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Remembered Today:

Interesting Berthier


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Found an interesting Berthier this past weekend..a Delauney Belleville 1907-15 that was supposedly brought back from Afghanistan. The amount of fine sand inside it makes the story feasible.

The interesting bits..it is all matching, down to the stock. Not 'N' marked (never made it back to France) 

Was originally a long rifle, but altered to carbine length. No attempt to install a front sight, oddly. 

The really interesting bit, however, are the markings on the underside of the butt. They appear to be Greek letters..in fact a friend of mine who is Greek agreed that they were. He identified them as 'Phi' and 'Pi'. The other two which look like two 'C's' he was not able to ID.

I know that Greece received a number of these rifles during the Great War, and many were cut down to carbines before the second war, but I don't believe this was altered by the Greeks at all. There's no telling what route this Berthier took after 1918. Greco-Turkish war? Then.........? Who knows.

Would be very interested to see if anyone else has run into markings similar to these on a Berthier, and what the meaning of them might be. Enjoy the pics!











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nice. it has that "been there done that" look to it. and it still has the stacking rod. that's rare in itself.

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An interesting rifle. I have taken a look at the letters that are stamped in the timber and I believe they could be Cyrillic which was the script associated with the Slavic Balkan regions and surrounds. While your Greek friend was correct in identifying your letters as Greek, there is a problem in that both those letters are also found in the corresponding Cyrillic. The form of these stamped letters tends to make me lean more towards the Cyrillic. However the bottom line is ... they can be either Greek or Cyrillic, which then brings into the equation a lot of the other Slavic countries.




Starting on the left, the Cyrillic letter Ef (for F) was derived from the Greek letter Phi. And on the right, the Cyrillic letter Pe (for P) was derived from the Greek letter Pi. There are only a small number of such letters that correspond exactly like this, but of course, that's the luck of the draw, and we happen to have both of them together. What are the chances.!


So were does this leave us.? Well nowhere really, until you look into the history of these Berthier rifles. You see while the Greeks did receive numbers of Berthiers which they used against the Turks in the Greco-Turkish War there was also another foreign user which received large numbers of Berthiers after WW1. And this was the newly formed nation of Czechoslovakia. Paul Scarlata notes (see link below) "As part of the peace treaties that ended the war, both Austria and Germany were required to supply Czechoslovakia with reparations, including military weapons and the Brno works, now known as Zbrojovka Brno (ZB), whose first assignment consisted of reconditioning tens of thousands of Mauser Infanteriegewehre 98 and Mannlicher Repetier-Gewehre M.95 for the Czech army. They also received quantities of Fusil d'Infanterie Modele 1907/15 (Berthiers) from France."



Now I can't say for certain what these letters mean on this rifle, but the possibility of them being Cyrillic opens up another plausible route for how it found its way east. The other stamped letter/symbol (which I can't identify) may be the key to finding out some more of this rifles history.


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Excellent info, thanks.

I had indeed originally thought it was Cyrillic, shortly afterward had remembered the Greek connection, and that's when I brought this to my friend's attention. Afterward I got to looking up Greek letters, and while I found them to be similar, I couldn't find examples that looked 'identical'. I still tend to 'lean more' to Cyrillic. Possibly Serbian?

Yes, the other markings have me totally stumped. They look, as mentioned, like two 'C's' facing each other. So far I can find nothing like it. I've also yet to find a photo of any Berthier marked like this. 

This is why I enjoy collecting these old war horses..the history behind them that slowly comes to light in some cases is truly fascinating.

Edited by ShtLE303
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  • 11 months later...

With the cyrilic FP there is no link to Czechoslovakia, mostly delivered to Serbia and later used there in large numbers in new Yugoslavia like Bill mentioned, when the FP is consistent in the country. Bulgaria dont had large numbers of Berthiers even dont used french, this is nice rifle because the Enterpreneur Delanauy Belleville, which was small contractor.

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13 hours ago, Bill76 said:

Hi, I think you might have a Serbian or Russian Berthier 

If it was Russian, would the rearsight be calibrated in Arshins? And if so, wouldn't the difference from a French sight in Metres be obvious? Could a Russian soldier have left it in Afghanistan?

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No as its 1917 production, when i am correct since 1917 Russia  switched to metric system, anyway the Afghanistan speaks for nothing, as since 1917 it could be traveled through various countries, FP looks not like russian, possible serbian or other country that use cyrilica.Question who shortened the rifle, and who added the FP letters into Buttstock.

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