The Tyneside Scottish Trench Mortar Battery

The trench mortar battery was manned by members of the brigade who undertook special training.

Under the command of Lt E.F.Bowkett, the battery was armed with four Stokes mortars. Stokes design was simple but highly effective. It consisted chiefly of a smooth metal tube fixed to a base plate with a light bi-pod mount. When a bomb was dropped into the tube an impact sensitive cartridge at the base of the bomb would make contact with a firing pin at the base of the tube, thereby ejecting the bomb.The Stokes mortar could fire as many as 22 bombs per minute and had a maximum range of 1,200 yards. The Stokes came in three parts: the firing tube (43 lbs), the base plate (28 ibs) and the bipod (37 obs), a total of 108 lbs.

A 3-man Stokes mortar team

The TMB was one of the most unpopular jobs in the brigade as no sooner had they opened up on the ememy than they were themselves fired upon. Both by similar German short range weapons and larger more accurate artillery. Consequently casualties in the battery were very high.

During the battle of the 1st July 1916 Lt Bowkett move two of his mortars into no-mans land between the British and German trench lines and poured fire on the enemy. Retaliation was quick and both motars were quickly destroyed. Lt Bowkett then took his surviving men forward and joined the troops attacking, using his men as a bombing party.

The original members of the battery were issued with the distinctive shoulder title shown above, consequently very few have survived and this is by far the rarest badge issued to members of the whole brigade.