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WW1 field gun outside Beverley Road antiques shop, Hull, Yorkshire


MAW

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This undated photograph shows a WW1 period field gun outside an antiques shop in Beverley Road, Hull, Yorkshire.

 

What type of gun is this?

 

What was the name and address of the shop?

 

Where is the gun now?

 

Mark

WW1 field gun, Beverley Road antiques shop, Hull.jpg

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8 minutes ago, MAW said:

...Where is the gun now?

Mark, I can't answer your first two questions, but the gun was probably a victim of the 1940 metal scrappage scheme that saw most memorial guns, gates and railings scrapped so that, ostensibly, the metal could be turned into modern weapons.

 

Googling "guns scrapped 1940" will lead to other examples and a bibliography.

 

There are theories that much of the metal was never re-used (but what happened to it?), and that the campaign was intended only to encourage the public to think that they were contributing to the war effort.

 

An earlier thread.

 

I think that we also have a couple of threads about guns that survived the scrappage scheme.

 

Moonraker

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Hello, Mark - In regard to type, it is a German 77mm field gun - the most common German artillery piece of World War I.  Regards, Torrey 

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Googling "German 77mm gun Beverley" resulted in THIS GEM

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This will give the background to war trophies (post no 16).  Check the local council minutes book for its arrival and disposal.

 

 

Edited by Terry_Reeves
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The specific model is the 77mm c96neuArt light field gun (liecht feld kanone). This was the primary light field gun of the German Army at the outbreak of the war. It was superseded by the 77mm LFK1916 which had a longer barrel and would elevate to a higher angle resulting in much improved range. The c96nA remained in service through to the end of the war. Field artillery regiments in 1918 typically had 3 battalions each of 3 batteries each with 4 guns, being 6 batteries of LFK1916, 2 batteries c96nA and 4 batteries of 105mm howitzers (LFH 96/09 and LFH1916).  The two batteries of c96 were often deployed in the front lines as anti-tank weapons.

 

The example in my name photo was captured at "St Martins Wood" on 23rd August 1918 (2nd battle of Amiens) by Pte A MacPherson 5 Bn AIF. The battery was emplaced as anti-tank guns, to fire along the old roman road Amiens - St Quentin. The wood is at the edge of a gully cutting across the road and from where the battery was emplaced they looked up to a slight rise and had an effective open field of fire of about 600 to 800m along the road. It was being served by the 213th Field Artillery Regiment, attached to the 107th Infantry Division. This division was badly damaged by this days fighting suffering about 5,000 casualties including 1,400 men lost as prisoners. The gun was brought to Australia to serve as a trophy and memorial to the men of 5 Bn AIF.

Cheers

Ross

 

 

 

 

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About the mid 1970's within the small adds of the 'Model Engineer' appeared an add offering free to a good home, a German field gun, the buyer had to collect.  If I  recall it was located in Norfolk, not so far from Beverley.

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As scrap, these guns are useful steel. The barrel has a high nickel content. The shield has a high manganese content and the rest of the gun is mild steel. There is very little brass; a fore and rear sight on the barrel (normally missing, unsure if the Germans removed these during the war), a scale pinned on the traverse indicator and a huge bronze block locating the base of the recuperator housing to the axle.

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Fascinating. 

Discussing this 'chez nous' as we have family links to Hull and the Beverley Rd area - we wish one of our relatives had bought it, would love it in our back garden now! 

The other half would probably put it in the front office when the VAT man comes to call. We completely discombobulated one tax chappie when he saw the collection of shells and the bayonet propped up in the corner! 

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My brother lived off Beverley Road for ages -- and his partner's family are all from the area.... I have sent an query to see if anyone remembers it!

Chris

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Many thanks for all these diverse inputs - I hadn't thought about searching the internet!

 

The Alamy photo (dated 1967) states that the gun once belonged to a Colonel who brought it back as a souvenir in 1918 and that it was in his garden until he died (about 1966 when his widow sold the gun to the antique dealer Jerome Titus Walsh).

 

The identity of the Colonel is a mystery. It is likely he lived in Hull.

 

Finding the location of the antiques shop in Beverley Road should be possible.

