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Remembered Today:

"Fremde Gewehre in deutschen Diensten 1914-1918"


trajan
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This is the title of a book by W.Finze and J.Gortz (he of Luger, etc, fame). It is basically a transcription of two German documents, one official of 1916, the other a book article of 1929, on foreign rifles captured and/or requistioned for use by the German army. Most of these are well-known (e.g., Lebel, SMLE, Russian M.91, etc.) but it does contain some surprises, including Remington's and Peabodys!

I'll list these later (in an internet cafe as my laptop went blank and is in the laptop hospital until Monday/Tuesday - :()

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I hope your Lap top has a full recovery and does not developed Dementia :hypocrite:

bill

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Thanks Bill! It was actually two of them (one was my emergency piece) that went in quick succession, but one is now back up. Wish it were dementia then I could have split the payment...!!!

Ok, now onto serious things... BTW - I didn't want to put this in 'Books' as it is not really a book, just transcripts from two documents with an added section by the editors/authors on the origin of these fremde gewehre and their distribution to various units - and no index, and so a 'mongraph' :thumbsup:. Of course, I was hoping this volume would have something on bayonets, but nothing really so, although some of the editor-supplied photographs do require further comment re: the bayonets shown...

The first document they have transcribed is: "Kurze Beschreibung der an Ersatztruppen und Rekrutendepots verausgabten fremdländischen Gewehre", so "A Short Description of the foreign rifles distributed to Erstaz troops and Recruit Depots", which was issued sometime in 1915 to familiarise second-rank units with the use (loading, ranging-sights, etc.) of various 'booty' and requisitioned rifles. The original document (which is not reproduced so I have to rely on the transcript) did not have any illustrations but the editors have supplied examples to indicate the inner workings of the various rifles the document describes. The document begins by explaining that it was issued to - surprise, surprise - allow a better knowledge of these weapons and their handling.

The following rifles are listed in this way and order, and the operation of each is then described:

A: French Rifles: the M 86/93; the M.90 carbine; the 'short' M.90 or M.92; the Gras-Kropatscheck M.78; the M.74; the Gras carbine M.74; the short Gras rifle M.74; the Chassepot M.66; and the Chassepot-carbine M.66

B: "English" Rifles: the Lee-Enfield M.1903 (Mk I and Mark III); the Canadian infantry rifle (Ross) M.1910; the Remington rifle; the Remington carbine; the Peabody rifle (American Model)

C: Russian Rifles: the Russian three-line rifle M.91; the Russian carbine; the Russian rifle Berdan II M.71

D: Belgian Rifles: the Belgian infantry rifle M.89; the Belgian Comblain rifle; the Belgian Comblain carbine; the Albini-Brändlin rifle

E: Dutch Rifles: the Dutch carbine M.95; the Dutch Remington carbine

F: Italian Rifles: the Italian rifle M.91; the Vetterli rifle; the Beaumont carbine

G: Austrian Rifles: the Austrian Mannlicher rifle M.95; the Austrian Mannlicher carbine.

So quite a range! I was aware of most of these rifles being issued to the Reichsheer, but there are some surprises - Peabodys???!!! However, the editors do remark (and quote a document dated 1916(?)) on the production difficulties in getting sufficient Gew. 98 made and ready; how some of these foreign weapons came from the ALFA concern (Adolf Frank in Hamburg); how the Hague Convention article 53 allowed for the use of 'booty' weapons; and how soldiers were ordered to hand captured weapons in, not keep them as souvenirs!

When I have finished absorbing the contents of this slim tome than I might put something (i.e., a review) up on "Books", but my next post here in Arms will probably be to describe the second section of this monograph. Hoping that it is of some interest!

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B: "English" Rifles: the Lee-Enfield M.1903 (Mk I and Mark III); the Canadian infantry rifle (Ross) M.1910; the Remington rifle; the Remington carbine; the Peabody rifle (American Model)

So quite a range! I was aware of most of these rifles being issued to the Reichsheer, but there are some surprises - Peabodys???!!! However, the editors do remark (and quote a document dated 1916(?)) on the production difficulties in getting sufficient Gew. 98 made and ready; how some of these foreign weapons came from the ALFA concern (Adolf Frank in Hamburg); how the Hague Convention article 53 allowed for the use of 'booty' weapons; and how soldiers were ordered to hand captured weapons in, not keep them as souvenirs!

