Infrastructure was a key component of wartime logistics: aiding the movement of personnel, weaponry, post and supplies. This fed in not only to conflict aims and needs but to more personal needs; the postal service boosted morale by giving troops a vital link to their loved ones. Engineers were crucial to infrastructure, by creating the supply lines on which the armed forces depended on.

Gun Wagons
The railways were important during the War for supply line reasons including the redistribution of munitions and heavy arms, as well as of troops, medical staff and general supplies. Both the Great Western (GWR) and Midland Railways (MR) used specific gun wagons for the moving of guns.

The GWR used Pollen B wagon sets 48979-48982, 48999-48900 to carry 12-inch BL guns Marks 8-10 for the moving of heavy guns, 45-58 tons. The MR used wagon set 9696 carrying 12, 13.5, 14, and 15 inch guns, these were even heavier at 67-97 tons. Technical drawings for both companies include side elevations showing basic dimensions, weights, and axle loads. Guns were moved both within Britain and on the Continent to position them for battle or strategic defence. The largest artillery was actually held by the Royal Navy for their dreadnaughts, the 'monster' guns moved by MR were most likely for this purpose.

Of course, dreadnaughts were not an option on the Front, but their guns were deployed against the concrete fortified German positions near the Somme and along the Hindenburg line. At first they put the gun on a wheel mount and attempted to secure it in place; advanced recoil mechanisms allowed for some success but deployment was still slow and cumbersome. The guns were moved by a tractor, this was slow and carried the risk of enemy capture.

Rail presented the perfect transport and firing platform for land-based naval ordnance. The gun could be moved relatively quickly along the rail system and the recoil could be dispersed by allowing the carriage to hurtle down the tracks (sometimes up to 100 feet). In some cases, a piece of curved siding was actually used to aim the gun. These guns could fire up to thirty miles and were capable of reaching far into the enemy’s rear positions. The culmination of the rail gun was the massive French Schneider 520mm howitzer. The shells this gun fired were over 24 inches in diameter and weighed 3,100 pounds. They were fused in such a way as to allow the shell to penetrate its target before detonation. Luckily for all involved, the war ended before they could be brought into service.

As well as rail becoming a platform for the direct deployment of guns, it was also used to transport guns and weapons of all sizes to where they were required. Entrenched lines meant that routes and workflow methods could be honed. As the Engineers Office charts of the South East & Chatham Railway show, they had to plan which lines were suitable for the carrying of which rolling stock and weaponry- the sheer weight of the haul being a prime consideration because of the risk collapse to the lines.

