240 mm trench mortar

The 240 mm trench mortar was a French, large caliber mortar that was used in the First World War by France, Italy, the USA and Austria-Hungary.

At the beginning of the First World War, the Batignolles company worked on the development of a mortar with a calibre of 240 mm to destroy strongly fortified positions.

In 1915 the mortar was presented to the French military for the first time. They were convinced of the penetrating power of the 87 kilogram grenades and placed the order for series production.

On 25 September 1915, the mortars were used for the first time during the Champagne offensive. Since the German positions were more strongly fastened and thus more difficult to destroy than originally thought, a long-running version was built in the later production, which could shoot larger shells.

The French army used these mortars until 1917, when the Germans began to distribute their positions more widely and thus offer fewer targets for the mortars. When in 1918 the breakthrough through some German front sections was partially achieved and movement was restored to the positional war, the mortars were almost completely withdrawn from the front.



A British soldier examines a French 240 mm mortar


A French soldier inspects a destroyed 240 mm mortar



In addition to France, the mortar was also built in the USA and Italy. In the USA the company David Luptons Sons and Co produced the mortars for the Coast Artillery Corps. However, nothing is known about an operation on the western front in Europe.

Italy produced both the short and the long version of the mortar. In addition, an own version was developed and produced. After Italy entered the war against the German Empire and Austria-Hungary, many of the mortars were captured by Austrian troops. They had the mortars rebuilt in their own factories and used captured mortars against the Italian army.



American 240 mm mortar


American soldiers load a 240 mm mortar


American 240 mm mortar


Captured Italian 240 mm mortar


Captured Italian 240 mm mortar




Data sheet:

Designation: 240 mm trench mortar
Manufacturing country: France
Introductory year: 1915
Number of pieces: unknown
Calibers: 240 mm
Tube length: 2 meters
(later long-running versions more)
Range: Max. 2.000 meters
Weight: 866 kilograms






You can find the right literature here:


Flesh and Steel During the Great War: The Transformation of the French Army and the Invention of Modern Warfare

Flesh and Steel During the Great War: The Transformation of the French Army and the Invention of Modern Warfare Hardcover – October 30, 2018

Michel Goya’s Flesh and Steel during the Great War is one of the most thoughtful, stimulating and original studies of the conflict to have appeared in recent years. It is a major contribution towards a deeper understanding of the impact of the struggle on the Western Front on the theory and practice of warfare in the French army. In a series of incisive, closely argued chapters he explores the way in which the senior commanders and ordinary soldiers responded to the extraordinary challenges posed by the mass industrial warfare of the early twentieth century.

In 1914 the French army went to war with a flawed doctrine, brightly-colored uniforms and a dire shortage of modern, heavy artillery How then, over four years of relentless, attritional warfare, did it become the great, industrialized army that emerged victorious in 1918?

To show how this change occurred, the author examines the pre-war ethos and organization of the army and describes in telling detail how, through a process of analysis and innovation, the French army underwent the deepest and fastest transformation in its history.

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Breaking Point of the French Army: The Nivelle Offensive of 1917

Breaking Point of the French Army: The Nivelle Offensive of 1917 Hardcover – November 2, 2015

In December 1916 General Robert Nivelle was appointed Commander-in-Chief of the French armies fighting the Germans on the Western Front. He had enjoyed a meteoric rise to high command and public acclaim since the beginning of the war - he was a national hero. In return, he proclaimed he ‘had the formula’ that would ensure victory and end the conflict in 1917. But his offensive was a bloody and humiliating failure for France, one that could have opened the way for French defeat.

This is the subject of David Murphy’s penetrating, in-depth study of one of the key events in the history of the Great War. He describes how Nivelle, a highly intelligent and articulate officer, used his charm to win the support of French and British politicians, but also how he was vain and boastful and displayed no sense of operational security. By the opening of the campaign, his plan was an open secret and he had lost the ability to critically assess the operation as it developed. The result was disaster.

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They Shall Not Pass: The French Army on the Western Front 1914-1918

They Shall Not Pass: The French Army on the Western Front 1914-1918 Hardcover – May 19, 2012

This graphic collection of first-hand accounts sheds new light on the experiences of the French army during the Great War. It reveals in authentic detail the perceptions and emotions of soldiers and civilians who were caught up in the most destructive conflict the world had ever seen.
Their testimony gives a striking insight into the mentality of the troops and their experience of combat, their emotional ties to their relatives at home, their opinions about their commanders and their fellow soldiers, the appalling conditions and dangers they endured, and their attitude to their German enemy. In their own words, in diaries, letters, reports and memoirs - most of which have never been published in English before - they offer a fascinating inside view of the massive life-and-death struggle that took place on the Western Front.
Ian Sumner provides a concise narrative of the war in order to give a clear context to the eyewitness material. In effect the reader is carried through the experience of each phase of the war on the Western Front and sees events as soldiers and civilians saw them at the time. This emphasis on eyewitness accounts provides an approach to the subject that is completely new for an English-language publication.
The author’s pioneering work will appeal to readers who may know something about the British and German armies on the Western Front, but little about the French army which bore the brunt of the fighting on the allied side. His book represents a milestone in publishing on the Great War.

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Artillery in the Great War

Artillery in the Great War Hardcover – May 18, 2011

Artillery was the decisive weapon of the Great War - it dominated the battlefields. Yet the history of artillery during the conflict has been neglected, and its impact on the fighting is inadequately understood. Paul Strong and Sanders Marble, in this important and highly readable study, seek to balance the account.Their work shows that artillery was central to the tactics of the belligerent nations throughout the long course of the conflict, in attack and in defense. They describe, in vivid detail, how in theory and practice the use of artillery developed in different ways among the opposing armies, and they reveal how artillery men on all sides coped with the extraordinary challenges that confronted them on the battlefield. They also give graphic accounts of the role played by artillery in specific operations, including the battles of Le Cateau, the Somme and Valenciennes.Their work will be fascinating reading for anyone who is keen to understand the impact of artillery

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