Western brand 7 x 57 mm Mauser cartridges made in 1916


#1

These 7 x 57 Mauser cartridges are common in Spain. They were probably used in the civil war but I don’t know if they were purchased for the war or were acquired by the Spanish government in the 1910’s.

They have a roundnose CN bullet and are loaded with chopped tubular powder.
They came in 20-round two-piece boxes, buff colour, with no markings at all.
All the samples I have seen have split necks.

Does anybody know who were this cartridges made for?


#2

Serbia perhaps? Jack


#3

In the book “Serbian and Yugoslav Mauser Rifles” by Branko Bogdanovic, on page 77 there is mention of the Serbian contracts for 7x57 ammunition let to other countries.

“On the eve of the First World War, Serbia ordered 50,000,000 more 7x57 cartridges from the Societe des Munitions-Gevelot et Gaupillat-Paris, or SFM. In 1916, the British Adriatic Mission contracted for ammunition with several American firms for the Serbian Government. Remington Arms, and Union Metallic Cartridge Company of Bridgeport, Connecticut and Western Company of Alton, Illinois, together delivered 70,000,000 7x57 rounds of ammunition and 1,000,000 Model 99 clips.”

Maybe the cartridge shown is one of these?

Somewhere, there exists a drawing of a 7x57 cartridge clip marked as being produced in the UK by Hinks Wells of Birmingham. If these were actually produced I have never seen one although Hinks Wells made a lot of 0,256" Arisaka clips for the UK government and marked them prominently with their name. It would seem sensible for them to do the same on any 7x57 clips.

Of course, 0,256" and 7x57 clips are almost exactly the same size. I suppose it’s possible that the just made a heap more Arisaka ones and supplied the 7x57 in those.

Anyone else have any ideas?

Peter


#4

[quote=“enfield56”]In the book “Serbian and Yugoslav Mauser Rifles” by Branko Bogdanovic, on page 77 there is mention of the Serbian contracts for 7x57 ammunition let to other countries.

“On the eve of the First World War, Serbia ordered 50,000,000 more 7x57 cartridges from the Societe des Munitions-Gevelot et Gaupillat-Paris, or SFM. In 1916, the British Adriatic Mission contracted for ammunition with several American firms for the Serbian Government. Remington Arms, and Union Metallic Cartridge Company of Bridgeport, Connecticut and Western Company of Alton, Illinois, together delivered 70,000,000 7x57 rounds of ammunition and 1,000,000 Model 99 clips.”

Maybe the cartridge shown is one of these? [/quote]

Well, certainly the cartridge could be from that Serbian contract. Now in my opinion there are two possibilities:

  • The cartridges were sold to the Spanish government in 1936-39 by the Serbian government, or
  • The cartridges are surplus stock from the Western company itself.

#5

[quote=“schneider”][quote=“enfield56”]In the book “Serbian and Yugoslav Mauser Rifles” by Branko Bogdanovic, on page 77 there is mention of the Serbian contracts for 7x57 ammunition let to other countries.

“On the eve of the First World War, Serbia ordered 50,000,000 more 7x57 cartridges from the Societe des Munitions-Gevelot et Gaupillat-Paris, or SFM. In 1916, the British Adriatic Mission contracted for ammunition with several American firms for the Serbian Government. Remington Arms, and Union Metallic Cartridge Company of Bridgeport, Connecticut and Western Company of Alton, Illinois, together delivered 70,000,000 7x57 rounds of ammunition and 1,000,000 Model 99 clips.”

Maybe the cartridge shown is one of these? [/quote]

Well, certainly the cartridge could be from that Serbian contract. Now in my opinion there are two possibilities:

  • The cartridges were sold to the Spanish government in 1936-39 by the Serbian government, or
  • The cartridges are surplus stock from the Western company itself.[/quote]

My guess is the first. Don’t forget that with the Mauser Model 1924, which entered full production at Kragujevac in 1928, the Yugoslavs switched calibre to 7,92x57. This would probably have left them with large stocks of 7x57 which, given the amount of materiel available after 1919, would probably have been rather difficult to get rid of. The Spanish Civil War would have been the ideal opportunity to get rid of these surplus stocks given that 7x57 was the chosen calibre of the Spanish and the US sourced ammunition wasn’t directly traceable to the Yugoslavs.

Mind you, this is based on nothing more than surmise.

