Bomber Command – Origins and Doctrine

Only 15 Fairey Hendons were built, serving with 38 and 115 Squadrons between November 1936 and January 1939. Before the famous early wartime trio of medium and heavy bombers (classified as such by the standards of the time) were to appear – the Whitley, Wellington and Hampden – an assortment of monoplanes appeared, most of which were destined to enter limited production and service. If they served no better purpose, they certainly subsidized the growth and training of both the RAF and the aircraft industry. To these should be added the Fairey Hendon monoplane, whose origins lay in a 1927 Specification but which was eventually rewarded by a token consolation order in the mid-1930s.

During the Second World War Bomber Command flew around 390,000 sorties for the loss of 8,953 aircraft on operational missions; that number does not include another almost 1,400 that crashed in the UK whilst airborne on an operational mission. The cost in aircrew lives was over 47,000, to which must be added those killed in accidents or training – a further 8,000 plus; it is generally accepted that the total of lives lost is around 55,000. What did the six years of the bombing offensive achieve? Supporters and critics were active at the time and in the 60 years since the end of the war the argument has raged even more fiercely. As with all history the benefits of hindsight and access to previously classified documentary sources has to be balanced by the researcher’s removal in time and context from the period under study. To understand truly decisions, policies, actions and attitudes is all but impossible.

It seems appropriate to open this overview with a few words from the most famous of Bomber Command’s leaders, Sir Arthur Harris: ‘There are no words with which I can do justice to the aircrew under my command. There is no parallel in warfare to such courage and determination in the face of danger over so prolonged a period.’ These words from Bomber Command’s wartime leader, Air Marshal Arthur T. Harris are a fitting tribute to the sacrifice made by the Command in six years of war. Only one force on the Allied side was continuously involved with active operations against the German homeland – RAF Bomber Command. The day the war started a Blenheim of 139 Squadron flew a reconnaissance sortie to locate German shipping and for the next six years the Command took the war to the enemy, at first with limited effect but from 1942 with increasing resources and greater accuracy, and with an ever greater impact.

Strategic bombing theory was developed in the latter years of the First World War and was a combination of the German raids on England and the Allied, especially Royal Flying Corps/Royal Air Force, bombing campaign, although this was only just starting to get into its stride when the Armistice was signed in November 1918. Despite the fact that strategic bombing had not really been evaluated in the First World War it became a central tenet of air power theory in the post-war period. In part this was because it was the one independent decisive (potentially) role that the air forces could perform. For the RAF this was enshrined as the Trenchard Doctrine: ‘the nation that would stand being bombed longest would win in the end … to win it will be necessary to pursue a relentless offensive by bombing the enemy’s country, destroying his sources of supply of aircraft and engines, and breaking the morale of his people.’ This doctrine of a war winning bomber force remained the focus of doctrine with the major air forces throughout the 1920s. In May 1928 Trenchard, whose views still carried great weight, circulated a forceful memo to counter: ‘an unwillingness on the part of the other Services to accept the contention of the Air Staff that in future wars air attacks would most certainly be carried out against the vital centres of commerce and of the manufacture of munitions of war of every sort no matter where these centres were located.’ He stated that the RAF doctrine was to ‘break down the enemy means of resistance by attacks on objectives selected as most likely to achieve this end’ it being better to attack munitions at source (the factory) than on the battlefield – this would become a well-rehearsed argument by Bomber Command throughout the Second World War. It would, he believed, have greater effect for less effort, and would include dissuading workers from working in the factories. ‘The Hague Convention allows for military targets, including production centres. What is illegitimate, as being contrary to the dictates of humanity, is the indiscriminate bombing of a city for the sole purpose of terrorising the civilian population.’ Bomber Command would later take great care to stress the military significance of its city targets, whilst the German propaganda machine would refer to the Terrorflieger. The other Chiefs of Staff in their respective memos were not convinced, and also expressed concern over being bombed in return; it must be remembered that this was a period when the independence of the RAF, in part budget-driven, was under threat and the arguments, as such tri-Service ‘debates’ usually are, was writ large with vested interest.

The debates were largely hypothetical at the time as the RAF’s bomber strength in the early 1930s was pitiful with five night- and six day-bomber squadrons, all with slow biplanes with very limited bomb loads, hardly the material with which to deliver an aerial bombardment of any significance.

Although the stagnation of the 1920s, which in military terms had been a dismal decade for all of Britain’s armed forces, had started to change in the early 1930s both doctrine and equipment were outdated and with little immediate prospect of improvement. In terms of aircraft there was a glimmer of hope with the issue of Specification B.9/32 for a ‘twin-engined medium bomber of good performance and long range’, although the requirement for a 720 mile range and 1,000 lb bomb load was not particularly inspiring! Two of Bomber Command’s early stalwarts – the Wellington and the Hampden – were a result of this Specification. The following year saw Britain wake up to the realities of a changing Europe. A Foreign Office appraisal of 1933 stated that Germany ‘… controlled by a frenzied nationalism and resolved to assert her rights to full equality, will proceed to the building of formidable armaments on land and especially in the air.’ The Government suggested that the Services draw up expansion plans; the Defence Requirements Committee sat from November 1933 to February 1934 and in its report gave priority to the establishment by the RAF of a Home Defence force (including bombers) strong enough to counter any attack. Expansion Scheme A was announced in July 1934 to provide the basis for a deterrent force and a training establishment on which future expansion could be based; under this scheme the RAF would be ready for war in eight years (1942). The old One-Power standard, which had seen planning based on France as the ‘enemy’ had to shift to reflect the reality of the growth of German power and belligerence. It was all very well to talk of an offensive bomber force capable of attacking targets in the Ruhr and Rhineland districts of Germany, the two main industrial areas, but quite another to make it a reality (even on paper). The initial solution was one of numbers over capability; create the squadrons even though the equipment might not be right as better aircraft could follow in due course. This was a mixture of financial constraint and lack of suitable aircraft; the latter would continue to plague the Command into the middle years of the war. As an indication, it cost £245,000 to acquire twelve Hawker Hart light bombers and £83,000 to operate them; in comparison it cost £375,000 to acquire ten Vickers Virginia heavy bombers and £139,000 a year to operate them. The financial aspect became a secondary consideration with Expansion Scheme C (May 1935) stating that: ‘Financial considerations were to be secondary to the attainment of the earliest possible security.’ In July the Air Staff confirmed the strategic doctrine: ‘Provided a sufficient weight of air attack could be brought to bear on the Rhineland-Ruhr-Saar area, Germany’s armament industry would be paralysed, which would in turn preclude her from maintaining an army in the field.’

The bomber force was organised into regional commands, such as the Wessex Bombing Area, and all were part of the Home Defence organisation, fitting neatly with the bombing offensive being seen as ‘attack as the best means of defence.’

By the time that Bomber Command formed on 14 July 1936, Expansion Scheme F (dated February 1936) was on the table. This called for a bomber force of 68 squadrons, with 990 aircraft, and was scheduled for completion by March 1939. Like the previous Schemes, and those that followed over the next two years, it was overly optimistic. Paper squadrons don’t fight wars and when Expansion Scheme H called for 1,659 bombers in ninety squadrons it was obvious even to the optimists that it was unrealistic, even though it was not scheduled for completion until 1943. For the first Commander-in-Chief of Bomber Command, Sir John Steel, aircraft were only one of the problems to be faced; of equal importance was personnel – aircrew and ground crew – as well as equipment, including bombs, and airfields. Lack of suitable weapons was to prove a major embarrassment to Bomber Command in the early part of the war and the problem could be traced back to a 1932 Air Staff decision that there would be no requirement for a bomb heavier than 500 lb and that the 250 lb bomb would be the standard weapon. The need for airfields further north to cater for Germany as the main target led to Expansion Period airfields from Norfolk to Yorkshire, with the latter county, along with Lincolnshire, becoming the heartland of Bomber Command. This expansion did not really start until 1935, with old First World War sites being looked at as part of a major search for airfield sites. The basic requirement was for a large patch of level ground for a grass airfield, the current bombers requiring little in the way of prepared surfaces, along with support facilities such as hangars, technical, administration and domestic buildings.

The impressive C-Type hangar became typical of bomber airfields of this period, although the exact facilities varied between locations. The provision of aircrew, and training in general is covered in a separate chapter. By the mid 1930s aircraft manufacturers who had been finding it hard to survive official disinterest in the 1920s were being called on to produce large numbers of new aircraft and it is remarkable that they were able to respond as well as they did. A great deal of criticism has been levelled by some commentators on the poor quality of equipment with which the RAF entered the war, an argument that could equally be aimed at the likes of tanks and other military equipment, but it takes time to design, develop and produce advanced items such as aircraft. It was only in 1935 that a medium/heavy bomber philosophy was adopted, based on the bomb lift of the proposed new types, and there was much debate on the subject at Air Staff and Government level. However, on the outbreak of war the Command was still substantially composed of light bombers and it would be 1943 before it lost the last of these. Indeed it was only in 1936 that two of the Command’s most advanced types – both light bombers, the Fairey Battle and the Bristol Blenheim, entered service. Perhaps the most significant decision was the issue of Specification B. 12/36 for a four-engined bomber of 250 mph cruise, 1,500 mile range and 4,000 lb bomb load. It was also to have the latest navigation equipment, plus power-operated gun turrets, including a four-gun rear turret. This was starting to sound like a real strategic bomber – but the war would be well underway before the products of this Specification were ready for service. In the meantime, the expansion plans had to go ahead with whatever was to hand. Continued examination of overall air doctrine and assessment of the enemy air strength and employment, including tactical and strategic air operations in the 1936 Spanish Civil War, led to a revision in the expansion plan. In October 1938, Expansion Plan M was approved, which envisaged a strength of eighty-two bomber squadrons (1,360 aircraft) by April 1941, and with renewed focus on defensive requirements by increasing the number of fighter squadrons. Meanwhile, doctrine was being turned into reality and the Joint Planning Committee (JPC), with its eyes firmly fixed on offensive bombing, envisaged a three-phase campaign:

Countering the all-out German air offensive by attacking Luftwaffe installations.

2. Countering the German land offensive by attacking ground forces.

3. A war-winning air offensive against German industry and transport.

The JPC also stated that: ‘the offensive employment of our own and Allied bombers is the only measure which could affect the issue during the first weeks of the war. The three classes of objective are:

1. Demoralise the German people, by methods similar to those we foresee the Germans themselves using against us, [so that] their Government might be forced to desist from this type of attack.

2. Discover and attack some target, the security of which was regarded by Germany as vital to her survival during the limited period within which she hoped to gain a decision over us, [so that] she would be forced to divert her air attacks to our own aerodromes and maintenance organisation.

3. Inflict direct casualties upon the German bombing aircraft, either in the air or on the ground, or upon their maintenance organisation; the intensity of German attacks would be directly and quickly affected.

The overall philosophy was translated into ‘Planning for a War with Germany’ and in late 1936 the Air Targets Intelligence sub-committee developed the Western Air (WA) plans and these became the focus for Bomber Command’s strategic planning. On 13 December 1937 the Command was instructed to commence detailed planning for WA1 (German Air Force), WA4 (German Army concentration areas and lines of communication) and WA5 (manufacturing centres), with planning to be complete by 1 April 1938. It was a massive task and was carried out with incomplete information on the targets and an over-optimistic appreciation of bombing capability. A Bomber Command appraisal of the list suggested that only the third was realistic as the others comprised targets of an inappropriate nature for offensive strategic bombers, a stance that would be taken by bomber leaders, especially Arthur Harris, at various times throughout the war.

The WA Plans underwent a number of modifications over the next few months but by mid 1938 had settled down as:

WA1        German Air Force organisation and associated industries.

WA2        Reconnaissance of Home Waters and East Atlantic, in co-operation with the Royal Navy.

WA3        Convoy protection in Home Waters and East Atlantic.

WA4        German Army concentration areas and lines of communication.

WA5        Manufacturing Resources; WA5(a) Ruhr, WA5(b) Inland waterways, Ruhr, Baltic, North Sea ports, WA5(c) Outside of Ruhr.

WA6        Stores, especially oil.

WA7        Counter-offensive in co-operation with Royal Navy in defence of sea-borne trade.

WA8        Night attacks.

WA9        Kiel Canal and associated waterways.

WA10      Shipping and facilities, especially the Baltic.

WA11      Forests and crops.

WA12      German fleet in harbour or at sea.

WA13      Administrative centres, especially Berlin.

An indication of the optimism of the bomber theorists was a suggestion that an offensive against the Ruhr, especially the coking plants and power stations, would, ‘Prevent Germany waging war on a large scale in less than three months.’ This outcome could be achieved with 3,000 sorties, at a cost of 176 bombers, by knocking out twenty-six coking plants and nineteen power stations. With hindsight of the first years of the war this level of optimism seems incredulous!

