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Catapults at Gallipoli


leanes-trench

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Greetings, all. Can anyone provide me with any contemporary diary entries or quotes from memoirs, about the use of catapults at Gallipoli? Somewhere - I can't recall where - I have seen stories about the havoc they caused among the infantry in the front lines, when engineers arrived to try out their creations.

Any help would be greatly appreciated.

Many thanks,

Pat

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Dear Pat,

No accounts but there are 2 great pictures in images of Gallipoli / Pedersen p. 86-87.

I wanted I can scan them and post them

cheers

eric

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Dear Pat,

I am so envious of those who have a collection of their relative’s photographs or diaries. I have one snapshot and one small sheet of paper with few lines of type-writing in carbon copy form. It is a letter from my grandfather dated 9 July 1963 and was probably addressed to a programme researcher at the BBC. It concerns catapults at Gallipoli.

Quote

“About August 1915 we at Gallipoli were issued with what we called the ‘Cricket Ball Grenade’ the fuse of which had to be lit with a match. Before this time we had made our own hand grenades from empty jam tins.

Our Divisional Engineers [this is the Royal Naval Division] made a catapult about six feet high, with a leather cup to hold the grenade and this we wound up with a handle. There was a ratchet to hold the elastic when pulled taut.

You put the grenade in this cup and lit the fuse with a match, then, having given it a few seconds to burn, brought your hand down smartly onto the release lever freeing the hook that held the cup and shooting the grenade forward.

A Petty Officer and myself carrying the catapult, went up and down the Front Line stopping now and again to let fly a grenade. One of them hit the parapet of the Turkish trench exposing a big Turk standing there with his shirt in his hand while he deloused it. The rifles of our men who were watching started to crack. I like to think that that one got away.”

It aint much, but it is first hand, albeit nearly 50 years after the event.

Regarding other references;

I do recall one concerning a catapult in use at Suvla, where the officer complained that the wind-up mechanism made so much noise, the Turks in the opposing trench always knew when they were going to use it, so after a while they gave up on it. I thought that I had mentioned this before on the GWF but a ‘search’ has not come up with anything. If I can trace the original reference details then I will let you know.

There is an RND photograph from Gallipoli [iWM ref Q14837] showing various items of equipment on display, including a huge catapult

Hope that this helps

Regards

Michael D.R.

[ps: Pat, are you from Oregon?]

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I do recall one concerning a catapult in use at Suvla, where the officer complained that the wind-up mechanism made so much noise, the Turks in the opposing trench always knew when they were going to use it, so after a while they gave up on it. I thought that I had mentioned this before on the GWF but a ‘search’ has not come up with anything. If I can trace the original reference details then I will let you know.

We were discussing it Michael. That'd probable be this one:

1/5th Battalion, The Bedfordshire Regiment War Diary:

4 Nov 1915 Ditto. Bomb catapult was erected on left of trench line opposite SANDBAG RIDGE & tried with success.

There was a note elsewhere (Websters book I think) that loading it made so much noise that the Turks were aware of its intended use well before its deployment. Will try & dig it out when i get home to get ther ref' right.

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Hi Pat

I have built and operate a replica "Leach" catapult as used by my Grreat Uncle at Gallipoli, and have several quotes from published sources:-

Try this one.

Trench catapults at Gallipoli (1)

“The operators were Brigade people and as soon as we heard they were coming everybody would say: “Those ******** have come, take cover!” They’d set themselves up and start firing. Not scientific – so amateur – the bombs would go anywhere, to the right, to the left, you never knew where it was going. Instead of facing the enemy everybody in the front line and supports would be looking backwards to see the bomb wasn’t going near them. When you saw a bomb going [land] right smack in the middle of another company. Laugh!!! They’d run left and right to get out of the way of this awful bomb. Sometimes it would fall out of the sling and burst in the trench. Arrgh!!! If you weren’t concerned it made you laugh.” (2nd Lieutenant, Eric Wolton)

or this,

Trench Catapults at Gallipoli (2)

