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Secret terror weapon of the Somme battle

 
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Percy Toplis



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BerichtGeplaatst: 09 Mei 2010 14:49    Onderwerp: Secret terror weapon of the Somme battle Reageer met quote

Secret terror weapon of the Somme battle 'discovered'
Jasper Copping, 09 May 2010

Unleashed at the start of the Battle of the Somme, it produced a terrifying effect the like of which had never before been seen on a battlefield.

From a small, concealed nozzle on the surface, the "weapon of terror" spewed flames over a range of 300 feet. As the nozzle pivoted, the jet raked along the German front line, pouring blazing oil onto the enemy position.

Four of these vast, top secret weapons were assembled in shallow tunnels beneath the mud of no-man's-land to be deployed on the first day of the Somme battle, on July 1 1916.

Two were destroyed by German shells in the build-up to the attack and could not be operated. Two others were deployed on the morning of the assault and were credited with helping the British in those areas to capture the German trenches with comparatively few losses.

But despite their success, their contribution to the ill-fated offensive has been largely forgotten.

Now, however, a team of historians and archaeologists believe they have found the last remaining machine, still buried beneath the mud of northern France.

This week they are to start digging for the device with the hope of removing and preserving it.

Peter Barton, a historian and author involved in the project, said: "The idea was to fill the enemy with terror. It was a weapon, not of mass destruction, but of mass terror, pure and simple. The idea was to force the Germans to keep their heads down long enough for your infantry to cross no-man's-land.

"They were meant to scare the Germans. It didn't kill that many people. The idea was just to make them so frightened of this horrific thing. The effect of the flame was utterly stupendous. Where they were used, the British captured the German lines with very little loss at all."

Built at a factory in Lincoln, the devices were called Livens Large Gallery Flame Projectors, after their inventor, William Howard Livens, an officer in the Royal Engineers.

To the men who operated them, the 56ft long, 2.5 tonne machines were called "Squirts", and "Judgements", by more senior officers.

Of all the experimental weapons deployed in the First World War, including tanks, gas shells and aircraft, few had greater impact on their first use, and yet none have remained so little known or as secret.

They were operated by a crew of eight men from the Royal Engines Special Brigade – "Z" company – but took 300 men to assemble them underground, each component part being taken into the shallow tunnels, known as "Russian Saps", in sequence. The devices then had to be filled with oil, taken underground in hundreds of cans.

The strange-looking, tubular weapons were only 14 inches wide and worked like a large syringe. A piston was pushed by compressed gas into a long chamber containing the fuel. This was then forced out through the nozzle on the surface, from where the jet of flame was projected.

For all the hours they took to assemble, the devices could only be fired three times, with each blast lasting only ten seconds.

The team involved in the recovery operation, which includes members of Glasgow University's Archaeological Research Division (GUARD), is confident it has located one of the four, at Montagne de Cappy, just south of Mametz, by studying private diaries, trench maps, mine plans, aerial photographs and official accounts of the battle.

They have also conducted geophysical studies of the site, using ground penetrating radar, which have indicated the presence of metallic objects, thought to be the remains of the weapon.

They are to start digging next week and expect the project to last three weeks. While excavating the sap, the team also have to scan for possible unexploded ordnance in the area, and are also mindful of the possibility of finding human remains. The buried Livens projector is thought to be the only remaining machine left in existence.

According to a war diary entry, it was "lost beyond recall" on June 28 – two days before the battle commenced – when a German shell collapsed the sap onto in.

Another one damaged in shelling was stripped of salvageable parts for spares. The other two, which fired successfully, were later removed.

Although some were provided to the Russians, after the Somme, the weapon was only deployed once more by the British, in 1917 during an offence near Diksmuide, in Belgium.

As part of a television programme, for Channel Four's Time Team and the History Channel, the team are also planning to construct a new Livens Large Gallery Flame Projector, to test the technology and recreate its terrifying impact.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/newstopics/howaboutthat/7697251/Secret-terror-weapon-of-the-Somme-battle-discovered.html
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BerichtGeplaatst: 09 Mei 2010 15:12    Onderwerp: Reageer met quote

Zie ook http://forumeerstewereldoorlog.nl/wiki/index.php/Livensprojector
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Percy Toplis



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BerichtGeplaatst: 13 Jun 2010 17:10    Onderwerp: Reageer met quote

Last WWI flamethrower may be found in France

The British produced only four top-secret Livens Large Gallery Flame Projectors to deploy at the Battle of the Somme. They were huge, complex flamethrowers that shot a 300-foot flame across the German lines. The aim wasn’t to kill so much as terrorize, to chase the enemy away from the front line and clear some space for the British troops to occupy German positions. It almost worked.