Whilst plans were being prepared, the Command was undergoing a major reorganisation as aircraft types and roles were concentrated into individual Groups and units moved to more appropriate airfields within the new structure. The progress made in the two years since the Command was formed was incredible and those who criticise Bomber Command’s performance in the first years of the war fail to recognise just how much had been achieved in such a short period. Despite the optimism expressed above, Ludlow-Hewitt (C-in-C since September 1937) clearly stated that his Command was: ‘Entirely unprepared for war, unable to operate except in fair weather and extremely vulnerable in the air and on the ground.’ These words proved to be far more prophetic. However, the military always has to play with the cards it has and Bomber Command was to enter the war with a far from ideal hand. The arrival of the Wellington, the first squadron equipping in late 1938, was one positive indication but by the outbreak of war there were only six operational squadrons with this type. It could have been worse; Bomber Command may have gone to war in September 1938 when the Munich Crisis took Europe to the brink of war. Most parties knew that the Allied ‘sell-out’ provided only a respite and that war with Germany was inevitable; for the RAF the extra year was crucial.



It must have been about the year 230 B.C. that Euthydemus, the Magnesian, murdered Diodotus and usurped his throne. Who Euthydemus was is quite unknown; but no doubt a kingdom with the romantic history of Bactria appealed to the Greek imagination, and attracted many “soldiers of fortune” ready to make a bid for success in the new world which had just been thrown open to them.

The treachery of Euthydemus was palliated, if not justified, by its success. Under him and his successors Bactria not only magnificently vindicated her rights to an independent existence, but launched upon a career of conquest and expansion which paralyzed her rivals, and was destined to spread Hellenic influence more surely and permanently than had been done by the great Macedonian himself. So remarkable is the career of Euthydemus, that later historians forget the existence of Diodotus. “The house of Euthydemus,” says Strabo, “was the first to establish Bactrian independence.” It is possible, indeed, that the weak and vacillating policy of Diodotus particularly towards Bactria’s national and well-hated rival, Parthia, was to a large degree responsible for his murder, which could hardly have taken place without the connivance of at least the great Iranian nobles.

Euthydemus had some years of uneventful prosperity in which to consolidate the empire he had seized before he was challenged to vindicate his right by the ordeal of war. In 223 B.C. Antiochus III., second son of Seleucus Callinicus, succeeded to the throne of Syria. Antiochus has some right to the title of “The Great,” which he assumed. He is one of the few Syrian monarchs for whom we can feel any real respect, combining as he did the personal valour which had become a tradition among the successors of Alexander’s generals with a military talent and a reluctance to waste the resources of his kingdom in interminable petty campaigns, which is only too rare in his predecessors.

It was only in reply to a direct challenge from Parthia that Antiochus interfered at all in what was taking place in the east of his dominions. Artabanus I. (who succeeded Tiridates I. about 214 B.C.), pursuing the policy of aggression which under his predecessors had succeeded so admirably, took advantage of the rebellion of a satrap named Achaeus to advance and occupy Media. This was open defiance, and Antiochus could not ignore it if he would. An arduous campaign followed. Antiochus did not make the mistake of underrating his foe, and Justin even puts his forces at 100,000 infantry and 20,000 cavalry. However, the Parthians merely fell back farther and farther into their mountain fastnesses, and at length the dogged courage of Artabanus found its own reward.

The independence for which Parthia had fought so well and so persistently was at last recognized, and Antiochus even condescended to form an alliance with his gallant antagonist, though lesser Media was restored to Syria. Perhaps, however, it was Artabanus who suggested to Antiochus the invasion of the rival State of Bactria, and he may even have lent him troops or promised co-operation. He may have pointed out to Antiochus what was fast becoming apparent, that Bactria, under the peaceful rule of Euthydemus, with its great natural resources, and the advantage of an enterprising Greek to direct its fortunes, was fast becoming a menace to Parthia and Syria alike. Besides, it would be a triumph of diplomacy if Parthia could divert the forces of so dreaded a neighbour against her cherished rival. Whichever way the fortunes of war might veer, Parthia must be the gainer. If Antiochus were successful, the fidelity and assistance of Artabanus might be rewarded by the control of Bactria, and, at the least, Bactrian aggression would be checked for ever. On the other hand, if the Syrian forces were defeated, anarchy would no doubt soon reign once more in Syria, and Parthia would find her opportunity for further expansion once again. Antiochus had an excuse at hand for yielding to the arguments of Artabanus, if indeed we are right in supposing the Syrian monarch to have been influenced in his action by his new ally. Bactria had incurred the enmity of the Seleucids in the reign of the last monarch; the weak and short-sighted policy of Diodotus II. had enabled Parthia to establish her independence, as we have seen, unmolested; and, above all, the Syrian Empire, rich though it was, had been almost exhausted by years of suicidal war and misgovernment, and could ill afford the loss of the most fertile of her provinces, “the glory of Iran,” as it was popularly called. To regain the allegiance of Bactria was a natural ambition.

The expedition against Bactria must have started in the year 209 B.C., perhaps in the early spring. Antiochus chose to attack the country by approaching from the south and striking at the capital.

The campaign has been described by Polybius in the concise vivid style which gives the reader so ready an impression of military operations. Unfortunately, the chapter is an isolated fragment only, and breaks off after a description of the battle with which the campaign opened, leaving all account of the subsequent operations a blank. Of the invasion, however, the ravages of time have spared us a minute account. Antiochus marched along the southern borders of the Arius, the river which rises in the Hindu-Kush, and loses itself, like so many rivers in that region, in the shifting sands and fertile patches just beyond the Tejend Oasis. The invader had of necessity to choose his route in a march upon Bactria, if he wished to avoid the hardships and perils of the Bactrian wastes.

He learnt that the ford6 by which he intended to cross into the enemy’s territory was held in force by the famous Bactrian cavalry, and to attempt to force a passage in the face of these was to court disaster. Knowing, however, that it was a Bactrian custom to withdraw their main army at night, leaving a thin screen of pickets to hold the positions occupied, Antiochus determined on a bold bid for success. Leaving his infantry behind, he advanced swiftly and suddenly with a picked body of cavalry, and attacked, probably at dawn, so unexpectedly, that he carried the passage almost unopposed, driving the pickets back upon the main body. A fierce encounter now took place between the picked horsemen of Iran and Syria. Antiochus, with the recklessness characteristic of the successors of Alexander and his generals, led the charge, and after a hand-to-hand combat, in which he received a sabre-cut in the mouth and lost several teeth, he had the satisfaction of routing the enemy completely. The main Syrian army now came up and crossed the river. Euthydemus appears not to have risked a general engagement, but to have fallen back on his almost impregnable capital. Of the details of the siege we know nothing, but it may be that it is to this blockade that Polybius refers when he says that the “siege of Bactria” was one of the great sieges of history, and a common-place for poet and rhetorician. Time wore on, and still the “City of the Horse” held out. A long absence from home was unsafe for Antiochus, for the Syrian Empire might at any moment break out into one of those incessant rebellions which were the bane of the Seleucid Empire. Both sides, perhaps, were not unready for a compromise, and this was brought about by the good offices of a certain Teleas, a fellow-countryman of Euthydemus, and hence especially suitable for the task. On behalf of the Bactrian prince, he pointed out that it was illogical to cast upon him the blame accruing from the policy of Diodotus II. in forming an alliance with Parthia. In fact, Euthydemus was the enemy of Diodotus, and had merited the gratitude of Antiochus in destroying the “children of those who first rebelled.” A still more cogent argument sufficed to convince the king. The Scythian hordes were on the move, and threatening the borders of the Jaxartes like a storm-cloud. Bactria was the outpost of Hellenic civilization, and on its integrity depended the safety of the Syrian empire; and Euthydemus pointed out that to weaken Bactria would be a fatal step for the cause of Hellas. “Greece would admittedly lapse into barbarism.”

This is the first mention we have of the aggressive attitude of the tribes beyond the Jaxartes; but the problem was evidently not a new one to Euthydemus or to Antiochus. The Seleucid monarch came to the conclusion that it was to his interest to preserve the integrity of this great frontier state, which guarded the roads from India and the north. The terms on which peace was concluded must have caused intense chagrin to the Parthian allies of Antiochus.

An alliance, offensive and defensive, was concluded between the royal houses of Bactria and Syria: this, of course, included the recognition of the claim by Euthydemus to the royal title, which was perhaps granted on condition that he should guard the Scythian frontier (for it was chiefly on this ground that the claim had been put forward); the alliance, moreover, was to be sealed by the betrothal of the young daughter of Antiochus to Demetrius, the gallant prince who had caught the attention of the Seleucid whilst conducting negotiations on behalf of his father in the Syrian camp. Euthydemus may have urged on Antiochus the propriety of recovering that old appanage of Bactria, the satrapy of Paropamisus. The strategic value of the kingdom of Kabul was beyond question; it had been recognized by Alexander, who had placed it in the hands of Oxyartes, who, as we have already seen, probably continued to administer it till, by the weakness or negligence of Seleucus Nicator, it passed back to the hands of Chandragupta Maurya. It was probably in this domain that Antiochus found the Indian princeling Sophagasenas or Subhagasena reigning; who the latter was is quite uncertain. It was conjectured at one time that the name Subhagasena is a title of Jalauka, a son of the great Asoka, who had died in 231 B.C.; but Jalauka himself is a misty personality, of whom we know little besides the vague, though voluminous, stories of Kashmir tradition. Euthydemus, on behalf of whom the expedition was mainly undertaken, was under the obligation by the terms of the treaty to provide the means for its accomplishment. For a third time (the last for many centuries) the tramp of armies from the far west was heard down the long winding defiles of the historic Khyber.

But the expedition does not appear to have been carried out with the thoroughness which Euthydemus would have liked. It was little more than a demonstration in force. Subhagasena appears to have yielded very easily, and consented to the payment of a considerable indemnity and the surrender of elephants. Antiochus had already been overlong absent from Syria, and he hastened home by the Kandahar road, through Arachosia and Carmania. Androsthenes of Cyzicus was left behind to receive the sum owing to the Syrian coffers, and to follow with it later.

Euthydemus figures on several fine coins which have been recovered; he appears on them as a man in the prime of life, with a heavy stern face. The wide area over which his coins are found points to a considerable extension of the Bactrian domains. An attempt was probably made in his life-time to annex those territories which had been ceded to Chandragupta by Seleucus Nicator, and with the break-up of the Maurya kingdom on the death of Asoka this was quite feasible. Doubtless Demetrius took a prominent part in leading his father’s armies, and he may have been associated with him in ruling in the now extensive dominions of Bactria, though it is probably a mistake to attribute the Indian expedition and the foundation of Euthydemia to this reign. It is, of course, unsafe to draw inferences too certainly from coins, but the coins of Euthydemus have been discovered, not only in Bactria and Sogdiana, but in Paropamisus (which may have been put under the suzerainty of Bactria by Antiochus), Arachosia, Drangiana, Margiana, and Aria.

Euthydemus may well have looked back upon his career with pride. By sheer ability he had vindicated his right to the crown he had so violently wrested away. The ablest of the Seleucids had come to punish him as a revolting vassal; before he left, the Bactrian, by his dogged valour, had won that monarch’s respect and friendship. He was lord of a great, fertile, and important realm; his son had already shown promise as a warrior and statesman; and the latter’s wedding with a princess of the proudest of the Hellenic families, whose royal ancestor, the great “Seleucus the Conqueror,” second only to Alexander himself, claimed the God Apollo as his father, was a guarantee of lasting peace and friendship with Syria. The hated Parthians were paralyzed for the time by their rival’s success, and Bactria must have been growing rich in her position at the confluence of the world’s trade routes. Ever since the day when, according to the oft-repeated story, Bindusara sent to request a “supply of wine and a sophist” from his Syrian contemporary, and Chandragupta sent presents of drugs to his father-in-law, the growth of luxury in the Greek world, and the establishment of new cities of the type of Alexandria, must have created a great demand for Indian goods. A further proof of the close ties binding India and the West is found in the fact that, twice at least, Greek ambassadors were in residence at the court of the Mauryas, Megasthenes at the court of Chandragupta, and Deimachus at that of Bindusara.

