On 11 August 1921, the Governor-General of Australia, Lord Forster, unveiled a plaque to commemorate the installation The Gun. Captured in 1918 by the 3rd Light Horse Brigade commanded by Old Boy, Brigadier-General Lachlan C Wilson (1885), The Gun is one our most well known and beloved landmarks. It has been located on the pedestal in the main driveway near the Great Hall for 100 years.
The Gun was secured through the Australian War Trophies Commission by Wilson with the help of another Old Boy, Lieutenant Colonel Donald C Cameron (1895). Cameron had commanded the 5th Light Horse in Palestine. At the unveiling Lord Forster said of The Gun:
“… it stands as an emblem of the victory which was won in the most stupendous struggle that the world has ever seen. It will serve not only to remind you of the victory won, but also of the great part played in that struggle by Australia.”
The BGS Magazine of November 1921 recorded that the Governor-General spoke of the determination and courage of those who served, and the spirit of service displayed by BGS Old Boys in Gallipoli, Egypt, France and Flanders. Loud applause greeted those sentiments. Pupils from BGS and Brisbane Girls’ Grammar lined the driveway to welcome His Excellency and a guard of honour was formed by student cadets on the tennis courts (now the Centenary buildings). ‘God Save the King’ and ‘Land of Hope and Glory’ were sung, and Brigadier-General Wilson told the story of the capture.
It began with General Allenby’s plan to capture the Turkish Army in Palestine. After infantry attacks, the cavalry would ride their hardest to capture all the fords over the River Jordan, cutting off the Turks’ communication. During this campaign, Wilson’s 3rd Light Horse was stationed at Jenin where they rounded up 8,107 Turks. The School Magazine went on to recount that on the day the gun was captured, General Wilson, Lieut. Hammond and Trooper Higgins were riding around the outskirts of the town when they came upon 40 Turks who promptly surrendered, thus capturing the gun. The guests responded with great laughter and applause to the story.
The Gun was originally allocated to Bombay as a ‘war trophy’ before coming to BGS. It was built in the Skodawerke at Pilsen, then part of the Austrian Empire, in 1917. The Qld War Memorial Register notes that The Gun is a rare and significant barrel transport vehicle, known as a Rohrhinterwagen, made for the 10.4cm Skoda M1915 field gun that sits on top. Because the original field gun was too heavy for a standard six-horse team to pull very far, the barrel was detached and pulled on its own vehicle. The Gun is a unique piece as it is the only surviving Rohrhinterwagen with a Skoda barrel in the world.
The Gun was restored between 1993-96 in a joint initiative of the School and the Old Boys’ Association. Today it is part of our heritage register plan and will undergo repairs to the wheels and metal plating, ensuring that future generations will be able to say, ‘meet you at The Gun!’