Identification of Ammunition Round?

Discussion in 'Weapons, Technology & Equipment' started by Quis Separabit, Nov 28, 2019.

  1. Quis Separabit

    Quis Separabit Junior Member

    A bit random this one, but a contact from The Netherlands has provided me with the images below which relate to items found in the roof of a building being renovated in Blitterwijck, Holland where 2 RUR were involved in action around this time in 1944.....

    The [*bullet*] round and (broken/empty) ampoule were found in the pocket of the (possibly cut?) combat trousers and the cap badge was found nearby, suggesting the trousers belonged to a member of 2RUR who had been wounded?

    I know that it isn't a .303 round for a Lee Enfield rifle that would have been issued to "Other Ranks" and so am assuming it is either a round for a Sten Gun or pistol, both of which would suggest the trousers belonged to an officer???

    Can anyone help to definitively identify this round and/or confirm that only officers were issued with Sten Guns and/or pistols as, if so, it could make it possible to identify the original owner of the trousers who was hopefully just injured around this time 75 years ago....

    Many thanks.

    Quis Separabit

    IMG_20191124_162341304.jpg IMG_20191124_162440222.jpg
    Last edited: Nov 28, 2019
  2. Robert-w

    Robert-w Well-Known Member

    Some ORs carried Stens as well as officers but I don't think it's a Sten round. It would help if we knew what diameter it is.
    Quis Separabit likes this.
  3. Dave55

    Dave55 Atlanta, USA Patron

    Looks like a 9mm to me. Used in Sten and Browning Hi Power and many other things.

    9×19mm Parabellum - Wikipedia


    I should have mentioned that most 9mm British ammo had "9 M/M" stamped on the bottom

    Last edited: Nov 28, 2019
  4. Quis Separabit

    Quis Separabit Junior Member

    Round is in a museum in Holland so tricky to measure but I have a cunning plan and will hopefully be able to give a good idea of diameter....
  5. Quis Separabit

    Quis Separabit Junior Member

    OK - so not an exact science, but comparing an image of my reproduction cap badge with the original cap badge image from the Dutch museum to try and establish scale, it would appear that the round is circa 9mm (or 10mm?) by 30mm....

    Does this help to identify the specific round?


    Quis Separabit

    Attached Files:

  6. Robert-w

    Robert-w Well-Known Member

    Its a very murky picture - you referred to the bullet but is it a complete round (bullet and cartridge case)? If so it could be a sten - but I think the nose is a little too pointed.

    OR whose duties made it difficult to carry an SMLE could be armed with a sten or a pistol. A first aider would be such and also likely to have an ampule in his pocket
    Quis Separabit likes this.
  7. timuk

    timuk Well-Known Member

    It's a complete round - you can clearly see cartridge rim. I would go for 9mm but possibly .38 (virtually interchangeable). As for second part of question - extracted from one of Trux's brilliant threads, this one for LAA:
    Officers, warrant officers, motor cyclists and Bren lmg detachments are armed with pistols.
    One man per vehicle is armed with a Sten gun
    All others are armed with a rifle.

  8. Quis Separabit

    Quis Separabit Junior Member

    Erroneous "bullet" corrected to "round" in entry above - but if you can identify the bullet lodged in the piece of wood then I would be very impressed!!!
  9. Uncle Target

    Uncle Target Taking a break not sure when I will be back

    It is a 9mm round and if in a location where the Brits were fighting would probably be a Sten but not for sure.
    British officers were I think still being issued with .38 Webley Revolvers for personal defence.
    We need to establish context as to what happened and who was in the area. He could have been a driver. tank crew, signaller or paratrooper to carry a Sten.
    Are we sure it is part of a British uniform.
    As for the ampule was it used by him or on him?
    Don't forget the Germans also used 9mm.
    There should be manufacturers ID markings on the cartridge at least a batch number which might even be traceable to an ordnance supply in the field.
    There are probably experts on here in ammunition manufacture and supply.
  10. Quis Separabit

    Quis Separabit Junior Member

    Excuse my ignorance, but presumably approach would be the same for a regular infantry unit as it was for an LAA unit?

    So my best guesstimate is that:
    - is a round from a Sten or pistol
    - most likely belonged to: officer ; warrant officer; motor cyclist ; Bren gun crew and/or first aider (would they have carried a weapon?)
    - but otherwise not likely (though not impossible) to have been a regular OR infantryman
    - bearing in mind found in roof of building, arguably an officer or Bren gun team gaining best line of sight over surrounding area when got injured in the leg and had his trousers cut off?

