THE Gift THAT KEPT ON MISGIVING

Following the 1918 Armistice, towns, villages and cities all across the Commonwealth received captured German equipment for display. However, as Rob Langham reveals, these now rare prizes were not always appreciated

GERMAN 7.7CM FK96 FIELD GUNS AND OTHER TYPES FORMING PART OF THE NOVEMBER 1915 DISPLAY OF CAPTURED ARMS AND ARTILLERY ON HORSE GUARDS PARADE, LONDON. AT FIRST, MANY OF THE GUNS SHOWN HAD BEEN TAKEN DURING THE BATTLE OF LOOS, BUT THE COLLECTION WAS SOON EXPANDED UNIVERSAL
IMAGES GROUP/GETTY

They were once very common. All across the English-speaking world, captured ‘trophy guns’ – German artillery pieces, mortars and even machine guns – were handed out for prominent display.

Although these were born of the horrors of trench warfare, the tradition dated back at least a century. French cannon captured at Waterloo or on the Iberian Peninsula were frequently displayed in towns, and these were replaced by Russian guns from the Crimea.

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