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German 'Rum Jars'


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In Matthew Richardson's book The Tigers, there are several references to the 'new' German Rum Jar mortars causing many casualties and trench destruction. Does anyone have details of what these looked like, what was their weight, size, etc? Alternatively, can anyone point me to a book or web page that might help?

Many thanks

Bob

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Possibly one of these

post-9885-0-03490000-1342812664_thumb.jp

post-9885-0-81926400-1342812792_thumb.jp

Also known to the British as Moaning Minnies and to the Germans as Schwienwerfers

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Schwienwerfers

Eh? Source please, Centurion. Never heard of — German Google recognises neither Schwienwerfer nor Schweinwerfer, and a Scheinwerfer is a searchlight.

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Centurion,

re your second photo. Quite a variance of dress in the three officers examining the mortar. One wearing sleeve rank, other two epaulette rank,

one with puttees and one not wearing a SB. Any clues ? Otherwise a very good photo.

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Schwerer

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That sounds better, Mick, but schwerer Minenwerfer simply means 'heavy trench mortar'. Assuming it was the projectile rather than the mortar itself that was reminiscent of a rum jar, these things sound like Erdmörser, usually translated as 'earth mortars', which were buried tube projectors somewhat akin to the Livens. They were short-range weapons, emplaced, usually in pairs, in the support line or in pits off the forward end of communication trenches, used for almost lobbing simple but nasty cylindrical projectiles into the enemy's front line trenches. Their unsophisticated design and construction made them virtually 'disposable' and therefore well-suited to being sited in forward positions where they were exposed to the risk of being overrun or knocked out by arty/TM fire. An earlier thread with illustrations of both the weapon and the projectile is here — http://1914-1918.invisionzone.com/forums/index.php?showtopic=156767

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While it is very hard for me to come to the rescue of centurion, here it is.

Mick, the facettes of German language with it's idioms and nicknames are not easy to understand or translate for you foreigners. Centurion most likely means "Schweinewerfer" as a Werfer-type designation. There are several possibilities where the idiom originates from. One could be from "Schweine werfen" which means pigs give birth (cast) to farrows- a nice nickname for a certain type of mortar.

Another origin could come from "Schweine werfen" in the sense of "throwing pigs" (see the affinity to the Brit word "Flying pig" for a certain type of mortar?).

There are some few more possibilities and yes, the word "Schweinewerfer" as designation for a mortar is very very likely as the word combination makes absolute sense in German soldier language "Landserdeutsch".

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Centurion,

re your second photo. Quite a variance of dress in the three officers examining the mortar. One wearing sleeve rank, other two epaulette rank,

one with puttees and one not wearing a SB. Any clues ? Otherwise a very good photo.

Why do you see the variance as being anything unusual ?

It used to be a joke amongst American officers that in the unlikely event of two Brit officers turning up in a room in identical uniform, the junior one was expected to leave .

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There are some few more possibilities and yes, the word "Schweinewerfer" as designation for a mortar is very very likely as the word combination makes absolute sense in German soldier language "Landserdeutsch".

I agree, but I can find no trace whatever of 'Schweinewerfer' and all occurrences of 'Schweinwerfer' seem to be either accidental or deliberately jocular mis-spellings of 'Scheinwerfer'.

Let's see what Centurion's source says first.

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Let's see what Centurion's source says first.

I think he is speechless and still recovers from shell shock that somebody like me supported him.....

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Hallo,

like Mick I never heard of Schwienwerfers, never red it in a German regimental history or other documentation

Cnock

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Unless Centurion's source leads us in another direction, it certainly appears to me that Schweinwerfer is indeed Landserdeutsch, but for Scheinwerfer rather than for any kind of Minenwerfer.

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Eddy, "Schwienwerfers" is no German language word, it does not exist at all.

If it is -----it is SCHWEINEWERFER

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Thanks for all the contributions. The thread added by Siege Gunner was exactly what I needed and I believe it answers my question.

Bob

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from: "The Emma Gees" by Herbert Wes McBride

The shells from the trench mortars proper, and most of the “fish—tail” family, are somewhat similar to ordinary artillery shells in that they are made of steel or iron and designed to burst into small fragments, each of which constitutes a deadly missile. On the other hand, the “mines” thrown by the Minenwerfer, are merely light sheet—metal containers for heavy charges of high explosives (T. N. T. or tri—nitro—toluol as a rule), and depend for their effectiveness on the shock and blasting effect of the detonation. They have been increasing in size continually. At first we called them “sausages,” then “rum—jars” (they resembled the ordinary one—gallon rum jar in size and shape), then they became “flying pigs” and by this time, I have no doubt, new and still more expressive names have been applied to them.

http://www.aolib.com/reader_20655_37.htm

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Culinary reference here. A rumtopf is a big ceramic jar with a lid that you preserve soft fruit in. As the season progresses you put in a layer of say, strawberries, a sprinkle of sugar, then cover with very strong rum and put the lid on. Then your redcurrants ripen. Put them in the jar, a sprinkle of sugar, cover with rum. Then your raspberries ripen etc etc. It's traditionally eaten at Christmas. A shell full of round metal balls is reminiscent of a Rumtopf. Every German would know a Rumtopf, just as every Brit knows a Christmas pud.

lens13584961_1285135634Rumtopf.jpg

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