mortar battery

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Nazi Germany’s invasion of the Soviet Union which was launched on Sunday 22 June 1941.

At 4:15 June 22, 1941 the German Wehrmacht attacked the Brest fortress with no warning. Attack started by artillery barrage, including 600 mm mortars of the second battery of the Heavy Artillery Battalion 833 Nr. III (“Thor”) and Nr. IV (“Odin”). Defenders were taken by surprise and failed to form a solid front. By 9:00 the fortress was completely surrounded. Most parts of the fortress were taken by the 30 of June. 25 officers and 2877 soviet soldiers were captured, 1877 soldiers and officers died.

Yet despite being stunned by the surprise attack, heavy losses from the initial shelling, shortage of food and ammunition and being cut off from the outside world the remaining Red Army soldiers took a stand in the Citadel of the fortress. Officers families caught up in the Citadel tended to the wounded and even took part in defence effort. Pockets of resistance held until 20 of July. Their sacrifice became a testament to the resilience and courage of Red Army and Soviet people.

On August 8 Hitler and Mussolini visited the fortress. Unprecedented security measures were in place because of fear of Red Army defenders possibly still remain in the fortress. During the visit Hitler picked up a stone off the bride to the Citadel. After the war this stone was found in his workroom.

SELF-PROPELLED GUN OF THE CV90 AMOS (SWEDEN).

120-mm self-propelled gun of the CV90 AMOS (Advanced MOrtar System) is designed to engage the open and in field shelters of the enemy, artillery and mortar batteries, armored vehicles and other targets. Established in 1996 on the basis of the infantry fighting vehicle CV90. In a welded tower with a circular rotation of the steel armor plates equipped with two breech-loading artillery. Able to conduct direct-fire and indirect fire as mines and artillery shells, including managed. Part of the fire control system includes laser rangefinder.

29912 Gunner James Wawn Ambler, 5th Trench Mortar Battery of Prahran, Victoria.

A clerk prior to his enlistment he embarked from Melbourne on board HMAT Aeneas on 3 October 1916.

He was killed in action at Menin Gate, Ypres on 5 September 1917, his 24th birthday and is buried at Ypres Reservoir Cemetery, Belgium.

2S35 “Coalition-SV” — Russian 152 mm self-propelled howitzer divisional managers. Developed in Nizhny Novgorod research Institute “Petrel”. ACS 2S35 intended for destruction of tactical nuclear means, artillery and mortar batteries, tanks and other armored vehicles, anti-tank weapons, manpower, air defense and missile defense, command posts, and for destruction of field fortifications, and obstruction of the maneuvers of enemy reserves in the depth his defense.

February 22, 1916 - Main German Blow Lands at Verdun, Colonel Driant is Killed

Pictured - A German shock trooper takes cover next to several French corpses in a ruined trench.

For a brief period on the morning of February 22, the French held the initiative at Verdun.  In a magnificent display of ingrained élan, the remnants of French front line battalions attacked to try and recapture ground that had been lost yesterday, the first day of the Battle of Verdun.  Officers led the charge with drawn sabers. Almost all these attacks failed, wrecked by German batteries, which for their part were directed by aerial reconnaissance 168 airplanes overhead.  The French artillery did take some vengeance for its losses the day before, however, by hitting German positions with a phosgene gas shell of their own.

Behind the lines, the French opened a supply line to Verdun from Bar-le-Duc.  Soon, trucks carrying munitions and troops were zooming down the road, feeding the flames of the battle.  Soon the road became known as La Voie Sacrée, the Sacred Way, the defense of which was vital to the battle.

The Germans hardly took this laying down.  On the 22nd the main blow of their operation began.  Again, a withering artillery barrage smashed what was left of the French positions from yesterday.  Unlike on the 21st, the infantry attack this time was a mass assault, penetrating the French lines.  The Germans deployed 96 flamethrowers to help the attack, which were brought up to burn out the most stubborn French positions. 

