THE GREAT WAR 1914-1918
The Gun Carrier Mark I was the first piece of self-propelled artillery ever to be produced.
During 1916 it became clear that in case of a breakthrough, the very purpose of the first tank, the Mark I, artillery would have great trouble following the advancing troops. Any successful offensive would therefore be in danger of stalling immediately. To solve this problem Major Gregg, an engineer working for the main tank producing company Metropolitan, Carriage, Wagon and Finance, proposed to build special mechanised artillery, using parts of the Mark I. The production of a prototype was approved on 5 June 1916; the actual design began in July. The first prototype was ready to participate in the Tank Trials Day at Oldbury on 3 March 1917. An order of fifty vehicles was given to Kitson & Co. in Leeds. Deliveries to the army started in June and ended in July.
The vehicle bore little resemblance to the Mark I. The tracks weren’t tall but low, almost flat. At the back a rectangular superstructure covered the Daimler 105 hp engine together with the transmission of the Mark I, the latter now in a reversed position. Sharing it were the vehicle commander, a mechanic and two gearsmen. The original double tail wheel of the Mark I, intended to aid steering and attached to the rear of the vehicle, was retained. The front was an open area with either a 60-pounder (5-inch) field gun or a 6-inch howitzer.
- GWB-010 — British Gun Carrier, Mark I, with 6-Inch Howitzer, 1st Gun-Carrier
Company, Tank Corps, 6th August 1918.
- GWB-023 — Battle of Amiens, 6th August 1918 – 58th 2/1st London Division, 2
Tommies Unloading Supplies #3.
For transporting the gun only the wheels had to be removed from the gun carriage – these were attached to the side of the carrier until needed again. In theory, the field gun could be fired from the vehicle; in reality only the howitzer could be so used. Alternatively the guns could be unloaded through a pivoting cradle assisted by two winding drums driven by the engine. Above the front of the track frame at each side was an armoured cab for the driver on the left and the brakesman on the right. In the prototype these driving positions were directly in front of the superstructure; moving them forward improved visibility, but made communication very difficult – a problem as, in the Mark I, four men (including the gearsmen) had to cooperate to steer the tank.
In July 1917 two Gun Carrier Companies were formed of 24 vehicles each. Probably none of them ever fired a shot in anger
**PLEASE NOTE, THE GUN CANNOT BE REMOVED TO CREATE A COMPLETE SEPARATE ARTILLERY PIECE.
A SEPARATE 6”HOWITZER ARTILLERY SET WILL BE AVAILABLE IN A FEW MONTHS …ONCE I FINISH THE FIGURES TO ACCOMPANY THE SET.
THE GREAT WAR 1914-1918 – French Army
The French army was manned by conscription , and every 20 year old male was liable for three years’ service. Most men would go into the infantry, and these were men primarily from an agricultural background, with those who had worked on railways, public works, shipyards and telecommunications going into the artillery.
Infantry Regiments were created on a local basis, similar to the British Pals battalions.
The peacetime army had a strength of 817,000 men, augmented on mobilization to 2,944,000.
During the war 7,800,000 men served with the “colours”, about 80% of the population of men eligible to fight.
Water was scarce in the front line, and the growing of facial hair led to the nickname “Poilu” (hairy one). The traditional nickname of the infantry was “Les Biffins” (the rag and bone men), initially to each other they were “Les bonhommes” (the lads), or as the war drew out, “Les pauvres cons du front” PCDF, (the poor bastards at the front).
- GWF-020 — Battle of Amiens, 6th August 1918 – French Infantry 1917-1918, 123e
Regiment of Infantry, 2 PCDF Standing.