Frequent as must have been the caravans from Kabul to Bactria, others doubtless arrived from the distant Seres of the north-east, for the then novel commodity of silk was in great demand in the luxurious towns of the new and cosmopolitan Hellenic age, of which Alexandria is so typical. The forum of Bactria must have resembled that of Sagala in Menander’s days, when traders of every creed and tongue crowded the bazaars, and the innumerable shops were loaded with the most heterogeneous articles—muslin and silk, sweetstuffs, spices, drugs, metal work in brass and silver, and jewels of all kinds.25 Small wonder that Euthydemus is regarded as the founder of Bactria. Only one storm-cloud marred the otherwise shining prospect, and that was as yet low down on the distant horizon. The barbarians beyond the Jaxartes were still moving uneasily. About the year 190 B.C. the long and eventful reign of Euthydemus came to an end, and the kingdom passed to a worthy successor in Demetrius. Whether Demetrius had already begun his eastern conquests we do not know, but at some period of his reign Bactria reached the climax of her prosperity. The ancient citadel of the Iranians was the capital of a mighty Empire, as the words of Strabo testify: “The Greeks who occasioned the revolt (i.e., Euthydemus and his family), owing to the fertility and advantages of Bactria, became masters of Ariana and India…. These conquests were achieved partly by Menander and partly by Demetrius, son of Euthydemus…. They overran not only Pattalene, but the kingdoms of Saraostos and Sigerdis, which constitute the remainder of the coast.…They extended their empire as far as the Seres and Phrynoi.” Their object, obviously, was to reach the sea for trading purposes; a similar object led them to secure the highroad into China.

The evidence of the coins of Euthydemus (vide ante) seems to point to the occupation of Aria by that king. Conquests east of Kabul, on the other hand, appear from Strabo’s words to have been the work of Demetrius, probably after his father’s death, though this is not certain. Strabo speaks very vaguely of the extent of the dominions of Demetrius. By Pattalene he appears to mean the kingdom of Sind, the country which was first taken from Musicanus by Alexander the Great. On the west of the Indus, all the country from the Cophen to the mountains appears to have thus belonged to Bactria; east of the Indus, after the annexation of the kingdom of the Delta (Pattalene), it was not a great step to proceed to subdue the neighbouring kingdom of Kathiawar or Surashtra (the Greek Saraostos). What quite is indicated by the “kingdom of Sigerdis” it appears to be impossible to determine. It may have been some minute “kingdom” (i.e., the domain of some petty raja) between Pattala and Surashtra.

Besides these kingdoms on the coast, we have evidence to confirm the opinion that a considerable portion of the Panjab fell into the hands of Demetrius as well. It is usual to ascribe to him the foundation of the town of Euthydemia, which he named after his father, according to a not uncommon practice. Euthydemia became the capital of the Bactrian kingdom east of the Indus, and under its Indian name, Sagala, grew to be a flourishing city of great wealth and magnitude. The question of the identity of Sagala (or Sakala) is a matter of dispute. It is now held that it is not to be confused with the “Sangala” razed to the ground by Alexander; and modern authorities identify it with either Shorkot, near the modern Jhang, not far from the confluence of the Acesines and Hydraotes, or Sialkot, further north, near Lahore, and not far from the head waters of the Acesines. Later on we shall see that Menander was born “near Alexandria,” “200 leagues from Sagala,” and this would certainly point to Sialkot rather than Shorkot, if “Alexandria” is the town at the “junction of the Acesines and Indus” mentioned by Arrian (Anab., VI. 5). It is difficult to believe that the Bactrians had any permanent hold on the country up to the Chinese borderland. Perhaps all that Strabo means is that all the territory up to the great emporium on the extreme west of Serike—i.e., Tashkurghan in Sarikol, was under Bactrian influence, and, perhaps for commercial reasons, was protected by their troops from the raids of Sakas and other nomadic marauders.

The coins of Demetrius illustrate the history of his reign in an interesting manner. Like his father, he seems to have adopted the god Hercules as his patron deity, and Hercules figures upon the coins of Euthydemus and Demetrius, very much as the thundering Zeus figures on those of the Diodoti, or the Dioscuri on the coinage of Demetrius’s antagonist and successor, the pro-Syrian Eucratides. These coins were doubtless issued for circulation in Bactria proper, like the famous and striking specimen which Gardner reproduces, on which a figure, almost certainly to be identified as the Bactrian Anahid, appears, clad as she is described in the Zend-Avesta.

For use in his domains beyond the Paropamisus, Demetrius issued a series of coins of a more suitable character, remarkable alike for their workmanship and as representing the earliest attempt at that amalgamation of Greek technique and Indian form, which is one of the most striking features of the coinage of the Indo-Bactrian dynasties. To this series we may safely assign the silver coins which represent the King as an Indian raja, wearing an elephant helmet, and those bearing an elephant’s head; these coins are, it must be observed, purely Greek in standard and pattern, and are probably earlier than the series of square coins, where an attempt at compromise between Greek and Indian methods first appears.

It seems probable that Demetrius divided his Indian possessions into minor principalities for greater convenience of government. A system of satrapies, or small feudal states, appears to have been the only form of administration found possible by the invaders of India, whether Scythian, Parthian, or Greek. It was, indeed, the form of government most adapted to the eastern temperament. From time to time the influence of some master mind had consolidated a great empire in India; but the bonds had always been purely artificial, liable to dissolution on the appearance of a weak or incapable ruler. It had become apparent on the death of Asoka how little even the great Mauryas had succeeded in introducing elements of cohesion into their vast and heterogeneous realms.

The small satrapy appears to have been the natural political unit in India, as the city state was in Greece. However, Demetrius did not arrive at a satisfactory solution of the problem of simultaneously governing two distant and diverse kingdoms. Perhaps his continued absence in India aroused the jealousy of the Græco-Iranian kingdom in the north; it may be that the inhabitants of Bactria looked upon Sagala with jealous eyes, as a new and alien capital; at any rate, the absence of Demetrius gave ample opportunity for a rival to establish himself securely in Bactria before the arrival of troops from the far south to overthrow him.

The rival who did this was one Eucratides. Who he was, or what may have been his motive, we can only infer from his coins in a somewhat conjectural fashion; one thing, however, seems more or less plain, that he was connected in some way to the royal house of Seleucus. In his sympathies, and probably by birth, he is distinctly closely bound up with the reigning dynasty in Syria.

Justin implies that he seized the throne about the time of the accession of Mithradates I. in Parthia—i.e., about 174 B.C., or a little earlier. We may suppose that Demetrius was engaged in his Indian conquests and the administrative and other problems they entailed, and either had no leisure to attend to what was happening in Bactria, or did not feel himself strong enough to march against so powerful a rival until his power in the south was sufficiently consolidated. Meanwhile Eucratides was pursuing a vigorous policy in the north, not always with the success he deserved. Enemies were springing up in all directions to menace Bactria, and Eucratides had to vindicate his right to the throne he had claimed. The first and most formidable rival was Mithradates I. Mithradates appears to have succeeded with the special mission of counteracting Bactrian influence, for Phraates, his brother, had left the throne to him in preference to his numerous sons, as the ablest successor, and one most likely to continue the great mission of extending Parthian dominion in the east, the progress of which had been thwarted since 206 B.C., when Antiochus the Great had raised her rival to the position of ally and equal. The continual threats of aggression from the Parthians, the ever-increasing pressure on the frontier, which caused various wars (perhaps not of great magnitude, but harassing, as a foretaste of what was to come) on the Sogdian frontier, and a campaign—against whom we are not informed—in Drangiana, made the life of Eucratides anything but peaceful. The struggle with the monarch he had dispossessed, moreover, was coming, and Eucratides went to meet it with great spirit. At one time the fortunes of war seemed to have definitely turned against him; by a final effort Demetrius, with the huge force of 60,000 men, caught and besieged his rival, whose army by some means had sunk to only 300 men. By a marvellous combination of skill and good-fortune, Eucratides cut his way out after a siege, which (if we are to believe the only authority upon the incident) lasted five months, and this proved to be the turning-point in the war. Soon after the Indian dominions of Demetrius fell into the hands of Eucratides, and the once powerful Demetrius either perished or was deposed about the year 160 B.C.

If, as is just possible, Eucratides was really the grandson of his royal opponent,39 the great disparity between their ages would account for the ease with which that once doughty leader allowed himself to be defeated by a handful of desperate men, whom he had conquered with a vastly superior force; it would also save the historian from the necessity of condemning Justin’s whole account of these incidents as exaggerated and inaccurate—always a pre-eminently unscientific proceeding in the case of an uncontroverted statement. The victory over Demetrius is probably commemorated in the fine coins reproduced by Gardner, which represent, in a most spirited fashion, “the great twin brethren,” with their lances at the charge, waving the palms of victory. These were evidently struck for use in Bactria; for use in the provinces beyond the Hindu-Kush very probably he struck a series of coins, where the blending of Greek and Indian art is illustrated in a curious manner, bearing the goddess Nikê, holding a wreath on the obverse, and a Pali inscription on the reverse, in Kharoshthi characters. The coins are bronze and square, this being another instance in which the Indian shape replaces the Greek circular coin.

It is extremely interesting to notice the manner in which the Greek temperament adapts itself to changed conditions. Eucratides gives himself the title of “Maharaja” (which he translates by the Greek ΜΕΓΑΛΟϒ ΒΑΣΙΛΕΩΣ) in his Indian domains; in Bactria, however, he appears as the leader of the Greek, as opposed to the Iranian section of the populace. By birth and leanings it seems evident that Eucratides was thoroughly Greek. His coins betray his pride of birth; the distinctive figure on nearly all his Bactrian issues is a representation of the Dioscuri, mounted; they were the patron saints of the Seleucids, and under the rule of the “son of Laodice,” took the same place on his coinage as Zeus, the thunder-god, did on the coins of the Diodoti. One of the most striking features of Bactria is the utter predominance of everything Greek in its history. The coins are essentially Greek, the rulers are certainly so. The Iranian population never seems to have had any voice at all in the government, though we must remember that Greek was the language of commerce and civilization in Western Asia, and we are apt to be easily misled by the fact that Greek names, coinage, and language were exclusively used. In Parthia, for instance, we know that national feeling was utterly anti-Hellenic, and yet Greek appears to have been the language generally used for commercial and public purposes. Perhaps it was his partiality for Greek customs and his pride in his Seleucid blood that brought about the downfall of Eucratides.

While returning from India, Justin tells us, he was murdered by his own son, who had shared the throne with him, and who, far from concealing the murder, declared that he had killed “not a parent, but a public enemy,” and brutally drove his chariot through the dead monarch’s blood, and ordered his body to be cast out unburied (circa 156 B.C.). Thus perished one of the most remarkable of the many really great, though obscure, monarchs of the Bactrian Empire. A splendid coin, figured by Gardner in his catalogue, enables us to form a very good idea of the appearance of the king—a proud, determined man, wearing the Kausia, diademed with crest, and the bull’s horn at the side. On the reverse, significantly, are figured the Dioscuri, charging with long lances and waving the palms of victory. The delineation of the steeds is worthy of the highest traditions of Greek Art. The title of ‘the Great’ appears on the coin, ΒΑΣΙΛΕΩΣ ΜΕΓΑΛΟϒ ΕϒΚΡΑΤΙΔΟϒ. The name of the parricide who thus foully deprived his father of his life and throne is not recorded. Some authorities have identified him with Heliocles, who is supposed by them to have headed a native reaction, fomented either by his father’s Hellenizing tendencies, or by his inactive policy against Mithridates. Mithradates, we know, took the satrapies of “Aspionus and Turiva” from Eucratides, and it is possible that this caused dissatisfaction at the policy of the Bactrian monarch. There is, however, some reason to suppose that the parricide’s name was Apollodotus, who may have been led by the supposed patriotic character of his deed to assume the titles of ΣΩΤНΡ, ΝΙΚНΦΟΡΟΣ, and ΜΕΓΑΣ, which we find on his coins. It is supposed that Heliocles avenged his father’s murder and secured the throne, probably putting his brother to death; some have thought that this is indicated by the title “ΔΙΚΑΙΟΣ,” which appears on his coins. It is probable, however, that the title of the “Just” is of Buddhist origin, but this point may be more appropriately discussed later on.

Apollodotus seems to have enjoyed a very brief reign, and Heliocles probably succeeded in 156 B.C. With him the rule of the Greeks in Bactria comes to an end; the Bactrian princes were forced to transfer their empire to their capital beyond the Hindu-Kush. The murder of Eucratides was worse than a crime—it was a blunder. The death of the one man capable of saving the situation rendered resistance useless, and the country was still further enfeebled by the rise of a number of princelings or satraps, who were necessary for the government, as we have seen, of the immensely increased Bactrian territory, but who were always inclined, on the removal of a strong hand, to assert their independence. The semi-independent character of these petty rajas is shown by the style of the inscriptions upon their coins.

The War of the Grand Alliance

Battle of Beachy Head.

