Field gun competition

Field gun competition

The field gun competition also referred to as Gun Run or the Gun Run was held annually at the Royal Tournament in London from 1907 to 1999, and was contested by teams from the Royal Navy. After the demise of the Royal Tournament, the Brickwoods field gun competition was revived as a naval contest: it was won for the first time by an Army team (from 7 Air Assault Battalion REME) in June 2005. Berkshire.


The origins of the field gun competition lie in the Second Boer War in South Africa. The legendary story tells of the siege of the British garrison in the township of Ladysmith in 1899. In support of the British Army, the Royal Navy landed guns from HMS "Terrible" and "Powerful" to help in the relief of the siege. The Naval Brigade transported guns over difficult terrain and brought them into action against the Boers.

The Royal Navy landed two 4.7 inch guns and four 12-pounder field guns. The guns were transported inland by rail and then drawn on makeshift carriages by oxen. For the final part of the journey, sailors from the Naval Brigade manhandled the guns over very difficult terrain. One story tells of sailors carrying one of the 12 pounder guns for 2 miles after one of the wheels collapsed.

The siege of Ladysmith lasted for 120 days until February 1900. On their return home, the sailors from the Naval Brigade paraded their guns through London and appeared at the Royal Naval and Military Tournament at the Agricultural Hall, Islington. Displays of Field Gun drill continued in subsequent years.

The Interport Field Gun competition was established in 1907 and was a highlight of the Royal Tournament until the Last Run in 1999.

The competition

The field gun competition was contested by teams from the Royal Naval commands of Portsmouth, Devonport and the Fleet Air Arm (although teams from Chatham and the Royal Marines have also competed). At each performance of the Royal Tournament, two crews competed to transport a 12 pounder field gun and limber over a series of obstacles.

From the start line in front of the Royal Box, the crews pulled the guns and limbers to the end of the arena where they turned and carried themselves and the equipment over a 5 foot wall. The guns and limbers were then dismantled and carried to the top of a ramp on the "home side" of a 28 ft "chasm". The crew set up a wire and traveller so all 18 members of the crew and their equipment could cross the chasm. The team and equipment then passed through a hole in the "enemy wall" at the end of the arena. Each crew then fires three rounds to end the "Run Out". The average time for the "Run Out" was 85 seconds.

The second part of the competition (the "Run Back") involved the crews taking all their equipment back over the 5 ft enemy wall and then back across the chasm. Once all the crew and equipment were back on the home side of the chasm, the wire and traveller were dismantled and three more rounds were fired in a rear guard action. The average time for the "Run Back" was 60 seconds.

In the final stage, the "Run Home", men, guns and limbers passed back through the hole in the home wall and then the teams "hook up and pull for home". The clock was stopped as the teams crossed back over the start line. The average time for the "Run Home" was 21 seconds.

External links and references

** [] - Information Website
* [ Portsmouth v's the Fleet Air Arm] Video of the"Last Run" at the Royal Tournament in 1999. Note the unofficial black armbands worn by all the team members to mourn the end of the historic competition.
* [ "Runnin with 3/4 of a soddin ton"] A video of Portsmouth Field Gun Teams Training in the 1970s. Shot at HMS "Excellent" on Whale Island in Portsmouth Harbour
* [ Portsmouth Action Field Gun] Photos and Video
* [ Field Gun 100 Festival] Royal Navy website to mark the 100th anniversary of Field Gun in 2007
* [ Portsmouth Field Gun Association]
* [ Devonport Field Gun Association]
* [ Fleet Air Arm Field Gun Association]
* [ Portsmouth Action Field Gun 2001]
* [ Field Gun - A Century of History]
* [ Field gun runs] (Royal Naval Museum, Information Sheet No. 28)
* [ Manchester Field Gun Association]
* [ COMMAND100 - Centenary of Inter Command Field Gun]
* [] - Information Website

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