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Ralls County WW1 Memorial Artillery Unit

Ralls County WW1 Memorial Artillery Unitloupe
311 South Main Street
New London

This is a M1905, U.S. Army 3 Inch Field Gun designed by Watervliet Arsenal. Field artillery of this type were in service from 1905 through the 1920s. During World War 1 the Army primarily used the French 75MM gun instead of the M1902/5s, which were mostly kept in the United States for training. Although this weapon appears in World War I-era very few of the M1902/5s were used in combat in Europe. They were gradually phased out of active service in the 1920s.
This cannon now on the front court house lawn was installed October 6, 1979, a gift of Sherwood “Ozzie” Gann and Edward G. Behrens of New London, donated to the citizens of Ralls County in memory of its military veterans and those who Made the Supreme Sacrifice in all wars. Mr. Gann was a World War 2 U.S. Navy veteran. He attained the rank of Boatswains Mate 1st Class and served in the South Pacific. Mr. Behrens, served in the U.S. Army at Ft. Leonard Wood, MO during the Korean War.
After military service, this Model 1905 3 Inch Army Field piece was placed in front of the Admiral Coontz’ Armory in Hannibal. It was given to the Hannibal Boy Scouts who moved it to the Vernon Maple farm, about 10 miles NW of New London. The Maple farm was used for a time as a Boy Scout retreat and camping site. Edward Cunningham, son-in-law of Vernon Maple, sold it to Gann and Behrens in September 1977.
When purchased by Gann and Behrens, the wooden wheels were decaying. In locating a carpenter who could duplicate the wheel spokes, the management at Silver Dollar City was consulted; John Corbin of Hollister made the new spokes. Behrens and A. Wells Pettibone of Hannibal flew to Branson and picked up the spokes in 1978. The felloes (the wood sections which make up the outer rim of the wheel, in which the spokes are placed) were replaced with new ones made by Adam Bontreger of the Amish Colony at Curryville. To remove the spokes from the hub where they were attached by bolts for reinforcement, the bolts had been cut in two. These were re-welded by Gary Fishback of Hannibal. Sam Schwartz of the Amish Colony, the wheelwright, was employed to assemble the restored wheels.
Three New London men completed the job of installation: Bob Schoeneman painted it khaki brown; Bob Byers made the concrete pad on which it rests, and Rex Fitzpatrick welded the cannon in place.
This is the second cannon which has been displayed in front of the court house, another which was on a gun emplacement for years was donated to the scrap iron drive in World War II. Later a prairie schooner wheel memorializing the Gold Rushers was displayed there.

Robert Shay, PH3, USNR-R, 1964-70

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