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Long Barrel 21cm Morser L/14.6

Long Barrel 21cm Morser L/14.6

Long Barrel 21cm Morser L/14.6

The Long Barrel 21cm Morser L/14.6 was an improved version of the 21cm Morser L/12, the standard German heavy mortar at the start of the First World War, and was produced in somewhat larger numbers.

The L/ 12 was accepted by the army in 1910, and 256 were in use by July 1914. As with most forms of artillery, the key demand was for longer range, and so in 1916 Krupp produced a version with a 500mm longer barrel. This was accepted for production, and deliveries began late in 1916. As with the earlier version, this was a massive weapon, with a large recoil mechanism mounted above and below the barrel. Range went up by 800m, but weight actually remained about the same. Pictures show it without the small splinter shield used on the standard L/12, but with similar box trail with large spoked wheels.

In the summer of 1918 trails began of a motor towable version, which had a sprung chassis and could be towed behind a Krupp-Daimler K.D.1 tractor.

By the end of the war a total of 489 long barrel mortars were in use with 163 battalions, compared to 219 of the shorter mortars, which still equipped 73 battalions.


Long Barrel 21-cm Morser L/14.6



Barrel Length

3,063mm (L/14.6)

Weight for transport


Weight in action



-6 to 70 degrees


4 degreees

Shell Weight


Muzzle Velocity


Maximum Range


Rate of Fire

One round per minute

Books on the First World War |Subject Index: First World War

The 17 cm K 18 in MrsLaf was a 172.5 mm (6.79 in) towed gun with a barrel 47 calibres long. The 17 cm K 18 in MrsLaf shared the same box trail carriage with the 21 cm Mörser 18. The carriage allowed transport of the weapon over short distances in one piece, whilst for longer distances the barrel was removed from the carriage and transported separately. A series of ramps and winches made removing the barrel a reasonably quick task for its time, but still required several hours. For all of the gun's bulk, a full 360-degree traverse could be achieved by two men. [1] [2] [3]

Dual-recoil mechanism Edit

A notable innovation by Krupp on the 21 cm Mörser 18 and the 17 cm Kanone 18 was the "double recoil" or dual-recoil carriage. The normal recoil forces were initially taken up by a conventional recoil mechanism close to the barrel, and then by a carriage sliding along rails set inside the travelling carriage. The dual-recoil mechanism absorbed all of the recoil energy with virtually no movement of the box trail upon firing, thus making for a very accurate weapon. [1] [2] [3]

Ammunition Edit

The 17 cm K 18 in MrsLaf fired three types of separately loaded ammunition. [2]

Projectile Fuse Weight Max range Comments
17cm K Gr 39 AZ 35K or Dopp Z S/90K 68 kg (150 lb) 28 km (17 mi) The standard HE shell with an explosive charge of 7.33 kg.
17cm K Gr 38 Hb Hbgr Z 35K or Dopp Z S/90K 62.8 kg (138 lb) 29.6 km (18.4 mi) Long-range shell fitted with a ballistic cap.
17cm Pzgr 43 Bd Z f 17cm Pzgr 71 kg (157 lb) UNK Armour-piercing shell with a velocity of 830 m/s (2,700 ft/s) and could penetrate 255 mm (10.0 in) of armour at 30° at 1,000 m (1,100 yd). It had an explosive charge of 2.34 kg.
Shell performance

The 17 cm K 18 in MrsLaf separately loaded ammunition used four charges. The gun's performance when firing the 62.8 kg (138 lb) 17cm K Gr 38 Hb long-range shell is depicted in the following table: [2]

Charge Muzzle velocity Range
Charge 1 620 m/s (2,000 ft/s) 18.3 km (11.4 mi)
Charge 2 740 m/s (2,400 ft/s) 22.7 km (14.1 mi)
Charge 3 860 m/s (2,800 ft/s) 28 km (17 mi)
Charge 4 925 m/s (3,030 ft/s) 29.6 km (18.4 mi)

In 1939 the 21 cm Mörser 18 began appearing in the Wehrmacht corps-level artillery regiments, replacing the obsolescent World War I-era 21 cm Mörser 16. The gun was able to send a 113 kg (249 lb) HE shell out to a range of 14.5 km (9 mi), but by 1941 the Wehrmacht was seeking a longer-ranged weapon and Krupp responded by producing a smaller 172.5 mm (6.79 in) caliber increased-velocity weapon utilising the same carriage, with the designation Kanone 18. [1] [2] [3]

The 17 cm K 18 in MrsLaf quickly impressed German artillery officers with its range, but the real surprise was the explosive power of the 62.8 kg (138 lb) shell, which was little different from the 113 kg (249 lb) shell of the 21 cm Mörser 18. Production commenced in 1941. In 1942 production of the 21 cm Mörser 18 was halted for almost two years so as to allow maximum production of the Kanone 18. [1] [2] [3]

The 17 cm K 18 in MrsLaf was employed at the corps and army echelons in order to provide long-range counter-battery support, as well as filling the same basic heavy support role as the 21 cm Mörser 18, the pair becoming the most common weapons used by the Wehrmacht in this role. In 1944 some Allied batteries used captured 17 cm K 18 in MrsLafs when ammunition supplies for their usual guns were disrupted by the long logistical chain from Normandy to the German border. [1] [2] [3] [4]

The 17 cm K 18 in MrsLaf was considered a technically excellent long range artillery piece for the German Army, with excellent range and a very effective shell. The gun's greatest weaknesses were that it was expensive to build and required careful maintenance. Additionally, it was quite slow to bring in and out of action, fairly difficult to maneuver and very slow to move off-road, Many were lost when their crews abandoned them when fleeing advancing Allied forces. [1] [2] [3] [4]


The quick advancement of artillery technology beginning in the 1850s provoked rapid advancements in artillery and military architecture. When rifled artillery became able to fire out of range of fortress guns, military architects began placing forts in rings around cities or in barriers to block approaching armies. New high-explosive artillery shells, which could penetrate earth to destroy masonry underground, made these forts themselves vulnerable to artillery. In response, star forts evolved into polygonal forts, placed mostly underground and made of concrete with guns mounted in armoured, rotating casemates. Combining rings and barriers, France created a vast fortified zone on their border with Germany. Meanwhile, Belgium began construction of the National Redoubt in 1888. [1] [2]

The German Empire also fortified its borders, but Chief of the General Staff Helmuth von Moltke the Elder desired to break through Franco-Belgian fortifications. [3] Although German artillery had been effective during the Franco-Prussian War, by the 1880s the diameter of the German Army's most powerful gun, 21 cm (8.3 in), [4] had become the standard thickness for fortress concrete. [5] Moltke began requesting more powerful guns that same decade, which then became essential to his successor, Alfred von Schlieffen, who planned to quickly defeat France by sweeping through Belgium in response to the 1893 Franco-Russian Alliance. That same year, the German Army's Artillerieprüfungskommission [de] (Artillery Test Commission, APK) formed a secret partnership with Krupp to supervise development of a weapon that could break Franco-Belgian fortresses. Acting on a study that showed that a 30.5 cm (12.0 in) shell could penetrate modern fortresses, Krupp designed and built a 30.5 cm mortar, the Beta-Gerät. The Beta-Gerät was adopted into service in 1897 as the schwere Küstenmörser L/8, a cover name concealing its true purpose, [a] making it Germany's first large artillery piece to have a breech and a recoil system. Further studies conducted by the APK in the mid-1890s showed that the Beta-Gerät could not penetrate the armor of modern Franco-Belgian forts, even with revised shells. Interest in an improved siege gun waned until the Russo-Japanese War, during which the Japanese Army used coastal mortars brought from Japan to end the 11-month long Siege of Port Arthur. [7]

