MARKING THE ROLE OF HORSES DURING WAR - Tuesday, 3 June 2014

A First World War 18-pounder, quick-firing field gun makes its first public appearance following its complete restoration and overhaul during the Weald and Downland Museum’s Horses at War event this weekend (June 7 and 8).

Royal Armouries will be showcasing the gun and its limber – now restored to its original First World War colours – courtesy of Robert Sampson and his splendid horses, along with a detachment of volunteers from Ubique Right of the Line.

The “living history” event commemorates the centenary of the outbreak of the First World War, as well as the 70th anniversary of the D-Day Landings. For more event information, please visit www.wealddown.co.uk

Part of Royal Armouries’ national collection, this gun is no stranger to publicity and was used in Neil Jordan’s 1996 film Michael Collins, starring Liam Neeson as the Irish patriot and revolutionary. It has also made several television appearances.

Royal Armouries’ Keeper of Artillery Nicholas Hall said, “We are delighted to be supporting the Weald and Downland Museum event, which promises to give an exciting and innovative look at the role of horses in war.”

He explained, “Artillery was by far the greatest cause of casualties during the First World War: British 18 pounders fired nearly 100 million rounds between 1914 and 1918.”

“The 18 pounder was introduced in 1904, after British experiences during the Boer War revealed that the Army was falling behind in the arms race to produce a true quick-firing gun, vital in modern warfare. The 18 pounder was the result of rapid development combining the best features of designs from Vickers and from the Royal Arsenal, Woolwich.

“It could fire eight rounds per minute and was intended for the rapid action fought largely in the open in South Africa. It was therefore designed to fire only shrapnel shell at troops within sight. The ammunition was ‘fixed’ that is the shell was fixed to the cartridge containing the cordite [propellant] and primer and loaded as one, making it quick to fire. But to be able to fire the sustained barrages of high explosive demanded during the First World War, as the opposing armies dug into their deep trenches, the 18 pounder had to be modified, as in our example, which is dated 1918.
The 18 pounder was one of the most powerful and effective field guns on the Western Front, but also saw service further afield, notably in Mesopotamia.”

The 18 pounder’s overhaul was carried at Fort Nelson, home to one of the world’s finest collections of artillery and guns, from across the ages and from all corners of the globe.

In 2011, this unique heritage attraction underwent a major redevelopment to create a museum for the 21st century, supported by a grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund, complete with new galleries, state-of-the-art education centre and visitor facilities, including a café with views over Portsmouth Harbour.

For more information and the latest news about Fort Nelson and the Royal Armouries:

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Notes to editors

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