Boer War 7mm Mauser Ammunition


#1

Hi - I have a question regarding 7mm ammunition for the M.95 Pattern Mauser as used by the Boer forces. Could anybody vouch for the veracity of the following statement. Any comments most welcome:

‘The 7 mm Mauser cartridge (7x57) was developed by Mauser and initially adopted by Spain in 1892. An excellent .
Military cartridge, it was soon adopted by the Boer authorities in South Africa (Transvaal, and Orange Free State ),
Mexico, Serbia, Cuba and a number of South American countries, mostly in Mauser pattern rifles. (M.95).
Most if not all of these would have received ammunition from the German manufacturer Deutsche Waffen
Munition (DWM) during the latter half of the 1890’s, at least until they could build up their own production.’

During an archaeological excavation on Salisbury Plain in England, on an area of the large military training here, a single un-fired DWM Mauser round was recovered (headstamp DM 1896 K). There is no logical explanation how this got here other than perhaps a souvenir or potentially a trials round. It was found however in a dry training area with no history of live firing ever having occurred there. It had been there for a long time as it was heavily corroded. It may of course just been discarded there to get rid of. I did ask the redoubtable Tony Edwards when he was still with us and he could only confirm that we did trial this rifle.
I am writing up a report on the finds of which this is one and would like to seek the expert opinion on this forum.
Mark


#2

I would defer to the sadly late A.O.E. His explanation is about as “expert” as you will find in this particular situation. If there was some other documentary source of evidence, he would surely have known of it.


#3

I can add a little, not much and Tony was the source so credit goes to him. We, the British, bought some old 7x57 Remington rifles I think in WW2 to issue to dockyard guards and thats about the extent of my knowledge on that subject. I doubt the ammo that came with it would be German.

However my view on this round would strongly favour the souvenir route. Soldiers are magpies where these things are concerned. Salisbury Plain is a training area now but has been the principle place for holding troops in excess to the numbers that could be housed in more formal accomodation at different times .

During WW1 there were thousands living there in wooden huts and tents at different times. My Grandfather spent the winter of 1914 there according to his Battalion’s war diary.

So its reasonable to assume troops returning from the Boer war could have been held there in considerable numbers temporarily while they were being processed. Its roughly a good days march from the docks at Southampton.


#4

Britain’s connection with the 7mm cartridge began with the Boer War. Large quantities of rifles and ammunition came into British Possession at the cessation of Hostilities (1902.) Some of this would have left SA for Britain, for souvenirs and for Ammunition Research (the development of the P13 rifle and cartridge (".276 Enfield") relied heavily on Mauser 93/95 design principles, and the search for a “Better” 7mm (.276) Cartridge.)

Then WW I; Britain took into (RN) service the 7mm Chilean Steyr M1912 Rifles from the three Cruisers contracted by Chile, but deferred delivery to War’s end. These Mauser rifles were replaced by SMLEs, then Ross M1910 rifles when the Ships were handed over to Chile in 1919. Despite having stocks of Boer War (ie, DM/DWM and FN 7mm cartridges) ammo, Kynoch/Eley made fresh 7mm ammo specifically for RN use for sinking Mines at sea (NOT “blowing them up” as commonly supposed…several bullet holes would let the air out, and the water in, so the mines would sink in deep waters…“Blowing the Horns off” by rifle shot was “dreamtime”.)

Britain also sent several acceptance commissions to Latin America, to buy Mauser rifles of the M93/95 types, with ammo, for the beleaguered Serbian Forces in the Salonika front.(Serbia was standardised on 7mm). In the meantime, the French supplied them with Berthiers etc. It is unknown how much (*German) ammo was bought in Chile etc, but some rifles were noted in “Public Records Office” of having been checked, inspected, and sent to Britain.

So, the presence of a 1896 DM (Not “DWM”) cartridge would indicate several scenarios (1) experimental shooting for Trials etc. in the 1902-1913 period by the Ammunition commission and RSAF Enfield; 2. Comparisons by soldiers between M95 and the New SMLE in the 1905 period, using Captured rifles and ammo; (3) a Lost souvenir (4) Other training use by RN or RM at Salisbury Plains, using M1912 Steyr Mausers and old ammo. Or : all of the above…

WE may never know of the exact origin of this particular cartridge…we do know that DM (Deutsche MetallPatronenFabrik, Karlsruhr) made cases in a particular year, then filled them as required by orders, so a case dated 1896, may have been filled any time into the early 1900s; although from Boer bring-Backs, most of the cases have 1896 dating, even if delivered in 1897 and into the war years (99-1901 or so, by smuggling through Lorenco Marques ( currently Mozambique) then Portuguese Territory.)
Chilean and Brazilian orders of ammo would also have fallen in this DM production time period.

BTW, Whilst “DM” became part of the DWM combine in 1897 January, they did not change their Head-stamp from “DM” to “DWM” for some years, so as not to lose the “Market Identity” (Brand Power) of the “DM” headstamp.

Yes, the late RKI Tony E, would have had some snippets of info regarding 7mm in the Post-Boer War era in Britain.

Doc AV


#5

Mark, I may add that the 7 mm Mauser was never adopted by Cuba. Regards, Fede.


#6

Excellent - thanks all for your replies. Most helpful. We all still miss Tony E, may he rest in peace.
Many thanks again.

Mark


#7

Hola Fede,
what about the 7mm Remington-Lee ( Turnbolt) rifles (M1899) sold to Cuba (Constabulary?) in 1900-05? Would this classify as an “official” (even if Police) Rifle? I know that the US supplied Krag rifles after the Span-Am War, and later M1903 Springfields. The reason for the 7mm version was that there were still a lot of Spanish 7mm Rifles in Cuba under the New Local Gov’t?

Regards, Doc AV


#8

DocAV, Cuba did have Mauser repeating and Remington single shot rifles in this caliber but neither system was officially adopted. Since the War of Independence and the Spanish-American War, the Cuban revolutionary forces tried to get Mauser rifles by all means necessary, but all intents failed because most European companies required cash in advance due to the fragile situation of the purchaser.

Regarding the Remington-Lee bought by Cuba, these were made for the .30-40 cartridge. There are various well known sources indicating that these were made in 7 mm Mauser, but as far as I know this has been proven to be a mistake.

Regards,

Fede