August 2001 saw the Fort’s Gun Detachment venture to unknown lands, Dartmouth!!!
We arrived at the Castle on the Saturday morning to see the beast of a cannon that we would be firing, for the entertainment of the populace, was an awe inspiring sight. The castle situated at the mouth of the river Dart was well suited to protect the estuary and town from any invaders.
The cannon is a 64 pounder Rifled Muzzle Loading (64pr RML) cannon capable of firing a shell 3500 yards.
Originally this type of cannon would have fired cannon balls, grape shot or case shot. With the advent of iron clad ships something more powerful was needed, these cannon were converted to fire armour piercing shells.
By boring out the barrel and fitting a rifled liner, this is known as a palliser conversion it was possible to fire shells.
After a hectic day, running the gun out, loading, firing and then running the gun back, for five displays, our energy levels are sapped. With only pasties and tea to keep us going we are ready for a nourishing meal.
Still in uniform we walk the few miles down to the Dartmouth Arms where a hearty meal is provided for us. The sound of several men walking in step with hob nail boots is a something to behold.
Being able to relax for the first time in many hours the events of the day are discussed and with food in our bellies and beer flowing freely, the singing soon begins. Its great when members of the public join in the singing, and for many not too much encouragement is required. It is really rewarding to see many of them at the castle the following day enjoying our activities.
To venture into town in uniform has become somewhat of a tradition, usually taking place the night before the event and again on the evening of the first day. Apart from being great fun it gives us the opportunity to mingle with the crowds and promote the event.