Helmuth von Moltke the Younger, Chief of the General Staff since 1 January 1906, [8] saw the utility of a newer, larger siege gun. In 1906, he instructed the APK to conduct further evaluation of the Beta-Gerät. The resulting study suggested a siege gun with a caliber as large as 45 cm (18 in), but the German Army opted for a 30.5 cm howitzer and a 42 cm gun. The howitzer, the Beta-Gerät 09, had a greater range and accuracy than the Beta-Gerät, but was difficult to transport and could not penetrate fortress concrete. Only two were produced. Meanwhile, the 42 cm gun was designed in 1906 and its first model was delivered for testing in May 1909. After initial difficulties with penetration, the gun was accepted into the German Army in 1910 as the kurze Marinekanone L/12, or the Gamma-Gerät. The first in-service Gamma-Gerät was ordered in 1910, followed by another in 1911, three more in 1912, and an additional five during World War I. In total, ten were manufactured, along with 18 additional barrels. The power but near-immobility of the Gamma-Gerät inspired further development by the APK, who addressed mobility in the development of the M-Gerät "Big Bertha" howitzer by pulling it with tractors. [9]

Design and production Edit

With a maximum range of 14,000 m (46,000 ft) and a high degree of accuracy, the Gamma-Gerät was the Imperial German Army's most powerful siege gun. The Gamma-Gerät was essentially an enlarged Beta-Gerät 09 weighing 150 metric tons (150 t), ensuring that it could only be emplaced near permanent railways in a process that took 24 hours. To emplace the Gamma-Gerät, all nearby vegetation was cleared and a rectangular 2.25 m (7.4 ft) pit was dug and then reinforced with timber and steel to form the bedding. At the same time, a rail spur was spun off the nearest permanent line to the site. Then, a 25 metric tons (25 t) rail-mounted gantry crane was unloaded and used to assemble all seven, 20–25 metric tons (20–25 t) portions of the Gamma-Gerät. Fully assembled, the gun stood 4.25 m (13.9 ft) high and 13.5 m (44 ft) long. Its standard rate of fire was one shell every seven minutes and eight shells in an hour. The fastest recorded rates of fire were 19 shells an hour for a single Gamma-Gerät and 30 shells an hour for a two-gun battery. The gun had an elevation of 43° to 66°. [10]

"Gerät" siege artillery variants [6]
Name Calibre Weight Range Rate of fire Time to emplace (hours)
M-Gerät "Big Bertha" 42 cm (17 in) 42.6 t (41.9 long tons 47.0 short tons) 9,300 m (10,200 yd) 8 shells an hour 5–6
Gamma-Gerät 150 t (150 long tons 170 short tons) 14,000 m (15,000 yd) 24
Beta-M-Gerät 30.5 cm (12.0 in) 47 t (46 long tons 52 short tons) 20,500 m (22,400 yd) 7–8
Beta-Gerät 09 45 t (44 long tons 50 short tons) 12,000 m (13,000 yd) 12 shells an hour 12
Beta-Gerät 30 t (30 long tons 33 short tons) 8,200 m (9,000 yd) 15 shells an hour

Ammunition Edit

German siege artillery had three types of projectiles: armour-piercing, high-explosive, and intermediate. The armour-piercing shell was designed to smash through concrete and metal armour, but was largely ineffective against reinforced concrete. High-explosive shells were fitted with two charges and could be set to have no delay, a short delay, or a long delay. If set to "no delay," then the shell burst on impact. 42 cm high-explosive shell craters could be as wide as 9 m (30 ft) and as deep as 6 m (20 ft). If set to a delayed detonation, it could penetrate up to 12 m (39 ft) of earth. Finally, the intermediate, or "short shell," weighed half as much as the high-explosive shell and was fitted with a ballistic tip for range and accuracy. 42 cm shells were generally 1.5 m (4.9 ft) long, weighed between 400–1,160 kg (880–2,560 lb), and were propelled via primer loaded into the gun with a brass casing. Siege artillery shells were produced in limited runs of varying quality. Beginning in early 1916, German siege guns began to suffer internal explosions due to faulty ammunition. As a result, crews were required to disembark from the gun before firing via a lanyard. [11]

The kurze Marinekanone (KMK) Batteries that formed with Gamma-Gerät guns were 1 (2 August 1914), 2 (2 August 1914), and 4 (October 1914). In April 1916, Batteries 1 and 2 were split to form additional batteries: 8, 9, and 11. When Battery 8 had its guns destroyed by internal explosion in 1917, it was outfitted with two Beta-M-Gerät mortars, converted from the destroyed Gamma-Gerät guns. [12]

World War I Edit

With the start of World War I, all siege-gun batteries were mobilised and assigned to the Western Front. KMK Battery 2 was sent north to Namur, but could not arrive in time to participate in the Siege of Namur, while KMK Battery 1 was assigned to the 6th Army in Lorraine. As part of the 6th Army, it participated in the siege of the Fort de Manonviller [fr] from 25–27 August 1914. During the 52-hour siege the battery had technical troubles and had to stop firing. KMK Battery 1 finally arrived at the then-ongoing siege of Maubeuge in early September and joined the siege guns already present in obliterating Forts Leveau, Héronfontaine, Cerfontaine, and Sarts. On 7 September 1914, with only two forts remaining in French hands, Maubeuge's garrison surrendered. [13]

The German defeat at the First Battle of the Marne prevented the siege guns at Maubeuge from being sent against Paris, so they were sent back into Belgium to Antwerp. [14] The Belgian Army, which had retreated to the city on 20 August following the fall of Liège, had made attacks on the German flank on 24–25 August and 9 September. In response, the III Reserve Corps, from the 1st Army, was sent to capture the city. [15] The Corps arrived at Antwerp on 27 September, partially surrounding it and massing at its southern side. The next day, KMK Battery 2 opened bombardment against the Fort de Wavre-Sainte-Catherine, which was destroyed on 29 September by a magazine detonation caused by a 42 cm shell. KMK Battery 2 then shifted its fire to the Fort de Koningshooikt [nl] , which surrendered on 2 October. [16] Beginning on 7 October and lasting the next two days, Antwerp's defenders began withdrawing from the city, which then surrendered on 10 October. [15] With the fall of Antwerp, KMK Battery 2 was attached to the 4th Army to aid in its capture of the Channel ports, and occasionally shelled Nieuport, Ypres, and Diksmuide. [17]

On 27 February 1915, KMK Battery 1, with the 8th Army, joined the ongoing attack on Osowiec Fortress. Although the fortress was made of masonry, it survived, intact, because the artillery had no spotters to guide its fire and because of effective counter-battery fire from the fortress. After five days, the siege guns were withdrawn and the fort was besieged until August. On 8 August, KMK Batteries 1 and 4 fired on Kaunas Fortress to support the XXXX Reserve Corps. While slow, the bombardment was highly effective because of outdated masonry construction, and the Germans took four forts altogether on 16–17 August. The Russians evacuated from the city and fortress the next day. The last action for Gamma-Geräts in the East was the German Invasion of Serbia. On 6 October 1915, KMK Batteries 1 and 4 opened fire on Serbian fortifications east of Belgrade to support the crossing of the 11th Army, made the next day. Battery 1 briefly fired on Smederevo Fortress, but the fortress was undamaged when it surrendered on 11 October. [18]

KMK Batteries 1 and 4 were transferred back to the Western Front in early 1916. The latter bombed Forts Douaumont and Vaux without effect while the former inflicted serious damage on a French railway viaduct east of Belfort. At the beginning of that year, all 42 cm guns were assigned to the 5th Army for the upcoming Battle of Verdun. [19] The battle began on 21 February with an intense, nine-hour artillery barrage. [20] The 42 cm guns were tasked with bombarding Forts Douaumont, Vaux, Souville [fr] , and Moulainville [fr] , the most modern fortresses at Verdun, to silence their guns and prevent French units from rallying at them. However, despite heavy shelling by all thirteen 42 cm guns, the forts were only lightly damaged. At the same time, French counter-battery artillery and internal explosions plagued German siege guns KMK Batteries 2, 8, and 9 lost a Gamma-Gerät each. In July, siege batteries began to be withdrawn north to the Battle of the Somme, and east to Romania. KMK Battery 4 remained at Verdun, while Battery 1 attacked Arras and Loos-en-Gohelle in June and July. [21]