“It was a wooden contraption meant to work on the principle of a catapult. There was a hollow cylinder on a framework, which on either side had a strong elastic tape. You primed and cocked the thing by winding handle. You pulled back the cylinder until there was a pretty good tension on the rubber and then fixed a catch. You got the bomb, lit the end of it, dropped it in the cylinder and then released the catch, and up she went. Well it was literally cock-shy because there was now question of seeing where it went, you just guessed at what angle you set the thing, high or low and you had to workout the tension of the rubber so it didn’t go too far. It was a very hit or miss affair. It was quite fun really”. (“2nd Lieutenant Malcolm Hancock, Bombing Officer, 162nd Brigade, 54th East Anglian Division)

By the way I find mine very accurate and great fun..Gareth

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From Westlake:

"November. War Diary records a bomb catapult being erected on left of line (4th). Cpt Webster notes that the machne made so much noise during arming that the Turks had ample use of its intended use".

Official Regmt history has no more info, so Webster is the source needed, although from memory he didnt say much more than the above Im afraid.

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Many thanks for checking up on that Steve

I've just had a birthday and now it's confirmed - memory loss

What happens next?

No; it's better that you don't tell me

Regards

Michael D.R.

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Quote from C.B.B. White, Brig-General, General Staff

ANZAC.

"The catapult is practically silent and the enemy gets no warning that a bomb is coming"

The gear box used on the originals is of very high quality, and would be silent at 50yds

"Accuracy, Up to a range of 150 yards the catapults have been found most accurate. 5 out of 6 bombs can be relied upon to fall in the ememy's trench."

I can confirm that the machine is accurate within its limits providing the driving bands are in good condition.

Gareth

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I've just had a birthday and now it's confirmed - memory loss

Me too funily enough & I reckon its all downhill from here mate!!! :lol: Sorry what were we talking about ... oh yea, catapults. No probs Michael!

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Dear Pat,

I am so envious of those who have a collection of their relative’s photographs or diaries. I have one snapshot and one small sheet of paper with few lines of type-writing in carbon copy form. It is a letter from my grandfather dated 9 July 1963 and was probably addressed to a programme researcher at the BBC. It concerns catapults at Gallipoli.

Quote

“About August 1915 we at Gallipoli were issued with what we called the ‘Cricket Ball Grenade’ the fuse of which had to be lit with a match. Before this time we had made our own hand grenades from empty jam tins.

Our Divisional Engineers [this is the Royal Naval Division] made a catapult about six feet high, with a leather cup to hold the grenade and this we wound up with a handle. There was a ratchet to hold the elastic when pulled taut.

You put the grenade in this cup and lit the fuse with a match, then, having given it a few seconds to burn, brought your hand down smartly onto the release lever freeing the hook that held the cup and shooting the grenade forward.

A Petty Officer and myself carrying the catapult, went up and down the Front Line stopping now and again to let fly a grenade. One of them hit the parapet of the Turkish trench exposing a big Turk standing there with his shirt in his hand while he deloused it. The rifles of our men who were watching started to crack. I like to think that that one got away.”

It aint much, but it is first hand, albeit nearly 50 years after the event.

Regarding other references;

I do recall one concerning a catapult in use at Suvla, where the officer complained that the wind-up mechanism made so much noise, the Turks in the opposing trench always knew when they were going to use it, so after a while they gave up on it. I thought that I had mentioned this before on the GWF but a ‘search’ has not come up with anything. If I can trace the original reference details then I will let you know.

There is an RND photograph from Gallipoli [iWM ref Q14837] showing various items of equipment on display, including a huge catapult

Hope that this helps

Regards

Michael D.R.

[ps: Pat, are you from Oregon?]

Dear Michael,

Yes, I am from Oregon (Eugene).

Would you mind if I quoted your grandfather's letter in my chapter on Accidental Deaths? I am covering catapults in that one. And can you tell me his name, rank, and number?

Many thanks for your response.

