Sitting south of the Brantford Armouries, in Jubilee Terrace Park, is an artifact built in Germany over 100 years ago. Friedrich Krupp AG, a large family-run German business that had been making cannons since the 1840s, manufactured the Field Howitzer in 1913.
The Field Howitzer is one of the five cannons captured by the 116th Battalion on August 8, 1918 at Demuin, France. This day is known as the first day of “Canada’s Hundred Days Offensive” or the “Black Day” for the German Army, which ultimately led to the end of the First World War.
This cannon is one of only two registered War Trophies currently located in Brantford. War Trophies were gifts from the Canadian government, who allocated them to cities and towns across Canada as a reminder of the sacrifices that their community members made in the Great War effort. Thirteen men from Brantford, Brant, and Six Nations served in the Battle of Amiens, and many of these men were seconded to the 116th Battalion. Three of the men were killed in battle and two later died of their wounds; an additional 7 men were wounded, and 3 were decorated for their gallantry.
In June 1920, the Commanding Officer, Colonel M.A. Colquhoun of the Brantford Armoury, wrote to Council to ask the City to secure Brantford’s allocation of War Trophies. Over 450 towns or villages applied for the Trophies, and later that month Lt. Colonel A.S. Doughty, Director of War Trophies, notified the City that they had been allocated two of the total 166 Trophies in Ontario. The Field Howitzer arrived via Grand Trunk Railway on June 30, 1920, and it was installed at Colonel Colquhoun’s request in the square south of the Armouries in 1921.
Unfortunately, although 820 artillery pieces were captured and sent to Canada after the war, the Great War Centenary Association notes that, “it has been estimated that three-quarters have been lost.” Some became so deteriorated over time that they were irreparable, while others were salvaged for scrap metal during the Second World War.
Brantford is fortunate to have two War Trophies that are viewable to the public (the second is on display at the Canadian Military Heritage Museum). The next time you walk or drive by the cannon, at the intersection of Colborne Street and Brant Avenue, please take some time to remember our community members who fought for our freedom.
For more information about the City of Brantford’s Public Art Collection, click here to open a new browser window.