 

Mark

Edited by MAW
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On 4/30/2018 at 23:42, Chasemuseum said:

As scrap, these guns are useful steel. The barrel has a high nickel content. The shield has a high manganese content and the rest of the gun is mild steel. There is very little brass; a fore and rear sight on the barrel (normally missing, unsure if the Germans removed these during the war), a scale pinned on the traverse indicator and a huge bronze block locating the base of the recuperator housing to the axle.

 

Not quite - the gun shield was armour steel - in WW1 armour steel was case hardened steel - about 4% Nickel steel. Krupp barrels weren't particularly high alloy steels - the few analyses of Krupp barrels I've seen had less than 1% Cr and Ni. The sight on the FK96 n.A was a panoramic sight which was attached to a curved riser on the left side of the barrel. The sight could removed as a unit.

 

Where is the gun in your name photo? By 1918 many of the surviving FK96s were no longer used by regular field artillery but had become dedicated anti-tank and infantry support guns.

 

Regards,

 

Charlie

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Hi Charlie,

The gun in my photo is now in Turramurra in Sydney. These things move around a bit. It was first presented to the Dandenong High School in Victoria in the 1920s. At one stage it belonged to the Army museum at Puckapunyal, until they disposed of a number of old scrap guns and recovered range targets in the 1990s.

 

Regards the sights - yes the panoramic is on an arm, however there was a brass fore sight and a brass notch at the rear on the barrel/barrel ring. On may guns these have been removed or filed flush.  There is also a traverse pointer and scale down near the traverse hand wheel.

 

Regards the troops manning field guns deployed as anti-tank weapons. I cannot speak with authority but doubt that they were infantry. Minenwerfers were crewed by specialist technical troops. Given the specialist training required to maintain a field gun in service I would strongly doubt that they would ever be served by personnel other than field artillery regiment personnel. Certainly the guns captured at St Martins wood were crewed by members of the 213 FAR. 

 

Cheers

Ross

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The serial no. on the Dandenong HS gun was recorded as #1881 - a very early gun. It probably still had the fittings for an arc sight from when it was an a.A

It should have the conversion date on the breech below the breech ring. The carriage will also have an anomalous seeming date in front of the towing ring.

Spandau seem to have done most of the a.A to n.A conversions in 1907-08.

 

In 1918 the German Army artillery was reorganised to conform with Bruchmuller's doctrines so although guns might be manned by artillery troops their reporting

lines may go via infantry command rather than the traditional artillery command structure. Bruchmiller gave the infantry total control over the minenwerfers so the specialist troops were

attached to infantry formations. If the captured gun was part of a battery it was probably an IBB battery (Infanteriebegleitbatterein) (Infantry Accompanying Battery) - these were guns

deployed to support the infantry in attack and defence and most often were deployed on the flanks of infantry units about 1000-2000m behind the front line.

 

Regards,

 

Charlie

 

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20 hours ago, CharlieBris said:

The serial no. on the Dandenong HS gun was recorded as #1881

 

Hi Charlie

#1881 is very much correct.  There are no fittings for the arc sight. The gun had gone through major refurbishment and a new barrel liner during the war. In this process most of the royal cypher has been machined away. - Quite a pity as these are very impressive when complete.

 

Regards its deployment when it was captured.  The trench maps for the attack show the wood being located in a fairly similar location to the google earth image of the area today.

I walked around the west side of the wood in 2015.  The battery must have been deployed very close to the edge of the wood as the ground drops down into quite a steep gully with about a 30m depth. If they were not concealed near the edge of the wood they would have had no field of fire.  If they were 1000m behind the front line they would have been in the open on the east side of the wood.  The accounts of the battle record that after the wood was taken, the infantry could see the german artillery in the distance to the east limbering up their guns and taking them away.  These would have been the batteries of FK16s.

