Big Guns Of The Boer War
The Second Anglo Boer War centenary celebrations took place in 2001, and since then we saw a flow of new historical writings on the subject. These writings just Colt Night Cobra illustrate how the great battle between the South African Boers (Burghers) and the British of more than a hundred years ago continue to exercise a fascination. The Anglo Boer war was not just another war. It was a war that happened in a very exciting time in our history, the beginning of the technological age. The most fascinating question of this war was probably how the 60,291 Boer Burghers (untrained, unskilled and undisciplined) could hold the 458,610 well trained soldiers of the British at bay for so long. The answer might lie in the fact that the British seriously underestimated the fire power of the BIG GUNS of the Boers.
The secret weapon of the Boers that made a big difference was the legendary LONG TOM. The 155mm Creosot gun, earned this nickname (given by the British) due to due to the long barrel and its long firing range. President Paul Kruger was not very pleased with this name, but it soon became a popular word on everybody’s lips and there was nothing he could do about it. Kruger imported these guns from Schneider & Co in Creosot (France) in 1886, mainly to serve as fortress guns to protect the city of Pretoria from enemy attacks. Each of the four Long Toms ordered was supplied complete with 8000 shells. This was an excellent fortress gun, because when elevated, the 94 lb (42,6 kg) shells could fired at a distance of about 11 000 yards (10 154 m), which was the longest range of any gun in use during that time. Each of the four guns received a name based on the name of the hill on which the fortresses were positioned, intended to defend the main approaches to Pretoria, namely Wonderboompoort, Klapperkop, Schanzkop, and Daspoort. Recoil goes hand in hand with a heavy firing power. To keep the big gun in position after a shot it had to be mounted on a special base plate with the brakes bolted down. Later during one of the wars the Boers used these pieces in action without a base plate, which send the gun running backwards for 40 meters. The Boers then realized that this was a good strategy to use when they need to retreat quickly.