Royal Artillery

The Royal Regiment of Artillery, commonly referred to as the Royal Artillery (RA) and colloquially known as "The Gunners", is the artillery arm of the British Army. The Royal Regiment of Artillery comprises thirteen Regular Army regiments, King's Troop Royal Horse Artillery and five Army Reserve regiments.[2]

Royal Regiment of Artillery
Royal Artillery Badge
Cap Badge of the Royal Regiment of Artillery
Active1716–present
Allegiance United Kingdom
Branch British Army
RoleArtillery
Size13 Regular regiments
5 Reserve regiments
Garrison/HQVarious: Larkhill (Regimental HQ), Catterick, Tidworth, Colchester, Hohne
Motto(s)Ubique Quo Fas Et Gloria Ducunt [a]
ColoursThe guns are regarded as the regimental colours
MarchBritish Grenadiers / Voice Of The Guns (Quick); The Royal Artillery Slow March colloquially known as The Duchess of Kent (Slow); The Keel Row (Trot); "Bonnie Dundee" (Canter)
Commanders
Captain GeneralHM The Queen Elizabeth II
Master Gunner, St James's ParkLieutenant General Sir Andrew Gregory KBE CB
Insignia
Tactical Recognition Flash
Royal Artillery TRF

History

Formation to 1799

Artillery was used by the English army as early as the Battle of Crécy in 1346, while Henry VIII established it as a semi-permanent function in the 16th century.[3] Until the early 18th century, the majority of British regiments were raised for specific campaigns and disbanded on completion.[4] An exception were gunners based at the Tower of London, Portsmouth and other forts around Britain, who were controlled by the Ordnance Office and provided personnel for field artillery 'traynes' as needed.[5] Their numbers were extremely small; as late as 1720, the total establishment for the whole of Britain was 41 master gunners and 178 gunner assistants.[6]

During the 18th century, the military became increasingly professional, particularly in the fields of artillery and engineering; Britain lagged behind others in this area, with Vauban establishing the French Corps royal des ingénieurs militaires as far back as 1690.[7] When Marlborough was restored as Master-General of the Ordnance in 1714, he initiated a series of reforms, which included splitting the existing Ordnance Service into artillery and sappers or engineers.[8]

This was approved and two permanent companies of field artillery were established in 1716, each 100 men strong; this became the "Royal Artillery" in 1720.[3] These were increased to four companies and on 1 April 1722 grouped with independent artillery units at Gibraltar and Menorca to form the Royal Regiment of Artillery; the first commander was Colonel Albert Borgard, a Dane who served in the British army since 1698.[3]

Selection and promotion within the Royal Artillery was largely based on merit, rather than the commission purchase system used elsewhere until 1870. A cadet company was formed at the Royal Military Academy or RMA Woolwich in 1741; this trained artillery and engineering officers for the regiment, the East India Company and the Royal Irish Artillery.[3] In 1757, it split into two battalions, each of twelve companies; by 1780, it contained 32 companies in four battalions, two "invalid companies" used solely for garrison duties and the Royal Artillery Band, with a total strength of 5,241 men and officers.[9]

A Review of the London Volunteer Cavalry and Flying Artillery in Hyde Park in 1804
Royal Horse Artillery units, Hyde Park, 1804

Originally based in the Royal Arsenal, beginning in 1770 the regiment was rehoused in the Royal Artillery Barracks on Woolwich Common.[10] A major innovation in 1793 was the establishment of the Royal Horse Artillery, designed to provide mobile fire support for cavalry units.[3]

1800-1899

RAUniform1825
Royal Artillery Officers uniform, 1825

The regiment was involved in all major campaigns of the Napoleonic Wars; in 1804, naval artillery was transferred to the Royal Marine Artillery, while the Royal Irish Artillery lost its separate status in 1810 after the 1800 Union. This period also saw development of the Congreve rocket; based on an existing Indian design, these were the first solid-fuel projectiles used by the British army and two Rocket troops were established in 1814. Their use in the War of 1812 is referenced in the line 'rockets red glare' which appears in the Star-Spangled Banner.[11]