In the last two years of the war, siege guns saw limited use and negligible effect on the Western and Eastern fronts. For the German spring offensive, KMK Battery 4 was assigned to the 17th Army on the Somme. When the time for Germany's final offensive operation came in July, the gun was assigned to the 1st Army at Reims but had accomplished little in the battle. KMK Battery 4 survived the reorganization of the German Army in late 1918, but with a single gun. [22]

World War II Edit

A single Gamma-Gerät survived World War I and its aftermath, disassembled and hidden in Krupp's Meppen facilities. The gun was reassembled in the late 1930s and was used in 1940 to bombard both the Maginot Line and the city of Liège. Later, it was deployed to Sevastopol in 1942 and then at Kronstadt, but did not fire a single shot there. The gun returned to Germany and its post-war fate is unknown. [23]

21-cm mortar 10 + 21-cm mortar 16

1910 saw the introduction of the 21-cm mortar 10, which replaced the obsolete 21-cm mortar 99 which lacked a recoil system. During the First World War, some variants of the mortar were also equipped with a protective shield and for siege operations special ammunition was made for the mortar, which should conquer the heavy concrete armor of fortresses.

Since the range was only 7 kilometers, in 1916 an improved version of the mortar (21-cm mortar 16) was introduced in the artillery.

Designation: 21-cm mortar 10
Country of Origin: German Empire
Manufacturer Companies: Krupp
Year: 1910
Number of pieces: 256
Caliber: 211mm
Tube length: 2530mm
Rate of fire: 1 shot/min
Mass: 11.865Kg

As early as 1915 Krupp was commissioned to upgrade the existing 21-cm 10 mortar, as the 7-kilometer gun range was considered too low due to the position war on the western front.

1916 was then already the introduction of the successor variant with the designation 21-cm mortar 16. The main difference was the extended gun barrel, which the range could be increased to 8 kilometers.

The size of the gun, in turn, made rapid laying impossible. In addition, the gun had to be disassembled and distributed on a total of 3 load hanger to be relocated. With the introduction of appropriate motorized tractors, the gun was later modified to the effect that only the shield had to be removed to transport it.

Also in World War II, the gun was still used on the part of the Wehrmacht before it was gradually replaced by the model 21-cm mortar 18.

Designation: 21-cm mortar 16
Country of Origin: German Empire
Manufacturer Companies: Krupp
Year: 1916
Number of pieces: 489
Caliber: 211mm
Tube length: 3063mm
Rate of fire: 1 shot/min
Mass: 8705Kg

You can find the right literature here:

German Artillery: 1914-1918 (Fact File)

German Artillery: 1914-1918 (Fact File) Paperback – October 3, 2015

The importance of artillery in warfare grew more and more throughout the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. New developments such as solid cannon barrels improved hit accuracy and the range of projectiles. This Fact File volume focuses on German Artillery during the Great War, when it could be argued that artillery was for the first time the dominant weapon on the battlefield. Wolfgang Fleischer discusses the diversity of artillery developed and used during the First World War by the Germans.

42cm 'Big Bertha' and German Siege Artillery of World War I (New Vanguard)

42cm 'Big Bertha' and German Siege Artillery of World War I (New Vanguard) Paperback – January 21, 2014

Big Bertha, Germany's World War I top secret mobile artillery piece, easily destroyed French and Belgian forts, helping set the stage for trench warfare.

In the first days of World War I, Germany unveiled a new weapon - the mobile 42cm (16.5 inch) M-Gerät howitzer. At the time, it was the largest artillery piece of its kind in the world and a closely guarded secret. When war broke out, two of the howitzers were rushed directly from the factory to Liege where they quickly destroyed two forts and compelled the fortress to surrender. After repeat performances at Namur, Maubeuge and Antwerp, German soldiers christened the howitzers 'Grosse' or 'Dicke Berta' (Fat or Big Bertha) after Bertha von Krupp, owner of the Krupp armament works that built the howitzers. The nickname was soon picked up by German press which triumphed the 42cm howitzers as Wunderwaffe (wonder weapons), and the legend of Big Bertha was born. To the Allies, the existence of the howitzers came as a complete surprise and the sudden fall of the Belgian fortresses spawned rumors and misinformation, adding to the 42cm howitzer's mythology.

In reality, 'Big Bertha" was but the last in a series of large-caliber siege guns designed by the German Army for the purpose of destroying concrete fortifications. It was also only one of two types of 42cm calibre howitzers built for the army by Krupp and only a small part of the siege artillery available to the German Army at the outset of the war. Such were the successes of the German siege guns that both the French and British Armies decided to field their own heavy siege guns and, after the German guns handily destroyed Russian forts during the German offensives in the east in 1915, the French Army abandoned their forts. However, by 1916, as the war settled into a stalemate, the effectiveness of the siege guns diminished until, by war's end, 'Big Bertha' and the other siege guns were themselves outmoded.

This book details the design and development of German siege guns before and during World War I, to include four models of 30.5cm mortars, two versions of 28cm howitzers, and two types of 42cm howitzers (including 'Big Bertha') in total, eight different types of siege guns. Accompanying the text are many rare, never before published, photographs of 'Big Bertha' and the other German siege guns. Colour illustrations depict the most important aspects of the German siege artillery.

German Artillery of World War One

German Artillery of World War One Hardcover – September 14, 2001

World War I introduced the use of artillery on a hitherto unprecedented scale, changing the very nature of war from a series of set-piece battles to stalemates punctuated by attacks on frontlines. Starting with development of German artillery through 1914, this illustrated history describes in detail the light and heavy howitzers used by the Germans before going on to examine heavy mortars and long-range weapons. Specialist weapons for mountain, coastal and railway use are also covered, along with specialist engineer and infantry guns.

Railway Guns: British and German Guns at War

Railway Guns: British and German Guns at War Hardcover – February 17, 2017

In the nineteenth century the War Office showed little interest in developing large heavy artillery for its land forces, preferring instead to equip its warships with the biggest guns. Private initiatives to mount a gun on a railway truck pulled by a steam engine were demonstrated before military chiefs in the Southern Counties, but not taken up. However, the development of longer-range guns, weighing up to 250 tons, to smash through the massive armies and trench systems on the Western Front in 1916, led to a rethink. The only way to move these monsters about quickly in countryside thick with mud was to mount them on specially built railway trucks towed by locomotives.

The railway guns were to be put on little-used country lines where they could fire on beaches, road junctions and harbors. The locations and cooperation given by the independent railway companies is explained, as are the difficulties of using the same lines for war and civilian traffic.

The First World War also saw the emergence of large training camps for railway men. When the war ended most railway guns were dismantled and lost in ordnance depots. The Army Council was uncertain about artillery needs in a future war, so training, and development stopped.

This book largely concentrates on the realities of the time, the type of gun, the locomotives, artillery targets, locations, and what it was like when firing took place. It is fully illustrated with pictures, maps and plans covering different aspects of railway guns their locomotives and equipment.


8 inch was a calibre adopted in the First World War by the British Army. The Marks VI, VII and VIII (6, 7 and 8) were a new design and not related to the stopgap early Marks I-V of 8-inch howitzer, which used shortened and bored-out naval 6-inch (150 mm) gun barrels.

Mark VI Edit

The Vickers design, very similar to their 6-inch howitzer, was approved in August 1915 and first substantial order placed in March 1916 for 50 howitzers, with 30 more in the autumn. [1] It was 4–5 tonnes lighter than the improvised 8-inch "howitzers" Mks I – V. The Mk VI barrel was of built-up construction and was 14.7 calibres (117.7 inches (2.99 m)) long, with a range of 10,745 yards (9,825 m).

