Anzac Day: Ballarat vies for howitzer set

24 April 2011
By Evan Shuurman

Ballarat could soon become home to a battery of World War I weapons so unique, its said to be the last remaining set in the world.

Ballarat City Council maintains three 150mm German howitzers with a 10km firing range on behalf of the people of Ballarat.

The weapons, which fire a heavier shell and have a barrel length about 15 to 25 times the calibre of the gun, are being restored by the Ballarat Arms and Militaria Collectors Society.

Council and the society have recently located the fourth and final howitzer somewhere in Victoria, which would complete the battery.

It has been recently revealed that council secured a $20,000 grant from the state government late last year to help complete the project, and are currently undergoing discussions with the owner of the weapon.

But society secretary Nick Smith warned the acquisition process was far from over as negotiations had stalled not long ago. He said until negotiations were completed successfully, "nothing can move forward".

The weapons were captured by a Victorian regiment in August 1918 and are estimated to be worth in excess of $100,000 incomplete.

Of the three short barrelled guns, two were moved from the Arch of Victory in the 1970s and the other, which has lived at the Eureka Stockade park area, was moved in. Ballarat City Council director of growth and development, Eric Braslis was unable to say how negotiations were going, but said, "weve made contact with the individual and were trying to work out an arrangement".

"The individual is wanting to see the gun restored and form part of the set of four cannons," Mr Braslis said. "Hes quite proud of the fact the cannon would become part of history for the community."

Mr Smith said once complete the set would be the "last remaining 150mm German howitzer battery in the world". "It is totally unique, which is why every effort must be made to put this whole thing together," Mr Smith said.

Council is aiming to have the restoration of the howitzer guns, along with the Arch of Victory and Avenue of Honour, completed in time for the 100-year anniversary of the Anzacs landing at Gallipoli in 2015.

This article can be found in the Ballarat Courier online - 24 April 2011.

© Copyright 2005 The Antique and Historical Arms Collectors Guild of Victoria. All rights reserved.