Witley, February 21, 1917

Wednesday    Ash Wednesday Routine as previously morning route marches this PM gunlaying

We have already noted that Percy was a churchgoer, so it is not surprising that he would note the beginning of Lent. There was not time in the routine for any observance, however.

Gunlaying, we have said, is the positioning of the gun so that it can hit its target. It isgunners numbered crop no 3.jpg the responsibility of Number 3, who also fires the gun, but in practice, every gunner would learn how to do it, and to do it automatically. In action, Number 3 , who perches on a seat to the left of the barrel (as you look in the direction in which the gun is firing), keeps his left hand on the elevating handwheel, and his right on the traversing handwheel, except when his right hand activates the firing lever.(1)


The mnemonic Raise—Right—Rear reminds him that “to give elevation or to traverse the gun to the right he must turn the elevating and traverse handwheels respectively to the rear.”(1)  Each turn of the handwheel gives half a degree of change of elevation, in the vertical plane, or of deflection, in the horizontal. (1)

His readiness to spin those wheels is required because every round shifts the gun:  after the initial round, every firing means the gun elevates “about 10 minutes, and moves to the right or left according to the amount of traverse right or left on the traversing gear, and the slope or irregularities of the ground. The layer must try and rectify this movement a soon as possible after firing, and the gun should be relayed practically as soon as the run up [the barrel’s return to original position after recoil] is completed. By these means only can rapid and accurate fire be maintained.”(1)

(1) Notes on Field Artillery Training compiled by the officers of the 34th Battery, CFA, CEF. 1916. 134.

The photograph is found in a section on the Royal Field Artillery on a site of World War 1 photographs. The diagram of the rear elevation of an 18 pounder gun comes from the Handbook of the 18PR QF Gun. (London: HMSO, 1915) facing page 11.

Copyright 2017. See “More about this project.”

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