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THOSE WONDERFUL FRENCH GUNS, Issue 15689, 31 December 1914
THOSE WONDERFUL FRENCH GUNS
A LIEUTENANT'S GRAPHIC STORY, j Lieutenant riiixl, of file 30th Regiment! of Artillery attached to tho 3rd French Army, gives nme liiuhly interesting par- j ticulars'ot' the splendid 75mm nun*, which! did so much execution mi Lhr- Aisue ami in j subsequent bailiffs : AVc have had against us the army of the j Kionpi inz, very superior m numbers, and I very well equipped as regards heavy artil- ! Icry and avirtion. This will explain to i you whv. having met, this army on the; north of Loncruyrn, we had to retreat down ! to VaviiiLourt.'jL iittle. to the north of Bar- j le-Duc During this rei.reat. which was! very well conducted, we indicted on the i enemy enormous losses. Our 75mm (3in) : gun has heen quite a marvel, and lias worked wonderfully, elderly on sage of the .River Chiers, passage of the | Meus-o near Dun, at A'arenues, at Cler- i moiit en-Argonno. and also at. Yaubeeourt. ' where one of our explosive shells dropped on a house quit" close to the ono where the Kionprinz was taking his. luncheon. Our: 10v,c.-'t position to the .south was at Marat/,- '. le-Grande. At this time the victory of the' Maine took place, to which wo indirectly, contributed by holding considerable iorces of the Kronprinz. When wo put rip our! 1 wtten- in this last position we received fioir. ilu' general the order to ''resist to the hist extremity," and you know) what j this means in mihlaiy language. In far!-, J we did resist, very well, without too much j loss, and on September 13 the retreat of tiie. Germans on the, Marno involved the j retreat of the Kn.npritiz's army, so thatj wc could again lake the offensive, and march forwaid. You ask mo to report about interest!ri;: opisi.d.'S. I should very much like to do so, but you don't seem to realise what, modem war is. It has been Mid by ;•■ painter thai a mo-dern battlefield' is simply an ordinary landscape where nothing .special [•-, to lie seen but clouds of .-look". It' is quite true, but si ill too vague I'irsf. theio is, prrperly speaking, ic, ;. : Iviicld, hi - aii-e we ale lighting from tho North Sea to Mulhouse; besides, it is hod one battle but a (.eric.-, of battles, lasting sime August 2. 'the guns are constantly run hliug. even during the night ; time. _ ; —Unlimited lluii'.-ui Resistance.— From August 12 to ScpUunlter 25 we, iie:o unable, to undress ourselves; from time to time we (mill lake off our boots,; !hu I bad to keep my boots on for 25 day.- and nights. This seems to i-how thatj kr'nciu csisianre is. so to t-ay. unlimited I I told you heforo that it was impossible! to s<-e anything. This is an absolute ne- ; ce.-.-ity "t modern war. Everything that] .-hows is immediately mown down. It is only i-osL-ible to progress slowly by using j Jnd'ian .- tratageins —that is. by taking a<l ' var iage <»i every uuevenness of ground,! crests, pi-re-en of trees, and so forth. - s o • as to avoid h"iug seen by the enemy; i>3-' sides, one must hide oneselt from aero- i plan.:-. We are always trying to place' our battery under trees, and when they do not exist »•»> fitch from wry long distances branches which we nhue over the. guns ami - .innnuuition .-<> a.s i*> give them the appear- ■ amy of hedges. The Germans arc sending us shrapnels 77mm diameter, of which I will no! speak, because we consider them with tin- greattst contempt ; they are, c-o to say, harmless. They are also presenting , us with some explosive shells 105 mm (-lin), ! 150 mm (6in>, and 2lomm (B.|in; diameter, i This last size is the lilo.-t terrible, ami they; have lie"it nicknamed " (lower pots" by: the foot soldier.-; and "pot-ridge pots" by! th<- ar. illerymen. 'I lie ?10mm shell weigh-; ah-.tit. 'CO kilos, and is loaded with about to'..'.-- ot' breaking powder, .-miliar i" our ■ melinite, but not nearlv so stood. It is' prnb.-ihly .-heddit. 'llio'lOomm shell contains about 800 grammes of the same powder, and the 150 mm shell about skg.-.
