Artillery and Ammunition 2 years 1 month ago #79404
Mark IV Nordenfelt 1-inch Machine Gun armour-piercing round, with headstamps: "R /|\ L (Royal Laboratory) 1883 IV".
Applied paper label inscribed: "Nordenfeld [sic] Cartridge Seige [sic] of Mafeking 1899 - 1900, brought back by my father, then a Major, South African War 1899 - 1902, A.L.B.A."
Cartridge brought back to England by Surgeon-Major Louis Edward ANDERSON, Royal Army Medical Corps.
Surgeon-Major Louis Edward ANDERSON appears on the Royal Army Medical Corps medal roll, with entitlement to the QSA with clasps for Defence of Mafeking & Transvaal and the KSA with clasps for South Africa 1901 & South Africa 1902. Note in remarks column of QSA roll reads: "M.O. Protectorate Regiment".
With thanks to MC Heunis.
Treatise on Ammunition, 1897
1-inch Nordenfelt MG
MC Heunis, O.V.S.A.C. Study No. 17, Jul-Sep 2006.
In 1877 the Swedish engineer Thorsten Nordenfelt acquired the patent rights to a multi-barrelled, hand-cranked machine gun designed by a fellow countryman, Helge Palmcrantz. Under Nordenfelt’s name this gun was produced and marketed with great success from his Carlsvik plant near Stockholm. In 1886 Nordenfelt relocated to Britain where the Nordenfelt Guns and Ammunition Company Limited (NG&ACL) was formed. Exploiting his patents in Britain, the company prospered. In 1888 NG&ACL was officially merged with the Maxim Gun Company Limited to form Maxim Nordenfelt Guns and Ammunition Company Limited (MNG&ACL). Competing against Maxim’s automatic recoil operated machine gun; Nordenfelt’s hand cranked machine gun was soon rendered obsolete. Nordenfelt however refused to admit that the heyday of manual operated machine guns was over and in1890 he resigned from MNG&ACL and sold his shares back to the company. Later Nordenfelt pursued another recoil-operated machine gun design, which resulted in MNG&ACL conducting a Restraint on Trade court case against him. The court ruled in favour of MNG&ACL and the name Nordenfelt subsequently faded from the arms industry.
The Nordenfelt gun’s principal role was to act as an anti-torpedo boat weapon and for this purpose it was mostly employed aboard naval vessels and by coastal defence installations. In Britain various models with two, four and five barrels, firing 1-inch and .450-inch projectiles were adopted in this role.
The gun consisted of two or more barrels arranged horizontally. Nordenfelt’s patented hand-cranked mechanism loaded, fired and ejected the rounds as long as the crank was actuated, causing the breech mechanism to go backwards and forwards. It could fire single rounds or volleys.
For its anti-torpedo boat role, the gun fired an armour piercing round. This consisted of sharp pointed steel bullet surrounded by a brass envelope. The round was fixed to a brass cartridge case filled with black powder. Ammunition was fed into the gun by means of gravity from a top-loading hopper.
The guns were usually mounted to fixed conical mountings that gave all round fire for use on board ships and at fixed coastal defences. Some guns appeared mounted on small, wheeled carriages and were used as naval landing guns.
The best-known use of Nordenfelt guns in the Boer War was during the Siege of Mafeking when the town’s garrison made use of a 2-barrelled 1-inch calibre gun. This gun was mounted on a naval cone and most probably originated from one of the armoured trains used in the town during the siege. A similar gun, or as a Boer source called it “a twin-barrelled maxim”, was captured by the Boers from Mafeking’s second armoured train when it came to grief at Kraaipan on 12 October 1899. It is not known whether the Boers also captured ammunition for it or if they ever used it. Official British lists on captured guns make no mention of its loss and it is not sure if it was ever re-captured. Mounted on an improvised wheeled carriage and moved close under the cover of darkness, the 1-inch Nordenfelt gun that remained in Mafeking was able to engage the mighty Long Tom in January and March 1900. A second source of Nordenfelt guns was Capt. Scott’s naval force. In November 1899 his force had two “Nordenfelts” at Durban, but no further detail on their calibre and use are known.
