Restoring the last two WWII (QF) 25 Pounder Field Guns
The 25 Pounder QF Field Gun was the major British field gun and howitzer during the Second World War. It was introduced into service just before the war started, combining both high-angle and direct-fire abilities.
The first 25 Pounders arrived in Gibraltar in June 1941 and operated by the 18th Defence Regiment RA. In total ten pieces were deployed to the Rock by 1942. It remained the British Army's primary artillery field piece well into the 1960's, with smaller numbers serving in training units until the 1980’s.
A few 25 Pounders were retained by the Royal Gibraltar Regiment for saluting purposes until these were finally replaced in the 1990’s with 105 mm light guns.
Four of the remaining six 25 pounders were returned to the UK, one was transferred to the Government of Gibraltar for display at Hay’s Level and the last gun was retained by the Royal Gibraltar Regiment.
After 20 years at Hay’s Level, the deteriorating condition of the gun was fast becoming a cause for concern. Several plans to restore the gun had been proposed by various interested groups; Royal Gibraltar Regiment Association, Gibraltar Heritage Trust, Fortress of Gibraltar Group, but what was to be done with the gun once it was restored?
Initial site meetings confirmed the heavily deteriorated state of the 25 pounder.
25 pounder gun at an open day in the late 1980's.
Gun Salute at the old Naval Ground, 1980's.
The Royal Gibraltar Regiment, Thompsons Battery informed the Ministry for Heritage that it was looking at getting Disposal Instruction for a Quick firing (QF) 25 pound gun. This Gun was modified to be a Funeral Coffin bearer many years ago and would be released as such.
The Ministry for Heritage confirmed interest in the gun but it would first need to identify a suitable location for relocating the ordnance. The Gibraltar Heritage Trust agrees to assist with transfer of change of possession by dealing with all the paperwork.
Approval for the transfer of the gun finally approved by the MOD UK. A site meeting is arranged to at the Naval Base HQBF, to see the Gun and assess how and when the Ministry would take possession of it. However, it was made clear that all transport on removable and restoration to the ordinance will be absorbed by the GHT/Ministry for Heritage with no cost incurred by the MOD.
Following a meeting at the 100-Ton Gun, the Ministry for Heritage proposed using the entrance area of the site for the placement of the two guns. The Heritage Trust in support of the Fortress of Gibraltar Group disagreed stating that they could carry out the restoration programme of the Hay’s Level gun at Princess Caroline’s Battery. The Ministry is concerned at the lack of security at that site and decide to press on with the original plan.
Removal of the brick counter within the entrance foyer is carried out by the Upper Rock and Beaches maintenance team.
Electrical wiring is removed by the electrical authority.
Monteverde Ltd and Gibdock Ltd agree to assist the Ministry in retrieving and restoring the guns as required.
Arrangements are finalized for Monteverde to transport the Hay’s Level gun to Gibdock for water blasting, priming and recoating and removal and transportation of the state funeral gun to Napier of Magdala Battery.
The state funeral gun is collected from HM Naval Base by Monteverde and removed to the 100-Ton Gun site.
The Hay’s Level gun is then transported to Gibdock for a much-needed restoration.
The gun is first water blasted with a 2500 bar high-pressure cleaner sprayed at very high speed against the surface to be cleaned. This removes all paint and corrosive rust without causing any abrasive damage to the gun markings as could be the case with the old sandblasting method.
The gun is then given an immediate coat of grey primer to protect the gun from oxidization, and then given two coats of army green paint. The muzzle and breach is then painted in Navy grey.
The whole process is carried out within three days and the results are impressive to say the least. Superb job by Gibdock paint section crew!
Gibdock informs the Ministry that the restoration is complete. Arrangements are made for Monteverde Ltd to collect and transport the gun to the 100-Ton Gun.
The refurbished gun is taken to the 100-Gun. The Upper Rock and Beaches maintenance team repaint the interior display area.
Meanwhile, Carl Alecio begins restoring the Royal Gibraltar Regiment Crest retrieved from Hay’s Level, which will also form part of the display.
Royal Gibraltar Regiment Army cadets arrive to spend the day cleaning and brassing the two guns. A small store is also cleaned and repainted.
Pete Jackson gives the cadets a tour of the 100-Ton gun and a historical talk on the importance of the 25-pounders in the history of the Royal Gibraltar Regiment.
The Ministry for Heritage would like to thank everyone who has helped in the restoration and preservation of these two guns with such sentimental and heritage value to the people of Gibraltar.
Coffin was donated today courtesy of Golden Grace Funerals. The Department of the Environment obliged with the two national flags.
The Ministry for Heritage is extremely thankful to all those companies and individuals who have contributed in the completion of this project. We especially congratulate local companies Monteverde Ltd and Gibdock for their well deserved Heritage Trust awards in recognition of their direct and voluntary involvement in this project.