Citizens for a Livable Cranbrook Society provides grassroots leadership and an inclusive process, with a voice for all community members, to ensure that our community grows and develops in a way that incorporates an environmental ethic, offers a range of housing and transportation choices, encourages a vibrant and cultural life and supports sustainable, meaningful employment and business opportunities.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Captured German Gun

by David Humphrey

This largely complete 77mm German Canon is presently located close to the entrance to the Canadian Legion which is housed in the basement at the rear of the Heritage Inn on Cranbrook Street.

Heritage Value

The heritage value of this canon lies with its association to all those young men from Cranbrook and the surrounding area who enlisted in CEF and went off to fight in WWI.

At the end of the First World War the Government of Canada established a “Commission on War Records and Trophies”.  One of the mandates of this Commission was to recommend,  “the proper policy to be pursued for the distribution of such trophies."  The Commission submitted its report on May 18 1920. It recommended that only trophies which were of durable nature would be distributed to municipalities.  These war trophies were the exclusive property of the Crown, and the receiving community was responsible for keeping them in good repair and had no authority to dispose of them. From the total of the captured German guns it was decided to distribute them across Canada based on each province’s wartime enlistments in the CEF.  British Columbia had enlisted 61,238 men and this proved to be 10.4% of the total Canadian enlistments.

The Cranbrook Herald of August 12th 1920 headlines announce, “Captured German Gun Has Arrived” “Field Piece Which Helped to Batter Our Fighting Forces Now on Exhibition”.  It had arrived by rail on a flatcar On August 7th and was initially displayed close to the “Y” at the end of Baker Street.  It was later moved to a more prominent location beside the City Hall and later to in front of the Court House at the east end of Baker Street.  When the Court House was torn down to make way for a new shopping mall then this German canon was relocated so as to be close to the Canadian Legion premises.  During the last three Legion moves the gun has been relocated each time.  The Herald sums up its article by stating, “it will long be a relic to be admired by every patriotic Canadian” and “All who look upon the destructive instrument cannot help but experience a thrill and swell with pride the more over the accomplishments of our boys overseas.”

Research has shown that this German gun was captured by the 7th Battalion on the 27th September 1918 close to Marquion.  It remains in relatively good repair but its original camouflage has now been covered with a coat of grey paint.

Captured German Canon outside Cranbrook Courthouse and in front of the Cenotaph

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