Bytown Gunners Firepower Museum
Brief history on the repainting of the Memorial Guns at the National Military Cemetery (Beechwood)
In the fall and early spring of 2016-2017, veterans have often commented that during their many visits to the National Military Cemetery in Ottawa they had noticed that the memorial artillery guns were in bad shape, the paint finishes were looking very rough and some of the gun carriage tires were flat or damaged. At roughly the same time those comments were made, WO Julie Archambault (liaison officer, National Military Cemetery), sent out a request for volunteers to clean the military headstones for the upcoming Remembrance Day ceremonies. Subsequently, a team of “volunteers” from the Bytown Gunners Firepower Museum (CWO (Ret)Normand Roberge, team leader, Lcol(Ret) Terry Honour, Max Toms and WO Jack Moloughney), visited the memorial cemetery site to access an idea that WO Jack Moloughney had raised concerning an important initiative deserving a high priority for their volunteer work efforts (paint the memorial guns at NMC Beechwood ). Very quickly, the team leader confirmed that the team should immediately volunteer to provide workers, to get the artillery memorial guns at NMC Beechwood cleaned up and returned to a highly presentable state.
Shortly thereafter, CWO(Ret) Roberge had a business plan prepared and got in contact with WO Archambault, who analyzed it and subsequently got it authorized by the Beechwood Cemetery Board of Directors. The deal was that the team would supply the necessary labor and expertise to clean-up the memorial Artillery guns and the Beechwood Cemetery Company would supply the funds to cover expenses for materials. Once the team leader received authorization from the cemetery board, he informed the team that the project was approved for immediate implementation. CWO (Ret) Roberge organized his personal equipment trailer complete with a generator, a compressor, a pressure washer and other miscellaneous equipment. Then from Pembrooke WO Moloughney organized his own trailer complete with another generator, compressor and pressure washer and he included construction beams and a commercial chain saw (so that the team could work on two memorial artillery guns, at the same time, using different equipment).
The very next day at 0730 hours, the volunteer team arrived at the cemetery and immediately started working on the first memorial gun a 155mm C1 (it was the gun that was “in sunshine” more than any other gun, and therefore it could dry more quickly after the pressure washing, was completed). The team took considerable time jacking-up the 155 mm C1 gun so that it could be levelled out and then placed on two wood beams under each side of the axles (one on top of the other). The team then jacked-up the gun trails and placed a wood beam under them. The team attempted unsuccessfully, to put air into the gun carriage tires, (due to a leak in the tire valve and water kept on leaking out). Next, the team “pressure washed’ the gun parts and when LCol. Terry Honour arrived from Belleville, the team proceeded to sand-down the gun using power medal grinders, (where possible), then used forced air jets and an air compressor to clean-out the dirt (and a gas powered, leaf blower), then used two paint guns and started to paint the 155 mm C1 towed gun.
The Foreman of the grounds at Beechwood Cemetery stopped by at the end of the day and remarked how excellent the gun looked and remarked that he didn’t believe that we could get it all completed in one day! He was informed that once one has a great and dedicated volunteer team that doesn’t stop working until the job is completed and a team that works well together, anything is possible!
The next day the team went to work on the next two L5 guns. As a person faces the L5 guns, they started on the gun on the right side. The same work method as before was employed, but this time they had to dig out the hole under the tires (while the gun was supported on beams). The team placed ¾ stones down and then a layer of stone dust that was levelled and then patio stones were placed in order to create a base for each wheel and each spade.
Once the first L5 gun was placed on the patio stones Terry went to work “pressure washing” it while Jack and Norm attacked the second L5 gun. Concurrent activity was always there, the second gun was then levelled and put onto patio stones. Once the first gun was finished being grinded-down, the debris was blown away, while the second gun was started to be “pressure washed”. This work took more time and effort than anticipated for the L5’s, because of the small crevices on the gun parts and because of the poor state of the guns paint (there were at least 4 layers of old paint).
After the first L5 gun was cleaned and dried, Terry was kept busy by starting the gun painting work. At the same time Jack grinded down the second gun. By the time Terry had finished the first gun, the second L5 gun was prepped and ready to paint. This time Jack switched over to paint and two paint-guns were used on the second L5 gun. Throughout the day WO Archambault dropped by and remarked how well the job was going.