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Guide to British Empire .303 Bandoliers

Article about: BANDOLIERS, COTTON, 50 ROUNDS, MARK II. Entering service in 1906, Small Arms Ammunition (SAA) Bandoliers were issued throughout the Great War whenever additional ammunition was required. The

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    Default Guide to British Empire .303 Bandoliers

    BANDOLIERS, COTTON, 50 ROUNDS, MARK II.

    Entering service in 1906, Small Arms Ammunition (SAA) Bandoliers were issued throughout the Great War whenever additional ammunition was required. They carried two chargers with five rounds in each of the five pockets, were constructed of a thin jean material and were meant to be disposable. Given their lightweight design, they were often carried on patrol in place of a full set of webbing. Many soldiers also cut the shoulder strap in half so they could tie the ends together and wear the bandolier as a belt.

    In addition to BREN magazines, the basic pouches of the Pattern 1937 Web Equipment were designed to hold a couple 50 round bandoliers, which could be accessed quickly in combat situations. Below are six examples of the Mk II Bandolier made in different parts of the Empire.

    GREAT BRITAIN - 1916
    The earliest Mk II Bandoliers were closed by means of Carr-type snaps or buttons. By mid 1916, copper hooks replaced both.

    Guide to British Empire .303 Bandoliers

    This particular example features black-painted buttons which read “MODE DE PARIS” (or ‘Paris Fashion’ in English).

    Guide to British Empire .303 Bandoliers

    This example was made by S. B. in February 1916 and features a Roman numeral ‘II’.

    Guide to British Empire .303 Bandoliers

    GREAT BRITAIN - 1940
    This British-made bandolier features the hooks introduced in 1916. The hooks are made of doubled copper wire which are simply pushed through a hole in the material and bent over.

    Guide to British Empire .303 Bandoliers

    A close-up of the copper wire closure hook.

    Guide to British Empire .303 Bandoliers

    This example was made by William S. Toms, Limited of High Wycombe and Exeter in April 1940 and features a Roman numeral ‘II’.

    Guide to British Empire .303 Bandoliers

    DOMINION OF CANADA
    Early Canadian bandoliers retained ammunition through the use of folded pockets, rather than hook closures. They were also made of a thin type of canvas instead of twilled jean material. By the end of the Second World War, Canada had adopted a design similar to British style.

    Guide to British Empire .303 Bandoliers

    A close-up of the distinctive folded pockets used on Canadian bandoliers throughout the Great War and into the Second World War.

    Guide to British Empire .303 Bandoliers

    This example was made by The American Pad And Textile Company (TAPATCO) of Chatham, Ontario in 1940.

    Guide to British Empire .303 Bandoliers

    A close-up of a Canadian load stamp

    A) Number of rounds
    B) Small Arms
    C) General purpose ‘Ball’ rounds (rather than tracer, armour-piercing, incendiary, dummy, etc.)
    D) .303 Inch Calibre
    E) Boxes for the load date
    F) Mark VII Cartridges
    G) Canadian government ownership mark (a broad arrow inside the letter ‘C’)
    H) Ammunition Factory Stamp – Possibly Defence Industries, Limited or Canadian Industries, Limited of Quebec
    I) Symbol for “cartridge, small arm, ball” (a rectangle with a line through it)

    Guide to British Empire .303 Bandoliers

    UNION OF SOUTH AFRICA
    South African Mk II bandoliers have a unique construction which include a cloth trim and partially covered sheet copper closure hooks. Although this Mk II bandolier was made in South Africa, the illegible markings make the date of manufacture unclear.

    Guide to British Empire .303 Bandoliers

    A close-up of the distinctive South African closure hook, with its base covered in cloth.

    Guide to British Empire .303 Bandoliers

    This example was made by Leibowitz Brothers (Party), Limited of Johannesburg and features a Roman numeral ‘II’ as well as an illegible date stamp.

    Guide to British Empire .303 Bandoliers

    GOVERNMENT OF INDIA
    Indian-made bandoliers were very close to the original British pattern and were heavily used in Burma, where jungle fighting necessitated lightweight kit.

    Guide to British Empire .303 Bandoliers

    Like British-made bandoliers, this Indian bandolier utilizes hooks made of doubled copper wire which are simply pushed through a hole in the material and bent over.

    Guide to British Empire .303 Bandoliers

    A close-up of an Indian Government clothing factory inspection stamp found on most Indian-made garments. These marks usually consist of a circle with inspection codes above and below a date (in this case, November 1943) flanking a broad arrow.