Peter


#6

I basically agree with Peter’s assessment, but the fact the ammunition was produced for Serbia doesn’t guarantee it was in the successor state of Yugoslavia in 1936. The defeat and virtual exile of the Serbian army early in the Great War, and its subsequent rearmament by the Allies makes any assumption of the whereabouts of the American-produced ammunition an uneasy one. Someone may actually know the answer to this question, but it may be another one of those Balkan mysteries with no easy solution. Jack


#7

Hello, I do not believe that these rounds were bought to Serbia. I believe that these rounds came to Spain route Mexico, inside the help got for the Republic Spanish and sent generously by the General Cárdenas.


#8

I must disagree. The ammunition Cárdenas sent along with Mexican rifles was Mexican made, “Mexico” or “FNC” headstamped. President Cárdenas sent 20.000 Mauser rifles and 1.000 cartridges for each rifle. This ammo was recent and good, dating from 1929-1931. But the Mexican Mauser rifles Cárdenas sent were old and battered, and generously paid. They were charged US $ 24,05 each, and paid FOB Veracruz, so the money won’t be lost if the cargo was captured by the Nationalists. A nice gesture of solidarity, no doubt.

Moreover, I just have found reference to a contract for 15 million 7 mm cartridges from Yugoslavia, purchased via a dealer named Paul Dormann. I now believe these were part of the Western 1916 cartridges of the Serbian contract.


#9

Why would Mexico buy US made cartridges to supply to Spain when they had their own producers of 7x57?

Given the Mexicans periodic left-wing tendencies, their support for the Spanish Republicans in the face of a League of Nations arms embargo and their strained relations with the US I think it unlikely that these cartridges were supplied by Mexico.

Peter


#10

Why would Mexico buy US made cartridges to supply to Spain when they had their own producers of 7x57?

Given the Mexicans periodic left-wing tendencies, their support for the Spanish Republicans in the face of a League of Nations arms embargo and their strained relations with the US I think it unlikely that these cartridges were supplied by Mexico.

Peter[/quote]

One thing the Mexicans actually did was acting as middlemen for guns and ammunition purchases in Europe. They provided the certificates saying that the material was being shipped to Mexico, when in fact it was directed to Spain.


#11

Whoops, I’m forgetting what I know of the Balkan campaign from 1915 to the end of the war.

Germany and Austro-Hungary, together with Bulgaria occupied most of Serbia in a rapid campaign at the end of 1915. This forced the Serbian army to evacuate the country, ending up in neutral Albania from where they were transported to Salonika in Greece by ship. I would guess that the 1916 orders for ammunition, instigated by the British Adriatic Mission would have been to restock the Serbs with ammunition to replace that used during the 1915 campaign and that lost during the retreat through the mountains of Montenegro.

I don’t know when in 1916 this order was placed but it would have taken quite a while to produce the 70,000,000 million cartridges and to ship them across the Atlantic and then presumably, to the Eastern Mediterranean. The interesting thing about the Salonica Front was that there was almost no movement between November 1916 and the middle of September 1918. All this time, both the Allies and Serbian forces were on Greek soil, at some embarrassement to the nominally neutral Greek government. It was only towards the end of September, in response to Austrian weakness that the border was crossed and the British, French and Serbia forces pushed northwards into Serbia.

I wonder if some of the US made 7x57 ammunition was left in Greece at the end of the war. It was pretty normal for troops to just up sticks and go home leaving a lot of materiel behind as it wasn’t worth much and shipping capacity was scarce. Maybe it simply made its way to Spain along with the Greek produced ammunition?

It’s all guesses of course but does anyone know more about the dates of delivery of the US ammunition? Have more information on the September 1918 campaign and the number of troops involved?

Peter


#12

An interesting hypothesis. Clearly the Serbs could have left behind some 7mm cartridges when they left Greece, and the Greek government would be eager to get rid of them.

But now we know that a 15-million round order on 7 x 57 Yugoslav ammo was placed by the Republicans. That, I think, would be too much to have been left behind by the Serbs.


#13

I do not want to argue with anybody and less with SCHNEIDER of which I estimate the contributions to this forum, but I do not agree.
Already I know that I do not give Mexico anything to the Spanish Republic, but he received a just price, which in the circumstances of the civil Spanish war, was something exceptional. It is possible to consult the book ARMAS PARA ESPAÑA (GUNS FOR SPAIN) of Gerald Howson.
Mexico sent to Spain the ammunition made of your factories, and why the acquired one in The United States during the period of the Revolution, from 1910 to 1920?
The Spanish Republic acquired ammunition where it could obtain, in Mexico, Russia, Czechoslovakia, Poland, Greece, etc., but in Serbia? As does it explain that one does not find in Spain ammunition with Serbian headstamp?