After Waterloo in 1815, Europe was at peace until the 1853 Crimean War. Overall supervision of the regiment was transferred to the War Office when the Board of Ordnance was abolished in 1855 and the War Office School of Gunnery established in Shoeburyness in 1859.[3] When the British East India Company was dissolved in 1862, its artillery function was absorbed by the Royal artillery, giving it a total strength of 29 horse batteries, 73 field batteries and 88 heavy batteries.[3] Military expenditure estimates for 1872 list the regimental strength as a total of 34,943 men and officers, including those in India.[12]

1900 to present day

Royal Artillery Repository Exercises, 1844
Royal Artillery repository exercises, 1844
Soldiers of the Bermuda Contingent of the Royal Garrison Artillery in a CCS in July 1916
Soldiers of the Bermuda Contingent of the Royal Garrison Artillery in a Casualty Clearing Station in July, 1916

On 1 July 1899, the Royal Artillery was divided into three groups: the Royal Horse Artillery of 21 batteries and the Royal Field Artillery of 95 batteries composed one group, while the coastal defence, mountain, siege and heavy batteries were split off into another group named the Royal Garrison Artillery of 91 companies.[3] The third group continued to be titled simply Royal Artillery, and was responsible for ammunition storage and supply. Which branch a gunner belonged to was indicated by metal shoulder titles (R.A., R.F.A., R.H.A., or R.G.A.). The RFA and RHA also dressed as mounted men, whereas the RGA dressed like foot soldiers. In 1920 the rank of Bombardier was instituted in the Royal Artillery.[3] The three sections effectively functioned as separate corps. This arrangement lasted until 1924, when the three amalgamated once more to become one regiment.[3] In 1938, RA Brigades were renamed Regiments. During the World War II there were over 1 million men serving in 960 gunner regiments.[13] In 1947 the Riding House Troop RHA was renamed The King's Troop RHA and, in 1951, the title of the regiment's colonel-in-chief became Captain General.[3] When The Queen first visited the Troop after her accession, it was expected that it would become "The Queen's Troop", but Her Majesty announced that in honour of her father's decision it would remain "The King's Troop".[14]

British 39th Siege Battery RGA Somme 1916
BL 8-inch Howitzer Mk 1 – 5 8 in (200 mm) howitzers of the 39th Siege Battery, Royal Garrison Artillery, in action near Fricourt in World War I.

The Royal Horse Artillery, which has separate traditions, uniforms and insignia, still retains a distinct identity within the regiment.[3]

Before World War II, Royal Artillery recruits were required to be at least 5 feet 4 inches (1.63 m) tall. Men in mechanised units had to be at least 5 feet 8 inches (1.73 m) tall. They initially enlisted for six years with the colours and a further six years with the reserve or four years and eight years. They trained at the Royal Artillery Depot in Woolwich.[15]

From its beginnings, the Royal Artillery has been based at Woolwich, in south-east London. In 2003 it was decided to move the headquarters to Larkhill on Salisbury Plain in Wiltshire (the RA's training ground, where the Royal School of Artillery has been based since 1915). The last Royal Artillery troops left Woolwich Barracks in 2007; in 2012, however, the King's Troop, Royal Horse Artillery was relocated to Woolwich from their former headquarters in St John's Wood.[16]

The Royal Artillery today

The Royal Artillery is equipped with a variety of equipment and performs a wide range of roles, including:

The Captain General of the regiment is Queen Elizabeth II. The post was previously known as Colonel-in-Chief until King George VI expressed the desire to be known as Captain General. The head of the regiment is the Master Gunner, St. James's Park.

The Royal Regiment of Artillery comprises both Regular (full-time) and Reserve (part-time) units. The Royal Regiment of Artillery is unusual in that it has sub-units that often move between regiments, or are placed into suspended animation. See List of Royal Artillery Batteries.

Regular Army

The Royal Regiment of Artillery comprises 13 Regular Army regiments and are designated by a number and the name Royal Artillery (RA) or Royal Horse Artillery (RHA). Historically these names reflected the role the units performed, but in the modern era are retained purely for historical reasons.

