The Sorry Steel: Trophy Guns in New Zealand's World War One Commemoration

Peter Cooke
2014 The Journal of New Zealand Studies  
In relation to WWI war memorials, we traditionally we have had a picture of earnest committees raising funds to build an obelisk, and dedicating it in a ceremony filled with poignancy and regret, sorrow and pride. And while that is essentially correct, the picture Jock Philips and Chris McLean painted (in their 1990 book) was skewed in one salient aspect – virtually all New Zealand communities also commemorated their fallen with a trophy gun. Hundreds of captured artillery pieces, mortars and
more » ... eces, mortars and machine guns were brought back from the front and distributed – to every city, town, borough, suburb and almost every school. This paper explores a slightly different view our commemorating the sacrifices of the Great War, one that added an element of 'cold steel' to the marble statuary. So what did we see in these trophy guns? Were they a triumphal statement or a reminder of loss? And what happened to them and the mode of commemoration they signified?
doi:10.26686/jnzs.v0i18.2187 fatcat:y2spdhjktvh4xevnzktvvdpj3i