1918: The Amiens Gun
The capture of the Amiens Gun by Australian and British soldiers was a significant achievement. During the summer of 1918, it had been used by the Germans to fire on the city of Amiens, about 25 kilometres away, from a railway carriage. Attempts had been made by the Allies to destroy this powerful weapon, but to no avail. During the August 8 advance, the train was bombed by a British Sopwith Camel, causing the German soldiers on board to evacuate. Although RAF aircraft and British cavalry were the first to engage the gun, it was then quickly claimed by the advancing Australian infantry.
We had been sent with a quantity of Amanol to blow up the large gun … however Les Strahan one of our sappers in the party had been a driver in the Western Australian railways, and he found there was still a head of steam, he asked for a fair go, instead of blowing the gun up he got the engine going, we were told then to try to get it back if possible into a cutting so it could be camouflaged.
Corporal John Palmer, 8th Field Company
The Amiens gun barrel weighs 45 tons (40,824 kilograms) and has a calibre measurement of 28 centimetres (11.15 inches). Built in 1904 by Friedrick Krupp, it was originally a German naval gun, until it was modified to be used as a railway gun during the war. The "Amiens gun" was later exhibited in Paris before it was sent to England for transport to Australia as a war trophy. While the gun's carriage was eventually destroyed, the barrel remains intact, and is on display outdoors at the Australian War Memorial.