Book 1, Great Western Railway

Book 1, Great Western Railway

by User Not Found | 24 Jul, 2014


Leave a comment
  1. muhammad AK | Feb 21, 2018
    Very educational blog. Significantly thanks again. I am grateful for the article. Really many thanks! May read on. Many thanks ever so for the article. Really looking towards study more. Actually Great.
  2. muhammad AK | Feb 21, 2018
    Whoa, amazing blog. Thanks Again. Really Great. A circular of applause for your website article. Really thank you! Want more. Amazing post. Actually looking towards read more. Need more.iPedoqueé
  3. asa121 | Jan 03, 2018
  4. Noneng | Jan 03, 2018
  5. lenordao | Jan 03, 2018 dunali dilpreet dhillon
  6. leonardo | Jan 03, 2018
    this is really appreciate service i really thankful to your all team for this entire work. <a href="">dunali dilpreet dhillon</a>
  7. muhammad AK | Jan 02, 2018
    Actually enjoy you sharing this website post.Thanks Again. Awesome.male magazyny do wynajecia warszawa 
  8. muhammad AK | Jan 02, 2018
    Actually enjoy you sharing that website post.Thanks Again. Awesome.male magazyny do wynajecia warszawa 
  9. muhammad AK | Jan 02, 2018
    Enjoy you sharing, good article.Really looking forward to study more. Will read on...sprzatanie takt 
  10. muhammad AK | Jan 02, 2018
    Thanks for sharing, this is a amazing article post.Much thanks again. Really Cool.robot wiper 
  11. muhammad AK | Jan 02, 2018
    Enjoy you sharing, good blog.Really getting excited about study more. Fantastic.projektowanie stron 
  12. muhammad AK | Jan 02, 2018
    Great, thanks for sharing that website post.Really looking towards read more. May read on...scianki mobilne 
  13. muhammad AK | Jan 02, 2018
    I appreciate you discussing this article post.Much thanks again. Awesome.lingbart 
  14. muhammad AK | Jan 02, 2018
    This is one brilliant website post.Really getting excited about read more. Actually Cool.hostel poznan 
  15. muhammad AK | Jan 02, 2018
    Im grateful for the post.Really getting excited about study more. Cool.kancelaria wedzicha 
  16. muhammad AK | Jan 02, 2018
    I must say i benefit from the blog post.Really looking forward to study more. Really villa 
  17. muhammad AK | Jan 02, 2018
    I truly enjoy the content post.Much thanks again. Keep biznesowy
  18. muhammad AK | Jan 02, 2018
    Key thanks for the article post.Really looking towards study more. Really
  19. muhammad AK | Jan 02, 2018
    Thanks for sharing, this is a amazing blog.Really thanks! Really Great.smartdiet
  20. muhammad AK | Jan 02, 2018
    I really appreciate this informative article post.Really looking towards read more. Awesome.galwanizernia
  21. muhammad AK | Jan 02, 2018
    Very neat website article.Really looking towards read more. Great.e-improve agencja
  22. muhammad AK | Jan 02, 2018
    Wonderful website kosmetyczny warszawa 
  23. muhammad AK | Jan 02, 2018
    Thanks for your report post. Much ksero 
  24. muhammad AK | Jan 02, 2018
    Thanks so much for the article.Really looking towards study more. Much obliged.bluzy 
  25. muhammad AK | Jan 02, 2018
    Thanks a great deal for the content post.Really getting excited about study more. Awesome.Singapore VR 
  26. muhammad AK | Jan 02, 2018
    Thanks again for this article post.Much thanks again. Actually Cool.volume trading strategies 
  27. muhammad AK | Jan 02, 2018
    Many thanks ever so for you personally blog.Really getting excited about study more. Really Cool. BREAKING news  
  28. muhammad AK | Jan 02, 2018
    I seriously appreciate this article.Much thanks again. Want more.E44 
  29. muhammad AK | Jan 02, 2018
    Loved just of your website post.Thanks Again. May study download games
  30. muhammad AK | Jan 02, 2018
    I price the website article.Really many thanks! Keep persona u4500 
  31. muhammad AK | Jan 02, 2018
    Wow, great article.Much thanks again. Can study on...cable management products 
  32. muhammad AK | Jan 02, 2018
    Great post.Really thank you! nanny cam 
  33. muhammad AK | Jan 02, 2018
    Recognize you sharing, great post.Really many thanks! Significantly obliged.buying marijuana online
  34. muhammad AK | Jan 02, 2018
    Thanks a whole lot for the blog.Really many thanks! Want more.Web Hosting in Pakistan
  35. muhammad AK | Jan 02, 2018
    Actually liked this information post.Much thanks again. Cool.Yellow Pages Pakistan
  36. muhammad AK | Jan 02, 2018
    This is one amazing blog.Much thanks again. Significantly obliged.Segway MiniPRO
  37. muhammad AK | Jan 02, 2018
    Im obliged for the content post.Really looking forward to read more. Cool.Lets Antakshari
  38. muhammad AK | Jan 02, 2018
    whoa, wonderful article.Really looking towards read more. Fantastic.manuka honey wound care products
  39. muhammad AK | Jan 02, 2018
    wow, wonderful post.Thanks Again. Significantly obliged.what is manuka honey 
  40. muhammad AK | Jan 02, 2018
    I can not thanks enough for the blog.Really thanks! Much obliged.DUDU OSUN African Black Soap
  41. john carter | Jan 02, 2018
  42. ferozshaikh ferozshaikh | Jan 02, 2018
    Hi, I find reading this article a joy. It is extremely helpful and interesting and very much looking forward to reading more of your work.. AC Market
  43. zxeq | Jan 02, 2018
    Nice to be visiting your blog once more. it has been months for me. Well this article that ive been waited for therefore long. i want this article to finish my assignment within the faculty. and it has same topic together with your article. Thanks. nice share. Surrey newborn photography
  44. ddssdsds | Jan 02, 2018
    Wonderful illustrated information. I thank you about that. No doubt it will be very useful for my future projects. Would like to see some other posts on the same subject!  nutrition for older adults
  45. shrndhln | Jan 02, 2018
    Brilliant details and effective articles shakeology ingredients
  46. deews | Jan 01, 2018

