Mosin Nagant Round, Dug in France


Here is a Mosin Nagant round that was dug from a World War One site in the Champagne region of France. The headstamp is
12 o’clock: 912
3 o’clock: Russian letter ehf (like a Greek phi)
6 o’clock: 3 parallel lines like a Roman numeral III
9 o’clock: 1

Can anyone tell about this cartridge such as what the headstamp means and when it was made.



12h : 912 = 1912
3h : Ф = Producer of the metal ?
6h : III = 3° (October, November, December)
9h : n = Russian letter L = Luga

Attached another example:



Thank you for your quick reply. I am confused about your comment that III= October, November, December. I would have thought it would mean July, August, September, which is the third quarter of the year.



Correction !
I = In January, February, March, April
II = in May, June, July, August
III = in September, October, November, December


Luga should be LUGANSK (Ukraine)


Thanks Pierrejean and EOD.



Who was using a MN in that part of France?


Shortly after the german Victory at Tannenberg (late 1914) over the Russians, the Small Arms of roughly TWO Russian Army Corps were re-issued to Units on the Western front, in the region of the Belgian Border with France; the Imperial Navy had all their Gew98s withdrawn, and they too were issued with Mosins, as werre their “Matrosen Divisionen” ( naval Infantry) which also served in the Ypres area.( from Ypres to the sea.).

“Diggers” ( a Webgroup of Military archeologists in Belgium) have in the last few years, un-earthed a variety of Russian made equipment from the Ypres sector, in both purposeful digs, and occasional researches due to Roadworks, Building construction etc, which has unearthed parts of the original trench lines (of both sides). The Nature of the Boggy soil has presereved quite well any brass items, and the Steel rifles etc are also reasonably well preserved. Depending on the Moisture content, wood has also been well preserved ( Framing, Ammo Boxes, etc.).

Later in the war, (1917) there also will appear German-made 7,62x54R ammo, as DWM made sdome specifically for the German Army. But for the majority of the war, the germans relied on the very large quantities of 7,62 captured from defeated Russian Forces on the Eastern front.

There are references to the use of “Russian” and “Belgian” machineguns ( obviously Maxims) by the Bavarian Troops in the area (whose diaries and field reports survived past WW II, where-as the Prussian Archives were mostly destroyed in the final battles for Berlin).

Any (German) Trench system towards the North Sea end of the Front will have evidence of Russian, Belgian and German ammunition use, and late in the war ( 1917-18,) also .303 mixed in with the German spent cases, as the Germans also prized the captured Lewis Guns as well.

Doc AV
AV Ballistics.


Doesn’t add much to the story, but some years ago I was watching one of the History Channel shows on the last days of the Third Reich. It showed a company or perhaps even battalion of Volkssturm soliders in formation, dressed in an amazing mixture of purely civilian clothes, partial civilian and partial military clothing, and some in various uniforms. One looked like the uniform of a Tramway Operator. At any rate, while the weapons were varied to a very large degree (surprisingly, I saw no Garands, Carbines, BARS, TSMG, etc., one entire row of men had Lewis Guns. I had thought perhaps they were captured early in the war, when some where still in use by the British, but it could be that they are WWI captured weapons as mentioned by Doc Av.

Not an important point, but it was an interesting picture to me - had it been in a book, I would have made a copy of the photo. I forget what city they were in, but it was a city - the buildings visible in the picture were already badly damaged, but were wall-to-wall urban structures.

John Moss


They could also be Dutch M20 Lewis guns.


Clieuwens - Thanks for that info. I never thought of that. I am not a big machine gun aficionado, and never thought about some of the Continental European use of Lewis guns, any of which could have ended up with the Volksturm. I guess the Germans would have had plenty of captured FN, Dutch and British ammunition for it - maybe some Italian as well.

It is all conjecture anyway about what they were, but it is nice to know the possibilities.

John Moss


The M20 was made in the dutch caliber. Germany even made the ammo in 1943.


