Dum-dum use, 1914


#1

One of the interesting aspects of the first World War was that the allies repeatedly accused Germany of using expanding bullets, nicknamed ‘dum dum’ rounds. Accusations went back and forth in the newspapers of the day and this eventually resulted in a change in the German attitude. The switchover from the conical shaped 9mm Parabellum bullet to the, still familiar, conical bullet was one of the results of these discussions.

I recently found a small article, dating from September, 1914, which actually mentions the make and maker of the rounds that were found. It was published in a Dutch newspaper (The Netherlands remained neutral during WW1):

Source:
Dutch National Archives
De Tijd : godsdienstig-staatkundig dagblad
Edition: 28-09-1914, Morning.

[i]The germans are using dum-dum bullets.
Antwerp, 25th of September. It cannot be denied that the germans have repeatedly used dum-dum bullets and are still using them. Several cases of wounds caused by dum-dums have been confirmed on Belgian soldiers, wounded in the battles that took place between Mechelen and Leuven between the 2nd - 12th of September (1914). The cases have been validated by several doctors and were noted officially with the names of the victims and witnesses.
I was not surprised by these reports. Some 8 days ago I received from the secretary of the committee that researches violations of international rights and martial laws, which were found on a soldier who was captured at Werchter.
And today the committee received a full box of dum-dum cartridges for selfloading pistols, found in the possession of Oberleutnant Von Hadeln from Hannover, captured during the 24th of this month at Ninave.
The package was sent by Luitenant General Clooten, commander in chief for Flanders and is, according to the printed information on the outside, produced by the Deutsche Waffen- und Munitionsfabriken, Karlsruhe.
The cartridges are No. 403 for the Mauser Selfloading Pistol, Cal. 7.63.

What I report here I have seen with my own eyes.

Frans van Cauwelaert.[/i]


#2

Very interesting document. Too bad they did not think to describe the projectile loaded in the Mauser “403” cartridges. They were likely FMJ Hollow Points, to be described as “Dum-Dum.”

Thanks for posting this, Vlim.


#3

A documented case that happened was the erroneous issuance of Z-Patronen instead of S-Patronen by a naval amunition depot near Kiel. This is on file in the Staatsarchiv in Berlin-Dahlem. (Z-Patronen had slits in the jackets near the tip and were intended for ranges with reduced safety area. Ranges for Z-Patronen had to be constructed very differently from ordinary rifle ranges, by the way. A total waste of money in my view, but that is another matter.)
What is also known that some “clever” soldiers pulled the bullets from the S-Patronen and placed them back bottom first (removing some powder, I assume) for “better” effect.

Ernst Jünger, not known as anti-British, described the Mk. VII as “die reinsten Dum-Dum” (virtually Dum Dum) in his war diary (published 2010). The tip with the aluminium filler broke off easily while penetrating some barrier. This is a behaviour mentioned several times in German contemporary literature.

The main problem in reading contemporary descriptions is in my view to separate possible systematic use by authorities from individuals who did this on their own. This distinction is enver made. Also we have mentality issues. Germany today still officially views shotgun use against personnel as illegal, the U.S. sees it as legal.

Fact-oriented statements are very rare. General Rohne, for example, refuted in a periodical an earlier article and pointed out that the French “fraisee” bullets were not Dum Dums but well known training rounds.


#4

What is Z-patronen?
This early in WWI a Mauser C96 would most likely be a privately owned pistol used by an officer who possibly took his own ammo to the front.


#5

Possible. But the C96 was issued from the start of the war onwards as well.


#6

Vlim is correct - the Mauser C96 pistol was issued militarily on a substitute standard basis, in both 7.63 x 25 mm and 9 x 19 mm Parabellum. The latter normally had a red number “9” burned into the wood grips on both sides to avoid confusion with the 7.63 mm, since both pistols looked virtually identical.

After WWI, at least some of the 9 x 19 mm pistols were converted to shorter barrels and fixed sights, cleverly using the original front sight and the original read sight blade, for police use. The barrels were shortened to 4" and they were issued in leather holsters. Most have extra proofs, as I recall, as well as the date “1920”, the year of conversion, marked on them. I had one that had no additional markings of any kings, which was somewhat unusual. Otherwise, it was the same conversion.


#7

John, absolutely not my field but the “1920” was an indicator predicted by the Versailles Treaty in relation to the max. allowed armament amount or the like. Thwere must be proper info on this in the web as it is a popular subject. Have seen the “1920” on 7.63 Mod.1916 “NS” which was used by the Reichswehr.


