WWI gun will be protected forever

A donation from Mypolonga's Freemasons will ensure future generations can contemplate a display at Murray Bridge RSL.

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From a battlefield in France, across the sea to Murray Bridge and finally across the bridge to the local RSL clubrooms: a World War I artillery piece is finally at rest once more.

The Krupp field gun, captured by Australian troops in 1918, was moved from its long-time home at Diamond Park 98 years later so that damage wrought by sun and rain could be repaired.

It was installed outside Murray Bridge RSL in time for the centenary of its capture.

But it remained exposed to the elements, and worries about its long-term future persisted until the Mypolonga Masonic Lodge stepped up and donated $8000 so a permanent enclosure could be built around it.

Freemasons visited the RSL on Tuesday morning to see what their generosity had produced.

Among those in attendence was Neil Jensen, Grand Master of Freemasons in South Australia and the Northern Territory.

“Such artillery (as this) reminds us all how much better it is to live in peace and harmony,” Dr Jensen said.

“The contemplation of this weapon of war not only stirs the emotions, but also arouses multiple interests, including armed conflicts, their initiators and their consequences, the development of weaponry and rocket science, the history of steel ... and, most important for us as Freemasons, the contemplation of self during our journey of self-discovery.

“Let me congratulate the Mypolonga Lodge of Freemasons for being so alert to the need to preserve this field gun for posterity.”

Gun was captured by men from Murray Bridge in 1918

The German gun was one of six captured by troops from the Australian Imperial Force’s 10th Battalion, which included soldiers from Murray Bridge, as they pushed across the so-called Hindenberg Line between the farming villages of Bellicourt and Villeret on September 18, 2018.

The battalion suffered significant losses in hand-to-hand combat during the advance.

The picture above was taken in the area 12 days later.

In 1920, the Commonwealth gifted the guns to towns around country South Australia out of gratitude for their support.

The RSL successfully lobbied the Murray Bridge council for its removal and refurbishment in 2015.

Lower Murray Grit Blasting, Moore Engineering and the Murraylands Community Men's Shed all had a hand in its restoration.

Correction: An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated that the historic photo was taken two days earlier. Photos: Peri Strathearn, Australian War Memorial (E03513).

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