Pat

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We were discussing it Michael. That'd probable be this one:

1/5th Battalion, The Bedfordshire Regiment War Diary:

4 Nov 1915 Ditto. Bomb catapult was erected on left of trench line opposite SANDBAG RIDGE & tried with success.

There was a note elsewhere (Websters book I think) that loading it made so much noise that the Turks were aware of its intended use well before its deployment. Will try & dig it out when i get home to get ther ref' right.

Many thanks for your response. Any chance you could post the account? I know of the book, but don't have a copy.

Pat

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Hi Pat

I have built and operate a replica "Leach" catapult as used by my Grreat Uncle at Gallipoli, and have several quotes from published sources:-

Try this one.

Trench catapults at Gallipoli (1)

“The operators were Brigade people and as soon as we heard they were coming everybody would say: “Those ******** have come, take cover!”  They’d set themselves up and start firing.  Not scientific – so amateur – the bombs would go anywhere, to the right, to the left, you never knew where it was going.  Instead of facing the enemy everybody in the front line and supports would be looking backwards to see the bomb wasn’t going near them.  When you saw a bomb going [land] right smack in the middle of another company.  Laugh!!! They’d run left and right to get out of the way of this awful bomb.  Sometimes it would fall out of the sling and burst in the trench.  Arrgh!!!  If you weren’t concerned it made you laugh.”  (2nd Lieutenant, Eric Wolton)

or this,

Trench Catapults at Gallipoli (2)

“It was a wooden contraption meant to work on the principle of a catapult. There was a hollow cylinder on a framework, which on either side had a strong elastic tape.  You primed and cocked the thing by winding handle.  You pulled back the cylinder until there was a pretty good tension on the rubber and then fixed a catch.  You got the bomb, lit the end of it, dropped it in the cylinder and then released the catch, and up she went.  Well it was literally cock-shy because there was now question of seeing where it went, you just guessed at what angle you set the thing, high or low and you had to workout the tension of the rubber so it didn’t go too far.  It was a very hit or miss affair.  It was quite fun really”.  (“2nd Lieutenant Malcolm Hancock, Bombing Officer, 162nd Brigade, 54th  East Anglian Division)

By the way I find mine very accurate and great fun..Gareth

Dear Gareth,

Very many thanks for the quotes. Can you tell me the sources so I might cite them properly? And any chance you could post a photo of that catapult?

Regards,

Pat

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Hi Pat

I have tried repeatedly to post some pictures for you, reducing the size to well within requested limits and reducing the resolution down as well, all with no luck. very user unfriendly photo attchments now, I could do it before the site moved, but failed every time since.

Send me a PM email and I will send you some pictures, and I will also try and answer any other questions you might have.. I do have some pictures of the only known original Leach still surviving, and I will take some more detailed pictures of my replica if you like.

The early Gallipoli catapults were slightly different from standard, being about 12 foot long rather than the normal 7 foot length, but later models came down in length.

I will also try and find the publications the quotes come from, may I ask why you are interested, the trench catapult does not have many followers, but I am a totally self confessed Leach catapult fanatic, and will chat Leaches all day, but I suspect other forum members would be bored stiff..........Gareth

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Hi Pat

I have tried repeatedly to post some pictures for you, reducing the size to well within requested limits and reducing the resolution down as well, all with no luck.  very user unfriendly photo attchments now, I could do it before the site moved, but failed every time since.

Send me a PM email and I will send you some pictures, and I will also try and answer any other questions you might have.. I do have some pictures of the only known original Leach still surviving, and I will take some more detailed pictures of my replica if you like.

The early Gallipoli catapults were slightly different from standard, being about 12 foot long rather than the normal 7 foot length, but later models came down in length.

I will also try and find the publications the quotes come from, may I ask why you are interested, the trench catapult does not have many followers, but I am a totally self confessed Leach catapult fanatic, and will chat Leaches all day, but I suspect other forum members would be bored stiff..........Gareth

Dear Gareth,

My e-mail is:

leanes-trench@comcast.net

I am writing a book about Gallipoli (having researched Gallipoli casualties for 20 years), and am currently writing my chapter on Accidental Deaths (the focus of the book will be the human toll of the campaign). I know of instances in which the bombs fell short and of the infantry's dislike of these primitive weapons, hence the interest.