    Or of course, perhaps I'm over-complicating this and it was simply a case of any of the above who mislaid his trousers............. :)
    Last edited: Nov 29, 2019
  11. Gary Kennedy

    Gary Kennedy Member

    Sorry to interject but I don't think you can realistically assign it to an individual unless you can definitely ID it as a .38-in, because that was specific to pistols, which in turn were particular to a relatively small number of personnel. A standard Infantry Battalion was authorised just under 180 Sten guns for personnel in multiple roles, while each commissioned officer was authorised a pistol, so there's a good list of suspects just within 2 RUR. Bren gunners did not carry a sidearm in infantry units (the example detailed above is specific to Royal Artillery and refers to men detailed for Bren guns in unit AA defence). And as mentioned, 9-mm was used by both sides in NWE.

  12. Dave55

    Dave55 Atlanta, USA Patron

    Is 9 mm x 29.69 mm close enough? :)

    The various .38 rounds were all rimmed with rim being of greater diameter than the case. The cartridge in the picture is 'rimless', which means the rim is the same diameter as the rest of the cartridge case but has an extractor grove ahead of it. I'd say the only other possibility is a .45 ACP round but I'm betting on 9mm for sure. There were a few .380 ACP cases floating around for the Walther PP but pretty rare and the Russian ammo was either bottlenecked 7.62×25mm Tokarev or the weird looking gas seal cartridges for the Nagant revolver.

    9mm Parabellum

  13. Uncle Target

    Uncle Target Taking a break not sure when I will be back

    This is getting interesting. However it is unlikely that we will ever know for sure.
    A few points, a bullet is the bit of a round that comes out of the muzzle of a weapon and hits something (it goes into the weapon via the breech).
    If the round was for a revolver would it not be rim fire rather than rimless as in the photo.
    There was a war on so the men involved used whatever was to hand. Bren gun teams as far as I know were never officially issued with pistols but that wouldn't stop them carrying an extra weapon if it came into their possession. Officers were not forbidden to carry other weapons like a rifle or even a Bren if necessary, they even threw grenades or stones if they were stuck.
    In order to make sense of this it would be necessary to identify all known items.The history (context) of the actions that took place in the area and the records of the units involved.
    There just MIGHT be something in Regimental War Diaries or Casualty Reports if you can establish some of the above.
    Otherwise you will end up with "handbags at dawn".
    Quis Separabit likes this.
  14. Topfmine

    Topfmine Member

    Dimensions can identify what type of round it can be, as a basic round ie a 9mm, as for what country ie 9mm commonly used by many countries it could be German or British or even WW1 German but only by the head stamp, it could even be of Canadian manufacture, only this method in the cartridge collecting world experts would identify the details of the round correctly or if the bullet or case has certain characteristics that stand out to similar rounds ie a slightly different shaped head. But saying that the primer annulus colour as in the picture of the nice box of 1943 dated HN 9mm rounds which are in blue ink can identify what type of bullet it is used for, like AP or tracer, especially in .303 rounds or 15mm Besa rounds ie red for tracer or green for AP. i think black for incendiary etc.
    As for the story of this round found in a pair of trousers in an attic, the round in question could have been picked up out of curiosity in the field and not used by the owner of the trousers, may be he had a pocket full of rounds for a friend who had a Sten who he got ammo for and had one left over. The story of the bullet and the trousers can be different in many ways, and we can only assume with the evidence what could have happened and be miles off what happened originally. I knew many a veteran who gathered bits picked up on the battle field sometimes bored waiting between battles.
    Dave55 and Quis Separabit like this.
  15. Robert-w

    Robert-w Well-Known Member

    Don't confuse Rimmed with rim fire. The Webley revolver round was rimmed but centre fire
    Quis Separabit and JimHerriot like this.
  16. Robert-w

    Robert-w Well-Known Member

    And even then you can't be 100%. The Germans did salvage and reload cartriges provided that they were of the right calibre.
    Quis Separabit likes this.
  17. Uncle Target

    Uncle Target Taking a break not sure when I will be back

    Spot on Robert my mistake. Rimfire would be a .22inch or similar where the firing pin hits the edge of the percussion cap which in itself is the base of the cartridge.
    Perhaps you could elucidate on the technical terms.
  18. Dave55

    Dave55 Atlanta, USA Patron

  19. Quis Separabit

    Quis Separabit Junior Member

    Wow - thanks for all of the expert input, so just to summarise:

