Kurdish Peshmerga use British WWII relics in fight against IS

This British 25-pounder was used during the Second World War. Credit: ITV News/Sean Swan

Etched on the breach of the field gun is “1941” - the year of manufacture of this 25-pounder, the best British artillery piece of the Second World War.

They were shelling Islamic State (IS) positions on the outskirts of city of Mosul.

Most of the surviving ones are in museums or appear ceremonially, but this weapon was being fired in anger by Kurdish Peshmerga.

That a WWII 25-pounder is being used by the Kurds underscores both Britain’s historical ties with this part of the world and the Kurdish need to be supplied with modern weaponry.

All the Kurdish fighters we spoke to expressed their appreciation that the RAF has now joined them in this fight.

The old British gun is part of a Kurdish garrison on top of Mount Zartac, a strategically important vantage point which overlooks Mosul and the surrounding villages.

The gun is part of a Kurdish garrison on top of the strategically important Mount Zartac. Credit: ITV News/Sean Swan

Three weeks ago the mountain was in the hands of IS. That the Kurds were able to re-take it was down to US air strikes.

Strewn about the place are the mangled remains of IS vehicles destroyed by American missiles.

The artillery piece this fighter is standing behind was made in Britain in 1941. Credit: ITV News/Sean Swan

But everyone here knows that air power alone will not rid this area of IS. Ground troops are needed for that.

The Iraqi Army, which abandoned Mosul to IS in such a humiliating fashion, back in June, doesn’t look up to the task.

If the Kurdish Peshmerga are going to do it, they will need modern guns. British relics will not suffice.