#14

[quote=“ximo”]I do not want to argue with anybody and less with SCHNEIDER of which I estimate the contributions to this forum, but I do not agree.
Already I know that I do not give Mexico anything to the Spanish Republic, but he received a just price, which in the circumstances of the civil Spanish war, was something exceptional. It is possible to consult the book ARMAS PARA ESPAÑA (GUNS FOR SPAIN) of Gerald Howson.
Mexico sent to Spain the ammunition made of your factories, and why the acquired one in The United States during the period of the Revolution, from 1910 to 1920?
The Spanish Republic acquired ammunition where it could obtain, in Mexico, Russia, Czechoslovakia, Poland, Greece, etc., but in Serbia? As does it explain that one does not find in Spain ammunition with Serbian headstamp?
[/quote]

Ximo, there’s no problem in arguing, that’s what forums are for.

It is possible that some ammo purchased by Mexico in the US during its revolution was shipped to Spain.

But if the 15 million rounds purchased from Yugoslavia were not made in USA, what cartridges were those 15 million?

Maybe no Serbian headstamps are found in Spain because the Serbians purchased their ammo elsewhere.

And by the way: I could have sworn that Toledo didn’t make 7,92 cartridges during the civil war, and Pbutler has posted a photo with a FNT 1936 headstamp.
Also, 2 million cartridges in 6,5 mm Arisaka came to Spain along with 4.000 rifles, and I haven’t seen one of those cartridges still.

It is true that the more you know, the more humble you must be…


#15

[quote=“schneider”]
An interesting hypothesis. Clearly the Serbs could have left behind some 7mm cartridges when they left Greece, and the Greek government would be eager to get rid of them.

But now we know that a 15-million round order on 7 x 57 Yugoslav ammo was placed by the Republicans. That, I think, would be too much to have been left behind by the Serbs.[/quote]

I presume this was British ammunition having been ordered and probably paid for (at least in the first instance) by Britain. With Serbia occupied by Entente forces their troops in Greece would have been dependent on the Allies for supplies of all kinds. By the end of the war the Salonika Front would have been a sideshow and I’d guess that most transport would have been removed to more active areas along with the drivers. The original order in the US was for 70,000,000 cartridges and as the front had been quiet I don’t think much would have been expended until the final offensive.

I think the Serbian forces numbered about 100,000 by the time they reached safety in Albania. The Salonika area was notorious for malaria and water bourn diseases so there is a good chance that that number was reduced even further in the years spent in Greece. How many of those millions of cartridges could the Serbs have carried back into Serbia? Maybe the 15 million cartridges were a simple accounting error?

I don’t want to make too much of this as it’s all guesswork but it’s an interesting field for speculation.

Happy collecting, Peter


#16

I have been following this thread with interest, especially with respect to the British orders for Serbia, so I though I would post a few details to help with some of the conjecture.

For the first few months of the war orders placed in the United States by Britain were placed directly by the War Office, but from January 1915 a new system was instigated. J.P.Morgan were appointed as the British Purchasing Agent in the United States with full authority to place contracts and negotiate with suppliers. This continued after April 1915 when the Ministry of Munitions was formed under Lloyd George

Surviving records of these contracts are pretty good, but I would add the caveat that they are not 100% complete and I have found a few omissions and errors.

There is no record of any British contract with Western for 7 x 57mm ammunition, neither with Western direct nor their UK representative, N.G.Prince. However, a contract was placed with Remington and part or all of this contract may have been sub-contracted to Western. This would not have been unusual, as the British government placed a number of contracts with Remington as agents, for example the .455 pistol orders from Smith & Wesson.

The contract with Remington was part of an order for 159,800,000 rounds of .303 ammunition placed under C.1545 dated 12.2.1915 which stated “40,000,000 7mm cartridges are to be delivered in lieu of similar quantity of .303; deliveries of .303 not to be affected except during period 7mm is being manufactured.” This contract was due to be completed by 1.5.1916 but records show that only 2,200,000 had been delivered by March 1917 and Morgan’s were awaiting proposals from the contractor.