When I have finished absorbing the contents of this slim tome than I might put something (i.e., a review) up on "Books", but my next post here in Arms will probably be to describe the second section of this monograph. Hoping that it is of some interest!

Interesting that there appears to be no mention of the "long" Lees (either MLE or CLLE) - I am assuming the M1903 (sic) is referring to the ShtLE (which would fit with MkI and MkIII) and the MkI was indeed introduced in Dec 1902 so effectively a 1903 model!

The Ross speaks for itself

The Remington rifles / Carbines I assume were probably Remington Model 99 Single Shot Military Rifles supplied to the French as the "Fusil Remington modele 1914" This was basically an M1910 "Remington Rolling-Block (a type that had been sold all over Latin America and many other places besides) chambered for the 8x50R Lebel round.

Looking at various references I do not see that these were produced as carbines so it is possible that another earlier type was also involved (I see they also mention a Dutch Remington Carbine - the Dutch did purchase Rolling Block carbines)

The Peabody reference may refer to Martini's (the Turks as you know had Peabody-Martinis), but there were also Rumanian Peabody-Martinis...

however I think the answer may lie here: (scroll down): Apparently Remington "diverted a large contract of M1868 Egyptian Rolling Block rifles to France, and the French also contracted with Peabody for 39,000 rifles, although only about 33,000 were delivered, these being the "Spanish Model" chambered in .43 Spanish. The rifles are not specifically marked, however, interestingly enough, many of these French Contract Peabody rifles can be identified as such because they were later proofed by the Germans, and it is known that large numbers of weapons were both captured by the Germans during the war and seized as reparations after France's capitulation. The Spanish model in the photos above is one such rifle." (from MilitaryRifles.com)

Chris

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One of the occupational hazards of being a translator specialising in the Great War is having to justify odd-sounding words/phrases/sentences with 'But that's what it says in the original text'. One such instance arose when someone questioned 'The enemy broke into our front-line trench and carried away two German machine guns'. The action report was written by a German sector commander .... so why did he need to say 'two German machine guns'? On that occasion I was able to placate the questioner by showing him a recent status report submitted by the unit, which showed that it possessed not only German-made machine guns but also French, British and even one Bulgarian gun.

Mick

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Just remembered Fritz mentioned that the guys in their trench were using a French machine gun in 1915 to shoot at "Tommy".

(From the letters of Fritz Limbach).

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...The Remington rifles / Carbines I assume were probably Remington Model 99 Single Shot Military Rifles supplied to the French as the "Fusil Remington modele 1914" This was basically an M1910 "Remington Rolling-Block (a type that had been sold all over Latin America and many other places besides) chambered for the 8x50R Lebel round.

Looking at various references I do not see that these were produced as carbines so it is possible that another earlier type was also involved (I see they also mention a Dutch Remington Carbine - the Dutch did purchase Rolling Block carbines)

The Peabody reference may refer to Martini's (the Turks as you know had Peabody-Martinis), but there were also Rumanian Peabody-Martinis...

however I think the answer may lie here: (scroll down): Apparently Remington "diverted a large contract of M1868 Egyptian Rolling Block rifles to France, and the French also contracted with Peabody for 39,000 rifles, although only about 33,000 were delivered, these being the "Spanish Model" chambered in .43 Spanish. The rifles are not specifically marked, however, interestingly enough, many of these French Contract Peabody rifles can be identified as such because they were later proofed by the Germans, and it is known that large numbers of weapons were both captured by the Germans during the war and seized as reparations after France's capitulation. The Spanish model in the photos above is one such rifle." (from MilitaryRifles.com)

Chris

Thanks for the information and the link Chris.

