.45 Vickers ? at Gallipoli


#1

I have a piece of trench art from the WW1 battle at Gallipoli. It has .303 and what appears to be either a .45 Vickers or .577/.450 shell as well. Were either of those .45s used at Gallipoli ?


#2

Its possibly a Turkish Peabody round. They would almost certainly have been used at Gallipoli.They were still in use with Turkish militia and other “low grade” troops up to and after WW1. Ironically the ammo they were using could have been British made. It isn’t a “true” 577/.450 its designated .45 Turkish Peabody and some debate still surfaces over the dimensions. I put that down to manufacturing tolerences and little else. Its closer to the 500/.450 no2 Musket which was the civilian version marketed by Wesley Richards.

I believe the American made rifles had tighter chambers (possibly) but there was little standardisation in those days. but I think the dimensions of the ammunition varied from contract to contract. You will find the calibre described differently in the metric form from different sources. none of which are contemporary.

There were political reasons for wanting to keep the calibre of the ammunition separated from the British Service round. Mostly to do with the fears of uprisings in India.

When the Turkish originally wanted to order the rifles the British Government of the day declined to sell them but after they had the initial shipment made in the US (some 20,000 rifles) the situation relaxed and I believe we sold them ammunition. (Kynoch 1884?) Tony would know. He’s away this weekend burrowing in the mud of Flanders but hopefully he will pick it up on his return.

The Vickers was certainly in service at the time of Gallipoli but as its service was limited to aircraft and observation balloons neither of which figured very strongly in that campaign its doubtful that it would have seen much action, if any…


#3

Thank you. Some good thoughts there. I will get to measuring.


#4

The Vickers and the Peabody are so close visually that it would be very hard to tell them apart without calipers.The clue might be in the base, I think a lot of the Vickers had tapered bases but again its one for Tony.


#5

The case is a 577/450. Some Maxim guns were chambered for this caliber. Were there any at Gallipoli ?


#6

Possibly with the Turks. They probably got it off us originally. The British have a bad record of supplying guns and ammunition to foreign countries who susequently used them against us in later conflicts. Im thinking about Argentina and the Falklands, Saddam Hussein in Iraq and Russia in the Crimea. Also the supply of .303 rifles and ammunition to the rebel forces in Afganistan when they were fighting the Russians, it was covert but it happened and a lot of old .303s are still turning up out there being used against us.

You could possibly include the CSA in the American Civil war although the rifles weren’t used against British troops they definitely prolonged the war.

There is another possibility. Most trench art isn’t made in the trenches so anything marked Gallipoli could have easily been made much later and probably in another place. In fact it probably was. I don’t think the name Gailipoli was used at the time and the term was only used long after the fighting had ceased. At the time it was called The Dardinelles.


#7

As a long time collector of “Trench Art” I believe I can say most ALL of those items were made by cottage industries and quite a few were made years after the war. Salvaged ordnance from WW1 & 2 is still being crafted into souveniers today.


#8

The salient point is whether the headstamp of the .577/450 can be read, since this may help to identify whether it is contemporary with the battles at Gallipoli or a post war “souvenir”.

I would not be too surprised to find a .577/450 at Gallipoli as there were Indian Army units present and they still had numbers of .577/450 Maxims in service.

Regards,
TonyE


#9

The headstamp is covered by an Australian army button. Reviewing Pete Labbett’s excellent book on the subject of British small arms ammo; he says that the 577/450 was used extensively by the Royal Air Corps in rifle form for shooting at enemy aircraft and that the rifles which has been issued to home guard units were confiscated for Royal Air Corps service. It looks like the 577/450 case coming from Gallipoli is not so surprising after all.

Thank for all the comments.

Ammunition is a great key to the study of history. A senior collector , George Koller , used to write signicant events in history on his cartridges from that time. You still see them for sale at shows .


#10

Whilst what you say is partially true, there is a slight misunderstanding of the position with regard to the .577/450 Martinis used by the Royal Flying Corps and the Royal Naval Air Service. (The Royal Air Force, not Royal Flying Corps, was not formed until April 1918)

It would be an exaggeration to say they were “extensively” used, but that of course is a relative term. Their predominate use was by squadrons engaged in anti-Zeppelin work in the UK and it was for these weapons that the Royal Laboratory “Flaming Bullet” was developed. When Peter said the Martinis were withdrawn from Home Defence units, he is refering to RFC and RNAS squadrons defending the UK, not to the Home Guard (which did not exist in WWI anyway).

The Martinis only saw very limited use in France in 1915 for anti-ballon work as by then the Buckingham incendiary was available for the .303 Lewis guns and this was much more effective than the single shot Martinis.

As far as I know, here were no Martinis used in the Gallipoli campaign by the RFC or RNAS. As I said previously, any .577/450 rounds found there would almost certainly have come from Indian units armed with Maxim guns in that calibre.

Regards
TonyE


#11

Do you have some document relating to Indian troops armed with the 577/450 Maxim guns ?


#12

Somewhere in my research material I have reference to the Royal Flying Corps obtaining .450 Maxims from the Indian army for their trials with .450 Incendiary and tracer ammunition. Peter Labbett also mentions in his book that the majority of .45 Maxims in WWI were held by the Indians (although I believe the Royal Navy still had a few chambered in .450 Gardner Gatling).

Kirkee Arsenal continued to produce .577/450 cordite ammunition until about 1930, although this would almost certainly have been for use in rifles issued to militia etc.

I have no specific reference to the Indian units at Gallipoli using these Maxims, but it is the most likely explanation where the case came from.

There was very little air fighting over the peninsular and in any case the aircraft would not have been armed with.450 Maxims and experimental ammunition.

Regards
TonyE