    visit this page

    I discovered your site ideal for me. It consists of wonderful and useful posts. I've read many of them and also got so much from them. In my experience, you do the truly amazing.Truly i'm impressed out of this publish

  47. sarah | Jan 01, 2018
    Love to read it,Waiting For More new Update and I Already Read your Recent Post its Great Thanks. I may can inform others to see and check always this blog/article. May God help you in future. Until then I experiencing your content. Lion unisex hoodie
  48. muhammad AK | Jan 01, 2018
    Whoa I won't found any blog/article like this before in my full life.I will can tell the others to see and always check this blog/article. Might God assist you to in future.How to rank your website on page #1 of google?
  49. muhammad AK | Jan 01, 2018
    Amazing blog.Much thanks again. Need more.agencia detectives madrid
  50. muhammad AK | Jan 01, 2018
    Very cool report post.Really getting excited about study more. Can study on...bodybuilding protein

    Leave a comment

    Drawings and charts for the movement of guns on British railways.

    British Pathe film, Giant Gun on the Railway 1914-1918.


    Electrical Engineering Departments were first created by the Admiralty in 1903; Charles Henry Wordingham was made Superintending Electrical Engineer with two Assistants of whom William McClelland was one, the quotes are his. Electrical Engineers were appointed at each Dockyard. The war brought with it challenges for the fitting and maintenance of the fleet:

    “Early in the 1914-18 War, Admiral Sir Percy Scott, a well-known gunnery expert, walked into my room one morning, and, with his pencil drew on my blotting pad, an outline of a ship saying, “that’s the hull, that’s the tower; that’s the control room below; we want to control all turret guns from the top; if that is shot away, we then control from the room below; if that becomes flooded or damaged, we then control from a certain turret; any damaged parts must be capable of being isolated quickly with switch-over arrangements. Now McClelland, how long will it take to wire 30 first line ships at sea, the ships to remain at an hour’s notice for action?"

    McClelland's response was ignored, he was given 6 months and told to make arrangements to get the dockyard workmen to the Fleet. When the Fleet went to sea, the workmen often went with them; some were in action and were specially commended by the Commander in Chief.

    HMS Invincible, the fast Battle-Cruiser was urgently needed. She was under refit, her guns removed, and electrically she was nearly stripped. The extent of the electrical work involved was such that the Electrical Engineering Department could not complete the ship concurrently with other departments. Labour was not available in the dockyards. "The First Sea Lord said that, if it were a question of men, we should get them where we liked and how we liked, paying what was necessary, and if anyone say ‘nay’, that person should be referred to him, but without any doubt whatsoever, the ship must leave on the date given"He attached heavy penalties for any individual or Department failing to meet targets. Adverts were placed and over 200 men were found in a few days. Invincible left the dockyard on time; in the Falklands, she arrived just in time to catch and sink the German ships, the Scharnhorst and Gneisenau. "Thus the Electrical Engineering Departments got through the 1914-1918 War, by sheer hard work and determination".

