RSL gets answers to gun questions

By Patrick Tansey

After sending out a public call for information about the mystery 40mm Bofors anti-aircraft gun on its doorstep, the Strathmerton RSL finally has some answers.

The RSL has been trying to ascertain when the gun arrived in Strathmerton, what unit it was in and where it was used.

Resident Mark Payne got in touch with the Royal Australian Artillery Historical Company looking for answers.

‘‘My involvement happened because I was standing next to (Strathmerton RSL president) Eric Lee at another Strathy meeting (VicRoads and the town speed limit) and he was talking about the gun,’’ Mr Payne said.

‘‘I am ex-Australian Signals Directorate and have military contacts all over the world.’’

It is not possible for the RAAHC to provide service history on individual guns as the records have been destroyed, but it was able to provide a summary of its production history and where it may have been used.

Bofors used by Australian forces were made in the UK, Canada and Australia.

Great Britain negotiated a manufacturing license and its first British-made gun was delivered in June 1939.

Canada began production during the autumn of 1940 and by October 1942 about 200 guns per month were being produced there.

Manufacture of the gun began in Australia in January 1940 at the Government Ordnance Factory in Maribyrnong.

It wasn’t a high priority, though, and in July 1942 only one gun per month was being produced. But that figure increased to 25 a month by August 1943.

Production in Australia ceased in mid-1944, by which time 290 complete guns and 700 spare barrels had been produced.

The RAAHC believes that because the gun at Strathmerton was made in the UK, it would have most likely seen service with the Australians in the Middle East or, alternatively, simply been supplied to Australia.

It is not known when the gun arrived in Strathmerton or where it came from.