WHERE THE GUNS ARE NOW: War Trophies Database

Here is the link to our Database of 1914-1918 War Trophies in Canada©* If you would like to cite information from this, please read the Terms and Conditions at bottom.

This listing is current to 2022. Transcribing the War Trophies ledger in the Library and Archives Canada collection to excel over the summer and early fall of 2013 and then adding details from other sources was a labour of love, yet the volume of data-entry and minute attention to detail required many hours of tedium…which our friends and family then had to hear about in agonizing detail!**

Some explanatory notes will help with consulting this resource: Items coded green are still in existence (now also marked with a “Y” in a column for sorting purposes). We are hoping this project will have interested folks from all over identify many more items that have survived, and we seek feedback to keep this list updated. If you are aware of a surviving First World War war trophy (usually a captured artillery piece) in a Canadian community, please leave a comment on this page.  Note that 1939-1945 items, as well as British, American, or Canadian artillery, are not part of this project at present. War Trophies that were sent to Newfoundland by British authorities are part of this project, even though Newfoundland was not part of Canada until 1949. Their provenance records are harder to come by.  The fairly detailed listing of trophies is thanks to the generous help of Craig Tucker at the Rooms Provincial Archives. He sent us the 1922 Journal of the House of Assembly of Newfoundland, pp.152-53, which has a listing (without serial numbers or exact info about caliber).  For all trophies, items coded blue are possibly still in existence, and we are seeking evidence of their survival. Items coded orange are problem-items requiring further investigation.  The communities the pieces were originally allocated to are listed, in the same text used in the ledger. Visitors should use the ca. 1920 names for communities, not modern ones. Also, the ledger itself had mistakes.

When known, the type of trophy is identified: FG is Field Gun, How. is Howitzer, TM is Trench Mortar, MG is Machine Gun, and there are some more unique entries.  Serial no. is usually deeply inscribed on Rheinmetall and Krupp manufactured cannon, at the rear of the breech block immediately above the opening for inserting the shell.  Normally it is written as “Nr. ___”  Sometimes I note later on the carriage no. of the gun.  This can often be found at the base of the trail towing ring at the rear of the carriage.  Trench Mortars are identified by the serial no. found somewhere on the barrel.  They had many other serial numbers for other parts such as the bed and the mounting, and these rarely match up.  Machine Guns often have a large serial no. inscribed in numerals on top of the gun (along with the maker and type) between the feed slots for the cloth belt of bullets. Early MG08s had this number on top of the rear of the “fusee spring” cover which is a strange long lever-shaped object on the left side of the gun (looking forward). This number should be repeated on other components like the cooling sleeve around the barrel, the back sight, the rear of the gun, and is sometimes abbreviated to the last few digits.  On Spandau manufactured guns, watch for minuscule “a”, “c”, and “d” after the numbers, as these indicate whole different production series (Spandau avoided moving to 5-digit serial numbers-serial numbers go something like this: 0-9999, no letter, 10000-19999, minuscule “a,” first digit will be omitted, 30000-39999, minuscule “c,” no first digit, 40000-49999, minuscule “d,” no first digit. This made no sense to me until an expert, Bob Brown, went to the effort of mailing me the relevant chapter of Dolf Goldsmith’s The Devil’s Paintbrush. Sir Hiram Maxim’s Gun.  For some reason there does not seem to have ever been any guns with serial numbers in the “b” range produced (20000-29999).  For DWM manufactured guns, serial numbers up to 5 digits appear on fusee covers or upper stamp.  Given how complicated this is, I do not believe the War Trophies ledger or most of the staff working with the War Trophies Commission would have understood this.  Even if they did, their system did not distinguish between Spandau and DWM manufactured guns, so there would be no way in the documents to distinguish between the two, provided they were in the range Nr. 1-9999.  MG trophy types included the MG08, the lighter MG08/15, and the air-cooled lMG08/15.  Most, whether noted as “heavy” in the file or not, will be MG08s.  A small quantity of imperial Russian model 1910 Maxim guns, recognizable by their small wheeled carriages with shields, had been captured by the Germans on the Eastern Front, shipped west, and captured again by Canadian battalions.  These were part of the War trophies displays and early Ottawa collection, and there may still be one at the Canadian War Museum. [see CWM catalog entry]

