German gun displayed in Gore
DR AARON FOX
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.
WRITE TO US
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: email@example.com
The 105mm howitzer outside the Gore and Districts Memorial RSA.