Witley, February 19, 1917

Monday  Exam started this a.m., rained hard all morning am feeling good

9a-two-palsDespite the very specific and very detailed duties outlined in the manuals for each number of the gun detachment, each gunner had to learn every role. Numbers 7 through 10 have to be prepared to step into any gap, and if replacements are lacking, it is possible to fire the gun with a minimum crew of three. Exactly how the tasks are reassigned is not left to chance:

“If full detachments cannot be maintained, the duties are divided as follows:—

  • With 5 men—4 performs the duties of 5 and 6; and 1 performs the duties of 1 and 4.
  • With 4 men—4 performs the duties of 5 and 6; 1 the duties of 1 and 4; 2 sets fuze indicator on the shield.
  • With 3 men—1 performs the duties of 2 as well as his own; 2 performs the duties of 4,5 and 6; 3 no change.” (1)

Some batteries were even more diligent about training men to do different tasks. Back in November Archie Wills reported that the drivers in his battery were “put on gun drill under our new officer and there was plenty of fun. One of the boys brought down his wrath upon his head, when he tried to swing the gun with the brake on.

“‘Look! There’s a man trying to be a Sampson. Moving the gun with the brake on.’
The drivers were firing the gun without loading it and all sorts of queer things.
Finally a crowd gathered around to witness the queer antics and the sub turned and addressed them.
“‘Have you fellows nothing to do? If you want some thing to do there’s something to be done over here,’ he snapped.” (2)

Still, the gunners tended to think of themselves by their initial assigned role. The photo above shows two of Percy’s pals with their twelve-pounder at Camp Petawawa. On the back he has written no names, only “Nos 4 and 5 of a 12 pr BL [breech loading] gun detachment.”

(1) Notes on Field Artillery Training compiled by the officers of the 34th Battery, CFA, CEF. 1916. 146
(2) Wills, Archie. Diary. 3: 89-90. November 25, 1916.  Archie Wills Fonds, University of Victoria Archives. Copyright 2007, University of Victoria.

Copyright 2017. See “More about this project.”
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