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    I recently came across this video on Youtube when I was searching for something else altogether, and it brought back many memories of my early childhood. This gun emplacement at Tairoa Head was a favourite place to play for us boys back in the late "50s - then disused and neglected, it contained nothing but abandoned ammunition boxes and empty shell casings.
    One day when I was there, two American tourists turned up - how they found their way there I don't know as it wasn't even a tourist attraction in those days. They asked if they were allowed to go into the bunkers, so I offered to guide them through with my torch. I took them through the tunnel and showed them the gun. When we came back out they thanked me and each presented me with half-a-crown. Five Shillings! Undreamt of wealth for a wee lad who got one Shilling a week pocket money.
    I haunted the entrance to the tunnel for several weeks after, but sadly this never happened again.
    Anyway, here is a bit of Dunedin history for anyone who may be interested - the Armstrong Disappearing Gun.

  • #2

    Thank you John for an interesting piece of history.

    Does that mean that 'we' are also history !! lol



    • #3


      The mention of the "Armstrong Gun" brought to mind something mentioned by my Gt Grand Uncle who served in the Maori Wars. 2nd Waikato Regiment, raised in Australia. He mentioned moving this type of gun around at one stage, so presumably there was a field piece by the same name.

      Just a small snippet from a letter............... Miranda Redoubt
      Aukland NZ
      July 19 1864
      We are first class over here – as jolly as we can be We have been until the last
      week or two laying on the ground under canvas but no ever have build WH over? Or Huts
      out of Raupe a sort of swamp grass & scrub of Tea Tree & we have all got our own cots up
      & with such bedding as we have are quite comfortable.

      every day some of them go out pig hunting & catch on an average 4 every day These some
      we kill & eat fresh some we salt down & others we are keeping in stys. I assume you you
      would think yourself in Ireland were you in our camp for there are 20 or 30 small little pigs
      always running about – wile at the same time while some are hunting pigs others are Bullock
      shooting & shoot about 2 or 3 in a day Well this I am sorry to say chiefly lay and eat on
      account of most of us been so lazy to carry it into camp as we have plenty of mutton

      served out ship loads of sheep as many hear from Newcastle to here
      I think the Mouries will not be able to stand much longer since this last affair at the
      Gate Pav. As there are 180 Mouries killed & wounded & with as bad a loss as our side & if
      there is peace I shall be disembodyied directly but if not I shall be disembodied next spring I
      think I shall know better what I shall do
      These letters were only discovered a few years ago in the Mitchell Library in Sydney and my cousin spent quite a few days transcribing them, there were some errors as they had been handled so much, also very old.

      His name was John Chilman, he originally came from Hackney [London].

      If you do a search of "Papers Past" website over there you will see he was mentioned at least about 50 or more times.

      This was his final mention......................

      The New Zealand Herald

      Tuesday July 19th 1881


      CHILMAN – on July 16 at the Provincial Hospital Aukland,
      late teacher of the Puni school, aged 36 years.

      The cortage will leave the Hospital for the Railway Station
      at 7.30 am this day (Tuesday) the 19th instant, for Pukekohe.
      Friends please accept this invitation.

      He was also the first headmaster at Puni School. Puni School ....... "Effort Brings Reward."

      Our Chilman line no longer exists in NZ


      • #4

        Thanks Gordon for your very interesting contribution. The Elswick Ordinance Company (manufacturers of Armstrong guns) produced many calibers of field pieces but the main ones used in the Maori wars were the nine and twelve pounders - I suspect the nine-pounders would have been the ones mentioned by your relative as they were the most maneouverable and easily deployed; below is a link showing a restored nine-pounder.

        - John.


        • #5


          One item that was strange about the Maori War was that the Maori War medal [pictured at the link]

          was only issued automatically to All British Troops, whether they were in combat or not, the colonial troops had apply for it as individuals and prove their involvement..............typical Imperial justice!!

          In Roll A on page two [2] you will see John Chilmans name.

          Through all this there were still other bonuses,,,,,,, [part of the enticement to enlist]

          Associated Material •Palmer, Jeni. 'Nominal and descriptive rolls, 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th Waikato Regiments, 1863-1867', Tauranga, N.Z.: Gencentre, 2007, p. 83.
          •Stowers, Richard. 'The New Zealand Medal to colonials : detailed medal rolls of officers and men in colonial units who received the New Zealand Medal for service in the New Zealand Wars 1845-1872' (8th ed.), Hamilton, N.Z.: Richard Stowers, 2005, p. 145.

          Biographical Note John Chilman - No. 542; enlisted 14 September 1863, at Sydney, New South Wales, Australia; b. 1844, at Hackney, Middlesex, England.
          Citation Jackson, Russell, Tunks & West. Records and deeds, 1848 - 1938. Auckland War Memorial Museum Library. MS 360, Box 28: Chamberlin - Church Missionary Society.
          Description Grant of 60 acres, being Allotment 145, in the Parish of Pukete, County of Waikato, to John Chilman, Corporal in the Second Regiment of Waikato Militia, dated 4 June 1867. [Reg. No. 108, Fol. 50]


          • #6
            Re: DISAPERRING GUN


            While we are on the topic of historic places, [with special reference to NZ] here is one site that may interest you if has not been mentioned before.

            The Future of New Zealand War
            Sites and Landscapes
            NIGEL PRICKETT
            Fig. 1 Campaigns of the New Zealand Wars.
            Among the most important episodes in the history of this
            country was the warfare between Maori and European in the
            mid-19th century (Fig. 1). Fighting began in the 1840s and did
            not end until the early 1870s. War shifted the balance of power
            from Maori to Pakeha, putting land and government alike in
            European hands. The results are only now being renegotiated.

            It is ten pages long with many interesting photographs and maps, just go to the link below..............



            • #7
              Re: DISAPERRING GUN

              Gordon, the ariticle and photos at the link you gave show that the Maori of that time were not as "primitive" as is often thought - their fortifications and battle strategy were in fact quite sophisticated; certainly the British troops found them to be formidable opponents.
              I notice mention made in the article of General Cameron, one of the notable Scots who had a big influence on the course of history in this country - rather a misunderstood man who I think deserves to be better known, so here's a link giving a short biography of him:


              - John.

              (You can read Captain Mercer's pamphlet blaming Cameron for his brother's death here:)

              Last edited by albalad; 1 December 2014, 06:36. Reason: additional link