“The field gun is too big – can we have a couple of trench mortars instead?”

Cambridgeshire County Council sub-committee declines gift of a German field gun after WWI

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From the British Newspaper Archive.

What to do with all that scrap metal. Members of a Cambridgeshire County Council committee turned down the opportunity to place a German field gun outside the old guildhall/Shire House in Market Square – a proposed gift from the Cambs & Isle of Ely Territorial Force Association. The Chairman of the committee proposed two trench mortars as an alternative but the Committee could not agree and as a result, a majority of votes was not obtained for either. Just one single vote would have swayed it.

The complaint was that a field gun would be far too conspicuous, and that perhaps a couple of trench mortars either side of the door under the old portico of the old Shire Hall would suffice and be easier to clean. The votes were four for, and four against. But the rules of the committee did not give the Chairman a casting vote, so in the end the offer was not responded to.

German Gun Offer

“The Chairman said the Shire Hall Sub-Committee had considered a further offer of the War Trophies Committee of the Cambs and Isle of Ely Territorial Force Association of one large German field gun, which would be placed at the Shirehall (then the main public building that looked onto Market Square). He believed a member of the Sub-Committee had something to propose.

Col. Tebbutt moved that the Committee do not accept the gun. They knew they could get two trench mortars, which could be put under the portico on either side of the entrance to the Shire Hall, and these would not require much trouble to keep clean, and would not be too conspicuous, and although they were not very artistic things, yet if they were painted up and kept in order they would serve as a suitable memorial of the war. He though it was a desirable thing that they should not be too conspicuous. Mr Francis seconded.

The Chairman said it would be more convenient to have two small guns in preference to one large gun, which if placed in the centre of the entrance, would obstruct the way.

Professor Kenny pointed to the large crowds that sometimes assembled at the Shirehall, and remarked on the inconvenience that would be caused by a large gun there. Was it necessary he asked to have guns there at all?

The Chairman: “We will inform the Association that we do not agree to take the field gun, but would be willing to receive two of the trench mortars”

Prof Kenny: “I move an amendment that we omit all the words after “Field Gun””

Ald. Few: Seconded.

An equal number (four) voted for and against the amendment.

The Clerk remarked that the Chairman (who had not voted) had no casting vote at that Committee. “If the amendment is not carried, it is lost” Mr Tabrum added.

The recommendation of the Committee was then put to the meeting and here again four voted four and four against. The Chairman did not vote, remarking that he always tried, as chairman to avoid voting.

The Clerk: “That is lost. They are both dropped. No action will accordingly be taken.”

And that is the story of how Cambridge didn’t get a stonking great big field gun in Market Square. Instead, 92 years later we got a statue for charity fundraiser Snowy Farr MBE. – easily mistaken for giant jelly beans as this spoof article from the time revealed.

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