Two of the four were destroyed under German shelling before the battle began, but on July 1, 1916, the first day of the Somme, the two remaining flamethrowers were deployed and did what they were expected to do: scare the crap out of the German front line troops allowing the British to move in on the German trenches in the area with comparatively few losses.

Obviously that small initial advantage didn’t make much of a difference in the long term. The weapons were so absurdly oversized that they were hardly portable, and even if they could have been moved easily they could only be used for three 10-second blasts each.

To the men who operated them, the 56ft long, 2.5 tonne machines were called “Squirts”, and “Judgements”, by more senior officers. [...]

They were operated by a crew of eight men from the Royal Engines Special Brigade – “Z” company – but took 300 men to assemble them underground, each component part being taken into the shallow tunnels, known as “Russian Saps”, in sequence. The devices then had to be filled with oil, taken underground in hundreds of cans.

The strange-looking, tubular weapons were only 14 inches wide and worked like a large syringe. A piston was pushed by compressed gas into a long chamber containing the fuel. This was then forced out through the nozzle on the surface, from where the jet of flame was projected.


Despite their limited but notable success on the battlefield and the incredible drama of their deployment, these weapons remained very little known. Now a team of archaeologists and historians believe they’ve located the remains of the last Livens Large Gallery Flame Projector under the mud of Montagne de Cappy in northern France.

The device was noted in a war diary as “lost beyond recall” on June 28th after the tunnel it was in collapsed under German shelling. The team studied the war diaries, private diaries, trench maps, other primary sources to narrow down its possible location, plus ground penetrating radar found evidence of metallic objects which could be the Livens projector. Of course, it could also be any number of other World War I ordnance, so when they dig in the area next week, they’re going to have to be extra careful.

If it does turn out to be the flamethrower, this would be the only one left in the world. The British only deployed one more in 1917 in Belgium. They did give a few to the Russians, but those are long gone in the chaos of revolution.

http://www.thehistoryblog.com/archives/5849
Zie ook http://thedrawncutlass.blogspot.com/2010/05/last-wwi-flamethrower-found.html
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donjoneke



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BerichtGeplaatst: 14 Jun 2010 18:12    Onderwerp: Reageer met quote

werd ook door de romeinen gebruikt (kannen met olie weliswaar)
maar mischien de hele primetieve voorloper ervan
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derwisj



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BerichtGeplaatst: 14 Jun 2010 18:29    Onderwerp: Reageer met quote

De byzantijnen gebruikten in de middeleeuwen reeds vlammenwerpers op hun schepen...met een installatie werd grieks vuur op andere schepen gesproeid...dit brandde zelfs op het water...en de samenstelling was zo geheim dat men zelfs nu nog niet weet wat het eigenlijk was; het zou ontbranden aan de lucht, zonder ontsteker...
pascal
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BerichtGeplaatst: 14 Jun 2010 19:14    Onderwerp: Reageer met quote

Fosfor?
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the beno



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BerichtGeplaatst: 14 Jun 2010 19:22    Onderwerp: Reageer met quote

Ontbranden met lucht? Konden ze toen al producten vacuum bewaren en vacuum produceren Confused
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BerichtGeplaatst: 14 Jun 2010 20:39    Onderwerp: Reageer met quote

Misschien was het een vloeistof in twee verschillende componenten, die in de schietbuis gemengd werden en dan hun brandbare eigenschappen pas kregen?
Ik zeg het, niemand weet het, maar er zijn getuigenissen overgebleven van mensen die het gezien hebben...
Nog wat hilarisch is, dat tijdens het beleg van 1453 door de turken geen enkele byzantijn nog de formule wist...zou nochtans een goed wapen geweest zijn om de turkse blokkade op te heffen...
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BerichtGeplaatst: 14 Jun 2010 21:10    Onderwerp: Reageer met quote

en het "grieks vuur" ???
ook verdwenen in het schemer van de geschiedenis...
dit belooft een lichtend topic te worden.. Smile
grtz,MMM
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Price of Glory



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BerichtGeplaatst: 14 Jun 2010 21:20    Onderwerp: Reageer met quote

Hier is er ook iets over te vinden, zelfs een plaatje !

http://hardpapier.blogspot.com/2010/06/reuzenvlammenwerper.html
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BerichtGeplaatst: 16 Jun 2010 11:25    Onderwerp: Reageer met quote

the beno @ 14 Jun 2010 20:22 schreef:
Ontbranden met lucht? Konden ze toen al producten vacuum bewaren en vacuum produceren Confused


Je kan het ook gewwon onder een vloeistof bewaren he'...Zoals Fosfor.
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den Korrigann



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BerichtGeplaatst: 11 Jul 2010 10:50    Onderwerp: Reageer met quote

