British Browning belt


#1

Hello,

I am trying to identify the customer and the period of production for a .30 cal Browning belt manufactured by the British company Thomas French & Sons.

This belt to identify (figure 1) is fitted with a 4 1/2" long brass starter and is marked with the “Fleur de Lys” and caliber designation “.3”. This belt is probably for export to an unidentified country : any idea ?


We can notice that :

  • the 4 1/2" long starter has the same length as the pre-WW2 standard US Browning belt (figure 2)
  • the caliber designation “.3” is probably typical of some specific countries, but which ones ?
  • the weave of the fabric is the same as that found on the belts manufactured in 1942 for export to the US (figure 3)
  • cartridge numbering in black ink every 50 rounds

Thanks for any comments,

Cheers,

JFL


#2

There are people on here much more able to answer your questions than I am but there is one part I can answer .

In Britain the .30-06 calibre was designated simply as .30 (“thirty cal”) and would presumably explain the use of .3 on the belt. All of the guns and a lot of the ammunition was supplied from the US as war aid.

It would also be logical to assume the belts were just straight copies, locally made, from the US pattern.


#3

Thanks for this first comment.

The odd feature of the caliber designation is “.3” and not “.30”. I am pretty sure that there are specific countries/customers using the caliber designation simply .3 without the 0 : but all the question is who are they ?

The research goes on ,

Cheers,

JFL


#4

In 1942 I would imagine we would have been producing belts purely for home consumption although we might (and its only might) have been supplying Russia via the Russian convoys.

But in 1942 it was pretty much a “backs to the wall” situation. We didn’t really have the surplus armaments to pass on. The Russian Convoys were nearly all US war aid delivered by the British but not sourced from Britain.

I can see the designaton .3 as being good enough in the British mind to signify “not .303”


#5

British designation of Cal.30 Browning ammo was “.300 Browning” or just “.300”

Nowhere in British official listings is the use of “.3” tout court used.
( or on case labels etc).

Probably just a Factory shortcut, not officially sanctioned.

BY 1942, Britain was using cloth belted .30 Ball in US-supplied tanks in North Africa. ( Western desert).

Supplies to Russia from Britain ( via Murmansk convoys) consisted mostly of US made equipment, with some British equipment added on. British equipment consisted of Aircraft and some Tanks, and specialised equipment.

The Majority of Lend Lease to the Soviets went thru the Southern route ( Bandar Abbas–Tehran–Tashkent, which , despite the long sea voyage from the Atlantic thru the Indian Ocean to the Gulf, was by far safer than the Northern Murmansk-Archangel route ( under German Long range Bombing and the Arctic weather nearly all the way). Once out of the Atlantic U-Boat range, the ships had a reasonably clear run from South Africa to the Gulf.

Regards,
Doc AV

Regards,
Doc AV


#6

Was it not British practice during the second war to identify the .50 Browning as point five? Surely calling the .30 M1906 “point three” in this context is a plausible parallel, sanctioned or not. Jack


#7

I’ve certainly heard the term used now you come to mention it. More so than .3 which I have never heard but it was probably just expedient shorthand.


#8

[quote=“JFL”]Thanks for this first comment.

The odd feature of the caliber designation is “.3” and not “.30”. I am pretty sure that there are specific countries/customers using the caliber designation simply .3 without the 0 : but all the question is who are they ?

The research goes on ,

Cheers,

JFL[/quote]

I have a few .30 calibre links for the Vickers MG which are marked BP .3 (British Pens Ltd.) Herb Woodend had an RAF Air Publication which stated that these links, stores reference: 112C/49, are for ground service only.

The .50" Vickers (12.7x80mm) was commonly referred to as the “.5 Vickers” in Royal Naval service. I have links marked: 5MG IIN P; .5MG IIN B&S Ld; .5VMG IIN B.P.LD and finally 41 .5VMG IIN ENFT.

The .5 Vickers MG 100-round fabric belts were also commonly marked with .5 or .5" as the calibre. Herb had belts by T.F.&S. Ld and V.A.Ltd marked in this way.
So, I don’t think that we can place too much reliance on the abreviated form of the calibre as to who used these belts. We certainly cannot say that they were not for British service use.

gravelbelly


#9

Thanks Dave,

That’s a very useful information. Indeed UK domestic use is not impossible.

Cheers,

JFL