While at the Manchester Arms Fair yesterday, I had a look on the stall of World Wide Arms and purchased a very interesting pistol. I was told by the proprietor that it was one of a batch purchased by the company from South Africa. He told me they were formally used by the South African Police.
The condition for a pistol which is roughly 115 years old is extremely good. It retains a high percentage of it's finish, and is all matching number's. There are no british military acceptance markings, but on the right side it is marked V over 84 and 11 over D.L.I followed by 11 again.
At first my thoughts that it was marked to the 'Durham Light Infantry,' and was probably sold on to SA after WW1. But then I started thinking about the complete lack of military acceptance markings, and came to the conclusion it was probably (originally) part of a batch supplied to the South African government for military use. It was highly likely that D.L.I actually stood for Durban Light Infantry.
I did a little research this morning and found out the unit was formed in 1895. And taking in to account the Webley Mk 111 (in .455) was only made between 1897 and 1899, it seemed highly likely that this was indeed a pistol marked to that unit.
The Durban Light Infantry saw much active service during the Anglo-Boer War of 1899-1902. And again in the 1906 Bhambatha rebellion. At the outbreak of WW1 the 1st Batallion moved to the Northern Cape and were heavily involved in fighting with the Germans and rebel Boers. A very interesting find indeed!