Minenwerfer

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The German Minenwerfer or mine thrower was a trench mortar used during the First World War with a high trajectory so that shells could be lofted in the air and descend on trenches and fortifications from above.  They were produced in three sizes:

  • Leichter Minenwerfer – 7.58 cm
  • Mittierer Minenwerfer – 17 cm
  • Schwerer Minenwerfer – 25 cm

 

Ours is a 7.58-cm leichtes Minenwerfer neuer Art (7.58-cm leMW), Serial Nr. 48187.  It weighs 147 kg and fires a 4.6 kg shell to between 300 and 1,300 metres.  It is mounted on a circular platform which allows 360° traverse and it can elevate from 45° to 78°.  There are hydraulic cylinders on each side of the barrel to absorb the recoil and a spring recuperator mounted on top to return the barrel to firing position.  With the 90 kg trail to absorb the recoil, it can be used as a direct-fire anti-tank weapon from 0° to 27°.  It used a crew of five or six men and could be pulled on the wheels or carried.

Our example was captured by the 7th Battalion (1st British Columbia), 2nd Canadian Infantry Brigade, 1st Canadian Division, Canadian Expeditionary Force, West of Villers-lès-Cagnicourt, France, about thirty kilometres north-east of Beaumont-Hamel, on 2 Sep 1918, during an assault on the Hindenburg Line in the Battle of Drocourt-Quéant (Second Battle of Arras).  During that battle, the Canadian Corps suffered eleven thousand casualties, killed, wounded or missing, and seven Victoria Crosses were awarded.

The minenwerfer was donated to Branch 154 in 2016 by Nick DeGelder (1945-2002) and initially placed on the front lawn and later moved to a concrete pad by the front doors.