Devonport Field Gun © 2012

Welcome to the Official Online History of Devonport Field Gun Crew



The Royal Navy Field Gun Competition


Original displays of Royal Navy field gun drills took the form of RN crews man-handling guns around a display arena and was first witnessed in 1896.


It was the Siege of Ladysmith in 1899-1900, during the Second Boer War which brought about increased popular support for gun drills performed by the men of the Royal Navy. The story of Ladysmith, and the relief of the besieged British forces by men of the Naval Brigade, from the cruisers HMS Powerful and HMS Terrible is a story of courage, guts, discipline and strength. Two 4.7 inch guns along with four 12-pounders were transported inland from Simon’s Town first by rail, then by oxen drawn carriages and finally man-handled over extremely rough terrain before being bought to bear on the besieging forces.


A competition was run for the first time in 1907 and, after a few early format changes, continued until the disbanding of the Royal Tournament in 1999. In 1950, the Royal Tournament relocated from Olympia to Earls Court, where 4 crews, Devonport, Portsmouth, Chatham and Fleet Air Arm competed on an annual basis until 1960, when Chatham no longer took part.



The Trophies


Inter-Command Challenge Cup – Presented to the crew who obtained the highest number of points during the competition at the Royal Tournament (2 points for a win, 1.5 for a tie, 1 for a loss and 0 for a disqualification).


Aggregate Time Challenge Cup – Presented to the crew having the lowest aggregate time for the competition runs at the Tournament (12 runs per crew 1947-60, 16 runs 1961-1992, 14 runs 1993-1998 and 16 runs 1999).


Fastest Time Cup – Presented to the crew achieving the fastest official time during the competition.


Least Penalty Points Cup – Presented to the crew who achieved the least number of penalty points during the competition.



Devonport Field Gun Crew – The Oggies


Devonport Field Gun Crew first took part in the field gun displays in 1907 along with Portsmouth and Chatham however; it wasn’t until 1912, when Commander P.H. Hall-Thompson RN devised the Inter-Port Competition that Field Gun became more competition, rather than exhibition. In the years before WWII, a number of different crews competed in the competition, including the Royal Marines.


Following the cessation of hostilites in the aftermath of WWII, in 1947 the mixture of different crews was replaced by the four Royal Navy Commands of Devonport, Chatham, Portsmouth and Fleet Air Arm. That first post war year saw Devonport run out winners of the Inter-Command Challenge Cup. Devonport also dominated in the early 1950’s, taking all three main trophies in consecutive years between 1952 and 1954.


Success in the 1960’s and early 70’s was fairly lean, as Fleet Air Arm took control of proceedings, with Devonport fighting back to take a clean sweep in 1977.


Prior to the final Royal Tournament, in 1999, Devonport produced arguably some of the best crews in their history. The 1993 & 1994 clean sweeps generated the slogan “Simply the Best” however, it was 1999 that saw Field Gun come home for the final time. Devonport’s crew really were “Simply the Best, Ever” as they ran out winners of the Inter-Command Challenge Cup and also set the fastest time ever. The World Record, held by Portsmouth since 1984 was beaten by a near faultless run on Friday 29th July 1999 with a time of 2:40.43.


When the Royal Navy Field Gun Competition finished in 1999, former crew members could no longer return to “Oggieland” each year for the annual reunion runs. However, the legacy of Devonport Field Gun remains with the Devonport Field Gun Association, who meet annually in Plymouth and at Twickenham for the Army v Navy rugby match. There is also a museum at Crownhill Fort, where visitors can see the history of Devonport, when next visiting Guzz.






This website has been produced to capture the history of Devonport Field Gun Crew from WWII onwards. All enquiries, please contact the Webmaster at


The Oggie Hymn


Naval chants and melodies go back through the years and are as much a part of Naval history as the rum ration.


All field gun crews adapted songs to be sung either by crew members returning to Devonport or by supporters in the various Field Gun bars inside Earls Court.


The Devonport Field Gun Hymn involved a play on the words of the great Welsh hymn, Guide Me. O Thou Great Jehovah.




Guide me, O thou great Jehovah,

Pilgrim through this barren land;

I am weak, but thou art mighty,

Hold me with thy powerful hand;

Men of Devon, Men of Devon

Feed me till I’m 6 foot 4;

Feed me till I’m 6 foot 4.


Oggie, Oggie, Oggie;

Oi, Oi, Oi,

Oggie, Oggie, Oggie;

Oi, Oi, Oi,





Oggie, Oggie, Oggie;

Oi, Oi, Oi,

Captain of the Burma,






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