on January 29th, 1762, in which His Majesty ordered that the Royal Artillery Corps be established, a project undertaken by the Count of Gazola. In these Regulations, on the basis of the regiment’s two Battalions and the five existing Provincial Companies, four Battalions and a Company of Cadets were constituted and each Battalion, in addition to its Staff, had seven Companies, all Artillerymen or Bombardiers, indistinctly, except for two Companies of miners, one from the First Battalion and another from the Fourth.

    The Second Battalion was stationed in the Artillery Department of Seville, serving Andalusia, Extremadura, Melilla, Ceuta and Peñón de Alhucemas, the usual Companies of Artillerymen and Miners remaining in the Fortress of Ceuta.

    During the reign of Charles IV, several reforms were undertaken, among them those affecting the organization of the Fortress in 1802 and 1806. The Artillery Ordinance approved on July 22nd, 1802, indicated that, of the three Fixed Companies, two of them would be located in Ceuta, the third in Majorca, and the Company of Miners would be split; the reorganization of 1806 transformed the Fixed Companies of Ceuta into a Brigade.

    On June 7th, 1823, regulations were issued for the reorganization of the Army, but it was not until April 23rd, 1824, that the Artillery was reorganized, with only two horse companies then remaining, comprised of royal units. On December 28th, 1825, the Artillery was organized into: three Regiments, each with two Battalions; four more Battalions, each with four Companies per Battalion; two Squadrons on horseback, each with three Companies; five Companies of Workers and a Train Company for each Battalion; in addition, the Brigades of Majorca and Ceuta and 15 Fixed Artillery Companies. The Royal Guard Artillery was maintained.

    With the regency of Queen Maria Christina and the Carlist War, the Artillery’s organization had to be adapted, although this did not significantly affect the organization of the Ceuta Artillery. It was the reorganization carried out at the end of the war—in 1841—that affected the composition of the Ceuta Artillery Unit, with the Brigade disappearing—while the two Artillery Companies remained, as per the provision of August 1st, 1842. On August 30th of the next year, the Provisional Government, which had replaced the Regency, ordered the Artillery to be organized into five Departments—each with a Regiment—and five Fixed Brigades—each with four Batteries—, including the Ceuta Brigade.

    In 1848, the garrison was small, with 4,365 men, almost all infantry, except three artillery batteries—two in Ceuta and one in Melilla—, a company of pontooners and a cavalry squadron—the latter in Ceuta—. In addition, there was no Field Artillery, since the three Batteries were Siege and Position Batteries. In March of the same year, the Ceuta garrison was increased by two Battalions (each with 700 men) and in May two Cavalry Squadrons (each with 108 men) were created, one being assigned to Ceuta and the other to Melilla; but the Captaincy-General continued without Field Artillery.

    The city, as indicated by Madoz in his Geographical-Statistical-Historical Dictionary (1845-1850), during the time it was the seat of the Captaincy, had three fortified defensive enclosures, as follows:

    - First enclosure: from East to West, it comprised all of Mount Hacho, being garrisoned with a wall along the North beach and a covered road—between the Sachal and Desnarigado Batteries—the defenses made up several forts and batteries, these being called San Amaro, Torremocha, Pineo Gordo, el Sauciño, Santa Catalina, Punta de la Almina, el Desnarigado, Torrecilla, la Palmera, el Quemadero and el Sachal. At the top of the Hacho mountain, rebuilt in 1771, was the Citadel.

    - Second enclosure: from the Cortadura del Valle to the first pit—called Almina—. The fortifications of this enclosure consisted of the North wall—rebuilt in 1741—, a wall and the Batteries of San Sebastián, San Pedro el Alto, Los Abastos, Escuela Práctica, Rastrillo-Nuevo, el Molino, San Jerónimo, Fuente Caballos, San Carlos and San José.

    - Third enclosure and outdoor works: corresponding to the narrowest area, between the Almina Moat and the Moat of the Royal Walls. The Batteries that garrisoned it were: Sala de Armas, San Juan de Dios, San Francisco el Alto, La Brecha, Espigón de la Rivera, Primera Puerta, el Albacar—or Segunda Puerta—, Baluarte y Torreón de la Bandera, Cortina de la Muralla real, Baluarte y Torreón de la Coraza and Coraza-baja. In addition, outside there are a series of fortifications, which were known by the name Plaza de Armas, which contained the batteries San Pedro el Bajo, Santa Ana, Tenazón de la Valenciana, Rebellines de San Pablo y de San Ignacio, Espigón de África, Contraguardia de Santiago y su Caballero, Contraguardia de San Javier, Fuerte de San Antonio, Lunetas de San Felipe, de la Reina y de San Luis and Fuerte San Jorge.o