Regular regiments of the Royal Horse Artillery

Regular regiments of the Royal Artillery

Army Reserve

Equipment

Air defence

The Royal Artillery utilised two different air defence weapons:

  • Rapier FSC – Rapier is a Short Range Air Defence weapon (SHORAD) that is operated by 16th Regiment.
  • Starstreak HVM – Starstreak HVM is a Very Short Range Air Defence (VSHORAD) system that is a continuation of the Blowpipe and Javelin series. It is operated as either a shoulder-launched weapon, in the Lightweight Multiple Launcher mode or mounted on the Alvis Stormer armoured vehicle. The weapon is operated by 12th Regiment and 106 Regiment RA.

Close support artillery

The Royal Artillery field the following Close Support/Offensive Support weapons:

  • MLRS – the Multiple Launch Rocket System provides a precision fire capability out to a range of 85 km. In 2014 the dedicated 39th Regiment RA was disbanded and today the system is integrated into 1st Regiment RHA, 19th Regiment RA and 26th Regiment RA. In the future 26th Regiment will take on a dedicated precision fires role and the system will be withdrawn from 19th Regiment RA and 1st Regiment RHA.
  • AS-90 – the AS-90 is a 155mm self-propelled gun and is utilised by 1st Regiment RHA, 19th Regiment RA and 26th Regiment RA.
  • L118 light gun – the Light Gun is a 105 mm gun. It is operated by 3rd Regiment RHA, 4th Regiment RA, 7th (Para) Regiment RHA, 29 (Commando) Regt RA, as well as three Army Reserve regiments – 103 Regt RA, 104 Regt RA and 105 Regt RA.
  • Exactor (Spike NLOS) – a vehicle-mounted high-precision guided missile. It is currently operated by 1st RHA, 19 RA and 26 RA, with the capability passing solely to 26 RA by 2020.[19]

Intelligence, surveillance, target acquisition and reconnaissance (ISTAR)

  • MAMBA (Mobile Artillery Monitoring Battlefield Array) uses radar to track enemy mortar and artillery shells out to a range of 40 km. It can be used to predict the point of impact, thereby giving a number of seconds warning, but is usually deployed to trace the point of origin of mortar/artillery rounds and then provide correction for counter-battery fire. It is operated by 5th Regiment RA.
  • ASP (Advanced Sound-ranging Program) is an acoustic triangulation system that used a series of sensor posts (microphones) to triangulate the point of origin and point of impact of enemy mortars and artillery. It is also operated by 5th Regiment RA along with 101st (Northumbrian) Regiment Royal Artillery.
  • BASE ISTAR - 5th Regiment RA also operates a number of telescopic camera systems that are designed to provide surveillance and target acquisition in static locations.
  • Thales Watchkeeper WK450 (UAV) is operated by 47th Regiment Royal Artillery.
  • Desert Hawk III UAV – the DH3 is a hand-launched UAV. It is operated by 32nd Regiment and will be withdrawn from service from 2021.

Ceremonial

List of obsolete Royal Artillery equipment

Surface-to-air missiles

Surface-to-surface ballistic missiles

Unmanned aerial vehicles

Order of precedence

Preceded by
Royal Armoured Corps
Order of Precedence Succeeded by
Corps of Royal Engineers
Gunners of 78th Field Regiment, Royal Artillery make use of 'liberated' sunshades to keep the rain off while making a brew, Anzio, Italy, 27 February 1944. NA12275
Gunners of the 78th Field Regiment, Royal Artillery make use of two sunshades from a cafe to keep the rain off while making a brew, Anzio, Italy, 27 February 1944.

In the British Army Order of Precedence, the Household Cavalry is always listed first and always parades at the extreme right of the line. However, when the Royal Horse Artillery is on parade with its guns, (usually in the form of The Kings Troop, Royal Horse Artillery) it will replace the Household Cavalry at the extreme right of the line.[20]

Museum

The Regimental museum, "Firepower" located in the Royal Arsenal at Woolwich closed in 2017. It is expected to relocate to Larkhill.

