The Ordnance Quick Firing 25-pounder was the primary British field gun and howitzer during the Second World War. It combined the ability to provide both high-angle and direct-fire with quick firing rates of fire on a mobile platform.
Designed in the 1930s the 25 Pdr was a 3.45 inches (87.6 mm) calibre weapon firing a shell weighing 25 pounds (11.3 kg), hence the name 25 Pdr. It was mounted on a 2 wheeled carriage utilising a circular firing platform. The firing platform was attached to the gun and when lowered it transferred most of the recoil forces to the ground thereby providing a very stable firing base. It also provided the gun with the ability to traverse rapidly using the road wheels.
The 25 Pdr used variable charge ammunition, with the shell being loaded first followed by the cartridge in its brass shell. It was fitted with both direct and indirect sights to provide accurate, rapid fire for both the howitzer and direct fire role with a maximum range of 12253m (13400 yds).
Associated with the 25 Pdr was the limber or artillery trailer which contained the ammunition and could be hooked to the gun and then to the tractor – generally a Morris Quad type, but in airborne use frequently a Jeep. There was a 6 man crew consisting of commander, breech operator, layer, loader, and 2 men responsible for the ammunition.
The 25 Pdr saw limited wartime use with airborne forces with 2 guns being transported on Op Varsity in Horsa gliders with the The 53rd (Worcestershire Yeomanry) Airlanding Light Regiment, Royal Artillery.
The first one was flown in glider number 305, under the command of Battery Sergeant Major: Bentley and Serjeant. Nichols with four Gunners, but was lost on the landing when the glider was hit by enemy fire, set on fire, and all the crew were wounded.
The second one was flown in glider 364, under the command of Lance Bombardier’s Pettifer and Hale and four Gunners, and was landed successfully and brought into action.
War Diary extracts:
"24th March 1945.
16.00 hours. 211Battery had 8 guns in action (3 from 210 Battery). 212 Battery had 8 guns and 1 x 25 pounder (3 from 210 Battery). Capt Stewart in E OP was the only regular troop comd in action. He was in 1 RUR area. Lt. B. Cotton manned F Troop OP in 52 LI area. Lt Harper C Troop OP and Lt Pentelow D Troop OP in 5 Para Bde area.
25th March 1945
09.30 to 11.30 hours. 88mm intermittent shelling on E Troop position. No casualties but E Troop moved at 12.00 hrs to 185485. Troop positions were:- C 183494 D 183491 E 187488 F 187486. The 25 pounder fired red smoke most of the morning for typhoons in Ringenberg area."
Trials and modifications continued post war with trials for the gun to be parachuated and guns, both modified and unmodified were used in several theatres in the late 1940s and into the 1950s.
1633Kg (3600 Ibs)
-5 to +45 degrees
360 degrees on platform
Rate of Fire
3 Rounds Per Minute (RPM) normal, 5 RPM intense
Source: Airborne Assault Archives.Read More