Field Piece in the Front of the Armoury

Introduction

The field gun in front of the armoury was manufactured by the Krupp Company. Krupp had a long history in Germany and was involved in steel production. It was originally involved in peace-time endeavours, including the first seamless railway wheels (Krupp's logo is 3 wheels over-lapped). Krupp's steel works were put to use as an arms manufacturer after the Franco-Prussian War (1870-71). This brought more capital to the company and it began to grow. Krupp was instrumental in the manufacturing of equipment for the German Empire during the First World War (1914-1918). However prior to and during the War Krupp had also manufactured weapons for the United States, Russia, Belgium, Turkey and even Great Britain.[1] The Krupp Manufacturing Company designed and built such famous guns as "The Paris Gun" (used to shell Paris from Germany, 122 km/75 miles), Big Bertha (named after the female owner of Krupp) and, later, the amazing 80cm Gustav and Dora, railway gun used in World War Two. The company still exists but has joined with Thyssen to become ThyssenKrupp and still manufactures steel products.[2]

Photo of the Victoria Street Armoury in Niagara Falls with the field cannon at the frontCannon in Front of Armoury on Victoria Avenue

The type of cannon in the front of the armoury is called a 10cm K17 or Kanone M1917 (referred to as the K17 hereafter). 10cm refers to the diameter, or calibre, of the barrel, however, the calibre is actually 10.5cm. The gun was developed as an improvement on the 10cm Kanone 1914 (referred to as the K14 hereafter) as the German government required a field piece that could shoot farther.[3] This was done by extending the barrel length as it would increase the range and the accuracy of the gun. Thus, the length of the barrel was increased from 3.6m or 12 feet with the K14 to 4.7m or 15.5 feet with the K17. The result was a gun that could shoot 16km rather than 13km.[4] This lengthening of the barrel is a significant difference between the K14 and K17. The government wanted to place the larger gun on the same size carriage as the smaller gun providing issues with transportation as the gun needed to be partly disassembled in order to move it. The K14 weighed 2800kg (6204lbs), the K17 3200kg (7040lbs) so the horses needed to tow the K17 in two pieces, however this required that the gun be disassembled, moved and then reassembled.

The K17 had a complex sighting system and the dual elevation mechanism of the K14 and was more difficult to manufacture and move around the battlefield. The German government had begun to look back to the Kanone 1904s due to their ease of use and manufacture. Krupp decided to change the sighting system of the K17, removed both the dual elevation mechanism (where the two wheels at the left of the breech are) and the variable recoil mechanism for a standard one, this saved much weight, time and complexity.[5] Additionally these changes cut enough weight that the gun could be moved whole. The gun at the armoury was an earlier model however, and would have been moved in two pieces. We know this because the wheels for the dual elevation mechanism are still there and because the cannon has the serial number 39, indicating that it was manufactured early.

A gun of this type could be given many roles, yet not all were effective. If the complex sighting mechanism and dual elevation mechanism of the K14 were removed, the gun could be used as an anti-aircraft weapon; however, it did not excel in this. Due to its long range, one of the main roles that the K17 would fill was that of counter-artillery fire. The K17 also performed well as a counter-personnel weapon. The role of the gun could be altered through the use of different artillery shells. Many of these guns were not dismantled as demanded by the Treaty of Versailles and were used during World War Two.[6]

How it got here.

According to the War Trophies Commission the gun in the front of the armoury was captured on September 27, 1918 by the 3rd Battalion of the Canadian Expeditionary Force. Within this Armoury the 98th Battalion of the C.E.F. was stationed during the First World War. The gun was captured between Cambrai and Arras near the town of Marquion in north-western France near the Belgian border.[7]

This information corresponds with the Allied final push called the Hundred Days Offensive or the "Great Battle" of which the Battle of Amiens was part.[8] Amiens is to the south-west of the road between Arras and Cambrai, where the cannon was captured. The goal of initial Battle of Amiens was to move the salient from the city; however the Allies were able to push the Germans back, resulting in the end of the First World War. The large operation began August 8, 1918 and ended October 9. The Battle of Cambrai, which was part of this larger operation, was fought along the road going between Arras and Cambrai September 27- October 2, 1918. The communities of Marquion and Raillencourt lie on the road closer to Cambrai. The 3rd Battalion, which was then part of the First Canadian Division, was stationed around Marquion during this battle which is where the gun was to have been captured.[9] This may validate that the gun was captured by the 3rd Battalion.