The Nordenfelt was truly obsolete by the outbreak of the Boer War, but as a stop gap measure, they did come in handy as armament on board armoured trains and in the defence of Mafeking.
Nordenfelt 1-inch Machine Gun Mk I (The Engineer, 21 Jan 1881)
1-inch Nordenfelt (2 barrel variant) in action at the Extreme Outpost Trench, Mafeking (Australian War Memorial, P00607.051)
1-inch Nordenfelt (2 barrel variant)
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Artillery and Ammunition 2 years 1 month ago #79405
1. Nordenfelt 1-inch Machine Gun armour-piercing shell incorporated into a silver ashtray (in the Collection of the National Army Museum, London).
2. Three similar projectiles incorporated into a clock made from the base of a 155 mm "Long Tom" shrapnel shell. The work of J. GERRANS.
"The clock itself is fixed into the base of a 100 pounder Long Tom shrapnel shell which was fired into the town by the Boers. The front of this is decorated with the rifling band of a gun and with mauser bullets. From the casing of the same 100 pounder shell the base of the clock has been manufactured and the front decorations are formed by small Nordenfelt shots which were captured with a Nordenfeldt gun from Lieut. R.H. Nesbitt’s armoured train at Creepan [Kraaipan]. These shots were fired back into Mafeking during the siege. The back decorations are two Mauser clips filled with bullets all of which were fired into the beleaguered township. The central pillar which carries the clock is made from the front part of a seven pounder shell which was taken by the Boers when Dr Jameson surrendered at Doornkop. This was also fired into Mafeking" (The Washington Bee, 15th November 1902).
© National Army Museum, London (NAM. 1980-04-6-1)
The Sphere 24th November 1900
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Artillery and Ammunition 2 years 1 month ago #79488
1. 37 mm Krupp/Gruson QF Mountain Gun cartridge (unfired), alongside photograph of a fired example from Ladysmith. The latter image is a detail from Boer Shells (B.W. Caney, Durban) .
Note: the Ladysmith example has been incorrectly married with a VSM 1-pdr pompom shell case (identifiable by crimps for holding projectile in place).
2. Surviving 37 mm Krupp/Gruson QF gun (No.2, on carriage No.12963) presented to Tasmania as a trophy in 1904, but now sadly languishing in a storeroom (image courtesy of MC Heunis).
3. (at end of post) 37 mm Krupp/Gruson QF fuze parts, together with a photograph of a group of fuzes from the Ladysmith area (Krupp/Gruson fuze bottom left)
37mm Krupp/Gruson QF (Schnellfeuerkanone L/30)
MC Heunis, O.V.S.A.C. Study No.11, Jan-Mar 2005
The Transvaal imported its first 37mm single-loading QF gun from Hermann Gruson of Magdeburg-Buckau in 1891. This after Commdt-Gen. Piet Joubert attended a firing demonstration at Tangerhülle in 1890 and was dually impressed by the little gun’s “armoured carriage” (i.e. its shield). In 1893 Gruson was bought out by Krupp and became known as Krupp Grusonwerke, from whom the Transvaal ordered three more guns (numbered 1 to 3) in November 1895 through the Johannesburg-based agency of “Fried. Krupp Grusonwerke South African Agency”.
As indicated these were single-loading guns. The barrel was equipped with a vertical wedge breech block with an internal striking bolt. The breech action was worked by a lever on the right hand side of the gun. The barrel was mounted on a light cylinder trailed carriage with a spade-shaped end and was sometimes equipped with a shield. Elevation and depression (15º to either side) was achieved by a small two-part telescopic screw turned by a horizontal hand wheel situated on the left of the breech, while some sources also states that the barrel could also be traversed between 2º and 7.5º to either side. The assembly’s light weight enabled it to be towed by a single horse, or if necessary, hitched behind a wagon. Ammunition consisted of cast iron common shell and case shot fitted to brass casings filled with smokeless powder. As on most other QF equipment a copper driving band was fitted to the base of the shells. Due to the similarities between this gun’s ammunition and those of the better known 37mm Maxim-Nordenfelt/Vickers-Maxim “Pom-pom”, historical works often incorrectly referred to these guns as Pom-poms.