#8

EOD - all of the WWI C96 Mausers I have seen that have the Imperial Eagle acceptance mark on the front of the magazine housing (usually) have been of the NS safety variation. My “Weimar Conversion” 9 mm Para caliber Mauser didn’t even have that mark. Odd pistol, although in all conversion features, quite normal.

Of course, many Lugers and even a few other pistol types (and probably rifles as well) have the 1920 and 1921 dates on them. I think the collectors refer to them as “double dates” since it is usually stamped above an original date.

Sorry that this is all gun talk at the moment, but i will stand by what I have said a hundred times, you cannot divorce the subject of ammunition from the guns meant to fire it, nor vice versa although that deficiency of information is often done by gun collectors, more than, I think, by cartridge collectors.


#9

As a general thing the 1920 date is an inventory stamp of small arms and artillery in the hands of the constituted authorities in Germany in the year 1920. It is often referred to as having been employed as a result of the terms of the Versailles Treaty but that is incorrect. The intent of the stamp was to clearly identify government-held arms as opposed to the many thousands of rifles, pistols, machine guns, and (maybe) cannons which went missing at the end of the war in 1918. In conjunction with the marking of arms in government ownership all military weapons in private hands were to be turned in and some payment made for their return. After a grace period any such weapon found in private hands was deemed contraband. Jack


#10

In a publication from 1919, which consisted of publications from the Times in the UK, we find another reference to this box, with a little more information on the box label (green), the type (20 rounds, which logically would contain 2 10-round stripper clips) and the contents:

[i]Now a graver fact has just been notified : The Minister
of War has sent to the Commission a box of cartridges con-
taining a series of dum-dum bullets among other ordinary
bullets. These cartridges were found on the ’ Hanoverian
Oberleutnant von Hadeln/ who was taken prisoner by our
troops at Ninove, on September the 24th last. These car-
tridges have been submitted by the Commission for examina-
tion to an expert armourer of Antwerp, whose report is as
follows :

’ The box with the green label that you sent me (20
Patronen, No. 403, fur die Mauser selbstlade Pistole cal. 7.63
Deutsche Waffen- und Munition-Fabriken, Karlsruhe) was
intended to contain filled cartridges. One of every three
racks in it contains expanding dum-dum bullets taken from
special boxes bearing a yellow label . These bullets are rendered
expanding in the process of manufacture : they cannot be
made so by hand’[/i]


#11

[quote=“JPeelen”]A documented case that happened was the erroneous issuance of Z-Patronen instead of S-Patronen by a naval amunition depot near Kiel. This is on file in the Staatsarchiv in Berlin-Dahlem. (Z-Patronen had slits in the jackets near the tip and were intended for ranges with reduced safety area. Ranges for Z-Patronen had to be constructed very differently from ordinary rifle ranges, by the way. A total waste of money in my view, but that is another matter.)
What is also known that some “clever” soldiers pulled the bullets from the S-Patronen and placed them back bottom first (removing some powder, I assume) for “better” effect.

Ernst Jünger, not known as anti-British, described the Mk. VII as “die reinsten Dum-Dum” (virtually Dum Dum) in his war diary (published 2010). The tip with the aluminium filler broke off easily while penetrating some barrier. This is a behaviour mentioned several times in German contemporary literature.

The main problem in reading contemporary descriptions is in my view to separate possible systematic use by authorities from individuals who did this on their own. This distinction is enver made. Also we have mentality issues. Germany today still officially views shotgun use against personnel as illegal, the U.S. sees it as legal.

Fact-oriented statements are very rare. General Rohne, for example, refuted in a periodical an earlier article and pointed out that the French “fraisee” bullets were not Dum Dums but well known training rounds.[/quote]

Made some pictures of two different types of rounds.

The “S” round is the so called Z- Patrone.

The Mod.88 round was factory loaded with a bullet for ranges with reduced safety area.


A picture were they show the public with what kind of (dum dum) bullets, the enemy of Germany is shooting with.


Do not have to explain what the showed “Cartouches du Stand” means.

