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60 Pounder Carriage Field Gun
Robben Island, Western Cape

Date:1918
Type:Military artefact
Status:Extant

 


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Coordinates:
33°47'57.23" S 18°22'23.96" E

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A Carriage Field Gun is a towed weapon, designed to be pulled by animal or vehicle, and capable of either direct or indirect fire. With indirect fire the gun crew aims and fires a projectile without a direct line of sight between the gun and its target, as would happen with direct fire.

The 60 Pounder was a British made 5-inch (127 mm) heavy field gun, designed immediately after the Anglo-Boer War. The Field Gun had a quick firing recoil to prevent the carriage moving when the gun fired. The recoil system was accommodated in two large tubes straddling the barrel and used a hydraulic mechanism to return the barrel to its firing position.

This 60 Pounder Carriage Field Gun is sited on a triangular 'island' on the the axial roadway approach to the Maximum Security Prison with the gun barrel pointing towards Murray's Bay Harbour. It is of British origin, manufactured in 1918 and saw service in WW1 and up to 1940/41 in WW2, while still being used for training until 1944. The original Field Gun Carriage was replaced at some stage with a two wheeled bogie with rubber tyres. This Carriage Field Gun is currently raised on a pair of stacked timber blocks to remove the substantial weight from the four tyres.

Three tally plates remain on this Field Gun - a tally plate being defined as an information plate or label attached to a piece of equipment. The first tally plate reads as follows:

60 PR. B.L. CARR. FIELD
R. C. D. T/1918
WT CRADLE 15 1/2 CWT.
REG. No. C. 1187.

The description '60 PR. B.L. Carr Field' confirms that the gun was Breech Loading and the carriage was designed to handle the recoil forces of a 60 pound round. It is suggested that the acronym 'R.C.D.' used on this Tally Plate refers to the Royal Carriage Department of the British Royal Arsenals. The 'T' over the date is typically a proof mark to confirm that it has been properly proved, tested, accepted and declared fit for purpose and use. The T probably refers to a specific approval authority. The 15 1/2 CWT captures the weight of the Cradle in CWT i.e. Hundredweight.

The second tally plate repeats some of the information on the first tally plate, but also captures the weight of the Carriage in CWT or Hundredweight:

60 PR B.L. CARR: FIELD
T/191[8]
WT CARRIAGE 32 1/2 CWT
REG. No. C. 1187

The third tally plate provides instructions to the crew on preparations for firing and reads as follows:

60 PR. B.L. CARR. FIELD.
CONTENTS – 5 QUARTS.
TO PREPARE FOR FIRING.
______________________________________
ELEVATE THE GUN. REMOVE PLUG A AT FILLING
HOLE IN FRONT AND AIR SCREWS B & C ON TOP
OF TANK AND BUFFER. POUR IN OIL UNTIL IT
FLOWS AT AIR HOLES. REPLACE AIR SCREWS
B & C AND CONTINUE POURING IN OIL UNTIL
THE TANK IS FULL. REMOVE AIR SCREW D AT
FRONT OF TANK AND REPLACE IT WHEN AIR
HAS ESCAPED. REPLACE FILLING PLUG A.

An inscription stamped into the face of the breech with the text following the same circular outline, while not entirely legible, appears to record the following:

B. L. 60P T. O. C. 1918
No. 377

A component of the gun, adjacent to the left hand side of the breech and fabricated from cast iron, has the following inscription in raised letters:

R. C. D.
1918

The Field Gun remains substantially intact but due to the exposed position is suffering from major surface corrosion of some of the metal components.

Text based on transcriptions of both tally plates and information provided by Chris Dooner, September 2019.

Submitted by William Martinson.

These notes were last edited on 2019 11 07