Finished just in time for the Yorktown Heights Memorial Day Parade on Monday, May 25, 11:00 AM in Yorktown Heights, NY. Our BSA troop 164 trailered the American Legion - Yorktown, NY Post #1009 restored WWI cannon as a float in the parade. A small ceremony was held at the Legion hall following the main ceremony at the Gazebo. Thank you to everyone who came down to remember and honor our Veterans who gave "Their last full measure of devotion!" Thank You!
My name is Paul and I have undertaken the restoration of a WWI Bethlehem Steel 37mm Cannon (Mark A, Model I) for our local American Legion Post 1009. This will include sandblasting, repairing and repainting the gun and carriage, and adding a new set of wheels. An historical plaque identifying the cannon will also be installed. Please bookmark our site and revisit for updates and photos on our progress.
Ever since I was a boy my mother and father took us to the Memorial Day and Veterans Day parade which culminated at Veterans Field across from the American Legion Hall, a tradition that continues to this day when I march with my Boy Scout Troop. Their cannon has been a part of my life since then, and over the years I watched its deterioration from the ravages of time and weather. With both of my grandfathers US Army Veterans, and my great-grandfathers WWI Veterans, and the AL Post 1009 our troop's co-sponsor, it seemed all too proper and appropriate for me to choose to restore the cannon for my Eagle Project. I hope that it will serve as a reminder to all citizens of the sacrifices our Veterans made, and continue to make, to keep our country free!
The 37mm gun was found in many guises during World War One – that caliber was the smallest allowed to use exploding projectiles by the 1899 Hague accords. Every nation in the world, it seems, used 37mm guns of one type or another. One particular version was built by Bethlehem Steel in Pennsylvania for the French Army. Chambered for the same 37x136mm Hotchkiss Heavy cartridge used in US naval service, 200 were purchased by France in 1916. Only 15 were actually shipped before the US Army seized the bulk of the order in 1917. It seems they were never put into any sort of service by the US military. The French tested the guns for suitability as an infantry gun, anti-tank gun, anti-aircraft gun, and naval landing gun – and found unsuitable for all roles. It was probably tested only as a backup in case the redesign of the Mle 1916 Tir Rapid ran into problems.
The 15 guns sent to France were sent back at the end of the war, and the guns remained in US Army inventory until 1921, when they appear to have been distributed out to National Guard units.
At some point in time, two of them arrived in Yorktown Heights, NY. I have uncovered no documentation yet for when or how they showed up here, but local lore and hearsay suggests that they were originally posted in front of the town Railroad Station, the Police Station, Town hall, all-grade school, or Post Office, or, perhaps all of those places at one time or another.
For the past 40 years or so, one has been in front of the VFW Hall (recently repainted but without wheels) and the one I am restoring is in front of the American Legion Post.
Special Thanks to Ian McCollum at Forgotten Weapons, and to all those who have posted suggestions and encouragement! See links below.
More info on the cannon in Yorktown Heights. From Mike Androsko, John McQuillan and Monica Doherty, and Joanne Bianco DeMarco Mike Androsko and others remember the cannon at a small park near the Railroad Station, in the 20-40s, maybe into the 50s and 60s.
At some point in time they were moved to the VFW Hall on Veterans Road.
In 1976, Gary Barton of Troop 164 for his Eagle project painted the cannons and placed them at the Yorktown Police Dept. After a while the Police Dept. did not want them, or, as ground was broken for the new Courthouse they were in the way, so they were removed and one went to the VFW and the other went to the American Legion. By then, the wooden wheels were falling apart, and they were removed and the cannon placed on cinder blocks until steel posts could be fashioned to support them.
In 1993 Scout Louis Bianco of Troop 173 (St. Patrick’s) again for his Eagle project, cleaned and painted the cannon.
I am currently restoring the one from the AL Hall again, and adding new wheels and hope to have it completed for the Memorial Day Parade ceremony at the American Legion Hall on May 25, 2015.
Here are 2 pictures taken by Monica Doherty in 1985.
If you would like to contribute, please.........