I checked the text for the "Remingtongewehr" and it reads: "Das Gewehr ist ein Einzellader; es hat ein Laufkaliber von 11 mm... Das visier ist von 100 bis 400 yards ein Treppenvisir, von 500 bis 1000 yards ein Rahmenvisier mit Sheiber und hat 3 Kimmen. Die oberste Kimme im Rahmen is fur 1100 yards." I have no knowledge about rifle calibres, but would the Americans have supplied rifles with sights giving distances in yards?

As for the "Peabodygewehr (amerikanische Modell)", the calibre is again 11 mm, but the sights are in metres, up to 1500, so, yes, Turkish or (?)perhaps more probably Romanian. Incidentally, I do have a very battered Romanian Peabody bayonet - basically a Gras with a longer hilt.

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...On that occasion I was able to placate the questioner by showing him a recent status report submitted by the unit, which showed that it possessed not only German-made machine guns but also French, British and even one Bulgarian gun.

Mick

Seems to have been quite a common thing... The monograph I am perusing quotes, on p. 98, the following from the history of the 10 Rheinische Infanterie Regiment Nr. 161 for August 1916:

"An Maschinengewehren waren im Regiment vorhanden: 12 deutsche, 5 russische und 2 französische."

Julian

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11mm = .43" (Spanish) so more likely from the French ordered Spanish Peabody rifles (33,000) captured in large numbers in the Franco-Prussian war and known to have been absorbed into the German system (see extract above). These were the M1870 Peabody (.43 Spanish) I think.

I would suspect that the Remington Rifles and Carbines (Rolling Block) are from the same era and come from the 60,000 Rolling Blocks originally intended for Egypt but diverted to France in 1870 (France also ordered and additional 150,000 at that point although I do not know how many were delivered) (see Mercaldo pp164-174). The Egyptian rifles were also .43" cal. The ordered rifles were probably M1868 Spanish Remington (.43 Spanish) I believe.

And yes US rifles would have probably had the sights marked in yards but not on the Mlle 1914 supplied to the French. If I recall correctly the sights on these are marked 400-800m (in 100 m increments) and the ladder sight 900-2400m, export versions may well have been sighted in meters but I have reached the extent of my knowledge on these!

Chris

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Thanks again Chris - amazing what the Germans were using! I always had this inkling that the urgent need for Ersatz bayonets indicated a lack of preparation on behalf of the German Reich and its partners for a long drawn out war on several fronts. This need to use booty and requistioned rifles seems to confirm that - but somebody will probably correct me on that issue!

Ok, now to the second part of the monograph...

This is the transcript of pp. 181-189 from volume 2 of Das Deutsche Soldatenbuch: deutschlands Wehr und Waffen in Wandel der Zeiten - von den Germanen bis zur Neuzeit, authored by Major a.D.F.W.Deiss, published 19??. This section is headed in the monograph - and I assume following the original source also - "Anhang betreffend die Ausgabe von deutschen und Beutegewehren". It begins with a section heading - Deutsche Gewehre, and then goes on to discuss the "Gew.98"; and then the "Gew.88/05, M.71, Karabiner 98, [und] Blankwaffen".

(Have to stop here - dinner gong has sounded...)

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The Gew.98 bit is fun reading. It starts with the complaint that nobody in Germany knows it by the name of its designer, Paul Mauser, contrasting this with the case in France where every child and soldier knows of the Lebel rifle, etc... It then makes the claim that it was one of the best rifles in the World War, and says that active regiments were provided with the Seitengewehr 98, and reserve regiments with the short S 84/98. It notes that the S.98 was too long for 'middle-height and short' guys to carry/use, and too thin to be used for cutting wood, etc. It then makes disparaging remarks about the S.84/98, before extolling the wonders of the 'half-long and broad' S.98/05.

All for now...

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The next section in the Soldatenbuch part is on the "Gew.88/05, Gew. M.71, Karabiner 98, Blankwaffen". This is my summary - with expansions in bold.

