War Trophies Exhibits

This section will feature displays of war trophies, including the touring exhibits that crisscrossed Canada and even went into the United States, 1917-1920.  These exhibits showed citizens what the CEF had been up against on the battlefield.  They brought some of the pick of battlefield relics to regional centers.  Though the program was not dissimilar from Industrial exhibitions, Expositions, and local fairs (and in some cases became a section of these)the exhibits were museologically unique and precedent-setting.

Hamilton, ON, November 1919.  In this photo there are some key artifacts that became the genesis of the War Museum’s collection.  The planes are German AEG type bomber (in center), Junkers J1 trench raider (at far right-very unique armoured ground attack aircraft), both of which ended up in the Aviation and Space Museum’s collection.  Several Fokker biplanes came back (at left) but the only original trophy left is the Brome County Historical Society‘s special artifact.

Hamilton War trophies exhibit1919balcony (LAC collection)
Many of these artifacts (or at least the type) are identifiable and got spread across the country. A range of howitzers, field guns (including the French 75mm gun), minenwerfers (trench mortars), The Sopwith Snipe fuselage in which Barker won his V.C., a Whitehead torpedo still in the War Museum’s collection, Fokker, AEG bomber (no engines), Junkers armoured trench raider, sniper shelters, The Kemmel Park clock face that the museum returned to Belgium, MGs…and obviously many bombs, trench signs, and flags!
LAC image of promotional poster (e010697849)
LAC image of promotional poster (e010697849)

A chamber of very “hurty” objects: the Great War trophies shed in Ottawa! This structure was behind the public archives building on Sussex, and contained many of the War Trophies retained in Ottawa for a National War Museum.  Again, this photo has some remarkable artifacts, including what appears to be the dis-assembled AEG bomber, and an Albrecht wire-wrapped 25 cm wooden trench mortar, a more unusual similar piece that appears to be a 25cm erdmorser (buried mortar), what may be a more usual Flügel Minenwerfer of large caliber, lanz 9 cm trench mortars, and a stack of MG08s, 08/15s, and some lMG08/15 airplane guns that looks almost like a demented log-cabin in the foreground.  In the rear right corner, near some wicker containers for German shells, are the bombs, including the massive SN British heavy bomber type, and just barely visible the top of the 48″ Siemens-Schuckert searchlight.  Visible in the next photo in this series, under the photographer, are a few carriages of 77mm or light howitzers tipped up, and a torpedo in sections. Enthusiasts will remember the Canadian War Museum’s annex building, Vimy House, and see that it fit into a proud history of clutter!

The Annex building that used to be on Sussex behind the Public Archives. (LAC photo)
The interior of the annex building that used to be on Sussex behind the Public Archives. (LAC photo)

BOMBS! Below is a display of aerial bombs.  Many of these types are also in evidence in the Hamilton photo, but this was taken in the annex in Ottawa.  These include, at center, a high-explosive zeppelin bomb (described in the Hamilton war trophies catalogue as a 660 lb. bomb dropped near London), other types of incendiary weapons dropped from zeppelins, incendiary bombs of various types, and standard larger Royal Flying Corps and Royal Air Force Bombs.

Display of aerial bombs in Annex war trophies building, Ottawa, 1920s (LAC photo)
Display of aerial bombs in Annex war trophies building, Ottawa, 1920s (LAC photo)

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