Mark VII Edit

Introduced July 1916, the Mk VII had a longer barrel (17.3 calibres, or 138.4 inches (3.52 m)) of wire-wound construction and increased the range to 12,300 yards (11,250 m). The new barrels turned out to have short service lives and suffered from cracked A tubes (the inner rifled layer of the built-up barrel).

Mark VIII Edit

Mk VIII incorporated various small improvements and a thicker and stronger barrel.

World War I Edit

Early problems of stability on very hard or soft ground became apparent with the Mk VI, leading to the recoil system not functioning correctly. A Commission went to France to investigate, and a special level "Vickers platform" was adopted, to which the wheels and trail were secured for accurate shooting. A major change in the line of shooting required the platform to be relaid. Setting up and adjusting the platform was labour-intensive. [3] The US manual describes it: [4]

"The platform consists of wooden beams which assemble to form a triangular platform. The spade must be removed and a special bracket fitted on the trail when using this platform. This bracket travels in a groove which gives a bearing for the bracket and also provides a means of traversing the piece 52° on the platform. The main objects in the use of the firing platform are: To provide a reliable support for the wheels and rear end of the trail, so as to prevent sinking or movement when firing on soft ground to ensure the gun remaining on the target when firing and to provide means for shifting the trail transversely through an angle of 52° (26° each side of center). By using the traversing gear on the carriage a total traverse of 30° on each side of the center is obtainable. The carriage wheels rest on steel plates on the wheel platform and are guided by curved-steel angles which prevent lateral movement of the gun off the target when in action. When the firing platform is used, the float plate, with spade attached, which is bolted to the underside of the trail, is removed and another float plate, having a thrust bracket attached, is bolted in its place".

At the end of World War I on the Western Front Canada had two 6-gun batteries, Australia 1, Britain 37. [5] British 8-inch howitzer batteries serving in other theatres at the Armistice were: UK 1 (6 guns), Macedonia 1 (4 guns), and 2 guns in Palestine [6]

World War II Edit

By the start of World War II some Mk 8s were still in use and were used in France in May to June 1940. In March 1940, 266 weapons were authorised for transfer from the United States to the British. [7] After the Fall of France, the remaining guns were used for training only. In 1941 a further 168 weapons (the remaining US stock) were authorised for transfer to the British under Lend-Lease. The advent of the BL 7.2-inch howitzer meant that remaining 8-inch barrels were relined to 7.2-inch (180 mm). [7] With no guns left, they were declared obsolete by July 1943.

Some Vickers 8-inch guns were present in Japanese island fortifications during the Pacific Campaign. [8]

Versions of the Mk 6 were manufactured in the United States by Midvale Steel and Ordnance Co, Nicetown, Pennsylvania during World War I, initially supplied to Britain and then used to equip US forces when it entered the war. These were designated the M1917 in US service. [7]

A US Mk 7 and Mk 8 + 1 ⁄ 2 version was also manufactured and adopted in US service from October 1918 as the M1918. [9] [7] Quoting from the US Army manual of 1920 on artillery in US service: [10]

The 58th Regiment Coast Artillery Corps (C.A.C.) was in action in France in the final days of World War I with the US-manufactured Mk 6, and the 44th, 51st, and 59th Regiments were in action with British-manufactured versions. An additional six regiments, three with each type of gun, are described as being nearly ready for the front at the time of the Armistice. [11] Each regiment had an authorised strength of 24 guns.

During the Russo-Finnish Winter War, Finland found itself in dire need of heavy artillery. Thirty-two "8 in Howitzer Mk 7 (Vickers Mk 6)" 8-inch howitzers were bought from the United States in 1939 but arrived too late to see action in the war. The howitzers were given the designation 203 H 17 (203 mm, Haupitsi [Finnish for howitzer], 1917) and were first issued to three heavy artillery battalions (1st, 2nd and 3rd), which later were re-organised into six heavy artillery batteries (11th, 12th, 13th, 14th, 15th and 16th). The howitzer was well-liked by the Finnish army for its durability. Thirteen of these howitzers were lost in the battles of the summer of 1944 eight of these belonged to Heavy Artillery Battery 4 and were lost at Valkeasaari on 10 June, while the other five belonged to Heavy Artillery Battery 3, located northeast of Lake Ladoga. The howitzers were stored after the war and were struck from the lists in the late 1960s. [12]

The Battle of the Aisne was fought in September 1914. 13,541 British soldiers lost their lives in futile attempts to break through the German lines of shallow trenches dug along the Chemin des Dames ridge, located north of the River Aisne. Opposed by machine gun fire and heavy howitzers, they were unable to penetrate the German positions on the heights north of the river and the war would descend rapidly into stalemate, where neither side could advance. Weapons of modern industrialised warfare would inflict horrendous casualties on an unprecedented scale. A hail of machine gun bullets and a torrent of shell fire would stop the mobile war at the Battle of the Aisne. Unable to make a breakthrough, the opposing sides began to consolidate their ground by digging trenches.

Small arms

The German Army was conscripted and amounted to an awesome 9.9 million men. The British Expeditionary Force (BEF) of 100,000 men was an army of volunteers. The armies used different rifles. The British Tommy was armed with the Short Magazine Lee–Enfield Rifle. Each magazine carried ten rounds and it was named after the American inventor James Lee and the Royal Small Arms Factory located at Enfield in north London. Regarded as an effective service weapon even in the Second World War, British infantrymen were trained to fire it at 15 rounds per minute and hit their target at an effective range of 550 yards. German soldiers used the Mauser Gewehr 98 rifle, which had been in service since 1898. Its bolt action prevented rapid fire. The British Lee–Enfield Rifle and the German Mauser Gewehr 98 rifle eventually became the primary weapons used by snipers on the Western Front. Bullets fired from these rifles would travel at twice the speed of sound and the unfortunate soul hit by the shot would not have heard the sound of the bullet until after it had hit home.

Machine guns would come to dominate the battlefield and instigate the stalemate of trench warfare. This formidable weapon was developed by Hiram Maxim, an American inventor. First produced in 1884, it demonstrated its deadly capability to stop waves of advancing infantry during the Battle of the Aisne. The British Army placed an order for three machine guns to test during 1887, and surprisingly, despite living up to all requirements, the British never adopted the Maxim.

The German Army placed orders for the Maxim machine gun in 1887 and after testing, Kaiser Wilhelm II realised the potential of the machine gun and placed further orders. As early as 1901 the Germans had established a machine gun branch. When war broke out the German Army had 12,500 Maxim machine guns in operation. The Maschinen Gewehr 08 was fixed on a tripod, belt fed, water-cooled and fully automatic. One disadvantage was that these water-cooled machine guns would emit steam, which meant that British soldiers could detect a German machine gun position as the steam rose. The British would then target the barrel jacket and the crew operating the machine gun would be extremely vulnerable. The Maschinen Gewehr 08 was able to fire 7.92 mm rounds at targets at a rate of 600 rounds per minute at a distance of 4,000 yards, but was deadly at 2,200 yards and could tear a soldier in two. The bullets travelled at three times the speed of sound. Their crews were specially selected and were regarded as an elite force.

The British Army was late in realising the potential of the machine gun. When war broke out there were only two Vickers machine guns allotted to each infantry battalion. The Vickers was an advanced version of the Maxim it had improved mechanisms and was lighter. British soldiers did not, however, receive adequate training in how to operate the Vickers. The Vickers used .303 ammunition and could fire 450 rounds a minute, but with few of these guns in supply and with those that were being operated by inexperienced soldiers, they did not make any impact during the early stages of the war and especially at the Aisne. If a Vickers machine gun was fired continually for an hour the barrel would be worn out and had to be replaced. It took a well-trained and skilful soldier to change a barrel in the heat of battle. It was not until October 1915 that the British Army realised the potential of the machine gun and established the Machine Gun Corps.