The Landwehr began [the GW] with the Gew.88/05 but from 1916 were issued with the Gew.98., the mobile Landsturm units having the Gew.88/05, the home-bound units having the Gew. M.71. Machine gun troops had the kar.98, and the short S.98 bayonet, while the telegraph units had the kar.98 and the S.98/05. The cavalry had the 'stahlrohrlanze', while the Saxon and Reserve [cavalry] regiments had the wooden lance, and also the 'Degen' 89 and kar.98. BUT, in November 1914 all cavalry units gave up the 'Deger' 89 and adopted the S.84/98 bayonet [as a sidearm]. Curassiers had the French curassier-style 'Degen' 1854, these being war booty from 1970/1871, shortened in 1896 to the length of the 'Degen' 89. The Bavarian 'Heavy Riders' carried the older curassier 'Pallasch', which the Prussians had shortened. Chevaliers and Uhlans had the cavalry-sabre, that was only different from the 'Degen' 89 in the style of its handle.

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Excellent posting here. Note that the germans rechambered a quantity of belgian 89's to their 7.92 cartridge. I had one several years ago with it's german mader ersatz sawback poker. Thoroghly fraktur proofed with the german property roundel in the stock. It shot just as good as the 7,65 belgian rifles I had at the time too. Reminds me of the awesome thread here on captured Lewis guns modified to the german service cartridge.

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The third section in the Soldatenbuch part is headed 'Beutewaffen'. Again a free summary...

It starts by commenting on how the large number of rifles needed [for the GW] meant that the certain divisions of the regular army were armed with the kar. 98, as for example the 103rd, 101st and 105th. It then continues on how some divisions, especially those on the east front, were given 'booty' weapons, and especially Russian rifles, with French rifles being supplied to the railway troops. Soldiers attached to the 'columns', or staff, etc., were provided for a period with the Gew. M.71, but also war booty from 1870/71, namely the carbine 66/71 and the shortened Chassepot rifle, that had been returned to stores by the cavalry in the 80's, after the introduction of the carbine.

EDIT: it then goes on to say how 'booty weapons' were commonly used in 'der Heimat', the only one that was not of the basic Dreyse-Mauser system being the Ross-rifle, used by the 'englische Armee'.

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Excellent posting here. Note that the germans rechambered a quantity of belgian 89's to their 7.92 cartridge. I had one several years ago with it's german mader ersatz sawback poker. Thoroghly fraktur proofed with the german property roundel in the stock. It shot just as good as the 7,65 belgian rifles I had at the time too. Reminds me of the awesome thread here on captured Lewis guns modified to the german service cartridge.

Thanks gew98! I wouldn't recommend buying the book, though unless you are a total enthusiast - it is mighty expensive for just over 100 pages... If you need any details, and if I can supply them, let me know.

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Excellent posting here. Note that the germans rechambered a quantity of belgian 89's to their 7.92 cartridge. I had one several years ago with it's german mader ersatz sawback poker. Thoroghly fraktur proofed with the german property roundel in the stock. It shot just as good as the 7,65 belgian rifles I had at the time too. Reminds me of the awesome thread here on captured Lewis guns modified to the german service cartridge.

Thanks for the applause, and comments :thumbsup: - I had overlooked this one of yours! BUT, those erstaz sawbacks are pretty rare aren't they?

That aside, back OT - the next section in the tome is ‘French Rifles’.

It begins by stating that the (French) 86/93 was commonly used, especially by the ‘Eisenbahntruppen’, along with a shortened version of the bayonet for this, like that used by French field artillery units (I think there’s a mistake there – the only shortened Lebel bayonets were, to the best of my knowledge, the so-called ‘cyclists’ bayonet and those shortened by the Germans!).

