Ghost Gun.

Discussion in 'Italy' started by ozzy16, Sep 17, 2018.

  1. ozzy16

    ozzy16 Patron Patron

    I was reading the war diary today of the 2nd battalion Lancashire Fusiliers at Monte Cassino.It states on the 5th April 1944 a ghost gun was set up in no-mans land to presumably confuse the germans in the Monastery.

    Wishing to find out more about this ghost gun, I looked in John Hallam's very good book, The History Of The Lancashire Fusiliers 1939-1945.
    He writes,
    Other ways were devised to keep the enemy in the Monastery always uncomfortable.One of the most successful was the Ghost Gun.
    The Ghost Gun was a .303 Vickers of the machine-gun platoon which had been fixed up in no-mans land, the CO providing the ideas, Sergeant 'Mucky' Mason the technical know-how,in such a way that it could be fired by remote control. A length of cable was attached to the trigger mechanism and laid out carefully along the , ground, taking care to avoid any rocks or other snarls that might foul it, until the other end lay ready to hand on Machine Gun Ridge.
    Each day, in the earliest hours of dawn, Sergeant Mason went out to the Ghost Gun, loaded it with a fresh belt,and aimed it at one of the windows of the Monastery. Then, from the comparative safety of his shelter,he would fire a burst from time to time during the day. Machine guns and mortars would search for it from the German side, and the ghost gun would relapse into silence. Then just as the Germans were congratulating themselves on having stopped it, Sergeant Mason would give another pull on the cable and the whole business began over again.

    See image of the Monastery drawn 1st April 1944. taken from the L/F war diary.(click on the image to enlarge)
    regards............Graham. lf1.jpg
     
    Tony56, Dave55, Chris C and 7 others like this.
  2. Interesting story. I can think of a couple of ways it can be done without making any permanent changes. I'll have to have a go and see whether I can replicate it!

    The biggest problem would be ensuring a good belt feed, particularly if it was being shelled.

    My grandfather spoke of something similar using a pencil to activate the trigger mechanism whilst you could retire from the gun.

    Rich
     
    ozzy16 and von Poop like this.
  3. ozzy16

    ozzy16 Patron Patron

    Found these two photos of a Vickers Machine Gun.
    Note the ammo belt feed.

    Graham.
    vickers1.jpg vickers2.jpg
     
    Tricky Dicky and CL1 like this.
  4. The belt bounces around a lot when firing, hence the need for a No 2 to support the belt when firing. The belt box carrier in the first photo you post goes someway to doing that but it is still susceptible to feed stoppages.

    I'll grab one of the guns out later on in the week and see how it could work.

    Richard
     
    ozzy16, Tricky Dicky and CL1 like this.
  5. ozzy16

    ozzy16 Patron Patron

    Richard,
    If you seriously are going to try it out, try and record the results and post here.I'm pretty sure we would all like to see what happens.

    Cheers........Graham.
     
    andy007 and Richard Fisher like this.
  6. Bringing up this old thread (to remind me where it is) as we did some firing from the Vickers yesterday and set this up. It worked quite well. I'll put together a video and share in the next few days.
     
    ozzy16, AB64 and von Poop like this.
  7. ltdan

    ltdan Nietenzähler

    ozzy16 likes this.
  8. That's one of the sources we've used. And it made me go and buy a copy of the book as it's one we don't have in the collection. That's a very well researched page so I'll be leaning quite heavily on it. I also found an IWM sound archive recording that mentions it too.
     
  9. Robert-w

    Robert-w Well-Known Member

    Some time in 1915/16 kit became available to allow the Vickers to be operated using a lanyard. This was to allow the gun to be sighted and operated remotely from the below the trench parapet using a periscope sight and was based on a development first trialled for the Maxim in 1901 but put on ice because nobody could think of a use for it at the time. Possibly some of this kit was still available in WW2?
     
  10. Hi Robert, I think you're thinking of the hyposcope that was developed and put into service. This was an arrangement that fitted on the crosspiece of the gun and incorporated a periscope. It saw service in the Great War and there are a fair few photos of it in use but not something that lasted to the Second World War. The account of Mason is how he uses wire (or string) to fire it.
     
  11. The 'Ghost Gunner' of Monte Cassino is an interesting story about how to avoid return fire by setting the Vickers to fire remotely using wire. It can then be used for harassing fire during the day (on a fixed line) and ammunition replenished at night. This video explores how this could be made to work using one of the Vickers in our collection.

    This information largely comes from: John (Mucky)Mason DCM

    The videos (especially firing videos) cost significant amounts to put together. Please support the Association on Patreon to develop more of them: Vickers MG Collection and Research Association is creating Military history videos and sharing research | Patreon

     
    AB64 and ozzy16 like this.
  12. Robert-w

    Robert-w Well-Known Member

    Indeed and the gun so fitted could be fired with a lanyard from below the parapet. I believe that the lanyard fitting was also used for guns with trip wires pre targeted on gaps in the wire, bridges etc. My point was given that such kit had been available to draw from store (and there were documents announcing this) some might still have been there. One can be amazed at how long obsolete items can linger in stocks.
     
  13. Stuart Avery

    Stuart Avery In my wagon & not a muleteer.

    Rich,

    here are the pages from The History of the Lancashire Fusiliers 39-45 by John Hallam. I was correct in thinking that a VC was awarded to a Fusilier of 2 L F. His name was Frank Jefferson. He knocked out a Mark IV German tank ( see page 90 & 91!) Also included is a photo of Major F Majdalany. Well done with video & thanks. Any body got the citation of Jefferson?
    rsz_82.jpg
    rsz_83.jpg
    rsz_84.jpg
    Circled in red to highlight the position.
    rsz_85.jpg
    rsz_86.jpg
    rsz_87.jpg
    rsz_88.jpg
    rsz_89.jpg
    rsz_90.jpg
    rsz_91.jpg
    rsz_92.jpg
    I do like these below.
    rsz_93.jpg
    rsz_94.jpg
    rsz_95.jpg
    Regards,
    Stu.
     
  14. ozzy16

    ozzy16 Patron Patron

    I did have his citation on my on my old windows 7 laptop which has long since had the hammer put through it.
    Frank had his VC stolen and was so distressed by it, he was killed after being hit by a train, very sad end to such a great hero.

    R I P Frank Jefferson :poppy:

    Graham.
     
    Last edited: Sep 18, 2020 at 10:43 PM
  15. Thank you so much for posting those Stuart. My copy of The Monastery arrived yesterday so I feel like I might do a follow up at some point with all this additional information and explain (or try to) what the 2 Lancs Fus were doing with an MMG Pl when they shouldn't have had one as an Inf Bn.

    All the best

    Rich
     

Share This Page