Modern artillery would of course have an enormous impact on the course and conduct of the war. All European Armies had field artillery. These field artillery guns were flat trajectory and their purpose was to subdue enemy assaults and to support their own infantry advances at short range. The British Army used the 18 pounder, first produced in 1904. They were developed from lessons learned during the Boer War and would become the standard field gun operated by the British. By August 1914 the British Army had 1,226 in service. They were used throughout the conflict and by the end of the war 9,424 were in operation. The 18 pounder had a calibre of 3.3 inches it could fire shells weighing between 4.6kg and 8.4 kg and had a range of 6,525 yards. It had a rate of fire of 8 rounds per minute.

The German Army used the 77-mm (3-inch) field gun and could fire high explosives with a range of 11,250 yards. However they also possessed more formidable examples of artillery in the form of howitzers that could project heavy shells and create enormous craters. German artillery used the 10.5cm (4 inch) Feldhaubitze 98/09 during the Battle of the Aisne, which could fire the Feldhaubitzgranate 98, a 15.8-kilogram high explosive shell or the Feldhaubitzschrapnel 98, a 12.8-kilogram shrapnel shell. German artillery also used the German 21cm Langer Morser (long mortar) with a calibre of 8.3 inches and range up to 11,000 yards. Its barrel could be fired at a high angle of elevation, which meant that it could be positioned behind hills and ridges and fire on the enemy positions on the other side. The German howitzer designed for siege warfare fired various types of shell during the Battle of the Aisne including high explosive shrapnel, small, high velocity shells, known as “whizz-bangs” or “Jack Johnsons”. The HE shell fired by German 21cm howitzers emitted black smoke and would cause the most devastation. They could blow a crater 20 feet wide and 10 feet deep. Such explosions destroyed villages, levelled trees and vaporised men.


The BEF arrived at the southern banks of the Aisne on 12 September 1914 after marching approximately 160 miles for three weeks. They endured their baptism of fire at Mons on 23 August and fought rearguard actions as they retreated south towards the banks of the Marne, where between 5 and 10 September they assisted the French armies in inflicting a defeat upon the German forces. Compelled to withdraw to the River Aisne, the German forces went north across the river and established a defensive position along the wooded heights of the Chemin des Dames, approximately 60 miles north-east of Paris. It was an arduous trek for the British, who were demoralised and suffering from exhaustion and hunger by the time they reached the banks of the Aisne. Some soldiers were suffering so badly that they wrapped their puttees around their bleeding feet in an attempt to alleviate the pain.

As the BEF advanced towards the Chemin des Dames, German engineers attempted to destroy the bridges across the river. They only caused partial damage to the bridge at Venizel and it was here that Brigadier-General Hunter Weston led the 11th Infantry Brigade across during the night of 12/13 September. Remarkably, these soldiers in their exhausted state crossed this swollen river in full darkness, with only a single lamp to guide them from the north bank. One wrong step could result in these weary soldiers falling into the river and drowning. At daylight German artillery bombarded the River Aisne and those still crossing were further destabilised by fountains of water being thrown into the air around them. By the following morning the 11 th Infantry Brigade had established a bridgehead on the northern bank of the river and had consolidated a position along the ridge above Bucy-le-Long. When the rest of the BEF arrived, the majority of bridges had been destroyed or partially damaged by German engineers with explosives, so it was a massive engineering challenge for the Royal Engineers sappers either to repair the damaged bridges or build pontoons, which they did under enemy shellfire.

By the morning of the 14th, General Sir Douglas Haig’s I Corps and General Sir Horace Smith-Dorrien’s II Corps had successfully crossed the River Aisne. It was an enormous gamble for Field Marshal Sir John French, commander of the BEF, to push his soldiers beyond the limits of physical endurance to cross and establish a bridgehead. French did not know whether General von Kluck’s First German Army was going to continue to withdraw northwards or establish a defensive line and hold the ground.

The first trenches

Unbeknown to French, he was sending his exhausted troops into a battle where the enemy were dug in in shallow trenches on the high ground, supported by heavy howitzers and in many cases concealed by woodland. This would be the first time that British soldiers would experience high-calibre German artillery. The calibres of these guns ranged from 15cm to 21cm or 6 inches to 8 inches. The British could only deploy old pattern 6-inch howitzers, which were inferior to the German howitzer and were flat trajectory, which meant that they could not reach the German artillery positioned behind the ridges. The inferior British artillery response arrived on 23 September. Neither British nor French artillery could match the enemy’s firepower.

Waves of British soldiers advanced uphill through muddy beet fields, as heavy rain blew in their faces and shell fire of an unprecedented magnitude was brought to bear upon them. The Battle of the Aisne began on 14 September and would last until the end of the month. Much blood was shed on the first day in the battle for the sugar factory at Cerny, north of Vendresse. During the struggle men of the 2nd Infantry Brigade were pulverised by German shellfire from the howitzers. The morning fog meant that the advancing infantry, labouring uphill, could only see 200 yards ahead.

Some elements of the 2 nd Royal Sussex Regiment were positioned in a nearby wood along the Vendresse Ridge. Many casualties were inflicted by shells exploding when they hit the tree trunks around them. Private Harland was one of the casualties:

“We’d got quite used to them and we lay there talking and telling each other when a shell was coming. One great 90-pounder shell went over us. If it hadn’t hit anything it wouldn’t have mattered for those shells do not explode unless they hit something. This shell hit a tree just behind me. It exploded. That shell killed three men and wounded seven, of whom I was one. A piece of shrapnel went right into my foot. I thought at the time that my leg was gone. There was a chap lying next to me - I think he was one of the men at a Brighton brewery. He lay quite still. A piece of the shell had gone through his head and killed him.” (Brighton Herald, 26 th September 1914).

The 2 nd Royal Sussex Regiment and the 1st Loyal North Lancashire Regiment were sent forward to support the 2 nd King’s Royal Rifle Corps to launch a further attack towards the sugar factory. They too suffered heavy casualties. An anonymous 2 nd Lieutenant from the battalion recalled:

“Had only gone about a hundred yards under a perfect hail of bullets when I heard a singing sound on my right. Two 8-inch shells had pitched 20 yards to my left and blew sky high a few of my platoon. The shells emitted a tall cloud of black dust and smoke. Truly terrible missiles. We go on forward, but as yet I can see nothing. At least we reach the firing line. How anyone reached it is beyond comprehending. And such a line. All manner of regiments are there, and the dead and wounded are lying round in scores.” (National Archives: WO95/1270: 1st Loyal North Lancashire Regiment War Diary.)

Lieutenant-Colonel Walter Lloyd and his adjutant Captain Richard Howard-Vyse led from the front with the 1st Loyal North Lancashire Regiment and were killed by machine gun fire. The assault upon the sugar factory was a savage and costly effort. An estimated 50% of the assault force became casualties as a consequence. They stood no chance.

Those that miraculously reached the factory, remnants of the 2 nd Royal Sussex Regiment, 1st Loyal North Lancashire Regiment and 2 nd King’s Royal Rifle Corps, cleared the enemy with the bayonet. They charged through the German artillery batteries that were positioned close to the factory and a struggle inside the two-storey factory ensued. They eventually overwhelmed the German defenders.

The 2 nd Infantry Brigade suffered heavily. Brigadier-General Bulfin lost two out of his four battalion commanders. The 1st Loyal North Lancashire Regiment was decimated. As well as losing CO Lieutenant-Colonel Walter Lloyd, seven officers were killed, six wounded, together with 500 men listed as casualties. Many of the casualties came from B Company: three out of five officers, 175 out of 200 ranks. The scale of such losses was almost bewildering.

