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The Great War (1914-1918) Forum

Unusual Rifle in Photo


Ralph J. Whitehead
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I recentky purchased the following photo from ebay of a soldier in the 170th I.R. taken before the soldier left for France. The white armband was probably a red cross armband but without seeing the side this is only a guess. The rifle is a pattern that I have not seen, it almost looks Belgian. Does anyone know what type it is? I look forward to your replies.

Ralph

post-23-1084054071.jpg

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Firearms - I'm no help

But did you see how comfortable the guy's boots look? Those boots were well broken in and the leather looks really soft and comfy. Put me in mind of the ongoing theme in 'All Quiet'

Cheers des

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Ralph.

The rifle's actually Swiss. It's a Vetterli M69/71 (or possibly the M84) and came in 10.4mm calibre.

Dave.

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Ralph.

Just had a closer look. It's definately the M84 pattern. (You can tell by the shape of the rearsight).

Dave.

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Thanks Dave, That is great. I wonder if he was issued the Swiss rifle as he was a medic? I will probably never know. Thanks again.

Ralph

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I wonder iff he was isued the Swiss rifle as he was a medic? I will probably never know. Thanks again.

Hi ralph.

Who knows?

An interesting point is his ammunition pouches. Being a medic (if he is), would he be issued with a pair of 1909 pouches? (I always thought that those wearing the symbol of the International Red Cross were required to be unarmed?).Wouldn't he have had the larger single "medical" pouches?

The other thing that struck me about him wearing these pouches, is that they were designed to hold ammunition in clips or "chargers", whereas the Vetterli was a tubular magazined, single loaded weapon.Wouldn't this have made the pouches useless for this rifle? This makes me think that this could be a photograph taken during basic training, using any old rifle, just for the "pose" in the photograph, possibly before the issue of his service piece. Maybe the Vetterli is what he was issued with for drill and range-work?

Then again, could it just be the photographer's "prop" ?

Just some thoughts (probably wrong! <_< )

Dave.

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Hello Dave,

You have raised some good points. In regard to unarmed medics I have a number of different shots of medics and all are armed at least with a pistol (Luger or older models).

The pouches are correct for infantry and from other 170th photos I have. It may very well be a weapon used in training until a Model 88 or 98 was issued. Unfortunately the regimental history does not spell out the weapons issued to the men.

I do not know off hand what other purpose the white armband would serve. It is too bad it does not show some detail to allow further investigation. The problem I have found is that for every 'standard' item a dozen makeshift or temporary fixes were used as the circumstances called for them so it is quite difficult to be 100% accurate in any interpretation. Thanks for all of your help and ideas, the more the better.

Ralph

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  • 1 month later...

Odd thing, I came across a second photo of a group from the 123rd I.R., of which most were armed with the M.98 Mauser yet one man was using the same rifle as shown above. I have not seen any of these in photos before and then two in a short space of time, odd how things happen like this at times.

Ralph

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