    - The Fort's garrison artillery consisted of two Batteries, and the Madoz Dictionary indicated that "the material and personal force that this Fort must have for its defense in a regular state of observation is 112 artillery pieces of different calibers, mounted; 33,600 shells; 136,100 pounds of gunpowder; 333 artillerymen and 2,654 cavalry and infantrymen; during a siege, 182 artillery pieces; 141,100 shells; 570,933 1/3 pounds of gunpowder; 646 gunners; 100 sappers and 5,019 cavalry and infantrymen; and in case of war at sea 175 artillery pieces; 122,500 shells; 647,300 pounds of gunpowder; 525 gunners; 50 sappers; and 5,555 cavalry and infantrymen [...] For the fort’s maintenance, there is an artillery workshop, located in the Cuarteles square in a public building...”.

    After the war in Morocco, the Ceuta Artillery would undergo organizational reorganizations, similar to those being undertaken in the rest of Spain. It is precisely the year 1860 when the Fixed Brigade of Africa took the name of Battalion and its Batteries were called Companies. In addition, with the disappearance of the old Departments and the creation of the General Commandancies in the Military Districts—into which the Peninsula was divided—and with the deployment of the Corps forces, in 1862, the Fixed Battalion of Africa would become the 4th Fixed Battalion of Ceuta, dependent on the District of Granada. In 1864, the Fixed Battalions of Malaga and Ceuta constituted a new organizational Unit, the 7th Regiment of Foot. From that moment on, Ceuta received a new boost, with the construction of neo-medieval artillery fortifications—border towers—and the forts of Benzú and Príncipe Alphonse, to replace the redoubts built in the 1859/60 war, with the aim of controlling and defending the external territory, in addition, the defense of the coast of the City began to be reorganized (Batería del Desnarigado, etc...).

    In 1866, the Artillery was reorganized again, dissolving the 5th and 6th Regiments of Foot, the 7th—one of its Fixed Battalions was Ceuta—passing to the new 5th. In 1867, the organizational artillery was modified, suppressing the 5th Regiment of Foot, leaving the six Ceuta Artillery Companies dependent on the Exempt Artillery Commandancy of Ceuta.

    In the year 1883, under the reign of Alphonse XII, the Regiments of Foot were transformed into 10 Garrison Battalions. On December 26th, 1884, a new organization was given to the Artillery Corps, creating, among other units, nine Garrison Battalions, one of them—the 3rd—deployed in Ceuta. In 1896, when Ceuta had a Battalion—housed in the then new Artillery Barracks, located behind the walls of the navigable moat—and a small Artillery Depot, which did not correspond to the real needs of the garrison. There were three fortified enclosures and a border line:

    - The first, going from the interior to the exterior, included all of Mount Hacho from the Cortadura del Valle—including the fortress of Hacho and the batteries of San Amaro, Torre Mocha, Pino Gordo, El Sauciño, Santa Catalina, Punta de la Almina, El Desnarigado, Torrecilla, La Palmera, El Quemadero and El Sarchal.

    - The second, between the aforementioned Cortadura del Valle and the Almina moat—with the old batteries of San Sebastián, San Pedro el Alto, los Abastos, Escuela Práctica, Rastrillo Nuevo, el Molino, San Jerónimo, Fuente Caballos, San Carlos and San José; the third enclosure, from the former moat of the Almina to the Royal Walls—with the fortifications of the Sala de Armas, San Juan de Dios, San Francisco Alto, La Brecha, Espigón de la Rivera, Primera Puerta, El Albacar or Segunda Puerta, Baluarte and Torreón de la Bandera, Cortina de la Muralla Real, Baluarte and Torreón de la Coraza and Coraza Baja and, in addition, the fortifications of the Land front located in the western part of the moat.

    - And lastly, the border line—with the Serrallo as the main barracks, Torres de Piniés, Francisco de Asís, el Renegado, Yebel-Anyera, Mendizábal, Aranguren and the Benzú tower-fortress—, all built after 1860.

    In Ceuta, in 1897, a great modernization of the city’s resources was carried out. Thus, Tello Amondareyn, in his book "Ceuta, the key to the Strait" comments on the City’s new artillery, indicating that this is superior to that of Gibraltar, without disdaining the latter, and continues explaining: “Our cannons, as Mr. Bentabol says very well, use the best Krupp and Ordóñez systems and are of the largest calibers known. They are housed in two-piece batteries, perfectly located....

    Its batteries are completely invisible from the outside, from where you can only see the natural slope of the land. On the other hand, all of them have magnificent, deep bunkers, covered with very strong walls, in which the Troops can be safely lodged: the magazines for projectiles and gunpowder, like all the rooms, are built to be bomb-proof, and are perfectly protected from enemy fire...

    Below, we can find a brief overview of modern batteries.