The 3.7cm Krupp: Schnellfeuerkanone L/30 and limber as it appeared in a Krupp factory photograph.
The Free State imported one gun of this calibre, but according to one sources it was a field gun version. The only notable differences between the field and mountain guns is said to have been the weight of the ammunition (?). Another possible difference could be that the mountain version was manufactured for towing and transport on the back of mules, while the field gun version was only intended to be towed. It is not certain when the Free State gun was ordered, which makes it difficult to say whether it was bought from Gruson or Krupp. The Free State ordered three more guns from Krupp before the war broke out in 1899, but these could not be delivered due to the British blockades.
Before the Boer War the Transvaal’s 37mm Gruson gun saw action during the 1894 Malaboch and the 1895 Magoeba expeditions. Together with the four 60mm mountain guns, the four 37mm QF guns were grouped together as the Afdeling: Berg Artillerie (Mountain Artillery) and were placed under the command of 1st Lt. Carlblom in 1897. In 1898 the Transvaal 37mm guns were also employed during the Swazi and Magato/M’pefu campaigns. One photo taken during the Swazi campaign shows two of the little QF guns, complete with shields, mounted in one of the sandbag parapets of the Bremmersdorp fort.
At the outbreak of the Boer War two of the Transvaal guns were sent to the Natal border and two to the North-Western (Mafeking) Front. The Free State gun saw action in the battles of the Western (Kimberley) Front and later in the Free State during Gen. Christiaan De Wet’s early guerrilla battles.
During the 1899-1902 war British forces found one of the three Transvaal Krupp guns, complete with its shield, at Pretoria on 5 June 1900, while the single Gruson gun was discovered buried at Piet Retief in February 1901. A third “37mm Q.F. single-loading” gun was accounted for near Lydenburg on 26 April 1901. Some War Office lists (WO32/8111) refers to it as a Hotchkiss, but since the Boers possessed no Hotchkiss guns, this must have been a Krupp. The Free State “3cm” gun was captured at Bothaville on 6 November 1900.
After its capture the gun taken from Pretoria was sent “Home” (England) aboard the Templemore, while three more guns, No.12963, 41001 and 41002 left South Africa on 10 October 1903 aboard the SS Inyati. The number “12963” is a Grusonwerk factory number that appeared on the carriage of gun No.2, while 41001 and 41002 are typical Gruson “D.R.P.” numbers and not gun serial numbers. This indicates that two of the Boer guns might have been manufactured before Gruson was bought out by Krupp. One certainly belonged to the Transvaal; did the second belong to the Free State?
In Britain one of the captured guns was kept at “R.I.S.I. Whitehall” for some time, while a second was issued to the “U.S. Institution”. In 1904 No.41001 was shipped to Canada, another, No.2 (on carriage No.12963) went to Tasmania in 1905 and a third was allotted to the Town Clerk of Rochester in the UK (no number given).
One trophy gun, believed to have been the Transvaal Gruson, was discovered in Brimfield, Massachusetts in the USA. The present owner bought the gun from an iron monger, but it is said to have originated from Canada. The breech carries the number 41001, while the trunnions are marked 49kg and 1889.
This date and DRP number corresponds with the Transvaal’s “Piet Retief” gun imported in 1891 and issued to Canada in 1904. It is currently mounted on a 60mm Krupp BL mountain gun’s carriage.
In South Africa a single Transvaal 37mm Krupp QF survived. Inscriptions on the barrel identify it as gun No.3, manufactured at Krupp’s Essen Works. The carriage, No.12964, is original and was manufactured at Krupp’s Grusonwerk.
It is not known whether gun No.1 (mounted on carriage No.12962) was ever captured by British forces.
