St Marys War Trophies

 

After the cessation of hostilities, a State Trophy Committee was set up to allocate captured guns (war trophies), to Australian towns. St Marys, like many other Australian towns, applied for a war trophy and was awarded 2 guns and 2 trench mortars. Three trustees had to be nominated, one of these had to be a member of the AIF. The trustees nominated for St Marys signed an agreement on 27 October 1920, to say that they would house the trophy in a public place or institution and arrange for a simple ceremony to formally hand over the trophy.

The following guns were dispatched on 21 July 1921 and were unveiled at the opening of the Victoria Park War Memorial on 28 October 1922:

3213 77mm gun allocated to St Marys for display

13259 77mm Field Gun captured by the 53rd Battalion, 30 Sep 1918, at Bellicourt. The capture of Mont St Quentin by Australian troops took place on 1 September 1918. Bellicourt, located 10 miles east of Peronne and Mont St Quentin was part of the Hindenburg Line and was not captured until 29-30 September. The 53rd Battalion, part of the 5th Australian Division, played a leading role in the breaching of the Hindenburg Line.

26612 75mm trench mortar captured by the 4th Battalion.

33625 75mm trench mortar captured by the 20th Battalion.

At the opening of the Victoria Park War Memorial, Mr R B Walker, MLA, made reference to the gun at the west of the memorial being captured by the 20th Battalion on the night before Mont St Quentin fell. This gun (trench mortar) was inscribed: “Captured by the 20th Australian Infantry Battalion, Mont St Quentin, 30th August, 1918.”

While the two trench mortars are referred to during the opening of the Victoria Park War Memorial, there is some doubt as to whether two field guns were received by St Marys. It is likely that the 77mm gun (13259) did arrive at a later date but it is unclear if the other field gun (3213) was eventually allocated to the town.

The fate of the guns that were mounted in Victoria Park is unknown. The trench mortars may have been removed in the early 1960’s.

Sources:

Billett, R S (1999). War Trophies From the First World War: 1914-1918. Kangaroo: East Roseville, NSW.

Australian War Memorial Military Heraldry and Technology Section

AWM194 Allotment of 1914-1918 War Trophies