The next column contains scrapping info, when known. “LSC” refers to Local Salvage Committees, formed during WW2, to scrap trophies for the war effort. Several pieces marked LSC in the ledger have been found to still exist, suggesting the salvage value of the guns went to the war effort, but the local salvage parties did not destroy them. “Claimed by” is fairly obvious, though some abbreviations of units of the Canadian Expeditionary Force (CEF) might be problematic.  The best online source for these would be the CEF study group listing of battalions, whose parent site is a fabulous resource for most things CEF 1914-1919.  Numbered battalions are, unless noted, Canadian Infantry Battalions.  Capture info is clear, and cardinal reference points are abbreviated (eg. NW for North-West).  “AC notes” brings in a wealth of additional details (or absolutely nothing!) the author has come across.  I have added info about where the trophy has ended up, more details from another itemized list of trophies, first-hand impressions, War Diaries entries from relevant units about specific actions/captures, and anything else of interest from other random sources I have consulted.  “HS” refers to Major (Ret.d) Harold Skaarup, whose excellent published works and his illustrated companion web-sites, here, have provided the most significant info about what is still out there.  In this section I also usually identify the model info of the trophy, to distinguish it from other weapons of similar type.  Wikipedia has most of these types described, using the standard texts on German First World War artillery by Herbert Jäger and Ian Hogg, and links to the Lovett collection and the French site “passion.compassion” which has photos of all relevant types (though its international listing is incomplete in terms of the wealth of remaining Canadian trophies). I have naturally focused my additional research into trophies that I know still exist.

The last column, from the original ledger, indicates what rail line (usually Canadian Pacific, Grand Trunk Railways, Canadian National) was used to ship the trophy to the community, and on what day it arrived there.  This could be used to check local newspapers for relevant reports of the trophies’ arrival and initial reception into communities.  One interesting fact is that the GTR transcontinental system was in financial difficulties, and the network was eventually placed under control of Canadian National on July 12th, 1920, which is reflected in the ledger)  Lastly, Machine guns (MG08s, MG08/15s, and lMG08/15s) were part of the original ledger.  Rather than enter all 2,500 entries, we only entered guns that known by us to still exist. This listing is evolving, and we can be contacted for specific requests to check the original ledger against known MGs.

a003509-v8Cambrai guns
Canadian Official photo O-3597 (Canada. Dept. of National Defence/Library and Archives Canada/PA-003509) of trophies captured at Cambrai by Canadian units, Nov. 1918. This photo gives a good idea of the range and disposition of most trophies: many 7.7 cm Field Guns, many light trench mortars, some 10.5 cm howitzers (short and long) and some medium trench mortars in the foreground, and what appears to be a huge number of MGs laid out on the ground in front. It also gives a good idea why specific info about the pieces could be lost or jumbled-up.
Canadian War Records office Official photograph O-3601, in the same series as the above, shows the crescent of guns from the other direction. Interesting pieces include an Austrian infantry gun, several old 105mm short howitzers without recoil systems (sFH98), and at least one gun with a blown muzzle.
Canadian War Records office Official photograph O-3601,(Canada. Dept. of National Defence/Library and Archives Canada/PA-003557)  in the same series as the above, shows the crescent of guns from the other direction. Interesting pieces include an Austrian infantry gun, several old 105mm short howitzers without recoil systems (sFH98), and at least one gun with a blown muzzle.

*This is copyrighted material. It is more than just the original War Trophies allocation ledger, as it has been enhanced by the author and contains intellectual property generated as a result of original research.  See the terms and conditions for claiming copyright in “about copyright.” If you intend to use information from this for research purposes, please cite this website in a way that could guide researchers back to it.

** When we began this project, we believed this to be the only digitized version of this ledger (transposed to electronic spreadsheet) in existence.  Near the end of the data-entry phase we became aware of Bill Smy’s and Dion Loach’s word and excel version(s) of this same ledger or a similar one (Library and Archives Canada, RG 37 Vol. 688), available on the CEF study group site.  These very usefully contain a complete listing of the Machine Guns that were allocated. We did not consult this until later, in attempting to add detail to specific problem guns.  We acknowledge on a case-by-case basis when details are added from these sources.  These other listings offer a more faithful copy of the original info, whereas our database attempts to identify what is still in existence and insert as much detail from other credible sources and visual examination as we can (usually pointing out where we have amended the original ledger).  One shortcoming of the Vol. 688 ledger is that it only lists trophies that were allocated and sent out, mostly from Toronto and Ottawa.  The many items kept back in Ottawa for the proposed national museum (a selection of the most important trophies) are not therefore included. We have searched out a number of additional sources which provide a fairly good idea of this special collection (mostly scrapped), and this has also been added.

42 thoughts on “WHERE THE GUNS ARE NOW: War Trophies Database”

  1. British Columbia town identified as “Kalso” on your spreadsheet should read “Kaslo”.

  2. Brandtford has a german field gun out side their armoury and 2 at the museum. Collingwood has a French field gun outside their museum.