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Artillery and Ammunition 2 years 3 weeks ago #79577
More regarding the work of Joseph GERRANS, coach and wagon builder, Mafeking. See my earlier post here.
These photographs (courtesy of the Royal Artillery Museum) depict "The Wolf", the howitzer built during the siege of Mafeking. The barrel is inscribed with punched / impressed lettering: “J. GERRANS / CARRIAGE BUILDER".
Gerrans signed his Mafeking trophies in a similar manner.
Renowned for his creativity when designing and making siege souvenirs, Gerrans seems to have been entrusted with the task of inscribing "The Wolf", perhaps the most spectacular trophy of all.
5 inch Howitzer (Wolf Gun) (Mafeking) GUN 3/244
At the siege of Mafeking during the Boer war, the British were very short of Artillery and needed a gun that could hit back at the surrounding Boers. This gun was manufactured in the workshops in Mafeking under the supervision of Major Panzera. It was made out of spare metal parts and the wheels were originally from a threshing machine.
The British named it Wolf after Colonel Baden-Powell who was present during the siege (it was his nickname) and used it to bombard Boer positions.
Krupp 60 mm Mountain Gun shell, embellished and signed "J. GERRANS", in a similar manner to the inscription on the barrel of "The Wolf".
As stated before, on 6th December 1899, GERRANS met with a horrific accident while extracting the fuze from an unexploded 155 mm Long Tom shell.
Mafeking Mail, 6th December 1899
A regrettable occurrence took place this afternoon by which Town Councillor Gerrans and his assistant, Mr Green, also a passer-by, named Smith, was injured. An unexploded shell was being opened for the purpose of extracting the charge, when by some means – the details of which have not yet been made clear – the thing exploded. The three were removed to the Hospital
MAFEKING: A DIARY OF THE SIEGE
Major F.D. Baillie, 4th Queen’s Own Hussars
6th December 1899
Mr Gerrans, town councillor, was extracting the fuse of an exploded shell — result — he was blown down and severely injured. His foreman, Green, had his foot blown off, and a passer-by, Smith, a Johannesburg refugee, returning to his trench, was so injured that he died in an hour. Everybody was much depressed by this; it seemed so sad that more damage should be caused amongst the whites by an accident than had hitherto been the result of six weeks' shelling by the enemy's heavy gun. However, since artillery has been invented mankind will tamper with loaded shells, in spite of all warnings, orders, or entreaties to the contrary.
Mafeking Mail, 7th December 1899
THE ACCIDENT YESTERDAY.
Death of one of the Victims.
We are glad to learn from the P.M.O. that both Mr Gerrans and Mr Green are doing well. The former had the tips of the fingers on his left hand injured and a few small cuts about his legs. The latter had his left foot hurt and it was found necessary to amputate it at the ankle, beyond this he had no other injuries. The other poor fellow who was passing the shop at the time of the explosion died soon after arriving at the hospital. He, W. Smith, was a stranger to Mafeking, a native of Poplar, London; a boiler maker by trade, he had worked some six months at the Langlaagte mines, B. block, in company with a Mr Harris. Together with him and four others he came here intending to return to Johannesburg with the Column they, in common with many others, expected to see produced from Mafeking long ere this. They stayed at Kimberley for a day or two with Mr Richard Greaves, of the Blueposts Hotel, Main Street, to whom, we believe, the deceased was known. From Kimberley the party of six came here by the train which, it will be remembered, was fired upon by the Boers, arriving on the Monday before hostilities were opened. All of them took rifles in defence of the town, Deceased, with his chum Harris, being stationed at the Hospital Redan. Although not a man of education he was exceedingly shrewd, and took great interest in everything connected with the leading question of the day. As he did not lack courage he would probably have proved very useful had the Boers come within range. We understand the funeral is arranged to take place this evening, at sundown.
