Buildings in Pretoria are the Presidency and official
seat of the Government of South Africa. On
display outside the buildings is an old gun from the SMS Königsberg.
The barrel of the gun has a
flange to hold a barrel shield which would fit inside the
turret of the gun when it was originally mounted on the SMS
Königsberg. Six of the the ten guns were mounted in turrets
and had these flanges, four were mounted in unarmoured
cupolas and did not have barrel flanges. This is a useful
clue in attempting to identify the guns.
The exact history of this Königsberg gun is uncertain. What is for sure is that it is
made up of parts of several different guns as at least
four serial numbers (361, 366, 367 and 369) are seen on
parts of the gun.
barrel and left recoil cylinder have the serial number
369, whereas the right recoil cylinder has the serial
number 367. The elevation wheel is numbered 361. Many of
the bolts on the gun are also numbered (some as 361, 366 and
There is a plate fixed onto the gun
identifying it as a "German Naval Gun, Calibre 10.5cm=4.1inches, captured
by the SA Mounted Brigade and SA Infantry Brigade Rifles at Kahe,
East Africa 21st March 1916".
This is very unlikely to be
accurate as the gun captured at Kahe has been seen in
period photographs with extensive damage to its breech
and a gaping split up the barrel. The Pretoria gun looks
relatively intact aside from a missing breech block.
It has Krupp strutted wheels
widened with steel bands for use in East Africa.
carriage itself not a Krupp carriage nor does it look
like the carriages made in Dar Es Salaam for other guns
(such as those captured at Korogwe, Kibata and Mkuyuni).
The main body appears similar to British designs of the
period but parts of it are roughly made and welded.
may be either that this carriage was made with salvaged
Krupp wheels separately from the other Dar Es Salaam
carriages by the Germans in wartime. Or it may be that
it was made by the British or South Africans after the
war while reassembling parts of different guns purely
for display purposes.
During a 2006 restoration of the gun paint
samples were taken and it was found that this reddish brown was the
colour as seen during the First World War. It is not known from
which part of this hybrid gun that the sample was taken.
Where was gun 369 captured if it was
not at Kahe?
There were ten 10.5cm guns on the SMS
Königsberg and they all served on land. The ten were put out of
action in the following order and places: 1 Kahe, 2 Kondoa-Irangi, 3
Mwanza, 4 Bagamoyo, 5 Mkuyuni, 6 Korogwe, 7 Tabora, 8 Kibata, 9
Mahiwa and 10 Masassi.
Gun 369 cannot be the Kahe gun as we
have discussed, the Kahe gun had a large split in the barrel.
It cannot be the
gun captured at Mwanza because that is now in Jinja, Uganda.
It cannot be the gun captured at Bagamoyo because that was later
seen in London, England and was believed to have been scrapped in
Hove during the Second World War.
It cannot be either of the guns captured at
Mkuyuni and Kibata because they did not have barrel flanges
like the Pretoria gun has.
It cannot be the gun captured at
Korogwe because that was later seen on display in the Belgian Congo.
It cannot be the gun captured at Masassi because that also had a
very visible split in the muzzle of the barrel caused by the Germans
before it was abandoned.
The only remaining options are the guns
captured at Mahiwa and Tabora and the gun that was accidentally
destroyed at Kondoa Irangi.
believed that the Mahiwa gun had no flange but we have not found
proof. The Tabora gun was captured by Belgian not British or
South African forces. The gun destroyed at Kondoa Irangi was reportedly buried in
Dar Es Salaam when it could not be repaired. Thus they are all
unlikely options but one of them has to be this barrel.
My own hunch is that this is
the gun that was destroyed by an accidental mis-firing in action at Kondoa-Irangi
on 18th May 1916. It was taken to Dar Es Salaam to fix it but was
deemed to be beyond repair and was buried somewhere near the
railways works. Perhaps the locals showed the
British where the gun had been buried after the British took Dar Es
Salaam in September 1916.
If it was missing a few parts such as a recoil
cylinder, carriage and wheels, these could be sourced from other
partially destroyed Königsberg guns in British hands (probably the guns
captured at Mahiwa, Masassi, Kibata or Mkuyuni).
The Krupp wheels
could be from the Kondoa-Irangi gun or salvaged from the remains at Mahiwa or Masassi.
The carriage as we surmised above could have been
made by the Germans in wartime or by the British and South Africans
after the war to go with the existing barrel and wheels. This is all
possible but not yet proven.