The 2 nd Royal Sussex Regiment had 6 officers killed, including the CO Lieutenant-Colonel Ernest Montresor, along with 11 other ranks killed and 114 missing. They also suffered 3 officers and 79 men wounded. Despite their losses, they were able to capture 250 German soldiers that managed to get into a nearby sunken lane to evade the bullets. They were rounded up and escorted to the rear. The 2 nd Royal Sussex dug into positions and held on under heavy bombardment until relieved on 19 September.

The 2 nd King’s Royal Rifle Corps suffered 306 casualties from the ranks, seven officers wounded and eight officers killed. The 1st Northamptonshire Regiment lost two officers killed, four officers and 102 men wounded.

Additional Pictures

Baden at Wilhelmshaven, May 1918. Note the ram bow, uncluttered amidships, flying bridges and aircraft recognition symbols atop the turrets, all typical of German battleships of this period. IWM Photograph Q 51020. Rear Turrets of Baden. Note the thin barrel walls at the muzzle. Picture probably taken at Scapa Flow after internment. Forward turrets on Baden during salvage operations in 1919. Picture copyrighted by P.A. Vicary. SMS Bayern at Wilhelmshaven in 1917. Bibliothek für Zeitgeschichte (Stuttgart) Photograph. 38 cm/45 gun used as Coastal Artillery. Reichs Marine Sammlung Collection. IWM Photograph Q 50988. 38 cm/45 as "Long Max" Land Artillery. Photograph courtesy of Images of the Great War. Special Coastal Projectile as used with "Long Max". Photograph courtesy of Images of the Great War. Comparison of 30.5 cm/50 and 38 cm/45 guns. Picture courtesy of Peter Lienau. Sketch of 38 cm/45 Turret. Picture courtesy of Peter Lienau.

Following the tragedy of World War I (WWI), the French Government presented to the Australian Government, weapons of the war to serve as a lasting reminder of the ‘Great War’.

The ‘Australian War Trophy Committee’ was assigned the task of allocating these memorials across Australia. The method used was to allocate the weapons in accordance to the proportion of enlistments to population, in each area.

Childers in Queensland, was awarded the 210 mm Howitzer Mörser M10 (known as ‘der Mörser’), which was manufactured in Essen, Germany in 1916 numbered: ‘Nr. 406’ – ‘Fried. Krupp A.G. Essen 1916′.

The canon has been restored and is situate, under cover, at the ‘Isis District War Memorial & Shire Council Chambers‘ as a monument and tribute to all those who sacrificed unimaginable tragedies, heartache, horror and loss due to this dreadful war.

Sadly, mankind’s tradition of war and destruction never ceases on this beautiful planet we are honoured to inhabit . . .

210 mm Howitzer Mörser M10 Specifications:

Firing Range: 9.4 km with short shells – 10.2 km with long shells

Elevation Range: +6 / +70 degrees

Direction Range: 4 degrees total range

Weight in Firing Position: 6,630 kg (7,380 kg with trackpads)

Weight for Transportation – 3 Wagons: 3,720 kg (with tube), 3,713 kg (with carriage) and 3,345 kg (with accessories)

Tube Length: 12 m (total tube length)

Muzzle Velocity: 367 m / second

During WWI, Krupp AG gained international recognition due to the design and manufacture of heavy guns such as the 420 mm Howitzer known as ‘Big Bertha‘, which, at Loncin Fort, Liège, Belgium – following 11 days of resistance against the German invader, the Fort suddenly exploded on the 15th August 1914, following a hit from the “Big Bertha” canon. A 420 mm shell weighing 800 kg destroyed the Fort, thus burying 350 people – only 150 brave souls escaped alive . . .

The following excerpt from ‘Database of the WWI Surviving Artillery’ describes the evolution of the 210 mm Howitzer Mörser M10:

” . . . Germany pre-war invasion plans induced the quick conquest of numerous fortified towns both in the West and in the East. The necessity of a powerful and mobile heavy siege artillery therefore had been recognized early, and transformed into several calibres weapons, including the famous 21cm, efficient against bricks and concrete fortifications.

The 21cm M 1899 mortar did not have a recoil recuperating system, at the detriment of its fire precision and rate. Answering to the APK request, Krupp started in 1902 the design of a modernisation. It took not less than 3 prototypes (󈧙cm Versuch Morser’) and 7 years of design to issue the new 21 cm morser, presented in 1909. But the result was worth the long delay, since the 󈧙cm Morser M10′, also kown as ‘der Mörser’ instantaneously became a major weapon of the German artillery, and accumulated brilliant victories from the the very first weeks of the war.

This new weapon overclassed the old 1899 mortar on all the dimensions, with a modern hydro-mechanic recoil recuperation system improving the fire rate and the precision, an elongated barrel (from 10 to 12 calibres) allowing an almost 2000 m range increase, and a very good manoeuvrability on the battlefield.

The 21cm M 10 was delivered to the army units from 1910, and 216 such guns were available to the German corps at the war outbreak. The first victories soon came, it is rocognized that the fall of Liège, Namur and Maubeuge forts in 1914 is mainly due to these mortars fire, while the use of the terrifying higher calibres only destroyed some of these targets, but received much more propaganda advertisement.

This gun heavy weight needed its decomposition into three ‘cars’ for transportation: the carriage transportation car (‘Lafette mit Protze’), the barrel transport car (‘Rohrwagen’), and the accessories transport car (‘Gürtelwagen’) including the wheels belts.

A total of 474 such mortars were produced by Krupp before this company switched its production to the 1916 version. 219 of them were still fighting in November 1918 . . . “

The information that surrounds the canon is wonderfully informative and a tribute to all those who have contributed to making sure that the horrors of war are not forgotten.

Types of Artillery on display, and select examples

This page features some of the strongest captured First World War German artillery pieces and other war trophies I’ve come across. These will also help show the variety of weapons captured by Canadian units.

The Mighty Morser 21 cm Siege Howitzer

Morser 21cm pattern 1910 captured by the 27th Battalion (Winnipeg) at VImy, 9 April 1917(Library and Archives Canada, Mikan # 3397851)

The 21 cm Mörser 1910 pattern and longer-barreled 1916 pattern were massive Krupp siege howitzers, designed to reign destruction down on heavily fortified positions. These, along with the unique naval cannon on field carriages, were the heaviest of heavies brought back to Canada as war trophies. They weighed about 7 long tons and could fire a bruising shell about 10 kms. They are seen with or without tire-traction pads, shoes that helped keep the massive weight from tearing up roads and bogging the gun down. They also sometimes had a gunner’s shield. Photos show them captured in open batteries, in massively fortified concrete positions, and in transport mode (divided into two loads: tube and carriage) on roads. Early in the War, the British called these guns, or the massive shells they fired, “Black Marias”. Incredibly, Canadian authorities brought back at least 22 of these monsters from Europe. Today, it appears only 3 guns remain.

Canadian War Museum gun 679 was originally on display in Dundurn Park, Hamilton. Captured by the 18th Battalion, action unknown.

One, originally in Hamilton, is at the Canadian War Museum, and two are in Quebec City. Proportionally, these survive less than all other main types of artillery brought back. One reason for this was, as large and showy hunks of the Kaiser’s forces, they were especially singled out for scrapping to help with the war effort in the Second World War. Here is a link to WW1 footage of these guns in action. If you ever come across another of these, hulking around somewhere or other, let me know! UPDATE: Here is the website of Lamb Industries, the company that fabricated light-weight repros of these for the Steven Spielberg movie Warhorse, which featured a couple of the longer-barreled version of this gun – In case you need a decent gate-sentry for your place, but don’t want to deal with those heavy, musty-rusty old guns!

Official photo of a Morser captured in transport mode in the Amiens offensve of 8/8/18. LAC PA-002905.

VIMY HOWITZER! Light 10.5 cm howitzer feldhaubitze pattern 98/09 Lennox Island Mi’kmaq community Prince Edward Island, this piece was originally allocated to nearby Grand River.

