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COAST DEFENCE USE STORY OF "SEMPLE" TANK O.C. WELLINGTON, this day. A gun first mounted at the time of the Russian scare in the early '80's was requisitioned for coast defence in the early stages of this war. This fact is now revealed with the lifting of censorship. The gun fired one of its original shells, with a fresh charge, as a test of efficiency. The shot was accurate, though the range was not comparable with modern artillery. The gim was mounted till up-to-date pieces were available. Now it has been greased and returned to honourable retirement. It had also been mounted during the 1914-18 war, so it had service in two wars and one "scare." This gun is a fine example of hand workmanship, and was first mounted at Otago Heads. After the 1914-18 war it was sold for £5, the buyer seeing possibilities in the bronze and brass. Its seven-ton weight presented removal problems, so the new owner asked the Army to grease and store it. This was done near the original emplacement, and the shells stored there also. It had not been claimed in 1939.

Another "hush-hush" occasion was the test of armoured plate made in the Temuka workshops of the Public Works Department and intended for use on the bulldozer-chassis "Semple" tank. The plate was shifted to Wellington, and a naval gun was transported to Wellington from the Devonport base in a special railway truck. Then came the day of testing. War Cabinet members, high service officers, and Ministers of the Crown and the engineers associated with the job assembled at Trentham.

There was an awkward wait after the target had been placed. The officer in charge then informed the expectant onlookers that no shell to fit the gun had been sent. It is not known whether a later test was made.

That is the story of an occasion when a gun was not fired. There is another of one that was—a Bofors anti-aircraft gun which was being demonstrated near Nelson. Something went wrong, and instead of the shell bursting in mid-air it landed in Wilkes' timber mill at Richmond, five miles from Tahunanui. The mill was damaged but no one hurt—the staff had left the mill only a few minutes before to take their afternoon tea break in the sunshine.

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Bibliographic details

ANCIENT GUN, Auckland Star, Volume LXXVI, Issue 231, 29 September 1945

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ANCIENT GUN Auckland Star, Volume LXXVI, Issue 231, 29 September 1945