Lest we Forget - Thursday, 1 November 2012

Fort Nelson will ring to the sound of First World War gun salutes to mark Remembrance Sunday on November 11.

An original 18-pounder QF field gun from the First World War will be fired in salute to mark the 11th hour, of the 11th day, of the 11th month – commemorating the moment when the guns fell silent on the Western Front in 1918.

Fort Nelson visitors will join the nation in honouring those British servicemen and women who made the ultimate sacrifice in the two World Wars and later conflicts – including Iraq and Afghanistan. A further gun-firing demonstrating the 18-pounder as it would have been seen in action follows at 2pm.

The firings will be conducted by uniformed gun crews from the Brockhurst Artillery, representing Field Artillery of the Great War period.

Armistice Day has special significance at Fort Nelson as the Victorian building acted as a transit depot and training establishment for soldiers embarking at Portsmouth for France. Barrack accommodation in and around Portsmouth was at a premium since the wartime garrison at times numbered as many as 25,000 men.

The Remembrance Day firings will be 18-pounder’s last outing before the gun is confined to the Fort Nelson workshops for a complete overhaul. It will be operational in time for Armistice Day 2013 and the 100th anniversary commemorations of the outbreak of the “War to end all Wars” in 2014.

Royal Armouries’ Keeper of Artillery Nick Hall said, “It is an interesting gun for many reasons, not least in that it was collected by our former Master of the Armouries, Charles ffoulkes. He amassed so much material during the First World War that it could not all fit into the Tower of London Armouries, leading to the foundation of the Imperial War Museum.

“We don’t have any service history for our gun but we can be pretty sure it saw service on the Western Front. Artillery was by far the greatest cause of casualties during the Great War and 18 pounders fired nearly 100 million rounds between 1914 to1918.”

Nick added that he took the 18-pounder to the Heavy Horse Show at the Weald and Downland Open Air Museum for their War Horse display earlier this year, where it attracted widespread attention.

Fort Nelson is home to the national collection of artillery – the big guns. Sunday’s gun firings, plus museum admission, are free.

To find Fort Nelson, follow the brown Tourist signs from the M27. The Fort is open seven days a week, from 10am to 5pm.

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Notes to editors

To find Fort Nelson, follow the brown Tourist signs from the M27. The Fort is open seven days a week, from 10am to 5pm.

Download the PDF press release.