Greek 8mm Lebel


#1

In the Ministry of Supply ledger SUPP 4/338 which lists Small Arms Ammunition purchases from 1939 to 1947 there is mention of an order from Britain to “Poudres et Cartoucherie Helleniques” in Athens for 2,00,400 rounds of 8mm Lebel ammunition.

Does anyone have any idea who this was intended for ?

Peter


#2

Peter,

FWIW, the former website 8lebel.org lists the following headstamp dates found on 8mm Lebel cartridges produced by the Greek Powder and Cartridge Co.

1922
1925
1926
1938
1939
1940
1941

But production after sometime in 1941 seems implausible with the invasion of Greece by the Nazis and partners. Then with the end of WW2 Greece soon feel into civil war.

In my notes from the 8lebel.org website there is no mention of a British contract with the Greek Powder and Cartridge Co. for 8mm Lebel.

So the reason for this contract remains a mystery.

Brian


#3

I can’t make out what the contract details mean, no doubt the information is held there but from the last section it looks as if the entry was done ‘after the event’. The index at the National Archives have nothing listed under the contract number.

The contract is dated January 23rd, 1941 and states that the payment per thousand is ‘fob’ or “free on board” at Piraeus, the port closest to Athens, so it appears the ammunition was shipped out of Greece to a Third Party … though try as I might I can’t imagine who would be wanting Lebel ammunition in 1941, paid for by Britain.

Peter


#4

When the German Army occupied Athens, all ammunition production by the Greek Powder and Cartridge Co ceased and the facility was converted into a repair facility for mostly light armored vehicles. After the war, they began manufacturing ammunition again. I visited the plant in 1976 and was given an excellent tour by the senior manager, a retired Greek Army general. The plant I visited was manufacturing small arms ammunition through .50 Browning in all the normal calibers. Most of the equipment was US made, I suspect ex-WWII equipment, but some was German made from before WWII, so likely at least some of the equipment had been stored during the war. There were two small lines loading 45ACP on German pre-war equipment. The technician running the lines had worked there before the war when the same equipment in the same location was used to load 9mmP ammunition. He also talked, through a translator, about working on German armor vehicles during the war, and then helping set up the pistol manufacturing equipment shortly after the war and making 45ACP. He confirmed that the company had not made 9mmP ammunition since 1941.

This info is consistent with the production dates above. According to Wikipedia, Athens fell on 27 April 1941.

Hope this information is of some help.

Cheers,
Lew


#5

This ammo was probably for the Free French in Africa and the Pacific.