Affiliations

See also

Notes

  1. ^ "Everywhere That Right And Glory Lead"; in Latin fas implies "sacred duty")[1]

References

  1. ^ "No. 18952". The London Gazette. 10 July 1832. p. 1583.
  2. ^ cgsmediacomma-amc-dig-shared@mod.uk, The British Army. "The British Army - Regiments". www.army.mod.uk. Retrieved 3 March 2017.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l History and Traditions of the Royal Artillery
  4. ^ Chandler David, Beckett Ian (1996). The Oxford History Of The British Army (2002 ed.). Oxford University Press. p. 52. ISBN 978-0-19-280311-5.
  5. ^ Hogg, Brigadier O.F.G. (1963). The Royal Arsenal. Oxford University Press. pp. 302–344.
  6. ^ Duncan, Francis (1872). History of the Royal Regiment of Artillery: Volume I (1879 ed.). John Murray. p. 435.
  7. ^ Mousnier, Roland (1979). The Institutions of France Under the Absolute Monarchy, 1598-1789. University of Chicago Press. pp. 577–578. ISBN 978-0226543277.
  8. ^ Latcham, Paul (2004). "Armstrong, John". doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/659.
  9. ^ Journals of the House of Commons, Volume 37; November 1778 to August 1780. HMSO. 1803. p. 487.
  10. ^ Saint, Andrew, Guillery, Peter (2012). Survey of London; Woolwich Volume 48 (PDF). Yale University Press. pp. 26–28. ISBN 978-0300187229.
  11. ^ Stearn, Roger (2008). Congreve, Sir William, second baronet. Oxford DNB Online. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/6070.
  12. ^ Duncan, Francis (1872). History of the Royal Regiment of Artillery: Volume I (1879 ed.). John Murray. p. 2.
  13. ^ Royal Artillery History
  14. ^ "King's Troop: A modern history of 1945 to 2012". Ham & High. Retrieved 13 October 2015.
  15. ^ War Office, His Majesty's Army, 1938
  16. ^ King's Troop moves to its 'spiritual home' in Woolwich at BBC News, 7 February 2012. Accessed 8 February 2012
  17. ^ "Strategic Defence and Security Review - Army:Written statement - HCWS367 - UK Parliament". Parliament.uk. 4 December 2014. Retrieved 16 December 2016.
  18. ^ "Letter from Brigadier Mead". 1st Artillery Brigade and Headquarters South West. Retrieved 16 December 2016.
  19. ^ "In Search of Exactor". Think Defence. 7 April 2014. Retrieved 23 January 2016.
  20. ^ Royal horses get their sea legs with a dip in the surf on Cornwall holiday Daily Mail, 21 September 2011

Further reading

  • Graham, C A L (1939). The Story of the Royal Regiment of Artillery. RA Institution, Woolwich.

External links

1940 Birthday Honours

The 1940 Birthday Honours were appointments by King George VI to various orders and honours to reward and highlight good works by citizens of the British Empire. The appointments were made to celebrate the official birthday of The King, and were published on 9 July 1940.The list was postponed from June 13, the official observance of the king's birthday, because of the Cabinet changes in May. There were no civilian awards or peerages granted because of the ongoing war; all honours were given in recognition of war service.The recipients of honours are displayed here as they were styled before their new honour, and arranged by honour, with classes (Knight, Knight Grand Cross, etc.) and then military divisions (Royal Navy, Army, etc.) as appropriate.

1983 Royal Artillery Barracks bombing

On 10 December 1983 a bomb exploded at the Royal Artillery Barracks in Woolwich, South East London. The explosion injured five people and caused minor damage to the building. The bomb exploded in a guard room, leaving a crater 15 feet (4.6 m) deep. A Christmas party was underway in the Sergeants' Mess, around 300 yards (270 m) away, when the bomb exploded. The Scottish National Liberation Army claimed responsibility for the bombing, stating that "more will follow", although Scotland Yard believed that the IRA were behind the attack. The IRA later admitted responsibility for the attack.In November 1974 a pub close to the barracks which was popular with local soldiers was bombed by the IRA in which a soldier and a barman were killed and over 30 people were injured. In May 2013 a soldier from the barracks was murdered just outside the base.

29th Commando Regiment Royal Artillery

29 Commando Regiment is the Commando-trained unit of the British Army's Royal Artillery, based in Plymouth. The regiment is under the operational control of 3 Commando Brigade, to which it provides artillery support and gunnery observation.

