A real pre-israeli dummy


#1

I have been interested in the prestatehood ammunition manufactured by the underground movement in Israel for many years. In the 9mm Luger caliber there are a variety of manfacturing variations and headstamps of which the “E” seems to be accepted as the first headstamp. Several drilled cartridges have been posited as “DUMMIES” over the years. As a rule these have been drilled ball rounds with unsnapped primers and the typical nonmagnetic copper jacketed bullet

None of these are actual dummies. They are inerted ball rounds.

Recently in a collection I saw the first cartridge which I might accept as an actual dummy. The difference in this being that the cartridge has a BRASS jacketed bullet.

For more detail about these early Israeli rounds see this earlier thread.

General Ammunition Collector Discussion ~ Interesting Historical Ammo Article NOW W/PICS ADDED
Have a look.

There certainly was a need for dummies in this underground movement even though most of the participants were experienced in fighting the nazis and other governments and people who were oppressing them. Dummies were still needed for working actions after repairs and possibly training new recruits.


#2

““E” seems to be accepted as the first headstamp.”

Incorrect. “A E 7” would predate the lone “E” as that “E” has no significance on its own. If anything, a lone “A” would have some significance.

“most of the participants were experienced in fighting the nazis and other governments and people who were oppressing them”

Also incorrect. The Palmach (a small unit within the Haganah), some thousand or so veterans of British service, and a few hundred foreign volunteers may have had some military experience. The vast majority of Israeli soldiers during the War of Independence were concentration camp survivors, refugees, and city and farm workers.


#3

Your opinions are interesting. Do you have some documentation related to the headstamping practices? So far I have seen nothing but guesses as relates these headstamps.

As to the makeup of the underground army of the PreIsrael unpleasantness. Many Jewish soldiers who had served along with Allied troops in Europe returned to fight against the British to secure a homeland. These units had extensive experience in combat , intelligence and counter intelligence activities. This is well documented and a great subject for another forum .There is a museum in DC which archives this type of information and which may be of interest to you.

No doubt many Jews survived the nazi camps only to die fighting the British and Arabs in the Palistine territory and later the State of Israel. Unexperienced troops need dummy cartridges for training which is one of the two good reasons for their possible existence.

Thanks for the opinions. Can you post some documentation about those headstamps?

I think I have a letter in my files ( possibly from you -Jon C) which posits that the “E” is the earliest known headstamp. I’ll try to find and quote it.


#4

I inquired of Woodin lab concerning the facts of these headstamps. There appears to be NO DOCUMENTATION regarding these headstamps. Like much in history mostly opinions. Documenting these would be a great service to the history of the subject. Good luck !

“Don’t have anything that shows the dates & sequence of these early headstamps.”
----- Original Message -----
From: csaschmitts@
To: woodinlab
Sent: Friday, July 06, 2007 6:51 AM
Subject: 9mm Israeli headstamps

Is there any documentation known which establishes the facts about the headstamps on the early 9mm preIsraeli headstamps ? I have a brass jacketed dummy(?) with “E” headstamp.


#5

This current article from an Israeli travel site describes the Ayalon Institute and the headstamping.

Above ground, this appeared to be no more than a kibbutz. Eight meters below ground things were quite different; this was actually the largest bullet factory, where 45 people worked. Between 1946-1948, 2.25 million bullets were manufactured here. These were nine-millimeter bullets, for the Sten sub-machine gun, which was the primary personal weapon during the war. The bullets were embossed with the letters EA, E for Eretz Israel and A for Ayalon. At the height of operations, 40,000 bullets a day were made at the institute. It has been said that the bullets manufactured at the Ayalon Institute constituted the only supply that was not in shortage during the war.

One of the components needed for the factory was copper. To conceal the purpose of the purchases, the Jews applied to import copper for what they said were cases for Kosher lipstick. The British accepted this explanation, which was reinforced by gifts from the Jews of lipstick cases to British officials.

It was built and operated during the years 1946-1948. Established by the “Haganah”, the largest Jewish underground movement during the British Mandate. This factory would develop into what is today called IMI (Israel Military Industries) or “TAAS”. This special clandestine factory was prepared secretly in less than a month, 8 meters (25 feet) underground. Its openings were covered by a 10 ton oven and a large washing machine that camouflaged the noise of manufacturing bullets.

