World War I cannon heads to Pennsylvania for restoration

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 12 March 2018 at 11:54 am

Photos by Tom Rivers

MEDINA – A cannon from World War I that has been a fixture at State Street Park for about 80 years is leaving Medina for several months. A group of local veterans gathered at the park this morning to watch it be loaded on a flatbed owned by Automotive Solutions.

The cannon, manufactured in 1916, was fired during World War I. The cannon was moved from the front of State Street Park on Friday by the Medina DPW to back of the park so it could more easily be loaded up for a five-hour trip to Altoona, Pa. That is the location of Seed Artillery Reproduction and Restoration.

“It’s a piece of history,” said Jim Freas, commander of the VFW in Medina.

Steve Johnson is commander of the American Legion in Medina. His grandfather also served in World War I a century ago.

“This cannon is part of our heritage,” Johnson said. “We have to preserve our history.”

George Bidleman, owner of Orleans Ford, is paying $40,000 to have the cannon restored. Bidleman started at Orleans Ford as general manager in 1987. In 2002, he became the owner. He said the cannon is a prominent memorial, a reminder of the sacrifices of veterans.

“They all risked their lives,” he said about veterans.

Bidleman, center, is pictured with local veterans and Eileen Banker, chief of staff for State Assemblyman Steve Hawley.

The cannon was manufactured in 1916 and was fired during World War I. Every Memorial Day for about 80 years, the Medina community has gathered by the cannon for the solemn ceremony.

The cannon, however, has become badly deteriorated and will be restored for $40,000. George Bidleman of Orleans Ford is raising the funds for the project.

The cannon will be stripped down. The parts will be repaired and re-manufactured if necessary. The gun will be primed and painted with epoxy primer and finished to match the original WWI paint scheme.

The Orleans Renaissance Group first pushed for saving the cannon about two years ago. The VFW and American Legion both supported the effort. The ORG raised $12,000 that will be used for site improvements for when the cannon comes back, which could be in time for Veterans’ Day in November.

Local veterans including David Kusmiersczak and Glenn Whitmore watched the cannon be pulled to the road in the park, so it could be put on the truck.

The cannon is a British Heavy Field Gun known as a B.L. 60 Pounder, manufactured in 1916 by Elswick Ordnance Company, Newcastle upon Tyne, England.

It weighs 6 tons, is a 5 inch/127mm caliber, 21 feet in length and 6 feet in width. The gun was originally issued to battery in France, April 1917 and fired 2,871 rounds during its first tour. It was returned to England in 1917 for repairs and reissued to battery in France, September 1918, firing an additional 1,471 rounds.

Chris Seefeldt, left, of Automotive Solutions works with owner Shawn Callard, right, to secure the cannon on the truck for the trip to Pennsylvania.

The cannon is strapped down for the trip.

Automotive Solutions heads down State Street with the cannon.

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