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RodB

Large German mortars - what are they ?

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RodB

The IWM has this image, described as captured German guns at Querrieu, July 1916. The nearest gun appears to be a 77 mm FK 96 n/a. But what are the large calibre items that look like improvised mortars in the background ?

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Wikipedia has the following image, with something very similar, with the Google-translated Russian description reading : "Battle of the Somme in France. Captured by the French German trench mortar wood, remove the iron wire. Used to fire chemical mines."

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Tom W.

Those are called "Albrecht" mortars. They came in several calibers and were made of wooden staves--like a barrel--wrapped with wire. In this photo, you can see the shell next to the mortar in front. This type of shell was called a "coal bucket."

post-7020-0-73173800-1325048573.jpg

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centurion

Thanks for the identification. With the name I was able to locate the discussion on it here a while back :

Wooden barreled artillery? Has anyone come across this?

Extracts from the appropriate US Army manual from mid 1918

G. "Albrecht" Mortar This mortar is a wooden tube 2 meters (6ft.8in.)in length and 25 cm. (9.84 in.)in diameter, reinforced with wire.

The bottom of the barrel rests on a wooden block. A metallic stand supports the barrel and a handwheel screw elevates and depresses the barrel.

This mortar uses the same projectile as the Erdmorser at ranges varying from 35 to 600 meters with charges varying from 50 to 700 gr. (1.76 to 24.68 ounces). Besides this mortar there are two other mortars of the same

pattern:

(a)

Diam. 35 cm. (13.78 in.). Projectile 100 kgs. (220lbs.) Expl. 60 kgs. (132 lbs.).

Diam. 45 cm. (17.71 in.).

Projectile. The French call the projectile the "coal bucket" type. It is a cylinder made of sheet iron 25 cm. (9.82 inch) in diameter and 38 cm. (14.96

inch) in height. The cylinder is closed at both ends by wooden blocks, one having a handle for transporting the projectile and the other being pierced with a hole in which to place the Bickford fuse. This fuse is lighted by the flash of the charge.

The projectile weighs 23.5 kgs. (51.7 lbs.) and contains 12 kgs. (26.4 lbs.) of explosive containing 1kg. (2.2 lbs.) of iron bits.

A smaller model is also used. This projectile has simply been improved, the bottom being reinforced with an iron sheet and the top being fitted with a metallic cone which gives a better stability to the projectile.

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bob lembke

They must have such a long barrel (for a mortar) as such a construction could only handle a small propellant charge, so the longer barrel allowed the device to produce a bit more muzzle velocity for the projective for a bit of range.

Oddly, there seem to be two German soldiers among the group of British soldiers inspecting the guns in the first photo in the thread.

Bob Lembke

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centurion

They must have such a long barrel (for a mortar) as such a construction could only handle a small propellant charge, so the longer barrel allowed the device to produce a bit more muzzle velocity for the projective for a bit of range.

Oddly, there seem to be two German soldiers among the group of British soldiers inspecting the guns in the first photo in the thread.

Bob Lembke

Three actually. I suspect there is something about the caption that is wrong and this is a post armistice photo, especially as I don't think the wooden mortars were around in 1916

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RodB

Three actually. I suspect there is something about the caption that is wrong and this is a post armistice photo, especially as I don't think the wooden mortars were around in 1916

Sorry, forgot to include the info that the photo included German prisoners.

Orginal link to IWM : http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205072278

Rod

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centurion

Checking matters I now find to my surprise that indeed they did appear in 1916. The earliest account I can find is April 1916. The following extracts from German orders for a trench raid may be of interest.

110th Reserve Infantry Regiment. In the field, 6th April, 1916.REGIMENTAL ORDERS FOR A RAID ON THE SPION

1. The raid will probably take place at dusk the llth of April.

Fjom today, the "earth mortars" (Erdmorser) will systematically cut the enemy's wire opposite the Blinddarm. On the day before the raid, they will cooperate with all other close-range weapons to assist in the, feint bombardment of Target-sectors 76-78. On the evening of the raid, they will assist in the feint attack by bombarding Target sectors 76 and 77 (see Appendices 3 and 4).

Throughout the raid, the "Albrechtmorser," in position on the Lehmgrubenhohe, will heavily bombard the enemy's trenches in the Nordrondell. Particular care will be taken that the enemy's machine

guns do not interfere with the raid from that quarter

The "Albrecht-Morser" of the 1st Reserve Company, 13th Pioneer Battalion.in position on the Lehmgrubenhohe, will bombard the Nordrondell with the utmost intensity.

The "Albrecht-Morser" of the 1st Reserve Company, 13th Pioneer Battalion, on the Lehmgrubenhohe, will continue to bombard the Nordrondell. All close-range -weapons and the artillery, which from 0' to 15'

had been bombarding the enemy's position opposite the southwest corner of La Boisselle, will reopen fire on these targets with renewed vigor.

Albrecht seems to come from the temporary name of a German artillery park where the barrels of the Erdmorser and Albrecht Morser were fabricated.

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