Mafeking Mail, 8th December 1899
Wednesday’s sad occurrence, we cannot call the concomitant of given circumstances an “accident”, which has resulted in the death of one of the three injured men points out the un-wisdom of taking needless risk in a useless cause. Had the death and maiming been brought about through operations connected with the defence of the town we should, while commiserating with the victims, have had the satisfaction of knowing that the loss and damage was in a good cause but we fail to recognise any justification whatsoever for this risk being incurred. Whatever the Boers might have done had they been courageous enough and expert enough would have been borne as becomes us, stoically, philosophically, but a wanton waste like this is foolish, wicked; as the work was calculated to serve no useful end. We have too much sincere regard for our respected townsman to find fault with him for undertaking what he may have regarded as a matter of duty, but we hope that if anyone else is desirous of having these hideous things rendered harmless he will execute the task himself or employ experts whose technical knowledge will reduce the risk to almost nil.
A copy of a letter by Robert Bradshaw Clarke URRY
Sunday 17th Dec.
Church at 20.30 a.m. About 30 men of Lord Bentinck’s troop marches to church. Polo match in afternoon. Weather oppressively hot, so did not attend. Went to the hospital to visit the sick. Saw Goodyear, Gerrans and Martin. Goodyear is laid up with a bullet wound right through his thighbone and is getting on nicely. Gerrans who is a blacksmith, suffering from the effects of an explosion. There is a regular craze here for collecting unexploded shells and seeing that the Boers have fired about two thousand shells into the town, the number of unexploded shells is large. The first thing one does on securing an unexploded shell is to endeavour to have the charge extracted, a very dangerous proceeding. However, Gerrans had successfully drawn the charges of several shells. Although he had been warned of the dangerous nature of the work, he did not seem to realize that there was any danger in it and on about completing the extraction of the contents of a 94 lb shell, it exploded, killing a man named Smith, who happened to be passing at the time and shattering the foot of Gerrans’s man. Gerrans had some of his fingers blown off and his legs were riddled with particles of shell. He will not lose any of his limbs.
Sydney Morning Herald, 24th January 1900
A SHELL ACCIDENT
To-day the enemy have been quiet, but in the afternoon a terrible accident happened to Mr
Gerrans, a waggon maker, while he was endeavouring to extract the detonator and charge from a 100lb shell, which exploded. Mr Gerrans was seriously wounded, and Green, his assistant, had his left foot blown off above the ankle. The latter is in no danger of his life. A Johannesburg refugee named Smith, who happened to be passing the shop at the time, was dangerously wounded. Mr Gerrans, who is greatly respected as a citizen, showed the greatest pluck, blaming himself for the accident, and insisting that the others who had been injured should be attended to first.
Mafeking Mail, 20th February 1900
We were pleased to have a visit from our respected Town Councillor, Mr Gerrans, and to see that he has sufficiently recovered from the effects of his accident to be able to look around his works, and we are glad that Mr Green has also arrived at the corresponding stage of convalescence. Mr Gerrans desires to express his appreciation of the treatment, both medical and nursing, that he has received and to tender his thanks to the staff of the Victoria Hospital.
Otago Daily Times, 11th August 1900
MAFEKING AFTER THE SIEGE.