The Ayalon institute was the largest IMI factory to operate underground and produced over 2,500,000 9mm bullets mostly for Sten guns during its two years of operation.

Given that the E stands for ERETZ ISRAEL and the A for Ayalon . There is no reason why either single letter would be less logical than the other.

The following quote from the “Jewish News Weekly” adds additional confusion to the matter.

“The machinery had been purchased in Poland in 1938 and was smuggled by the underground to Lebanon and from there to Israel in 1942. The Haganah had other bullet factories but this was the largest, producing bullets for the submachine guns used by fighters.”

OTHER BULLET FACTORIES ? The E headstamp could be from another factory.


#6

Really interesting information. Israel is amazing that’s for sure. I did not know that was the origin of IMI.


#7

The Ayalon Institute story is one of the most interesting in the history of ammunition manufacture. Ingenius design allowed continued production in the midst of British military occupation.

We have been looking at this headstamp as A E but Hebrew is read from right to left . Is the headstamp not more likely intended to be E A ? Was the headstamp intended for British eyes ?

JonC collection


#8

A better analysis of the known headstamps from specimens given known facts might be:

E unknown factory, possibly Ayalon Institute , possible meaning “Eretz Israel”

A unknown factory, possibly Ayalon Institute , possible meaning “Ayalon”

EA production of Ayalon Institute , possible meaning " Eretz Israel Ayalon "

I suspect that these headstamps executed in English language letters were designed to show the British that the underground army HAD the ability to make the ammunition with which it was attacking.

Headstamping was changed to Hebrew as the British lost their hold on the situation.

A BOX OF CUP DRAWS FROM THE AYALON MUSEUM


#9

Beyond interesting!


#10

Has any documentation been found relating to this production ?


#11

Quoted above was that the machinery was “purchased in Poland in 1938 and smuggled into Palestine in 1942”??? In the middle of the war, from German occupied Poland… I think NOT!!!

More apropos “Jerusalem!”–an account of the founding of the State of Israel notes that the Jewish Purchasing Commission in New York, tasked with buying agricultural machinery, tools etc in the US, and shipping it to Palestine in 1946-47, acquired as scrap, an entire production line of cartridge making machinery from Winchester, dismantled it, mixed it in bulk with real scrap steel (Motor car parts, agricultural machinery parts, etc), then boxed it in regular large packing cases, and shipped it to Palestine under the noses of the Blockading British through the Port of Haifa, as blacksmithing agricultural machinery scrap iron.

The British even commented that the Jews must be wonders at turning scrap into plowshares, hoes and mattocks. The destination of most of the scrap was to various Kibbutz locations.

The Book notes that the machinery was re-assembled, hidden underground in one of the Kibbutz, and began producing 9mm ammo in 1947.

If one studies carefully the headstamp of the mystery “E” cartridge, the Ring crimp stands out as a typical WRA 9mm ring crimp, as seen on much WW II “White Box” lend-lease 9mm Ammo ( it has an uncanny resemblence to that sent to Australia during WW II , which occasionally has an unheadstamped example in an otherwise fully “WRA 9mm” marked packet of cartridges.)…Also, if the machinery was “?Polish?” it would have Berdan primed cases…the Israeli ammo from 1947 onwards has always been Boxer Primed. ( even pre-1950s .303 and 7,9mm is Boxer Primed).

BTW, Polish crimping technique follows the German style…three evenly spaced stabs ( at 120 degrees).

Whilst I don’t have any definite references for the nature of priming in Israeli-made ammo other than actual examples seen, and I don’t have any “E” or “AE 7” marked 9mm to examine, I am sure an X-ray of the cartridge would show that it is Boxer primed, giving an American Plant as the origin of the machinery.

In anycase, if IMI still has some of the original machinery, either in use or as a Museum piece, more than likely it is “Waterbury Farrel”, one of the foremost makers in New England of small cartridge machinery ( all the Aussie 9mm machinery was W-F), especially for case trimming and deep drawing. Cut and Cupping presses would have been Bliss.

An interresting historical insight into what a resourceful people can do to gain their independance and defend it.

Regards, Doc AV
AV Ballistics.


#12

It was a great over-sight on my part that I did not look more closely at the machinery when I was there. I did take some pics and got a few postcards. I’ll dig them up and see if I got something useful.


