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More on NZ and Indian 3.7-inch howitzers

October 2 2015 at 6:10 AM
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Nelson  (no login)
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Response to Re: NZ and Aussie 3.7-inch howitzers


> “It (3.7-inch howitzer) was the first pack equipment issued to the New Zealand Forces, a single battery in Wellington being equipped with these guns in 1914, but saw no action. The Government later sold them.” - How much later? Is it possible that these were the “well-worn” ones sold to Australia, and sent to New Guinea? >

An error I fear. A minimal amount of snooping has unearthed the following:

During the early 20th century, the Indian Army pressed for the development of a modern mountain howitzer. That army was not especially happy with the 10-pounder mountain gun then in service. Monetary constraints caused a delay and a false start—the interim 2.75-inch mountain gun—but in late 1916, the QF 3.7-inch mountain howitzer emerged. It first saw action in 1917 in the Middle East and then in April 1918 in East Africa, in both theaters by the gunners of Indian Army mountain batteries. As regards the actual pieces arming New Zealand mountain batteries in 1914, see

“When in 1903 new QF 13- and 18-pr field guns were adopted to replace the obsolete BL 15-prs previously in use, the RA requested a new pack howitzer but the Government could not find the money. Eventually, in 1911, a BL 2.75-inch (10-pr) jointed gun was adopted. It was the first pack equipment issued to the New Zealand Forces, a single battery in Wellington being equipped with these guns in 1914, but saw no action. The Government later sold them.

Meanwhile the British Army had found the 2.75 unsuitable during the Gallipoli campaign of 1915 and set to work on a fresh design. The result was the QF 3.7-inch howitzer Mark 1, generally known as ‘the 3.7 pack howitzer’. The first issues were made to RA units in 1917. [Nota bene] New Zealand received none until after World War 1, when 20 Light Battery in Auckland and 16 Light Battery in Christchurch were each equipped with four howitzers. However, in 1926 instructions laid down that they be equipped for shaft draught only, and that pack drill was not to be carried out. (General Order 303).”

In regard to G.O. 303, it would seem short-sighted. Anyway, here are the 2.75-inch (12.5-pounder) mountain gun and its predecessor, the 10-pounder mountain gun. Only the later piece is capable of on-carriage recoil absorption (note the cylinder under the barrel).

[linked image]

[linked image]

Do note an essential aspect in the entire mountain ordnance sequence: the 10-pounder gun, the 2.75-inch gun, and the 3.7-inch howitzer were all screw our protagonist, Captain St. Jacques, drowsy from his efforts, falls asleep, the mists gather, and he is thereupon whirled back to....India 1887. The good captain has been reduced to the rank of sergeant, but somehow that pleases him, and he begins to reflect:

Smokin’ my pipe on the mountings, sniffin’ the mornin’ cool,
I walks in my old brown gaiters along o’ my old brown mule,
With seventy gunners be’ind me, an’ never a beggar forgets
It’s only the pick of the Army that handles the dear little pets—‘Tss! ‘Tss!
For you all love the screw-guns, an’ the screw-guns they all love you!
So when we call round with a few guns, o’ course you will know what to do—hoo! hoo!
Jest send in your Chief an’ surrender—it’s worse if you fights or you runs:
You can go where you please, you can skid up the trees, but you don’t get away from the guns!

[From the always inimitable Rudyard Kipling—‘oo else!—and his poem, “Screw-Guns”]


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