Monday, September 1, 2008

[Image] 25 Pounder at the Australian War Memorial

August, 2008. Australian War Memorial

The 25 Pounder Heavy Field Gun.

A British 25 Pounder Heavy Artillery piece is as returned from service with the 9th Division in the Western Desert Campaign. This actual gun was used during the Battle of El Alamein in the attack that stopped Rommel's final drive across North Africa and is on public display at the Australian War Memorial at Canberra, Australia.

It sits on a heavy steel base plate that acts as a means with which to anchor and turn the gun on uneven ground, like the sand or rock of the Western Desert. It fires the standard commonwealth High Explosive charge but was also capable of firing Armour Piercing, Chemical, Smoke and Flare rounds. This gun is said by many to be the best artillery piece of the Second World War, though there are just as many supporters of the German 88mm.

The 25 Pounder was the standard artillery piece of both the Royal Australian Artillery as well as the Royal Horse Artillery, the British Artillery Regiment, that aided the Australian Infantry with the defence of Tobruk during the siege by the Afrika Korps in 1941.

Several of these guns, along with countless crates of ammunition, were captured by the Germans at Mersa Matruh in Rommel's rapid advance towards Alexandria in 1942. These same guns were turned upon the 2/48th Infantry Battalion during the Battle of El Alamein with devastating effect. The 2/48th retook the guns within a short period of time and again set them upon the fleeing Germans.

All accounts from Tobruk that I have read all say that without the support of the Royal Horse Artillery the Siege of Tobruk would have been over very quickly. Tobruk was the perfect example of Australian Infantry and British Cavalry and Artillery working as one cohesive unit.

image courtesy of Robert Snewin. Used with permission.

This post is a direct reponse to the question asked by Douglas Chan who wanted to know what were the Royal Horse Artillery guns used during the Siege of Tobruk. I hope this helps Douglas. Good luck with your project!

1 comment:

Doug said...

Hello Tim!
Thank you for your deatailed reply which again helped me on my project greatly.It was just what i needed.
Good job!
Another question though:
Loking back at the map of Tobruk, is there a reason why theses Artillery were placed where they were?