    The Context
    • the items were found in the roof of a house in the village of Blitterswijck, South East of Overloon and Wanssum on the River Meuse/Maas
    • 9th Brigade War Diary - - shows that:
      • on 25 November 1944 "15 S Div" occupied Blitterswijck without incident
      • on 27 November 2RUR relived "10 HLI" in Blitterswijck and were subjected to shelling from the other side of the River Meuse/Maas
    • it was subsequently discovered that a pocket of enemy had remained in the hamlet of Helling, between Wanssum and Blitterswijck
    The Round
    • "Is 9 mm x 29.69 mm close enough? :)" - seems very close
    • "The various .38 rounds were all rimmed with rim being of greater diameter than the case. The cartridge in the picture is 'rimless', which means the rim is the same diameter as the rest of the cartridge case but has an extractor grove ahead of it." - so it isn't a .38 revolver round
    • revisiting dimensions, the round is circa 30mm long, or 0.374 inches, which based on image below means it is almost certainly a 9mm round
    • "9mm commonly used by many countries it could be German or British or even WW1 German but only by the head stamp, it could even be of Canadian manufacture" - so it could be anyone's and have been picked up by anyone...
    • "British ammo had "9 M/M" stamped on the bottom" - but if it has a "9 M/M" stamp on the bottom, my understanding is that it would have been British and used for a Sten?
    • However, could still have been picked up by anyone.....
    The Trousers
    • It's not the best image, but certainly appears to be khaki and has map pocket at top of left leg so presumably British or Commonwealth issue?
    • I will try and find out whether is wool or denim
    • Can any uniform experts clarify whether may be British issue?
    The Cap Badge
    • The "Quis Separabit" cap badge used by Irish regiments

    Clearly still a lot of unknowns but I think it is fair to assume:
    • the trousers belonged to a British infantryman, most likely from 2RUR due to cap badge, location and troops involved in fighting in that location
    • they were removed when he was injured in the house (hence morphine ampoule and ripped/split trousers)
    • the round is a 9mm round and was either for his Sten (one of potentially 180 issued in his Battalion) or he had just picked up along the way - I will try and find out if there is a "9 M/M" stamp on it
    • I will try and find the exact location of the house where the trousers/round/cap badge were found, but it now seems possible that, if in the village itself (as opposed to the area between Blitterswijck and Helling) , the casualty could potentially have been the one injured during the shelling of the OP on the 27th
    • if it was an officer then would be easier to try and track down due to numbers game but perhaps precise location will resolve (can anyone confirm where I can find casualty list details?)
    Thanks for all your input and help...

    Quis Separabit


    Round Size Estimate - small.png German-Military-9mm-Parabellum-800x450.jpg
  20. Uncle Target

    Uncle Target Taking a break not sure when I will be back

    The picture of events is evolving, just a few pointers.
    Uniform: whilst British Battle Dress is generally regarded as wool the most popular material for front line troops was denim. It was lighter and dried out quicker when wet especially the trousers.
    The roof of a building is the sort of place one would expect an OP (Observation Post) in which case it was most likely to be an officer although he had others with him such as a signaller.
    However if he was an artillery FOO (Forward Observation Officer) he would no doubt occupy the observation point alone with a field telephone connected to the signaller who would be in a safer position and able to maintain communication when the OP was under Fire (and call for a replacement if the current officer was hit).
    From a roof attic he would be looking not just for local enemy activity but to locate enemy artillery. There was mention of shelling in the area (above) so he would be Flash Spotting i.e. looking for artillery gun flashes in the distance on which he would take bearings, estimate positions on his map and transmit the info via the signaller to the artillery command posts.
    The Royal Artillery had similar casualties and decoration awards to the RAF most of them being to officers. They manned OP's under direct observation and fire from the enemy.
    It was a job given to officers as they could call directly from the OP any artillery fire from any gun or numbers of guns that they deemed necessary. This would be very rapidly granted by priority on a very tight chain of command from Battery, Regiment, Division, Corps or Army.
    I think it is true to say (Certainly with the Field Regiment that I specialise in) that the Field Regiment providing direct artillery support would have a Battery Commander (Major) directly embedded in the Infantry Battalion HQ with Troop Commanders as OP officers with forward companies. This would probably depend on the size of operations involved as NW Europe was different to Italy.
    Hope that this helps in your assessment of the context.

    Attached Files:

    Last edited: Nov 29, 2019
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