Heritage Gun Restoration Committee Report No 14.

REPORT NO.14 OF THE GUNNERS’ ASSOCIATION OF SOUTH AFRICA HERITAGE GUN RESTORATION COMMITTEE

Dear Fellow Gunners,

13Pdr Barrel 289 on 7 May 2021 – Ready for filming
13Pdr Barrel 289 on 7 May 2021 – Ready for filming

GV1s

A further milestone in our restoration journey has been reached.

GV1 – Repaired and Resprayed
GV1 – Repaired and Resprayed

The two GV1s in Potchefstroom (one at the National Memorial and one from the Old Command Building) have been repaired and resprayed.

The Memorial GV1 now has arms linking the platform to the trail legs. There are discussions that the second GV1 will be located at the School of Artillery and not at the ASB.

Our thanks are due to the Gunners’ Memorial Trust, Gnr Bloem in particular, and Potchefstroom Powder Coaters for the excellent work.

ZOO GUN

The Mayor of Johannesburg will confirm shortly whether he will be available to unveil the Zoo Gun on either the first or second Saturday in July. Gnr Bloem reports good progress on the restoration of this 6” gun.

PRIORITY LIST

A generous ADA Gunner has sponsored the respraying within the next few weeks of the Bofor at the National Memorial.

At the Board of Trustees meeting held on 15 May, we were asked to prioritise the following:

  1. Support to the Durban Branch with the full restoration of the 13Pdr Memorial Gun at Lord’s Ground.
  2. Respraying of the two 13Pdrs and the 18Pdr at the National Memorial, within the next one to two years.
  3. Other projects such as the gun in Wynberg Military Base or the two guns which used to stand outside the Durban City Hall. This will depend on input from the two branches.

I would appreciate it if Members would provide input to and comment on this list.

DURBAN CITY HALL GUNS

Durban Gun before being moved to storage
Durban Gun before being moved to storage

The Durban Branch is currently evaluating the restoration of the two guns which used to stand in front of the City Hall. These guns are currently in storage. Mr Thulani Makhaye the Exhibition Curator, Heritage Spaces and Public Monuments asked the Committee for further details on the guns.

MC Heunis from Bloemfontein provided the following:

“The guns in question are British field guns from the Anglo-Boer War:

In 1883 the 12 pr 7 cwt was introduced for both the Royal Horse Artillery (RHA: gunners ride on horseback to accompany the cavalry) and Royal Field Artillery (RFA: gunners ride on guns and limbers and accompany the infantry). This was an interesting piece of equipment as its carriage showed the inception of the idea of controlling recoil. The axletree was connected to the trail on each side by stays, in which were strong spiral springs. These took the force of recoil, aided by some play in the axletree housing, and brakes on the wheel hubs.

This gun however proved to be too heavy for the fast-moving RHA and a new 12 pr gun of 6 cwt, with a simple, light carriage, was introduced in 1894. Experience also showed that the 12 pounder shell fired by the 12 pr 7cwt had little effect on earthworks. It was, therefore, converted to a 15 pr (the caliber was kept the same, but the shell lengthened). In 1895, this became the gun of the RFA. This conversion was possible as the new smokeless propellant, Cordite, was much more powerful than the old black powder. It provided an opportunity for adding to the weight of the shell without necessitating any major alterations to the gun. The 12 pr 7cwt gun, therefore, became a 15 pr 7cwt gun after 1895 and was marked as such. Some of the older 15 pr guns, like the ones in question, however still carried the markings 12 pr 7cwt.

These were the most common guns used by both the British and colonial field artillery units during the Anglo-Boer War. The Boers also captured and used quite a few of these.

Info mostly from: http://samilitaryhistory.org/vol021dh.html

Stay safe!

Gnr Roy Andersen

Chairman

Heritage Gun Restoration Committee

16 May 2021