  3. in our Museum we have the following:

    MG08 DWM Berlin 1915 Serial number 5113

    MG08/15 MAN Nurenberg 1918 Serial Number 9516

    MG08/15 Missing cover Serial Number 1164 (Painted G19540 on body)
    (Painted 1097 on water jacket)

    We would appreciate any information on these weapons that you could send us.

    1. 5113: no capture info – Sent to South River (near Parry Sound ON) oct. 26, 1920 by Grand Trunk Rail.
      9516: Captured by 8th CDN INF BN, 9 August 1918, Hatchet Wood, N of Beaufort, France. Sent to Pilot Mound, MAN, 14 Sep. 1920, CPR
      1164: captured by 2nd Division (CEF) no further info. This often means captured during Amiens. Sent to Winnipeg, MAN, Mar. 1, 1921, GTR. If you send me email I can send on a copy of relevant RG37 ledger page.

      1. Thank you very much for your assistance in this important matter.

        I used to be a Little Black Devil and the info on 9516 was great to hear.

        Apparently 1164 came our way via the Winnipeg Grenadiers

      2. I wondering if you could give me any info on on a MG08/15 GFW Spandau 1918 serial number 4299 I can’t find any info anywhere and my great grandfather has a picture of him holding it.

  4. Craik, Saskatchewan has a gun carriage but the gun is now missing. (Local elders said it became a toy and was probably abandoned in a ditch..) I could get the # from it if you would be able to give us any information about it.

    1. Hi! Craik was issued two Machine Guns, likely MG08 models. No. 3929 was captured by the 72nd Battalion 2 Nov. 1918 at the Crossroads, Northern edge of “champ de manoeuvres” Valenciennes. No. 1867 was captured by the P.P.C.L.I. 27 Sep. 1918 at Quarry Wood, near Bourlon. Both were shipped to Craik by CNR 14 Oct. 1920. Hope that helps.

  5. The Tank Museum in Oshawa Ont has two 08-15 MGs and a rusty G98 on display, bet there war rep material……Geoff Dilley.

  6. In our museum we have two German machine guns. The first is a MG 08 with serial number 5623 and the other is a Parabellum with the number 814 stamped on several locations.

    1. 5623 was captured by the 2nd Division (not terribly helpful- no date) and sent to Rosthern SK, shipped Dec. 28,1920 by Grand Trunk Railways. No info on 814. Do you have any info on 9626 (presumably also a MG08) , also shipped to Rosthern at same time. That gun has better provenance.

      1. The story I got from the Legion there were that there were two guns and one complete was made from the two. Searched the Legion hall from top to bottom when we sold it and no evidence of another mg.

      2. Hello…..looking for info on mg 08/15 serial # 2549 ..1917 dated, numbers matching…..any info would be appreciated…..

      3. 2549 was captured by No. 2 MG Company, no date given, allocated to Gravelbourg College, Saskatchewan, along with two other MGs and a box of smaller trophies. Shipped via Grand Trunk and arrived 20 June 1922. A list of MGs and the shipping ledger, RG37D vol. 388 indicate this.

    1. Hi Graham, nothing specific found under that serial number. Is it a 77mm FK 96 n.a.? Could it have come from somewhere nearby, and are you sure of the serial? That “L” is unusual for FWW guns. Photos would be great!

  7. Currently listed as line 776 on your excel sheet, the 150mm gun is a Krupp FH13/15, serial no 629. In 1939 it found it’s way to the cottage used by the members of the Toronto University Battery (no67) as their meeting place. In 1970, as the members passed away, the cottage was sold along with the gun. It changed hands again in 1990. The current owners of the property have now donated it to the RCA Museum in Shilo, where it will eventually be restored and displayed.

    Would you have any further information than what is given on the excel sheet about this gun, such as who and when it was captured?

    1. Hi Rob, sorry, I wish there was more. I have a draft version of the listing as well (from a different archival volume) but it has no more on this, and has 629 pencilled in, (rest is typed) with no more info. Why it was swapped with the other U of T 77mm field gun is probably an interesting story. It is great to hear that this will be cared for at Shilo! I had a quick look at the War Diary for 3rd CIB on LAC’s website, but they just list the number of 5.9 inch guns captured, not the serial numbers.

      1. Thanks for the information. There is a photo of it at the UofT in 1923 along with a 77mm. Even at that time the gun was out of battery, so I expect that it is going to be a chore to return it to it’s proper position.

        Someone theorized that this gun may have been part of a round two, where the British War office was asked for more “big guns” , as many communities did not want “little guns” (MG08 or MG08/15).

