WORLD WAR I PRE­SEN­TA­TION STORY

Prairie Post (East Edition) - - Swift Current - writ­ten by HEATHER CAMERON

On Novem­ber 1, the Galt Mu­seum in Leth­bridge hosted a pre­sen­ta­tion dis­cussing the last gun fired at the end of World War I.

The pre­sen­ta­tion, done as a Her­itage Fair Project by 7th grader Abi­gail Reimer, was done be­cause she wanted to know more about a gun that she had seen in Septem­ber 2016, when the Reimer fam­ily when they went to the Mons Me­mo­rial Mu­seum in Mons, Bel­gium.

“I saw the gun at the top of a flight of stairs and im­me­di­ately had to know more about it,” Reimer said. “This gun had a plaque say­ing that it was given to the City of Mons by Canada and so we thought it was the gun from Leth­bridge.”

In Jan­uary 2018, Reimer de­cided she needed to know more about the gun she saw and so her mother con­tacted Cap­tain McDon­ald and was put in con­tact with re­tired War­rant Of­fi­cer Glenn Miller, a man served in the Royal Cana­dian Ar­tillery.

“We ar­ranged a meet­ing and he told us that we saw one of two guns given to the City of Mons by Canada and the gun that we saw was the 4.5 inch How­itzer from the 35th Bat­tery,” Reimer said. “The gun that we were look­ing for was the 18 pounder, but it was in stor­age.”

The be­gin­ning of the gun's his­tory, Reimer says, is not clear, as both the record and log­book are lost in time. What Reimer does know, how­ever, that the gun's jour­ney be­gan with the 39th Bat­tery af­ter the Bat­tle at Vimy Ridge on April 9, 1917.

In 105 days at Vimy Ridge, Reimer said, 18 guns were de­stroyed and the 18 pound gun from Leth­bridge showed up as one of the re­place­ments. The 39th Bat­tery saw more than 30 bat­tles and on the morn­ing of Novem­ber 11, 1918 at 3 a.m., the 39th Bat­tery en­tered Mons, Bel­gium and they were the first Bat­tery to ar­rive and they fired one of the last shots of World War I be­fore the Armistice.

At 3 p.m that same day, Reimer said, there was a pa­rade for Gen­eral Curry and 20 gun­ners were asked to rep­re­sent the 39th Bat­tery. The gun went with the Bat­tery out­side Mons for four days and about three kilo­me­ters away to pro­tect the city should the cease­fire fail and the Ger­mans re­turn.

“Though the war was over, the gun still kept mov­ing and it trav­eled to France and the cen­ter of Bel­gium as part of the oc­cu­pa­tional forces,” Reimer said. “On Fe­bru­ary 6, 1919, the driv­ers and horses were re­leased and sent to Eng­land and then back to Canada. The guns were then sent to the sup­ply de­pot in Bel­gium.”

Reimer said that on Au­gust 15, 1919, Lt Colonel Wil­fred Wilby rep­re­sented Gen­eral Curry and pre­sented the mayor of Mons with the Act of Trans­fer. The Act of Trans­fer gave the two guns to the city of Mons in com­mem­o­ra­tion of the en­try of Cana­di­ans into the city of Mons on Novem­ber 11, 1918.

The guns were not men­tioned again un­til the cu­ra­tor of the Mons Mu­seum at the time wrote a per­sonal let­ter to Gen­eral Stew­art on Novem­ber 17, 1968 let­ting him know that he found the guns in dis­re­pair, hav­ing been badly dam­aged by weather con­di­tions. In the Sec­ond World War, Ger­many oc­cu­pied Bel­gium quickly and the cu­ra­tor hid the guns un­der a wood­pile out­side of a school to pro­tect the guns should the Ger­mans find them If the Ger­mans had found the guns, they would have been melted down.

The guns stayed un­der the wood­pile un­til af­ter the Sec­ond World War and then they were re­turned to the mu­seum and moved around to dif­fer­ent stor­age places. To­day, only the 4.5 How­itzer is on dis­play at the Mons Mu­seum.

On March 18, 2018, the King and Queen of Bel­gium pre­sented the 18 pound gun to the Cana­dian War Mu­seum and it is on loan to Canada for ap­prox­i­mately five years.

Be­cause of con­stant com­mu­ni­ca­tion with War­rant Of­fi­cer Miller, Reimer was able to go to Ot­tawa re­cently and see the gun in per­son at the Cana­dian War Mu­seum, where it is cur­rently part of the 100 Days ex­hibit.

“One thing I hope Cana­di­ans un­der­stand is how im­por­tant this part of his­tory is,” Reimer said.

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