It continues by describing the operating details, etc., of “the French rifle, known after its inventor as the Lebel”, explaining that cleaning this in a bivouc was very difficult. After mentioning the introduction by the French of the Cavalry carbine and Mousqueton 92 during the war, this section then names the other French rifles in German use: the French Marine (ie., Navy) Gras-Kropatscheck M.78; and the Gras M.74 (which is ‘the same construction as our Gew. 71’), with both of its derivatives, the Gras-carbine M.74 and the Mousqueton 74. It adds that the French Chassepot M.66 was also used, sometimes in rebuilt form, these being war booty from 1870/71: some of these were also shortened in the 1870’s and issued to cavalry as an auxiliary weapon with the designation ‘Chassepotkarabiner M.66’ , while in the 1880’s, unshortened versions were issued to Landwehr with the Yatagan bayonet.

The yatagan (bayonet) sheaths were appropriately marked according to the German regimental system, that is to say, 'das betreffende regiment, Kompagnie und der Ordnungsnummer’, which means that "surprisingly for those people with weapons knowledge such a bayonet might be found marked for the Landwehr Regiment 115!". They were issued because there were not enough Gew.71 for these units.

Next to come is the section on the 'English Rifles'.

Trajan

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And so we come to the section on ‘English Rifles’…

This names the Lee-Enfield M.1903 Mk I and III as the standard rifle of the entire English army, noting that it was developed from the longer Lee-Enfield 1893; but as this last weapon was only used by troops in staging areas, very few were captured. The section then explains the characteristics of what we know as the SMLE.

There follows a whole paragraph beginning with several words on the English use of dum-dum bullets…It describes how there is a small aluminium centre under the lead covering, and how this could be exposed so that when fired the round operated as a dum-dum bullet. (Thanks to SG Mick here for helping with this bit, and of course, boys and girls, we all know the truth of the matter!). There is a footnote here in the published text (i.e., not something necessarily in the original) about the origin of the name 'dum-dum', and the damage such a round caused, and how war-time use was banned under the Hague Convention of 1899). The paragraph continues with a bit about how the English could not produce enough of the SMLE’s and so the Japanese M.1907 was extensively(!) used by the Territorial troops. It concludes by observing that owing to metal shortages, the aluminium core of the [standard SMLA] bullet was replaced with a paper one…(!!!)

A description of the Canadian Ross rifle M,1910 follows, noting that its shares a cylinder feed system with the Austrian Mannlicher rifle, a ‘complicated system’. And the section ends by noting that very rarely found in use are the Remington rifle; the Remington carbine; and the Peabody rifle.

The next and forthcoming section to be done over the weekend is on ‘Russian rifles’...

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  • 2 weeks later...

Been orf doing other bayonety things, but now to 'Russian Rifles'...

This section starts with the claim that Russian rifles came 'next to our Gew.98' (I assume that second in quality is meant), and were issued to many German divisions, it continues that some were also issued to Landsturm battalions. After describing the characteristics of the 3-line rifle, we are informed that this had the 'old' type of bayonet, the socket variety, and that as these were always mounted on the rifle so there were no scabbards for them. BUT, when in German service, scabbards of tin were made, painted 'feldgrau'. It adds that the blades of older German bayonets, such as the S.71, sometimes had their handles removed and a metal cylinder fitted in their place for use with these rifles. It ends by noting that the Berdan II M.71 - something like a Gew.71 - was also used by German units.

Next up? Belgian rifles...

Trajan

PS: I do have some of those Russian bayonets with German-made (and also some Austrian-made) scabbards, and so I might post them elsewhere some time later...

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'Belgian Rifles' discusses the Belgian M.89, and extols its virtues, naturally, as it was a Mauser design... It then lists the Albini-Brändlin rifle, and notes that these were used by the Ersatz units - but doesn't specify who used the Belgian M.89.

Next up - 'Italian Rifles'. Of the Italian rifles it says that the [Manlicher-Carcanao] M.91 was found useful, and also the older Vetterli, these being used by Ersatz troops and in Recruit Depots along with other foreign rifles.

Then comes 'Japan, America, Serbian [Rifles]'. This section notes the use of the Arisaka Meidschi (sic) 30, both the Model 98 and the 1907, taken as booty from the Russians on the east front, the Russians having bought them from Japan. As for American rifles, the Winchester was in use, with Russian 7.62 mm ammunition, along with the Serbian M.99 and M.1910, both of these being Mauser products.

