Livens Large Gallery Flame Projector
|Livens Large Gallery Flame Projector|
|Place of origin||United Kingdom|
|Used by||British Army|
|Wars||First World War|
|Designer||William Howard Livens|
|Number built||at least 5 (?)|
|Weight||2.5 long tons (2.5 t)|
|Length||56 feet (17 m)|
Four flamethrowers were deployed in 1916 the Battle of the Somme and one in 1917 in an offensive near Diksmuide, Belgium. Two of the weapons at Somme were destroyed by German shelling before they could be used, but the other two were used at the start of the offensive. Their use may have helped the British in those sectors of the front as British losses there were comparatively low.
The weapons were 56 feet (17 m) long, weighed 2.5 long tons (2.5 t), took a carrying party of 300 men to bring them to the front line and assemble them, and were operated by a crew of eight. The Livens Large Gallery Flame Projector was designed to be used from a shallow tunnel dug under no man's land. The weapon consisted of a long chamber containing the fuel, a 14-inch (360 mm) diameter pipe and a nozzle on the surface. The nozzle was hidden in the chamber underground until needed, then pushed upwards through the earth by a pneumatic cylinder. Compressed gas stored in cylinders drove a piston forwards, forcing fuel out of the surface nozzle, to be ignited and directed at the target. The maximum range of the weapon was 30 to 40 m (100 to 130 ft).
Historians Peter Barton and Jeremy Banning with archaeologists Tony Pollard and Iain Banks from the Centre for Battlefield Archaeology at Glasgow University were successful in May 2010 in finding at Mametz the remains of one of the Livens Large Gallery Flame Projectors. This project was undertaken for an episode of archaeological television programme Time Team first broadcast on 14 April 2011. A full size, working model of the weapon was constructed to prove its efficacy.
- Jasper Copping (9 May 2010). "Secret terror weapon of the Somme battle 'discovered'". The Sunday Telegraph. Telegraph Media Group. Retrieved 11 April 2011. "Unleashed at the start of the Battle of the Somme, it produced a terrifying effect the like of which had never before been seen on a battlefield"
- "Breathing Fire – Le dragon de la Somme (videos)". Historial de le Grande Guerre (in French). Retrieved 11 Nov 2012.
- "Flame-Thrower". Spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk. Retrieved 2014-08-17.
- Jeremy Banning: freelance military historian and researcher – Channel 4 Time Team Special on archaeological dig for the Livens Flame Projector dig at Mametz, Somme to be aired at 9pm on Thursday 14 April (Accessed 11 April 2011)
- Test firing of the weapon - image.