22 (Gibraltar 1779-83) Battery
22 Bty was raised at Woolwich in 1758 as Dover’s Company for service in North America.
In 1779 it was stationed in Gibraltar, and was present at the Great Siege (1779-83). It celebrates its service in the siege by observing Sortie Day on 27thNovember.
Sortie day takes its name form the Siege of Gibraltar (1779-1783) during which time the British, under General Elliot, were continuously besieged by overwhelming French and Spanish Land and Naval Forces. The Garrison, never more than 7000 men facing constant hazards of disease and starvation and withstanding successive attacks from fire ships, heavy bombardment and battering ships, held out for year after year against an enemy which numbered 40,000
The morale of the garrison was sustained throughout by the commander’s indefatigable and resolute handling of the Rock’s defence. At the height of the siege, when 6000 shells were daily being fired into the town, General Elliot led an epic sortie that in a single night – 27thNovember 1781 – set the enemy back 14 months. At 2am on this moonless night 2,264 handpicked men, including over 100 artillerymen, armed only with sword and bayonet, marched swiftly to the enemy lines. In one hour, under muzzles of 135 pieces of heavy artillery not 300 yards distant, they destroyed 28 guns and mortars, trenches traverses bombproof and all the magazines. The keys to the magazines were seized by Captain Abraham Whitham and to this day are held as trophies from the action. British casualties were but 4 killed and 25 wounded. The success of the daring action was due to clear planning based on accurate knowledge of the exact position of the enemy guns and works gained by the regular and energetic surveillance.