9.2in BL Howitzer Mk 1 (Mother), British

Catalogue number
  • ORD 108
Display status
IWM London
Production date
  • whole: metal
  • whole: Diameter 9.2 in, Weight 10775 kg
Alternative names
  • full name: 9.2in BL Howitzer Mk 1 (Mother), British
  • simple name: gun, howitzer : British
Weapons and ammunition

© IWM (ORD 108)

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Physical description

gun 9.2 inch BL Howitzer Mk I (Mother)

History note

The 9.2 inch howitzer was introduced into service with the British Army in 1914. The barrel on this piece was tested in July 1914 and was the first of its pattern. The prototype howitzer was sent to France in October 1914 and was brought into action by the 8th Siege Battery, RGA at La Couture and was later in action at Nieppe and Warneton. From the February to July 1915 the howitzer was manned bythe 10th Siege Battery , taking part in the battles of Neuve Chapelle and Festubert Up to February 1915 it was the only howitzer of its type in France and was nicknamed "Mother", and was heavily guarded.The Mk I fired a 290 Ib shell up to a maximum range of 10,000 yards. By the end of the war approximately 450 9.2 inch howitzers had been supplied to the British Army Original caption 1: Weapons of this type, intended mainly for the battering of Permanent Fortresses, proved to be of great importance as the War of 1914-18 stabilized into something resembling Siege Operations. The pattern here shown was the first of its kind in the British Army in modern times except for a battery of about four very unsatisfactory weapons purchased from a foreign manufacturer in 1900. With weapons of this class mobility is sacrificed to power and accuracy. The Howitzer and mounting here shown are carried on three special four-wheeled carriages, weighing with their loads over 41 tons each, which are so designed as to form the necessary machinery for the operations of mounting and dismounting. Under normal circumstances, these take thirty-six hours to accomplish. Each carriage can be drawn by twelve heavy draught horses, but mechanical traction is employed normally. The Barrel of the actual piece here shown was the first of its pattern and carried out its firing trials in July, 1914. On the outbreak of war it was intended originally to send it to ANTWERP with the 7th Siege Battery, R.G.A., but fortunately this intention was not carried out and it was sent to France in October, 1914. On the 31st, it was mounted and brought into action at LA COUTURE by the 8th Siege Battery and later was in action at NIEPPE and WARNETON. From February to July, 1915, it was fought by the 10th Siege Battery, taking part in the Battles of NEUVE CHAPELLE and FESTUBERT. It was then returned to England and fired at SHOEBURYNESS till worn out, and was re-lined and re-issued to France in January, 1918. Up to February, 1915, it was the only heavy siege Howitzer of the British Army and was nicknamed " MOTHER." Extraordinary precautions were taken for its safety, an Infantry Guard being provided to keep all unauthorized persons away from it, and an anti-aircraft section to deal with hostile aeroplanes. On the 18th November, 1914, " MOTHER " was visited by H.R.H. THE PRINCE OF WALES. By the end of the war, about 450 of these Howitzers had been supplied to the British Army and over three million rounds of 9.2 inch ammunition were expended in France alone during the war period. The carriage here shown is not the original one, but is of identical pattern. This Equipment (B.L. 9.2 inch Howitzer Mark I.) was introduced into the British Service in 1914. Barrel : of nickel steel, wire construction ; Breech : interrupted screw, pad obturation, friction tube firing; calibre: 9.2 inch; Total Length : 14.51 cals.; Rifling: 56 grooves, twist uniform, one in 15 cals. ; Charges in silk bags : cordite, 10 lbs. 