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May 09, 2009

By hand and ingenuity

Robert Hardman celebrates the Royal Navy's field gun race.

This is a competition rooted in that most politically incorrect of imperial conflicts, the Boer War. In 1900, the entire British Empire rejoiced after British forces, besieged inside the South African town of Ladysmith for 119 days, were finally relieved. They owed their salvation, in part, to 280 Royal Navy sailors, even though Ladysmith is 100 miles inland.

The men of the Naval Brigade removed six guns from their warships and placed them on hastily-constructed gun carriages. These were moved inland first by rail, then by mule and, ultimately, by hand and ingenuity. Once in action, they brought down enough withering fire to drive off the Boers and liberate the diseased and starving garrison.

Queen Victoria was most impressed and dispatched a congratulatory telegram to the Naval Brigade, who returned home to a euphoric welcome. They were soon re-enacting their heroics at the Grand Military Tournament which, in due course, became the Royal Tournament, the annual celebration of the British Forces.

The owner of the Castle replies with YouTube documentary evidence in case I had never seen such a race run.

Posted by Ghost of a flea at May 9, 2009 09:48 AM


The Canadian Navy used to do an East vs West gun run contest at the Ex every year, until they were all sent overseas.

Posted by: cm [TypeKey Profile Page] at May 9, 2009 10:48 AM