Anti-aircraft shell, 40mm Bofors, 2nd WW

Contributed by John Rawlings

Anti-aircraft shell, 40mm Bofors, 2nd WW

During the 2nd World War anti-aircraft shells were made in their millions. This shell was made specifically for the Bofors light ack-ack (40mm) gun which was designed in Sweden and used by both sides. My father was a member of a 10 man ack-ack gun team, firstly in the seige of Malta and later in mainland Europe. His job was to operate one of two gunsights to pin-point an enemy plane. When he and his companion both called 'On' the the firing pedal would be pressed and the sky would be filled with schrapnel. My father said he could sometimes see the faces of the pilots in his sight. He admired their bravery but knew that they in turn were trying to bomb him into oblivion as well as the ships in Valletta's Grand Harbour. This beautifully shaped brass shell is indicative of the enormous effort that went into the fight against fascism. It also illustrates the immorality of arms dealing as both sides used this powerful weapon of war. Wherever people have striven against each other weapons have been developed and counter-weapons in their turn, from swords to shields and bombers to ack-ack guns. In peacetime this particular object stood on the mantle shelf of my childhood home.

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