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Great Britain

3-in. Stokes trench mortar

Trench artillery

Contributor :
Bernard Plumier      http://www.passioncompassion1418.com
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Location :
Pozieres (80)
Tommy's Bar
Coordinates : Lat : 50.03970 / Long : 2.72770
General comments on this surviving gun :

Identical items in the same location : 1
Items covered by this file : 1

The Tommy's Bar Stokes Mortar is exposed in an impressive diorama.

Zoom on the platform and the elevation setting wheel.

The fake soldier is simulating the introduction of the bomb inside the tube (probably not with battlefield stressed attitide !).

Historic and technical information
Denomination :     3-in. Stokes mortar Origin :       ( Stokes)          

Historic context :

Unprepared to the need of trench artillery that appeared in the end of 1914, the Allied Armies hastily developped several solutions to fill that gap. During that creative period, an English civilian, Wilfrid Stokes, proposed in January 1915 a mortar prototype whose simplicity will be the foundation of its planetary success.

The '3 inches Stokes mortar' was made of a simple smooth bore tube 3.2 inches caliber, mounted on two-legs at its upper end, and a steel plate base at its lower end. The elevation could be tuned thanks to a screw system linking the tube to the two legs.

The ammunition was a simple cylinder equipped with a modified grenade percussion detonator at one end, and a propulsive charge cartridge at the other end. Using that weapon was very simple, since one just had to let the round fall into the tube so that the propulsive cartidge would hit a percussion pin, and was ignited.

Light, robust, easily set-up in virtually any battlefield condition, powerful enough for infantry support missions, and allowing very high fire rates (25 rounds / minute), this weapon was a real winner. It was anyhow adopted only in June 1915, partly because it was not able to fire the existing stock of ammunitions.

But as soon as the Stokes Mortar was used on the battlefield, its success (despite some recoil issues) was so impressive than it became in 1917 a standard weapon of the British Armies (1636 such mortars in service in November 1918). It was also used by the French Armies from the end of 1917 (who increased the range and precision by using lighter fin tailed rounds). It remained in service until 1936 and was used in a more modern version during WW2. It is the ancestor of virtually every current infantry mortar in service nowadays.

Technical data :

  • Complete description : Stokes 3 inches trench mortar
  • Design year : 1915
  • Calibre : 81.20 mm (3.2 in)
  • Weight in firing position : 47 kg
  • Weight for transportation :
  • Tube length in calibres : 15.76
  • Grooves : 0 (smooth bore)
  • Projectile weight : 5.35 kg (cylindrique) ou 3.2 kg (Projectile empenné Français Brandt-Maurice)
  • Initial speed :
  • Fire rate : 25 rounds / minute
  • Range : 686 m (cylindric projectile) - 2000 m (French fin-tailed projectile Brandt-Maurice)
  • Elevation range : 45 to 75 degrees
  • Direction range : 18 degrees

  • Allied Artillery of World War One           Ian V. Hogg                   Crowood   1998  
  • Weapons of the Trench War 1914-1918       Anthony Saunders                   Sutton   1999