    There are four heavy caliber pieces with eight artillery pieces and six auxiliary pieces from the Krupp system, measuring 26 and 30.06 centimeters, which look down on the north and south bays, in positions called Valdeaguas, Torremocha, Pintor and Punta Negra (Puntilla).

    Punta Negra Bay—La Puntilla —.

    There are also 11 batteries of Howitzers with an elevation shot of 21 centimeters, at the following strategic points: Acho (north and south-facing), San Antonio, Obispo, Sala de Armas and Cuatro Caminos (all north-facing).

    It also has 12 pieces of 15cm rifled and reinforced iron in San José, San Carlos, Quemadero (all south-facing). In the Royal Wall, there are several smooth bronze artillery pieces that will be replaced with modern ones.

    The Valdeaguas Battery is surrounded by a crenellated wall, capable of housing a good number of combatants and accommodating small rapid-fire artillery pieces that can be used against landings, and those of Torremocha, Pintor and Punta Negra are in the same conditions.

    King Alphonse XII, of glorious memory, was presented by the great manufacturer Krupp, with a complete and very rich 7cm field battery. When His Majesty visited the Ceuta Garrison in 1879—an honor that until then no Spanish monarch had bestowed on the City—he saw that artillery of this caliber was needed, and as soon as he returned to Madrid he ordered that this valuable gift be delivered to the Garrison.

    And that is all. And, incidentally, those artillery pieces produce excellent results.

    So ends the fairly detailed description of the Ceuta Artillery, but Tello adds a thorough clarification of the fortifications of the border line, with the new forts—built in the vicinity or on the sites of old redoubts of the Hispano-Moroccan war—, indicating: “It serves as a key to this line, which forms the outer territory of the Ceuta stronghold. El Serrallo, the main barracks where there is shelter for 500 men and a location for two pieces of artillery: the fort of Prince Alphonse depends on it, which holds 300 individuals, and there are two 10cm cannons; the Isabella II Fort-Tower, capable of holding 60 soldiers and two 8-inch and one 12cm cannon; the Towers of Piniés, Francisco de Asís, El Renegado, Gebel-Anyera, Mendizábal and Aranguren, in each of which 30 or 40 men can be housed, and finally the Tower-Fort of Benzú, in which, if necessary, 100 soldiers can be stationed, this being the most important of all those that form the surveillance zone over the Moroccan countryside. It also has a position for each artillery piece...”

    In 1897, at the proposal what was then the Artillery Section, regulations were issued for the coastal artillery, ordering that the Artillery Corps would be responsible for the exploration and surveillance services of the sea fronts.

    In 1899, there were various improvements in the Spanish artillery and in Ceuta the Batteries of the 3rd Battalion were reduced to five, since the Battery stationed in the Campo de Gibraltar was removed from the Unit. The following year, there was a change of name, the artillery unit becoming the "Ceuta Garrison Artillery Battalion".

    In 1903, the Spanish Army was comprised of 7 Army Corps, each made up of 2 Divisions, each equipped with an Artillery Regiment. From November 2nd, 1904, the Artillery was comprised of 17 Field Regiments, a Mountain Group in the Campo de Gibraltar, 17 Garrison Commandancies (one of them in Ceuta), 7 Workers Platoons for the Vehicle Pools, 14 Reserve Depots, 9 Regional Depots and 13 Armament Depots (at this time the Ceuta Battalion adopted the name of Garrison Artillery Troops, receiving a Mountain Battery from the Group assigned to Campo de Gibraltar). In 1909, the Mountain Battery ceased to report to the Artillery and a Mixed Group remained in the City, made up of a Mountain Battery and another Mounted Battery. On June 25th, 1910, the Mixed Artillery Regiment was formed, being the basis of the Mixed Group.

    As a consequence of the Franco-Spanish Treaty of November 27th, 1912, two zones of influence would be created, one French of 572,000 Km2 and the other Spanish of 28,000 Km2 (Península de la Yebala—in the vicinity of Ceuta—and the Rif). The Mixed Regiment became independent from the Artillery Commandancy in 1912 (remaining in this situation until 1916—in the middle of World War I—, at which time the Mixed Regiment would once again belong to the Artillery Commandancy).

    On September 22nd, 1917, the Army was reorganized and the Mixed Regiment again became independent from the Artillery Commandancy. The following year, the Army was reorganized again by Baseline Law of July 29th, 1918. In 1921, there was a change in the artillery organization of the city of Ceuta, the artillery components of which became the Mixed Commandancy of Garrison, Position, Coast and Vehicle Pool, with the exception of the Mixed Regiment. In 1923, the Mixed Regiment was converted into a Mountain Regiment and was integrated into the Main Commandancy of Artillery, Garrison, Position, Coast and Vehicle Pool—the Artillery Commandancy’s new name.

