HMS Heron Field Gun Team Eager to Run
HMS Heron’s Field Gun Crew finished off their training at the Royal Naval Air Station Yeovilton, ahead of the Brickwoods Field Gun Competition at HMS Collingwood in Hampshire on 26 May. The final public run was in front of Commodore Paul Chivers OBE, Commanding Officer of RNAS Yeovilton and personnel from the base.
Clocking a record time of 1 minute 19 seconds for the Yeovilton track they head off to Portsmouth in a buoyant mood with the confidence of champions and the current holders of the Brickwoods Trophy.
Chief Petty Officer Lou Lewis, First Trainer for HMS Heron, said “Were looking pretty good, we’ve had a lot of trouble with injuries and the weather but after today we head down to Collingwood and we’ll get a look at the enemy, we can’t wait for the competition to start”
The origins of the field gun competition lie in the Second Boer War in South Africa. The legendary story tells of the siege of the British garrison at Ladysmith in 1899. Supporting the British Army, the Royal Navy landed guns from HMS Terrible and HMS Powerful to help in the relief of the siege. The Naval Brigade transported guns over difficult terrain and brought them into action against the Boers.
The Brickwoods competition simulates the drill which would have been undertaken to bring a naval field gun into action during the march to Ladysmith. Up to 16 Crews from across the Naval service at Home and two from Naval bases in Naples and Gibraltar take part with the Army and RAF also entering teams. Knock out heats take place on the Friday before the main event on the Saturday where the “Men of Heron” hope to be lining up in the final once again. The "Brickwoods" trophy itself is a reproduction in silver of a 12 Pounder field gun and a gun crew of seven sailors.
The Gun itself weighs in at 850 pounds with a total weight of just close to a ton when you take into account the Limber and wheels. Each crew consist of 18 men and is run over a 100 yard track. The current Brickwoods record is held by Portsmouth in 1 minute 17 seconds.