Grand Siege Operations

Large Military training exercises known as Siege Operations were carried out on the Great Lines and lower Lines each summer in the 19th Century.these were mock battles between Troops of the local barracks.The general public and members of the upper classes came from miles around to watch these events

One year was in 1843 when the enemy force with the help of the Royal engineers had quickly constructed a Pontoon Bridge to cross St Marys Creek before mounting an attack on the Lines.Later to the delight of the crowds a number of underwater charges were fired in the imediate vicinity of the Bridge.Then they blew up a Communications Bridge across a ditch that had been specially built for the ocassion.It was blown up by Sappers and miners with Explosive charges and they also destroyed a wooden stockade.

There was two main techniques used by the enemy forces to gain entry into the Fortifications.Escalading,which was using long Siege ladders to scale the dry ditch walls,and mining,which was digging of tunnels under the walls and then blowing them up to breach the walls and rampart.both these techniques were practised in the Siege operations.

The Last full scale exercise to take a similar form was in 1907,after this the emphasis was on Training camps with Tents being erected on the Lines.The Royal Engineers also practiced digging Trenches on the Lower Lines.

Illustration from "The Illustrated LONDON NEWS",Saturday,November 4th 1871,Siege Operations at Chatham: The Assault (on Prince Henry's Bastion)

Next Page: World War II

Cumberland Lines Contents Page