King Charles II’s brother, James, Duke of York, succeeded him in 1685. The Royal Navy remained an efficient force during the reign of King James II (1685-88). King James was a Catholic and an ally of King Louis XIV of France. England was divided into two political factions. These factions were known as Whigs or liberals and Tories or conservatives. The Tory or conservative faction was loyal to James. The Whigs or liberal faction preferred the Protestant Prince William of Orange. Prince William was Charles I’s grandson and married to King James II’s daughter, Mary. In the Revolution of 1688 William and Mary were invited to become joint sovereigns. William landed at Torbay on 5 November 1688. James fled to France. The Royal Navy had been prevented by the weather from intercepting William’s mainly Dutch fleet. Many naval officers preferred William and Mary and the Navy accepted the change of regime.

King Louis XIV of France was already at war with the Emperor Leopold I, Sweden and Spain (their alliance was known as the League of Augsburg). These countries opposed his aggressive actions on the mainland of Europe. Prince William, as sovereign of the Netherlands, was an active opponent of King Louis XIV. King Louis supported the deposed King James by sending an expedition to Ireland in 1689. An indecisive naval action took place between an English fleet and a French fleet off Bantry Bay on 1 May 1689. This led to an actual declaration of war by Louis XIV. The alliance against King Louis became known as the Grand Alliance. The French navy had been strengthened by the efforts of King Louis’ minister, Colbert. It could send more powerful warships to sea than the combined Dutch and English fleets.

In 1690 there was a threat of a French invasion to restore King James. The French fleet under the Comte de Tourville actually outnumbered the combined Dutch and English fleet when they met off Beachy Head on 30 June 1690. The combined Dutch and English fleet under Lord Torrington was upwind and approached from the north-east. The Dutch formed the van squadron of 22 ships. They opened fire at 9 am having turned parallel to the French van. Torrington reported:

About eight I ordered the signal for battle, to prevent the Dutch steering to the southward, as I did; for by the eighth Article of the Fighting Instructions when that signal is made, the headmost ships of our fleet are to steer away with the headmost ships of the enemy.

The centre of the French line sagged to leeward. Torrington allowed his own centre squadron to edge away to larboard. The Dutch in the van and the English rear squadron were both outnumbered and in danger of being “doubled”. By 1 pm the French were doubling on the Dutch. Several ships in the English rear squadron were heavily damaged and had to be towed out of the line of battle. At 3 pm the wind fell. By 5 pm the allies anchored. The French drifted away to leeward. The next day they followed up the retreating allies cautiously, allowing the damaged allied ships to get away.

Torrington had to face a court-martial. He was acquitted, claiming that his action had prevented an invasion. Admiral Edward Russell was appointed commander-in-chief of the allied fleet. In 1691 the French fleet sailed against merchant shipping in the western approaches to the English Channel. Both the Dutch and the English built up their fleets. In 1692 King Louis XIV supported another invasion force to restore the exiled King James II. This was assembling on the Cotentin peninsula where it awaited escort by the French fleet under de Tourville. The allied fleet heavily outnumbered the French squadron in the Channel. Another French squadron sailed from Toulon but was scattered by a storm. After Russell’s captains had assured him of their loyalty to King William III and Queen Mary, the allied fleet sailed from St Helen’s on 18 May 1692.

The Battle of La Hogue 19-23 June 1692

Richard Allyn was aboard HMS Centurion, 50 as a chaplain. HMS Centurion was in Sir Cloudesley Shovell’s division of Sir Ralph Delavall’s Blue (rear) squadron. Allyn:

Thursday, May 19, 1692. At three this Morning our Scouts made the Signal for discovering the Enemy; so the Admiral presently made the Signal to draw into a Line of Battle, which we soon did, and made clear Ships. It being foggy, we in the Fleet did not see them until seven, when we made them to be about Fifty Sail bearing down upon us in a Line with a small Gale about the West-south-west. About eleven we began to engage. The French Admiral came within point blank of our Admiral, who with his Squadron lay by to receive him. Mr. Russel as soon as he saw Tourville bring to, gave him three Cheers, which was answered by a Volley of Small Shot from Tourville, and was soon returned with a Broad-Side from our Admiral. The Vice-Admiral of the French White engaged Sir Ra. Delavall. In a trice we were so buried in Fire and Smoke, and had such hot Service our selves, that we could not see or mind what others did. Between four and five, word was brought to the Captain on the Quarter-Deck that there was above Seven foot Water in the Hold, and that notwithstanding both Pumps were kept going, yet the Water increased ; and besides this, that the Powder Room was full of Water, and the Powder Barrels all swimming about, which was occasioned by a great Shot that came into the Carpenter’s Store-room. The Captain sent word of this misfortune to Sir Ra. Delavail our Flag, who ordered him to hasten out of the Line and careen the Ship, and stop the Leaks, which we did. Some of our Pow- der-Barrels were so tight that the Powder in them was not at all damnifyed, so that out of Eighty Barrels we saved about Forty. Between six and seven, having made a bad shift to stop our Shot-holes, we set sail to recover into our station. About five the Wind came up about the South-east, and then the French tack’d and made away from us as fast as they could. But Sir Cloudesly Shovel and part of his Division being got to the Westward of them with some of the Blue, took them up and engaged them until nine when they left off and drove to and fro on the tide, there being little or no wind. We lost in the Engagement seven Men, and had Eighteen wounded; most of them having their Legs shattered, or shot off above knee. Trie Cook, James Duell, was one of the first that fell. Soon after half of poor Webber’s Face was shot away; notwithstanding which he lived two days, and almost all the time kept singing. A Shot came through my Cabin, which killed one Kern, a Plymouth Man. A Gun on the Quarter Deck split, which killed two, and wounded three, one of which was Mr. Raymond, whose leg was much shattered, and is since cut off. Our Long-boat was sunk at our stern. Most of the damage we received was from the Vice-Admiral of the White, who, finding the Sovereign’s side too warm, tack’d astern and revenged himself upon us. At ten a great Ship blew up, which we suppose to be one of the French. We had it very foggy all night, so that, we lost sight of the Enemy.

Sir Cloudesley Shovell described:

Thursday being the 19th of May at Daylight, the Wind at South-west by West, a fine gale, and hazy weather, we saw our Scouts to Windward making the signal of the Enemy’s approaching, and at broad day saw the French Fleet to the Westward of us standing towards us. We soon got into a Line of Battle, and were soon prepared and lay by to receive them. We had so little Wind that it was about eleven o’ clock before we joined Battle, which was begun in the Center of the Fleet. For Tourville in the Royal Sun (a glorious Ship of 106 Guns) stood directly for our Admiral Mr. Russel, then on board the Britannia, a Ship little inferior to the French General either in Glory or Strength. Here the Fight begun; and I will do the French that Justice, that is, their Admiral and all his Squadron, as to declare that I never saw any come so near before they began to fight in my life. I will leave the two chief Admirals with their whole Squadrons, it may be, in as hot Engagement as ever was fought, and take a little notice of what the other part of our Enemy’s Fleet did.

First the Dutch who led our Van, being about Twenty- five Line of Battle Ships were attack’d by Amphreville, who commanded the French White and Blue Divisions which consisted of about Fifteen Ships, whereof five or six were Three-deck Ships, and none had under Sixty Guns. Amphreville seeing himself overmatched in number, fought the Dutch at that distance, that very little Damage was done on either side.

The French Blue that was commanded by Gabarel, finding they could not stretch our Blue, joined close with Tourville’s Squadron, and had their Station and share in the Battle, all but seven of them with our Rear Admiral of the Red.

In this Posture, Affairs stood about two Hours, by which time the Britannia had so beaten the French Sun, that I saw when he could not make use of his Main-top-sail, it being shot away, he let down his Main-sail, and tack’d from the Britannia. This tacking, with the Wind shifting from the South-west by West, to the West-north-west, brought the French Admiral a farther distance from the Britannia, than could be recovered the whole day; and from the French Admiral’s first Tacking I reckon they began to run; he ever after taking every little advantage to get farther from the Britannia.

Now our Blue happened to be to Leeward of our Line of Battle when we begun; and about seven or eight of the French Blue which reached astern of the Rear-Admiral of the Red’s Division had no Ships to fight with, unless they would bear to Leeward of their Line, therefore had nothing to do. When the Wind shifted to the West-north-west, as before I took notice of (it was then about one o’Clock) with this Shift of Wind the Rear-Admiral of the Red kept his Luff; and with six of his Division and his Fireships weathered Tourville and all his Squadron, and broke the French Line, dividing trie French Blue from the White. But our Blue with this Wind kept their Luff and weathered the French; upon which the French Vice-Admiral of the Blue, and other five or fix Ships that were near him, and had never fired a Gun all day set their Sails and run. Our Rear Admiral of the Blue and his Division fell upon the Admiral of the French Blue and his Division, but pretended not to hinder their joining the French Admiral, but exchanged some Shot, and suffered them to bear athwart the Rear- Admiral of the Red, and join Tourville’s Division.

By this time it was four in the Afternoon, when the Wind duller’d away, and a small air came Easterly, when Tourville and his Division with the French Ships near him anchor’d, the Tide setting strong up North-east. The Rear-Admiral of the Red with that part of his Division that was with him, also anchored in half shot a-head of him, all but the Sandwich, who drove through the French as they lay at Anchor, and Captain Hastings in that Pass was kill’d.

The Rear Admiral of the Red found that Tourville mightily galled some of his Ships as they lay at Anchor, and there- fore ordered one of his Fireships to drive athwart Tourville’s Halse. The Tide running very strong, the Fireship’s Captain did his Duty, but Tourville escaped burning by cutting his Cable, and towing from the Fireship.

Tourville soon anchored again. All this day hath been accompanied with Fogs, so that sometimes we have been obliged to leave off Fighting, though in less than point- blank one of the other. Here we lay at an Anchor till about eight at Night, at which time our Blue drove amongst the Rear-Admiral of the Red’s Division; and they together drove through the French Fleet; so ended the day.

This Evening in driving through the French, three of our Fireships were burnt, and a great French Ship of three Decks, but whether by accident or by our Fireships I know not.

The Allies kept up their pursuit of the outnumbered French. On 20 May, Allyn:

May 20. At four this morning, for every Ship to make the best of his way after them. We could not see any of them until about nine, when it cleared up and we discovered them standing to the Westward with all the sail they could crowd, the Wind Easterly. At this time Dunnose bore North seven Leagues off. We made the best of our way after them, and at twelve Cape Barfleur bore South and by West distant about six leagues; and the Enemy was about three leagues to the Southward of us. The Wind in the Afternoon came about to the South-West, and we kept plying after them until six, when the Ebb being done, both Fleets came to all Anchor. Cape de Hague bore from us W. S. W five leagues off; and the Enemy was about four miles to windward. At twelve we weighed as they did, and plyed after them all the Ebb; viz. until

May 21. Six this morning; when the Enemy anchored between Ornay and Cape de Hague in the Race; and we about a League to Leeward of them, the Wind still South- west. At about sixteen of the Enemy’s Ships drove to lee- ward of our Fleet, between us, and their own Shore; which our Admiral seeing, made the Signal for the Fleet to cut and chase; which we did, leaving the Admiral of the Dutch, and Admiral of our Blue with several Dutch and English Frigates at Anchor to take care of about fifteen sail of the French at Anchor in the Race, and about thirteen without it. The General, Vice-Admiral of the Blue, and Rear of the Red, gave chase to Ten or Twelve sail to the Eastward: our Flag with his Division chased three of the French into Cheirburg, or Sheerbrook. About three in the afternoon we anchored off of Cheirburg, having the Town open, and the three Ships close under the Town. Sir Ralph ordered a Fire- ship to go in and destroy one of them, which was ashore, and had cut away his Masts; but they shot away her Boat, and so she returned without execution. Sir Ralph finding his own Ship too big to venture in within Gun-Shot, hoist- ed his Flag on board the Saint Alban’s, and went in and battered at the Ships a little, and came out and anchored again.

On Saturday Morning the 21st, we plainly saw the French at Anchor in the Race of Alderney, and we had a fine fresh gale at South-west; but when the Flood came strong, the French, that is, fifteen of them, their Anchors would not hold, which obliged them to cut and stand to the Eastward along their shore. Our Admiral did the same with part of the Fleet, that is, the Dutch and the Admiral of the Blue rid fast to keep their Chace after the rest of the French that did not drive. Those Ships which cut, followed the French so close, that the Royal Sun their Admiral, and two other great Ships run on shoar at Sherbrook, alias Cheirburg, where they were the next day burnt by Sir Ralph Delavall’s directions. The twelve other kept along shoar, and a little out of the Ebb-tide, fo that they out-sailed all our Fleet but Sir Cloudesly Shovel and two or three more.

Sir Cloudesly kept close to them, that is, some-times within shot, but never fired, that he might not hinder his way. At Night their ships were got near the Shore not far from La Hogue, where they anchored. Sir Cloudesly anchored in sight of them, and watched them with his Boats, and rid fast all night. The next day being Sunday the 22d, the Admiral and the Fleet came near them, the French haled near the Shore, and pretended to defend their Ships. Our Ships and Boats were appointed for attacking them, and the Admiral appointed Sir Cloudesly Shovel to command the Attack, and so we rid quiet that night.

