Sunday, September 08, 2013

The Sedentary Gunners Museum of Lille

1. The Sedentary Gunners Museum,. Lille
(Musée de Canonniers). The main entrance. 
2. First floor main hall of the museum. 
3. Display cabinet for the years 1939 - 1940
4. A BOFORS 40 mm anti-aircraft gun
(Situated in the museum grounds)
  For additional information click on 'Comments' below.


Blogger ritsonvaljos said...

Additional information

A brief history

The Sedentary Gunners Museum of Lille (Nord), France [in French, the 'Musée des Canonniers sédentaires'] is situated at the corner of the Rue des Canonniers and the Rue des Urbanistes. The main entrance to the museum is from the Rue des Urbanistes [Photograph No 1].

The building in which the museum is based dates from the early 18th Century. It was formerly an Urbanist (Poor Clares) convent. In 1482 under the rule of the Hapsburgs and close to the frontier Lille obtained its permanent artillery. The following year the Gunners (Canonniers) of Lille officially became a volunteer Co-fraternity dedicated to St Barbara. The entrance arch to the present building proudly proclaims the date of the foundation of the Co-fraternity - 2 May 1483.

As a religious Co-fraternity, following the French Revolution the company of gunners was dissolved. But, by a decree of 1791 it was incorporated into the National Guard. In 1792 the Austrians laid siege to Lille but the Lille Gunners proved to have exceptional bravery in opposing the Austrians. Thus, when Napoleon Bonaparte was First Consul in 1803 he rewarded the Gunners of Lille by reorganising them into a separate Battalion as the Sedentary Gunners of Lille. It was also during the reign of Napoleon, in 1804, that a decree was made donating the former convent building to the Sedentary Gunners. These links with the Emperor Napoleon, and the dates of the sieges of Lille opposed by the Guners, are also engraved on the entrance arch to the Museum.

Within the present-day museum are examples of artillery and small arms weapons, medals, uniforms, oil paintings, maps and documents. A number of these are stored in the central hall on the first floor of the museum [Photograph No 2].

Sunday, 08 September, 2013  
Blogger ritsonvaljos said...

The Sedentary Gunners in WW1 and WW2

During the First World War the Sedentary Gunners of Lille were re-located close to Dunkirk. Its primary role throughout the 1914 - 1918 war was to defend the harbour and the cross-Channel supply routes of the Allies. Meanwhile, Lille was declared an 'Open City' and was occupied by the German Amy for much of the war.

In the early part of the Second World War, in the latter part of 1939 and the early part of 1940, the Sedentary Gunners of Lille were assigned to the air defence of the Lille - Roubaix - Tourcoing area. Prior to the debacle of May - June 1940 the Gunners of Lille had some success in defending the area against the German Luftwaffe. The display showing the Battalion's WW2 history is located in the main hall on the first floor [Photograph No 3].

The museum in the modern era

Within the grounds of the museum are a number of canons used by the Lille Gunners during its history. Two of the oldest canons are the famous Gribeauval canons which were donated to the Gunners over 300 years ago by the Emperor Napoleon. Only one other known example of the Gribeauval canon is still in existence, which is located at Les Invalides, Paris.

One of the other canons displayed at the Gunners Museum in Lille is the BOFORS gun, an anti-aircraft gun of WW2 [Photograph No 4]. The volunteer battalion of the Sedentary Gunners of Lille still exists in the modern era. However, since 1997 it has basically been in reserve, awaiting a mission. Nevertheless, its members still participate in marches and commemorations of the municipality, such as Bastille Day, Armistice Day and V.E. There is also an annual celebration on the feast day of its Patron Saint - Saint Barbara.

Sunday, 08 September, 2013  
Blogger ritsonvaljos said...


To summarise, the Sedentary Gunners Museum at Lille contains over 3000 objects on display including military rifles, knives and swords dating from 1777 to 1945. In addition, the museum tells the story of the Co-fraternity (Brotherhood) of St Barbara, a volunteer battalion of gunners (canonniers) for more than 200 years. It also tells the story of the city's defences and especially the role of the Gunners over the years.

The Sedentary Gunners of Lille have traditionally been seen as a symbol of the city's strength and security. For example, in the centre of Lille's main square, the Grand'place (now the Place de Charles de Gaulle), is a statue of the goddess of the market. In her hand, she carries a 'blaster' ("boutefeu") a traditional symbol of the Lille Gunners. This tool was also used by shotfirers in the coal mines of northern France.

Further information

Below is the address of the Sedentary Gunners Museum at Lille:

Musée des Canonniers,
44 rue des Canonniers,
59000 LILLE,

Musée des Canonniers, Lille

Wednesday, 11 September, 2013  

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