The French fought back tooth-and-claw, cutting deep holes into the advancing German ranks.  Steadily, however, their machine guns were knocked out one-by-one, while German planes directed close-range mortar batteries to smash their trenches with aerial torpedoes, and gaps in the French line became harder and harder to plug, while hundreds of heavy shells rained down on the tiny villages that were interspersed along the French line.  On the 22nd, the German VII Reserve Corps captured the village of Haumont, driving a dangerous wedge into the French positions.  Haumont, and many of these other villages, were never re-inhabited after the war, due to thousands of tons of unexplored munitions still trapped underneath.  Today their sparse ruins are a monument to one of the First World War’s worst and longest battles. 

In the Bois des Caures, a couple hundred chasseurs from Émile Driant’s two regiments still hung on.  After enduring another artillery barrage, the whole weight of the German XVIII Corps went forward in waves 500 meters apart to clear them out.  Again and again, Driant’s skillfully selected defenses blasted apart German attacks, the landsers picked off without any idea where they were being fired at from  But the odds were too great.  The French were wiped out peace-meal as they ran out of ammo and resorted to rocks and rifle butts.

Driant watched the fall of his front from a secondary position several hundred meters back. Perhaps eighty or so of his men were left, the survivors of eight platoons.  Many of them called out to their captain, imploring him to take cover as he stood in the open, watching the battle.  “You know very well they’ve never hit me yet!” he replied.  But soon it became clear the positions was no longer tenable; German infantrymen were spotted swinging in from the flanks, trying to get behind and cut off a retreat. 

Driant burnt his papers, gathered his men, and hopped off to try and escape.  In three groups, they dashed from shell hole to shell hole.  Driant stopped to aid a man who who hit.  Suddenly, he threw his arms into the air and cried out as a rifle bullet hit him.  “Oh! Là, mon Dieu!  A Sergeant came to help him, but he was already dead.

Driant and his men payed for the French General Staff’s mistake of stripping Verdun’s defenses.  But in a way, Driant’s martyr’s death may have been lucky.  Driant was almost guaranteed a court martial for his constant (though correct) nagging of superiors, and his death made him an instant hero of France’s great new struggle for survival.  Moreover, the colonel and his men had died hard, inflicting 500 casualties on the initial German waves, the heaviest enemy loss of the first week. 

By the end of the day, the Germans had pushed further towards Verdun.  However, many of them, used to fighting Serbs who often broke more easily, were frustrated at the tough opposition they came up against.  The French artillery fought as hard as the infantry, but its could not see its targets through the smoke, and had to content itself by firing at old, known, targets, which was not much help to French infantry desperately sending off rockets calling for support.

German artillery fire steadily whittled down French guns one-by-one.  Gunners took harsh losses, and horses, unable to take cover, suffered even worse.  One French 160-mm naval gun, crewed by sailors, spent all day in a David and Goliath fight versus a massive 380mm German siege gun.  The Germans’ massive shells eventually completely dislodged the French gun from its rock emplacement, but the steadfast sailors managed to get it up and running again for a while before another shell took it out of action.  Rhey retreated to a nearby trench and waited for the infantry attack.  However, their ancient 1874 black-powder rifles gave away their positions with puffs of smoke, and they had to retreat again.  Incredibly, they managed to counterattack twice and recover their gun, destroying its breach block so it could not be re-used before finally retreating.

Father and son Walter and Billy Chibnall, 1916.

Private Walter Henry Chibnall, 10th Light Trench Mortar Battery, with his son, William “Billy” Chibnall. Walter enlisted 15 Mar 1916, and was promoted to Corporal in Sept 1917. He was KIA in Belgium 12 Oct 1917 at 32 yrs old.

Billy Chibnall enlisted in WW2 serving in the 2/21st Battalion. He was taken POW and died at age 30 at Ambon, 20 Feb 1942.
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