Right wheel from 17 cm mittlerer Minenwerfer n/a (trench mortar) : Captain G F Lowther, 18 Battalion, AIF

Unit 18th Australian Infantry Battalion
Place Europe: France, Picardie, Somme, Bray Proyart Area, Framerville
Accession Number RELAWM05013.003
Collection type Technology
Object type Artillery Accessory
Place made Germany
Conflict First World War, 1914-1918

Right wheel removed from German 17 cm mittlerer Minenwerfer neuer art (medium trench mortar, new model).

History / Summary

This weapon was one of 13 minenwerfers captured in an arms dump by 18th Battalion AIF between Warfusee and Framerville on 8 August 1918, the so-called 'Black day of the German Army'. The weapon has the text 'E F Lowther' 'BRIGADE' painted on its recuperator cylinder - a reference to Captain George Frederick Lowther, DSO, MC, 18 Battallion, 5 Brigade, who took part in the advance on that day, winning his DSO for his actions. The war diary does not record the capture of this specific weapon.
The medium minenwerfer was introduced into German service around 1912. It was a close infantry support weapon, emplaced very near the front trench lines, and used to deliver a 40 to 50 kg projectile at a high, arcing trajectory at a range of between 300 and 1,600 meters. It had a rate of fire of 30 to 35 rounds per hour.

The minenwerfer was fitted with easily demountable wheels, and could be employed in small emplacements and narrow trenches which would not take a field gun. Far less expensive to make than artillery of a comparable calibre, they were also economical in powder, and could reach targets behind obstacles or reverse slopes, on account of the steep angle of fall of their projectiles. They suffered from the disadvantage of being dangerous to handle, took considerable time to emplace, and because of their proximity to the enemy, they were very hard to supply with ammunition, and could not continue firing from a single place for a long period. Around 1916, in an attempt to increase the range of the weapon, a longer (L/4.5) barrel version was developed. This was known as the "neuer Art" (n.A). Both the older "alter Art" and the n.A were in service at the end of the war, with some 2360 minenwerfers produced in both versions during the War.