In search of a lost siege gun – Otago Daily Times


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  1. News
  2. Dunedin

A group of local historians are looking forward to uncovering what they believe is a huge gun buried at a popular Dunedin playing field.

Otago Military History Group chairman Peter Trevathan said his research had led him to believe a siege gun New Zealand forces seized from the Ottoman army during World War1 was buried under the Oval.

He said the howitzer, which was so huge it needed 14 horses to move it, was broken up and buried behind the Boer War memorial at the Oval in 1936.

It was buried because it was too big to remove and melt down.

A recent ground scan of the field conducted by University of Otago geologists Andrew Gorman and Hamish Bowman had revealed between three and four anomalies which Mr Trevathan believed were pieces of the gun.

Mr Trevathan thought the buried gun was likely to have been captured in Palestine in September 1918 by the Second Auckland Infantry Battalion.

The massive weapon had been publicly displayed in front of the Boer War memorial, flanked by two German-built field guns which had also been taken from Ottoman forces at the end of the war.

After World War 1 most reserve units had taken artillery pieces as trophies.

These were gradually removed from public display in the 1930s because of increasing anti-war sentiment.

Mr Trevathan’s dream was to restore the gun to its previous position, now overlooking the intersection of Princes St and Andersons Bay Rd.

Before that could happen, the ground would have to be probed with metal rods to find the exact depth and location of any gun parts.

This would hopefully happen within the next month.

If the physical survey was successful, the next stage would be to seek permission from the council to dig any gun parts up over the summer.

Sports fans did not have to worry, as there was no indication gun parts were buried beneath the playing field, Mr Trevathan said.

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