Leach Trench Catapult

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Leach Trench Catapult
Type Catapult
Place of origin United Kingdom
Service history
In service 1915–1916
Used by United Kingdom
Wars World War I
Production history
Designer Claude Pemberton Leach
Designed 1915
Manufacturer Gamages
Unit cost £6 17s 6d
Produced March–October 1915
Number built 152[1]
Effective firing range 200 yd (180 m)

The Leach Trench Catapult (sometimes called a Leach-Gamage Catapult) was a bomb-throwing catapult used by the British Army on the Western Front during World War I. It was designed to throw a 2 lb (0.91 kg) projectile in a high trajectory into enemy trenches. Although called a catapult, it was effectively combination crossbow and slingshot.[2] It was invented by Claude Pemberton Leach as an answer to the German Wurfmaschine, a spring-powered device for propelling a hand grenade about 200 m (220 yd).[1]

The design was a Y shaped frame with natural rubber bands pulled taut by a windlass and held in position by a hook release. They were manufactured by the Gamages department store in Central London and cost just £6 17s 6d to make.[1] In tests, the Leach Catapult could propel a golf ball 200 yd (180 m), and a cricket ball or Mills bomb 120–150 yd (110–140 m).[1] However, with new rubbers it was reported to be able to propel a Jam Tin Grenade or No. 15 Ball grenade up to 200 yd (180 m).[3]

The first was produced in March 1915 and by October of that year over 150 had been produced. 20 were allocated to each Division.[1] From the end of 1915 they were replaced by the French-made Sauterelle grenade launcher, and in 1916 by the 2 inch Medium Trench Mortar and Stokes mortar.[3]

Copies of the Leach Catapult, made locally by the Royal Engineers, were used in the Gallipoli Campaign.[4]


  1. ^ a b c d e Gary Sheffield (2007). War on the Western Front: In the Trenches of World War I. Osprey Publishing. p. 201. ISBN 1846032105. 
  2. ^ Arthur G Credland. "The Crossbow and the Bow in Modern Warfare". Arms & Armour. 7 (1): 53–103. 
  3. ^ a b Hugh Chisholm (1922). The Encyclopædia Britannica: The New Volumes, Constituting, in Combination with the Twenty-nine Volumes of the Eleventh Edition, the Twelfth Edition of that Work, and Also Supplying a New, Distinctive, and Independent Library of Reference Dealing with Events and Developments of the Period 1910 to 1921 Inclusive, Volume 1. Encyclopædia Britannica Company Limited. p. 470. 
  4. ^ Stephen J. Chambers (2003). Gully Ravine. Leo Cooper. p. 81. ISBN 0850529239.