Almondee was the Dutch Admiral. Allyn:

May 22. Most of our Ships under the Second Rate weighed at three this morning, and anchored within reach of the Enemy’s Guns, and exchanged several Shot. At ten Sir Ralph ordered in three Fireships; one on board her, that yesterday cut her Masts by the Board, which proved to be the Royal Sun. She fired a great number of Guns at the Fire-Ship but did no great damage to her. When the Fire- Ship was got so near her that there could be no thoughts of getting back again, they found that they could not come to lay the Royal Sun on Board because of the Boats which were by her side to keep them off, and her Masts which were thrust out for the same purpose. The Captain of the Fire- ship however set fire to his Ship, and left her floating with the Tide. The Fire-ship shot astern of the Sun, and no one expected that fire would do any service. But Providence ordered it so that the Wind and Flame overpower’d the Tide, and drove her back on the only part of the Royal Sun where she could be lain on board, viz. on her stern; and so she was burnt, having several hundreds of Men on board when she was set on fire; but Tourville went ashore yester- day in his Boat. She was a Ship of about 108 Guns, and by all relation as goodly a Ship as ever was seen. Another Fire- ship went aboard another Three-deck’d-ship, called the Conquerant, and burnt her without much opposition. When the Men in the third Ship had seen two of their Consorts thus burn, they got away as fast as they could from her, and left her to be fired by our Boats. The third Fire-ship which was sent in run aground, and was fired by her own Com- pany, that she might not be left for the Enemy. All day we had good weather and fine Westerly Gales. At one in the afternoon we weighed, and sailed from Cheirburg and joined Sir John Ashby and Admiral Almondee, and at eight at night anchored four leagues from Cape de Hague, which bore West-south-west.

May 23. Sir John Ashby and the Dutch Admiral having left off their Chace before we came up with them, we all together at six this morning weighed and stood to the East- ward. At ten or eleven we discovered our Fleet about two leagues to the Northward of La Hogue, and at two we anchored by them, they having chaced into La Hogue thirteen sail of the French. In the afternoon Vice-Admiral Rook, and about Ten sail of Third and Fourth Rates, by the Admiral’s orders weighed, and went in almost within shot of the Ships, but the Pilots would not carry them farther in by reason of the Shoal Water, besides several Banks which are on that Coast. TheVice-Admiral shifted his Flag in the Eagle, and besides the Ships that were with him, he had all the Barges and Pinnaces of the Fleet to attend him, well mann’d and arm’d. In the evening he sent in a Fire-ship and all the Boats to destroy the Six Ships that lay outmost. The Fire-ship ran ashore, but was got off the next day. As soon as the French saw our Boats with a Fire-ship coming near them, they all quitted their Ships, being afraid of being served as the poor Fellows were at Cheirburg the day before. Our Boat was the first that got aboard any of the Ships. Lieutenant Paul entered a Three-Deck Ship, and found no creature aboard, so he ordered the Boats Crew to cut Chips and lay them together in order to set her on Fire, which was soon done. My Lord Danby burnt his face as he was blowing Tow and Oakam, &c. to set another Ship on fire, some Gun-powder taking fire near him. The whole mob of Boats went from Ship to Ship untill they burnt the six, notwithstanding they were within less than Musket shot of the Town, a small Fort of about six or eight Guns. But as the Ships were burning, their Guns which were all loaden went off, and the Bullets flying all round, so disordered all the Men on the Shore, that they quitted their Posts.

May 24. This morning all the Boats and Fire-ships were again ordered in to destroy Seven Sail more, that were got at least a mile above the Town. The Fire-ships ran ashore, and not being able to get off were burnt by our own Men; but though the Fire-ships met with such bad success, yet our Boats met with better, and did execution even beyond expectation, for they not only burnt the seven Men of War, but also at least Twenty vessels supposed to be Transport Ships designed for England, and every thing they met with so far as they went. In the whole Action (both overnight and this morning) we lost not ten Men. They plainly saw King James’s Camp and Standard near La Hogue from their Boats. By Noon our Boats were all returned with French Colours flying as Trophies, which occasioned this mistake: in the evening the Admiral sent his Boat towards the Shore with a Flag of Truce, to know what they would have done with the Prisoners, and whether they would have them put ashore or not; but the People on the Shore thinking the White Flag was designed only to insult over them, as was done in the Morning, fired at the Boat, and would not let her come near the Land.

May 25. But one Captain Macdonnell was sent off with a Flag of Truce to excuse it. This Morning at eight we and the whole Fleet came to sail with small Gales between the East and South-east. At twelve Cape Barfleur bore North- west by West three or four leagues off. At two in the after- noon the Admiral of the Blue, a Vice and Rear-Admiral of the Dutch, with about thirty Sail anchored, being left by the General to destroy three or four more of the French, which we heard were ashore farther to the Eastward, whilst all the rest stood to the Northward.

May 26. Moderate Easterly Gales and thick Weather. At four this evening we all anchored at Saint Helen’s. May 29. Admiral of the Blue and all we left behind, came hither, having done nothing. June 4. We and all the Ships that had been much damaged in the Engagement, ran into Spithead to refit, and this day our Carpenters began to work.

After the Battle of La Hogue the French resorted to the guerre de corse, cruising against merchant shipping. The French won battles on land at Fleurus (1690), Steenkerke (1692) and Neerwinden (1693). The War of the Grand Alliance finally ended at the Treaty of Ryswick in 1697. On the American continent the conflict was known as King William’s War.

Artillery Development 16th-18th Century

Cornelius Redlichkeit’s disappearing gun carriage; on recoiling, the small carriage runs down to inclined plane, counterbalanced by the heavy roller. From Scheel’s Memoirs d’Artillery published in Denmark, 1777.

After the Restoration, artillery appears to have vanished from sight in England, for Macaulay tells that when William of Orange landed (1688) the apparatus he brought with him, though such had been in constant use on the continent, excited in our ancestors an admiration resembling that which the Indians of America felt for the Castilian harquebuses’. This ‘apparatus’ consisted of ’21 huge brass cannon which were with difficulty tugged along by 16 carthorses each’.

One of the other causes of artillery’s poor standing at the time was that the force rarely belonged body and soul to the Army. The problem of maintenance of such an expensive and technical force in peacetime, already touched upon, was still unsolved. A limited number of professional gunners were retained, together with a number of guns, and when war broke out this cadre was augmented by a scratch collection of labourers and drivers to serve under the gunners. A great difficulty lay in the fact that these reinforcements were hired civilians rather than soldiers, and when things got too hot for them, they frequently de- camped, leaving guns and gunners to manage as best they could. Sooner or later this misfortune befell most armies, and sooner or later the fact was accepted that the expense of forming a permanent corps of artillery simply had to be borne. In this way the entire force, gunners, drivers, fire- workers, matrosses and other peculiar incumbents were subject to the same military discipline and imbued with the same martial spirit as the rest of the Army.

The War of the Spanish Succession (1702-13) shows some leanings towards a resurgence of flexible artillery employment which had been for- gotten since Gustavus’s time. Marlborough, to everyone’s surprise, revealed himself to be one of the greatest soldiers of history, and like all good generals he had a sound appreciation of what could and could not be done with the various component forces under his command. At Blenheim, after being repulsed four times in frontal attack, he moved a battery of guns across the River Nebel, and this moving of guns in the course of the battle contributed in no small measure to the day’s eventual success.

At the Battle of Malplaquet, which was won at the cost of 12,000 dead, the decisive stroke was again an artillery manoeuvre; having penetrated the French centre, Marlborough ordered the ‘Grand Battery’ of 40 guns to advance into the heart of the French line where, wheeling to face the flanks, they opened a withering fire of case and grape-shot on to the French cavalry who were waiting, behind their infantry, to begin the counter-attack charge. This destruction of the French reserve decided the battle. No doubt had other opportunities offered, ‘Corporal John’ would have made more use of his guns, but circum- stances were sometimes against him; for example at Oudenarde we are told, ‘few pieces of artillery were brought up on either side, the rapidity of the movements of both (armies) having outstripped the slow pace at which these ponderous implements of destruction were then conveyed’.

When Marlborough fell from grace after the war, the armies of the world had perforce to wait for another great captain before any further improvement was likely. It fell to Frederick the Great to take the next step. In 1759 he formed a brigade of horse artillery armed with light 6- pounder guns, with a view to providing a force of artillery which could manoeuvre with and keep up with his cavalry. This he found necessary by virtue of his appreciation of the function of cavalry. Frederick’s father had, more or less as a hobby, created an enormous and highly disciplined army which he was too solicitous to hazard in actual warfare. But when the son succeeded his father he found an instrument to hand with which he was able to impress his mark on the whole of Europe. An outstanding soldier and never averse to trying something new, on his accession he found himself in charge of a cavalry force which had been trained to manoeuvre into position, then form into line and fire at the halt. While this tactic provided them with excellent firepower, it con- verted them into little more than mounted infantry, and Frederick, appreciating that movement was the fundamental feature of cavalry action, soon abolished this tactic and trained his cavalry in the use of lance and sword. Having removed their firepower, he had to replace it; he rediscovered Gustavus Adolphus’s principles, expanded them and invented horse artillery.

The measure of this innovation can be gauged by the fact that at this time the only mobile artillery in use on the Continent was the ‘Battalion Gun’, a misguided innovation due to Gustavus which had been perpetuated by those who knew no better. These were light guns dragged along by the marching infantry; they were a species which propounded a dilemma. Either they were light enough not to impede the infantry’s rate of march, in which case they were too light to have much effect when fired; or they were heavy enough to provide a worthwhile lethal effect, in which case they encumbered the infantry and slowed their advance. Usually the bias was to the latter case; had Gustavus lived he would undoubtedly, in due course, have recognized the defects and abolished the battalion gun, but in the event they remained to encumber armies until Frederick’s horse artillery showed how mobility and firepower could be brought together.

Frederick’s ideas took time to implement, and in the interim the tactics of the day had their effect on the artillery. Frederick’s ideas on tactics were easier for the average soldier to assimilate than his ideas on reorganization, and his tactical thinking came to dominate the armies of Europe; drill and discipline his armies had, and won wars. Drill and discipline therefore became the be-all and end-all of military thinking, and war developed into a matter of position and manoeuvre, for with drilled and disciplined troops some elegant manoeuvres could now be performed. The defending army selected its position, made its dispositions, and sat there waiting attack. Their artillery was entrenched with it, and it was rarely called upon to move in the course of a battle. The attackers, for their part, secure in the knowledge that nothing short of divine intervention would tempt the de- fenders from their position, could move at leisure. ‘They marched and countermarched, broke into column and wheeled into line with a gravity and solemnity that in our times would provoke a smile’, a Victorian analyst wrote. This sort of armed gavotte reached its zenith at Fontenoy with Lord Charles Hay’s infamous invitation to the French to fire first. But the system was accepted as the only method of fighting, and it remained the doctrine until Napoleon reintroduced mobility, which upset several people. ‘In my youth’, complained an elderly Prussian officer, ‘we used to march and countermarch all summer without gaining or losing a square league, and then we went into winter quarters. But now comes an ignorant hot-headed young man who flies from Boulogne to Ulm, and from Ulm to the middle of Moravia, and fights battles in December. The whole system of his tactics is monstrously incorrect.’

The general result of this dilatory tactical system was to produce a tendency to improve the accuracy and effect of artillery fire to the detriment of mobility, leading to the gradual adoption of heavier guns of larger calibre. But in spite of this trend there were one or two attempts to produce more practical weapons from time to time, at- tempts which prevented artillery from sinking entirely from sight. One rather eccentric innovator was the Chevalier Folard who decided to design a lightweight gun and produced a short 24- pounder. With a 28-inch barrel it weighed only 15 cwt, a startling change from the conventional 24-pounder of the day which was 11 feet long and weighed 45 cwt. Unfortunately when constructed and fired, it blew up; this regrettable result so upset the good Chevalier that he came to the conclusion that artillery was incapable of any improvement, and he proposed the complete abolition of the arm, replacing it with mobile ballista and catapults.

Folard’s disillusionment with the state of artillery led him to advocate equipping the troops with this catapulte de campagne instead.

Perhaps nothing better illustrates the poor state of artillery at this time (1723) than the fact that Folard’s ridiculous proposals were seriously considered. Even such an astute intelligence as Benjamin Franklin was swayed by Folard’s arguments and in later years urged upon General Lee the suppression of artillery and the reintroduction of archery.

