BALLARAT Mayor Cr John Philips officially unveiled a restored original German Howitzer ‘short gun’ sFHO2 on Saturday.
Allied Forces captured Gun Number 68 during the Battle of Amiens in France in 1918. The battle was the first decisive and massive Allied victory of World War 1.
“In just three hour’s the enemy’s front line was overrun. 29,144 prisoners, and 388 guns were captured and 116 towns and villages were liberated,” Cr Philips stated. “However the advance came at high cost with 21,243 allied casualties, one quarter of who were killed. “Gun number 68, this Howitzer, is one of many German weapons captured that day and it’s very important to note that soldiers of the 8/7 battalion, located in this city, were an integral part of that attack and the capture of those pieces.” The gun is one of a pair given to Ballarat in 1920 as part of a national program to distribute captured artillery to towns around Australia. The pair of guns was located at the Ballarat Arch of Victory on the Avenue of Honour for many years.
The City of Ballarat has contributed $30,000 towards the project and the State Government has delivered $20,000.
The restoration process began in 2012. Miller Brothers Industries carriedout the conservation works and Sovereign Hill constructed the wheels. International Conservation Services researched, prepared and oversaw the process. The Ballarat Arms and Militaria Collector’s Society has helped keep the restoration on the agenda.
The gun will be housed in a purpose-designed container. It will become a complementary element of the national touring Spirit of ANZAC Exhibition at the Ballarat Exhibition Centre in November. It will eventually be permanently located in the Ballarat Lakes and Gardens Precinct. The City of Ballarat has a total of two short barrelled and one long barrelled Howitzer guns from WW1 currently in need of restoration. Council is keen to hear from interested parties who are willing to participate in fundraising activities to support the project.
Joining the Mayor were members of the 8/7 Battalion members.
The 8th Battalion and the 7th Battalion were raised for the First Australian Imperial Force and their subsequent action in the battle of Amiens where the gun was captured.
Following World War 1 and after several name changes the 7th Battalion and 8th Battalion were ‘linked to form the 8th/7th Battalion, Royal Victoria Regiment as it is known today.
Executive Officer 8/7 RVR Major Cliff Gowers added, “The Gun was captured during the Battle of Amiens. The affiliation for the Battalion is the lineage to the 7th and 8th Battalions from World War 1.” “The 8th Battalion was known as the “Blood and Bandages” brigade due to their unit colour patch being white on red, which is still worn by the Battalion today,” he said.
History of the gun
The 120 mm Krupp howitzer M1905 was a howitzer used by Turkey, Japan and a few smaller armies including during World War I. After Turkey’s entrance into World War I in 1914 on the side of the Central Powers, it realized that it needed to modernize its artillery. The Model 1905 was a “stock gun” from Krupp that could be supplied to customers from parts on hand, on short notice and with minor alterations to suit the customers’ needs. The Model 1905 was a conventional artillery piece for its time, except for a lack of a gun shield for the crew. The lack of a gun shield was not a major liability, as most artillery quickly moved into concealed positions after the first few months of war.