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Remembered Today:

Unknown British (?) 37mm shell

Brett Gibbons

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Howdy all,

I volunteer at a non-profit World War II history museum in Southern California, and I have been trying to identify an assortment of mystery ordnance dated 1917 and 1918. As it is a WWII aviation-based museum, we have some small First World War displays but they've been ignored, until now. I am trying to identify and caption these mystery pieces. Searching for possible answers, I stumbled upon this forum and realized I had found the people who would know.

Anyhow, here's the first. Dated September, 1917. The donation form called it a "British 1-pounder" but I have some reason to think it may be French. One of my co-workers at the museum insists it is actually American, because of the "flaming ball" ordnance stamp.

More frustratingly, the projectile part separates easily from the case, so the two may not necessarily even belong together.


Complete cartridge





Something has been stenciled over the ordinary engraved headstamp, but I can't make any of it out. You can clearly see the ordnance stamp, letters PDPs, the number 90, and then "9 17" which I assume stands for September 1917.

There is no writing or stamping on the projectile itself, except for the numbers "L 2 18" on the fuze.

Several websites (including this one) have I.D.'d it as a one-pounder, but I think my museum visitors deserve to know a little more about it than just that. What is it, exactly? Maxim gun shell? Nordenfelt? Vickers? French, British, or American?

Thanks very much. The piece will be going in the museum's First World War ordnance display with a suitable caption once it's properly identified.

I have several more pieces that I can add, if anyone is interested in taking a crack at them.

Thanks again,


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I can only get you started a little bit.

According to the Western Front Museum’s web site (link below) the head stamp PDPs stands for Parc d’Artillerie de Paris in France.


I could not find anything on the fuse.

Maybe some of the artillery folks on here can give you more information.


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So it is French, then, at least. Thanks for the link!

There is an "anchor" on the fuse also, according to another site I've found after a little more casual digging via Google. I had disregarded the "anchor" as simply a dent or accidental notch.


In the photo, though, I can see it a little more clearly, immediately following (superimposed, really) the number "8".

Does anyone know whether or not the anchor means anything significant?

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Hi Brett,

As above it is certainly French (PdP etc), the 17 and 18 (on the cap) are dates. These little 37mm HE shells are still very common in French fairs - most have dozens for sale - I have always presumed the anchor would have deemed it originally for Naval use.

As you say the two do not ususally go together - when fired the case obviously stays with one side while the shell visits another!

In your case the case has been used as can be seen by the primer being fired (this expands the case, hence the loose fit). The copper banding on the shell is intact, it has not been down a gun.

The calibre was used by all combatants with many variations.

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Thanks for the excellent answer. I think that settles it, and I've got enough information to give it a decent caption. Very common in French fairs? I was rather hoping it was a rare example of a World War One shell!

Any idea what this approximately 37mm shell could be from?



It has obviously been fired but is completely devoid of any distinguishing marks, numbers, or letters, except around the brass band where the rifling grooves have obliterated everything except for random letters.

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A fine collection! My understanding of WW1 allies' usage of the 37mm is that the BEF took a few (the Pom Pom) to France in 1914 with cavalry units and later tried them as AA weapons without sucess; muzzle velocity too low. I believe the French used a single shot version as a 'trench gun' and that these were also used by AEF which may explian how the one in the first post turned up. They were certainly common souvenirs. I have one, also French, that was my fathers. After the end of the war he was a member of a Div Ammo Column employed on battlefield clearance.

Old Tom

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Any idea what this approximately 37mm shell could be from?


In case anyone was curious, we ID'd this shell as an American 37mm M74 armor piercing tracer round from the Second World War. The only reason I thought it might have been WWI is because it turned up in the museum display with the other pre-1918 ordnance.

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