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NigelS

Limber Pole Ladder

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NigelS

This months CWGC newsletter (Feb. '14) carries a WFA article (General Maude and the Recapture of Kut) which includes an IWM photo of a 'Limber pole ladder' in use in Mesopotomia

post-5512-0-51101100-1391255258_thumb.jp
© IWM (Q 24261) IWM Details

With part of the IWM's accompanying text giving:

An artillery observation ladder. These light, portable ladders were of great use. At the top was a bullet proof shield and it was found that it could be put up frequently within 1000 yards of the Turkish trenches.

a further image, which appears to be another variant, is also available from the IWM

post-5512-0-66389000-1391255277_thumb.jp
© IWM (Q 24261) IWM Details

My guess is that this concept would have been developed some time before the Great War rather than specifically for the conditions experienced in Mesopotamia (even with the shield, except in the early days, probably not really suitable for deployment on the Western Front), would I be right, and if so, when?

NigelS

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centurion

The Belgian army was certainly using limber poles this way pre 1914 I have seen photos of them doing so in the 1913 annual manoeuvres. I also have postcard somewhere of French artillery doing so during training in the early part of the war.

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Old Tom

Interesting picture. A couple of thoughts; why does the chap with the rangefinder not have a shield, and why are the guy ropes not at the same angle - perhaps on carries a telephone/ graph line.

Old Tom

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centurion

US Army variation

post-9885-0-63314900-1391276936_thumb.jp

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centurion

Neither the British or American example is actually using the limber pole its self. These ladders are longer than that. As this photo shows the limber pole was too short

post-9885-0-25482800-1391277755_thumb.jp

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NigelS

Neither the British or American example is actually using the limber pole its self. These ladders are longer than that. As this photo shows the limber pole was too short

The American one certainly does appears to be completely independent of both the limber & its shaft; the first IWM photo it's impossible to tell, but the second - which I initially thought was the same one as the first taken from a different viewpoint (closer inspection reveals they're a totally different set up) - does looks as if it might be an add on to the limber's shaft; perhaps an extension pole (or poles) fitted on - in a similar way to the way tent poles fit together where the lower man's hands are in the 2nd IWM image. Can't help wondering, as, as well as the ladder part there would be the shield & the support hawsers etc to carry, whether there might have been a special limber kitted out specifically for the role (ie not carrying ammunition) with, say, one allocated per so many guns, or section. I also wonder whether it might have been possible to 'rotate' the observer with, if it is such, that sort of set up (although it must be said that the observer's posture looks just a little uncomfortable without the aggravation of having to endure that as well!)

The 1st IWM photo seems to be popular at the moment as it, it seems, is also going to appear on the cover of the latest part (part six, Redrawing the Middle East) of the Sunday Telegraph's First World War supplement, due out tomorrow (2nd February) in print but already available online Click

NigelS

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nigelfe

Naturally Bethell in his 'Modern Artillery in the Field' 1911 deals with this matter.

"in foreign armies the telephone wagon is combined with an observation wagon drawn by four horse. This carries a ladder (- - - - ) This system appears inferior to our own, since if the wagon is sent off to lay cable before the batteries come up, it takes the whole of the other stores with it." (This wagon was one per field bde and one per heavy bty).

"The brigade commander's ladder is carried, in foreign armies, on the observation wagon. It is a te;escopic or jointed ladder about 16 feet high, supported by props and steadied by guys. At the top is a seat and a table, with socket for the director telescope, which is usually a panorama telescope. A shiled for the observer is sometime provided."

"The battery observation ladder is either part of an ammunition wagon, or carried on it. The commonest form is a shielded prolongation of the perch of the wagon body, which is tipped so that the perch is raised in the air. [Then there's a sketch of the Armstrong Field Observatory.] He then deals with non-tipping wagons. Also notes that the shield may be the rear door of the wagon.

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NigelS

Thanks Nigel, is the Armstrong sketch anything like the photos?

Found this patent from 1915, but, having two sections, its different to those previously illustrated, and may never have been put into production Click (use 'original document' to left to see plans)

NigelS

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centurion

The American one certainly does appears to be completely independent of both the limber & its shaft; the first IWM photo it's impossible to tell, but the second - which I initially thought was the same one as the first taken from a different viewpoint (closer inspection reveals they're a totally different set up) - does looks as if it might be an add on to the limber's shaft; perhaps an extension pole (or poles) fitted on - in a similar way to the way tent poles fit together where the lower man's hands are in the 2nd IWM image. Can't help wondering, as, as well as the ladder part there would be the shield & the support hawsers etc to carry, whether there might have been a special limber kitted out specifically for the role (ie not carrying ammunition) with, say, one allocated per so many guns, or section. I also wonder whether it might have been possible to 'rotate' the observer with, if it is such, that sort of set up (although it must be said that the observer's posture looks just a little uncomfortable without the aggravation of having to endure that as well!)

The 1st IWM photo seems to be popular at the moment as it, it seems, is also going to appear on the cover of the latest part (part six, Redrawing the Middle East) of the Sunday Telegraph's First World War supplement, due out tomorrow (2nd February) in print but already available online Click

NigelS

In both the IWW photos the limber appears not to have been tipped up as the French one has. In the American example the pole does seem to be anchored to a small platform across an A shaped section of the limber trail I think the IWW one is not a gun limber but the rear section of a limbered wagon.This would leave the front section free to provide transport/wire laying etc whilst the observation station remains in use.

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