4 oz. to 17 lbs. 2 oz. ; Shell : H.E. 290 lbs. ; Max. Range : Mark I equipment 10,000 yards, Mark 11 equipment 12,700 yards. The carriage has a cylindrical cradle with hydraulic buffer and hydro-pneumatic recuperator with floating piston ; Controlled varying recoil, 40 to 23 inches; Elevation: plus 15° to 50° firing, minus 3° loading; Traverse: 30° right and left; Sighting: rocking-bar and telescope, dial; approximate weight in action, 15 tons. Original caption 2: WAR SERVICES OF THE EXHIBIT. (Registered Number 741—originally E.59S.) Fought by the 8th and IOth Siege Batteries, Royal Garrison Artillery. 1914 July This, the first 9.2 in. Howitzer, carried out firing trials at RHAYADER, and on outbreak of war was left in charge of the local Sergeant of Constabulary owing to there being no time to entrain the howitzer. October - -Brought to 8th Siege Battery, Royal Garrison Artillery, in France, by Captain B. T. STEPHENS, Royal Garrison Artillery, though originally intended to accompany the 7th Siege Battery, Royal Garrison Artillery, to ANTWERP. 31st October - 1st November Mounted by night at LA COUTURE and brought into action as an independent section under Major (afterwards Brigadier-General) G. B. MACKENZIE, Royal Artillery, gaining great reputation by destroying an enemy heavy battery near LORGIES in 8 rounds. 1st and 2nd November Dismounted at night and removed, as the line was not considered securely enough held to allow the howitzer to remain so close to it. 2nd to 4th November. Marched via MERVILLE and BAILLEUL to NIEPPE. The 18-ton tractor sank in the road and as 200 men could not move it, it was abandoned, and the howitzer towed on by a Foden steam ammunition lorry. 5th November Visited by Field Marshal Sir John French, Commander-in-Chief. Mounted at night at NIEPPE. 7th November Opened fire at WARNETON 7th to 24th November Fired occasionally on targets in the vicinity of WARNETON and WYTSCHAETE, ammunition being limited to six rounds a day. "MOTHER" was considered a great curiosity, and an infantry guard was detailed to keep civilians away and an Anti-aircraft section allotted to drive away enemy aeroplanes. 18th November VISITED IN ACTION by H.R.H. THE PRINCE OF WALES, K.G., who photographed the howitzer. 1915 February to June Became part of 10th Siege Battery, Royal Garrison Artillery. Took part in the Battles of NEUVE CHAPELLE and FESTUBERT. 6th July Sent home and fired at SHOEBURYNESS till worn out. In 1917 " MOTHER " was re-lined and re-issued to France, and re-numbered in January, 1918. OFFICERS OF THE 8th SIEGE BATTERY, ROYAL GARRISON ARTILLERY :— Officers Commanding - Major A. H. WEBB ; Captain C. P. G. CAMERON ; Major J. I. LONG. Captain W. R. PORTER. 2nd Lieut. H. P. CHASE. Captain R. B. EDDY. 2nd Lieut. A. D. BROWNE. Ueut. G. M. WHITTAKER. 2nd Lieut. J. G. SCOTT. Lieut. F. MANSFIELD. 2nd Lieut. J. W. MAYHEW. Lieut. A. M. MONCRIEFF. 2nd Lieut. I. M. KIRKWOOD. Lieut. P. A. MILLS. 2nd Leut. B. W. PROSSER. Lieut. R. G. MARTINDALE. 2nd Ueut. J. M. MACNAIR. Ueut. J. KEAY. 2nd Lieut. J. E. BENISON. 2nd Lieut. A. S. SLEIGH. OFFICERS OF 10th SIEGE BATTERY, ROYAL GARRISON ARTILLERY : - Officers Commanding - Major C. W. COLLINGWOOD ; Major J. S. SCARLETT. Captain L. F. COULMAN Lieut. D. A. H. HIRE Captain W. S. WILLIAMS Lieut. F. H. LAWRENCE Captain R. H. WADE-GERY 2nd Lieut. S. A. WARBURTON Captain H. S. THOMPSON 2nd Lieut. J. REDPATH Captain D. A. SANDFORD 2nd Lieut. F. W. WHITE Captain A. H. D. PHILLIPS 2nd Lieut. C. F. K. WATSON Captain B. D. C. TREATT 2nd Lieut. A. D. GROOCOCK Lieut. J. R. CANNERY 2nd Lieut. E. B. BAILEY. Lieut. R. E. DENISON 2nd Lieut. A. PATON. Lieut. C. V. RODGERS 2nd Lieut. F. M, BROWN Lieut. G. R. WILSON 2nd Lieut. R. N. ARMFELT Lieut. W. N. REED 2nd Lieut. A. TRAICE 2nd Lieut. J. H. DICKSON.

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