Royal Navy Field Gun Postcard

In 1905 Alfred West was keen to promote his new film ‘Our Navy’, a documentary about the contemporary Royal Navy to encourage members of the public to go to the ‘kinema’ and see it. As well as the usual posters and fliers, he also had a series of postcards printed with still images from the film. Sadly it is not clear if any copies of the film survived, however the postcards are relatively common and offer a fascinating snapshot of Edwardian naval life and today we are looking at an example entitled “Getting a 12 Pounder Field Gun over an Obstacle in Record Time”:

The image was clearly taken at an RN base, possibly HMS Excellent, with a large drill shed in the background:

The field gun has been broken down into its constituent parts and the barrel has already been carried across and can be seen on the left:

The trail and wheels have been disassembled and are going across the wall as the photo was taken:

The 12 Pounder was introduced in 1894 and saw service in the Boer War. It was specifically designed for naval landing parties and although it had a shorter barrel and range than other 12 pounders it was a useful field piece. As well as seeing service in Natal in the Boer War, it also saw service ashore in the Great War in East Africa and was used for the Royal Navy’s Field Gun competition for many years. Examples remain in service for ceremonial use by some RCN cadet units in Canada.


  1. This, as you’re aware, still goes on today in the ‘gun run’ competitions that are a part of military tattoos, also as a form of inter-unit competion on a more regular basis.
    It’s a dangerous drill and I’ve seen some serious injuries happen during practices for a tattoo, but so is actual battle and you only learn by doing.

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