4th Regiment Royal Artillery

The 4th Regiment Royal Artillery is a regiment of the Royal Artillery in the British Army. It was formed in 1939 as 4th Regiment Royal Horse Artillery before being redesignated in 1961. It is currently based at Alanbrooke Barracks in Topcliffe and serves in the light field artillery role, equipped with 105mm Light Guns. The regiment's tactical groups direct air, rocket, and artillery support from other formations, services, or allies.The Regiment moved from Roberts Barracks in Osnabruck, Germany at the end of 2008 where it had previously been stationed for over 20 years. The Regiment's main recruiting area is in the North East of England, and so significant effort has been put into re-establishing links, especially to the city of Sunderland where the Regiment holds the Freedom of the City. These strong links to the local area gives the Regiment its name The North East Gunners.

5th Regiment Royal Artillery

5th Regiment Royal Artillery is a regiment of the Royal Artillery in the British Army. It was formed in 1939 as 5th Regiment Royal Horse Artillery before being redesignated in 1958. It currently serves in the Surveillance and Target Acquisition role and is equipped with radars and acoustic sound ranging equipment; it also provides Special Observation Post teams.

Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders

The Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders (Princess Louise's) was a line infantry regiment of the British Army that existed from 1881 until amalgamation into the Royal Regiment of Scotland on 28 March 2006.

The regiment was created under the Childers Reforms in 1881, as the Princess Louise's (Sutherland and Argyll Highlanders), by the amalgamation of the 91st (Argyllshire Highlanders) Regiment of Foot and 93rd (Sutherland Highlanders) Regiment of Foot, amended the following year to reverse the order of the "Argyll" and "Sutherland" sub-titles. The Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders was expanded to fifteen battalions during the First World War (1914–1918) and nine during the Second World War (1939–1945). The 1st Battalion served in the 1st Commonwealth Division in the Korean War and gained a high public profile for its role in Aden during 1967.

As part of the restructuring of the British Army's infantry in 2006, the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders were amalgamated with the Royal Scots, the King's Own Scottish Borderers, the Royal Highland Fusiliers (Princess Margaret's Own Glasgow and Ayrshire Regiment), the Black Watch (Royal Highland Regiment) and the Highlanders (Seaforth, Gordons and Camerons) into the seven battalion strong Royal Regiment of Scotland. Following a further round of defence cuts announced in July 2012 the 5th Battalion was reduced to a single public duties company called Balaklava Company, 5th Battalion, Royal Regiment of Scotland, (Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders).

Bedfordshire Yeomanry

The Bedfordshire Yeomanry was a Yeomanry regiment of the British Army. Serving intermittently between 1797 and 1827, it was re-raised in 1901 for the Second Boer War. It participated in the First World War before being converted to an artillery regiment. It served in the Second World War (as a heavy and a field artillery regiment). Its lineage was maintained by 201 (Hertfordshire and Bedfordshire Yeomanry) Battery, 100th (Yeomanry) Regiment Royal Artillery until that unit was placed in suspended animation in 2014.

Bombardier (rank)

Bombardier () is a military rank that has existed since the 16th century in artillery regiments of various armies, such as in the British Army and the Royal Prussian Army. It is today equivalent to the rank of corporal in other branches. The rank of lance-bombardier is the artillery counterpart of lance-corporal.

Hertfordshire Yeomanry

The Hertfordshire Yeomanry is a unit of the British Army specializing in artillery and yeomanry that can trace its formation to the late 18th century. First seeing service in the Second Boer War, it subsequently served in both the First World War and the Second World War. Its lineage was maintained by 201 (Hertfordshire and Bedfordshire Yeomanry) Battery, 100th (Yeomanry) Regiment Royal Artillery until that unit was placed in suspended animation in 2014.

Lancashire Hussars

The Lancashire Hussars was a British Army unit originally formed in 1798. It saw action in the Second Boer War, the First World War and the Second World War. In 1969, the regiment reduced to a cadre and the Yeomanry lineage discontinued.

Leicestershire Yeomanry

The Leicestershire Yeomanry (Prince Albert's Own) was a yeomanry regiment of the British Army, first raised in 1794 and again in 1803, which provided cavalry and mounted infantry in the Second Boer War and the First World War and provided two field artillery regiments of the Royal Artillery in the Second World War, before being amalgamated with the Derbyshire Yeomanry into forming the Leicestershire and Derbyshire (Prince Albert's Own) Yeomanry in 1957. The regiment's lineage is currently perpetuated by E (Leicestershire and Derbyshire Yeomanry) Squadron of the Royal Yeomanry.

