A piece of military history that has resided in Port Stephens for 60 years has received a much needed refurbishment.
Raymond Terrace RSL Sub-Branch unveiled its restored 25-pound Mark II artillery gun, bought by the town’s junior chamber of commerce in the 1950s, in its new position within Anzac Park on Wednesday.
The British-designed, quick-firing artillery gun used by Commonwealth forces during World War II has been on display in Anzac Park, also home to the Raymond Terrace war memorial, since 1992.
“Having been exposed to the elements since 1992, the gun had deteriorated quite badly and was in urgent need of refurbishment and preservation,” sub-branch president Vic Jones RAR said.
“It was severely corroded in places and required extensive metal re-fabrication work prior to being fully repainted.
“As the nominal 'custodian' of Anzac Park, the Raymond Terrace RSL Sub-Branch approached AGL Energy seeking sponsorship for the restoration project.”
The restoration project, including the laying of a new slab for the gun to sit upon, cost a total of $7700.
AGL sponsored the project to the amount of $3850, which was used to have the gun cleaned and blasted to remove old paint, inspected for damaged and rusted areas, have these damaged parts repaired and have the gun repainted.
This restoration work was carried out in March and May by T.W Woods Construction, based in Tomago.
The sub-branch used $3520 of its own funds to have the old slab that the gun sat on removed, and a new one laid immediately to the right of Raymond Terrace Bowling Club.
The restored gun was transported and installed with help from Port Stephens Council on August 14.
During Wednesday’s ceremony, Mr Jones thanked and presented certificates of appreciation to Marina Draper from AGL and Glenn Woods from T.W Woods Construction.
“Our aim is the leave a positive footprint and impact in the communities in which we operate and this is one of the ways that we aim to do so,” Ms Draper said.
“We’re looking forward to many more years of paying tribute to our veterans. Thank you for partnering with us on this incredible project.”
For Raymond Terrace RSL Sub-Branch member Kerry Allen, seeing the restored artillery gun take pride of place in the park is “great”.
Mr Allen's father, Ray Allen, served as a gunner on the 25lb Mark II artillery gun in New Guinea during WWII.
“To stand next to one of these guns in the restored condition it is now is great,” he said. “It would almost be exactly what he would have fired when he was in New Guinea in 1942.”
Mr Allen owns Royal Australian Artillery (RAA) pins that were worn by gunners like his father during WWII, and an empty shell for the 25lb Mark II.
The restoration and relocation work, carried out between July and August, cost a considerable amount more than what it was originally purchased for, including its transportation fee to Raymond Terrace.
The chamber of commerce contacted the Australian Army in the 1950s seeking a piece of military equipment it could display within Raymond Terrace.
They were advised that a quick-firing 25lb Mark II gun was available from the Bathurst Ordinance Depot for £5 (about $10).
It then cost £26 ($52) to have the gun transported to Raymond Terrace by rail.
Mr Jones said the preservation and relocation of the gun was in accordance with the sub-branch’s Anzac Park Redevelopment Project plan.
“The RSL sub-branch considers that there is a requirement to re-develop Anzac Park in order to preserve the current infrastructure of significant military and historic significance within [it], to improve the layout of the park so that it is able to accommodate the large crowds who attend commemorative services held at the war memorial and provide a safe and attractive environment for the public and other visitors who attend activities held in the park into the future,” Mr Jones said.
“Obtaining funds from a variety of sources will be critical if each of the elements of the proposed park re-development plan are going to be achieved.
“AGL’s sponsorship of the gun refurbishment project is the first step towards realising this ambitious goal.”