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Remembered Today:

I.D. trench mortar?


Tom W.
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The mortar is probably French (although the original designer did have Belgian connections) but some were used by the Italians (and the Romanians) The round is somewhat different to most I've seen photos of used by the French so it could be an Italian variant. One of the advantages of this stick type mortar was that all sorts of rounds could be fired from the standard mortar.

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According to the US Army manual (translated from the French) it was a Trench Mortar 58 no 2

Normal method of firing ( as per the manual) was via a lanyard (from around a trench butress)

The following photos of it in French service show a variety of rounds

post-9885-0-89848800-1347360843_thumb.jp

post-9885-0-31689200-1347360883_thumb.jp

post-9885-0-15054600-1347360942_thumb.jp

post-9885-0-36959700-1347361047_thumb.jp

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Hmmm. The photo is admittedly not very well reproduced but what the US Seaman is using is not the French 58mm mortar. It does however look a lot like the Vickers 1.57 inch trench howitzer, but with added fins welded onto the bomb. Normally these have plain tubular tails with a gas check, welded to a hollow spherical body tipped with a fuse which can be either a time and percussion fuze like that for the 2Pdr shell or a unique impact type. The bombs could be either 18 lb or 33 lb. In April 1916 after an attempt to redesign the bomb it was decided to withdraw it from France as part of an attempt to reduce the number of different types in use. This withdrawal was completed by January 1917 - many were then passed to the Admiralty to arm merchant vessels. This could be the re-designed bomb and perhaps explain why it is the hands of the US Navy, but alas I have never seen one. The Mark 1 does turn up on the Somme from time to time. - SW

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Hmmm. The photo is admittedly not very well reproduced but what the US Seaman is using is not the French 58mm mortar. It does however look a lot like the Vickers 1.57 inch trench howitzer, but with added fins welded onto the bomb. Normally these have plain tubular tails with a gas check, welded to a hollow spherical body tipped with a fuse which can be either a time and percussion fuze like that for the 2Pdr shell or a unique impact type. The bombs could be either 18 lb or 33 lb. In April 1916 after an attempt to redesign the bomb it was decided to withdraw it from France as part of an attempt to reduce the number of different types in use. This withdrawal was completed by January 1917 - many were then passed to the Admiralty to arm merchant vessels. This could be the re-designed bomb and perhaps explain why it is the hands of the US Navy, but alas I have never seen one. The Mark 1 does turn up on the Somme from time to time. - SW

I found a much higher-quality image online.

It doesn't look much like the French 58mm mortar to me.

post-7020-0-40004400-1347386340_thumb.jp

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I should think this is a show piece rather than a live demo! There appears to be a plaque brazed or rivetted onto the side of the bomb, but the filling plug is there, and it has a transit plug where the fuze fits, so other than the fins I think it probably is what I said. Search on Vickers 1.57 inch trench mortar and the IWM site has a good photo with all the accessories - see what you think. SW

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I should think this is a show piece rather than a live demo! There appears to be a plaque brazed or rivetted onto the side of the bomb, but the filling plug is there, and it has a transit plug where the fuze fits, so other than the fins I think it probably is what I said. Search on Vickers 1.57 inch trench mortar and the IWM site has a good photo with all the accessories - see what you think. SW

You appear to be right! Sneaky so-and-so's, trying to pass this off as an Italian weapon. They must've put the fins on to make it more exotic looking. The Exposition was all about lifting morale and selling war bonds, so the sexier the device, the better.

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