Author’s photo, please credit warsearcher.com with a link to this site.

There are about a half dozen of this type left in Canada, (with quite a few having been shipped back originally) but this gun is special. It was captured by the 27th Canadian Infantry Battalion in Farbus wood, near Vimy Ridge on April 9th, 1917. It was mentioned in the unit’s war diary narrative of the Vimy operations. It was likely captured by “A” company, when they rushed the battery led by Major Taunton and Capt. T.B. Lane. As part of the operational planning for Vimy, special training was provided to quickly use captured guns against retreating Germans, to avoid the usual problem of advancing units outpacing their own guns’ ability to provide artillery support. The 6th Canadian Artillery Brigade took over this howitzer and a large supply of shells. Soon after Vimy, they had already fired thousands of rounds at the enemy. It continued to be used by the 21st Howitzer Battery for several months. The gun as it exists does not have original wheels, and has a beautiful Kaiser Wilhelm II cypher and coat of arms on the barrel. The author, having spoken to heritage staff in the community about his research into the howitzer’s origins, hopes that this valuable artifact will get the attention, and interpretation it merits.

7.7cm Feldkanone 16, Sandycove Acres Retirement Community, Innisfil ON.

courtesy of Sandycove Acres Veterans Club

This is a nice example of a standard long-barreled field gun, model 1916. Serial no. 15204 is at the Sandycove Veterans Club in Innisfil, and is an important part of the club’s cenotaph, that has just been dedicated in early November, 2013 and will proudly host community Remembrance Day ceremonies. This FK 16 field gun was captured on September 27th, 1918 on the opening day of the Canal du Nord offensive, on the Arras-Cambrai road, south-east of Marquion, by the 4th Canadian Infantry Battalion (Central Ontario). The unit’s war diary notes the capture of six 7.7cm guns and two “H.V. 7.7s”. This is likely one of the latter, H.V. representing High Velocity, from the higher muzzle velocity of these pieces over the older FK 96 guns. The gun was originally allocated to Galt. It was acquired in the early 1980s by one of the club’s owners. The gun’s current location would seem to match better the 4th Battalion’s base of recruitment, Military District no. 2. Correspondence with Major (Ret’d) Edwin Gemmell, the president of the Club, resulted in the discovery of an accurate serial number, which allowed the guns’ provenance to be ascertained from the ledger and the war diaries. The gunner’s shield bears some evidence of shrapnel damage. If only all the war trophy research was so productive and rewarding!

Woodbridge Memorial Tower in Vaughan, Toronto: Dueling 15 cm Feldkanone in Räderlafettes

15cm naval cannon, woodbridge memorial tower (author’s photo)

This is one of two similar Krupp naval cannon that were taken off the Kaiser’s older battleships, where they were secondary armament, and installed on heavy field carriages for use on the Western Front. One is 40 calibres long, the other is 45. Small details in the layout of the recuperator pistons and the tube layering of the barrels may help determine which is which. They are the heaviest type of cannon brought to Canada from Europe. When barrel, firing platform and carriage are added up, they total about 9.5 tons. These guns, being conspicuous captures, were photographed awaiting transfer to England. These Australian War Memorial photos show guns captured by Canadians, and the original disruptive camoflage schemes that made many First World War canon appear very different from the almost universal black and field grey schemes they bear today.

AWM photo available avilable online H07617. The broken-muzzled gun winds up in Canada in Toronto. Australian War Memorial online photo (P02729) Note the steel shoes for the wheels lined up along the right, and the later model 15 cm Kanone 16 at left. 15cm naval gun on a field carriage, on the Canadian National Exhibition Grounds, 1919. This appears to be the 45 caliber variety, and could very likely be one of the guns that ends up in Vaughan. The large fair building behind the gun is the Manufacturers Building at the CNE., identified by the massing toward the cupola, neoclassical arches, and large orbs over the entrance portico. Author’s Collection

The two guns, no. 4693 and 4826, along with between 2 and 4 other similar guns, were in Toronto on display on the Canadian National Exhibition grounds in the early 1920s.

The story of how these two mammoth pieces were brought to Vaughan and by whom is featured here. Frustratingly, the numbers of these two don’t exactly match those listed for the naval guns in the several sources I’ve seen. There are very few of these types left in the World, and the 45 caliber version might be completely unique. The Woodbridge site is one of the most beautiful commemorations of the War in Canada. A stairway ascends up terraced ornamental gardens to first an FK 16 7.7cm field gun, then the visitor follows a path to the memorial tower, which was built in the style of a Scottish watchtower, and originally had a lit beacon at the top. The naval guns flank the tower on plinths. One plinth is dated 1928, 4 years after the tower was raised.

Woodbridge Memorial Tower (Author)

Morrisburg Ontario: Two FK 96 7.7cm Feldkanone’s and a beautiful cenotaph.

Morrisburg, ON War Memorial, author’s photograph

Originally, this very handsome sculpture and memorial was accompanied by a light German howitzer. However, this is listed as having been scrapped for metal during the Second World War. A photo of this original location can be found here. In preparation for the Seaway project and the resulting flooding, waterfront sections of Morrisburg were dismantled and this cenotaph was moved to its present location in front of the Justice building. At some point it was grouped with a set of field guns. These are both in reasonable condition and have the Kaiser’s cypher remaining on the barrels, the far gun is trained slightly to left and has well-preserved iron sights. These pieces are listed as having been captured by the 28th Canadian Infantry Battalion, and the 2nd Canadian Mounted Rifles.

Two French model 1897 75mm guns were giftedTwo French model 1897 75mm guns were gifted, along with other items, to Canada from the French government., along with other items, to Canada from the French government. (LAC photo)

Oh, for the days of hyperbolic exhibit text! The sign below this French 75mm model 1897 quick-firing canon goes on to elaborate: “called the 3-inch machine gun, these pieces saved the World.” During the War, two French 75s were freed up from this important duty to be sent in a shipment of gifts from the French Government to Canada, along with an old 8 cm Mountain gun and a whole variety of items. Remarkably (considering the equivalent survival rate of the German guns) both of these guns seem to have survived. One is in evidence near the Junkers Trench Raiding aircraft at the Hamilton War Trophies display in Nov. 1919. One was retained by the public archives for the Ottawa Museum and winds up in the Canadian War Museum, where it is listed as having originally been on the charge of the 65th (French) Battery. The other “soixante-quinze” (with a thank you to Bob Brown for the head’s up) is on display in Harriston, ON (minus wheels). The War Trophies Commission’s war trophies allocation ledger lists this just by its serial no.(3598), leaving the reader, and probably a lot of folks in the community over the years, to believe it is some type of German canon. The model 1897 was a revolutionary piece of artillery, that caused all other powers to scramble to integrate recoil mechanisms onto their cannon. Gone were the days of re-aiming the piece for every shot, and a well-drilled gun crew could fire more than 20 rounds a minute, or as fast as a good infantry soldier could shoot a bolt-action rifle. Here is a clip that shows the speed the gun could be reloaded and fired at and discusses how revolutionary it was. Popular demand dictates that I also mention its popularity was such that it lent its name to a swanky cocktail that came, some how, out of the fog of war (or the fog of drink)!

Stay tuned for more unique field guns, howitzers, trench mortars, and some truly odd war trophies!

Long Barrel 21cm Morser L/14.6 - History

German First World War Artillery captured by Canadians

Photos from the Library and Archives Canada collection.

Data current to 11 June 2021.

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3636763)

Painting of Canadians capturing a German First World War 7.7-cm Feldkanone 96 neuer Art (7.7-cm FK 96 n.A.), entitled "Taking the Guns", ca 1918, by Forunino Matania.

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3397896)

German First World War 7.7-cm Feldkanone 96 neuer Art (7.7-cm FK 96 n.A.) captured by Canadians near Amiens, France, Aug 1918. This gun was known as the "Whiz Bang".