However, this was the lunatic fringe. At the same time as the Chevalier was advocating a return to catapults, others, more versed in artillery fundamentals, were also taking a look at the light- weight gun. The first move was in Germany in about 1725 when a number of 8-pounder and 4-pounder guns were mounted so that they could be brought rapidly into action and fired without detaching them from the horse. Their firepower was inferior but the balance of advantages was in their favour, lightness compensating for poor lethality. What the horses thought about the idea is not on record. The ‘Galloper Guns’ which appeared in the 1740s were a further and more practical development of this idea; the carriage was made with shafts which could act as a trail when the gun was in action.

Unfortunately, while the galloper gun calls up a dashing image the reality was less stirring. The design well illustrates the confusion between light- ness and mobility. The gun was light and mobile, no doubt of that. But the flaw in the system was that while the guns were capable of rapid movement they did so at some disadvantage; the ammunition was on heavy carts and the gunners were mostly on foot. So for all the lightness, mobility was still absent.

Marshal Saxe suggested provision of this Amusette’ in considerable numbers, but the idea failed to catch on.

Marshal Saxe was the next to try his hand; he had a high opinion of the power of artillery but a poor one of its mobility. ‘It is unlikely that the artillery will ever move faster; it is impossible that it will ever move slower,’ he is reputed to have said. And to remedy the deficiency he proposed the ‘Amusette’, a species of heavy musket firing a half-pound ball and drawn by hand, to be distributed in large numbers across the front of the battle. Nothing seems to have come of this suggestion, but it was echoed a few years later (1762) by another Frenchman, M. de Bonneville. He proposed a 1-pounder breechloader which, according to him, could be loaded and fired on the move. This idea also never seems to have reached the field of battle.

Another idea which failed was M de Bonneville’s mobile 1-pounder breech-loader.

In these years of tactical ferment, one is entitled to ask if there had been any technical advance in the material of artillery. Fortunately, here the picture is brighter. This side of the matter was in the hands of the gunners themselves, and, with a certain faith in the rightness of their calling they applied themselves to improving the tools of their trade. No matter that the generals and marshals were incapable of handling the guns or appreciating their worth; when the day came that their talents were recognized, the gunners would not be found wanting. The guns themselves were long and ponderous still, due to the powder. Slow burning, it demanded a long and thus heavy barrel to develop its full force. There seemed to be no way round that problem, but there were other fields to be explored.

The gun carriage, two wheels joined by an axle-tree and with a trail to support the weight and the shock of firing, had superseded the gun cart in the fifteenth century, and in about 1500 came the first gunnery instrument-the gunner’s quadrant. This is reputed to have been invented by the Emperor Maximilian I, and was no more than a 90-degree quadrant with one side extended, carrying a plumb-bob. Since degrees were not yet known, the quadrant was arbitrarily marked off in ‘points’. By placing the extended side in the cannon’s bore the weapon could then be elevated or depressed until the plumb-bob indicated the desired point to achieve the required range. With the gun horizontal the plumb-bob reached the end of the scale, from whence comes the term ‘point-blank’.

Having a scale of points and equating them to ranges demanded the production of some form of table ot ranges and elevations, and this was some- thing the gunner had to find out for himself, for guns were individual weapons and not mass produced. All sorts of minor variations in dimensions could be found between two nominally identical guns, and in addition every gunner was idiosyncratic about how much powder he used, how he rammed it, whether he used a wad and so forth. Thus it was necessary for him to take his gun out and actually fire it at the various points on the quadrant, measuring the result of each shot and recording it for his future use.

The actual task of elevating the gun was done by heaving it up or down by the use of levers or handspikes, inserting wooden blocks beneath the breech to hold the required angle; the blocks were soon refined into a wedge which gave more precise control, and the ultimate system came in about 1578 when John Skinner, ‘one of the Queen’s Majesty’s Men’ invented the elevating screw, which gave finer control. Some early guns, as can be seen from the illustrations, used an. arc perforated with holes to position the breech end of the gun, but this was only suited to the lighter types of weapon. Whichever system was used, there were, as yet, no sighting arrangements; the gunner merely looked over the line of the gun, elevated by means of quadrant and range table, and hoped for the best.

In the ammunition field, Stefan Batory, King of Poland, is credited with the introduction of red-hot shot in 1579. This device, more useful against ships and property than against men, required some dexterity on the part of the gunners to fire it without doing themselves harm. The iron shot was heated to redness in a furnace; the gun was loaded with a charge of powder and a tight-fitting dry wad rammed down on top; then, with great rapidity, a wet wad was rammed down, followed by the red-hot shot, whereupon the gun was touched off-before the shot burned its way through the wads and did the job itself. Primitive as it sounds, it remained a standard item of ammunition until the smoothbore gun disappeared from the scene in the nineteenth century.

In 1588 comes the first record of the use of hollow cannon balls filled with gunpowder, these being used to shell Bergen-op-Zoom, thus translating the explosive effect of the powder to the target and bringing new meaning to Bacon’s observation that ‘These substances can be used at any distance we please, so that the operators escape all hurt from them, while those against whom they are employed are suddenly filled with confusion.’ The operators did not entirely escape all harm though; the explosion of the powder at the target was brought about by internal friction when the shell struck its target, and often an equal friction was developed when the shot was launched, so that the explosion took place at the beginning of the trajectory instead of at the end. One Sebastian Halle proposed a way round this in 1596 by the use of a wooden peg inserted into the shell and containing a filling of gunpowder, which would be ignited by the explosion of the charge and then burn away to ignite the shell contents at the end of the trajectory, but his idea was not followed up for many years; one drawback to the development of such a ‘time fuze’ was the simple question of calibrating such a device when no accurate method of measuring small intervals of time existed.

At sea the use of ordnance had made a slow start. Sea battles for the most part were simple and bloody affairs in which one ship grappled to an- other and the crews fought it out hand to hand, and the use of cannon was confined to short-range fire with peterara and the like, loaded with ‘langridge’-scrap metal and small stones-to repel the boarders. It was not until the middle of the fifteenth century that the use of cannon as offensive arms, to reach across the intervening water and damage the enemy before he could come to grips, became a standard practice. Among other reasons, the bulk and weight of the contemporary long- ranging gun was a considerable problem, and not until the general introduction of cast-iron guns and corned powder allowed the development of handier weapons did the sailors take kindly to burdening their craft with cannon.

By the time of Elizabeth I the seagoing cannon was an accepted item, and so far as the gun itself was concerned its advance paralleled that of land artillery. The principal difference lay in the question of adapting the weapon to the ship-the gun carriage or mounting. The first ship-board guns appear to have been simply barrels laid in a wooden trough, the trough being fixed to the ship and the barrel free to recoil in it, controlled to some degree by ropes or chains. This was later changed, when it was appreciated that increasing the mass of the recoiling parts decreased the violence of recoil, to firmly attaching the cannon to the trough and allowing both to recoil. Then, some time in the sixteenth century, came the addition of wheels, or trucks, to the trough, and from this rough beginning the ‘truck carriage’ or ‘ship carriage’ evolved.

The truck carriage was, in fact, far from the perfect answer, and even its champions had to admit that it had its defects. The system of con- trolling recoil by the ‘breeching rope’ was primitive; if the tackle securing the gun broke loose in a storm, the task of catching and securing the runaway was extremely hazardous and if not done quickly could well lead to greater disasters. More than one ship lost with all hands had her foundering attributed to the guns breaking loose in a storm. The attachment of the breeching rope and running-out tackle invariably caused the gun to jump on firing, to the detriment of accuracy, and the sailors had to step lively to avoid being struck by the recoiling gun or caught up in the festoon of ropes and tackle. But having said all that, it had to be admitted that the truck carriage was simple, robust, easily repairable by the ship’s carpenter and did its job. Since nothing better offered, the truck carriage was to stay in service until the nineteenth century with very little improvement.

Birmingham Small Arms – BSA

The Birmingham Small Arms company of Birmingham, England, was founded in 1861 to manufacture rifle stocks. In 1863 the company built their factory at Small Heath and in 1866 they obtained a military contract to convert 100,000 muzzle-loading Enfield rifles into Snider breech-loaders. Two years later came orders for the complete manufacture of various military pistols and carbines. In 1873 a factory at Adderley Park was acquired for the manufacture of small arms ammunition, trading as the Birmingham Small Arms & Metal Company. This facility was disposed of in 1891 to the Nobel Dynamite Trust.

During the First World War, BSA factories produced 145,397 Lewis machine guns and 1,601,608 Lee-Enfield rifles. The company also began to take an interest in weapon development and in 1919 produced a -40 calibre military automatic pistol which failed to attract military attention. They then obtained a licence to develop the Thompson submachine gun patents in Europe and produced a number of prototype automatic rifles based on the Thompson designs, again without much commercial success. Another venture was the Adams-Willmott machine gun. Before the out- break of the Second World War the company had set up for production of the BESA tank machine gun and during the war developed the Besal or Faulkner machine gun. Anti-tank rifles, aircraft cannon and submachine guns, were also produced.

In postwar years the BSA submachine gun was developed, as was a 7mm automatic rifle, but neither gained military acceptance. Some of the 7.62mm FN rifles adopted after Britain standardised on the 7-62mm NATO cartridge were made by BSA.

After the First World War the company had entered the sporting gun field with an inexpensive shotgun, and they later followed it up with sporting and target rifles. Air rifles had formed part of the firm’s output since the early 1900s, and they were the developers of an unusual air rifle modelled on the service Lee-Enfield rifle and intended for inexpensive training of cadets and militia units.

BSA started to pro- duce submachine-guns in 1924 when they flirted briefly with the Thompson design from the US. This came to nothing, as did another licensing venture in 1939 for a Hungarian weapon designed by Kiraly. BSA put some effort into this latter model, including an element of redesign work, and it obviously disappointed them when the War Office showed no interest. Throughout the Second World War the company made weapons to government order, including Sten guns, but did no original work.

BSA submachine gun

The BSA submachine gun, submitted for trials in 1946-1949, was a compact and ingenious design in which the cocking action was done by rotating the forward handguard, thrusting it forward and back, and rotating it again to lock into place. This system meant that the firer retained his grip of the weapon throughout the cocking action, which was advantageous in the event of a feed stoppage. Of 9mm calibre, the gun had a magazine which, with its housing, could be folded forward alongside the barrel giving compact dimensions for packing and, again, allowing rapid action in the event of a malfunction. But in competitive trials, it suffered from having had less development time than its competitors and was rejected for military service. The same fate befell the P-28 automatic rifle, a weapon of great promise. It was an exceptionally clean design, using a laterally-locking bolt, but the abandonment of the projected British .280 cartridge in favour of the 7.62mm NATO round put an end to its chances.


British submachine-gun. The Welgun was one of many British attempts during the Second World War to produce a very small and light submachine-gun. It was called for by the Special Operations Executive (SOE) which were at that time in Welwyn, hence the first part of the name. It was designed and built by BSA in Birmingham and the first military trials were in early 1943. From then on there seem to have been several trials, in all of which the Welgun fared quite well, but it was never adopted, not even for the SOE.

The design used some Sten components. The barrel, magazine and return spring were Sten, but the design was most compact. The spring was around the barrel and two long plates ran forward from the bolt to a ring in front of the spring. There was a stop just in front of the breech and rear movement of the bolt compressed the spring against this stop. The plates had serrations on them, and these were gripped to cock the weapon. The Sten magazine fed vertically upwards and the barrel was enclosed in a tubular jacket. The trigger mechanism was very simple, almost crude, and the safety was an external rocking bar which held the bolt either open or closed. A simple folding steel stock was fitted.

The bolt had a floating firing pin actuated by a plunger and rocking bar. When the bolt closed on the breech the plunger was pushed in and operated the rocking bar. This pushed the firing pin forward to fire the cartridge. With a little development the Welgun could probably have been every bit as good as the Sten, and perhaps better, but by then the Sten was already in production.

Welgun and Welrod

Grinding into the Mountainside: Italy on the Isonzo

The Obice da 105/14 modello 18 was a howitzer used by Italy during World War II. The howitzer was designed by Schneider in 1906. It was chosen by the Italian Regio Esercito to serve as their new field gun, but licence production by Ansaldo was slow.
The Cannone da 381/40 AVS was an Italian railway gun that saw action during World War I.
The Cannone da 75/27 modello 06 was a field gun used by Italy during World War I and World War II. It was a license-built copy of the Krupp Kanone M 1906 gun. It had seats for two crewmen attached to the gunshield as was common practice for the period. Captured weapons were designated by the Wehrmacht during World War II as the 7.5 cm Feldkanone 237(i).

On the Isonzo front, both sides suffered from the winter conditions, including ice storms and avalanches. Shelling and snipers forced both sides to work at night. The mountain troops on both sides grew more proficient at raiding and specialist weapons like flamethrowers made their first appearance. Boroevic´’s outnumbered Fifth Army still lacked enough shells but constantly improving defences and superb intelligence gave him a priceless advantage.