With regard to the chargers for the 7mm Serbian cartridge, Hinks Wells in Birmingham were given contract 94/C/1165 dated 25.11.1915, with two following contracts in 1916 for a total of 8,000,000 chargers which is shown as completed. This matches the 40 million round order placed with Remington. Whether or not the Remington contract was eventually complted is not known, but it is possible it was and arrived too late to be sent to Serbia.

Incidently Peter, I have the British drawing of the Serbian charger but it is too large to post here. Drawing number is C.I.W. (Chief Inspector Woolwich) 2714 and it is undated.

Regards
TonyE


#17

Schneider wrote:
Also, 2 million cartridges in 6,5 mm Arisaka came to Spain along with 4.000 rifles, and I haven’t seen one of those cartridges still.

Next, a photography of 5 found Arisaka cartridges in the battlefield of the Ebro. (pic of municion.org)
In the battlefields of the Basque Country, Asturias, also are these cartridges easily.

One more a test of than the ammunition of origin the USA in caliber 7x57, for example the WESTERN, arrived from Mexico we found, it in book SIMBOLS EN EL FERRO, written in Catalan, where they mention his Mexican origin.
In the book it indicates, that he is the American ammunition of the Western mark, bought by Pancho Villa with German financing.

Anyway, each is free to think what wants.


#18

[quote=“ximo”]
[i]One more a test of than the ammunition of origin the USA in caliber 7x57, for example the WESTERN, arrived from Mexico we found, it in book SIMBOLS EN EL FERRO, written in Catalan, where they mention his Mexican origin.
In the book it indicates, that he is the American ammunition of the Western mark, bought by Pancho Villa with German financing.

Anyway, each is free to think what wants[/i].[/quote]

Of course everyone is free to believe whatever, but that’s not the point of writing and reading a forum. We all are, I think, trying to shed some light on certain matters.

And now I must tell that I think Ximo may be perfectly right, and the Western cartridges may have come from the Mexican depots. I have found this reference:

There were documented contacts between Villa and the Germans, after Villa’s split with the Constitutionalists. Principally this was in the person of Felix A. Sommerfeld, (noted in Katz’s book), allegedly, in 1915, he funneled $340,000 of German money to the Western Cartridge Company to purchase ammunition.

I believe that $ 340.000 in 1916 could purchase a lot of 7 mm cartridges.

I have read also that Mexican workers at the ammunition factories worked extra time to fulfill the needs of the Republicans. But I have not seen Mexican 7 mm cartridges with dates higher than 1931; again, I may be proved wrong. Maybe the work was for replenishing the army stocks after they were sent to Spain.


#19

I have 7mm Mauser dates up to 1947 (earliest 1913)

F.de M. (12:00)

7 (9:00) M/M ((3:00)

47 (6:00)

Above headstamp on a blank, 5 petal crimp & brass primer with a black annulus


#20

Well, this has all take an interesting turn.

From Tony’s note it would appear that the Western made cartridges for Serbia might not all have been delivered by the end of the war. I don’t know what the contractual arrangements would have been, but as JP Morgan were the purchasing agents, I believe that they paid for the goods ordered backed by letters of credit guaranteed by the British or American Governments. The credits were probably payable on departure from the port of consignment, which would have ensured payment even if the goods were lost in transit. If the goods had yet to be delivered by the end of the war then Morgans, as the contracting party and owner of the goods, would have wanted to offload them as quickly as possible to re-imburse themelves.

It would have been a lot of stock to sell into a world awash with surplus ammunition, after the ‘war to end all wars’ and with the future peace of the world ensured by treaty and the League of Nations.

As for the Republican side in Spain, don’t forget that they were forced buyers. There was an international embargo on arms sales to both sides with only a very few countries not signing up for it, one of which was Mexico. For a while the Republican government had funds with which to buy what arms it could on the market although prices seem to have risen dramatically on the outbreak of war. The Spanish government had managed to amass large gold and currency reserves during the First World War as its industries were ideally placed to supply the allies. As a neutral, it’s shipping was able to carry goods relatively freely which also yielded a good income. This healthy financial position ended rather suddenly after the countries gold stocks were mostly shipped to Russia in 1936 at which point the Soviet regime became the principle supplier.

This link has rather more information than even the most recent revision of Paul Preston’s excellent book on the Civil War;

wais.stanford.edu/ztopics/week04 … pments.htm

Maybe the reason why I’ve never seen a Hinks Wells 7x67 clip is because they were never matched up with the ammunition they were made for. They might even have been scrapped unused. I wonder if there’s still one out there… somewhere.

Happy collecting, Peter