    In 1924, there was a slight change in the organization of the Ceuta Artillery, the Mixed Commandancy being split. On the one hand, there was the Main Commandancy—with the Mountain Regiment—and Artillery Depot and, on the other, the Coast and Position Regiment (both artillery Units under the unified command of a Colonel).

    On September 4th, 1925, Artillery Lieutenant Joaquín Fuentes Pila died heroically, being decorated with the Laureate Cross of the Royal and Military Order of San Fernando.

    At the end of 1925 and the beginning of 1926, Ceuta’s artillery organization was modified again, the Unit receiving the name Commandancy (with the inclusion of the Ceuta Mixed Regiment—former Mountain Regiment—, the Chief Colonel of which was designated Main Commander) of Coast, Position and Artillery Depot of Ceuta.

    In February 1927, all the artillery in Ceuta was renamed the Artillery Group of Ceuta and the Main Commandancy disappeared, its functions as Higher Artillery body in the Protectorate being carried out by the Artillery Inspector of Morocco.

    At the end of 1927, the Artillery Group would recover the name Ceuta Artillery Commandancy.

    In December 1932, the Artillery underwent a transformation that would mean a new name change for the Ceuta garrison, becoming the Ceuta Artillery Group.

    The constitution of the 30th Field Artillery Regiment (30th Divisionary Artillery Regiment), in September 1939, was carried out by disbanding the aforementioned Artillery Group of Ceuta, whose Units, along with other Batteries from the Peninsula and from Melilla, were brought together to form Regiment Groups with homogeneous materials, located in Tetouan (Headquarters and 2 Groups) and Ceuta (1 Group).

    In addition to the aforementioned 30th Regiment, this reorganization led to the creation, in the North of Morocco, of the 31st and 32nd Artillery Regiments (Melilla), as Regiments of the corresponding Infantry Divisions of the 49th Artillery Regiment for Ceuta, and the 4th Coast Regiment, all based on the aforementioned Ceuta and Melilla Artillery Groups.

    On December 4th, 1940, the new standard of the 30th Artillery Regiment was presented.

    In 1957, the 30th Artillery Regiment gradually absorbed a large part of the Artillery Units of Tetouan, Ceuta and Larache, such as the 31st Regiment, and in 1960, the 51st Regiment, successor to the 49th Ceuta Regiment.

    In August 1959 the Headquarters of the 30th Artillery Regiment moved from the Sania Ramel barracks in Tetouan to the Puntilla barracks in Ceuta, where a group of the Regiment had remained. On the other hand, in 1960, the various Coastal and Anti-Aircraft Units were integrated into the 8th Mixed Regiment, also based in Ceuta.

    With the reorganization of the Army in 1965, the Ceuta organizational artillery was:

    - 30th Field Artillery Regiment: new name for the 30th Artillery Regiment, the same as in 1943.

    - Ceuta Mixed Artillery Group: from the 8th Mixed Regiment, dependent on the Artillery Regiment No. 5 (Algeciras).

    Finally, on March 17th, 1966: the 30th Mixed Artillery Regiment was formed, equipped with Campaign, Coastal and Anti-Aircraft materiel from the 30th Field Artillery Regiment and the Ceuta Mixed Artillery Group. With this development, the command of the Artillery Weapon Units of the Ceuta garrison was unified, continuing the military record of the Ceuta Anti-Aircraft Artillery Units.

    There would be no decrease in the organization of the 30th Mixed Artillery Regiment until September 1985, the date on which the Regiment's Anti-Aircraft Artillery Group became independent—with the new name of 6th Light Anti-Aircraft Artillery Group. The Regiment suffered a reduction in its organization on November 20th, 1991, with the suppression of a Field Artillery Group.

    In the month of July 1996, there was a new organizational adjustment, as the Coastal Group was renamed the Ceuta Coastal Artillery Group, changing the name of the Regiment, which again became the 30th Field Artillery Regiment—with two Field Artillery Groups; with 155/23 towed howitzers.

    As a consequence of the provisions of General Standard 05/07, the Target Location and Acquisition Battery was disbanded on December 31st, 2007.

    In February 2008 and as per the provisions of General Standard 02/08, the 30th Mixed Artillery Regiment was created on the basis of the 30th Field Artillery Regiment and the 6th Anti-Aircraft Artillery Group, the Command, and Staff, along with part of their units being stationed in the "Teniente Fuentes Pila" Barracks and the rest in "El Hacho".

    By Order 279 of October 6th, 2013, the Mistral Battery was activated.

    As of January 1st, 2016, the acronym for the Anti-Aircraft Group (GAAA VI/30) became GAAA II/30, due to Directive 02/15 "Transition Plan for the structure of the Force in the Army".        

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