BOCHE BUSTER

His Majesty’s 18in Railway Howitzer ‘Boche Buster’ was the largest super heavy artillery gun to be manned by the British Army in the field. Gerry van Tonder profiles this mighty weapon of war

To quote Lt Arthur Walker, 79th Highlanders, School of Musketry, Fleetwood: “The advantages of railways considered from a strategical point of view, and their importance as a new agent in war fare, have recently engaged a considerable amount of public attention. But it could hardly be anticipated that a subject so large and comprehensive in its bearings, could be exhausted in one discussion.

“Although Captain Tyler [RE] admirably explained the important functions that railways had fulfilled, up to the present time at least, he failed, I think, to explain fully their incalculable value to us in our insular position, as a means of defence against invasion. He referred to them more as a tool, and not as a weapon; nor did he allude to the available power which they possess in our case, of supplying moveable batteries for coast defence, using guns fixed on appropriate carriages or trucks, which shall be able to strike a decisive blow at any point suggested by circumstances – indeed, coming into action like a tropical thunder-cloud in rapidity, and as effective in destruction.” Writing Coast Railways and Railway Artillery under the pseudonym Lt Arthur Walker, in 1865 British locomotive engineer and inventor William Bridge Adams revisited a concept he had raised six years earlier in which he envisaged a circular, twin railway track around London on which mobile artillery pieces could travel to protect the city. Not unlike those of tramways, the tracks would be embedded in tarred road surfaces

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