"A small sub-machine gun" captured on a distant battlefield was at the centre of a controversy - and became a mystery - in a village near Dubbo that remains "fascinating" a century later.
The push to secure a World War I "trophy" for Wongarbon and defy an order of the government of the day in its placement is rich material for historian Peter Woodley.
To the PhD candidate it speaks volumes about "how people chose to relate their small community to cataclysmic world events".
In a twist, his research shows the gun was quietly removed later, and no one he has ever spoken to recalls it.
Mr Woodley, who was born and raised in the Dubbo region, is undertaking his degree through the Australian National University's School of History.
He is researching and writing a social history of Dubbo's rural hinterland between about 1880 and 1950.
For his work, he was investigating how WWI "affected local people's constructions of their own histories".
Mr Woodley said at the war's end a significant number of citizens of Wongarbon raised funds for a memorial, an obelisk which was still standing in the school grounds.
At the same time, the federal government agreed to thousands of captured, usually German, pieces of military hardware, at the time called "war trophies", being distributed to suburbs, towns and shires, he said.
Wongarbon was given a trophy and the local plan was to install it next to the memorial, but the NSW Labor government issued a directive to say weapons should not be displayed on school grounds.
"The people of Wongarbon took exception to that, and notwithstanding the objections of the school principal, who was speaking on behalf of his minister, they put the trophy in place anyway," Mr Woodley said.
"And for a short time... it sat there in the school yard, alongside the memorial.
"In time it was quietly removed, there's just one newspaper account that reveals it was taken away... I've not yet met anyone from the local district who recalls there ever having been such an item there.
...As a historian I find the whole thing fascinating, in terms of how people chose to relate their small community to cataclysmic world events.Peter Woodley
"...As a historian I find the whole thing fascinating, in terms of how people chose to relate their small community to cataclysmic world events.
"Through the wording on the memorial, through constructing the memorial itself, and by displaying the machine gun, they were very, very actively saying to themselves and the rest of the world, the people of Wongarbon... made our contribution, made our sacrifices in the context of this world event."
Mr Woodley also ponders the fate of the war trophy.
"Was it taken away and displayed somewhere else, was it sold for scrap metal, was it put in someone's shed, no one seems to know," he said.
Anyone with any clues about the missing gun or the broader subject can contact him on 0422 002 084 or at firstname.lastname@example.org