Allora RSL sub-branch members Eric Taylor and Rob Sinton inspect the restored Bofors 40mm light anti-aircraft gun which takes pride of place in Allora’s Apex Park.
Allora RSL sub-branch members Eric Taylor and Rob Sinton inspect the restored Bofors 40mm light anti-aircraft gun which takes pride of place in Allora’s Apex Park. Glyn Rees

Allora military treasure restored

ALLORA'S abundant history was enhanced with the restoration of the military 40mm Bofor light anti-aircraft gun which is on display at Apex Park, adjacent to the New England Highway.

The restoration was made possible by a $4000 grant under the federal government Saluting Their Service Commemorations grants program, with the support of the Southern Downs Regional Council.

Saluting Their Service aims to honour the sacrifice and service of Australian servicemen and women in wars, conflicts and peace operations and to promote appreciation and understanding of the role those who served played in shaping the nation.

The program is designed to preserve our wartime heritage and to involve people throughout the nation in a range of activities and projects.

The gun, which sits looking resplendent restored and powder coated, is displayed on stands in an enclosed area in Apex Park.

Bofor guns were introduced into service in 1938, the Allora based gun went into service in Korea.

The gun was manned by a crew of five when in action and had a rate of fire of 120 rounds a minute.

An anti-aircraft autocannon, the Bofors 40mm gun was designed by the Swedish defence firm of Bofors Defence.

It was one of the most popular medium-weight anti-aircraft systems during the Second World War, used by most of the western Allies as well as by the Axis powers.

Crews of Bofors guns shot down 14,657 Axis planes in the Second World War.

The cannon remains in service as of 2012, still in use by the Royal Navy, making it one of the longest-serving artillery pieces of all time.

The gun arrived at the Allora Railway Station in the early 1970s, after which it was towed to its current location, where it remained, forlorn and neglected until June 20, 2008.

A member of the Brisbane based Gunners and Signallers' Club made a refreshment stop at Apex Park, observing the plight of the Bofors gun.

He happened to be the secretary of the organisation, Rob Collins, MBE (Mil).

The visit resulted in correspondence from the Gunners and Signallers' Club to the Allora RSL sub-branch advising of funding programs available for restoration.

The letter advised that a Bofor gun on display at Southport had fallen into a bad state due to the effects of sea air, it was considered dangerous and cut up for scrap, the message being "don't let this happen to the Allora gun".

Allora man Rob Sinton adopted the restoration project with a passion, and was pleased when at a meeting of the Southern Downs Regional Council, councillors resolved to take up the restoration project.

The decision resulted in correspondence in January 2011 from the Minister for Veteran's Affairs Warren Snowdon that the restoration grant application submitted by Southern Downs Regional Council was successful.

Allora's Bofors gun was removed to Warwick for sandblasting and powder coating before being returned to Apex Park in October.

The gun is mounted and secured as a fitting display and memory to the role it played in conflict and a prompt to us all of the sacrifices and hardships endured by our servicemen and women.

The project took almost four years to reach fruition but, according to Rob Sinton, was time well spent.

Rob and fellow RSL sub-branch member Eric Taylor recently reminisced while inspecting the restored gun: Eric was a member of 12 Squadron RAAF at Merauke on the western coast of Dutch New Guinea, his main role the servicing of 24 dive bombers.

He recalls the morning ritual fly over of the Japanese Mavis aircraft, the Kawanishi H6K, and the sound of the Bofors gun welcome.

Rob Sinton is another long-serving member of the Allora RSL sub-branch, originally joining the Citizens Military Forces in 1948.

He served with the 11 Field Regiment, Royal Australian Artillery and recalls the operation of the Bofers guns at Brisbane's Kelvin Grove training field.

"The guns were essential equipment in a convoy," Rob said.

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