Q. British Use of the Bangalore in WWII

Discussion in 'Weapons, Technology & Equipment' started by Old Git, Dec 23, 2010.

  1. Old Git

    Old Git Harmless Curmudgeon

    Can anyone tell me how much use British forces made of Bangalores in WWII? I know they were in use by Assault Engineers and Commando's on D-Day but what about later. Where they soley the preserve of Assault Engineers?

    Also, does anyone have any good pics of WWII era British-made bangalores? Im especially interested in any stencil markings along the side and also the design of crates and again stencilling on the outside of said crates?


  2. Owen

    Owen -- --- -.. MOD

  3. idler

    idler GeneralList Patron

    According to the Field Service Pocket Book of 1944, bangalores were within the scope of the Pioneer Platoon of the bog-standard Infantry Battalion, so presumably stocks were held. Their ability to clear paths through mines as well as wire was known, though not to be relied on according to the 1945 Field Engineering - Part 4 - Demolitions manual: the second link on this page. It doesn't have anything on markings, unfortunately.
    ceolredmonger likes this.
  4. Old Git

    Old Git Harmless Curmudgeon

    Thanks for the replies chaps. That's an nteresting website Idler, thanks for the link!
  5. sapper

    sapper WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran

    It is a simple tube full of HE its main purpose is to remove obstacles, such as barbed wire. slide it into position get away.... BANG Done. I cannot recall any markings on the cases. We carried a great many boxes of greaseproof paper wrapped HE With all types of fuses and A/tank mines
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  6. bamboo43

    bamboo43 Very Senior Member

    It is a simple tube full of HE its main purpose is to remove obstacles, such as barbed wire. slide it into position get away.... BANG Done. I cannot recall any markings on the cases. We carried a great many boxes of greaseproof paper wrapped HE With all types of fuses and A/tank mines

    Unless you are Japanese, then its slide it position, stay where you are.....and bang, the wire is cut and you are with your ancestors!!
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  7. sapper

    sapper WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran

    Big Grin!
    It has been in use for a very long time. Nothing better has arrived. The problem of mine clearing? We experimented with an explosive "Rope" that was sent across the minefield,By "Rocket" then exploded. Creating a mine free path across the field. Trouble was; in its infancy it "Snaked" so that the troops had to take a snaking path across the mine field, thus becoming easier targets., Though that trouble has now been ironed out.

    Oddly enough, many of the methods that we used in action..Are basically the same though updated
  8. dbf

    dbf Moderatrix MOD

    Illustrated London News 18 January 1941
    "Used with great success in destroying the Italian barbed-wire defences of Bardia: The Bangalore Torpedo

    Royal Engineers in action, laying a Bangalore Torpedo, in front of the enemy’s barbed-wired obstructions. A sketch made by our artist during manoeuvres, showing a sapper joining together sections of the torpedo tube, previously brought by the R.E. in the foreground, while a second dashes forward with another section. When completed the torpedo is exploded by fuse and utterly destroys the defences.

    The Bangalore Torpedo, whose modus operandi is illustrated in the drawing above, is one of the most successful meths of destroying obstacles in depth, such as barbed wire, and was used recently with great effect by the Australians at Bardia. At El Wak, Kenya, recently, Second Lieutenant Ballenden went out and gallantry cut the wire with a Bangalore Torpedo, under fire and successfully opened a way for the tanks. The Bangalore Torpedo, first used by an inventive R.E. officers at Bangalore, consists of sectional tubes, each packed with explosive, having a pointed nose and a hollow cone at the base, into which fits the nose of the next section, and so on to the length desired. The first man dashes forward, carrying the first section of the torpedo, which is pushed though the wire along the ground, and is followed by the next man, whose job it is to fit the nose of his section into the base of the first, the jointed tube being then pushed forward. This Sapper falls back and takes up a covering position on the flank while the next advances, until the length is decided for the operation. The detonator is attached to the rear and is fired by a fuse or electric wire, the party being retired slightly out of the immediate area of explosion. The torpedo utterly disintegrates the obstruction, blowing a wide opening through which the infantry can then rush the defences. Our artist’s sketch was made during operations by the Royal Engineers in a practice attack on positions protected by barbed wire."

    Illustrated London News 18 January 1941.jpg

    Attached Files:

    Last edited: Dec 2, 2019 at 6:34 PM
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  9. Richelieu

    Richelieu Well-Known Member

    In a memo dated 29/3/44 addressing new equipment requirements for U.S. forces there is the following item:

    Torpedo, Bangalore, Projectile, 81mm Mortar (2000 desired for First Army).

