Sergeant Bill Monk (on the left), Specialist Operations, handed in the discovery to Tank Museum curator David Willey (centre) and Force Armourer Jamie Ross (right). Image: Bovington Tank Museum

Guns are an everyday feature of most military museums, but one weapon in particular has attracted a lot of attention.

A WWI German Luger was recently handed in to the police in Wiltshire. Now the nearby Tank Museum is appealing for information about the pistol’s history.

Made in 1911, the gun is believed to have been taken as a souvenir by a British soldier during WWI.

But staff at Bovington are looking for more detailed information.

The Pistole Parabellum, more commonly known as the Luger, was based on a design first patented by Georg Luger in 1898. The German Army adopted the 1908 model, which is noted for its four-inch barrel.

The principal German gun during the war, more than two million Lugers were produced and used.

The gun handed in is thought to have been taken as a souvenir by a British soldier during the advance at Cambrai in November 1917, when the British sought to capture a town vital for German supplies.

The German Luger was handed in to Wiltshire police. Now the nearby Tank Museum is appealing for information about the pistol. Image: Bovington Tank Museum

An inscription marking this date is scratched into the leather holster, along with the words: ‘To Alice from HUD, Jany 21-18’.

David Willey, curator of the museum at Bovington, is leading the campaign for information.

‘To be able to identify the soldier would be wonderful, and means we have another story to tell our visitors,’ he said.

‘Often these relics became family heirlooms, and we’d love to trace the family that it belonged to so we can perhaps find the records of the man who brought it home as a souvenir.’

With over 300 tanks from 26 nations, the Tank Museum has one of the world’s most-significant collections of armoured fighting vehicles.

This article was published in the February 2020 issue of Military History Matters. To find out more about subscribing to the magazine, click here.