Jump to content
Free downloads from TNA ×
The Great War (1914-1918) Forum

Remembered Today:

German 105-mm calibre 1FH 16 from Vimy Ridge "discovered" in


Recommended Posts

In case no one has seen it, here is an interesting story about a recent discovery.

German gun captured at Vimy Ridge in Niagara all along

Karena Walter

Standard Staff

June 6, 2009


It's been an undiscovered historical treasure, sitting in plain sight for 12 years in a Niagara-on- the-Lake park.

The German gun from the First World War is exposed to the elements, played upon by children and generally has a low profile. Not anymore.

When members of the Lincoln and Welland Regiment Foundation recently traced its serial number through Ottawa, they were shocked to discover the gun was captured in the Battle of Vimy Ridge.

"We were aware it was a First World War gun," said Jeff Cairns, executive director of the Lincoln and Welland Regiment Foundation and chairman of its museum.

"We really weren't aware it was somewhat iconic."

The Canadian-led capture of Vimy Ridge, from April 9 to 15 1917, was the first Allied victory in the war and is considered a turning point for national identity and pride.

The gun is currently outdoors on the Common in Niagara-on-the- Lake next to the museum in Butler's Barracks.

"It's a piece of our national history," said Lt. Col. Matt Richardson, the Lincoln and Welland Regiment commanding officer. "They often say Vimy was the birth of our nation."

Museum volunteer Bill Smy, who did the research, discovered the gun was captured by infantrymen of the 7th Battalion, Canadian Expeditionary Force.

The battalion was part of the 2nd Canadian Infantry Brigade, which relieved the 1st Battalion in Farbus, just south of Vimy Village on April 12. Smy said the battalion positions were heavily shelled.

On April 13, the battalion intelligence officer reported an all clear and several abandoned German weapons were recovered.

The Niagara-on-the-Lake gun is a 105-mm calibre 1FH 16, which is more than 1,100 kilograms. It fired shells weighing 15.5 kilograms.

Cairns said the gun is one of tens of thousands of items from mortars to German airplanes brought back to Canada after the war.

The federal government established a War Trophies Commission to allocate trophies to communities. It's estimated the gun was sent to Queenston in either 1920 or 1921.

According to Smy, the gun was first placed in front of the village school and then moved to the cenotaph when it was unveiled in 1926.

The war trophy was moved again when the road was reconstructed. The village transferred custodianship in 1992 to the 57th Field Artillery Association, now Niagara Artillery Association.

The gun was placed at Butler's Barracks in 1997, under arrangement with Parks Canada, where it's been ever since.

In April, the Lincoln and Welland Regiment Foundation took custodianship of the gun.

Smy said First World War trophies are disappearing all the time and several other guns once in the region can no longer be accounted for.

"It's important this gun has survived," Smy said. "The Lincoln and Welland Regiment has undertaken to restore it."

The foundation hopes to have restoration completed by August 2014 for the centenary of the First World War.

There is no estimate yet for what it will cost.

Cairns said the immediate plan is to move the gun this summer to get it out of the weather and stop deterioration. "We've really noticed in the past year it rots," he said. "It needs to be inside."

Doug Reece, a volunteer with the museum, said some members of the foundation are machinists who will help with the restoration. The gun will likely have to be taken apart and put together again.

But first, Reece said they want someone from Parks Canada to assess the gun and see what it needs to get back in shape.


Link to comment
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
  • Create New...