    New designs of ships, new construction and maintenance seemed unending; senior staff were engaged with all sorts of new electrical problems almost daily, they were much worried by the constant pressure and over-work. As an indication of the magnitude of the tasks, the number of electrical refits of ships was 48,630; the organisation for that one item, with its enormous supplies of materials, electrical machinery, and equipment from all over the country, had to be created without any previous experience of prolonged war in a comparatively new industry. The smooth and rapid expansion was made possible by the recruitment of suitable junior officers from the dockyards, who worked very efficiently.

    Sir Oswyn Murray Letter P1
    Letter to McClelland from Sir Oswyn Murray, Permanent Secretary of the Admiralty (the head of the Admiralty Civil Service in 1917) regarding his war work.


    Engineers played a vital role in moving troops, supplies and equipment. At the beginning of the War, the British Army did not have specialist material for building heavy bridges, nor the technical intelligence to be able to work out what might be required. The earliest forms of equipment bridging were based on pontoons which continued to be useful carrying guns and light equipment across rivers but the introduction of mechanical transport resulted in a large increase of axle load and the need to develop bridges to take heavier loads.

    The first need for heavy bridges was over the River Aisne on 13 September 1914, when the retreating German army destroyed the Pont Saint Waast leaving the allies unable to follow. The Royal Engineers built several pontoon bridges over the next few weeks followed by a heavy wooden girder bridge, the Pont des Anglais, at Sousson. The bridge was built under enemy fire and using any available materials including floorboards from local houses; it took too long to build resulting in a demand for steel spans to be sent.

      The first British equipment bridge was called the Inglis Portable Military Bridge (Light Type) invented by Sir Charles Inglis. Although the spans were invented in 1909 whilst Inglis was involved with the Cambridge University Officer Training Corps, they were first used as a self-contained portable bridge during WWI. Inglis was commissioned into the Royal Engineers in 1914; in1916 he was put in charge of bridge design and supply at the War Office. The first Inglis bridge consisted of pyramidal bays 8ft square created by 8ft long steel tubes connected by specially designed fittings, not unlike modern scaffolding.  It was designed to carry infantry in single file over a 120ft span and was easily transported  requiring little specialist training to construct.  At the first demonstration in France, a 108ft span was thrown across a canal in 13 minutes by an untrained party of Army Service Corps. On 28 September 1918 200 sappers from the Royal Engineers built a 108 ft span bridge over the Canal du Nord at Marquion in twelve and a half construction hours over several days whilst under fire.

      Although the Inglis Bridge was the best military bridge of the time, being fast to construct and carrying heavy loads, its tubular steel construction made it expensive and slow to manufacture. The Hopkins Bridge designed by Captain Hopkins, Royal Engineers, was a cheaper alternative. This bridge used conventional steel girders bolted together but the bolts meant construction was much slower than the Inglis. This meant that when speed was an issue, an Inglis bridge was often built which was then later replaced by a Hopkins bridge allowing the Inglis bridge to be re-used. The Hopkins bridge was designed to carry tanks. It consisted of steel Warren trusses and could be made in spans of multiples of 15ft. It was successful and a lorry bridge was designed, it was still at the experimental stage in 1918.

      The main disadvantage of girder bridges such as the Inglis and Hopkins was that they were not very adaptable; resulting in them often being stronger and heavier than required.  This problem led to the design of the Martel box girder bridge in 1925 which was used in the Second World War. These latter developments were as a direct result of engineers work from 1914 onwards.

      WWI Hopkins road bridge213
      Line drawing with technical details, Hopkins.

      Hopkins road bridge
      Hopkins road bridge being placed during the war.

      120ft Hopkins Bridge at Arques
      120ft Hopkins Bridge in use during the war at Arques.

      ​'Giant Gun on Railway' film, British Pathe Archive.


      Gun wagon charts/drawings, IMechE Archive.

      McClelland letter and portrait, IET Archive.

      Hopkins Bridge images, ICE Archive.