In het boek "De Somme" van Peter Barton komt die vlammenwerper ruim aan bod, met foto's, schetsen en een grondige uitleg. (vanaf blz.165 in de Nederlandstalige versie).
Het ontvlambare ingrediënt bestond uit een mengsel van lichte en zware olie en werd aangedreven door gedeoxigeneerde, samengeperste lucht in rijen cilinders achter het toestel. De ontbranding gebeurde door automatische aanstekers. In geval van falen van die aanstekers, was in de schacht een soldaat voorzien met een brandende toorts die het mengsel dan handmatig tot ontbranding moest brengen.
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BerichtGeplaatst: 12 Jul 2010 8:04    Onderwerp: Reageer met quote

Mij lijkt het een opgeblazen verhaal, als het allemaal zo spectaculair was waarom kom ik dit niet tegen in de verslagen van Graves, Sassoon, Junger, Richardson etc etc ? Lijkt eerder een probeersel wat geen vervolg heeft gekregen.
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BerichtGeplaatst: 18 Jul 2010 0:38    Onderwerp: Reageer met quote

Het is natuurlijk wel een stationair wapen en behoorlijk geavanceert.
Waarschijnlijk was de conclusie dan ook dat het niet erg handig was aan het front.
Het is een wapen dat veel tijd, geld, materiaal en energie kost en maar een zeer klein stukje front beslaat.
Misschien was het wel goed voor een statiesche verdedigingslinie....
In wo2 zie je wel een dergelijk wapen op een Sherman (vooral in de Pacific).
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BerichtGeplaatst: 18 Jul 2010 17:47    Onderwerp: Reageer met quote

De britten haddenin WOII ook soortgelijke wapens voor de kustverdediging...buizen gingen een eind het water in, waar dan de vlammenwerper ontstoken werd om duitse landingsschepen te vernielen...
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BerichtGeplaatst: 22 Aug 2010 19:27    Onderwerp: Reageer met quote

Foto:

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BerichtGeplaatst: 23 Aug 2010 11:25    Onderwerp: Reageer met quote

Remains of secret WWI flamethrower found in Somme

KENT NEWS; Evidence of a long-forgotten British secret weapon aimed at shortening the war in the trenches is gradually coming to light along the Somme Valley in northern France – scene of unimaginable slaughter in 1916.

Parts of a giant flamethrower, which would have engulfed the German World War One frontline in a blistering inferno, have been unearthed by archaeologists who now believe they can pin-point the exact location of the massive weapon, which still buried under tonnes of earth.

It was destroyed by German shellfire before it could ever be used – and three similar weapons were never deployed in action.

Royal Engineers, based at Chatham, had designed the device that could hurl 1,000 gallons of burning oil at the enemy.

But it needed more than 300 men to manoeuvre it into position along the British lines.

And it was while this was being done that German shelling – purely coincidentally – hit the working parties.

Troops ran for cover, abandoning the flamethrower which was buried as the ground erupted amidst the carnage of exploding shells.

French historian Frederick Hadley, who is curator of a museum specialising in the Battle of the Somme in the town of Peronne, said parts of the ‘First World War: Shock and Awe’ weapon had come to light recently.

“This flamethrower had been known about via military records but no physical evidence had ever emerged as to its location,” he said.

“It was supposed to go into action on July 1, 1916 – the opening day of the Battle of the Somme, near the village of Mametz.

“But as it was being bought into the line shellfire dropped on the troops bringing it into position – and it needed 300 of them.

“As the soldiers tried to get away from the explosions the device was abandoned and buried as the ground was churned over and over by the shells.

“There had been reports of the incident but no actual artefacts recovered – until now.

“Excavations of top soil have recovered the valves which would have regulated the flow of oil to be ignited – but the main hose has never been found.

“However, archaeologists think they know where it is and are seeking for help in the form of finance and the necessary earth movers to bring it to light.”

The secret weapon was developed by the Royal Engineers and the man at the front charged with its deployment was a major called William Livens.

The fuel would have been ignited as it left the nozzle of the hose and projected towards the German lines – around 100 yards away.

Mr Hadley said: “If it had ever have been used it would have literally resulted in a wall of fire descending on the German trenches. The result would most likely have been utter panic.”

The flames would also have resulted in oxygen being sucked into the fire, suffocating German soldiers who had taken cover in underground bunkers and previously secure dugouts.

But because of its unwieldiness, the number of men needed to operate it and the destruction of the prototype the three similar weapons being produced were never deployed.

POSTED: 25/07/2010, http://www.kentnews.co.uk/kent-news/Remains-of-secret-WWI-flamethrower-found-in-Somme-newsinkent37993.aspx?news=local
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