The 15″ Breach Loading gun was the main weapon for many British battleships from 1915 to 1939. It fired a 1,938lb shell out to a range of 33,550 yards and was regarded as the most reliable and accurate battleship main armament of any nation in the First World War. To fire this shell, the guns used cordite charges that were issued in seperate silk bags that were then placed into the gun behind the projectile to propel it forward. These charges were a complex arrangement of cordite, inside a delicate silk bag:
Silk is very fragile and so to help protect the cordite cartridges when they were being handled a rough jute bag was supplied that went around the silk cartridge to protect it until needed:
The fabric of this bag is very rough and it was probably a disposable item. The front of the bag is stenciled with the charge’s designation and indicates that it is a 1/4 charge of cordite for the 15inch breach loading gun and that it weighs 107lb:
The RL letters indicate it was manufactured by the Royal Laboratories. The reverse of the bag has details of the particular lot number for this charge:
This lot number is repeated on the base of the charge bag:
The simple cotton loop handle is presumably to help when manoeuvring the charge bag around and is crudely sewn to the bottom with a couple of reinforcing loops. Further loops are provided near the mouth of the bag:
As the 15″ gun was in service for so long it is hard to be precise as to the date of this charge bag, although the lack of a date makes me think it is earlier rather than later. Regardless of the date of manufacture, it is a rare and unusual find and I find the fact it came from a battleship rather exciting- certainly it is the closest I will get to owning a piece of those magnificent vessels.