The 3 Battalion was comprised of men from Toronto Ontario. Initially, on August 6, 1914 there were 1123 troops and 42 officers within the battalion.[10] The unit fought at Ypres, St. Julien, the Somme, Flers-Courcelette, Vimy, Hill 70, Passchendaele, the Hindenburg Line and Amiens and Cambrai.

According to Passion & Compassion there are few guns of this type remaining; only one other in
Canada - Ottawa - and 6 elsewhere. There is also a K14 in Niagara-on-the-Lake at Butler's Barracks. 12

 

Bibliography

Canadian Expeditionary Force Study Group. "War Trophy Allocation List: Excel Document"
Accessed October 29, 2010.CEF Study Group Home Page

— "3rd Battalion" Accessed October 30, 2010. CEF Study Group Home Page

Hogg, Ian. Twentieth-Century Artillery. Toronto: Prospero Books, 2000.

Hill, Roland H. "The Triumph of the Allies". Canada and the Great War. Volume 5. Toronto:
United Publishers of Canada, 1920. 126-171.

Lovett Artillery. "10cm Kanone 1917." Accessed November 1, 2010.

Nasmith, Colonel George G. "From Amiens to Mons with the Canadians". Canada's Sons in the
World War. Toronto: John C. Winston, 1919. 134-170.

Passion & Compassion 1914-1918. "Database of WW1 Surviving Artillery" Accessed October
30, 2010. Database of First World War Surviving Artillery

ThyssenKrupp. Accessed November 1, 2010. Thyssen Krupp Homepage .

 

Appendix

Called the 10 cm K 17 (Kanone M1917)

Calibre- 105 cm
Serial Number- 39

Captured by- 3 Battalion
Date captured- September 27,1918

Place Captured- Near Cambrai-Arras Road near Marquion and Raillencourt

Allotted to- Niagara Falls *as with all War Trophies, the field gun is still owned by the

Canadian Federal Government but held in trust by the Municipalities.*

Nationality- German

Gun-Length -15.5 feet

Elevation- -2° - 45°

Shell Type- 18kg or 41 lbs. High Explosive

Muzzle Velocity- 650m/sec (2340km/h) or 2133 ft./sec (2 miles/sec) or Mach 2 (jet)

Range -14 km or 8.7 miles from the armoury placement we could hit Brock University, Queenston, Niagara College Glendale Campus, Navy Island and Martin's Fantasy Island.

 

 

[1] "Database of Surviving Artillery," Passion and Compassion, accessed October 30, 2010,
Database of Surviving Artillery .

[2] "ThyssenKrupp Home", ThyssenKrupp, accessed November 1, 2010, ThyssenKrupp Home Page .

[3] "Database of Surviving Artillery."

[4] Hogg, 36.

[5] "10cm Kanone 1917," Lovett Artillery, accessed November 1, 2010,
10cm Kanone,1917.

[6]  10cm Kanone K17.

[7] "War Trophy Allocation List: Excel Document" Canadian Expeditionary Force Study Group, accessed October 29,
2010, War Trophy Allocation for Canada .

[8] Roland H. Hill, "The Triumph of the Allies" Canada and the Great War. Vol. 5. (Toronto: United Publishers of
Canada, 1920), 126-17.

[9]Col. George G. Nasmith, "From Amiens to Mons with the Canadians," Canada's Sons in the World War. Volume
2. (Toronto: John C. Winston, 1919), 152-153.

[10] "3rd Battalion," Canadian Expeditionary Force Study Group, accessed October 30,2010,

Third Battalion, CEF Study Group.

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