Posted By:M Reeve
Subject:Re: 91st Siege Battery - Richard Shrive
Post Date:December 01, 2012 at 10:35:12
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Forum:World War I Forum
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Some further information:-

1916 November 17- MAILLIE MAILLET –Firing continued through the day. There have not been two short pauses of less than half an hour since 5.45 a.m. in 13 hours.
4 p.m. - At about 4 .p.m. the breach block of No 2 Gun blew out killing Corp. Clemans the No 1 and Gunners Ritchie and Whiting. Flt. Coursey the section commander was slightly wounded in the eye. [91ST War battery Siege Battery diary]

1916       December 1 - On December 1st we celebrated our first birthday. Lieut. Coursey returned, having recovered from his wound. (See 17 November 1916)
       The blowing out of the breech of No. 2 gun was investigated, but no definite conclusion was formed as to its cause. A change of target had been ordered when the gun was loaded with a full charge round. It was necessary to fire a reduced charge at the new target and the No. 2 was opening the breech to take out the full charge, when it went off for some unknown reason. At the moment of the explosion only the two front threads of the breech screw were engaged in the breech as they were shorn off. The block was blown about 500 yards to the rear of the gun and the shell remained firmly wedged in the bore about four feet from the muzzle and refused to be moved by any mechanical means that could be devised. The fuze was removed by a courageous I.O.M. and after much cogitation it was decided to fire the shell out. It could not be fired towards Hunland as it would probably not go as far and would fall in our own lines.
       Finally we were ordered to take the gun to the rear, mount it opposite a steep hill and fire the shell into it. All preparations were solemnly made and the gun was loaded with the lowest charge. No experts could tell us what would happen and it was thought quite likely that the gun would burst, so it was fired with a lanyard 50 yards long by a man in a dugout. The tube went off all right, but we heard nothing else. All thought it was a misfire and Sergt Kent went to extract the tube. As soon as he turned it, it flew out of the vent with great force and a loud hissing noise commenced lasting for ten minutes. The charge had fired noiselessly being confined and had failed to propel the shell. The hissing noise was caused by the escape of the gas through the vent.
       The experiment was repeated with 2nd charge and gave a similar result. It was then decided to try a full charge which drove the shell into the hill and did no damage whatever to the gun, which was used for a long time afterwards. [Major Christian’s 91st Siege Battery Diary, Tynemouth 1920]

mike Reeve