For over 50 years, a World War II anti-aircraft gun has acted as a memorial and landmark anchor to Main Street, Mannville.
According to area resident, Jim Storch, the (1942) American 90-mm M1A2 anti-aircraft gun (Serial No. 3465) arrived in 1967 by way of delivery from Jack Cochford, Howard Stevenson, and Pat Cotter. He noted that all three men were service men who had previously made arrangements with the Military to pick up the unit from CFB Shilo, Manitoba. To make the journey possible, they used Mac MacLeod’s B184 four ton International truck.
“They had taken the sides off of the truck to make it like a flat deck, but when they loaded it not realizing just how extremely heavy it was, the anti-aircraft gun broke some boards on the deck. After the adventures of fixing the truck’s deck they finally got on their way home.
Crossing the Manitoba/Saskatchewan border the folks wondered where they had stolen this anti-aircraft gun from. The boys didn’t have a bill of sale because this was just a verbal agreement. And not only that; they where way overweight! After much discussion they were released and sent on their way,” said Storch.
Upon arriving in Mannville, the group continued to face challenges. Luckily they were able to use Canadian National Railway’s unloading dock at the east end of the elevators on the south side of the tracks. According to Jim, much fun was had unloading the monstrosity. He said that originally it was supposed to go at the North end of the village in the center bus circle at the school, but ended up at the South end of Main Street where it resides to this day. Following its arrival, a ceremony was held to commemorate the memorial with many service men and women in attendance. Located at 50th Street and 50th Avenue, the anti-aircraft gun has been a prominent feature and recognizable monument ever since.
“Ninety millimeters is the size of the projectile that is shot out of the barrel, which is about three inches. Both the anti-aircraft gun and the Cenotaph at the school are marvellous memorials to check out,” said Storch.