The Blacker Bombard, also known as the 29-mm Spigot Mortar, was an infantry anti-tank weapon devised by Lieutenant-Colonel Stewart Blacker in the early years of the Second World War.
Intended as a means to equip Home Guard units with an anti-tank weapon in case of German invasion, at a time of grave shortage of weapons, it was accepted only after the intervention of Churchill. Although there were doubts about the effectiveness of the Bombard, many were issued. Few, if any, saw combat.
Designed by Lieutenant Colonel Stewart Blacker, the origins of which went back to the 1930s. During the early part of the 1930s, Blacker became interested in the concept of the spigot mortar. Unlike conventional mortars the spigot mortar did not possess a barrel, and instead there was a steel rod known as a 'spigot' fixed to a baseplate; the bomb itself had a propellant charge inside its tail. When the mortar was to be fired, the bomb was pushed down onto the spigot, which exploded the propellant charge and blew the bomb into the air.
Above are images of the remains of a Blacker Bombard emplacement within the grounds of Somerleyton Meadows. Sited in a strategic position overlooking the Waveney Valley with its river and railway - it would have offered a commanding position from which to fire upon advancing enemy troops and tanks.
When the Second World War began, Blacker was a lieutenant-colonel in the Territorial Army. He had offered his Bombard to the War Office for two years without success but was introduced to the government department of Military Intelligence Research (MIRc) later known as MD1, which had been given the task of developing and delivering weapons for use by guerilla and resistance groups in Occupied Europe. Blacker showed his list of ideas to the head of MD1, Major Millis Jefferis, who was taken with the design for the Bombard. He argued that it could serve in an anti-tank and artillery capability, and claimed that it would have similar anti-tank properties to the 2 pounder anti-tank gun coupled with approximately the same range as the 3-inch mortar. Objections were raised by the Director of Artillery and other government officials, but on 18 August 1940 the Prime Minister, Winston Churchill, attended a demonstration of the weapon. Churchill took a liking to the weapon and ordered it into full production. It would act as a temporary anti-tank weapon for the Home Guard until more 2 pounders could be supplied to them.