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103rd Regiment 1910-21
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10th Battalion 1914-19
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St. Julien

 Apr 1915

Festubert

 May 1915

Thiepval/Courcelette

Sep 1916

Vimy Ridge

Apr 1917

Amiens

Aug 1918

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Calgary Highlanders 1921-39
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Calgary Highlanders 1939-45
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Mobilization 1939
Shilo 1940
England 1940-41
Battle Drill 1941
Dieppe 1942
England 1943
Northwest Europe
Hill 67

19 Jul 44

Clair Tison

12 Aug 44

Dunkirk

8 Sep 44

Wyneghem

22 Sep 44

Battle of the Scheldt
Hoogerheide

2 Oct 44

South Beveland

14 Oct 44

Walcheren Causeway

31 Oct 44

Groningen

 14 Apr 45

Gruppenbühren

26 Apr 45

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Scouts & Snipers
"A" Company
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18 Platoon
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Anti-Tank Platoon
Mortar Platoon
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"A" Company - Jun 1944
"A" Coy Jun 44 Casualties
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Mortar Platoon 1942-45

Each infantry battalion in the Canadian Army in the Second World War had its own artillery to draw on; by 1944 six 3-inch mortars made up the Number Three Platoon of the battalion.  The mortar had certain advantages over conventional artillery; it was small and easily transported (usually by Carrier but it could be man-packed in an emergency), it did not give off a visible muzzle flash when it fired, and as it belonged directly to the battalion it was in theory always on call.

The weapon was fired indirectly, and as such, was only good against infantry or other "soft" targets.  It was also an effective weapon for laying smoke or firing illumination rounds at night.  Mortar bombs exploding in woods could also be a nightmare for enemy infantry, as the trees themselves would be converted into deadly fragments which would rain straight down into enemy entrenchments. 

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Calgary Highlanders mortar crew in action on the Continent, 1944.


The mortar was a rather "stealthy" weapon in that it could be dug in underground, making it invisible to enemy troops.  Also, the mortar bomb made comparatively little noise while in flight, giving very little warning to enemy troops, as was often the case with artillery shells.

The standard 3-inch mortar bomb (measuring 76mm by the metric scale) would not penetrate heavy enemy fortifications, nor was the mortar platoon a real substitute for having gun and howitzer support both on the attack and the defence.   The Canadian infantry battalion also equipped each rifle platoon with a 2-in (51 mm) mortar which was effective against infantry and for laying smoke.  Each infantry division also had 4.2 inch mortars included in the arsenal of the divisional machine gun battalion.

In February 1944, when the mortar platoons of all nine infantry battalions in the Second Division were reviewed, only the Calgary Highlanders mortar platoon was rated "well trained in every respect."  An official report was critical of the other platoons in the division, with the Black Watch only being graded "fair" and other platoons faring even worse.

Two different shots of Calgary Highlanders mortar men.  At right, a shot of men from the Mortar Platoon just prior to the Dieppe Raid.  Two of the standing soldiers (second from left and far right) are holding aiming stakes.

Below, early Calgary Highlanders recruits training at Mewata Armoury in Calgary shortly after Mobilization.  Note the First World War uniforms, denim pants and   "homemade" khaki glengarries. All were expedients in the early days before Battle Dress was issued.


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THREE INCH MORTAR COMPONENTS

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Typical Mortar Platoon

By 1944, the Carrier Platoon of an infantry battalion fielded 6 tubes and was the Number Three Platoon of the battalion.  The platoon was a part of Support Company.

Headquarters

Platoon Commander
(Lieutenant)

Platoon Sergeant

Corporal

Corporal

Corporal
Orderly
Orderly
Driver/Batman
Driver/Mechanic
Storeman
Driver
Driver
Fitter
Rangetaker

Mortar Detachment

Mortar Detachment Mortar Detachment Mortar Detachment Mortar Detachment Mortar Detachment

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Sergeant

Mortar Man
Mortar Man
Mortar Man
Driver/Mechanic

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Sergeant

Mortar Man
Mortar Man
Mortar Man
Driver/Mechanic

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Sergeant

Mortar Man
Mortar Man
Mortar Man
Driver/Mechanic

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Lance Sergeant

Mortar Man
Mortar Man
Mortar Man
Driver/Mechanic

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Lance Sergeant

Mortar Man
Mortar Man
Mortar Man
Driver/Mechanic

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Lance Sergeant

Mortar Man
Mortar Man
Mortar Man
Driver/Mechanic

 

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