Ger­man gun dis­played in Gore

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A Ger­man ar­tillery piece which guards the en­trance to the Gore RSA has served sev­eral dif­fer­ent pur­poses over the past cen­tury.

The gun was made in 1914 by Friedrich Krupp A.G. of Essen, a com­pany renowned for its steel prod­ucts.

The Krupp sym­bol is three in­ter­linked rail­way wheels of the seam­less cast type sup­plied to Amer­i­can rail­roads.

‘Krup­p­stahl’ also be­came syn­ony­mous with the mod­ern breech-load­ing ar­tillery which was man­u­fac­tured for the Ger­man Army.

The Gore RSA’s gun is a 105mm how­itzer which was orig­i­nally de­signed in 1898 and up­graded by Krupp four years later.

Weigh­ing just over a tonne, this field ar­tillery weapon could eas­ily be towed by a horse team, while the six man team crew could quickly bring it into ac­tion.

The im­proved model, known as the lFH 98/09, could hit tar­gets up to 6300 me­tres away.

A par­tic­u­larly fear­some shell was shrap­nel – a Bri­tish in­ven­tion de­signed to ex­plode di­rectly above troops, fir­ing a deadly cone of heavy lead balls down onto un­pro­tected heads and tor­sos.

The Gore RSA gun bears the crest of the Ger­man Em­peror Kaiser Wil­helm II (1859-1941).

The motto ‘Ul­tima Ra­tio Regis’ which is cast into the bar­rel as­serted the Em­peror’s right to use force to re­solve an ar­gu­ment.

The storm of steel pro­duced by Ger­man ar­tillery from 1914 helped force Bri­tish and French soldiers un­der­ground, re­sult­ing in the stale­mate of trench war­fare.

From 1917, as war­fare on the West­ern Front be­came more mo­bile, al­lied forces be­gan to over­run Ger­man ar­tillery po­si­tions.

The cap­tured weapons were known as ‘war tro­phies’, since their seizure marked a sig­nif­i­cant turn­ing point of the bat­tle.

The Gore RSA tro­phy gun was amongst the 145 guns, 1419 ma­chine guns and two tanks cap­tured by the New Zealand Di­vi­sion in 1918.

The col­lec­tion of war tro­phies was orig­i­nally in­tended for dis­play in a na­tional war mu­seum in Welling­ton, but this was never con­structed.

The col­lec­tion was in­stead dis­trib­uted through­out New Zealand for dis­play by coun­cils and schools.

Once on pub­lic dis­play in parks or halls, the guns served as tem­po­rary war memo­ri­als while the per­ma­nent ceno­taphs and memo­ri­als were con­structed.

Gore was anx­ious to re­ceive a tro­phy gun in or­der to ‘stir up pa­tri­otic feel­ing’.

The how­itzer ar­rived in 1921, and was po­si­tioned for many years be­side the band ro­tunda.

Forty years later the gun was sold into pri­vate hands, even­tu­ally be­com­ing a land­mark out­side the Dip­ton farm of Jim Lamb.

The gun has now re­turned to pub­lic dis­play in Gore, thanks to Jim Lamb, who once played on it as a boy. ❚ Dr Aaron Fox is a Gore-based mil­i­tary his­to­rian.


Let­ters should not ex­ceed 250 words and must have a full name, ad­dress and phone num­ber. The news di­rec­tor re­serves the right to edit, abridge or with­hold any cor­re­spon­dence with­out ex­pla­na­tion. Let­ters may be re­ferred to oth­ers for right of re­ply. Email: rachael.kelly@fair­fax­me­

The 105mm how­itzer out­side the Gore and Dis­tricts Memo­rial RSA.

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