Queen's Own Dorset Yeomanry

The Queen's Own Dorset Yeomanry was a yeomanry regiment of the British Army founded in 1794 as the Dorsetshire Regiment of Volunteer Yeomanry Cavalry in response to the growing threat of invasion during the Napoleonic wars. It gained its first royal association in 1833 as The Princess Victoria's Regiment of Dorset Yeomanry Cavalry, and its second, in 1843, as the Queen's Own Regiment of Dorset Yeomanry Cavalry.

Royal Artillery Barracks

The Royal Artillery Barracks at Woolwich in the Royal Borough of Greenwich, London, was the home of the Royal Artillery from 1776 until 2007.

Royal Artillery Boer War Memorial

The Royal Artillery Boer War Memorial is located on The Mall in Central London. It marks the deaths of the 1083 soldiers of the Royal Artillery who died in the Second Boer War of 1899 to 1902 and was unveiled by Prince Arthur, Duke of Connaught in July 20 1910. It has been Grade II* listed on the National Heritage List for England since February 1970. The heritage listing describes the monument as "a war memorial of clear architectural and sculptural quality, designed by two well-respected artists".

Royal Artillery Memorial

The Royal Artillery Memorial is a stone memorial at Hyde Park Corner in London, dedicated to the First World War casualties of the Royal Regiment of Artillery. The memorial was designed by Charles Jagger and Lionel Pearson, and features a giant sculpture of a BL 9.2-inch Mk I howitzer upon a large plinth of Portland stone, with stone reliefs depicting scenes from the conflict. Four bronze figures of artillerymen are positioned around the outside of the memorial. The memorial is famous for its realist contrast with other First World War memorials, such as the Cenotaph designed by Edwin Lutyens, and attracted much public debate during the 20th century.

Royal Field Artillery

The Royal Field Artillery (RFA) of the British Army provided close artillery support for the infantry. It came into being when created as a distinct arm of the Royal Regiment of Artillery on 1 July 1899, and was re-amalgamated back into the Regiment proper, along with the Royal Garrison Artillery, in 1924. The Royal Field Artillery was the largest arm of the artillery. It was responsible for the medium calibre guns and howitzers deployed close to the front line and was reasonably mobile. It was organised into brigades, attached to divisions or higher formations.

Royal Garrison Artillery

The Royal Garrison Artillery (RGA) was formed in 1899 as a distinct arm of the British Army's Royal Regiment of Artillery serving alongside the other two arms of the Regiment, the Royal Field Artillery (RFA) and the Royal Horse Artillery (RHA). The RGA were the 'technical' branch of the Royal Artillery who were responsible for much of the professionalisation of technical gunnery that was to occur during the First World War. It was originally established to man the guns of the British Empire's forts and fortresses, including coastal artillery batteries, the heavy gun batteries attached to each infantry division and the guns of the siege artillery. The RGA was amalgamated with the RFA in 1924, from when the only two arms within the Royal Regiment of Artillery are the Royal Artillery and the Royal Horse Artillery.

Royal Horse Artillery

The Royal Horse Artillery (RHA) was formed in 1793 as a distinct arm of the Royal Regiment of Artillery (commonly termed Royal Artillery) of the British Army. Horses are still in service for ceremonial purposes but were phased out from operational deployment during the 1930s.

The Royal Horse Artillery, currently consists of three regiments, (1 RHA, 3 RHA and 7 RHA) and one ceremonial unit (King's Troop Royal Horse Artillery). Almost all the batteries of the Royal Horse Artillery have served continuously since the French Revolutionary Wars or Napoleonic Wars, except the King's Troop which has existed since 1946 and M Battery which was 'reanimated' in 1993.

South Nottinghamshire Hussars

The South Nottinghamshire Hussars was a unit of the British Army formed as volunteer cavalry in 1794. Converted to artillery in 1922, it formed a battery of a Territorial Army regiment until it was placed in suspended animation.

General
Regiments
Royal Artillery
AS-90, GMLRS, Exactor
Light Artillery
Surveillance and Target Acquisition
Unmanned Air Systems (UAS)
Air Defence Artillery
Airborne Artillery
Commando Artillery
Ceremonial
Training

Languages

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