The Light Trench Mortar Battery

What was a Light Trench Mortar Battery?

The general background to the development of trench mortar units in the British Army is given at this page

The following definition of policy and composition is taken from a First Army General Staff note dated 6 March 1916 (an example is enclosed in the war diary of the Commander Royal Artillery of 39th Division, National Archives WO95/2569).

Imperial War Museum photograph Q1387: British troops fusing Stokes mortar shells at Ovillers-la-Boisselle in September 1916.

The Light Trench Mortar Battery would be manned by the infantry (whereas the Medium batteries would be manned by the Royal Field Artillery).

At the time of writing this order, the light batteries were armed with a mix of 3-inch Stokes, 3.7-inch and 4-inch mortars but it was intended to standardise on the 3-inch Stokes.

The light mortars would be organised into batteries of four. There would be two batteries under command of each Infantry Brigade. They would be named using the number of the brigade: so for example, the 23rd Infantry Brigade would include numbers 23/1 and 23/2 Light Trench Mortar Batteries. The manpower for the battery would be provided by the infantry units under command of the brigade.

A Captain or Temporary Captain would be attached to each Infantry Brigade headquarters to supervise the Medium batteries; offer advice regarding technical matters of the Light batteries; and to assume command of any special concentration of mortar units for specific operations.

A central school was to be established by General Headquarters for provision of specialist light trench mortar training.

A special trade badge would be introduced to identify

The standard establishment of a Light Trench Mortar Battery would be:

  • 2 officers
  • 1 Staff Sergeant or Sergeant
  • 4 Corporals
  • 16 Privates
  • 2 Privates employed as Batmen


The Trench Mortar Batteries

Definitions of units