Witley, March 16, 1917

Friday       The 82 & 83rd How[itzer] Btys [Batteries] left for France late last night & early this morning. Am feeling good

Percy has his dates wrong: according to the War Diary, the Howitzer batteries entrained in the early hours of March 17. It took three trains per battery, departing at intervals of approximately an hour and a half; the trains were loaded as follows:

  • Train 1: one third of the personnel and horses (that is, 2 officers, 62 or 63 other ranks, and 65 horses) plus 2 guns and 9 wagons
  • Train 2: one third of the personnel and horses, plus 1 gun and 9 wagons
  • Train 3: one third of the personnel and horses, plus 1 gun, 8 wagons and 2 carts (1)

howitzer 4.5.JPGCareful readers will count only four guns per battery in this list, despite the fact that the batteries were set up for six. Earlier in the month, it was noted that they had “practically complete equipment, with the exception of two guns per battery.”(2)

In fact, howitzer william roberts.JPGa query went back to headquarters, once the mobilization order was issued, as to whether the batteries should go “under 4 or 6 gun basis.” (3) Since on March 19th Newland noted in the War Diary that four howitzers were to be “received overseas,” (4) we can deduce that they were indeed six-gun batteries.

The first of the six trains was scheduled to leave at 2:20 a.m. on March 17th; the last at 9:20 a.m.(1)
(1) War Diary of the Fifth Canadian Divisional Artillery.Vol. 2 March 1917 Appendix 3: 1.Library and Archives of Canada.
(2) War Diary. March 1917. Appendix 2.1
(3) War Diary. March 1917. Appendix 3.4
(4) War Diary. March 1917:3. March 19, 1917

The unattributed diagram of the 4.5 howitzer comes from the article about the gun at http://www.landships.info.

The 1918 painting (©the estate of John David Roberts) of a 4.5 inch howitzer in action is by William Roberts (1895-1980), himself a howitzer gunner with the Royal Field Artillery. His war memoir, originally published in 1974, can be seen on the same site.

Copyright 2017. See “More about this project.”



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