The Lewis gun as used by the Netherlands armed forces in 1940 was chambered for the 6.5 m/m rimmed Mannlicher cartridge, possibly also for the 7.9m/m rimmed cartridge. I think I’ve seen photos of German occupation forces in wartime Holland training with the Dutch Lewis. Jack


After a fast search on the site of the ECPA (Establishment of Communication and Audiovisual Production of the Defense) the legend of photos teach us that the Russian expeditionary force was equipped with French equipment to facilitate the provisioning. The Russian armaments met on the various sites of fights of the first war are thus of the equipment reused by German.

Legend of the photo:
Camp of Mourmelon in the Marne. A group of Russian soldiers puts hands its boots having cleaned them. Equipped with French helmets Adrian, these soldiers are dressed in the Russian statutory pea jacket more collectively appointed under the term of “Gymnastiorka”. We can then distinguish there the characteristic wide shoulder flaps of the Russian army.

Legend of the photo:
Region of Aubérive-sur-Suippe, sector of the " Square Wood ". Taken in the front line, this photography allows to notice the narrow-mindedness of trenches. Sheltered behind sandbags, Russian soldiers guêtent the first German line. Equipped with helmets Adrian, the soldiers of the Russian expeditionary force are endowed with French armaments, to facilitate their supply in ammunitions by the French estate management.

History of the Russian expeditionary force:
Within the framework of the interallied solidarity, the president of the Republic Paul Doumer, sent to mission with Nicolas II, obtains in December, 1915 the sending of a Russian expeditionary force on the western front.
This expeditionary force consists of the 1re brigade commanded by general Lohvitsky, and the 3rd brigade, commanded by general Marouchevski. Both brigades are constituted by two regiments. The 1re brigade arrives in France on April 11th to Marseille then joins the camp of Mailly where it remains cantoned before joining the front of Champagne. The 3rd brigade arrives in France during summer, 1916 to be also engaged on the front of Champagne.
The confusions of the Russian Revolution have for consequence the mutiny of the 1re brigade to the camp of « la Courtine ».
From December 27th, 1917, a Russian legion is setting up, consisted of volunteers, it fights beside the Allies until the victory. In July, 1919, all the Russians are repatriated in Odessa.

Saddened for the bad translation !


Pierrejean - Your translation is not in perfect English. So what? It is a perfectly good, understandable summation of the pictures. I am a native-born American and my writing, I’m sure, is not in “perfect English.” Thank you for your efforts to provide us all with this perfectly acceptable translation and interesting information. Good job!

John Moss


Thanks for that , I didn’t know about that at all.


Whilst the Lewis guns with the Volksturm are most likely Dutch M20 guns, the Germans could also have captured a number of WW I-era 7,62x54R Lewis Guns from the Soviets, who used them at least in the winter of 1941-42 ( existing photos of Siberian troops in the “October Revolution” march of Nov. 1941)…these guns were a little known BSA production run during 1916 for the Tsarist army.

But I would be more likely to accept the M20 in 6,5x53R to be the most likely Lewis Use by Germany in lateWW II. I doubt that any WW I-captured British lewis guns were still in German hands in the 1940s, or that they captured any significant quantities from British Fishing Boats etc. on the North sea during 1940-etc.

The Lewis Gun, however, had wide use elsewhere in British & Australian Service ( Middle east, Palestine, Iraq expedition, and also in the Pacific area, early in the war, until replaced by more modern LMGs (Bren etc); its use for AA and Aircraft mounts continued til 1945.

Doc AV
AV Ballistics.


Anent my earlier comment re German use of the Dutch Lewis in the second war I found the photo in question. Source is a book titled History of the German steel helmet, on p. 264 of which is shown what are identified as two members of the Zollgrenzschutz in the Netherlands, 1942. These helmeted border guards are manning a ground pattern Lewis gun; the gun seems to be fitted with AA sights, stowed folded in the pic. Jack


Would they have captured Lewis Guns at Dunkirk? Tons of gear was abandoned on the beaches. When I was about 11 on holiday with my family some of it was still there. You could find cartridges and small bits of kit in the sand dunes. Heaven for a tyro ammo collector.


Vince: My impression is that the British army sent across the channel in 1939-40 had the Bren as the standard LMG, tho I wouldn’t be surprised if commonwealth forces didn’t still have some Lewis guns as late as 1941 perhaps. While the military stores at Dunkirk were lost to Britain it’s my understanding–and assumption–these were denied to the Germans by systematic destruction. Jack