    Guide to British Empire .303 Bandoliers

    COMMONWEALTH OF AUSTRALIA
    Australia produced and exported a great deal of ammunition during the Second World War and many surviving British and Australian bandoliers feature purple Australian reload stamps.

    Guide to British Empire .303 Bandoliers

    The closure hooks on Australian-made bandoliers are often stamped from sheet copper, rather than made of folded copper wire.

    Guide to British Empire .303 Bandoliers

    This example was made by Melbourne Textiles of Melbourne, Victoria in 1942.

    Guide to British Empire .303 Bandoliers

    A close-up of an Australian load stamp

    A) Number of rounds
    B) General purpose ‘Ball’ rounds (rather than tracer, armour-piercing, incendiary, dummy, etc.)
    C) .303 Inch Calibre
    D) Mark VII Cartridge
    E) Load date – April 13, 1944
    F) Small Arms Ammunition Factory Number 6 – Welshpool, Australia
    G) Symbol for “cartridge, small arm, ball” (a rectangle with a line through it)

    Guide to British Empire .303 Bandoliers
    Last edited by karkee; 09-05-2015 at 10:15 PM.

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    AIF
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    Exellent write up as always mate!

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    Superb group of bandoliers there Karkee! Very informative presentation.

    Here are my three, not so nicely presented sorry.


    Guide to British Empire .303 Bandoliers

    Below is a detail showing a faint MTX stamp. I think the date is 1945? The studs are by CARR AUST and note how two different sizes were used on this one.
    The bottom one of the three has no stamp that I can find except an inspectors broad arrow with the letter H. The stamps are from 1945, 64 and 74 showing how long the Aussies used some of these items.

    Guide to British Empire .303 Bandoliers

    Below is a detail showing CGCF (Commonwealth Government Clothing Factory) in 1956 when there would have been a demand for National Service training amongst other things. The big stamp is for .303 ball ammo 19th Feb 1957.

    Guide to British Empire .303 Bandoliers

    I also have somewhere a late 1960's (Vietnam war era) bandoleer in jungle green (for 7.62 SLR ammo). About 10 years ago I stumbled across an entire crate of these JG bandoleers in a junk yard, which has since re-located.

    Cheers,
    Oz.

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    I recall whilst in the Cadets in the 80's we were often on range days issued with .303 round in bandoliers which I believe were then disposed of. If only I had known.....

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    I have just added a better set of pictures that are much more detailed when clicked.

    OZ – Thanks for adding more examples! I had heard that the Carr snap Australian bandoliers were a late WWII design, but I had never seen an extant example. It looks like yours was made in January 1945 and is of a canvas construction (the 50s ones are a cotton twill fabric). Also, I think your bottom bandolier is Australian as well, given the sheet copper hooks and Australian load stamp. These so-called ‘disposable’ items were reused many times, as evidenced by the many reload stamps on existing examples!

    ROBIN – Yeah, too bad you didn’t save a couple! I think a lot were thrown away after being used.

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    Here is a WWI load stamp on a 1916-dated bandolier

    Guide to British Empire .303 Bandoliers

    50 - Number of rounds
    BALL - General purpose ‘Ball’ rounds (rather than tracer, armour-piercing, incendiary, dummy, etc.)
    303 - .303 Inch Calibre
    MARK VII Z - Mark VIIz Cartridges utilize nitrocellulose flake powder smokeless propellant
    R.L. - Royal Laboratories, Woolwich
    26-7-18 - Load Date of July 26, 1918
    Broad Arrow
    ISAA - Inspectorate of Small Arms Ammunition
    Symbol for “cartridge, small arm, ball” (a rectangle with a line through it)
    Last edited by karkee; 11-08-2015 at 10:45 AM.

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    Another nice thread. I have made it a sticky for ease of future reference.

    Cheers, Ade.
    Had good advice? Saved money? Why not become a Gold Club Member, just hit the green "Join WRF Club" tab at the top of the page and help support the forum!

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    Quote by robin morley View Post
    I recall whilst in the Cadets in the 80's we were often on range days issued with .303 round in bandoliers which I believe were then disposed of. If only I had known.....
    Ha, I used to go to Bisley for pistol competitions and take out of the bin the cloth bandoliers before they were burnt in the evening...

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    Glad to hear someone was saving them, hangarman!

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