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Manby Mortar

 

The hardest part was .. of the Breeches Buoy was getting the line from the land to the ship and in them days I mean they didn’t have the beautiful multi-purpose rockets we’ve got now, which we use. The first one was the canon ball. [Goes to fetch a canon ball] It’s called a Manby Mortar. It’s actually a canon ball as you can see with loop on it . A George Manby invented it. They wanted a missile that would carry a rope across to the ships. So he got a canon ball and put a loop on it. Then he spliced a rope on it; cut a canon in half ; filled it full of black powder; dropped it in and fired it off. And it went whizzing through the air and half way across it burst into flames. The flames; the black powder had gotten on to the rope. I ‘m ganna drop this [canon ball] into the box, too heavy. It burnt the rope through, of course it sailed across the ship with no bloody rope on so they had to think again. So what they did is they got it a small chain and the chain from the canon ball, then the rope and then they fired it and then it worked.

With gracious thanks to Bill Scott for this account.

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Manby Mortar