Individual ammo package usage

My question is about individual ammo packs, like the one below. They are very flimsy and probably fall apart with active movement and when wetted by rain. So did the frontline soldiers put them into magazines immediately or they carried ammo in backpacks for a long time? How did this work?

As a guess, I’d think they would fill a magazine & that was what would be carried in their issued magazine pouches.
No idea where the packet it’self came into play being distributed (most likey from a waterproof tin), I suppose it could be almost anywhere when the need arose.

This method of packaging ammunition for the British evidently worked just fine as the ca. 1860’s .577 Snider was packaged in the same manner.

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Wouldn’t these become mush in the backpacks or pockets with moisture and constant moving? Now we have zippered plastic bags for sandwiches. I am sure that’s not frue for 1917. I am interested in what happened after these are taken from waterproof tins inside battlepacks.

Hi Vlad
I’m sorry I didn’t make myself clear. The waterproof tins were in effect cases (full of these packets). So I’d think most likely in a front line the waterproof tin / case would brought up, opened & the warfighters would have grabbed enough of these to refill their magazines & put the filled magazines in their magazine carrying pouches or bandoleers.
Your 100% right these would be mush in a backpack. & if you get right down to it a cardboard box would not be any really great improvement in front line conditions. Be my guess, never having served in front line combat conditions.
Couple of British crates both later than WW 1, but just a little more modern but in effect the same.

After re-reading your question again I’m not sure I fully answered it. Perhaps someone else can ?

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If I remember correctly, the original Lee-Enfields had a spare (2nd) magazine chained to the gun for the fear of soldier losing it. So those magazines were precious. Then they dropped this 2nd magazine requirement. I reckon because of cost and availability. So where did soldiers carry extra ammo? The gun only takes 11 rounds. And I’d hate to go into action with 11 rounds.

I’m not sure a packet of blanks is going to be much help Vlad.

Sorry - I couldn’t help myself.


Web Equipment 1908, Australia.pdf (2.1 MB)

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Ammunition pouches, 2, for holding bandoliers of ammunition

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Thanks, I totally forgot about cartridge carriers, that makes sense. I had no idea they were NOT interchangable from one side to another. I used that blank packet as an example of how loose that string on paper was.

Vlad I’ve nener heard of a spare magazine chained to a gun. For that matter how would one do that without creating a hazard for the user in combat?

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For pics of cartridge pouchs google:
Lee Metford, Long Lee Enfield and SMLE MkI had mags attached by wire clip

The earliest British Lee rifles had a staple on the front of the magazine, and a couple of links to another staple just behind the front guard screw. Just enough length to allow it to be removed for cleaning, but it kept those wasteful soldiers from losing it. They stopped using the links after only a few years. There was only ONE magazine issued, not two.

During the trials which led to adoption of the Lee-Metford (which later evolved to the Lee Enfield after the switch from Metford style rifling to the Enfield style), the option of carrying spare filled magazines was seen as a virtue, and in the U.S. the Remington Lee rifles were routinely issued with spare magazines and belts to carry them.

Why the Brits opted for only one magazine is not clear. Maybe it was because the Lee Metford magazine carried 8 rounds (the Lee Enfield changed the magazine capacity to 10 rounds) instead of the 5 rounds in the Remington Lee and British trials rifles. Maybe they figured that was enough of a margin that spare magazines were not needed. Or, perhaps the cost of spare magazines was seen as a wasteful expenditure.

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This forum is great, I learn something every day. Thanks John & orange

The British Army chose to issue just one magazine per rifle because the magazine was much distrusted, its use was seen to encourage the profligate use and consequent waste of ammunition. Much emphasis was placed upon individual marksmanship with competitions encouraged between different units … but the training for that level of shooting was done by concentrating on individually loaded cartridges using the magazine cut-off as a loading tray, in action the contents of the magazine were to be held in reserve and only to be used on reciept of a direct order.

In the 1915 Imperial Army Series Musketry manual emphasises; “Rapid fire must combine accuracy with rapidity and not degenerate into a wild expenditure of ammunition at the fastest possible rate.”

The adoption of charger loading was one of the conclusions arising from a survey of those involved in the Second Boer War that ended in 1902, but it took years to be widely adopted, Britain was the last country to adopt charger loading … and it’s all down to the thought that soldiers, given half a chance, will just blast away until their pouches and pockets are empty.


Edited; Shoddy spelling.

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Thanks for correcting me. I remembered the magazine being tied to something. My old age imagination added another magazine.

And as late as WW.2 French 8 m/m rifle ammunition was issued in very similar paper packets which also were not intended to be carried in that form by the rifleman. Jack

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Let’s remember that the British Enfield being issued with only one magazine was not at all unique among bolt action service rifles. All of the Mauser types (other than the Model 71/84 tube loader), including the US M1903 Springfield, had only one magazine, built into the rifle but still a magazine. I would judge the one detachable magazine of the Lee-Enfield to be superior in concept, as it was easier to remove for cleaning and if necessary easy replacement rather than repair.

Also remember that the ammunition was taken from packets, and loaded into stripper clips prior to be put into the ammunition pouches of the soldiers load-bearing equipment.

Like the early Enfields, the Springfield could also be loaded with single cartridges, either into the magazine thru the action, or directly into the chamber of the rifle. The M1903 had a magazine cut-off, so that a full magazine could be held in reserve, for emergencies, while single loading the rifle directly into the chamber. I doubt single loading actually saw much use in actual combat. American ammunition belts were designed specifically to hold ammunition in chargers, and that included the cheap bandoleers issued right through the Viet Nam years, and perhaps still today.

John Moss

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The (later) ammo in the bandolier is in 5rd clips.

The Paper wrapper is a holdover
From the Snider and Martini era, and early MLM and MLE era, where ammo was carried in Valise
Pattern Ammo Pouches, or Individual Cartridge Leather Bandoleers.
With the introduction of Charger Loading (1903-4) packets of clips began tobe used, replaced by cotton bandoleers during WWI.
Ammunition used in Training camps etc was stillpacked in paper up to the early 1920s, when replaced by the 20, 32, and 35 ctg. Nested packets, and the 48 loose pack.
Ammo used in range training was usually clipped up at the range; Blanks were issued in wraps well into the 1920s ( for tactical training), could be clipped up or hand filled into the magazine.
MkV and L9z Blankscould also be belted up for Vickers MG.
Aussie CAC MkVI was also paper wrapped till production ceased in 1919/20. Replaced by MkVII.

Thanks for those posters who cleared up the “Across the pond” misconceptions of Magazines in Enfields…they were “part of the Rifle” and losing one was a chargeable offence ( CO’s hearing, loss of pay, barracks punishment, etc).
Doc AV ( carried one for 4 &1/2 years).

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Early models of the Lee-Metford and Lee-Enfield used a short length of chain to secure the magazine to the rifle so they could not be easily lost.

Magazine 1 (2) Lee Enfield Magazine

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