Mr Gerrans, of this town, took me into his dug-out, and showed me where he lived for months. It is a hole in the ground, 6ft deep, 12ft long, and 6ft wide; the roof is built of iron rails, sheets of iron, and heaps of earth. The walls and ceiling are lined with water-proof canvas, and there are two stairways built into the ground. This gentleman, who is a coachbuilder, also showed me a wonderful collection of bullets and shells that he had gathered together. Out of the bases of the 94-pounders his is making spittoons, with Kruger coins inserted in the concave, the idea being that of spitting on Kruger’s face. SEE BELOW
The Washington Bee, 15th November 1902
AFRICAN TROPHY CLOCK
Made Entirely of Shells and Bullets Fired by Boer or Soldiers
An ingenious clock which forms a curious memento of the siege of Mafeking has been made by a Mr J Gerrans who was employed as an engineer to execute artillery repairs in the town during the investment. The clock itself is fixed into the base of a 100 pounder Long Tom shrapnel shell which was fired into the town by the Boers. The front of this is decorated with the rifling band of a gun and with mauser bullets. From the casing of the same 100 pounder shell the base of the clock has been manufactured and the front decorations are formed by small Nordenfelt shots which were captured with a Nordenfeldt gun from Lieut. R.H. Nesbitt’s armoured train at Creepan [Kraaipan]. These shots were fired back into Mafeking during the siege. The back decorations are two Mauser clips filled with bullets all of which were fired into the beleaguered township. The central pillar which carries the clock is made from the front part of a seven pounder shell which was taken by the Boers when Dr Jameson surrendered at Doornkop. This was also fired into Mafeking. At the back of the clock is a little door carrying on the outside a circular mirror and on the inside a portrait of Gen Baden-Powell. The clock, says the Illustrated News, was made at Mafeking and was presented to Mr Chamberlain by the inventor for Keen Observation. SEE BELOW
The Sphere 24th November 1900
The Cornishman, 26th June 1902
Napkin ring presented by Gerrans to Lady Vyvyan, Major Courtney Vyvyan’s mother. Again, with impressed lettering: "IN / MEMORY / OF / BOER / LONG TOM / GUN / WHICH DEP. / FROM / MAFEKING / APRIL / 1900 / AND / LEFT / ME / BEHIND". Inner surface similarly inscribed: "J GERRANS . TO LADY . VYVYAN."
Probably gifted to Lady Vyvyan at the same time as the presentation of relics of the siege by J. Gerrans and Courtney Vyvyan to the Royal Institution of Cornwall in June 1902 (see The Cornishman above). The Vyvyan family seat at Trelowarren, Cornwall, was only 25 miles from Gerrans’s home in Tregony.
West Briton and Cornwall Advertiser, 12th July 1915 (with photograph of Joseph Gerrans, taken in 1909, when he represented the Tswana chiefs of the Bechuanaland Protectorate as part of the "South African Native and Coloured People's Delegation" to London).
I believe this is a photograph of Gerrans (centre), taken during or shortly after the siege.
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Artillery and Ammunition 2 years 3 weeks ago #79599
Armstrong 9-pdr RML studded common shell, fired into Kimberley, alongside drawing of 16-pdr equivalent (Treatise on Ammunition, 1902, p. 269)
With thanks to MC Heunis.
Photograph of shells from in and around Kimberley, showing the studded shell in relation to other projectiles (155 mm Creusot "Long Tom" shrapnel in centre). For key see Kimberley Shells.
Armstrong RML 9-pr, 8 cwt Guns
MC Heunis, O.V.S.A.C. Study No. 4, updated: Apr-Jun 2004
In 1866 the British Ordnance Select Committee suggested the adoption of a RML gun suitable for both field and boat service. An iron 9-pr of 6 cwt with a calibre of 3-inch was suggested for the RHA batteries and subsequently the Navy ordered 50 units. This order was later changed and only 45 were manufactured, but without rifling as the system to be adopted was not decided yet. In 1869 a bronze 9-pr RML of 8 cwt, firing a studded shell was manufactured and issued to the RFA in India. It was not entirely satisfactory as the rifling wore away too rapidly, and so, two years later an iron version replaced it. This became the standard British field artillery gun until 1874 when it was replaced by a lighter 6 cwt gun.
The 8 cwt gun was also manufactured using the built-up principle, but it had a steel foundation tube and in appearance differed significantly from the early RBL and experimental RML guns. Rifling consisted of the standard Woolwich system with three uniform grooves and a constant twist of one turn in 30 calibres, firing a shell with two rows of three projecting studs.
Standard RML ordnance saw the introduction of wrought iron and steel (later all-steel) carriages of about the same weight as the wooden types. As with the experimental 12-pr the trail consisted of two sides connected together and meeting at the trail eye. This construction allowed for even more elevation, which was achieved by an elevating screw and nut. Trunnion bearings were formed at the front without a separate saddle and the front of the trail was supported on a wooden axletree bed, through which passed an iron axletree carrying the wheels. Wheels were still of wood but the wooden naves were replaced with ‘Madras Pattern’ bronze items.
