Aussie bandoleers


#1

A friend of mine was shooting some Australian 7.62x51mm ball ammunition at the range today. Headstamp is “MF 83 F4”. He gave me a couple of the cloth bandoleers that the ammo comes in. It was not until I got home that I noticed that the bandoleers have been re-used several times, with the prior markings crossed out and new ones stamped next to the old ones. The first one is marked:

50
7-62 L2A2 (note the dash, not decimal)
MF 12-9-74

This is crossed out and replaced by:

50
7-62 F4
MF 7-9-83

The second bandoleer has been re-used three times with the first markings indicating ammunition manufactured in 1969, then 1974 and finally 1983.

There is another set of makings on both that I’m not sure of. On the opposite end of the bandoleer is stamped “AUST MK1 VQ 10/66” There is also a “Q” centered under the “VQ”. The letter style, size and printing quality is somewhat different than the other markings, which leads me to beleive that this was done by the bandoleer manufacturer and that it refers to the bandoleer and not the ammunition inside. Is this correct? It seems odd to have such detail about the nomenclature of the bandoleer and it’s manufacturer, plus the bandoleer is dated 1966 and the first ammo markings are not until 1969. Could these have originally held another type of ammunition?

These are well made, durable items, obviously intended to be re-used multiple times. The brass snaps are marked “CARR FAST AUSTRALIA”.

I can post pics if anyone is interested.

AKMS


#2

This is basically a repeat of a Post I did for another Board, on the same subject,(I think the same bandoleer).

Cotton bandos were standard for Combat packaging of Clipped ammo from WW I ( first .303, then in the 1950s-60s, 7,62 Nato (again, 5-round clips).

The bandoleer originally was simply a stitched set of 5 Pockets, with copper tabs stitched in, to close the pockets (Indian and Pakistani Bandos still use this method)
Australia started using a Cover Flap and “Carr-Fast” snaps during WW II, to ensure more rapid and efficient closure, and to protect the ammo.
These were the small diameter snaps ( as used on US Combat jacket fronts)

After WW II ( 1950s) they adopted the more common 1/2 inch Carr-fast snap, and during the Vietnam War, the colour of the cotton “drill” material used (same as for the standard Jungle Green Uniform) was changed to JG.
And the snaps were painted green as well (WW II and later Khaki bandos were not painted, but left “brass” colour.)

CarrFast was the trade mark of Carr Fasteners, a company in Australia which made several types of fasteners typically of brass or chromed steel, for use in the canvas and leathergoods trades, and naturally for Military items…they made, over the years, the typical WW I fasteners (for Mills Web equipment); both types (sizes, 3/8 and 1/2 inch) Snap fasteners (WW II equipment) and the US style “Lift the dot” Fasteners of Webbing equipment, as well as variants of these for Motor vehicle covers and Camping Canvas etc. and other brass Minuterie (Haberdashery).

The Re-Use of Bandoleers was a Peacetime/Training thing, as they were gathered up and sent back to the Ammo factory and re-used several times. Actual Combat area bandos were an “Expense Store” and Non-returnable.

Combat uses of the empty Bandos included Arm slings, Stretcher strapping, Field dressing compression, Tourniquets, Tying and Blindfolding VC prisoners, and sundry other uses. Some soldiers even used them for carrying extra ammo!!!

Bandoleers (Khaki) can be found with several issues of .303 Mark VII and during the cross-over time of 1959-66, even with both .303 and 7,62 stamps. There are even some Green bandoleers with repacked KF (Kirkhee) .303 assembled for Australian Cadet use in the early 1970s, long after Australia had ceased making .303 (last RAAF lot 1962, Last Army Lot 1959) and had run out of Army stocks.
( KF 71 7)was packed in 250 rnd Vickers belts (Original Indian Packaging for JTC Canungra training range, Overhead Fire) and either 50 round packs in US M19 Ammo tins (".30 cal") or repacked into Australian Bandoleers of 10 clips per, and also packed in US M19 Cans. Ink Stamp with “KF and date of manufacture”.

Maximum number of times a bando could be (re)used (Theoretically ) was five times including initial issue ( Five “pocket spaces”). I have seen up to three stamps, regularly, rarely Four, in the time since I was in Army cadets and Adult service ( 1960s to Mid 70s ).

The ammo with MF 83 F4 came from a Lot/s which were declared “life expired” ( 1998 – 15 year rule) and actually sold to a US importer…up to then, “surplus” ammo in Australia was automativcally passed over to the NRAA ( our National Rifle Association of “big Bore” clubs…Nothing to do in concept with the US NRA; More like the US DCM…as the NRAA was established under the Defence Act of 1903, and held all its major rifle ranges on lease from the Defence Department…but the Gun Grab of 1996 changed all that…no more Defence Act protection, No more ammo from Defence factories, Rifle ranges either sold off, or passed over to Local Government (Town Councils) and so on. And after that one sale in about 2000, no more Aussie “Life expired” ammo either, even for export to the USA.

Included in that single export were Berdan primed “F4” of the years 1983-85, and SCAMP (trials & production) lots of Boxer primed cases from 1985-88;

Headstamps applicable are as Follows: MF 83 F4; MF 84 F4; MF 85 F4;
MF 85; MF.85…(Scamp); MF.86…(Scamp); MF.87…(Scamp); AFF … 88… (Scamp) & also AFF 88 (no Dots)-- Berdan.

By 1988, the SCAMP system was seen as a costly Failure ( attempts to make it do both 5,56 and 7,62 overstretched the initial capacity of the design, as ordered, and so the entire line was packed up and shipped back to Gulf+Western…total cost of entire futile exercise, AUD$ 1 Billion over six or so years…and the factory (Footscray) went back to using WW II era machinery to produce Berdan cases in 1988, 89 and 90, finally changing to Boxer cases in 91-93 when Footscray closed forever, and the machinery was cut up for scrap.( and the factory collection and documents going back to 1888 was Burnt.) (1994-95)
Australia No longer manufactures any 7,62 Nato, all requirements are bought in by ADI-Thales (the contractors) from Korea,(PSD) Israel,(TZ) and Belgium (FN).
And after the 2000 export, all “Time expired” ammo is routinely BURNT ( “UN directives”)…even Blank ammo…Damned Waste of taxpayers Money!!!

Here endeth the lesson,
regards, Doc AV
AV Ballistics.

PS (Edit) Almost forgot main question: Aust MkI, VQ and date: Pattern of bandoleer, manufacturer (VQ)…usually it is CGCF (Commonwealth Govt. Clothing Factory) but by the Vietnam war era, a lot of Military clothing supplies were being “Contracted Out” (the CGCF was closed and dispersed in the 1980s); It is not uncommon for stores to be ordered in one year, made several years later, and not finally used for several years after that (“in the pipeline” during peace-time). I don’t know “VQ”, but the extra “Q” could signify Queensland as the State of origin.


#3

Doc,

Thank you for the fine information and sad story about the fate of the Aussie ammunition industry. Who knew there was so much to learn from a few simple cotton bandoleers?

These bandoleers will soldier on for many more years carrying clipped 7,9x57mm and 7.62x54r…

AKMS