An extremely rare piece of World War I history may have come to light in our yard.

Ian made the discovery when tidying a quiet corner of the yard last week. Ian is an ex-gunner with the Royal Navy, and recognised it was the bottom of a shell case straight away – but couldn’t work out the type. Closer inspection revealed the German engraving on the bottom; Ian went to work on the internet and revealed the possible source of the artifact.

It could well be from the largest artillery gun of WWI, and called The Paris Gun as it was actively involved in the shelling of Paris in 1918. 

paris gun shell case

The gun had a range of 75 miles and was designed by Fritz Rausenburger. With a length of 34m and weighing 256 tonnes, it needed its own rail tracks to handle the recoil.

As a weapon, it was considered a failure. The barrel needed constant work, often needing to be fully replaced. To top it off, it was wildly inaccurate and was only good for shelling general area targets such as cities. The psychological aspect shouldn’t be overlooked, however, as Parisiens lived in fear of this gun.

Paris Gun 1917

Each shell was numbered and had to be fired in the order displayed, as each time the gun was fired the barrel would wear out a little more. The casing discovered here is numbered ‘100’, and was made in Magdeburg, Germany – Jan 1917

This weapon was never captured by the Allies, as the Germans destroyed it, including the plans on how to build it.