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The Great War (1914-1918) Forum

Remembered Today:

Look What I Found, Mum!!


Paul Johnson

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I found the attached propped up against a post near Spoilbank Cemetery(where I left it!).

I think it's a Stokes Mortar bomb but am not sure if it's Explosive or Gas filled.

Any views on this?

Paul Johnson

P.S. ( I Do Not Condone The Handling Or Removal Of Any Such Artifacts Found On The Battlefield And Would Always Advise Anyone To Leave These Things Alone And Report Them To The Local Authorities.)

post-1368-1112281339.jpg

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It certainly looks like a 3 inch Stokes mortar round but the pic is a little fuzzy ;) (could even be a very encrusted French 75mm...) - if so they are found very frequently. It is not really possible to tell if it is HE or gas from the pic (HE is far more common) - obviously the original paint/markings are gone, the cartridge holder is uppermost and the fuse cannot be seen.

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Giles,

Sorry about the fuzzy photo but I had to reduce it in order to meet with the Forum criteria.

PAUL J

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I think it looks more like a Stokes Mortar Bomb than a 75mm round.

I could very easily be wrong about this but weren't all 3 inch rounds HE? I thought it was the 4 inch Stokes Rounds that had gas and smoke options.

Jon

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Hi,

I beleive you are quite correct. 3" SM Shells contained HE whilst 4" contained Gas or Smoke.

I am led to beleive that these are amongst the most unstable of the items found during the "Iron Harvest".

PAUL JOHNSON :ph34r:

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I believe that the 3 inch was tested for smoke and chemical use but the capacity was rather too small. I think they may have been used in very small numbers in chemical form alongside the large capacity 4 inch round.

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I asked my conection at the Ammo disposal unit. No gas in the 3 inch!!!

only: 1,3 kg amatol or 1,3kg ammonal

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Kristof,

Is that they have never found any or they were never used?

This is one source that indicated some possible chemical use:

http://www.worldwar1.com/dbc/smortar.htm

Strange because, i hav an extract from the DOVO manual (ammo disp. unit). The manual does'nt talk about chemical Stokes... Also the guy i know, who has a good function there to know what is going on, can't recall ever found one with chemicals in it. Maybe that was experimental?

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your site is saying the 2 versions:

"There was also some experimentation done with toxic gas shells for the weapon"

and a bit further they say they are used but are rare... :ph34r:

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Kristof,

The Belgian disposal guys have probably seem more Stokes than anyone! I would be inclined to their opinion rather than the website mentioned above.

In addition I can find no reference to 3 inch Stokes gas shells in Saunders 'Weapons of the Trench War' - given this is one of the definitive works on this subject and compiled from WO Ministry of Munitions files at the PRO I would go with that.

Incidentally here is a little ancedote from Saunders's book regarding the Royal Commission into the Stokes mortar. It was found to be 70% accurate against a target compared to the 18 pdr at 5%. An 18 pdr shell cost £6, a Stokes £2. During 14-18 20,000,000 Stokes were fired against 100,000,000 18 pdrs - granted a large proportion were Shrapnel rounds which the Stokes did not offer (nor the range) but do the math, as they say over the pond.

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The stokes mortar was quite an invention!! The basic system is still used today!

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Did you know that following the end of the Great War Sir Wilfred Stokes felt that the British government had not only benefited greatly from his invention by their obvious victory but had done so at a lowly price. On the 6th June 1919 he applied to the Royal Commission on Awards to Inventors for an additional payment based on a simple calculation. This being, One Pound for every Mortar produced, of which there were some 11,000 and One Penny for every round of ammunition produced of which, it was claimed, there were 20,000,000. The total of Sir Wilfrid's claim was approximately £94,000 from which, he stated, the initial payment he received of £10,000 should be deducted. The case dragged on for almost two years during which time Sir Wilfrid continually pestered the Commission for a judgement on his claim. At one point he made it clear that the very existence of Ransomes & Rapier (his manufacturing company) depended upon a positive conclusion to the case. The Royal Commission informed Sir Wilfrid that the case was prolonged as a result of a further seven claims being made by former Army officers and civilian armaments companies regarding "improvements" that were made to the Mortar for which, they felt, they should receive some form of payment from the government. In January 1921 the Royal Commission informed Sir Wilfrid that as he had already received payment from the government in 1916 under the original terms of their contract his application had been rejected.

Sir Wilfrid Stokes died on the 7th February 1927 at the age of 66.

PAUL J :ph34r:

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