  8. MG-08/15 serial number 6047 is currently on my desk. It was originally captured on 02 Sep 18 by the 7th Bn in France. After the war, it went to Adanac SK, and now it is in Windsor Junction, NS. It is in Relic condition after many years outside rusting. The receiver, lock, barrel, jacket are all present, however, the following are missing: Pistol grip, top cover, fusee cover and spring, butt-stock, muzzle device.

    1. Thank you for this info, Brad. Very interesting. You already know all the provenance about this gun. Have you found references to the capture or action in the War Diaries for 7th CIB Sep. 1918? I will add this to the next version of the database listing. Cheers!

  9. I’m looking into the provenance of three MGs, two MG08/15 and one MG08 (all three Spandau) and am interested how they ended up here in rural Ontario. I do have the serial numbers, and one even has a small placard with “Captured by 4th Canadian Mounted Rifles September 30, 1918”. Any help would sure be appreciated!

    1. I have an MG08/15 Serial #6282 with a small plaque marked “Captured by, 2CMR, 02.10.18.” other records indicate it was captured on the 29th Sept. East of St. Remy outside Cambrai. I’m trying to figure out who put these plaques on and when. I’d love to see photos of the location of your plaque. Also I have faint painted markings re capture info on the right side of the receiver. Is there any hint of such markings on yours? What I’m really trying to determine is, which is more accurate re dates – the ledger records or the plaques? any evidence of hw these plaques were made and applied is useful. Thanks. Brian.

      1. Hi Brian, I hope Laura sees your comment. I checked the serial number listing. It lists a 6282 and notes it was captured by the 2nd CMR, and (at that time) marked “T” because it was located in Toronto pending dispersal to wherever it was allocated. Unfortunately no other info. Do you know which community it went to? That would help mount a search in the other listing, which might have more info. One issue is how many MGs were captured in the last hundred days. For example, according to the unit War Diary, Report on Operations for 8 August 1918, 2CMR captured 15 MGs: http://central.bac-lac.gc.ca/.item?app=fondsandcol&op=img&id=e001126636

    2. Hi Laura, I may have missed replying to this. Can you share the serial numbers off these, or an idea of which community they started off in? That would help me mount a better search.

  10. The tracking of the trophy Mg08/15. serial #6282 (Top cover 3898)

    Thanks for your reply to my note – Please forgive the delay in responding.

    More detail…

    I don’t know the community to which my Serial #6282 was sent. I got it from a Toronto dealer who tells me he has “forgotten everything” about where he got it!
    Several things of note
    – The Kelowna Military Museum have an MG08/15, Serial #3937, with an identical brass plaque marked “Captured by 2CMR 2.10.18”. and with painted markings “2nd Can,MR”. Mine appears to have the same, faint, painted markings. The Ledger in Ottawa states that the “Kelowna” weapon #3937 weapon was captured by “2CMR operation in front of CAMBRAI, Sept 29 1918, W of Neuville St Remy”
    – My weapon, Serial # 6282, is listed in the ledger as “2CMR” but no dates/locations are given. While mostly matching, this MG has a mis matched top cover Serial #3898a. this is identified as being captured by “2CMR operation in front of CAMBRAI, Sept 29 1918, W of Neuville St Remy” as per the Kelowna weapon.

    Examination of the ledger lists 123 MG08 or 08/15s captured by 2CMR, 44 of these are identified as captured in the fighting West and North West of Cambrai 27 Sept-2nd Oct 1918, of these 41 have very specific reference to the 29th Sept W. or NW of St Remy. This was the first and most bloody day of the battle. (one weapon is listed in the same location but the date is marked “29 Sept-3 Oct” so there is no specific day identified. No weapons were recorded captured on the 30th sept, and only two recorded captured on the 1st of October. These are listed as 1. north in “Sancourt” and 2. as “operations in front of Cambrai near Canal De Escaut”. these are both correct locations for that date as per the war diaries.

    So, the question I have is… Given the apparent accuracy of the recorded ledger entries why do we have several weapons with plaques dated 2nd October when no weapons are recorded captured on that date and the ledger references for the same weapons either state or strongly tend towards 29 Sept? When were these weapons captured?

    My position is that the plaques were likely placed on the weapons according to the end date of the battle normally being referred to as fought between 29th Sept and 2nd October. Given the reduced fighting and greatly reduced casualties on the days following the 29th Sept, I suspect the actual capture date of #3937 (Kelowna) and # 6282 (Mine), despite the date on the plaques, was actually the 29th Sept.

    So, who put the plaques on and why? Was there particular interest in these weapons being preserved for the unit? I have examined another 2CMR capture which simply has a small “2CMR” stamped on the top cover – no plaque. So, what is the significance of the plaque. That we know was applied on at least two occasions?