Regards,

Pat

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I am writing a book about Gallipoli (having researched Gallipoli casualties for 20 years),

I imagine youll be more aware of it than I am, so sorry if its ground youve already covered, but thought Id check.

Have you seen the Canadian on line Stationary hospital entries? Have downloaded a fair few myself, as my Gt Grandfather was mentioned in one of their operating room records, and would imagine youd get a few cross referenced names cropping up?

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Quote: Yes, I am from Oregon (Eugene).

Would you mind if I quoted your grandfather's letter in my chapter on Accidental Deaths? I am covering catapults in that one. And can you tell me his name, rank, and number?

Dear Pat,

It’s nice to meet you here on the forum

I have admired your work over many years, especially your gaining official recognition for Gallipoli fallen. And I believe that previously I have even quoted some of your statistics on this forum. It’s good to know that we have your expertise here on the GWF

I would be very happy if you can make use of my grandfather’s story

He was

T/Z89 AB Daniel Dunn RNVR

at that time serving in the RND's Nelson Battalion

The IWM picture of the Royal Naval Division catapult to which I referred is that shown above by Brian

The reference for the Bedfords’ (as kindly confirmed by Steve) catapult story is

‘British regiments at Gallipoli’ by Ray Westlake, published by Leo Cooper, London, 1996 [iSBN 0 85052 511 X]

page 44, The Bedfordshire Regiment, 1/5th Battalion (T.F.)

“November

War Diary records a bomb catapult being erected on left of line (4th Nov). Captain Webster notes that the machine made such a noise during arming that the Turks had ample warning of its intended use.”

Very best regards

Michael D.R.

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Pat,

P.81 of my book "Gallipoli - Gully Ravine" contains an extract of Yeomanry officers being accidentally wounded (23rd October 1915). Three later died of their wounds. Names are Sebag-Montefiore, Williams and Tuff. Captain Dawes survived the incident. Hope this helps.

regards, Steve

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Pat,

I don’t know if this qualifies as an ‘accidental death’ or a KiA, but the Rev. O. Creighton in his 1916 book ‘With the Twenty-Ninth Division at Gallipoli’ has the foll on page 114;

“Saturday, May 29. – I had another Inniskilling funeral (the poor fellow had been shot by one of his own men returning from putting up barbed wire).

Regards

Michael D.R.

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Pat,

P.81 of my book "Gallipoli - Gully Ravine" contains an extract of Yeomanry officers being accidentally wounded (23rd October 1915). Three later died of their wounds. Names are Sebag-Montefiore, Williams and Tuff. Captain Dawes survived the incident. Hope this helps.

regards, Steve

Steve,

Many thanks for this. I know of the incident, with the Royal East Kent Yeomanry. I was going to use it in my chapter, but I found some more explicit descriptions of such accidents.

Regards,

Pat

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Pat,

I don’t know if this qualifies as an ‘accidental death’ or a KiA, but the Rev. O. Creighton in his 1916 book ‘With the Twenty-Ninth Division at Gallipoli’ has the foll on page 114;

“Saturday, May 29. – I had another Inniskilling funeral (the poor fellow had been shot by one of his own men returning from putting up barbed wire).

Regards

Michael D.R.

Dear Michael,

Many thanks for your permissions and for the information from Creighton's book. I did not know about this incident, but he would have been Private Patrick Kelly of the 1st Battalion The Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers.

'Glad to know I have a fan of sorts! If I can be of any help to you, feel free to ask. And who should I credit the letter from your grandfather to? Your first name, I have, but not your last.

Regards,

Pat

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Pat,

Thank you for identifying the unlucky Inniskilling man

Regarding other matters, I have sent you a PM

including [alas incomplete] details of another Gallipoli accidental killing

Best regards

Michael D.R.

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