French trip wire gun

Place Europe: France, Picardie, Somme, Amiens Harbonnieres Area, Harbonnieres
Accession Number RELAWM00892.001
Collection type Technology
Object type Firearm
Physical description Steel, Wood
Maker Manufacture Fse D’Armes & Cycles de St Etienne
Place made France
Date made c 1913
Conflict First World War, 1914-1918

Cast steel, 12 gauge (20 mm) bore gun with a sprung trigger mechanism designed to be attached to a trip wire. The barrel hinges to one side in front of the trigger mechanism to allow a pinfire 12-gauge cartridge to be inserted; there is a vertical slot at the back of the barrel to accomodate the pin. The following manufacturer's details are cast into the top of the barrel: 'MANAFACTURE FSE D’ARMES/ & CYCLES DE ST ETIENNE'. at the end of the item is cast the word 'DEPOSE' [removal].

The entire assembly is bolted to a block of wood approximately 300 mm x 200 mm x 35mm. Written in faded chalk on the wood near the gun is '49TH'.

History / Summary

French trip-wire gun used to give warning of any interference with wire entanglements and suchlike. A trip wire would have been attached to the hole in a simple spring-loaded trigger at the rear of the barrel. Originally designed in the 1880s as an anti-poaching device, these simple guns usually fired a 12-gauge pinfire cartridge to alert defenders to an impending intrusion. They originally cost from between 4 and 6 francs.

This example was made by an arms and cycle company at St Etienne in France. It was found near Harbonnieres by members of the 49th Battalion on 8 August 1918; the gun had apparently been captured by the Germans from the French.