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RSA wants to restore WWI field gun

A World War I-era German gun sitting at the end of a gravel road in Hastings should be restored and returned to an Anzac memorial, the Hastings RSA says.

The story of the Krupp field gun, which sits on makeshift wheels at a private shooting range at the end of Blind Rd, is a strange one.

Ewan McGregor, a former regional councillor, said Anzac troops returned to New Zealand in 1919 with a number of the captured German guns, which were distributed around the country.

In Hawke’s Bay, one of the guns was placed on the Waipawa War Memorial, and another on the Havelock North War Memorial. But the latter was removed by the Havelock North Borough Council and buried in a works yard, where it “languished” for years, until it was uncovered by earth works, and a local shooting club saved it from being sold as scrap metal.

The club is now known as the Hawke’s Bay Firearms and Shooting Association.

“We could actually install it at the monument in Hastings, with the council’s approval, and get it done up and put there.

“It’s a 1918 memorial with 1418 names from the First World War – it’s strictly a First World War memorial.”

But the shooting club’s secretary, Allan Young, said it would be up to the membership to decide the gun’s fate.

“That’s something for the members to decide – we have done that before and decided against it by a vote.”

He said it was unclear why the gun had been buried for decades in the works yard, where it had “rotted quite substantially”.

“The theory was the Japanese might see it [during WW II] and consider it something to shoot them with.”

The weapon may also have proven a nuisance for the local policeman, as it had sat untethered at the Havelock North War Memorial, and there were tales of “drunken hoons” carting it off down the street, even parking it on his lawn.

“People would get drunk, cart it around and leave it on people’s lawns, or throw it in the river between wars.”

Mr Young said the gun bore the scars of its long and mysterious past, and would require extensive restoration.

“It’s a pretty rusty old thing, and a lot of it is missing.”

Hawkes Bay Today