This week we have an Edwardian picture card of Royal Navy sailors sleeping around a warships gun:This is clearly a posed photograph, but does depict a common event when action was expected, by sleeping next to the gun, a crew could be on hand to fire the weapon within seconds if an enemy ship came into sight.
The gun itself seems to be a small quick firing model, mounted on the waist of the warship:This suggests it is the secondary armament of the ship and was of the light type of weaponry designed to protect a ship from attack by small, fast craft such as torpedo boats. These weapons were designed to fire rapidly and blow these lightly armed attack vessels out of the water before they came close enough to launch torpedoes that could damage or sink the larger ship.
The men are depicted sleeping on the deck covered simply in a blanket each to protect them from the chill of the night:Another sailor stands next to the gun awake and alert. It seems likely that he is representing the member of the gun crew who would remain awake in order to rouse his shipmates if needed:A selection of shells sits on the deck next to the gun:Again these seem to be posed, in reality they would be safely stowed in a ready use locker, far safer than being loose to roll around the deck or be detonated by enemy fire.
Although obviously posed, this is a fascinating and atmospheric image, with a great view of the working parts of the quick firing gun’s breach and elevating gear.