Livens Large Gallery Flame Projector
Livens Large Gallery Flame Projectors were large experimental flamethrower
A flamethrower is a mechanical device designed to project a long controllable stream of fire.Some flamethrowers project a stream of ignited flammable liquid; some project a long gas flame. Most military flamethrowers use liquids, but commercial flamethrowers tend to use high-pressure propane and...

s used by the British Army in World War I
World War I
World War I , which was predominantly called the World War or the Great War from its occurrence until 1939, and the First World War or World War I thereafter, was a major war centred in Europe that began on 28 July 1914 and lasted until 11 November 1918...


They were named after their inventor, a Royal Engineers officer William Howard Livens
William Howard Livens
William Howard Livens DSO MC was an engineer, a soldier in the British Army and an inventor particularly known for the design of chemical warfare and flame warfare weapons. Resourceful and clever, Livens’ successful creations were characterised by being very practical and easy to produce in large...

. Four were deployed in 1916 the Battle of the Somme and one in 1917 in an offensive near Diksmuide
Diksmuide is a Belgian city and municipality in the Flemish province of West Flanders. The municipality comprises the city of Diksmuide proper and the former communes of Beerst, Esen, Kaaskerke, Keiem, Lampernisse, Leke, Nieuwkapelle, Oostkerke, Oudekapelle, Pervijze, Sint-Jacobs-Kapelle,...

, Belgium. Two of the weapons at the Somme were destroyed by German shelling before they could be used, but the other two were used at the start of the offensive. Their use is a possible explanation for helping the success of the British in those particular sectors of the front. British losses there were comparatively few.

The weapons were 56 feet (17.1 m) long, weighed 2.5 long tons (2.5 MT), took a carrying party of 300 men to bring the pieces to the front line and were assembled and operated by a crew of eight. The weapon was designed to be used from a shallow tunnel dug under no man's land. The weapon consisted of a long chamber containing the fuel, a 14 inches (35.6 cm) diameter pipe and a nozzle on the surface. A piston-driven compressed gas was pushed into the long fuel chamber – and fuel was forced out of the surface nozzle, ignited and directed to the target.

Historians Peter Barton
Peter Barton (historian)
Peter Arthur Barton is a First World War historian and author. His body of research includes finding hundreds of previously unseen panoramas, mass graves of soldiers and tunnel excavations. Mr...

 and Jeremy Banning with archaeologists Tony Pollard
Tony Pollard
Tony Pollard is an archaeologist specialising in the archaeology of conflict. He is Director of the Centre for Battlefield Archaeology at Glasgow University...

 and Iain Banks from the Centre for Battlefield Archaeology at Glasgow University were successful in May 2010 in finding at Mametz
Mametz, Somme
Mametz is a commune in the Somme department in Picardie in northern France.-Geography:Mametz is situated on the D64 road, some northeast of Amiens.-Population:-External links:*...

 the remains of one of the Livens Large Gallery Flame Projectors. This project was undertaken for a Channel 4 Time Team
Time Team
Time Team is a British television series which has been aired on Channel 4 since 1994. Created by television producer Tim Taylor and presented by actor Tony Robinson, each episode features a team of specialists carrying out an archaeological dig over a period of three days, with Robinson explaining...

documentary first broadcast on 14 April 2011. A full size, working model of the weapon was constructed to prove its efficacy.

External links

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