Long Cecil

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Long Cecil
Long Cecil.jpg300px
Type Howitzer
Place of origin Kimberley
Service history
In service 1900-01-23[1] to 1900-02-15
Used by British Empire
Wars Second Boer War
Production history
Designer George Labram
Designed 1899
Manufacturer De Beers
Produced January 1900
Number built 1
Weight 1,625 kilograms (3,583 lb)[2]

Shell 13.5 kilograms (29.8 lb)[2]
Calibre 104 millimetres (4.1 in)[2]
Carriage Custom
Elevation 0° to +26°
Traverse nil
Muzzle velocity 512 metres per second (1,680 ft/s)[2]
Effective firing range 7,300 metres (8,000 yd)[2]

Long Cecil is a unique one-off gun, designed by George Labram, a United States citizen, and built in the workshops of the De Beers mining company in Kimberley for use by the British during the Siege of Kimberley in the Second Boer War.

In 1902, during Cecil Rhodes' funeral procession in Cape Town, his coffin was carried on top of the Long Cecil carriage.[3] Today the gun is located on the stylobate (facing the Free State) of the Honoured Dead Memorial in Kimberley.

At some time before 1915 Pratt & Whitney built a model of this gun as a gift to the American Society of Mechanical Engineers.[4]


The defenders at Kimberley had only the relatively small RML 2.5 inch Mountain Gun at their disposal and therefore lacked a weapon that could effectively match those fielded by the surrounding Boers.[citation needed]

File:Long Cecil-Williams-727.jpg
Barrel and breech blueprints

Labram and Edward Goffe, Chief Draughtsman at the mine, reviewed the limited number of textbooks and publications on gunmaking that were available in Kimberley. From this and calculations on what it would require to build a gun capable of firing a shell over 7,600 metres (24,900 ft), they decided that it was feasible to build the gun with the materials at hand.[2]

Construction of the gun began on 26 December 1899 with rough-turning of the barrel,[1] but some of the tools required for rifling the barrel were not available and first had to be manufactured on site.[2]

The barrel was constructed from a 10-foot-long (3.0 m), 10.5-inch-diameter (270 mm) billet of mild steel.[5] The steel billet was originally ordered as a shaft for one of the De Beers workshop machines.[2]

Impact on the siege

File:Long Cecil-Williams-729.jpg
Long Cecil Ammunition

As with all the components, custom ammunition for the gun had to be manufactured in the De Beers workshops. The first proving shot was fired a little over three weeks later on 19 January 1900 at a Boer encampment near Kamfers Dam, north of the city.[1] Contemporary accounts state that the Boers were initially surprised by range of the new gun, which was able to land projectiles very accurately on their previously safe position.[citation needed]

The gun fired a total of 255 shells onto Boer positions from the time of its manufacture until the end of the siege about a month later.[1] The gun did not change the balance of power for long, because the Boers brought a larger 100-pound "Long Tom" gun to bear within two weeks of Long Cecil's deployment. The shelling of the besieged residents thereby escalated and soon became more lethal than before. The shelling ended only with arrival of Major-General French's 8,000-strong cavalry on 15 February 1900.[citation needed]


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 Williams, Gardner Fred (1902). The diamond mines of South Africa; some account of their rise and development. Macmillan. p. 649. Retrieved 26 July 2009.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 2.5 2.6 2.7 Peddle, D. E. (1 June 1977). "LONG CECIL – The Gun made in Kimberley during the Siege". Military History Journal. The South African Military History Society. 4 (1). ISSN 0026-4016. Retrieved 26 July 2009.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. "Funeral of Cecil Rhodes". The Norfolk weekly news. 4 April 1902. Retrieved 4 September 2009.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. Hutton, Frederick Remsen (1915). A history of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers from 1880 to 1915. American Society of Mechanical Engineers. p. 305. Retrieved 26 July 2009.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  5. Cassell's History of the Boer War, 1899–1902 by Richard Danes (1903), p. 557 (n573) on Internet Archive

Further reading

External links

Media related to Long Cecil at Wikimedia Commons

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