Minelab Safari Gets One Step Closer to Lawrence of Arabia
In November 2009 I returned to Jordan as part of The Great Arab Revolt Project, sadly when re-examining my luggage Jordanian customs had not put back the upper stem to my Safari and despite checks at the airport the item could not be located. Without going into a lengthy story Minelab brilliantly flew a replacement out to me which not only enabled me to metal detect, but also is directly responsible for the finding of several hundred coins and artefacts. One of these belonged to a 2.95 inch Mountain Gun, and was actually a fuse protector for one of the shells. Shaped like a small propeller it fitted onto the base of a shell reducing the chance of a detonation should the shell be accidentally dropped etc.[split]
Following this find extensive research by Guy of the ammunition experts not only identified the type of gun used, but also that the stamp it bore (VSM) showed it was manufactured by Vickers Son & Maxim. Guy has informed me that "the gun was a commercial development by VSM and marketed as a 75mm – only the army could insist on giving it an imperial designation! The ammunition was fixed (i.e. cartridge + projectile in one piece) with 3 types available: Shrapnel; Shell (powder-filled, not HE); Star-shell. The range was about 4,800yds. The government purchased 30 for use in the colonies. It is quite possible some went to Egypt - some were definitely used in Africa - so either way, a reasonably simple process to obtain some for supply to T.E. Lawrence.
Exactly how many were made available for Jordan is an interesting question – especially as there were, at the time, reservations by some about giving artillery to the Arabs. The Official History states that on 27 June 1916, Sir R. Wingate [Governor General of the Sudan] despatched two mountain batteries [2x4?], under Moslem officers [Sudanese army], along with other supplies. There are no specific details of how these were subsequently apportioned amongst the Arab armies.
One map that shows the forces at the battle at Tafila showed Lawrence with one Mountain Gun and his account of the battle, in the Army Quarterly of Apr-Jul 1921, also refers to "our Mountain Gun", which suggests that his force had just the one at that time. It looks as if there is every possibility that the fuse clip you found can be traced to one particular gun!" Therefore Minelab have played a massive part in the uncovering of this tremendously important historical artefact and on behalf of GARP and myself I would like to say a very big thank you to all at Minelab for this.