- Kifects of JJursting Shed.--Luckily, tli-. so tin-.-,- sorts of projectiles ;uv sent'by means of guns tiring with a. ! , very .ur.ed trajectory, "so that they strike j the" ground with aii initio varying from | 7'>h g to oSdog. They penetrate into the ground, whore they make a conical hole. t!ic dimensions of which vary according to ilic hardness of the ground". The re.-ult : of this is that the greatest part, of the expansive for.-.- is used lor lifting the earth | int.i the shape of a ciuieal mound, pieces of '.viiich are dropped without great force at a distance «>f 2') to 30 metres from tin 1 bursting point. Another lucky tiling for' us is that those nrojoct.ile--, "v!::l.-l they, are dying in the air, make a v.-iy typical screeching noise, so you can gues.; per-frcl-Iv w-11 beforehand wiiether tiie sic-:! which is Hying will or will not drop you:- vicinity. If you think that it •■•■:'. i fall at a ee'ilain distance from yiai, you don't care about it. If vou think that it wilt fall near you. you }i.-ive to lie flat and to wait the "three" possible contingencies, which are as follow: If the. shell falls directly on the man it is (flushed with him. . hecau-'e he is smashed into pieces, which it is i;ot alwavs possible, to put together.-. If the shell .hops at a few yard., distance ; ( idy. you mus: keep Pat, a few seconds. ; Tiii-ii \uil can U'-t at) again, being gener- \ r iI!-.- unscathed,' liec;oi.-e the splinters and stones urn Hying over you. In tin. third : instiiuce. when'the shell drops about 25; to o'j vaid-< distant, you have to use. the sain, flat tactics, but there is a risk of sliehl wounds or contusions, because you: are jn tie- zone of the idunlin;.; splinters. -l)e:if !'"'■ a Day.-- | Person ally. I had at least a dozen shells; hur-lme; at a distance, of less than live : m.-ties: I never got the .slightest scratch.: The shell that was the most uncomfortable ! !■! me hurst at a distance of 3m before! I couid he down. 1 was deaf for the | whole day, and totally tired out, hut on; the following dav I was again unite all j right. The 'effects of these heavy shells; are awful when lh".v are dropping on a| train of ammunition. < hie lulled four j men. wounded three, and put sixteen j horses nut of service. Our projectiles, j speaking only of the 75mm, are much j superior to the Herman ones. We are! shooting with a bullet-shaped shell with a ; distance-limit rocket, and aa exploding! shell with melinite. The first is most • eflicieut against the infantry in the open | country. We have been mowing full sections which were progressing by successive rushes. As regards the shell with
melinite, it reaches the ground under a very sharp angle, ho that it rebounds and bursts and mows down everything in the vicinity. The German prisoners all say that, our little blue gun, 75mm, is " sehr gefahrlich " (most dangerous). 'The same thing can be said about tho 120 mm long gun and the Rimaillio gun, which are firing shells weighing respectively 25 and 40 kilogrammes, whilst tho 75mm gun shell hardly weigh.-) 6 kilogrammes. The only thing wo regret is not having enough of these lieavy guns, at least with us. Would you like to have an idea of the intensity of the firing at certain moment.-? As von know, I am the chief of ammunition'supply for the 12 guns of the group. Consequently my figures are accurate. In Yaubeeourt," between 2 and 5 p.m., we have been using 3,500 projectiles. This is about the maximum consumption that I could state during such a long period, but during a few moments the maximum consumption is still superior, as a 75mm gun can easily fire. 12 shots within 25 .-seconds. Luckily 'we are only firing when we see something worth it, and we are bound, consequently, to stop the fire from time to lime. As a rule the German losses are verv much higher than ours, and therefore I hey must perish.
THOSE WONDERFUL FRENCH GUNS, Issue 15689, 31 December 1914
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