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3194730)

17th Battery RCA firing a captured German 10.5-cm leFH 98/09 Howitzer on retreating German forces at Vimy Ridge, April 1917.

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3397899)

German First World War 21-cm Mörser gun being examined by a Canadian Officer, Arras, Aug 1918. CANADA scratched on the barrel.

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3397914)

General Currie inspecting captured German War Naval Guns.

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3397965)

German 7.7-cm FK16 and other guns captured by Canadians following the advance on Cambrai, November 1918.

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3397889)

French de Bange 155-mm long cannon mle. 1877 (155 L de Bange) field gun, used by the Germans and captured by Canadians at thge Battle of Amiens, Aug 1918.

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3397926)

German First World War artillery captured East of Arras, Aug 1918.

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3397927)

German First World War artillery captured East of Arras, Aug 1918. (Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3397927)

German First World War artillery captured East of Arras, Aug 1918. (Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3397933)

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3397826)

German Lantz trench mortar captured by Canadians, May 1917.

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3397938)

German First World War MG 08 machine-guns in a wagon towing a wheeled 7.58-cm leichtes Minenwerfer neuer Art, (7.58-cm leMW n.A.) trench mortar captured by Canadians during the advance east of Arras, France, Sep 1918. (Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3397938)

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3397823)

German 7.92-mm MG08s captured at Vimy Ridge, May 1917.

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3403105)

German 7.92-mm MG08 assembly, May 1917.

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3521829)

Captured German trench mortars being examined by Canadians, Apr 1917.

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3194349)

German trench mortars captured by Canadians, Canal du Nord, Oct 1918. (Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3194349)

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3521845)

German 17-cm mittlerer Minenwerfers (17-cm mMW), captured by Canadians, Apr 1917.

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3521871)

German trench mortars captured by Canadians, Apr 1917.

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3213518)

German trench mortars captured by Canadians, May 1917, LGen Julian Bing.

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3397962)

German trench mortars captured by Canadians, Oct 1918.

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 339796)

German guns captured by Canadians following the advance on Cambrai, November 1918.

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3397922)

Captured German trench mortars and AA Guns, Amiens, Aug 1918.

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3397916)

Captured German AA Gun, Amiens, Aug 1918.

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3397921)

Captured German First World War nait-aircraft (AA) Gun, Amiens, France, Aug 1918.

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3403179)

Canadian soldier examining a German First World War 7.58-cm trench mortar as German prisoners carrying their wounded pass by him during the advance East of Arras, France, Aug 1918.

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3397896)

German First World War 7.7-cm Feldkanone 96 neuer Art (7.7-cm FK 96 n.A.) captured by Canadians near Amiens, France, Aug 1918.

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3397396)

Canadian and French soldiers with German ammunition wagon, Amiens, Aug 1918.

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3397885)

German First World War 7.7-cm Feldkanone 96 neuer Art (7.7-cm FK 96 n.A.) captured by Canadians near Farbus, France, Feb 1918.

(Library & Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3396816)

French de Bange 155-mm long cannon mle. 1877 (155 L de Bange) field gun, Battle of Amiens, captured by the Germans and recaptured by the Canadians, Aug 1918.

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3397890)

French de Bange 155-mm long cannon mle. 1877 (155 L de Bange) field gun, Battle of Amiens, captured by the Germans and recaptured by the Canadians, Aug 1918.

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 35222222)

French de Bange 155-mm long cannon mle. 1877 (155 L de Bange) field gun, Battle of Amiens, captured by the Germans and recaptured by the Canadians, Aug 1918.

(Library & Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3397889)

French de Bange 155-mm long cannon mle. 1877 (155 L de Bange) field gun, Battle of Amiens, captured by the Germans and recaptured by the Canadians, Aug 1918.

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3397953)

German First World War 10.5-cm Feldhaubitze 98/09 (10.5-cm FH 98/09), captured by Canadians near Vis en Artois, France, Sep 1918.

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3521875)

German 10.5-cm FH 98.09 Gun, captured by Cdns, 17th Bty, CFA, being used to fire on Germans, Apr 1917.

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3522120)

German First World War 7.92-mm Maxim Spandau MG 08/15 machine-gun being examined by Canadian Motor Machine Gun Brigade Officers, March 1918.

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3521832)

German First World War 15-cm schwere Feldhaubitze 13 (15-cm sFH 13) Heavy Field Howitzer, captured by Canadians, Farbus Village, France, Apr 1917.

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3397894)

German l10-cm K 17 Field Gun captured at Amiens, France, Aug 1918.

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3521837)

German First World War 8-inch Naval Gun captured at Farbus, France, Apr 1918.

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3521833)

German Great War 8-inch Naval Gun, captured at Farbus, Apr 1918.

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3397920)

Captured German 21-cm Morser gun and a 7.7-cm field gun being towed to a Gun Park, Amiens, Aug 1918.

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3397937)

German 8.8-cm AA Gun, captured by Cdns East of Aras, Sep 1918.

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3397921)

German 8.8-cm Flak 16 AA Gun examined by Canadians, Battle of Amiens, Aug 1918.

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3397897)

Captured German 15-cm schwere Feldhaubitze 1902 (15-cm sFH 02) Heavy Field Howitzer , Amiens, Aug 1918.

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3397887)

Captured German 15-cm schwere Feldhaubitze 1902 (15-cm sFH 02) Heavy Field Howitzer , Amiens, Aug 1918.

(Photos courtesy of Bridget, Ladysmith Historical Society)

German First World War 7.7-cm Feldkanone 16 (7.7-cm FK 16), possibly (Serial No.7065), on display from 1921 until removed in 1941 by rail, and sent to the smelter to aid in the war effort.

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3397899)

German First World War 21-cm Mörser gun being examined by a Canadian Officer, Arras, Aug 1918. CANADA scratched on the barrel.

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3397825)

German Great War 21cm Morser, captured by 13th Bn, Amiens, Aug 1918.

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3397850)

German Great War 21cm Morser, captured by Canadians at Vimy Ridge, Aug 1917.

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3397851)

German Great War 21cm Morser, captured by Canadians at Vimy Ridge, Aug 1917.

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3397957)

German Great War 21cm Morser, captured by Canadians during the advance East of Arras, Oct 1918.

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3397817)

German Great War 21cm Morsers captured by Canadians at Vimy Ridge, May 1917.

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3397819)

German Great War 21cm Morsers captured by Canadians at Vimy Ridge, May 1917.

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3397919)

General Currie inspecting captured German Great War 21-cm Morsers.

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3397820)

German First World War 21-cm Mörser Heavy Mortar damaged by shellfire, being examined by a Canadian Officer, May 1917.

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3397960)

German First World War 21-cm Mörser blown on its side from an explosion of a nearby ammunition dump destroyed by Canadian Artillery fire, Arras, Oct 1918. (Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3397960)

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3406014)

Canadian troops with captured German Great War 21-cm Morser.

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3397895)

Captured German Great War 21-cm Morser.

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3395091)

German First World War 21-cm Mörser captured by Canadians, 1918.

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3397923)

General Currie inspecting captured German Great War Naval Guns.

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3397930)

German Naval Gun captured East of Arras, being examined by civilian VIPs, Aug 1918.

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3397931)

German Naval Gun captured East of Arras, being examined by civilian VIPs, Aug 1918.

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3397915)

General Currie inspecting captured German Great War Naval Guns close in.

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3397914)

General Currie inspecting captured German First World War Naval Guns.

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3397975)

Austrian Mountain Battery Gun captured by Canadians at Cambrai, France, Nov 1918.

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3395388)

Canadian soldiers examining a German anti-tank rifle captured during the Battle of Amiens, France, in front of a British Male tank, August, 1918.

Watch the video: Merit 116 15cm Howitzer (January 2022).