Dutch Vicker or German Mauser? The battle for Rotterdam (Overschie), may 1940

Dear John Moss or otters, please help us in identifying this bulletin case which has started a hot debate about it’s origin locally. It’s base is 12mm and markings could not be identified so far. It was found on a strategically important point where confirmed fights took place in may 1940, as german paratroopers were attacking Rotterdam but met heavy resistance at Overschie. The germans used Mausers which had 12mm at base. The Dutch used Vicker machine guns which also had casings with 12mm base (the ones that were not yet modified after purchase from the UK). The marking depict VII and the numbers 3 and 39 and Ksomething.

Looks like a British .303 Mk VII ball round made in Kirkee Arsenal in India (K^F) in March 1939 to me.

1 Like

I do not know your source for 12 mm base diameter of the Brititsh .303 cartridge. But its base diameter is about 13.5 mm, visibly larger than the German 12 mm. Simply measure the base of the specimen you show.
The British case has a pronounced rim around the base, while the German 7.9 mm is “rimless”, having a groove around the base. Rim or groove make it possible to extract the case from the barrel.

Thats pretty precise Buster, are you sure? Do we have a winner?

Thanks JPeelen, I can confirm that the base is 12mm. I’m not sure about the.303. I found out that both the Vicker machine and the Mauser rifle fired bullets with 12 mm base (but different other specs).
What exactly do you mean with “rim” or groove? Seems to me it had some kind of grooving around the base:

So there’s a groove of some sorts, it’s defenitely 12mm, so it’s Mauser then?

The “bottleneck” has eroded but was originally attached

The only british “Mauser” Kaliber would be a 8mm BESA MG, but that was not produced from Kirkee…and as there is no Mk VII from a Besa-MG round, it is a .303.
What do you understand as “Base” ?
The relict you show, looks from the front, as it has a RIM, and is not rimless. As the case is very corroded with still dirt attached, where you took such “exact” measurments??

you can check here, that it cannot be a 7,9 Mauser, as the british BESA rounds exists only with Mk I, Iz or Mk II or 2Z…in headstamp.

Thanks. Sorry guys I am new in this business and I may not know the right wordings. The diameter of the first picture back end of the case is 12mm. I thought that would be the “base”, but I may be wrong.

This is how a .British 303 looks like, from British manual of 1924. The flange-like base is called the rim.
Blue (bullet) and red (primer) are only for illustrating which is which component in this drawing.
The maker in this case is Royal Laboratories and the arrowhead-like symbol in between is called the broad arrow, basically a state property mark. (In old movies seen on prisoner clothing, for example.)

P.S. Difficult to tell what ill treatment happened to your case. But the base diameter originally was not 12 mm but 13.5 mm.

…but the image does not match my casing…

The markings on the base (so-called headstamp) is doubtless British style and definitely not German style. The number “VII” mark was, as far as I know, not reached by any other British small arms cartridge. So it is a British .303 Mk. VII case as Buster wrote in his response.
You cannot depend on dimensions or proportions of a mutilated object that has been in the ground for eight decades.

Thank you very much. That info matches others’ estimates exactly. So, it was a British round fired by a Dutch soldier, most probably from a Wicker machine gun.

The Dutch bought these guns from the UK before the war.
In the eye-withness accounts three Dutch soldiers were killed behind their “machine gun” only yards from the finding place. This bullet then was used in defence of the city. I will post this in the local newspaper as we approach the annual commemoration of the war.
Overschie fell to the German para’s. Dutch marines counter attacked but were repelled by one Stuka dive bomber. Later that same day Rotterdam got destroyed by german bombs.

The chance they bought indian made ammo is not so big. Made in 1939 and brought to the UK and then sold to the Netherlands… I don’t believe that is a possibility.

1 Like

Have played with the image but can’t can’t see the F of K^F.


3-39 looks OK.


Hi Bart,
This are the differences

Patroon.pdf (223.3 KB)

K… is for sure Royal Ammunition factory of Kirkee 3-39


Dutch ammo has no VII or 3.39 markings also (as far a I know)

I agree with Clieuwens about the (not) possibility of using this in May 1940 at Overschie

Jaco NVBMB 0075

To the best of my knowledge the only manufacturer of 303 who included both the month and year of manufacture in that style, at that time and starting with a K was India. I have attached a pic from Tony Edwards H/s guide to 303. If you look at the picture closely I think you can see the top of the Indian broad arrow.


Thanks guys, but that part of the story has already been confirmed by multiple stories: the Dutch did in fact buy Vicker machine guns with ammo (of course) from the british. I don’t see why that couldn’t have been ammo originating from India. Many weapons, ammo and manpower came from India and other commonwealth countries.
And besides, the bullet case was found right here in Overschie. I was present. So that’s not under debate here.we’ve even got eyewitness accounts of the machine gun, see above.

The ammo was bought directly after WW1. So in 1918 or just after.

Your problem is that it is not known what tye of machinegun was used. Not likely that is was an vickers in .303 as most of the weapons where converted to 7,9x56R. Only a few had still to be converted in 1940 at the outbreak of the war.

Thanks. I was aware of the fact that most of the 800 purchased Vickers were customized. However not all of them and this may explain why in 1939 (casings making) last minute ammo purchases were made. The european ammunitions and weapons market was a frenzy as every nation tried to boost their equipment stocks.
I hear a lot of “not likely”’s and “small chance” in this forum. But we will never get a 100% confirmation since we weren’t there, so some assumptions must be made.
Now a lot of people are absolutely sure that the round was not german. So it mist have been Dutch. The Brits did not fight in Overschie.
Nor was there ever any big game hunting going on there. There has not been any big game in the whole region for 300 years. This is Holland, no forrests. The only hunting was for rabbits and birds maybe. They used shotguns.

And since 1940 no shot was ever fired? Not by a plane, not with the libatation or even with exercizes in the years after the war. With the casemouth gone it is impossible to tell if if was a blank (losse flodder). I know a collector who found indian made ammo in a belt that came from a plane shot down early in the war in the Netherlands.
When you find documentation tham ammo was bought in the UK in 1939/1940 than i will believe it is possible. There is documentation that that 135 guns were being converted and almost ready in mai 1940. That leaves very few guns in the original caliber. (And the order to convert the last ones was made in 1939)

Try to find out which unit was there and the type of weapons they had. There was more then one MG in Dutch use at the time. When you know for shure the type of MG’s used by that unit then you can say something about the possibility of your interpretation.