 

Cheers

Ross 

 

 

 

P1050848.JPG.c8629d562e32e64ca3b43f3edc262072.JPG

 

P1050849.JPG.62047040fa460251d118f58266063f80.JPG

 

Regards the rear sight on the breach ring, this has been officially removed and fitted with a steel spacer serial numbered to the gun

 

P1050850.JPG.7aac4f71ed043d5a992ea05edfbd3c6c.JPG

 

 

P1050851.JPG.3f471dba3165d6b1cb2cead14a607b05.JPG

 

 

Regards the traverse scale and pointer. Note that the only brass part is the scale and this is riveted onto a steel carrier. In this case the scale is broken at the right side rivet and a small amount of the scale is missing. This is probably due to the pressure from corrosion growing between the scale and the carrier.  For many trophy guns which have spent a hundred years out in the weather this scale is gone. 

 

I had also forgotten some other brass parts, the knobs on the traverse and elevation hand wheels and the 4 bolts that secure the wood seats in place.

 

P1050852.JPG.5d76dfb0e256b5c781eb66300bff5929.JPG

 

Map from AIF 1Div 2nd brigade war diary.  The line marked as the front line is roughly the crest of the rise in the open fields. Hence forming up and start lines well behind this. The old roman road Amiens-St Quentin is actually in the 6Bn allotted area. The map shows trees along the road in 1918. This are not there now.  

 

attack.jpg.b02b7c6ead188549956104d9d87bef50.jpg

 

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Further research has revealed that the Beverley Road gun was transported by van from Burton Pidsea (a village about 11 miles to the east of Hull) - this may have been where the Colonel lived.

 

The gun was purchased from the antique shop by an American, so it may now be in the USA.

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I have been aware of the Beverley Rd gun photo for a few years. There are several 77mm field guns in existence whose provenance is obscure - see other trophy gun threads on the GWF - for example the two at Eilean Donan Castle. Can I ask MAW where the info came from that named Burton Pidsea as the origin of the gun and the link to the USA? There are plenty of 77s in the US and wonder why anyone would want to import one. One of the pics of the Beverley Rd gun seems to indicate that the towing eye and trail spade had become detached - presumably through corrosion of the trail or by deliberate shortening (to get it in a van?)- so if it does exist it should be easily identified!

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mtaylor,

 

The information came from posters on the Facebook page 'Hull: The good old days', but I have not been able to contact them to make further enquiries.

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Could it be this chap, Colonel Rupert Alexander Alec-Smith. Seems a likely candidate

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rupert_Alec-Smith

 

His collection (and what a collection it is!) is listed here: http://catalogue.hullhistorycentre.org.uk/files/u-das.pdf

I have had a quick gander through and don't spot anything about a field gun but reading about what he had collected I wouldn't be surprised if he was the 'Colonel' referred to as owner.

How I would like to look through this set of papers, quite fascinating.

 

Margaret

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Alec-Smith is a tempting candidate but the caption of the photo (1967) says the gun came from a colonel's widow - and A-S was alive until 1983.

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Yes, I realised that dates don't match up with the story-so-far (even wondered if his father could have had it in the first place but he died in 1952 so that doesn't match either). I would love to know the answers. I guess there could have been speculation by locals that AS being such a collector had owned it (Winestead is a bit further south but could have been considered as 'over Burton Pidsea way'). Mention a Colonel collecting things and he was probably the first thought. Maybe it wasn't even a Colonel who owned it in truth? On balance, looking at the huge collection he left behind, I can't see a Field Gun being sent to an Antique shop by his family.

 

Another question. If the elderly colonel brought it back with him as a souvenir in 1918, maybe this one in the photographs wasn't one of the guns awarded to cities as suggested in the book extract?

 

I did find a bit more about said Antique shop chap. One photo of the Field Gun says the shop was opposite the Dorchester Hotel on Beverley Road. The hotel is still there, in the same place but I can't see any shops directly opposite but there is a newish building may have replaced some. Certainly shops up and down a bit from there. Mr Jerome Titus Walsh actually lived further down Beverley Road (just off it) going into the city. At least that was his address at time of death in 1988. I had wondered if he lived over the shop.

