WW1 Artillery


Could any of you help me with research on my great grandfather who served in WW1. There are no relatives to assist me in this task unfortunately. No army number or regiment unfortunately, only things i've got are his name and DOB and the fact that he served on a railway mounted gun carriage. My father swears that he remembers him being told that his granfather told him it was called Big Bertha (the gun carriage)
I was always under the impression that Big Bertha was German.
Any help would be much appreciated.


War Hero
Correct. Big Bertha was German, named after the makers wife.
Something in your family past that your dad isn't letting on? :wink:
Big Bertha was a German Gun - note, a gun, not a type of gun. It was used in the early sieges of Belgian forts in WW1 and took days to assemble. I'm sure you can google further info as quickly as I.

Big Bertha has occasionally been misused to denote any special long-range piece - including those railway-mounted pieces firing on Dover from France in WW2.


Why not visit the "Firepower" museum in Woolwich, or make some enquiries via their website? Since there were so few big guns in RA service, there are probably reasonable records about the units that manned them.

There is a railway gun still sitting next to the Rotunda in Woolwich, though I'm not sure if its WW1 or 2 piece (I was being beasted every time I went past it, so never had an opportunity to read the plaque....).


The 18 inch Railway gun outside the Rotunda (soon to be moved to Larkhill) is on a proof carriage and not a service carriage.
It is WW1 vintage, and eventually ended its service at Shoeburyness.

Try e-mailing the Librarian Paul Evans at Firepower on paule@firepower.gov.uk
Big Bertha assembled - I think the crew were some distance when the firing happened - I presume a lengthy lanyard or electric device ?.

Note the Hannoverian quickstep in the left foreground. Snapshot from an early "Strictly come invading" broadcast


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