The Soldatenbuch part finishes with a note on "Changes to German rifles", beginning with the statement that trench warfare necessitated some changes in service rifles. These included changes in the sighting system for use at the shorter 200 m. range, including special sights for day and night firing, and for anti-aircraft use. In addition, the need for rapid firing for a short period of time saw the development of a 25-shot magazine for the Gew.98 and the carbine 98., while the use of carbines in trench warfare, and particularly when cavalry armed with carbines were sent to the trenches, required the introduction of a mündungsfeuerdämpfer (nice compound word that!) or muzzle-flash suppressor/deflector. The final paragraphs of this bit mention the improvement of the Gew.98 resulting in the production of the Gew.98/17, especially for trench warfare, and how this was intended to be in front line service in the autumn of 1918.

OK, so much for the text of the two main documents this book is concerned with, the "Kurze Beschreibung der an Ersatztruppen und Rekrutendepots verausgabten fremdländischen Gewehre" of 1915 and the summary article in 181-189 from volume 2 of Das Deutsche Soldatenbuch: deutschlands Wehr und Waffen im Wandel der Zeiten - von den Germanen bis zur Neuzeit, by Major a.D.F.W.Deiss, published 1928, and which I see has been reprinted in 2008 (http://www.amazon.co.uk/Soldatenbuch-Deutschlands-Ehrenbuch-Erinnerung-Wehrhaftigkeit/dp/B007SFP5NM). The editors conclude their monograph with a section titled: "Fremde Gewehre: ein notewendiger Nachtrag" which I'll get around to doing some day soonish...

Trajan

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OK, so onto the last section, "Fremde Gewehre: ein notewendiger Nachtrag", by the joint editors of the monograph.

The first part, basically begins by explaining why foreign rifles played such a major role for the German army in WW1, that is to say that the German army between the Autumn of 1914 and the beginning of 1916 quite simply found itself without enough weapons for the new troop units that were put into action. They then extensively quote record Akte MSg 2/775 in the Freiburg archives, which is a report about the problems in supplying new rifles, and which mentions, inter alia, the Waffenfabrik Oberspree, a new one on me (but there again, I am not a rifle buff!). No, they don’t give its date but the document refers to production figures that were available as late as June 1916. This is followed by a mention by the editors of how by that date all of the regular army was more or less provided with Gew.98, and that the Landwehr units were in the process of upgrading from the Gew.88 to the Gew.98, giving as evidence a report on this by the Landwehr-Infanterieregiments Nr.31 from the second half of June 1916.

The editors then explain where these fremländischen Gewehre came from, for not all of them were booty weapons from the West and East Fronts. OK, some came from neutral Holland, but some were from Austria-Hungary, even though that Empire had problems with a rifle shortage and relied even more so than German on booty weaponry. Similarly, how did the German army get to use “British Peabody Rifles”, that were no longer in use in GB? The answer is that they came from the stores of military weapons held by such concerns as ALFA! And kindly reproduce a figure and details from the ALFA brochure of 1911 showing what was available then. And others came from the capture of stores at Lüttich in Belgium! In fact the only concern shown by the German army regarding which of these “Oldtimers” (sic) to use was whether or not there was ammunition available for that type of rifle.

Ok, so three sections more only to go: on official records of their issue; the use of booty weapons by the army; and the use of booty weapons by the marines…

Trajan

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  • 1 month later...

To continue, after a long relaxing lay-off...

Beutewaffen in amtlichen Befehlen und Regimentsgeschicten

This section essentially details how the Kriegministerium confirmed as early as 26 November 1914 that the Hague Convention allowed the use of ‘booty’ weaponry, and adds a supplement dated 12 December 1914 about booty weapons not being items for personal possession…

This part then quotes a few regimental histories about how such booty weapons were acquired, and the type of stuff being captured. The units they reference are: Ulanen-Regiment Großherzog Friedrich von Baden (Rheinisches) Nr.7, February 1915, capturing a Russian baggage train; Landwehr-Infanterie-Regiment Nr. 81, February 1915, capturing French weaponry; Landwehr-Infanterie-Regiment Nr. 31, August 1915, capturing Japanese weapons at Grodno; and the same unit in 1918 sorting captured English munitions.

