Vic had to catch mis-firing mortars

A 4.2 mortar which Vic Jones had the pleasure of having to catch the mortar if it failed to fire.'Vic is to the left.
A 4.2 mortar which Vic Jones had the pleasure of having to catch the mortar if it failed to fire.'Vic is to the left.
Opening of the new school by the home secretary in October 1927. The headmaster, Canon Barton, is on the lowest step, on the left. Dorothea Barton is possibly there, somewhere. (PGS Archive)

NOSTALGIA: A red bluestocking at Portsmouth Grammar School

0
Have your say

Two weeks ago you may remember I published a story about Vic Jones, a 90-year-old army veteran.

I did not have enough room for all of Vic’s life story, so I am now featuring another episode from his amazing life.

Part of his service was in a mortar company and he told me of what happened when a mortar had a mis-fire.

Working on a 4.2in mortar, the order was to wait for three minutes.

If there was no reaction you had to shake the pipe and then wait for another minute.

If there was still no reaction (and this is the best bit), one member of the unit had to lift the bottom of the mortar and turn it upside down so that the mortar slid out.

It was Vic’s job to catch the mortar in his lap. Yes, in his lap.

The detonator was in the head of the mortar so it was not allowed to land on the ground for obvious, rather explosive reasons.

On this particular day the mortar mis-fired and after going through the process the corporal was about to turn the mortar upside down to release it.

But with Vic waiting to catch it, it went off, straight over the top of Vic’s forehead!