.30” (7.62 x 63mm) blanks - UK Home Guard - WW2

I have had a few .30” (7.62 x 63mm) blanks lying around in a junk box for years. These have the common headstamp: F A 33, almost certainly from the ammunition supplied to the Home Guard in the UK in World War 2 for use in their .30” Model 1917 rifles. Apparently ball ammo for the HG was plentiful, blank scarce or non-existent and these have been converted from ball by pulling the bullet and crudely crimping the case neck with pliers or similar to produce a four petal crimp. They look crude but probably worked.

As these are not “proper” blanks and I don’t really collect this calibre I sawed the neck crimp off one to see what was inside. Beneath the crimp was a wad of tightly screwed up newspaper and the powder looked like the normal charge for a ball round.

Then I found a surprise, on carefully opening out the paper wadding I found that some of the newsprint was still legible including:

…….Hotel Bristol was burned. The destruction in the Potsdammerplatz is so extensive that one eye-witness described the square as “levelled to the ground”.

The Zeughaus military museum, containing the coach in which the Armistice was signed in 1918 and with France in 1940 was nearly all destroyed.

Smoke drifted 300 miles to………

Most of the rest is in partial sentences and fragments but include words such as: Roosevelt; Goering; Raids; Berlin; aircraft; Oeland? Etc. So, these cartridges seem to be genuine WW2 artefacts so I will not cut any more up.


I have found “similar” cartridges in .30-40 Krag from the WW1 era, certainly “homemade” here in the US, but with a “paper bullet” made using a October, 1918 newspaper that mentions battles in France and General Pershing…not true “Home Guard” items like Dave’s but interesting none the less…


Wonder what type of powder was used in the home-made blanks? Typical ball cartridge propellants wouldn’t have worked very well.

I have read a book, written by an old Home Guard soldier in which he described a mock battle using “home made” rifle blanks and also blanks for the .455 Webley revolver. The revolver blanks were made from .410 shotgun cartridges.

A member of my local Rifle and Pistol Club was a Home Guard soldier during WW2, he was too young for the regulars and farmers were in short supply anyway. He told me that in this area machine gun noises were simulated using a wooden “football rattle” (hand klaxon) which in wartime was used as a gas alarm. Sub machine gun firing was simulated by men shaking tin cans containing pebbles. When I laughed at this he said “at least by then we had lots of ball ammo, in 1940 we would have had to use the football rattle and the can of pebbles against the invaders.” Sadly he died 2 years ago.


Football rattles are another thing that has disappeared into the mists of time. When I was a boy every kid on the block had one. My father was in the Home Guard before he went into the Navy but at the end of the war he never got a home guard medal. I keep meaning to address that but haven’t so far.

People mock the Home Guard and programmes like Dad’s Army don’t help but coming 21 years after the end of WW1 they actually contained some of the most experienced and battle hardened troops ever assembled in uniform. More than capable of making their own blanks. They also made their own mortars and a lot of improvised munitions.

I have a few 30-06 ball converted to blank by Canadian militia c1941. Bullet was pulled and the neck was inserted into a bar of “sergeant major soap” to make a wad.