The gun was usually equipped with two tangent centre hind sights graduated to 2400 yds (2190 m) and 3500 yds (3200 m) respectively with a hog-backed fore sight. As it will be seen later, some guns were refitted with Sea Service and side mounted sights. The gun was fired by means of friction tube, which ignited a bagged black powder charge weighing 1 lb 12 oz.
In 1874 a 9-pr weighing only 6 cwt was introduced for horse artillery use, and because it had the same performance as the heavier 8 cwt gun, it was also adopted by the field artillery. A good number of the heavier 8 cwt guns had been manufactured however, and these remained in service, particularly in the colonies, while some were sold off to foreign governments or converted for naval service. The 8 cwt gun saw action on British side in South Africa during the Zulu (1879) and Transvaal War (1880-1881), while some colonial units were still equipped with guns of this design at the outbreak of hostilities in 1899.
After taking command of the Free State Artillery, Capt. FWR Albrecht initiated the standardisation of the Free State’s artillery equipment. Therefore, in December 1880 he recommended that a second 9-pr Armstrong should be imported. This gun, the first 8 cwt, arrived in June 1881 and was described as being of a ‘newer construction’. In February 1882, after the old experimental 9-pr 6 cwt gun left for the Transvaal, two more 8 cwt guns arrived in Bloemfontein. They were of a different type and of poorer quality than the previous (1881) gun and rumours did the round that they were thrown together from spares and parts of withdrawn Royal Artillery pieces. On arrival a local blacksmith had to attend to the carriages in order to get them serviceable. In 1887 a further two guns arrived, in a better condition than the previous two, but not as good as the first and also of a different type. The Free State 9-pr 8 cwt battery thus consisted of five guns, but of three different models.
According to Her Majesty's Official List of War Materiel dated 1 March 1875, there were six standard pattern 9-prs in service, two of these of 8 cwt:
• 9-pr, 8 cwt, Mark I, Land Service (L.S.) was adopted in 1871 to supersede the Armstrong RBL guns for Heavy field battery service. It had a length of 68.5-in between neck and muzzle face with a slight muzzle swell and a raised front sight post, cast integral with the gun. It was later withdrawn and modified for sea service by turning off the sight projection at the muzzle and equipping it with sea service sights.
• 9-pr 8 cwt, Mark II, Sea Service (S.S.) was adopted in 1873. This gun was generally the same as the Mark I L.S., but it differed in having no muzzle swell and having a different type of raised sight post, which was adapted for sea service.
Even though the different models were defined on paper, this usually only applied to guns made for British service at the RGF. Export guns were usually manufactured at Armstrong’s Newcastle-on-Tyne factory, which could have resulted in some deviations. There were also experimental models as well as official and unofficial modifications to the standard types. All this makes the identification of the exact type of guns imported by the Free State Government very difficult.
Although most sources state that these hopelessly outdated guns were not used during the Anglo-Boer War, they definitely saw action during the early stages. One or more were used to bombard Kimberley during the siege, while another is said to have scored a direct hit on a loaded British 15-pr near Ficksburg in the Eastern Free State, killing most of its crew. Wilhelm Mangold, a German Volunteer fighting with the Boers, also wrote the following delightful piece in his diary of a ‘repeatedly repaired’ muzzle loading Armstrong that was in action on 23 Feb 1900 near Paardeberg: “For this old gun we first had to build a proper schantz, since the gunners claimed the enemy would concentrate their entire fire on it. This was mainly due to the old gun being very conspicuous and on top of that it still used black powder.” After the earthworks were completed the gun commander arrived with a rope and ordered twelve men to hold the gun down to prevent it from capsizing or running back. “Because of its antique powder, ‘Ou Sanna’ caused a large smoke cloud when she finally fired. The shell took some time to travel the distance, but it should be said to the praise of this old blunderbuss, it was a direct hit. After eight shots she broke down again.”