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Most guns were "captures" managed through the British, French and USA armies. All of the Australian guns were part of the British pool. That led to some interesting arguments where the Australian Government insisted that certain guns captured by AIF units be sent to Australia and the British Government wanted to retain them. Within the British, Australian, Canadian and NZ systems, some were retained as regimental trophies with the residual handed to agencies established by the respective government. Some were allocated to local government authorities (councils), hospitals, schools, and some to private individuals (the latter for their support of war effort organizations). I have minimal information on UK allocations but Australia and NZ definitely allocated to individuals. In the Australian case this included individuals in the UK.

 

Outside the capture/surrender guns through the official government channels, it is possible that an individual with sufficient resources could have located an abandoned gun (or one sold by an allied government as scrap metal) and brought it back as a personal trophy. The costs of doing this from Belgium to UK would not have been prohibitive. To USA, Australia, Canada, NZ, South Africa - rather unlikely.  

 

Regardless, the Beverley Rd gun is most likely a British Pool trophy/surrender gun. If the serial number can be identified, it is likely that it can be tracked through the trophy allocation process - bearing in mind that it could be an AIF or NZEF trophy as well. There were about five and a half thousand c96nA built and many hundreds entered the trophy system (about 200 were allocated to Australia). Tracking the serial numbers does come with some difficulties - often records only identify a "canon" and even when they identify a 77mm field gun they often include c96nA, FK16 and various models of German built 75mm field guns used Germany's allies all as the same data entry field.

 

The possible export of the Beverley Rd gun to the USA, this is highly probable.  In the USA the WW1 trophies are mostly still deemed as property of the USA Government and if no longer required by the local government authority, cemetery or VFW post (Veterans of Foreign Wars - ex-servicemen's social clubs), to whom they were entrusted, they must be returned to the Government. This makes private ownership a bit shakey. So for a collector to have purchased in the UK and imported to USA back when there were basically no import restrictions, would have given an absolutely solid tittle against Uncle Sam's sticky fingers. This makes a lot of sense.

 

In the Australian context, trophies allocated outside of the Australian War Memorial (AWM) and the Australian Defence Forces, were allocated on a Deed of Trust to preserve and display in perpetuity. So councils when they wanted to get rid of a gun should have contacted  AWM to terminate the Deed and offer the return of the weapon. In most cases they were just carted away as scrap metal.

 

One collector I knew had purchased a gun at the local garbage tip (council operated) from the scrap metal pile. He had purchased it from contracted tip salvage operator (this is back in the days when the councils sold "scavenger rights" to the tips). Over 20 years latter he had a visit from the police with a search warrant in company with members from the historical society wanting to recover the trophy gun he had "stolen" from their council. The historical society had obtained the serial numbers of their councils "missing" trophies.  He was lucky, his gun although bought at the local tip had actually come from another town and was not on the warrant. He was able to send them all on their way without further nonsense.

 

With #1881, above, the St Martin's Wood gun. Here the tittle is fairly clear. It was presented to the Victoria State Govt, Department of Education, Dandenong Boys High School.  At some time they disposed of it. The details are unclear, this happened a very long time ago, probably before or during WW2. It ended up in the possession of the Australian Army and ultimately in a large batch of old trophy guns consolidated at the Puckapunyal Army base under the control of the Armoured Corps museum.  All of the guns were then sold by tender as scrap, with no conditions or restrictions (they were mostly bought by collectors).

 

Only a couple of weeks ago our national newspaper had a large page 2 article about "stolen" trophy guns, that used to be in parks and are now "gone". Very light on detail and specifics. It did discuss the c96nA that used to be in a park in Liverpool, near Sydney. I knew that gun very well, it was removed from the park by council over 25 years ago. I had contacted the council and the local museum several times to ask about it and was told that it was removed by council and would be returned to display at another location after restoration, or that the restoration was completed and that it was back on display (it definitely was not). After about 5 years I gave up asking.  Now its "disappeared", probably sent to scrap when they got a quote for the cost of restoration.

 

Cheers

Ross 

 

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Ross

Thank you for that clear and detailed explanation. I find it all quite fascinating. My interest in the Great War centres on my family history research and I am learning so much from this Forum. Until this thread I doubt I would have given a second thought to the sight of a Field Gun in a public place (maybe assuming it to be a replica) or even outside an Antique shop! Indeed I do wonder if we passed this one on Beverley Road without even noticing. 

 

Margaret

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