#13

[quote=“DocAV”]Quoted above was that the machinery was “purchased in Poland in 1938 and smuggled into Palestine in 1942”??? In the middle of the war, from German occupied Poland… I think NOT!!!

More apropos “Jerusalem!”–an account of the founding of the State of Israel notes that the Jewish Purchasing Commission in New York, tasked with buying agricultural machinery, tools etc in the US, and shipping it to Palestine in 1946-47, acquired as scrap, an entire production line of cartridge making machinery from Winchester, dismantled it, mixed it in bulk with real scrap steel (Motor car parts, agricultural machinery parts, etc), then boxed it in regular large packing cases, and shipped it to Palestine under the noses of the Blockading British through the Port of Haifa, as blacksmithing agricultural machinery scrap iron.

The British even commented that the Jews must be wonders at turning scrap into plowshares, hoes and mattocks. The destination of most of the scrap was to various Kibbutz locations.

The Book notes that the machinery was re-assembled, hidden underground in one of the Kibbutz, and began producing 9mm ammo in 1947.

If one studies carefully the headstamp of the mystery “E” cartridge, the Ring crimp stands out as a typical WRA 9mm ring crimp, as seen on much WW II “White Box” lend-lease 9mm Ammo ( it has an uncanny resemblence to that sent to Australia during WW II , which occasionally has an unheadstamped example in an otherwise fully “WRA 9mm” marked packet of cartridges.)…Also, if the machinery was “?Polish?” it would have Berdan primed cases…the Israeli ammo from 1947 onwards has always been Boxer Primed. ( even pre-1950s .303 and 7,9mm is Boxer Primed).

BTW, Polish crimping technique follows the German style…three evenly spaced stabs ( at 120 degrees).

Whilst I don’t have any definite references for the nature of priming in Israeli-made ammo other than actual examples seen, and I don’t have any “E” or “AE 7” marked 9mm to examine, I am sure an X-ray of the cartridge would show that it is Boxer primed, giving an American Plant as the origin of the machinery.

In anycase, if IMI still has some of the original machinery, either in use or as a Museum piece, more than likely it is “Waterbury Farrel”, one of the foremost makers in New England of small cartridge machinery ( all the Aussie 9mm machinery was W-F), especially for case trimming and deep drawing. Cut and Cupping presses would have been Bliss.

An interresting historical insight into what a resourceful people can do to gain their independance and defend it.

Regards, Doc AV
AV Ballistics.[/quote]

A very fine analysis. looking forward to John Moss’s comments.


#14

Do you have any fired cases ? BOXER ?


#15

That was a great detailed and appreciated post DocAV!!! WOW! So in a indirect way, Winchester actually helped with Israel’s independence?


#16

SOME COMMENTS FROM BILL WOODIN: " I don’t know where the “Jewish News Weekly” got that Polish connection - I had never heard before and it’s certainly unlikely, to say the least.

The book “The Pledge” by Leonard Slater (Simon & Schuster, 1970) has some other tidbits:

6 tons of machinery to make .303 ctgs bought as scrap from Remingon (this seems to be 1946, hard to figure out the years in this book).

“Ben Gurion had received a coded message from Europe: The only country ready and willing to sell the Jews arms was Czechoslovakia…” By Dec (apparently 1947) Otto Felix :had negoitated the Jewish Agency’s first sizable purchase of arms: 4300 rifles, 200 medium machine guns, and ammunition" (Otto Felix was the brother of Gurion’s second-in-command for defense, Michael Felix). Must be 7.9 - the book isn’t great on calibers".


#17

I cannot make definitive comment on the machinery used to manufacture the 9mm cartridges made at the factory on Kibbutzim Hill, near Rehovot, in Israel, since I have never visited there and have not seen it. I suspect that the Israelis would have been clever enough to remove identification plates or efface manufacturer’s markings from it anyway.

I have many printed sources in my library concerning the purchase of machinery in Poland. None mention the purchase of any machinery in the United States; that is, none of the material I have. I am not saying that there is no recounting of such a purchase. “On and Off the Beaten Track in Machon Ayalon,” by Peter Abelow, mentions only purchase of machinery in Europe, with no mention of country. “When ammunition ran short, Israelis made their own,” an article by Edgar Asher, of Isranet, says “The machinery needed to produce the bullets was purchased in Poland and smuggled to Beirut and then onward to the factory.” An internet article from www.israel-al.com, entitled “The Ayalon Institute,” recounts “In the 1930s, it becaqme clear to the Zionist leaders that they were going to need weapons to defend themselves against the Arabs and to fight for their independence…” “The head of the clandestine Israel Military Industry, Yosef Avidar, devised a plan to smuggle in machinery for a secret factory to make the bullets. Theough he was successful in purchasing machines in Poland in 1938, the Zionists could only get them as far as Beirut, where they were stored for nearly four years before Jews who served in the British Army succeeded in bringing them to Palestine.”

