Page:EB1911 - Volume 01.djvu/917

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866
AMMUNITION

the Martini-Henry ammunition weighed 10lb 10 oz.; the same weight gives 155 with ·303 ammunition (incl. charges), and if a ·256 calibre is adopted the number of rounds will be still greater. It is, relatively, a matter of indifference that the reserves of ammunition include more rounds than formerly; it is of the highest importance that the soldier should, as far as possible, be independent of fresh supplies, because the bringing up of ammunition to troops closely engaged is laborious and costly in lives. The regimental reserves are carried in S.A.A. carts and on pack animals. Of the former each battalion has six, of the latter eight. The six carts are distributed, one as reserve to the machine gun, three as reserve to the battalion itself, and two as part of the brigade reserve, which consists therefore of eight carts. The brigade reserve communicates directly with the brigade ammunition columns of the artillery (see below). The eight pack animals follow the eight companies of their battalion. These, with two out of the three battalion carts, endeavour to keep close to the firing line, the remaining cart being with the reserve companies. Men also are employed as carriers, and this duty is so onerous that picked men only are detailed. Gallantry displayed in bringing up ammunition is considered indeed to justify special rewards. The amount of S.A.A. in regimental charge is 100 rounds in the possession of each soldier, 2000 to 2200 on each pack animal, and 16,000 to 17,600 in each of four carts, with, in addition, about 4000 rounds with the machine gun and 16,000 more in the fifth cart.

Artillery.—The many vehicles which accompany batteries (see Artillery) carry a large quantity of ammunition, and with the contents of two wagons and the limber each gun may be considered as well supplied, more especially as fresh rounds can be brought up with relatively small risk, owing to the long range at which artillery fights and the use of cover. Each brigade of artillery has its own ammunition column, from which it draws its reserve in the first instance.

Ammunition Columns.—An ammunition column consists of military vehicles carrying gun and S.A. ammunition for the combatant unit to which the column belongs. Thus the ammunition columns of a division, forming part of the brigades of field artillery, carry reserve ammunition for the guns, the machine guns of the infantry and the rifles of all arms. Generally speaking, the ammunition column of each of the artillery brigades furnishes spare ammunition for its own batteries and for one of the brigades of infantry. All ammunition columns are officered and manned by the Royal Artillery. They are not reserved exclusively to their own brigades, divisions, &c., but may be called upon to fumish ammunition to any unit requiring it during an action. The officers and men of the R.A. employed with the ammunition column are, as a matter of course, immediately available to replace casualties in the batteries. Teams, wagons and matériel generally are also available for the same purpose. The horse artillery, howitzer and heavy brigades of artillery have each their own ammunition columns, organized in much the same way and performing similar duties. The ammunition column of the heavy brigade is divisible into three sections, so that the three batteries, if operating independently, have each a section at hand to replenish the ammunition expended. The horse artillery brigade ammunition columns carry, besides S.A.A. for all corps troops other than artillery, the reserve of pom-pom ammunition. In action these columns are on the battlefield itself. Some miles to the rear are the divisional and corps troops columns, which on the one hand replenish the empty wagons of the columns in front, and on the other draw fresh supplies from the depots on the line of communication. These also are in artillery charge; a divisional column is detailed to each division (i.e. to replenish each set of brigade ammunition columns), and the corps troops column supplies the columns attached to the heavy, howitzer and horse artillery brigades. The ammunition thus carried includes ordinarily seven or eight kinds at least. S.A.A., field, horse, howitzer and heavy gun shrapnel, howitzer and heavy gun lyddite shells, cartridges for the four different guns employed and pom-pom cartridges for the cavalry,—in all twelve distinct types of stores would be carried for a complete army corps. Consequently the rounds of each kind in charge of each ammunition column must vary in accordance with the work expected of the combatant unit to which it belongs. Thus pom-pom ammunition is out of place in the brigade ammunition columns of field artillery, and S.A.A. is relatively unnecessary in that attached to a heavy artillery brigade. Under these circumstances a column may be unable to meet the particular wants of troops engaged in the vicinity; for instance, a cavalry regiment would send in vain to a heavy artillery ammunition section for pom-pom cartridges. The point to be observed in this is that the fewer the natures of weapons used, the more certain is the ammunition supply. (C. F. A.)

The first projectiles fired from cannon were the darts and stone shot which had been in use with older weapons. These darts (“garros”) had iron heads or were of iron wrapped Shot. with leather to fit the bore of small guns, and continued in use up to nearly the end of the 16th century. Spherical stone shot were chosen on account of cheapness; forged iron, bronze and lead balls were tried, but the expense prevented their general adoption. Further, as the heavy metal shot necessitated the use of a correspondingly large propelling charge, too great a demand was made on the strength of the feeble guns of the period. Stone shot being one-third the weight of those of iron the powder charge was reduced in proportion, and this also effected an economy. Both iron and stone shot were occasionally covered with lead, probably to preserve the interior of the bore of the gun. Cast iron, while known in the 14th century, was not sufficiently common to be much used for the manufacture of shot, although small ones were made about that time. They were used more frequently at the latter part of the following century. Towards the end of the 16th century nearly all shot were of iron, but stone shot were still used with guns called Petrieroes (hence the name) or Patararoes, for attacking weak targets like ships at short range.

1911 Britannica - Case Shot.png

Fig. 2.—Case Shot.

Case shot are very nearly as ancient as spherical shot. They can be traced back to the early part of the 15th century, and they have practically retained their original form up to the presentt date. They are intended for use at close quarters when a volley of small shot is required. With field guns they are not of much use at ranges exceeding about four hundred yards; those for heavy guns are effective up to one thousand yards. In the earlier forms lead or iron shot were packed in wood casks or in canvas bags tied up with twine like the later quilted shot. In the present (fig. 2) type small shot are placed in a cylindrical case of sheet iron, with iron ends, one end being provided with handles. For small guns the bullets are made of lead and antimony—like shrapnel bullets—while for larger calibres they are of cast iron weighing from two ounces to three and a half pounds each.

Grape shot is now obsolete. It consisted generally of three tiers of cast-iron balls separated by iron plates and held in place by an iron bolt which passed through the centre of the plates.

There was also another type called quilted shot which consisted of a number of small shot in a canvas covering tied up by rope. Chain shot, in the days of sailing ships, was much in favour as a means of destroying rigging. Two spherical shot were fastened together by a short length of chain. On leaving the gun they began gyrating around each other and made a formidable missile.

Red-hot shot were invented in 1579 by Stephen Batory, king of Poland. They were used with great effect by the English during the siege of Gibraltar, especially on the 13th of September 1782, when the French floating batteries were destroyed, together with a large part of the Spanish fleet. Martin's shell was a