For the Fifth Battle of the Isonzo the Italian artillery continued to rely on area fire and not a detailed fire-plan, even after new regulations were disseminated: a 48-hour bombardment by over a thousand guns was simply more indiscriminate shellfire. Late snowfall and mist only compounded the coordination problems and the Italians were driven back with heavy losses. Alpini units, supported by their own mountain artillery, had more success. Both sides began to use mining in the high alpine passes to edge towards and under enemy positions, blasting holes in San Martino in 1916 and eventually honeycombing the Little Lagazuoi in the Dolomite Range.

Conrad von Hötzendorf was eager to punish the Italians for breaking the Triple Alliance. He could not match the strong Italian forces on the Isonzo, so he decided to shift the battle westwards to the South Tyrol and ordered Colonel-General Archduke Eugen to prepare a suitable plan for April 1916. The Fifth Army yielded some of its reserves and fresh artillery soon followed. The Italian First Army was poorly deployed and Cadorna, easily distracted by a minor thrust on the Carso, became aware of Austrian preparations too late to affect the outcome. Eugen’s infantry and artillery, supplemented by the units stripped from the Russian front, were well co-ordinated and made significant gains before they outpaced their already meagre supply system and Cadorna finally managed to stabilise the front line. The Archduke was pleased with his men and, although most of his reserves were withdrawn after Brusilov’s attack, he gave a press interview to publicise the fact that the defenders had lost more men than the attackers. Eugen believed that better defences and closer infantry–artillery co-ordination gave the Austrians a huge advantage over the Italians:

[On the Isonzo] it was demonstrated what our [Trentino] offensive has now confirmed: that our men, but not the Italians, could stand the horrors of drumfire … Specifically, the close cooperation between our infantry and our artillery, and the batteries among one another has been the main source of our success. Our artillery-based defence has cost the enemy veritable hecatombs of dead … The Italian prisoners unanimously declared the effect of our artillery fire was frightful, simply unendurable. Under cover of this artillery fire, it was possible for our infantry, with […] slight losses, to tear from the enemy, position after position … The Italian artillery answered our fire only weakly – not, as captured magazines afterward showed, from lack of ammunition, but because they were holding back for our infantry attacks …

The Sixth Battle of the Isonzo, in August, finally saw the Italians use a genuine artillery fire-plan. Colonel Pietro Badoglio, later a key figure in Mussolini’s regime, was assigned to plan the offensive and he and his staff selected a range of key targets including command bunkers, known supply dumps and artillery batteries. To show his confidence in the plan, Badoglio opted to personally lead a brigade attacking Mount Sabotino. For once the Austrians misread the situation and the size of the offensive surprised them. With only four heavy batteries and fewer than 600 light and medium guns, the Fifth Army was heavy outgunned and ran ruinously low on ammunition. The artillery bombardment cut all communications to the positions on Mount Sabotino and the Italians were able to overwhelm the defenders and trap many of them in their formidable kavernen. This time, when the inevitable counter-attack came, the Italians had enough time to establish their own defensive system. A similar success was experienced on San Michele but here the Austrians ran out of ammunition and their counter-attacks were driven back with heavy casualties. Just as a breakthrough glimmered, Cadorna lost his nerve and the Italian artillery reverted to re-arranging the geography while the Austrians strengthened the new defensive line on the Plava and received urgently needed shells. Further Italian attacks were predictably beaten back after savage fighting. Russian prisoners of war were brought into the Fifth Army sector to help construct an expanded defensive system, and as the Italians dithered, fresh artillery arrived to further strengthen the position.

Once again Cadorna returned to planning how to batter his way through to the Carso and the Duke of Aosta’s Third Army was instructed to prepare the latest assault. The fire-plan on this occasion required the artillery to soften up the front line, and to use heavy guns against the rear areas before intensifying the so-called ‘annihilation barrage’ just before dawn. The 9-hour bombardment was impressive but the Austrians held firm and their surviving gunners broke up the attacks. The bombardment of a key water pumping station that supplied the front line threatened to force the defenders to retreat but some Austrian naval flying boats destroyed the Italian long-range battery by bombing.

The new Italian tactics worked when the Austrian artillery was weak or low on ammunition. The Italians, not understanding how important artillery was to the Austrian system, did not emphasise counter-battery fire. That, combined with the strong Austrian defences, meant that too many attacks were broken up before they could make any progress. Worse, poor concealment meant that the Austrians could shatter attacks even before they commenced. Technical problems also hampered the Italians: their air force was still relatively weak, flash-spotting was difficult when the guns were in kaverne and sound-ranging was almost impossible in the mountains.

The bombardment before the Eighth Battle (although involving an even more intense barrage that destroyed 41 of the Fifth Army’s guns) made real progress because of the combination of dust and fog in the Carso sector during September. Austrian counter-battery and counter-assault fire inflicted heavy casualties but the Italians retained the advantage in both guns and ammunition. By the Ninth Battle the Italians were finally using curtain barrages to protect their hard-won advances, deluging the inevitable counter-attacks with gas and shrapnel before moving on to attack the Austrian second line. Only frenzied counter-attacks straight into the Italian advance prevented a major breakthrough. The Italians had learnt a great deal in 1916 but the Austrians were better at balancing resources and results. By comparison, the Italian success ‘bore no relation to the mighty expenditure of men and materiel that it cost’.

‘It will crush us all’: The Isonzo in 1917

On the Isonzo the morale of both armies was increasingly fragile. Cadorna ignored the growing criticism from his men and listened to the siren voices of Italian politicians (who wanted the Irredenta captured) and the demands of the Allies (who wanted constant pressure on all fronts). After considering the options, the Italian Third Army was ordered to attempt yet another attack into the Carso, but this time with more supporting artillery, including 166 new heavy batteries, but there was little sign of sophistication in the fire-planning. Even though the Italians had doubled their number of guns, they still had little more than a quarter of the numbers seen on the Western Front and the uncertain ammunition supplies meant that the rate of fire for heavy guns was a fifth of that seen in the Heavy Artillery Groups of the Royal Artillery. Field Marshal Robertson, visiting the front before the offensives of 1917, was stunned by the lack of pre-battle planning: ‘no system of co-operation existed between the artillery and the infantry in the attack; in fact the relations between the two seemed strained.’

Cadorna’s tenth offensive on the Isonzo began a few weeks after Nivelle’s offensive had collapsed and was delayed by the transfer of guns from the Trentino. On 10 May some 2,150 guns and 980 mortars blasted Austrian positions northwest of Gorizia for 44 hours. Initially the intention was to form a bridgehead at Hill 383 and then seize the Bainsizza Plateau. The Austrian artillery, firing at pre-planned sectors of the defensive system, shattered the first massed assaults. However, Italian numbers, a successful bombardment and dwindling Austrian ammunition stocks meant the Italians still managed to seize part of the Tri Santi position. Even then the Austrians reacted quickly, retaking several key positions in night attacks.

In other sectors the usual problems of coordination led to ruinously heavy casualties but the Italians grimly refocused their efforts. They shifted artillery from sector to sector and their methodical battering of Austrian positions enabled gradual progress. In some sectors intense shelling prevented either side from holding the objective. The attack on the Asiago Plateau was even less successful, with heavy rain disrupting the preparatory bombardment and Austrian machine guns slaughtering the fanti struggling through the mud and barbed wire. An Alpini captain described the aftermath: ‘the mountain is infinitely taciturn, like a dead world, with its snowfields soiled, the shell-craters, the burnt pines. But the breath of battle wafts over all – a stench of excrement and dead bodies.’ With typical petulance, Cadorna was furious with the slow progress of some units and blamed everyone but himself for the inadequacies of his own plan.

To launch the second phase of the battle, on to the Bainsizza Plateau, the Italians fired a million shells in 10 hours – approximately 20 shells for every foot of the front line. Dust and smoke from the intense bombardment covered the advancing infantry and major gains were made wherever the artillery were able to dominate the battlefield. The Austrians retained the key observation posts and utilised units released from the Eastern Front, using more flexible tactics and working more closely with their artillery support, to counter-attack and many of the Italian gains were lost. During the savage fighting both sides expended prodigious amounts of ammunition – the Austrian Fifth Army fired almost 2 million shells during the battle – a rate of expenditure that Austria’s industrial base could not support.

After a short pause, during which Cadorna displayed a ruthless disregard for the simmering discontent within the army, the Italians began planning the Eleventh Battle, which Cadorna described as a ‘general simultaneous attack’. The Second and Third Armies would take both Gorizia and the entire Bainsizza Plateau before capturing Tolmein, the Austrian Isonzo army’s main railhead. However, even if Cadorna’s plan succeeded, the Bainsizza was a rugged wilderness that would prove a poor basis for a fresh offensive, and Boroevic´ recognised this flaw in the plan for the eleventh Italian offensive far better than did his Italian opposite number. The Italians massed 3, 750 guns and 1,900 mortars, almost three times the Austrians’ total (450 heavy guns and 1,250 field and mountain guns), and four times the ammunition; the artillery duel would be the largest on that front. The barrage commenced on 18 August with the Italian guns, howitzers and mortars mercilessly hammering the entire front line. The quality of the artillery preparation was higher than in earlier battles and there were a small number of Allied batteries supporting the attack. In some sectors the defenders were rapidly cut off from headquarters and the defending corps commanders found it difficult to coordinate counter-attacks or to update the Isonzo army’s headquarters on the progress of the battle. Elsewhere the difficult terrain and poor Italian planning gave the Austrians enough time to reorganise and prevent a breakthrough.

Weak planning left the Italians unable to capitalise on their gains. Despite their collapsing defences, the Austrians could choose to withdraw or to feed troops into the meat-grinder. Boroevic´ was assured by the High Command that a counter-offensive was being planned and commenced a series of skilful Austrian withdrawals that delighted the Italians but ensured that he was able to consolidate on new positions on the eastern edge of the plateau. The end result was that the Italians secured most of the Bainsizza Plateau but stalled in front of Boroevic´’s new position, unsure of how to proceed. Monte Santo was taken by coup de main but desperate assaults on San Gabriele by massed columns were torn apart by artillery and machine-gun fire. Desperate counter-attacks, supported by heavy artillery, prevented the last of the Tri Santi from falling; the mountain is said to have lost 10 metres in altitude due to the near-continuous bombardment by guns of calibres of up to 420mm. Angelo Gatti, a staff officer in the supreme command, described his mounting despair: ‘I feel something collapsing inside me; I shall not be able to endure this much longer, none of us will; it is too gigantic, truly limitless, it will crush us all.’ The Austrians looked as if they had suffered a major defeat but, after Cadorna’s grimly pyrrhic victory, the tide was about to turn.

There are excellent British sources on the quality of the Italian artillery at this stage of the war. Lieutenant Hugh Dalton served with the B2 Heavy Artillery Group assigned to the Isonzo sector while Lieutenant-Colonel Archibald Moberly commanded B1 Heavy Artillery Group. Dalton was particularly impressed with the individual technical skills of the Italian artillery and their incomparable mountain engineers but noted that local commanders were very keen to secure Royal Artillery support. While the total number of shells appears impressive on the Isonzo Front, Dalton noticed that the ammunition levels were lower than those in France and Flanders and noted that this was reflected in the rates of fire, RA ‘ordinary’ rate being 30 rounds per hour, five times Italy’s fuoco normale. Dalton also noted that the proportion of heavy guns was one quarter of what he had experienced in France. The abundance of good observation post sites astonished the Royal Artillery officers. Depending on the sector, there were kavernen, mountain huts or treetop hides, all under cloudless skies. Such luxury delighted one of Dalton’s colleagues, who gleefully described Italy as a ‘gunner’s heaven’. The no. 101 fuse was almost as effective as the no. 106 in Italy due to the impact advantage of hitting solid rock. Wire-clearing was relatively simple but a great deal of fire was required to destroy rockhewn trenches or kavernen – Moberly and his Italian colleagues naturally preferred enfilade fire to lobbing shells straight into the enemy’s defensive line and both Dalton and Moberly were impressed by the ‘man-killing’ effect of high explosive in the mountains (as at Gallipoli, the rocky terrain increased the effectiveness of the artillery).

Moberly was equally impressed by the Italian engineers but rather less impressed with the higher levels of command. The lack of telephone wire for communications surprised him, particularly as the observations posts that had so impressed Dalton tended to be distant from the battery and thus required even more wire than usual. Italian HAG equivalents, the raggruppamenti, were allotted to sectors, not to particular assault or defensive units, and Moberly was surprised by the fact that there was no expectation that he would meet with the commander of the division he was supporting. During the first operation supported by B1, Moberly noted the Italians were still grappling with technical issues that had been identified and solved on the Western Front years before, particularly regarding communication between the assault units and the supporting artillery, a situation aggravated by the smoke and dust created by the bombardment obscuring the target. He was also troubled by the lack of specific missions assigned to his men and the concentration on planned but uncoordinated support for attacks.

