Moving a Gun Barrel Postcard

Manoeuvring a heavy coastal gun into a fort was always a challenging proposition, even more so when the fort was located on cliff tops in more rural parts of the British coastline where there was a lack of good roads leading up to the emplacement. These large coastal guns needed to be taken up narrow and poorly maintained country roads, often with sharp turns and buildings close to the road side and inevitably they attracted a large crowd of both servicemen and civilians to watch the proceedings. Today we have a rather fine postcard of one of these movements, with a gun being taken up a steep and winding country lane:

The gun itself is most likely a 9.2” or 12” gun and it is being carried on a heavy gun drug:

A gun drug was a special carrier for barrels and it had concrete wheels, wrapped in iron rims to hold the enormous weight of the gun barrel. The axles of the drug were articulated to give it maximum manoeuvrability when traversing tight spaces and the drug would be hauled by a heavy duty traction engine which was the only thing in the Edwardian era with the ‘grunt’ to pull the heavy load- the steam and smoke form this engine can be seen behind the barrel.

As expected, the spectacle is of great interest and on the right of the picture three soldiers in service dress can be seen watching the work:

Their comrades on the left are wearing fatigues uniforms, presumably because they are more involved in the movement of the barrel and thus more likely to get their uniform dirty:

Despite all the effort in moving these barrels into coastal forts, very few emplacements ever saw active service or fired a shot in anger and many decades later, most of these barrels would unceremoniously be cut up for scrap as they were hopelessly obsolete by that point.

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