One For the Brits-Livens Flame Projector


#1

Thursday April 14th 9pm Channel 4
A Time Team Special. Digging on the Somme to find evidence of a top secret terror weapon. A Livens Flame Projector.


#2

Refer these TV producer folks over to my store on Ebay. My reference CD on the Liven has everything they need to know on the subject. CSAEOD. The place to go for folks who want to know.


#3

Thanks for the link, I know they played around with these things but (as I understand it) the problem lay with the pressure required to project the burning mixture far enough against keeping all the joints leakproof but still light enough to make it transportable. Also, as soon as it started working it would give its position away and a heavy artillery bombardment would surely follow.


#4

Used on most fronts and by most of the European armies. Not really a bad way to throw this stuff in a trench stalemate kind of war. The cannisters are still turning up in the Wash DC area land fill near American University where they were tested.

The German manual on the US Army of the WW2 era ( which you can also buy on my Ebay store) shows these as current weapons. Our military kept the chemical weapons options open and enhanced the stories and bogus stockpiles to keep Germany wasting money on defensive measures. Note how many German troops carried gas masks.


#5

Here are some German sailors with one of the MANY variations of the stovepipe weapons along the lines of the LIVENS projector. Some were compressed air throwers and some charge fired. Not a bad way to throw light weight high capacity projectiles for short distances ; thus the many types used on both sides.

Not too good for the crew if it failed.


#6

The forthcoming television program is not about the Livens projectors (tubes). It is about the excavation and recovery of the massive Livens trench flame thrower that was left in situ and buried at the end of the war. Thie machine was very narrow so that it can be positioned in the trench but about fifty feet long to accomodate the fuel tanks, pressure systems etc.

Does your CD have the full story on this as well?

Regards
tonyE


#7

No. Just the projectors.


#8

The forthcoming television program is not about the Livens projectors (tubes). It is about the excavation and recovery of the massive Livens trench flame thrower that was left in situ and buried at the end of the war. Thie machine was very narrow so that it can be positioned in the trench but about fifty feet long to accomodate the fuel tanks, pressure systems etc.

Does your CD have the full story on this as well?

Regards
tonyE[/quote]

Tony thats more what I had envisaged but not that big. Do you know where on the Somme it is?


#9

I do know, but I have been asked to not publicise it until after the broadcast!

Cheers
TonyE


#10

Well the programme is on at the moment, I am recording it but can’t watch it until tomorrow because my wife and son are hogging the main TV. Anyway, I am just back from the range with a couple of guns to clean. So you can tell us now where it was Tony and did you have any input into it? You rather implied you might have.


#11

The excavation was near Mametz. That particular projector was thought not to have been used on 1st July but two others further down the front were.

No, I had no input into the program or the dig, but I know the people involved (Peter Barton et al) and have been aware of what was going on from the beginning. I am a member (and Hon.Sec.) of the Durand Group who explore and record the fighting tunnels and subways of the Western Front whilst Peter Barton and the Time Team tend to do surface archaeology (although they did enter the Valkyrie dug-out in Flanders a couple of years ago)

I shall be on a dig in France at the end of next month when we hiope to find access into a large subway.

Regards
TonyE


#12

Thanks for that Tony, I guess not many on here will know where Mametz is so we had better pull this one to a close. I still haven’t watched it, having a son home from University at the moment means the TV is not mine to watch.


#13

Didn’t get your broadcast here. Details ?


#14

Well the programme was quite good but very much along the Time Team format ie a bit light on detail. They found what they were looking for but the unit in question was buried by a shell which collapsed part of the tunnel near the entrance and it was never used on the day, Tony could fill us in so much more than I could on the tunnel aspects of the matter. The wood holding the tunnel at the entrance appears to have been salvaged later so it was left to collapse.
The tunnelling was so deep that they could only dig in places without fear of the sides falling in so it was not possible to recover all the projector.
The equipment was intended to be assembled within a sap (tunnel) and operated by an 8 man team from underground.
I was a bit suspicious of the shelling that collapsed the tunnel since it went in very deep ( 12ft?) before exploding and didn’t appear to be of the usual surface burst type. This to me suggests it was a targetted attack with prior knowledge of where the sap entrance was located but this wasn’t explored in the programme.

Anyway they found enough to call the project a success but I would have liked to have seen more. For example what was beyond the caved in section and were there any men left in the tunnel.(almost certainly given the facts) Since they knew the where the route of the sap ran, why not dig down further along to break into the uncollapsed section of the sap but they didn’t. that would have been more interesting.

Peter Barton can be very good but I found him ( or the editing) annoyingly vague at times. No doubt it will be on US TV before too long.


#15

This type of program which is designed for a general audience is often unsatisfying for collectors or historians. Most of the audience doesn’t care about the kind of detail which we like. Some years ago a psychologist read an article which I wrote for the “GUNREPORT” magazine about Imperial Russian ammunition. It was well received by the readers and collectors but this psychologist said it was the most boring article which he had ever read. Now, that is painful considerng some of the extensive drivel which a psychologist has to read. Details about cartridges , headstamps,loads,markings,packaging etc, make most folks eyes glaze over.

All of the ordnance collectors in the world do not total up to a fraction of a percent of the folks who watch soap operas.


#16

My son is a psycologist, if you like I will get him to read your article and say its fascinating if it will make you feel better.

You can only go so far with the TV viewing public, start going into detail and they switch channels.As the programme makers know only too well. This programmme was on British channel 4, supposedly an erudite and intellectual channel but in reality it dodged all the big questions and presented a thumb nail sketch of the story, with a lot of padding.

I would like to have known how a 12ft deep tunnel got collapsed from the side by a shell (clearly visible in the excavation, all the wood supports were blown in sideways not down) So no ordinary shell by the looks of it, and why they didn’t dig beyond the collapse on the programme. I suppose even 90+ years later the fact that there may have abandoned men still in the tunnel (probably) is still too contentious for public consumption.


#17

Thanks for the kind offer.

I don’t write any longer and am well past the point where I care what anyone thinks about anything except for my wife , my banker , my doctor , mechanic , handyman, Bill Woodin and a hand full of others, some on this forum, which I will not mention for the sake of propriety.

The penetration of some of the heavy shells used in WW1 was very deep. 12 feet would not have been a problem. Damage would certainly be away from impact.

The HISTORY CHANNEL did a series on guns some yeas ago which was quite good. Several IAA members contributed .

The best TV show ever made with detail about German bombs was your British series “Danger UXB” , excellent - except for the obligatory romance thrown in to get some women viewers to let their husbands watch it.

I have nothing but respect for those magnificient fellows .