Moberly noted that the ineffectiveness of Italian counter-battery fire was due to the HAGs assigned to the task being allocated to army and not corps command and thus lacking tactical coordination in the battles. As a result the counter-battery staff soon lost touch with the progress of the battle and found it difficult to coordinate fire. Moberly even received orders to shell positions that his own observation posts had reported as silent for days. Commando Supremo had made counter-battery work a priority for ammunition allocation, but had not realised that numbers did not equal results. Counter-battery orders criss-crossed the chain of command, bypassing the heavy artillery raggruppamenti and going to the field artillery groupes, a system that naturally led to some confusion and to errors that made counter-battery fire ineffective. Attempts to solve problems created others: the deliberate simplification of orders, for example, speeded up their transmission across scratchy telephone lines, but sometimes led to requests for a handful of shells so even a timely request lacked enough power. The only aspect that impressed Moberly was that counter-battery officers spent four days out of every eight at front-line observation posts and thus established a close relationship with the Forward Observation Officers.

75-mm field gun – Cannone da 75/27 modello 11

Italian Field Artillery

Although its Turin Arsenal manufactured a limited number of mountain guns, before World War I, Italy acquired its artillery from foreign sources, including Krupp of Germany, the Austro – Hungarian Skoda factory, and the French Deport firm. These included the Krupp-designed 75mm 75/27 Mo. 06, which also saw service in World War II, and the 75mm Gun Mo. 11 Deport. Designed by the prolific Colonel Albert Deport of France and adopted in 1912, the 75mm Gun Mo. 11 Deport introduced a dual recoil system as well as the split trail carriage. The latter innovation incorporated twin hinged trails that could be closed for limbering and then spread apart to stabilize the piece and allow greater recoil at higher elevation. The Mo. 11 was acquired by other powers as well as Italy, and the split trail carriage quickly became the standard for nearly all field pieces worldwide.

Italy also fielded the 75mm Gun Mo. 06/12 and a howitzer designated the Obice da 100/17 Mo. 14. An Austro-Hungarian design, the quick – firing caliber 100mm Mo. 14 howitzer was adopted in 1914, and numbers were also captured from the Central Powers at the end of World War I. The 100/17 saw extensive Italian service during World War II and was also used by Polish and Romanian forces.

Cannone da75/27 modello 11

Although the Cannone da75/27 modello 11 was designed by a Frenchman it was produced only in Italy and may thus qualify as an Italian weapon. The designer was named Deport, who conceived the idea of a recoil mechanism that could stay fixed in a horizontal plane while the barrel could be elevated to any angle desired. The advantages of this system are rather obscure, but the Italian army certainly took to the idea to the extent that they produced the modello 11 in large numbers.

The modello 11 was a relatively small field piece, as a result mainly of the fact that it was originally ordered for cavalry use, In time it was issued to other arms and became a standard field gun, Apart from the unusual (an uncopied) recoil system, the modello 11 also had one other novel feature for its day. This was split trail legs which gave the gun an unusually wide traverse by contemporary standards, and also enabled the barrel to be elevated to a maximum of 65* allowing the gun to be used in mountainous areas if required, In action the trails were spread and instead of the more usual tail spade the legs were held in place by stakes hammered through slots at the end of each. This certainly held the gun steady for firing, but there were two disadvantages to this system. One was that any large change of traverse could not be made until the stakes had been laboriously removed from the ground; the other was that on rocky or hard ground it took time to hammer in the stakes. For all these potential troubles the Italians used the stake securing method on many of their artillery designs, large and small.

The modello 11 was a handy little weapon with a good range; its 10240-m (11200-yard) capability was well above that of many of its contemporaries. However, for its size it was rather heavy, which was no doubt a factor in its change from the cavalry to the field artillery, In action it had a crew of at least four men although a full detachment was six, the extra two looking after the horses.

It is known that some of these guns were used by the Italian maritime artillery militia within the Italian coastal defence organization. The modello 11s appear to have been used as light mobile batteries that could be used for close-in beach defences of likely landing spots. Many of the modello 11s were still in use in this role after 1940, and many other modello 11s were in service with the field arti1lery. In fact so many were still on hand in 1943 that many came under German control, with the designation 7.5-cm Feldkanone 244(i), for use by the German occupation forces in Italy. By that time many modello 11s had been modified for powered traction by conversion of the old wooden spoked wheels to new steel-spoked wheels and revised shields; these modernized equipments used pneumatic tyres.


Cannone da 75/27

Calibre: 75 mm (2,95 in)

Length of barrel 2.132 m (83.93 in)

Weights: in action 1076 kq (2,372 1b);

Travelling: 1900 kg (4,189 lb)

Elevation: – 15* to +65*

Traverse: 52*

Muzzle velocity: 502 m (1,647 ft) per second

Maximum range: 10240 m ( 11,200 yards)

Shell weight: 6.35 kg (14 lb)


The Imperial Russian Navy Submarine Program

The DELFIN was a product of the Bubnov committee at the tum of the century and was considered by many as the first true combat submarine in the Russian Navy. Following the outbreak of the Russo-Japanese War in 1904 the DELFIN was employed as a training ship in the St. Petersburg area for officers and men assigned to new construction submarines.

Russian submarine Kasatka.

British journalist Fred T. Jane, writing in 1899 after an extensive tour of naval installations in Russia, observed, “I may, however, mention that the Russians believe very much in underwater craft, and do not regard the submarine battleship as an idle dream.”

This statement, although an exaggeration of the situation in Russia at the time, was indicative of the high degree of interest in submarines among Russian naval authorities at the beginning of the 20th century. The modern Russian submarine fleet in many respects dates from the establishment, on 19 December 1900, of a special submarine committee of the Naval Technical Committee (MTK-Morskoy Technicheskiy Komitet). Its purpose was to evaluate foreign submarine designs and prepare proposals for one that could be constructed for the Russian Navy. The chairman of the submarine committee was the noted engineer Ivan Grigor’evich Bubnov, who would be responsible for most Russian submarine designs until the collapse of the tsarist government in 1917. The other committee members were Lieutenant Mikhail Nikolaevich Beklemishev, a graduate of the Naval Academy in the constructor branch, and mechanical engineer Ivan Semenovich Goryunov. The committee studied projects submitted to the 1898 competition held in Paris, and proposals by the Russian submarine pioneer Dzhevetskiy and the Frenchman Maxime Laubeuf. In 1901 Beklemishev visited the United States, where he became acquainted with the submarine designs of John P. Holland and Simon Lake. He also visited Great Britain, France, and Italy to look at contemporary submarine efforts in those countries.

While the Bubnov committee did its work, Russia’s first submarine of the 20th century was constructed in 1901 at Kronshtadt to the design of engineer Nikolai Nikolaevich Kuteinikov and Lieutenant (later Captain) Evgeniy Viktorovich Kolbas’yev. Their submarine was intended to be carried on deck of surface warships and to be launched when within attack range of enemy ships.

This submersible displaced 20 tons, was 50 feet (15.25 m) long, and had a beam of about 4 feet (1.2 m). Propulsion was provided by electric motors driving six propulsors (screws) with power supplied by six Bary accumulators, which were evenly divided be- tween three forward and three after compartments, as were the ballast tanks. (The hull was divided into nine watertight compartments, a precursor to the arrangement of later undersea craft) The interior of the boat was accessible through a hatch in the conning tower. Both a bow and a stern rudder were fitted. The armament for this craft consisted of two torpedoes mounted in external Dzhevetskiy drop collars. These could be trained and fired from within the boat.

Kuteinikov was responsible for the submarine’s hull and Kolbas’yev for the electrical installations. Upon completion in 1902 this craft was baptized PETR KOSHKA, after a Russian sailor who had distinguished himself during the defense of Sevastopol in the Crimean War. The craft was to be transferred to Sevastopol for trials.

Although it was apparent that the Russian Navy was proceeding with caution with regard to submarine construction and clearly did not intend to invest large sums of money, a number of projects were under some form of official consideration at the beginning of the century. One of these was designed by Dzhevetskiy, who had lived in Paris since 1893. The design had been reviewed at the New Admiralty yard in St. Petersburg for its practicability in 1901, but had been discarded.

In May 1901 the Bubnov committee completed its work and proposed to the Naval Technical Committee the development of a submarine based on the Holland design, with some major design changes coming from Bubnov. These changes principally consisted of situating the main ballast tanks aft and incorporating the Dzhevetskiy drop-collar launching system rather than internally (tube) launched torpedoes. These features would be standard on most submarine designs pre- pared in Russia up to 1915.

Detail design work on the undersea craft recommended by the Bubnov committee began forthwith, and on 5 July 1901 the prototype boat, ultimately named DELFIN, was ordered from the Baltic Works in St. Petersburg. Construction proceeded under great secrecy under the direction of Bubnov and now-Captain Beklernishev. The installation of the DELFIN’S machinery and other equipment was completed by the spring of 1903, and sea trials began on 20 June 1903. They were evidently quite successful.

The DELFIN was considered by the Russians to have been the first true combat submarine in their Navy. After the outbreak of the Russo-Japanese War in 1904 the DELFIN was employed as a training ship in the St. Petersburg area for officers and men assigned to new construction submarines.

By mid-1903 a Dzhevetskiy submarine design of some 800 tons appears to have been under consideration or possibly under construction, also at the Baltic Works in St. Petersburg. There is no record that the 800-ton Dzhevetskiy boat was completed, if indeed she was actually begun. This particular unit was stilI listed in the 1909 edition of the German yearbook Nauticus, although by that time it had certainly ceased to exist.

In commenting on the Russian Navy’s attitude toward submarines at this time, the German naval attaché in St. Petersburg noted, “Although perhaps at the moment there are only limited funds available, I would like to bring to your attention that perhaps with the exception of some problems still to be resolved there will be no further delays in ordering submarines. There is a highly favorable attitude towards this new weapon in the officer corps as well as among the engineers, reinforced by the belief that both types are truly Russian inventions.

In this vein, encouraged by the success of the DELFIN, the Naval Ministry on 13 August 1903 ordered the development of a design for a larger submarine. On 20 December 1903, the Naval Technical Committee approved the design of the KASATKA class of 140 tons prepared by the team of Bubnov and Beklemishev. It was at the same time also agreed to construct ten sub- marines of this design through 1914. The lead unit, named KASATKA (swallow), was ordered from the Baltic Works on 2 January 1904, further establishing that shipyard as the premier Russian submarine builder.

The next four units were ordered from the Baltic Works on 24 February 1904, with a sixth, funded by public subscription, ordered on 26 March 1904. These submarines were:

SKAT (ray)

NALIM (burbot)

MAKREL (mackerel)

OKUN’ (perch)


Thus, the first five submarines of the class were named for fish, while the sixth remembered a Commander in Chief of Peter the Great’s forces in victories in the Baltic area. The construction of these six submarines was accelerated with the outbreak of the Russo-Japanese War in February 1904, and all six units were launched between July and August 1904. Under the pressure of war, the KASATKA was the only unit to be assembled for trials in the Baltic. The other were prepared for transfer in sections by railroad to the Far East.

The initial trials of the KASATKA were not very successful and steering difficulty was noted during the first dive. This was caused by a design fault that had placed the conning tower-and hence the center of buoyancy-too far forward. This stability problem was temporarily solved by adding a second conning tower aft. (Permanent new conning towers were not installed until 1906-1907.) Another defect was that the paraffin engines ordered from Germany had not been ready in time to be installed (and in fact were never delivered). The trouble was that these engines were to have been capable of burning either lamp paraffin or heavy oil. The German Koerting firm was to have provided these engines for the KASATKA as well as the subsequent KARP class. These engines were supposed to be safer than petrol or gasoline engines. However, Koerting had only built small, eight-horsepower engines of this type and had encountered delays in producing the larger engines. A makeshift solution was found for the Russian submarines by instead mounting a small dynamo for charging the storage batteries. Another problem occurred with the KASATKA on 2 October 1904, when it was found that a hatch was not watertight.

In general, however, the trials were sufficiently successful that the KASATKA, SKAT, NALIM. and FELDMARSHAL GRAF SHEREMETEV were loaded for transport by train to Vladivostok on 17 November 1904. Completion of the two remaining submarines was delayed until 1907.

During 1905 the small experimental submarine KETA was constructed by the engineering works of G. A. Lessner in St. Petersburg. This was a modified and lengthened Dzhevetskiy Type III craft, designed by a Lieutenant S. Yanovich. The craft was propelled by a gasoline engine driving one propeller shaft, and could be armed with two torpedoes. The KETA was also transferred to the Far East during the Russo-Japanese War. She was apparently not successful and was stricken from the Navy list on 19 June 1908.