74th (Eastern Province) Siege Battery: Port Elizabeth
These photographs were kindly taken by Ronnie Lovemore in June 2011, and are used with his permission. Additional information on this Memorial kindly provided by Carl Hoehler.
Like a number of memorials in Port Elizabeth, this one has had somewhat of a disjointed existence. The original site for the South African Heavy Artillery Memorial (74th (Eastern Province) Seige Battery) in Port Elizabeth was in Market Square. It was to utilise the existing plinth of the Prince Of Wales Obelisk, topped by one of the 6 6-inch 26-cwt howitzers brought back from France and Flanders. The plinth had to be modified from the original to fit the trail of the gun, and 2 of the water troughs were removed, one ending up in the grounds of the Town Hall in Walmer. The Howitzer was placed atop the plinth, facing in a Northerly direction down Port Elizabeth’s Main Street. The ROH was afixed to the base and the brass plaque was dedicated:
Erected by the Officers, NCO’s and Men of the South African Heavy Artillery in Memory of their Comrades who fell in the Great War 1914-1918
The inscription is followed by the names and ranks of the 167 men who died in the Great War. The memorial was unveiled on 26 April 1921 by Field Marshall Earl Haig.
By 1927, plans were being drawn up to move the memorial once again, as it impeded the regulation of traffic in the square. In 1933, after much deliberation, it was decided to move the Memorial to St George’s Park.
The newly designed Memorial did away with the plinth, instead the gun was placed inside a feature resembling a gun emplacement, with the Roll of Honour affixed to the head wall behind the gun. With war looming the gun was removed in 1939 and utilised in training duties. It was returned by the army after the war and replaced on its base.
Vandals had already set their sights on the gun and Memorial, and the plaque had to be restored in 1953, a heavy steel grille was affixed to it at this time.
By the 1970’s the gun was collapsing on its wooden wheels and a low pedestal was erected to help carry its weight. In June 1995, it was removed completely for restoration, and the memorial was refurbished and altered to its present configuration. In 2005 the un-restored howitzer was in Bloemfontein awaiting restoration, and is probably still in that state at the time of writing.
The current memorial may be found at Google Earth Co-ordinates 33° 57.881’S, 25° 36.653’E.
The 6 Memorials to the Heavy Artillery can be found in: (Open in new page)
- 74th (Eastern Province) Siege Battery: Port Elizabeth. (Gun removed to the National Museum Bloemfontein to be restored)
- 71st (Transvaal) Siege Battery: Johannesburg Zoo (Restored 2007)
- 72nd (Griqualand West) Siege Battery: Clyde N Terry Museum Kimberley
- 73rd (Cape) Siege Battery: Company Gardens Cape Town
- 75th (Natal) Siege Battery: Warriors Gate Durban
- 125th (Transvaal) Siege Battery: Near the Union Buildings Pretoria
© DRW 2011-2018. Created 30/07/2011, Edited 16/08/2011. Photographs © Ronnie Lovemore. Roll of Honour list supplied by Carl Hoehler. Moved to blog 29/01/2014, updated 08/07/2017