Royal Malta Fencible Artillery (1861 - 1881)
This corps came into existence when the Royal Malta Fencibles Regiment was converted into an artillery regiment. All ranks were given the option of serving in the new regiment or of retiring from the service. Only two men asked for permission to retire. All the rest expressed their wish to continue to serve as artillerymen. With the exception of waist-plates, the new corps was given the same uniform as that provided for the Royal Artillery. The Regiment was quartered in various forts and barracks on the Island.
In May 1875, the officers were asked to provide themselves with helmets. Apparently the wearing of this headdress had not yet become general.
In 1882, the Egyptian War broke out and a detachment of 100 volunteers under the command of Captain Portelli with Lieutenants Cavarra, Mattei and A. Trapani left the Island to take part in the operations. They were employed in the defence of Alexandria, which was being constantly raided by the Bedouins.
They were quartered at Fort Mex with detachments at the Rosetta and Damietta Gates. When Arabi Pasha's troops were defeated at Tel-el-Kebir, the detachment formed part of Sir Evelyn Wood's brigade, which advanced to Damietta. But Arabi had evacuated his troops and resistance gradually dwindled. In October, the detachment returned to Malta. The officers and men were awarded the Egypt Medal and Khedive's Star and the Regiment was granted the privilege of the battle honour "Egypt 1882" on its appointments.
A gratifying mark of royal favour was the appointment of His Royal Highness Field Marshal (the Commander-in-Chief) the Duke of Cambridge to be the Regiment's Honorary Colonel. Moreover the Regiment was increased to practically double its old strength - an indisputable proof of its efficiency.
On 23rd March 1889, when the Royal Malta Regiment of Militia was being raised, an order provided for the elimination of the word "Fencible" from the title of the Corps. The new designation was The Royal Malta Artillery.
(Adapted from Regimental History RMA and KOMR, History of the RMA, Historical Records of the Maltese Corps in the British Army
Illustrations by Chev Edward Caruana-Dingli