    I have not heard of these munitions before but presume that they would have been available to allied forces also. This seems like a small number of rounds for an entire army so I wonder if they had some specialist application.
  10. idler

    idler GeneralList Patron

    This might - I say again: might - be the Shell, High Explosive, 81mm, M56. This was an 18" long high capacity round with limited range. The same body was also used for the M57 chemical (smoke) round. Can't find anything on its date into service.
    90th IDPG 81mm Shell, M56

    There was also an intermediate round: the M45. In the absence of a decent picture, I'd assume this was less torpedo-y.
  11. Richelieu

    Richelieu Well-Known Member

    I think that you may be on to something Idler. The author of the memo may not have known the official nomenclature of this still new item so may have used his best effort to describe the munition. TM 9-1904, published 2/3/1944, describes the M56 (and its M45 predecessor) as intended for use “against dugouts, barricades, and underground structures where a mining action is desired”. So a torpedo-like demolition round seems to fit the bill well even if Bangalore was never a part of its official title.

    TM 9-1900, published June 1945, refers to “Shaped charge 40-lb” which “will penetrate a 60-inch concrete wall. The resulting hole will be large enough to insert a standard bangalore torpedo”.
    Last edited: Aug 28, 2018
  12. idler

    idler GeneralList Patron

    In the absence of a better place to put this snippet before I forget where I saw it (The Military Engineer in India by Sandes):

    The Bangalore Torpedo was invented by Major R L McClintock, DSO, RE of the Madras Sappers and Miners before the Great War. I believe its development was spurred by the Indian Army's interest in the Russo-Japanese War.

    There is an article in the March 1913 edition of the Royal Engineers' Journal, just in case anyone's got access to it...
  13. Robert-w

    Robert-w Well-Known Member

    At the time torpedo meant a mine or explosive charge
  14. Dave55

    Dave55 Atlanta, USA

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  15. timuk

    timuk Well-Known Member

    The word torpedo was first used in 1810 by the American Robert Fulton to describe mines and explosives used against shipping. The weapon, we know as a torpedo was invented by Robert Whitehead in 1866 and by the turn of the century torpedo no longer (in naval terms) included mines. By the time Major McClintock invented the Bangalore in 1912 reference to mines as torpedoes would have been archaic and I am unsure whether the term was ever used in connection with landmines. I do not know why the Bangalore was called a torpedo but would hazard a guess that it is named after Fulton's 'spar torpedo' (where an explosive device is attached to a pole).

  16. Robert-w

    Robert-w Well-Known Member

    Accounts of the Russo Japanese war refer to land mines as torpedos. The term also appears in fiction of the time (see the last part of Twains A Yankee in the Court of King Arthur). Confederate sea and land mines were both referred to as torpedoes. Some accounts of the storming of Badajoz refer to the French planting torpedoes in the breach. Whitehead did not invent the naval torpedo but he did develop the first reliable one - however the appropriate word is develop - his early models were far from practical or reliable. These is an account of the demonstration of another torpedo to the Federal government during the ACW which missed the target vessel and sank the press corps. What developed into the modern torpedo was initially named the automotive torpedo to distinguish it from moored torpedoes, spar torpedoes and streamed torpedoes. Many pre dreadnought battleships carried small torpedo boats armed with streamed torpedoes which were streamed out alongside the boat in much the same way as a modern mine sweeping pavane. As automotive torpedoes became reliable and dominant automotive was dropped.
    Before WW1 the term land mine usually referred to a mine dug by humans under the enemy's works. Although the Chinese and Japanese had used anti personnel mines as early as the 17th century in the West they were used very little and by the beginning of the 20th century were generally limited to fortress stores. Britain did mine some fords in South Africa to deny them to Boer Commandos and the Russians used them in the defences of Port Arthur (where they were called torpedoes). It would seem that this latter caught the interest of the Indian Army engineers.
    During WW1 the main use of pressure mines was by the Germans for anti tank work they developed a large number of different types of AT mine including kits to allow field work shops to convert artillery shells to AT mines. They did produce one type of AP mine which was used to protect AT minefields from lifting and deployed in 1918. Britain converted 2inch mortar rounds (toffee apples). When French agriculture adopted the tractor in the 1920s these killed a number of farmers. The main use of the Bangalore in WW1 was to clear wire not mines
    Last edited: Dec 3, 2019 at 11:35 AM
  17. von Poop

    von Poop Adaministrator Admin

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