Damaged Stokes 3 inch mortar barrel : 6 Australian Light Trench Mortar Battery, AIF

Place Europe: France, Warloy
Accession Number RELAWM00768
Collection type Technology
Object type Artillery
Physical description Paint, Steel
Location Main Bld: First World War Gallery: Western Front 1918: Villers Bretonneaux
Place made United Kingdom: England
Date made 1917
Conflict First World War, 1914-1918

3 inch Stokes mortar barrel. The barrel is made from ordnance steel and has been split into six longitudinal distorted lengths where the mortar shell prematurely detonated. The barrel is painted black. Markings - STOKES HOWITZER MARK 1, SN 1992; ROVER COMPANY; 11/4/17.

History / Summary

This damaged Stokes 3 inch trench mortar barrel was collected by the Australian War Records Section at Ville-sur-Ancre, south west of Dernancourt in France on 15 June 1918. The barrel shows the damage caused by a premature exploding 3 inch Stokes bomb. In May 1918 the 6th Brigade attacked the village and captured it from the Germans. While at Ville-sur Ancre on 15 June two men from 6 Australian Light Mortar Battery were killed when firing this Stokes mortar. They were Privates James Edwin Ashton and William Stewart McGhee. Private Ashton was a 21 year old labourer when he enlisted on 13 September 1916 and trained with 55 Battalion at Liverpool Camp, NSW. He transferred to 6 Australian Light Trench Mortar Battery (ALTMB ) and embarked with them aboard RMS Osterly on 10 February 1917, arriving at Plymouth in April. He spent a year in England, before embarking for France in April 1918. Private McGhee was a 19 year old storeman when he enlisted on 4 January 1916. He embarked overseas on board RMS Malwa on 21 March 1916 with the 11th reinforcements of 24 Battalion. After training in England he arrived in France in September 1916. He was attached to 6 ALTMB on 12 May 1917 before being transferred permanently to the unit on 25 April 1918. Both men were recorded as being killed on 14 June, but for reasons not noted this was later amended to 15 June. They were buried in isolated graves on a track between Ville-sur-Ancre and Morlancourt. In 1920 their remains were exhumed and reinterred at Beacon British Cemetery at Sailly Laurette, 6 kilometres south of Ville-sur-Ancre.