One of the great guns of the Second World War has been fully restored and makes its first public appearance on Saturday (June 7) to commemorate the D-Day landings in Normandy, 70 years ago.

The gun – which could propel a 25-pound shell to a distance of over seven miles – has undergone a full overhaul at Royal Armouries at Fort Nelson, near Fareham, and will be fired three times over Stokes Bay.

The gun firings will form part of a partnership event organised by Hampshire Arts and Museums Service, Hampshire Music Service and Bay House School in Gosport, including a concert of 1940s music to honour and remember troops who embarked from Hampshire’s coasts, plus a military vehicles display. Concert tickets are still available (£5) from the Gosport Tourist Information Office for the Saturday evening performance at 7.30pm at Bay House School.

Royal Armouries’ Keeper of Artillery Nicholas Hall said, “A full overhaul of this gun has just been completed in the Fort Nelson conservation department, returning the 25 pounder to its appearance during that period. Most of the work has been carried out at by volunteers and this is its first appearance in public. In future, it will be maintained for special events such as this and for demonstrations at Fort Nelson, which itself played a role during the Second World War as one of the largest Army ammunition stores on the South Coast.”

The 25 pounder was first issued to the Royal Artillery in 1939 and was used by the British Army to great effect worldwide. The earlier version is renowned for its service in the North African desert campaign during the Second World War.

The 25 pounders were to remain at the front line for nearly 30 years, for example serving in the Korean War, and were adopted by many other countries, notably Ireland and India. During the Second World War, the Germans made use of any usable 25 pounders they captured.

Nicholas added, “These guns could propel a shell weighing 25 pounds to a distance of 13,400 yards, over 7 miles. The usual detachment of six men could get the gun into action in just over a minute and, if required, fire one round every 12 seconds for a short period.

“They were the replacement for two ‘workhorses’ of the First World War – the reliable 18 pounder QF field gun and the 4.5 inch QF howitzer that served alongside. This gave the tactical flexibility of a direct fire gun and a high angle [indirect fire] howitzer. Clever design produced the 25 pounder gun-howitzer, which, using variable charges, could fire in both roles. It was also designed for motor transport unlike the horse-drawn guns of The Great War.”

The overhaul was carried at Fort Nelson, home to one of the world’s finest collections of artillery and guns, from across the ages and from all corners of the globe.

In 2011, this unique heritage attraction underwent a major redevelopment to create a museum for the 21st century, supported by a grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund, complete with new galleries, state-of-the-art education centre and visitor facilities, including a café with views over Portsmouth Harbour.

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Notes to editors

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