    In addition to the plaques both the above noted weapons have “G” numbers – a five-digit number prefixed with a “G” and painted on when the guns were captured. Are there any known records of the meaning of these numbers? Can they be tracked back to another capture?
    ledger with possible specific Unit and capture locations? Has anyone ever seen a listing of these numbers?

    Slowly but surely, I am putting together the troop movements on that day and have even been able to find aerial photos of the battle in progress mid-morning 29th Sept through to early morning Oct 1st. However, joining the archival information to the whereabouts of may actual MG08/15 in the battle over those days is both the goal and the challenge. I’m a forensic scientist by trade and am tenacious. My odds of actually finding the position of my machinegun in the battle, given the information available is possible… it’s just like processing a massive crime scene with the evidence at hand.

    If anyone has particular expertise and has had success in such battlefield potting with original source documents please do let me know. Thanks. Brian.

    1. I think that is really impressive, and lyrical- sorting out the most chaotic crime scene in history! I wish I had answers for you…but I have comments and ideas: I would tend to the provenance of the ledger over plaques-Ottawa didn’t do the best job at communicating dates of capture when it shipped guns out; I would choose the top stamp serial over the rest of the gun. The WTC was focussed on one number, and that is the obvious one. Also, I believe they swapped parts (not sure pre-capture but after capture they also had spares to make complete sets. Are there surviving maps in the WD or elsewhere that show enemy batteries, including MG posts? That might help with the area W of N St. Remy. I will see if I have anything on those numbers, but, for the Kelowna guns, I wonder if there would be a local newspaper article on the arrival of the guns, that would have anything?

  11. I’m wondering if you could give me any info on a MG08/15 GFW Spandau 1918 serial number 4299 I can’t find info on it anywhere and my great grandfather has a picture of him holding it.

    1. Hello Josh. The closest in the list of MG captures is serial 4300 that went to Scotland ON. Is it possibly another number, and was that serial on the top of the MG08-15 or elsewhere?

    2. Hello….looking info for mg 08/15 serial #2549 ..1917 dated……i have this mg it is minty and matching numbers……

      1. I replied to your other comment. Provenance is captured by 2 MG Company, no date, allocated to Gravelbourg College Saskatchewan, shipped there for June 20, 1922 via Grand Trunk.

  12. Wow this archive is amazing, thank you. I have a question specific to row 648 – the howitzer serial 1805 from Ottawa. I’m trying to track down where it ended up. You say “must be scrapped”, meaning it’s an assumption that it likely was? What does “scrapped in SWW” mean? How do you know it was featured in the Malak Karsh photo collection? Do you by chance have a copy of those photos (to save me a trip to LAC just for that)? I tried googling and hunting around the internet and the LAC site but can’t seem to find any examples of that Karsh photo series. Thanks for any and all help and your time! If easier you can email me at daveallston@rogers.com. (This website keeps forcing me to show up as an old website I posted up, rather than with my usual website which is http://kitchissippimuseum.blogspot.com). Cheers!

  13. I am presently working on some weapons racks here at the RCA Museum in Shilo, and have the following MGs on the cart. They are:
    1) 1133 Spandau 1917
    2) 1870 (possibly MGK (?))
    3) 40553 DWM 1918
    4) 4882 DWM
    5) 7109

    1) 1237 MAN 1917 with “Captured and Claimed by 7th Cdn Inf Btn 2/9/18” Painted on jacket
    2) 2937 with 85th CAN BATT painted on receiver side. Possibly G80200 painted on side but not all readable due to varnish.
    Some of these have been transferred to us from other locations in the past decade. Some are close to operable, some are at the relic stage.

    1. MG08s : 1) 1133 – captured by RCR, or “3rd Division,” of which RCR was a part Aug. 26 1918 at Faction Trench NE of Monchy-le-Preux. 2) 27th BN no date. Both these guns to Binscarth MA by CPR May 19, 1921. 3) captured 2nd Division Oct 1918 in vicinity of Cambrai sent to Carmen MA March 23, 1921 4) no info, sent to Lockport West Selkirk MA June 6 1921 by CPR 5) no info, also sent to Lockport West Selkirk MA June 6 1921 by CPR MG08/15s : 1) 7th BN 2 Sep 1918, W of Villers-lez-Cagnicourt, shipped to La Riviere MA Feb. 7 1921 by CPR 2) 85th BN Aug 10 1918 between Rosieres and Meharicourt shipped same date. Nice artifacts there! Hope that helps and if you require the copies of the archival records for provenance, let me know.

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