I could go on with other references from my library, but to what end? They all say the same thing, with some in greater depth and detail than others. By the way, I should mention here what most will have already concluded. When they refer to “bullets,” they are certainly talking about ammunition rather than just the projectiles. That is clear in context.

Is this information wrong? I would not think so. These are all Israeli sources. Unless 50+ years later there is still felt the need to maintain secrecy about this operation and obscure the facts, which I seriously doubt, who would know more about the Ayalon Institute’s bakery/laundry basement factory than the people who built it, operated it and have preserved it as a museum?

Now, does this mean that no American machinery could have been intermixed with that from Poland? Are both stories incompatible with each other? Not at all. It is, in my opinion, almost a certainty that some of the machinery at least was bought before WWII in Poland. Judging from the fact that all of the Israeli 9mm rounds from the beginning are boxer primed (I have pulled aprt many Isreali 9mm rounds, include “E A” headstamped ones), it is possible that American machinery, at some point of time, augmented that bought in Poland. The two stories are not mutually exclusive. I suspect that the absolute truth rests somewhere in between.
Certainly, I am not willing to dismiss either story out-of-hand.

The over-looked part here, judging from the thread, is that the Polish machinery purchases were made before WWII. Had the articles indicated post-WWII purchase, I would doubt them as well. Poland was firmly in the hands of the Soviets, and while relations at that time were not as strained between the USSR and Israel as they would become later, such a purchase would be highly unlikely. It is absolutely true that after the war, Czechoslovakia stood almost alone in the supplying of arms and ammunition to what was to become the Israeli State. There were Mausers, ZB 26 MGs, German weapons left in Czechoslovakia, and ammunition certainly of 7.9 and 9mm caliber, and probably other calibers as well. A huge importation of ammunition from Israel was made many years ago by a Sacramento, California importer/dealer. I had a chance to see the bulk of that shipment (not round by round - that would have taken at least a year!). I did look through some 9mm and 7.9 Mauser, and much of it was Czech or later Israeli manufactured, but there was a fair quantity of French ammo, probably from Syria and Lebanon, both heavy with French influence at the time, as well as rounds here and there from Bulgaria, Yugoslavia and most other European countries. Of course there was a smattering of British 9mm, and American rounds as well, although the latter probaby came from post-Independence days. Much of the ammunition, of course, was made after the initial war for the Independence of Israel, but there was a wide assortment of ammunition made in 1946 or before as well. It was truly an “International” shipment.

Well, in the long run, I don’t know that the above has added much to the discussion. The major point is that I don’t think Israeli source after source can be dismissed as wrong out of hand when they are discussing their own factory, now a rather revered spot, I am told.


#18

Did the Poles make Boxer primed cases pre or post WW2 ? What about the crimp ?


#19

Thanks for that John. Learning allot from all of you on this subject.


#20

No, the Poles did not make Boxer-primed 9mm before or directly after WWII, nor did they use the ring crimp. That in no way precludes the use of Polish-made machinery by the factory at Kibbutzim Hill, especially for tasks other than forming the primer pocket and flash hole, and crimping the primer. If one saw the way that Jim Bell’s engineer at his factory in Michigan totally rebuilt surplus ammunition-making machinery, and in some cases rededigned it to perform a different operation than it was ever intended for, it would be clear that the way machinery was used by one country doesn’t mean it could not perform differently in other countries. Further, it was my opinion, clearly stated, that there is a strong possibility that there was a mixture of machinery from different sources at the Ayalon Institute’s factory. I don’t know that, and none of us will unless someone who can recognize machinery by make and model travels there and closely examines the machinery. I am neither knowledgeable enough on machinery-recognition by brand, nor willing to make that trip. Any other opinion expressed in this thread, so far, including mine, is a guess and a gosh, in some cases based on published material about the subject, most of which, expressing both opinions on the origin of the machinery, should be fairly reliable source material.