News & Blog

VC Guns on the move

Posted on Fri, 6 February 2009 by Phil Mussell - General News, Medal News

Two iconic examples of Britain?s rich military heritage, the historic artillery pieces that have provided the metal for over 800 Victoria Crosses since 1914, are on the move. The VC Guns, two 2.5 ton bronze Chinese-built cannons dating from the mid-19th Century, are set to be moved as part of a reorganisation of Firepower, The Royal Artillery Museum?s public displays. The cannons are preserved at the Museum in the historic Royal Arsenal in Woolwich, south-east London and will be moved at 11am on Tuesday February 10. The historic artillery pieces will be carefully transported about 100m in the open between two of the listed buildings occupied by the Museum.

Museum Curator Mark Smith explains, "The VC Guns are the most popular exhibits on display in the Museum because we tell the stories behind how the VCs have been won. Our visitors are gripped by these true stories of heroism, often against overwhelming odds, which is why many VCs are sadly awarded posthumously. As a museum we not only preserve the VC Guns and the medals, but also present these inspirational stories of courage, resourcefulness, leadership and endurance."

According to the Museum's own press release the "VC Guns are cannons weighing 2.5 tons each without their carriages, which each weigh another half a ton. The guns are Chinese of about 18 pounder calibre and were captured by British troops at the Taku Forts in China during the Second Anglo-Chinese War of 1860. They are used to supply the metal to Hancock's Jewellers, manufacturers of over 800 VC medals since 1914"

Now we'd always believed them to be Chinese guns captured by the Russians, used at Crimea and then captured in turn by the British, it seems there may be some investigating to do...!!