The Ordnance Society has recently announced an exciting new project to identify and track extant breech-loading and quick-firing artillery in the United Kingdom. Much like our own Big Cannon Project (albeit for breech-loading, rather than muzzle-loading artillery), this ‘National Artillery Survey’ aims to establish and maintain a database of guns in museums, private collections, or on public display.
At present, no such national summary of such guns exists. The Society intends to make the collected data publicly available, supporting researchers from across a broad range of disciplines. The database will collect information on the location, date of manufacture, version/mark, serial number, manufacturer, present owner, condition, accessibility, and general provenance of guns, as well as providing photographs and relevant links.
The Ordnance Society has appealed directly to owners or managers of collections containing such guns:
“It is anticipated that such a database will widen researcher and public access to information about these types of guns, and also give the owners of individual pieces a clearer idea of how their gun fits into the national collection. Our freely accessible and searchable database will enhance the records that you already hold on your artillery collection as well as helping to widen the appeal of the [collection] overall.”
The Ordnance Society has already collected information on a number of guns in many collections, and has released an interim list of guns, as at 8 April 2021. It is available here [XLSX format].
The Ordnance Society serves an important role within the arms and munitions research discipline, and publishes an excellent annual journal. This survey is another valuable initiative, and ARES encourages anyone who can assist in this important endeavour to do so. You can find further details here: https://ordnancesociety.org.uk/gun-surveys/national-artillery-survey/
Header image: Quick Fire 25-pounder Mark II Gun on a Mark I carriage, 1942 (source: Imperial War Museum, object no. ORD 134).