Kennzeichnung von Beutewaffen

This section details the markings applied to booty weapons as according to the Hague Convention. The usual mark for a rifle butt was a branded mark showing a Reich’s Eagle with a circular surround reading ‘DEUTSCHES REICH’. Some rifles were also stamped ‘Ad.Mz.Deutsch.R’, for ‘Artilleriezeugdepot Metz (or Mainz) Deutsches Reich’. But, these were not consistently applied as is shown by a letter of 12.01.1916.

Regimental stamps are rare on booty weapons. In any case as from 9 April 1912 the requirement to regimentally-mark weapons belonging to newly-raised units was dropped, and this order was retrospectively applied to older units on 02.11.1916.

There are no German military acceptance stamps (Abnahmestempel) on booty weapons as these were not stamps indicating ownership by the German army but the acceptance stamps indicating the (successful) completion of a stage in the preparation of the respective weapon. These stamps were issued and used by authorised officers to indicate that the weapon complied with the relative quality regulations.

Veränderungen an Beutewaffen

So many Russian booty weapons were used, especially in training units, because of its similarities with the Gew.98. However, the magazine feed system was altered (details provided but not gone into here).

Many Russian and French booty weapons were given bayonet adaptors to allow a German bayonet to be attached to the rifle and there are many varieties of these adaptors, which were not made fast to the weapon but which were removable.

Between 25,000 – 28,000 Russian rifles were adapted to the German 8x57 calibre. But what is not clear is if these were meant for German use or for Turkey.

Final sections yet to come, but they are: ‘Beutegewehre beim Heer’, and ‘Beutegewehre bei der Marine’…

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  • 8 months later...

Oh my golly gosh - I never did this bit on the "Final sections yet to come, but they are: ‘Beutegewehre beim Heer’, and ‘Beutegewehre bei der Marine’…"... I'll try and get it done sometime soon (along with copying off the Galicia report for those interested, etc..). They are short(ish), so, inshallah, this weekend?

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‘Beutegewehre beim Heer’ (pp. 95-101)

"Until weapons production could meet the new demands [for mobilisation in 1914] it was not only foreign weapons that were used by the German armies but also those ordered by foreign armies but still stored in Germany.

"This situation with the shortage of weapons [and other equipment] continued up to the start of 1916, and we see it in several regiments. So, the history of the Reserve-Infanterieregiment 262 records for December 1914 that it took a long time to be properly equipped and that for four weeks before moving out some companies shared just eight rifles. And when fully equipped, they were given not the Gew.98 but something else, the Gew.07 [= the Erhard made Mausers for China], and it was the weakness of the firing pin spring on these that resulted in the undoing of the Füsilier batallion on 21 February 1915 at Jastrzębna [a village in the Gmina Sztabin district, in Augustów County, Podlaskie Voivodeship]

"Indeed, the use of "Fechtgewehren" [practice rifles? EDIT, many thanks to Siege Gunner, should be 'fencing rifles', those for bayonet practice] was not unusual at this time in set photographs, e.g., of the Inf.Reg.182, I Rekruten Depot, II Ersatz Btl., 5.Komp., taken on 09 08 1915.

"In Spring 1915, when [German] rifles were still extremely scarce, so many units were armed with "Beutegewehren". At this time divisions grew from three to four regiments and new divisions were formed, as with the 54 (03 03 15), the 52 and 56 (06 03 15), and the 50 (10 03 15). These divisions were mobilised with Russian M.91 rifles as their weapon. These stayed in use only for a short time as in May/June 1915, they were re-armed with Gew.88/05, and then in November 1915, with Gew.98. The reason for the short use of the M.91 by these units was not because of its unsuitability but because of the logistical problems in supplying munitions.

"Even so, this logistical problem did not stop certain units depending on 'booty weapons' as on the Eastern front with the Inf.Reg.140, which on 18 03 15, was still partly equipped with Russian rifles.

