7.92x57mm "P C H" headstamp

I could use a little information on the posted headstamp. Is the “P C H” standing for “Poudreries et Cartoucheries Helléniques” or Greek Powder and Cartridge Co.? Also have read that it supposedly was made in Great Britain for the Greeks?
Projectile diameter is .324" and jacket is possibly GMCS as it is fully magnetic. Edit: Black primer annuls.


You are correct about the meaning of that headstamp. However, I was never able to end, in my own feeble mind, the confusion I got from various answers to the question of who actually made them and for whom they were made. It has been my belief that they were made in Greece for England, but I could have that exactly backward. Those were certainly the primary players in the manufacture and distribution of it though.

John, Why was the French language name “Poudreries et Cartoucheries Helléniques” for Greek Powder and Cartridge Co. used on the headstamp? What’s the French connection?


Joe - I really don’t know precisely why the French Language form was used. However, before WWII, French was pretty much an international language, with influence in the Pacific Basin, Southeast Asia, parts of Africa, North America and in Europe. It was (and perhaps still is) the International Postal Language. It is only with WWII that English became as close to a Universal language as any other language is. Of course, prior to that, it was spread over the earth by the British Empire, but with the UK and America so heavily involved in WWII, and from then on thru Armies of Occupation, NATO, economic factors, etc., it became really dominant. French was pretty close to that position, I believe, before WWII and perhaps even more so before WWI.

Is that the answer for your question - only a very, very qualified maybe. There may have been completely different reasons. Perhaps only the Greek Powder and Cartridge Company could answer that today. Or, perhaps someone here knows. We have a lot of people on this Forum that are really linguists.

It was (and perhaps still is) the International Postal Language.

It is indeed as is customs and I think railway too. Also it is the 2nd NATO language and next to English also 2nd in the EU!
All for no good reason in my eyes.
I also agree on your “pre WWII” assumption.

Thanks guys, I suppose I will stick them in the Greek box for now.


French was the Prime “Second Language” for all educated Greeks (Politicians, Army officers, Engineers, Medical Doctors, etc) due to the long running French interest and assistance in Greek Affairs ( go back to Military Aid and Instructors back as far as the 1850s)…more than anything, to prevent British interference in this Mediterranean Area.

It seems that several batches of 7,9 mm ammo were made For Britain, which had just adopted the Enfield redesigned BESA ( Brno ZB53, or Vz37) for use in British AFVs. in order to help out Kynoch and Royal Laboratories who were flat strap making .303 in 1938-39, the GB Gov’t ordered 7,9mm from the Greeks. Being an “Export” order, they were HS’d with their Commercial head-stamp (PCH or PC), instead of the Sigma Eta stamp ( Elleniki Stratega…Hellenic Army), as produced for the Greek army, for their M30 FN rifles, M1915/27 Polish converted CSRGs and Various other MGs in 7,9 (Schwarzelose, Bulgarian Maxims, etc.)

With the Italian Invasion via Albania in 1940-41, and subsequent German Intervention, all supplies to any overseas country ceased (for obvious reasons.).

The Lots sent to England were most probably all used up during the War, but some Greek sourced Lots have shown up in Milsurp ammo sales, when Greece cleared out all its “ancient” Rifles and ammo.

Doc AV

These were the first lots ordered by the Ministry of Supply from Greece. Subsequent lots were headstamped in the British style “PC 40 IZ”.

There was also some AP purchased which had a green annulus and some had a hand stamped “W” in front of the “IZ”.

We also purchased 8mm Lebel from PCH but most of this was old Greek stock from the 1920s.


Thanks to all and Tony, thanks for that tidbit on the “PC 40 IZ” and “W”. Often wondered if there was a connection.

These were the first lots ordered by the Ministry of Supply from Greece. Subsequent lots were headstamped in the British style “PC 40 IZ”.

There was also some AP purchased which had a green annulus and some had a hand stamped “W” in front of the “IZ”.

We also purchased 8mm Lebel from PCH but most of this was old Greek stock from the 1920s.



You might want to contact this fellow DESPROGES that posted the “PC 40 IZ” on municion.org/792/792x57_03.htm

He seems to feel it was “PC = Kynoch ICI; contract for the Greek government.” Regenstreif’s “CULOTS de MUNITIONS” book seems to claim the same thing.


