The ceremony outside Peronne town hall concluded with the presentation to the mayor, by the Battery Commander, of a print of a painting by the artist, Dawn Waring. The original hangs in the dining room of the Officers’ Mess of Royal Horse Artillery, Tidworth, Wiltshire.
The painting shows the moment when two cavalrymen gallop up to the ‘E’ Battery position to report the advance of the Germans. The cavalryman [second right] is pointing back towards Peronne with his sabre.
The lieutenant seen in the bottom left of the picture, commanding the gun, has never been conclusively identified. All three lieutenants commanding the three battery sections later claimed to have been commander #3 gun & #4 gun.
The order to fire was first given to #3 gun but the shell failed to fire. The order was passed to #4 gun, which duly fired the first two shots by B.E.F. artillery in WW1.
One of the two shell cases from this firing is on display in the History Room of the Royal Artillery, Larkhill. This case has a date stamp of 1908. It is likely that by August 1914 the propellant charges of this shell and the others issued to ‘E’ Battery had deteriorated, causing the mis-fire of #3 gun and the failure of the battery’s salvos to reach the German positions.
Brigadier-General Hubert Gough, commanding 3rd Cavalry Brigade, was present at the time. He remonstrated with the Battery Commander, “Can’t you even hit them?” The Battery Commander’s reply was, “Sir. I cannot get another yard out of these guns”.