Fort Lee's Quartermaster Museum exhibits seized ordnance artifacts
June 7, 2013
By Amy Perry
FORT LEE, Va. (June 6, 2013) -- A new exhibit called "Subject to Recall" will open soon at the Quartermaster Museum and will feature artifacts from an Ordnance Corps collection that was recently located to Fort Lee.
A grand opening ceremony -- co-hosted by newly promoted Brig. Gen. John O'Neil, Quartermaster General, and Col. Jack Haley, the new Chief of Ordnance -- is set for June 17, 10:30 a.m., at the QM Museum.
The temporary exhibit features items captured from enemies during World War II and the Vietnam War, said Claire Samuelson, director of the Ordnance Training and Heritage Center.
"When all of the artifacts -- the macro, or large ones -- were brought to Aberdeen Proving Grounds, Md., during World War II, they were deemed "Subject to Recall," she said. "They were put into the museum system, but they were subject to recall to exploit the intelligence value. That's how we got the name for the gallery."
One of the larger pieces in the exhibit is the Schwimmwagen, a floating car made from a single piece of sheet metal. The car is very light and has no doors. It has paddles on the side in case the riders get stuck.
"The display also has a panel showing Adolph Hitler in the background, because he oversaw the prototypes of the Schwimmwagen," said Samuelson. "These were made in the same factory where they made Volkswagen. There are similar components, although you can't tell by looking at it."
Another item Samuelson said would draw interest is the BK 5, a 50 mm autocannon. There are only two of them in the United States. The other one is located at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio.
"The BK 5 is an interesting piece," she said. "Near the end of the war, the Germans decided to take their anti-tank barrel and try to retro-fit it for installation in a jet fighter so they could shoot down the Allied bombers. It had more of an impact than the smaller guns did."
The U.S. forces were able to take these items and learn a lot from them, especially the recoilless gun and the small arms. The small arms essentially became the example for everything after them, like the assault weapons. Another large piece on display is the L.G. 40, a German 75 mm recoilless gun.
"It was the first practical recoilless gun," said Samuelson. "It's an incredible piece, and it was light enough to be dropped with paratroopers. It's amazing that they had that kind of firepower with them when they dropped in."
Samuelson said the new exhibit is truly a joint effort between the Ordnance Heritage Center and the other two physical museums, as well as the corps' historians, on Fort Lee. The U.S. Army Women's Museum helped create a panel of information about women in the Ordnance Corps. Paul Morando, QM Museum director, said his staff is excited about the new exhibit.
"We saw this as an opportunity to partner with the ordnance team," he said. "Since they don't have a structure to display their artifacts, we thought it was a good way to show support and to give them a chance to showcase some key pieces within their collection.
"We get a lot of questions about the ordnance artifacts and where the public can see items, but unfortunately, there aren't a lot of things for them to see," Morando continued. "Now, they can see a portion of their collection in a museum setting."