25-pounder in action in Korea

New Zealand artillery with a 25 pounder in action during the Korean War.

Commentary about this image by Bob Jagger

 Baker Troop (61 Battery) with a Twenty-five Pound Gun

There were eight guns altogether in each battery so that, for instance, Abel Troop and my troop, Baker, had four each. The four guns were each crewed by six men.

I was not actually on a gun crew. In a way, while we were called ‘gunners’, the rest of us in the troop were there to support the work of the twenty-four in the gun crew.

The gun detachment served the guns in crews of six, made up of a Number 1, the detachment commander (a sergeant); a Number 2, the breech operator and rammer, who operated the breech and rammed the shell; a Number 3, the layer; a Number 4, the loader; a Number 5, the ammunition handler; and a Number 6, the second ammunition handler, and normally the coverer, who was responsible for preparing the ammunition and setting the fuses (operating the fuse indicator). He was also the second-in-command.

Three gunners in this photo were actually operating the gun while three were resting. They’d be going twenty-four hours a day, so the guns were ready to fire at any time.

These days you can see a twenty-five pounder at Point Jerningham, Wellington, where it is used by the New Zealand Defence Force on formal occasions like the birth of a royal baby on, for the 21-gun salute.

The salute for Prince George was carried out on 23 July 2013 by members of the 16th Field Regiment, the artillery unit that is still based at Linton Military Camp.

The twenty-five pounder was first used in the Second World War. During the Korean War, it was the standard field gun of the 16th Field Regiment, and the New Zealand Artillery was to use it for another twenty-four years.

The twenty-five pounder was noisy, making a pretty loud bark. A good many gunners have suffered hearing loss since the hostilities in Korea. I have hearing aids, which the medical people put down to being in the artillery but my hearing loss isn’t as bad as that of some other gunners.

The guns had to have a lot of repair work, especially due to overheating in the high summer temperatures. Perhaps because they had been used in the Second World War, they needed a lot of attention. This work was done by artificers, skilled mechanics who were trained to do the job.

I believe that three of our guys were killed by a twenty-five pounder whose ammunition might have been faulty.

Can you identify the three gunners in this photo? Some of them may be from Hawkes Bay. Please email info@nzhistory.net.nz if you can help.

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