By Sara Tipton
The gun that fired the first round for the British Army in WWI has arrived in Melbourne, Australia as the newest part of an exhibit intended to commemorate the century old war. The gun was fired by the British Army on the Western Front effectively engaging the British in the Great War. The Imperial War Museums in Britain is loaning the ‘one-tonne’ Royal Horse Artillery Gun to Melbourne Museum as a centerpiece for a WWI Centenary exhibition, which opens on April 18. The exhibition will also include photographs, artwork, and documentation from the war, as well as 350 other unique pieces . . .
The 13 lb. gun has never left Europe until now, but a shell was fired from this gun in Belgium in 1964 for the first time since the end of the War to End All Wars.
At just under four meters long, the gun has a range of up to 5.4 kilometres. It is said to have fired more than one and a half million rounds on the Western Front alone and took nine gunners to operate while capable of firing eight rounds a minute.
Nora Ni Dhomhnaill, the conservator for Imperial War Museums said that this gun was used throughout the four-year long war. It was used in many battles, including the Somme, Le Cateau, Arras and Cambrai. It was also used during both Ypres campaigns. As the war came to a close in 1914, it was used by the British to facilitate both the fifth army’s retreat and the advance in Germany.
Nora Ni Dhomhnaill says this exhibit is instrumental to Australian culture, as the war happened during the time that Australia was attempting to define their national identity.
From the Sydney Morning Herald:
“We still feel the relevance of the war today, from the formation of new nations to the continued rise of women in society,” she said. “The war created huge social change and from an Australian perspective, it was a pivotal moment in the country’s history.”
Ni Dhomhnaill also said the even though the war ended 97 years ago, families across Australia still feel it’s impact and others continue to find items related to the war, so new research is constantly and consistently being updated. She also claims the exhibition is helping families make connections to their past.
“Museums are collecting things all the time. It didn’t just end in 1918, there were ongoing consequences and it’s all very interconnected with how it impacted the world. I hope it’s personal and emotional for people,” she said.
The WWI Centenary Exhibition will be ongoing at the Melbourne Museum until October.
Source: The Sydney Morning Herald