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.
This particular example features black-painted buttons which read “MODE DE PARIS” (or ‘Paris Fashion’ in English).
This example was made by S. B. in February 1916 and features a Roman numeral ‘II’.
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.
A close-up of the copper wire closure hook.
This example was made by William S. Toms, Limited of High Wycombe and Exeter in April 1940 and features a Roman numeral ‘II’.
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.
A close-up of the distinctive folded pockets used on Canadian bandoliers throughout the Great War and into the Second World War.
This example was made by The American Pad And Textile Company (TAPATCO) of Chatham, Ontario in 1940.
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)
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.
A close-up of the distinctive South African closure hook, with its base covered in cloth.
This example was made by Leibowitz Brothers (Party), Limited of Johannesburg and features a Roman numeral ‘II’ as well as an illegible date stamp.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The closure hooks on Australian-made bandoliers are often stamped from sheet copper, rather than made of folded copper wire.
This example was made by Melbourne Textiles of Melbourne, Victoria in 1942.
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)