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Artillery accident


Derek Tickner
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Ive been getting excellent feedback on this Forum about my grandads war history over the last few months but ive a question for any Artillery guys.....i was talking to a family member about our grandad ,who was in the 141st RGA HB,(60 pounders)he was injured out of the war in July 1918 at Beaumont Hamel,my cousin had been told his injury was the result of a 'Double Discharge'which broke his leg,resulting in amputation,can anyone explain if that was possible.

I've asked an ex Artillery friend who has never heard of a 'Double discharge'.......

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I only know of a clay pigeon enthusiast who had a gun which double discharged.  I confess I dnt have a clue and it was explained what it meant so I may have this wrong but it was a recoil thing I believe so it went off again having already pulled the trigger so was a faulty gun.  Think I recall that correctly but an expert will likely confirm soon.  

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it may be possible the round fired had a double charge of powder thus causing a unnatural amount of recoil??  not being conversant with the rounds or shells used in the 60 pounders if they are fixed or used a powder charge placed in the casing?

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7 hours ago, Alisonmallen62 said:

I only know of a clay pigeon enthusiast who had a gun which double discharged.  I confess I dnt have a clue and it was explained what it meant so I may have this wrong but it was a recoil thing I believe so it went off again having already pulled the trigger so was a faulty gun.  Think I recall that correctly but an expert will likely confirm soon.  

Thanks Alison I'm sure there's someone out there knows,it also 'beggars belief'how a simple tibia/fibia fracture would result in an amputation? 

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If it was an open fracture, and the wound became infected, then perfectly possible to lead to amputation. Pre antibiotics, they didn't have the ways to treat that we do now. If a crush injury, the leg might have been too badly damaged to facilitate use post recovery, so again, amputation is a possibility.

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7 hours ago, robins2 said:

not being conversant with the rounds or shells used in the 60 pounders if they are fixed or used a powder charge placed in the casing?

The 60 pounder shell was 5" calibre and used a separate charge in a cloth bag.

IWM has a recorded interview with a veteran of a Heavy Battery who describes the charge as 3ft long. I've not been able to find anything to confirm the length.

 

The M33 at Portsmouth Harbour has a 6" gun from which the 5" was developed from. They demonstrate the loading procedure using dummy shells and propellant. All according to the chap doing the demo last time I visited.

Edited by Alan24
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1 hour ago, Michelle Young said:

If it was an open fracture, and the wound became infected, then perfectly possible to lead to amputation. Pre antibiotics, they didn't have the ways to treat that we do now. If a crush injury, the leg might have been too badly damaged to facilitate use post recovery, so again, amputation is a possibility.

Thanks for that Michelle,knew that Field Ambulances weren't the most hygienic of places

1 hour ago, Alan24 said:

The 60 pounder shell was 5" calibre and used a separate charge in a cloth bag.

IWM has a recorded interview with a veteran of a Heavy Battery who describes the charge as 3ft long. I've not been able to find anything to confirm the length.

 

The M33 at Portsmouth Harbour has a 6" gun from which the 5" was developed from. They demonstrate the loading procedure using dummy shells and propellant. All according to the chap doing the demo last time I visited.

Thanks Alan

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One of the duties of a loader was to check that the bore was clear before loading the next round.  Usually we expected to see unburnt cartridge material, mud or some other obstruction which would be shifted by judicious use of the piasaba (The big brush on a stick)  I suppose in a prolonged action, a round could get stuck or not clear the barrel due to an uncomplete combustion and a second round could be loaded. 

 

The only time I  know of this actually happening  (Was failrly recently at Otterburn? ) was with a mortar crew.  The previous round didn't leave the tube, but the fuse had primed.  The next round went down and hit the fuse and both exploded in the tube itself,.  Most of the crew were killed.  

 

GH

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58 minutes ago, Gunner Hall said:

One of the duties of a loader was to check that the bore was clear before loading the next round.  Usually we expected to see unburnt cartridge material, mud or some other obstruction which would be shifted by judicious use of the piasaba (The big brush on a stick)  I suppose in a prolonged action, a round could get stuck or not clear the barrel due to an uncomplete combustion and a second round could be loaded. 

 

The only time I  know of this actually happening  (Was failrly recently at Otterburn? ) was with a mortar crew.  The previous round didn't leave the tube, but the fuse had primed.  The next round went down and hit the fuse and both exploded in the tube itself,.  Most of the crew were killed.  

 

GH

Thanks Gunner Hall all sounds reasonable enough to me

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This images shows the charge for a 60 Pounder shell.

 

 

968C9F93-44C5-4B9B-82FB-B3CACA849F70.jpeg

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2 hours ago, Gunner Hall said:

The only time I  know of this actually happening  (Was failrly recently at Otterburn? ) was with a mortar crew.  The previous round didn't leave the tube, but the fuse had primed.  The next round went down and hit the fuse and both exploded in the tube itself,.  Most of the crew were killed.  

 

GH

Early 80's I recollect - Royal Marines Mortar detachment,  3 killed. 

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12 minutes ago, ianjonesncl said:

Early 80's I recollect - Royal Marines Mortar detachment,  3 killed. 


Yes, that’s correct, I was instructing in the Mortar Division at SCHINF at the time and all our staff were shown deeply unpleasant photos from the board of inquiry.  The inquiry found that the marines concerned were using two men for loading to try and break some kind of unit record for maximum rounds in the air.  In the process a second round was loaded into the barrel a fraction before the first round reached the firing pin at the bottom.  The outcome was predictable and we were all urged to make this crystal clear to our students.  The two men nearest the barrel, which exploded, were cut in half.  Two more (one the safety supervisor) were blown several feet away.  I have never forgotten it.

