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Suvla Bay Souvenir Clip


Simon127

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Hi All,

 

I recently came across this piece, which I find rather intriguing.  

 

It is a clip of inert (fired and reassembled) rounds for the Japanese Arisaka rifle, a weapon which many will know was issued to some British units to make up for a dearth of Lee Enfields in 1915.  As you can see it also has a plaque attached linking it to 'Suvla Bay 1915'.  The construction of this desk top piece is typical of the period (presumably assembled post war) with a bakelite plinth and a hand-stamped white metal plaque pinned on.    

 

I am no expect at all on such matters but believe that the Arisaka rifle did not see much (if any) combat service.  I have not seen any photos of British soldiers in the field  armed with this weapon.  Is this a genuine soldier's clip that made it to Suvla Bay or simply something that was assembled after the war as a nice ornament, or to turn a few quid.  

 

As usual, I wait to be inundated with the collective wisdom of the Great War Forum :-) 

 

Cheers,

 

Simon 

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I believe some of the Arisakas were also used by the Royal Navy in 1915 (who had turned their SMLEs over to the Army) - is it possible that this is the connection? (IE they served aboard a naval vessel in the Dardanelles?). I believe the Naval Arisakas were later replaced by Ross rifles and many of the Arisakas were later supplied to Russia (although IIRC some also went to Arab forces in the Middle East).

Chris

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Thanks Chris.  I had wondered whether there might be a naval link as you're quite correct in your comment about these having been issued to naval crewmen.   

 

The more I think about it, the odder this piece seems.  The cases' primers appear to have been struck by a firing pin and the bullets have obviously been reloaded.  The only reason I can imagine to mount it on a plinth like this is if there was a memorable link to the Gallipoli Campaign i.e. it was the clip of rounds that stopped a nasty piece of Turkish shrapnel etc.  As it is it seems doubtful to have any viable to link to Suvla Bay that can be supported with evidence.  

 

Don't suppose the Turks were popping away with Japanese Ariskas? :-)

 

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Just had a thought.  Might the Royal Marines Light Infantry (RMLI) have been issued with these and taken them into combat at Suvla Bay?  

 

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Certainly the 63rd (Naval) Divn. fought in Gallipoli.

My father’s uncle served in the Howe Bn. and was wounded there.

They may possibly have used the Arisaka rifle.

 

Regards,

JMB

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The Royal Naval Division were certainly at Gallipoli, however, they did not become the 63rd (RN) Division until they reached France in mid-1916

As far as I know any Japanese rifles that the Admiralty had were turned over to the sea-going part of the service (see 4th Gordon's post No.2 above)

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52 minutes ago, michaeldr said:

As far as I know any Japanese rifles that the Admiralty had were turned over to the sea-going part of the service (see 4th Gordon's post No.2 above)

Including marines in ships` crews off Gallipoli?

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On 5/13/2018 at 18:03, 4thGordons said:

IE they served aboard a naval vessel in the Dardanelles?

 

It is possible that these came from a man serving on board a ship

 

Are there any other possibilities?

 

[By the way, there were very few RND or Naval men at Suvla:

some Medical teams, plus some Ansons working as beach parties,

and some RNAS Armoured Car Detachment machine gunners at Jephson's Post on KTS]

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All I will say is that this a prolific area for wishful thinking.  I was had myself with an Arisaka rifle that had British ownership markings and a British sling dated 1916.  Alas, subsequent research into Japanese serial numbers showed that the rifle could not have been manufactured any earlier than 1935!.  So not a British contract weapon as I had believed.  The Kitchener units were issued with Arisakas for training purposes, rifles for Infantry and carbines for cavalry.  They were then passed to the Royal Marines for shipboard use. Eventually most were sent to the the Russians where they undoubtedly saw action as photos exist showing German units carrying the bayonets. British Units going into action were equipped with the SMLE.  Myself I would suspect your clip was put together a lot later than 1915.  - SW

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Thanks Gents.  Your input is much appreciated. 

 

I think SW's opening remark sums up my own views!  I'd love this to have some cracking Gallipoli story behind it but it just doesn't seem likely on the balance of probability. 

 

S   

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What are the headstamps on the cases? Do they have dates?

Cheers,

Tony

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What are the headstamps on the cases? Do they have dates?

Cheers,

Tony

 

 

If the cartridges were made in the UK they will probably be by Kynock with a "K" and a two digit date. If supplied by the Japanese there will be no headstamp.

Cheers

Ross

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The bases are plain.  They are, I assume, Japanese manufacture.  I had supposed that these were purchased from Japan along with the rifles.  I was under the impression that Kynoch manufactured Arisaka ammunition was produced from 1914 onwards.  

 

Simon

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The Japanese were manufacturing the 6.5mm rimless cartridge from 1897 through to 1945, so they are very hard to date unless you have the original box they came in. This held 3 clips, and fitted into the cartridge pouch so the soldier did not need to unseal the box until he wanted to take out a clip. A good way to keep ammunition clean and relatively dry. The earliest cartridges had a round nose - I do not know when the pointed cartridge was introduced but believe this well predated WW1.

 

I have only seen Kynock cartridges (6.5 Jap) with WW1 dates.

 

Cheers

Ross 

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  • 3 weeks later...
On 16/05/2018 at 17:53, calibre792x57.y said:

... Eventually most were sent to the the Russians where they undoubtedly saw action as photos exist showing German units carrying the bayonets.

 

This intrigues me as I know the Germans used captured SMLE rifles and so also, I think (away from home right now so can't check) P.07 bayonets. So how are these ones identified as Arisaka and not P.07's - the scabbards?

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I was thinking of the photo at Page 371 of Carter's Volume IV, captioned as Signallers from the 12th Armee in Russia.  I have seen another but I simply cannot locate it as I rely on my failing memory. The giveaway is as you suggest the frogs and scabbards. - SW

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Thanks - I'll check later. The Germans did use metal scabbards with their captured P.1907's, as you will know, but I have never really looked at Arisaka's.

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Stand on me Trajan, the photo shows the Japanese bayonet, scabbard and frog. - SW

Edited by calibre792x57.y
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45 minutes ago, calibre792x57.y said:

Stand on me Trajan, the photo shows the Japanese bayonet, scabbard and frog. - SW

 

Yes indeed - that pommel shape is a real give-away also!

 

Incidentally, the Arisaka is not listed in the Kurze Beschreibung der an Ersatztruppen und Rekrutendepots verausgabten fremlaendischen Gewehre of 1915, so I guess not that many entered German service. The Mosin-Nagant and Berdan are discussed in that manual...

Edited by trajan
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I could see the Arisaka being carried as a sidearm for those issued with with carbines or pistols, but would probably require a major re-work to actually fit to a different rifle.  So I would think that not many were in use with German units. - SW

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