Regenstreif’s book I translate “Contrat de Kynoch - I.C.I., en 1940, pour le compte du gouvernement grec. II s’agit en fait de munitions réalisées selon les cotes de la cartouche britannique Besa, version à balle ordinaire MkIz.” as “Contract Kynoch-I.C.I., in 1940 on behalf of the Greek government. It is actually ammunition carried by the dimensions of the British Besa cartridge version MkIz ordinary ball.” Maybe I am wrong?


The French details could also indicate that Kynoch, on behalf of the British War Office, contracted with the Greek Gov’t PCH to manufacture the 7,9 cartridges, to BESA specifications (as Ball, Mark Iz, and as Armour Piercing Mark W Iz, for British Use…Kynoch did NOT mark any of its Export Ammo with War Department ID Markings, only its Commercial “K + Yr.Date (2 digits)”.

Which seems a more reasonable assumption. Kynoch ( like all other Commercial Ammunition makers in Europe) worked in a sort of “Cartel” arrangement, cross-ordering supplies when local in-house Production could not be satisfied or sufficient.

By the way, PCH supplied “military” ammo to a variety of countries, in the 1930s, and as French was a common Language amongst a lot of the Customers, it was used in preference to Greek
(“it’s all Greek to Me”). Greek was reserved for ES Use – whether "Basileus " (Royal) or “Demokratia” (Republic).

Doc AV

Yea, from what John has to say along with everyone else, I think I will keep them in the Greek box for now.


I am quite amenable to being proved wrong, but I would want to see primary source evidence to support the Kynoch for Greece argument.

On the other hand, in the British National Archives there is the hand written ledger of all Ministry of Supply purchases which includes the rounds from PCH. I will post details tomorrow when I have looked them out from my archives but does it seem likely that we were making ammo for Greece and then buying it back?


I have not gone so far as to pull any duplicate rounds down to compare components, but I have studied them dimensional and otherwise. What I see is the Greek 7,9 with the official Greek headstamp, PCH, PC and the obvious Brit headstamps ( K, K2 and K5) from 1938 - 1940. The Greek headstams, PCH and PC are the same in many respects and the British ( K, K2 and K5) is definitely different. The rounds I believe to be Greek manufacture have more of a bevel on both sides of the rim and the primer stake is the same for the Greek headstams, PCH and PC rounds. The ( K, K2 and K5) is definitely different from the many examples I have. These are just two examples as there are others.

Tony, nothing to prove to me as I concur with you, but from what I gather from DESPROGES that posted the “PC 40 IZ” on municion.org/792/792x57_03.htm and Regenstreif’s “CULOTS de MUNITIONS” book, there maybe a correction necessary there. Unless I translate what they are saying incorrectly.


DocAV, there are exceptions to this, and the first example I can think of is an Argentine 1948-49 contract for .303 cartridges headstamped 7Z, WIZ, G2Z, and B4Z.

Hola! Amigo Fede.

The Use of .303 by the Argentine Military was probably connected with their having .303 MGs in Aircraft…either Air Force or Marina.

So the use of Normal “British” Military head stamps of the specialised ammo (W, G, B.) was probably a matter of convenience by Kynoch, as they were already making (still) that ammo for British and
Other Commonwealth Nations still using .303 in Aircraft Guns. It probably was requested also by the Argentines as well, since the Aircraft Gun Manuals (in English) would have specified that type of ammo, in any case, even if translated into Spanish. It would be interesting to see an Argentine Manual on the .303 Aircraft guns of the late 40s and early 50s.

Con saludos,
Doc AV

I guessed Fede would post those, but they are an exception. I believe they were to go with the sale of Avro Lincolns to Argentina in 1948.

These would have been a special order as there was very little manufacture of .303 inch aircraft ammunition post war as there was so much on hand. In any case, the B4Z incendiary was long obsolete in British service by then.

As DocAV said, it was very unusual for Kynoch to use standard British military headstamps on contract ammo. They used a variety of different styles. Often they were as the customer required, as in this 1933 contract for 7.92mm for China with the stylised sun at 12 o’clock.


The most common style was “K (date) (calibre)” as illustrated by this 1930 6.5mm Mannlicher round.


