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Latham Valentine Stewart Blacker Royal Artillery OBE (1887 – 1964) was a British Army officer and inventor of weapons.

He invented the Blacker Bombard, laid the basis of the PIAT - both based on the spigot mortar - and the Ayre Petard. The Hedgehog anti-submarine spigot-mortar was developed from the Blacker Bombard.

Men of the Saxmundham Home Guard prepare to fire a Blacker Bombard during training with War Office

Life

A descendent of Valentine Blacker (1778–1823), he was born in Cheshire to Major Latham Blacker of the Indian Army. He was educated at Cheltenham College and Bedford School, before going to the Royal Military College at Sandhurst. After the college he joined the Indian Army himself.

He served in Afghanistan, Turkestan, and Russia earning several mentions in dispatches. Served in Queen's Own Corps of Guides, 57th Wilde's Rifles.

He had learned to fly in 1911 and at the start of the First World War he transferred to the Royal Flying Corps. He was shot down and wounded in 1915, 1916 and 1917.

After the war he set himself up as a private developer of weapons funding his own research. He served on the Imperial General Staff between 1924 and 1928.

In 1933 he was with the Houston-funded expedition to fly over Mount Everest writing a book First over Everest.

At the start of the Second World War he was a Lt-Colonel with the Territorial Army, he took his weapons to his contacts at the War Office and was introduced to Major Millis Jefferis who engaged him and sent him to Coates Castle at Coates, West Sussex from where his Blacker Bombard, a Spigot Mortar was developed. It was adopted briefly by the British army before it was redeployed for use with the Home Guard.

Later one of his experimental guns based on the same principle was developed further by Jefferis and entered service as the PIAT for which he received £25,000.

References

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