Rgds
Dutch


#12

Jack - Thanks for the correction. I just read that section of Geoff’s monumental three-volume work on Lugers. Have not had time to thoroughly go over the books since I got them, and the old “common” wisdom was that these stamps indicated (the year of) refurbishment of these pistols and other weapons. That is clearly wrong as you pointed out. The directive about stamping the pistols must have been implemented in a very haphazard manner. There should be a lot more of the “double-date” pistols than there are. From an American view, this should mean that every P-08 dated before the end of WWI (up to 1918) that was brought home from WWII (Note: World War 2, not 1) should have had the 1920 0r 1921 stamp above the original date of manufacture. We have all handled dozens of Lugers from the WWI era that were brought home as souvenirs from the Second War, either because they were still in use (which should have indicated the added 1920 or 1921 numbers) or taken out of homes (possibly held illegally in the Weimar period and thus were not so stamped).

Vlim - this document is interesting as well. I must assume that the “yellow” label is what we would term, in english, buff color - that is, a tan color. My meager collection of DWM Mauser boxes, only 5 or 6 variants, by itself, would indicate that green labels were for FMJ RN bulleted cartridges. They bear no description of the bullet itself. Conversely, the buff label I have of the identical box markings otherwise is labeled for the Teilmantel-Geschoss (soft nose bullet).
I have not seen any box label for the schlitzen-type bullets, nor for the Ganzmantel, offen (FMJ HP) bullet. Don’t know how they were marked, or if the labels had a "special"color.

It is likely true that the soft-nose bullet types could not have been done by the owner of the pistol/ammunition captured and referred to in these documents. I am not sure if a FMJ bullet could be altered, and look the same as the factory-made cartridges, of the FMJ HP.

Very small details, but historically interesting. This is the sort of stuff that adds a little color to collecting otherwise fairly mundane specimens of ammunition.


#13

Dutch, in my opinion those two 7.9 mm rounds on the left are sporting cartridges loaded with the M88Q “Schlitzgeschoß” in military cases (a typical practice of DWM). This projectile was made for other calibers like the .303 British, 7.65 x 54 Mauser, 7 x 57 Mauser, 6.5 x 55 Mauser & Krag and 6.5 x 53 R Mannlicher, and it is described as a “Expansion” bullet for hunting purposes.

This is the way it is supposed to work:

An earlier discussion on the subject:
viewtopic.php?f=8&t=12282


#14

Thanks Fede,

Found a picture from a DWM catalog with a simular bullet.


#15

Dutch, the British firm W. J. Jeffery & Co also offered hunting cartridges in several calibers with an identical bullet design named “Jeffery’s No. 5 Split bullet” (based on W. J. Jeffery Patent of April 19, 1893). These are .400 Jeffery loads from the 1910-11 catalog:

This is the 1893 patent:


#16

[quote=“JohnMoss”]EOD - all of the WWI C96 Mausers I have seen that have the Imperial Eagle acceptance mark on the front of the magazine housing (usually) have been of the NS safety variation.

The German government procured only small quantities of C96s pre 1914. Shortly after the German govt contracted forrge numbers the NS safety was introduced in Nov 1915 at # 280000.
At the beginning of WWI officers could purchase C96s from govt arsenals.
Above from "“The Broomhandle Pistol” Erickson & Pate
Since there were very few C96s in the German inventory it is quite possible this arm and the “dum dum” ammo were private property of an officer.


#17

I wouldn’t trust that book too much. It is outdated by now, lots of new info surfaced on the early C96 history :)


#18

Has any new info surfaced about large C96 purchases by the German govt pre 1914?


#19

Yes there has. Also, the Mauser sales records and order books have largely been preserved.

A lot of new information has already been published in a series of 4 books on the C96 by Manfred Kersten, Fr. Moll and the late Walter Schmid. Mauro Baudino and myself are working on the inventory, digitization and translation of Paul Mauser’s private archive as well. That also lead to a first publication about the Persian C96, where we show the reason why a large number of Persion C96 pistols have German property markings.

The Kersten/Moll/Schmid books can be ordered via: servicek.com/mauser.htm

We plan to publish an article on the origins of the NS safety in the near future.


#20

That is a beautiful group of books, but apparently all in German Language. A shame. The cost, which appears to be quite fair for the obvious quality of the books, is none-the-less prohibitive for many who do not speak German. That is, the pictures alone would not satisfy when it is likely the text of all of them is highly informative, accurate and scholarly.

Unfortunately, it reduces the world-wide market when a book is not partially in English, at least. For better or worse, English is pretty much the world-wide language of our times, especially in countries where there is a market for high quality, but expensive, gun books.

Well, again, they look like great gun books anyway! Congratulations to the authors, I had not heard of any of them before.