Edited by FROGSMILE
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Time does fly.  It seems more recent than that.  Rest in peace, lads.

 

 

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3 minutes ago, FROGSMILE said:


Yes, that’s correct, I was instructing in the Mortar Division at SCHINF at the time and all our staff were shown deeply unpleasant photos from the board of inquiry.  The inquiry found that the marines concerned were using two men for loading to try and break some kind of unit record for maximum rounds in the air.  In the process a second round was loaded into the barrel a fraction before the first round reached the firing pin at the bottom.  The outcome was predictable and we were all urged to make this crystal clear to our students.  The two men nearest the barrel, which exploded, were cut in half.  Two more (one the safety supervisor) were blown several feet away.  I have never forgotten it.

 

The photographs were shown at Otterburn Ranges Safety brief to emphasise the dangers of not following prescribed drills. 

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3 hours ago, ianjonesncl said:

 

The photographs were shown at Otterburn Ranges Safety brief to emphasise the dangers of not following prescribed drills. 


Yes, I recall that it was ordered that photos be sent to all indirect fire ranges in Britain and Germany.  I doubt that the distribution of such images would be permitted nowadays.  They were different times.  The Army was not subordinate to the Health and Safety at Work Act, Crown Immunity still applied across the armed services, and the U.K. were not yet signatories of the European Human Rights Act.  The changes in culture that would subsequently be brought about by those legislative milestones could not even have been imagined at the time.  We also had 55,000 troops in Germany alone.  Today the current entire strength of the Army (which now for the first time includes trainees after phase 1 as a ploy to beef up the number) is I think around 78,000.

Edited by FROGSMILE
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3 hours ago, FROGSMILE said:

This images shows the charge for a 60 Pounder shell.

 

 

968C9F93-44C5-4B9B-82FB-B3CACA849F70.jpeg

Thanks for that image Frogsmile.

Looks about 18"-20". 

 

There's an entry in my GGFs diary where a hot shell splinter from the enemy landed in an open cartridge box and set the whole gun pit ablaze.

 

Regards

Alan.

Edited by Alan24
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33 minutes ago, Alan24 said:

Thanks for that image Frogsmile.

Looks about 18"-20". 

 

There's an entry in my GGFs diary where a hot shell splinter from the enemy landed in an open cartridge box and set the whole gun pit ablaze.

 

Regards

Alan.


Glad to help Alan.  I have some direct experience as throughout the 80s I was involved with indirect fire and at the end of a shoot, or firing practice we used to destroy the unused propellant cartridges or bags that had been removed from projectiles as part of the incremental charge system.  For all arms exercises this sometimes included artillery and mortars and those of us appropriately qualified had to ignite and destroy them in the open.  In addition misfired rounds were destroyed.  Much of the propellant was nitrocellulose and highly inflammable.  I recall that we had to be so careful to not set fire to dry undergrowth and sun parched grasslands so I can imagine the effect in a wartime gun pit.  I think that there are much stricter regulations now because of ground contamination.

 

F3B3C586-C4F2-455C-A237-91A767DA022C.jpeg

60FE5833-16A1-40A5-AE92-6551994B4B6B.jpeg

Edited by FROGSMILE
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On 03/12/2020 at 14:43, Alan24 said:

There's an entry in my GGFs diary where a hot shell splinter from the enemy landed in an open cartridge box and set the whole gun pit ablaze.

This will give you an indication of what happens when charge bags burn.

 

 

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1 hour ago, ianjonesncl said:

This will give you an indication of what happens when charge bags burn.

That's certainly spectacular to see, fits the description below...

 

This is the diary entry, Location was "behind Deville Wood"

10 Oct 1916 - D Pit caught fire 7pm. Barling, Williams, Talbot, Harrison, Edmondson burnt.

 

Same story from another source.

During our occupation of the Longueval position an incident that occurred here will be easily remembered by all who witnessed it. This was the setting on fire of D Sub-section gunpits. It was believed that a splinter from German shell must have flown into an open cartridge box (the Battery was in action at the time) and a tremendous blaze ensued immediately. It was a terrifying but magnificent spectacle and all agreed that Corporal Talbot and Gunner Hibbert fully deserved the Military Medal They won by going back into the furnace to rescue a man they believed to be still there. The Corporal and several men (Gunners Edmondson, Williams, Harris and two others) were despatched to Hospital suffering from burns.

 

Regards

Alan

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12 hours ago, ianjonesncl said:

This will give you an indication of what happens when charge bags burn.

 

 

Thanks Ian quite impressive..lot of stored power...

11 hours ago, Alan24 said:

That's certainly spectacular to see, fits the description below...

 

This is the diary entry, Location was "behind Deville Wood"

10 Oct 1916 - D Pit caught fire 7pm. Barling, Williams, Talbot, Harrison, Edmondson burnt.

 

Same story from another source.

During our occupation of the Longueval position an incident that occurred here will be easily remembered by all who witnessed it. This was the setting on fire of D Sub-section gunpits. It was believed that a splinter from German shell must have flown into an open cartridge box (the Battery was in action at the time) and a tremendous blaze ensued immediately. It was a terrifying but magnificent spectacle and all agreed that Corporal Talbot and Gunner Hibbert fully deserved the Military Medal They won by going back into the furnace to rescue a man they believed to be still there. The Corporal and several men (Gunners Edmondson, Williams, Harris and two others) were despatched to Hospital suffering from burns.

 

Regards

Alan

Thanks Alan

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