"The munitions supply problem for the booty weapons used by the German army on the east and west fronts was improved after the Deutschen Waffen- und Munitionsfabrik opened factories in Karlsruhe and Polte for making 7.62 mm cartridges for the Russian rifles, and 8 mm for the Lebel. These were mainly for use with the large numbers of captured enemy machine guns, such as those French ones captured by the Feld-Art.Reg. 59. Such captured weapons often went directly to the Landwehr regiments in front-line service, as with the Wurttemberger Land.Inf.Reg. 125, which was given French machine guns in November 1914.

"Such captured machine guns were not only used by Landwehr but by regular units also. On 10 August 1916 the Inf.Reg.161 had "12 German, 5 Russian, and two French" machine guns. By November 1916, after the Battle on the Somme, the regiment had increased its numbers to 70 officers and 2830 NCO's and other ranks, and had 16 German, one Russian, one French, and one English machine gun. This was above the normal war-time strength for a regiment, with 53 officers, and 1411 men. Such captured weaponry were often used in unit photographs.

[There follows an account of the structure of the Landwehr and Landsturm, not needed here]

"The Landsturm were normally armed with the Gew.88 and the S.71. But the shortage of weapons for active units meant that many of these were turned in for 'booty' weapons. At first these were Belgian and French weapons, but increasingly they were Russian weapons. By 05 06 15, all the Landsturm batallions in Belgium had M.91's, and the Landsturm regiments 7-10, 17, and 20, were also armed with these."

Still to come, the last section, ‘Beutegewehre bei der Marine

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Last section now...

"Beutegewehre bei der marine (pp. 102-106)

The weaponry of the Marine (= naval forces) differed in some details from that of the army [footnote: details for this section from Reckendorf, Die Handwaffen der Koeniglich-Preussischen und der kaiserlichen Marine]. At first the Marine had neither the Gew.71 or Gew.88 but instead the Jägerbüsche and later also the Gew.71/84. They replaced these with the Gew.98 only after the army had been supplied with these, and this programme was accomplished by the outbreak of the War

At the start of the war a large part of the units stationed on land (marine infantry and coastal artillery and members of the new Matrosenregimenter) under Admiral von Shroeder (the 'Lion of Flanders') were placed in Flanders and remained in this front section until the end of the war in November 1918. As they had a great demand for Gew.98, those Marine units stationed in the Heimat provided theirs to them.

The Reich-Marine-Amtes wrote on 6.11.1914 that:
"The great demand on the front for Gew.98 has resulted in the makers of this weapon beginning to increase manufacture, but the arming of the Marine with these weapons is not possible for the foreseeable future. Therefore the Heer has provided 10,000 French and 7,000 Russian booty-weapons for their service. These will first be sent to the Marine stationed on land, and then to the Marine divisions, and any necessary supply of Gew.98 will be provided from the Gew.98 on the ships."

By this measure about 6,000 Gew,98 were released by the Marine detachments stationed on land. Slowly other units were provided with booty weapons. On 20.5.1915, the Reich-Marine-Amtes charged the commands of the North and Baltic Seas:
"The demand for Gew.98 by the army is not satisfied and the makers cannot keep up with what is needed. The result is that many army divisions in the field are armed with Russian booty-weapons [footnote: Divisions 50, 52, 54, and 56]. But the Marine garrison on Helgoland and Wangerooge, also the Airship and Flying sections, are armed with Gew.98. These are to be surrendered and replaced with Russian booty weapons and 300 cartridges by the army."

But the situation eventually changed. On 9.3.1916, the Reich-Marine-Amtes wrote to the commands of the North and Baltic Seas:
"The Army command can no longer supply booty weapons for service use..."

The Russian booty-weapons were not especially liked by the Marine units. The sights were in Russian Arschin [footnote: one arschin = 71.12 cm), and so strained the Marine men who were trained to use guns sighted in metres".

And so endeth the book - apart from a bibliography!

Trajan

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