Milton’s War Trophy

Most Canadians, like me, probably thought that the armaments that adorn our local parks, cenotaphs and memorials are Canadian.

While researching the background to our “Milton War Trophy” I asked numerous friends, Legion Comrades and Veterans about our Milton Victoria Park War Trophy. Only one person knew it was of German origin, captured during the Great War (WW1 1914-1919). Specifically, it was captured during the famous period of “Canada’s Hundred Days”, from August 8th to November 11th 1918.

This is the incredible story of the capture of that gun by the 3rd Canadian Infantry Battalion on Friday September 27th 1918.

A complete report with photographs, maps and capture details is available here:

Report on Milton’s War Trophy by Richard Laughton

Milton’s War Trophy, Victoria Park

The trophy was captured by the 3rd Canadian Infantry Battalion, 1st Brigade, 1st Canadian Division during “Canada’s Hundred Days”. During this period the Canadian Expeditionary Force advanced through the Hindenburg Line to Cambrai, ending the stalemate of “Trench Warfare”. Specifically the Canadians crossed the Canal du Nord and captured Bourlon Wood, and in doing so captured a German Field Gun #9563, Milton’s War Trophy.

For more photographs of the war trophy, see the Photobucket site here:

More pictures of Milton’s War Trophy On-Line

Photo courtesy Bill Smy, CEFSG

The war allocation records clearly show (2nd entry from top) that item #9563, a 77 mm field gun, was allotted to Milton, Ontario.

Click image for larger scale.

Milton Parade, September 1919

 

 

The Soldiers’ Reception was held in Milton in September 1919 to honour Milton’s returning soldiers from WW1. The war trophy is clearly evident on the Main Street of Milton. For further information see the Canadian Champion of September 18, 1919. CORRECTION: See below as that date is incorrect!

In addition to the large calibre Field Gun that was captured and allocated to the Town of Milton there were four (4) German Machine Guns also sent to Milton. There is no record of these machine guns in Milton and it is presumed that they were collected and re-used for scrap metal during the Second World War. This was a common occurrence across Canada – all a part of using recycled German metal against them in WWII.

We have checked the records regarding the machine gun allocations and we can report these details for the items:

Machine Gun #1
Line 2158 Sheet 2
Serial Number 2227
Captured by 102nd Infantry Battalion, 11th Infantry Brigade, 2th Canadian Division
Captured on November 16, 1917 at Passchendaele, Belgium
War Diary Record LAC page 8:
http://data2.collectionscanada.ca/e/e045/e001123329.jpg
Sketch of site in Appendix “C” LAC page 13
http://data2.collectionscanada.ca/e/e045/e001123334.jpg

Machine Gun #2
Line 2850 Sheet 2
Serial Number 3778
Captured by 2nd Infantry Battalion, 1st Brigade, 1st Canadian Division AND 2nd Canadian Mounted Rifles, 8th
Brigade, 3rd Canadian Division
Captured at Gentelles Wood near Amiens, France during Canada’s “100 Days”
War Diary Record 102nd Bn. LAC Page 4
http://data2.collectionscanada.ca/e/e044/e001075830.jpg
Operational Orders for 102nd Bn. August 8, 1918 LAC App. 11 page 16
http://data2.collectionscanada.ca/e/e044/e001075842.jpg
War Diary Record 2nd C.M.R. LAC page 6 near Demuins, France to the southeast of Amiens, France
http://data2.collectionscanada.ca/e/e046/e001126614.jpg
Operational Orders 2nd C.M.R. LAC page 16, 17, 18
http://data2.collectionscanada.ca/e/e046/e001126624.jpg
http://data2.collectionscanada.ca/e/e046/e001126625.jpg
http://data2.collectionscanada.ca/e/e046/e001126626.jpg

Machine Gun #3
Line 3974 Sheet 2
Serial Number 6744
No details regarding the unit(s) or location of the capture.

Machine Gun #4
Line 4102 Sheet 2
Serial Number 7157
No details regarding the unit(s) or location of the capture.

If anyone has any recollection of seeing these Machine Guns in the Milton area between 1920 and 1942, please contact the Milton Historical Society.

CORRECTION REGARDING MILTON’s WAR TROPHY:

In early 2014 we became aware of further details on the Milton War Trophy suggesting that it was not present at the “Soldiers’ Reception” on Saturday September 13, 1919. Reports in the archives had suggested it was present, as detailed in the Canadian Champion (Milton) on Thursday September 18, 1919.

Indeed the reception for the soldiers, with numerous events, is recorded in the paper on that date but there is no mention of the war trophy being paraded on Main Street.

Here is page 2 of the paper of that day that reports on the events:

http://news.milton.halinet.on.ca/2493559/page/2

The image of the field gun #9563 appearing on Main Street in Milton is depicted in this photograph: (see above for actual image)

http://images.ourontario.ca/Partners/MHS/MHS00043.jpg

The German (Austrian built) 77 mm Field Gun that was assigned to the Town of Milton is actually reported to have arrived in Milton on the Canadian Pacific Railway train on June 10, 1920. This information was made available by CEFSG member Alex Comber, as posted on his web site on Canadian War Trophies:

War Trophies Allocation and Details Database: WHERE THE GUNS ARE NOW

The best option to resolve this issue appeared to be to check the newspaper archives for the story as reported. The following have been checked:

Thursday June 10, 1920 (the day the gun arrived in Milton)
Thursday June 17, 1920 (the first paper after the arrival of the gun)

The question is answered! Page 3 of the June 17th issue reports on the arrival of the war trophy in Milton:

Newspaper Archive: http://news.milton.halinet.on.ca/2493820/page/3

Cropped Image of Article: http://www.mediafire.com/convkey/ab07/t7unt5cy8p6ai7f6g.jpg

Milton Champion June 17, 1920

A WAR TROPHY – Milton is indebted to Dr. R. K. Anderson, M.P. for a German field gun as a war trophy which was delivered last Friday. It is a 77 m. field gun No. 9563 a “whiz-bang.” firing a 15-lb shell, and is in perfect condition, having been made in 1917, been little used and kept well oiled. It was captured by the 3rd Batt., C.E.F. At present the gun stands between the post office and the town hall, but its permanent place will be in front of the soldiers’ monument in Victoria Park or elsewhere.

The Milton Champion of September 23, 1920 (a year later than the time reported) does mention that the field gun is to be placed between the Band Stand and the Court House (now Town Hall) in Victoria Park:

Newspaper Archive: http://news.milton.halinet.on.ca/2493835/page/3

Cropped Image of Article: http://www.mediafire.com/convkey/f55c/3go8qpvwszm7qrm6g.jpg