GUN RUNNERS – Navy team pulls out the stops for Helensburgh spectators 

GUN RUNNERSThe team put all their strength and effort into pulling the antique gun which weighs almost a ton. Pictures by the Royal Navy

By Kim Hardie and Gavin Carr

Spectators gathered at Helensburgh Pier to cheer along Field Gunners from HMS Neptune as they prepared for this year’s competition at HMS Collingwood.

The 18-strong team of Royal Navy sailors from nearby HM Naval Base Clyde were conducting their public run, an annual tradition in Helensburgh, which gives the public the opportunity to witness the naval spectacle and support their local team.

The Team’s Number Two Trainer, Petty Officer Kevin Laing, said: “Running in front of a crowd in Helensburgh gives the team a boost.  When we compete at HMS Collingwood it’s in front of hundreds, so practising here with an audience helps us get used to that and to work on our focus.”

He added: “The competition is tough this year, but we have a good team and we’re confident of giving our best. It was great that so many came along to give us a cheer.”

To prepare, the team underwent eight weeks of physical training, followed by five weeks of track training with the Field Gun. The final week of training will be at Collingwood before the competition.

 The Field Gun event’s roots stretch back to 1899 and the second Boer War.  British Army troops were under siege and The Naval Brigade came to their rescue, the sailors disassembling and unloading six, half-ton field guns from ships, HMS Terrible and Powerful, and transporting them over many miles of perilous terrain.  The daring-do helped lift the siege of Ladysmith and rescue the desperate soldiers.

Royal Navy teams have been recreating the event ever since, beginning at the Royal Tournament in 1907, and continuing to the present day where they compete at HMS Collingwood in Fareham.

Teams must run, dismantle, reassemble and fire an antique field gun in as quick a time as possible.  Lugging the gun, which weighs close to a ton, along the 78 metre track, teams can pick up time penalties for incorrectly following the rules.

This year’s Royal Navy and Royal Marines Charity Field Gun Competition will be held on June 1.


The Team line up to assemble the field gun in the Helensburgh swimming pool.

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