Three of the five 9-pr guns were abandoned or captured early in the War:
Qty. Captured at; Date; Remarks
1 Dronfield (Kimberley); 16/17 Feb 1900; Steel/wrought iron carriage.
1 Colesberg Road Bridge; 16 Mar 1900; Captured by Clements.
1 Koppiesfontein; 27 Mar 1900; Destroyed at Jagersfontein.
The Dronfield gun, a Mark I type gun on its original Mark II type steel/wrought iron carriage, survived and can be seen mounted at the Cape Police Memorial in Kimberley. It was used during the siege and covered the Boer retreat from Dronfield when the siege was lifted. After the war it was handed over to the Commissioner of Police at Kimberley. Its left trunnion carries the engraving: Sir WG Armstrong & Co. / 1873 / No.2854, while the right trunnion reads: Weight 935 lb, 9 pr / Prep 5 lb. The carriage is engraved: Sir WG Armstrong & Co. / New Castle on Tyne No.1612. There is very little doubt that this was the gun imported in 1881 and which was said to be the best of the five.
On the Koppiesfontein gun the Cape Times of 4 April 1900 wrote: “…acting on information, a search party visited John Rorich's farm at Koppiesfontein and found a 9-pr and a maxim down a well. The guns were pulled out and brought to town (Jagersfontein) on an ox-wagon.” On 19 April the paper again reported: “It appears that the two guns discovered near the village have been standing in front of the Court-house some time and on Sunday (15 April) it was decided to destroy them. They were taken into the veld, and one of the miners laid the charges and blew them up… The guns went up in fragments ranging from ½ pound to 25 pound…”
Judging from the date of the two wartime photos it seems certain that the Koppiesfontein gun was one of the Mark II S.S. type guns, while the third gun surrendered at Colesberg Road Bridge was the Krupp type carriage mounted gun shown on the Green Point Common photo.
The circumstances surrounding the capture of the last two guns shown on the Kroonstad photo [see below] are not entirely certain. It seems that they followed the Boer retreat through the eastern Transvaal to Hector Spruit where one was blown up to prevent it from falling into British hands. Its submerged remains were discovered in the Crocodile River on 24 September 1900. Wartime photographs also show wooden double-plate carriages left behind at Nelspruit where most of the obsolete Boer guns were taken off their mountings before being transported by train to Hector Spruit. This suggests that the gun destroyed at Hector Spruit probably was the Mark II S.S. type gun that was shown mounted on a wooden carriage in the Kroonstad photo. The remaining Kroonstad gun seems to have been taken over the Mozambique border and surrendered to the Portuguese authorities. British War Office records contain one undated listing for a 9-pr RML gun surrendered at Lorenzo Marques (Maputo) in Mozambique.
Two of the five Oranje Vrystaat Artillerie Armstrong 9-pdrs in the field, captioned “Free State Artillery at Kroonstad - April 1900”.
A wartime photo captioned “Free State Artillery at Kroonstad - April 1900” shows two 9-pr guns, one mounted on an older wooden double-plate carriage and a second on the Krupp type carriage. The latter has no fore sight, while the wooden carriage mounted gun has little or no muzzle swell and a distinctive Mark II S.S. type fore sight. (MC Heunis).
Example captured at Dronfield on 16th February 1900.
The Dronfield gun, a Mark I type gun on its original Mark II type steel/wrought iron carriage, survived and can be seen mounted at the Cape Police Memorial in Kimberley. It was used during the siege and covered the Boer retreat from Dronfield when the siege was lifted. After the war it was handed over to the Commissioner of Police at Kimberley. Its left trunnion carries the engraving: Sir WG Armstrong & Co. / 1873 / No.2854, while the right trunnion reads: Weight 935 lb, 9 pr / Prep 5 lb. The carriage is engraved: Sir WG Armstrong & Co. / New Castle on Tyne No.1612. There is very little doubt that this was the gun imported in 1881 and which was said to be the best of the five. (MC Heunis)
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