Often, especially on 7.92mm contracts they used their generic commercial headstamp “KYNOCH 7.9 or 8m/m” with some modification to denote load. This example of a tracer has a red annulus and “G” overstamped at nine and three o’clock. Examples of this style are also known with “W” for AP and “B” for smoke tracer incendiary.


Sometimes the commercial headstamp was used simply with an annulus colour. This example has a blue annulus and when the bullet is pulled the weep hole of the phosphorous smoke tracer incebdiary bullet can be clearly seen.



Finally, during the 1920s and 30s Kynoch made large quantities of .303 inch aircraft ammunition for the many Vickers and Lewis guns still in service around the world. For these they continued to use the old WWI headstamps of "VIIG for tracer, “VIIW” for AP and “VIIB” for incendiary.

Returning to the main subject of this thread, the argument of Kynoch for Greece or the other way round has been discussed several times before here.

I maintain that Kynoch had nothing to do with it, the order was direct from the Ministry of Supply to PCH, as demonstrated below.

Many of the statements made about ammo are based on secondary sources, either from other collectors or articles in gun magazines, etc. Much is of course correct, some is slightly erroneous and some downright wrong. Good research requires a degree of academic rigour and there is no substitute for going back to primary written sources.

In this case it is the order ledgers of the Ministry of Supply held in the British National Archives in files NA:SUPP 4/141 and 142. These show that contract 294/C/6271 was placed on 29 March 1940 with PCH for 169,195,000 7.92mm BESA Ball Mark Iz. A further order was placed with PCH in August 1940. I have not traced the order for AP rounds.

Further documentation proof can be found in the lists of supplier codes allocated by the ministry. (Note that these are for suppliers, not customers). PCH is clearly shown as being the supplier code for Pouderies et Cartoucheries Helleniques.

In the same time frame as the PCH order, further 7.92mm orders were placed for ball and tracer in India (but later cancelled). The probable reason for these orders were the production problems experienced by Kynoch in the previous two years. When the Czech ZB53 was adopted as the BESA Kynoch were appointed primary ammunition supplier but it was found that their cases were too hard and separated cases occurred. This was corrected by 1939 but these orders were probably a precaution against having a weapon in service with a possible ammunition problem.

Finally, there is no similarity whatsoever between the headstamps of the Ball Mark Iz made by Kynoch in 1939 and the PCH Mark Iz made in 1940.

Incidentally, at the same time we bought 2,000,400 8mm Lebel rounds from PCH under contract 294/C/9718. These were probably fro French weapons brought back from the Dunkirk evacuation and issued to UK forces as an emergency option.

Sorry for such a long post,


Tony, great post, I wish all of yours were this long. Yes, those .303 were for the Lincoln and Lancaster bombers received between 1947 and 1949. Regards, Fede.


They must have contracted as early as 1938 as I have this same style of PCH headstamp I initially posted in 1938, 1939 as posted and in 1940 dated versions.

Also like I tried to state previously, but I may have failed. My point was that these PCH hedstamped rounds compared to the K, K2 and K5 headstamped rounds of the same type, have many visual manufacturing differences. Therefore I agree in different manufacturers, as your documentation indicates.


Maybe its time to list the known variations of the PCH and PC headstamps made in Greece by the Greek Powder and Cartridge Company for England in the early years of WWII and slightly before. These are the ones I know about, all of which were in my collection:

P C H 38 Ball, GMCS Bullet, Black PA
P C H 39 Ball, CNCS Bullet, Purple PA
P C H 39 Ball, GMCS Bullet, Purple PA
P C H 40 Ball, CNCS bullet, Black PA
P C H 40 Ball, GMCS bullet, Purple PA
P C H 40 Tracer, GMCS Bullet, Red PA

PC IZ 40 Ball, GMCS Bullet, Purple PA
PC IZ 40 AP, GMCS Buller, Green PA
PC WIZ 40 AP, CNCS Bullet with Green Tip, “W” obviously added to the head-stamp and not part of the original bunter.

It is interesting how they see-sawed back and forth between CNCS and GMCS bullet jackets.

These are all the types I have ever seen, but I certainly am not saying that no other exist. I had all of these in my collection, and it is so seldom that one gets “all” of any particular round variations, that I always was on the look out for others.