Broken German wooden propeller, Harbonnieres : 22 Battalion AIF

Place Europe: France, Picardie, Somme, Amiens Harbonnieres Area, Harbonnieres
Accession Number RELAWM00838
Collection type Technology
Object type Aircraft component
Physical description Wood
Maker Mercedes - Daimler Motoren Gessellschaft
Wilhelm Wolff Luftschraubenwerk
Place made Germany, Germany: Berlin
Date made c 1917-18
Conflict First World War, 1914-1918

Wooden two bladed propeller, made from nine x 20 mm-thick laminations glued together and shaped. Massive central hub with 12 cm diameter hole and eight mounting holes drilled through for attaching the backing plate. One blade is complete while the other has shattered about 400mm from the centre of the hub, leaving a ragged end and splits along the laminations. The remaining blade has multiple closed cracks adjacent to the hub, has a smashed tip and split leading edge.

There is a 'Wilhelm Wolff Luftschraubenwerk / WWW / Berlin-Waidmannslust' decal affixed to the outer part of the remaining blade, which is also impressed with the folloing markings, closer to the hub:
NO: 13152
ST 170
and, on the hub, the serial numbers 15070 and 260. An X is impressed adjacent to the bolt hole sitting at 90 degrees to the blades.

Painted onto the blade in gold paint, partially obscuring the transfer, is the following legend: 'Application for the award of this trophy of war German Propeller has been submitted as captured and claimed by 22nd Batt, 6th Bde, 2nd Aust Div, Aust Corps, 4th Army, British Armies in France 15-8-18'.

It appears that the entire propellor and painted legend has been overvarnished at a later stage.

History / Summary

Retrieved when 22 Battalion AIF was holding the lines in the Framerville area just to the east of Harbonnieres on 15 August 1918, after the first phase of the 8 August Offensive had halted briefly for a few days to allow consideration of the next objectives and movements. The battalion's war diary recorded that the day was 'very hot' and 'hostile artillery very active, particularly during the night on support and reserve areas.' No mention is made of the actual discovery of this propeller, but the CO in his summary of the month's operations does praise the men who discovered it; the cooks. He states 'special mention is due to the QM Staff, Transport Section and Battalion Cooks - never before have these branches of our internal life proved themselves so valuable - never before have they been so appreciated.' The cooks note that there was 'no sign of wreckage in the neighbourhood', leading to speculation on the origins of the propeller. Some thought the prop had fallen from a twin engined plane damaged in the air, but this is unlikely as the propeller has been removed from its hub. The damage is consistent with the propeller hitting the ground whilst spinning and is more likely to have been dumped after being replaced. This is one of a number of items salvaged from Framerville by 22 Battalion; see also RELAWM00848 (sign) and RELAWM01831 (shellcase).

The 'PS260 Mercedes' marking indicates this propeller was made suitable for use with a Mercedes 260 hp engine; the D315 indicates diameter.