German cannon from WW I found underneath Amherstburg ballpark

A German field gun used in the First World War was discovered underneath the pitcher’s mound of an Amherstburg ballpark. 

Construction crews were digging up the field for a new public school, when they discovered the relic on Monday. Upon finding the cannon, which was likely used behind German lines in battles like Vimy Ridge, the Greater Essex County District School Board decided to donate it to the Town of Amherstburg.

“[We’ve] already received communication from a number of military historical associations that are interested in what we’re doing with it and have even offered to help restore it,” Amherstburg Mayor Aldo DiCarlo told CBC News Wednesday. “The historical significance I think just can’t be overstated, it is really something.” 

According to DiCarlo, the cannon first came to the town in 1922. At the time, it was put on display with the cenotaph at General Amherst High School. Years later, in 1971, the cenotaph had to be moved to Centennial Park to make way for the school’s expansion. 

The gun, which was in bad shape, was buried under the cenotaph in the park, but when the cenotaph moved again in the late 80s, the gun was forgotten about, DiCarlo said. A ballpark was then constructed on top of it. 

The cannon initially came to the town in 1922. It eventually got buried and was forgotten about until a construction crew dug it up on Monday. (Dale Molnar/CBC)

It remained buried until this week, when a construction crew found it while digging up the ground for a new public high school. 

The town’s manager of policy and committees Kevin Fox, who used to operate the military museum in Kingsville, said there aren’t many like this one around.  

“During the Second World War, when there was a need for scrap metal, many of the war trophies were actually destroyed to contribute to the war effort. So while there were numerous examples that existed and were spread throughout the country, many of them do not survive,” Fox said. 

He added that two local servicemen died in the Battle of Vimy Ridge, one of whom received a military medal — for this reason, he said the cannon is an important relic for the region. 

“An artillery piece in this town is a nice harkening back to honour those two individuals,” he said. 

At this time, DiCarlo said the town officials are still deciding what to do with the gun and where to place it. 

“Amherstburg’s known for our history and trying to preserve it as much as possible. My expectations are that we will do the same with this,” he said. 

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