A Captured German Howitzer Stood in Front of the Utah County Courthouse

A large number of Provo’s young men enlisted in the country’s armed forces and served in World War I. Nineteen of them died serving their country. A small bronze plaque on a Ponderosa pine in Pioneer Park memorializes their sacrifice.

A captured German 150 millimeter howitzer and its carriage once stood on the front sidewalk of the historic Utah County Courthouse as a symbol of the victory over Germany. The Utah War Trophy Committee presented the cannon to Utah County because three Utah County men participated in its capture.

On the night of September 29, 1918, a corporal and two privates from Utah County were serving in the Argonne Forest in France as part of a 362-man detail that crept across a half mile of no-man’s land toward German lines. They engaged enemy gunners in hand-to-hand combat and succeeded in capturing 100 German prisoners and five howitzers, including the weapon sent to Provo. Each of the five areas in the United States from which the largest number of attacking heroes came received one of the cannons free of charge, except for paying the freight.

On November 11, 1926, stores in downtown Provo closed for an hour, and a crowd of people assembled in front of the Utah County Courthouse to celebrate Armistice Day. After a short program, members of the Service Star Legion and the American Legion Auxiliary unveiled the cannon. It stood there for many years.

The weapon’s eventual fate is unknown, but it was likely melted down and used to make armaments for World War II.

This is plaque #20 in the Series of Events from Provo’s History. It is located on the Provo River Trail west of the trailhead on Geneva Road.