Nelson Bay returned serviceman's quest to find gun replica for Tomaree Headland

GUN SEARCH: Nelson Bay's Tom Lupton is hoping to locate a replica gun to the one that was used on Tomaree Head during the war years.
GUN SEARCH: Nelson Bay's Tom Lupton is hoping to locate a replica gun to the one that was used on Tomaree Head during the war years.

A Nelson Bay returned serviceman has embarked on a quest to locate a six-inch (152mm) gun similar to the cannons that occupied Tomaree Head when Port Stephens was used as a training ground for troops in the 1940s.

Nelson Bay's Tom Lupton, vice-president of the Nelson Bay RSL Sub-Branch, said he has made it his mission in retirement to source a gun and return it to the original emplacement site located at Shoal Bay's tourist point.

"The idea first came to me when I began researching the military history of the headland as part of my role on the Friends of Tomaree committee," said Mr Lupton, who served with the 1st Battalion Australian Regiment (Infantry) as a rifleman in Vietnam before completing 30 years in the Police Force.

A section of the gun emplacement on Tomaree Head.

A section of the gun emplacement on Tomaree Head.

"These six-inch guns were first manufactured by the British in 1890 and were used extensively in both world wars.

"Nelson Bay had two guns among its artillery on Tomaree Head during the Second World War, but no-one is quite sure where they are now.

"It is rumoured that they were melted down for their steel and used to make Toyotas in Japan.

"A similar gun exists at Fort Scratchley, most likely the only remaining firing gun of its kind in Australia."

Mr Lupton said that he was aware of at least two similar guns on display in London and possibly another in Bermuda, but outside of these areas his investigations began to run cold.

"I am still in my early days of research and I am hoping that maybe someone in Port Stephens who has a military background or who lived here in the 1940s may have some new information they could pass onto me," he said.

One of the gun emplacements on Tomaree Headland. Picture: Ellie-Marie Watts

One of the gun emplacements on Tomaree Headland. Picture: Ellie-Marie Watts

"This entire area has a fascinating history, with the old buildings [currently part of Tomaree Lodge] built for the Australian Army in 1942 and the activity surrounding the arrival of the Americans in 1943."

Mr Lupton said the guns, weighing approximately 7.5 tons, could throw a 42.5kg shell, capable of perforating 150mm of steel at 3km and had a maximum range of 14km.

"The shells were capable of piercing enemy ships."

The concrete canopies [or gun emplacements] to house the guns were completed in March of 1942.

Both buildings still exist, one of which sits behind a locked gate and is in fine condition, the second has deteriorated through vandalism and neglect.

Mr Lupton said that it was quite feasible that a restored replica gun could be returned to its place in the emplacement and be used as the central part of an interpretive centre.

"It would be an ideal location for a military museum, showcasing a very important period in Tomaree's history."

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