A Postcard from France

Posted in Paper with tags , , on January 21, 2021 by The Dude

When the British soldiers reached France in 1914 & 15 many of them sent these embroidered postcards home to their family and friends. Usually pretty bland in content they are a very period specific bit of tourist kitsch.

This one is from a Henry Birchall to his sister “E” in Southport in Lancashire. It reads…

Dear Sister
I am pleased to hear that your Father Mother is keeping in good health. they will think I have forgot them because I have not wrote to them for a long time. I will … them a line just to let them no that I have not forgot them. So good by, till we meet again.

Yugoslav M24 Mauser Infantry Rifle

Posted in Firearms with tags , , on January 18, 2021 by The Dude

This M24 Mauser came to me untouched from it’s journey post-1945 and complete including matching serials, King Peter II cartouche and original sling mounts.

With the First World War over, the newly formed country of Kingdom of Serbs, Croats, and Slovenes (later known as Yugoslavia) decided they wanted a standardized rifle for their front line troops. After a brief trials, they came up with an almost exact copy of Germany’s K98k rifle – the biggest difference being that the action was 1/8 inch shorter than Germany’s standard infantry rifle. The first 100,000 rifles came from FN, and the remaining examples (which were produced through WWII) were built at the Yugoslavian national armory. There were three main configurations of this rifle: two carbines and one rifle.

This example is marked BOJHOTEX.ЗАВОД – Крагујевцу (Military Technical Institute 1932-1941) on the sidewall indicating a Yugoslav arsenal origin.

German Contract G98/40 Infantry Rifle

Posted in Firearms with tags , , , , on January 17, 2021 by The Dude

Here’s an uncommon rifle I just picked up. These German contract guns were made by Fémáru Fegyver és Gépgyár, Budapest, which company possibly subcontracted some or all of the work to Danuvia Gépgyár, Budapest 1941-44. In 1940 the Mannlicher Model 35 was redesigned for the German contract. Based on German request the caliber was changed to 7.92x57mm Mauser, the bolt handle was turned down, a staggered row Mauser-type box magazine flush with the bottom of the stock was fitted and German M98-type bands and bayonet lug were used on this rifle. All steel parts, including the bolt were blued.

I haven’t been able to work out why the reference to Gewehr 98 in it’s name as it shares no dna with that rifle. Note the 2 part lower stock in the same style as the Enfield SMLE rifles.

An Orphan for a Birchall MM Winner

Posted in 1914-1918 Service Medals, Family Groups & Singles with tags , , on January 14, 2021 by The Dude

When I find a Birchall impressed medal out there on the Intertubes I am always pretty stoked. Sometimes it’s an orphan, a medal that has been split from its group. This one is particularly poignant as it belonged to a Military Medal winner, 685885 GNR J.Birchall, RA. James Birchall was gazetted for the Military Medal on the 4th of February 1918. I also found him listed as wounded on the War office casualty lists for July 9th 1918.

Italian Carcano Ammunition Pouches

Posted in Ammo & Magazine Pouches with tags , , on October 18, 2020 by The Dude

A pretty simple little bit of kit, these are a pair of green Italian made leather ammunition pouches for the Carcano infantry carbine. These date from pre-1943.

A Birchall with a career in the Postwar BAOR

Posted in 1945 + Medals, Family Groups & Singles with tags , , on October 18, 2020 by The Dude

This QEII Long Service/Good Conduct medal was awarded in 1962 to Staff Sergeant J.R. Burchell, 22221209 of the 3rd Battalion, East Anglian Regiment. Looking for him on the intertubes I find him listed as C/Sgt in 3/East Anglian in 1965 and assigned to the Regimental Depot.

2 cm Flak 30/38/Flakvierling Magazine

Posted in Magazines with tags , , , , on August 5, 2020 by The Dude

This is the 10 round magazine for the 20mm Flak 30/38 anti-aircraft gun. These were blued steel and supplied in cases of two. This example is stamped cjs for the manufacturer Kallenbach, Meyer & Franke Metallwarenfabrik in Luckenwalde. It is dated 1943. Amusingly Canadian regulations require all magazines for “rifles” to be pinned for 5 rounds as this helpfully has been. For scale I have put one of the mags for my K43 rifle in the photo.

2 cm Flak 30/38/Flakvierling HE round

Posted in Ammunition with tags , , , , on August 5, 2020 by The Dude

A fairly straightforward item here. I got this from Andrew so that I would have one round for the magazine I bought from him. This is an HE 20mm round for the 2 cm Flak 30/38/Flakvierling. It has the asr code for “HAK” Hanseatisches Kettenwerk in Hamburg-Langenhorn as well as the WaA271 inspection stamp for that factory.

A Birchall killed on the 1st Day of the Somme

Posted in 1914-1918 Service Medals, Family Groups & Singles with tags , , on August 5, 2020 by The Dude

A sad little orphan 1914-15 Star. Impressed to Private William Burchell, 17691, of the Royal Berkshire Regiment. William entered France on the 15th of October 1915 and was killed in action on the 1st of July at Thiepval on the Somme. I have some German ball shrapnel from the same area. Thiepval was an abattoir on that day although the Berkshires reached their objectives on schedule. William was 33 on the day he was killed. He is commemorated on the Thiepval memorial. Coincidentally a Sergeant in the Lancashire Regt named identically was also killed at Thiepval on the same day.

Italian Breda M37 HMG

Posted in Firearms with tags , , on May 10, 2020 by The Dude

This heavy machine gun appeared out of nowhere this last month. It’s manufactured by Breda in 1939. It all matches however the barrel has a 1938 roll date so I am assuming they dated the major parts upon manufacture and then assembled them later. It’s a dewat obviously but a nice one, with a moving bolt and a topcover that lifts to reveal the guts of the gun. A great back drop to my Carcanos!

Italian M91/38 Carcano Cavalry Carbine

Posted in Firearms with tags , , , on March 14, 2020 by The Dude

Just when I thought I was done with Carcano’s I get a call from Sean, who has scavenged up this interesting little variant, the M91/38 Cavalry Carbine (Moschetto Modello Cavalleria).

Chambered in 6.5×52, and equipped with a permanently affixed long spike bayonet, it was intended for the use of horse cavalry units and fitted into a leather saddle scabbard.

Interestingly the setup with the bayonet is almost identical to the Japanese Type 44 Cavalry carbine. I expect that designers kept an eye on what each other were producing and stole ideas that appealed to them. The gun is manufactured by Terni. Interesting that the barrel is proofed 36-XIV, meaning it was manufactured in 1936, the 14th year of Mussolini’s rule.

Japanese Type 4 Ceramic Grenade

Posted in Grenades with tags , , on March 2, 2020 by The Dude

The late war and rather desperate innovation of the Type 4 hand grenade. These grenades were invented in late 1944 in response to Japan’s collapsing raw material supplies. The US submarine and air blockade had run the Japs out of steel at this point. The weapon is pretty simple, a ceramic or porcelain vase shape, with a crimped 5 second detonator made from a blasting cap. These were handed out to all the home defence organizations as well as to troops out in the inner chain of islands like Iwo Jima and Saipan. The style varies a lot because it was left to the individual pottery to decide.

An M91/28 Carcano Reissued by the Jerries

Posted in Firearms with tags , , on February 23, 2020 by The Dude

My friend Andrew bought this rifle only a couple of months ago. I wondered if he was drunk, since he doesn’t collect rifles that aren’t a K98. I knew, if I was patient, I’d end up owning it. And here you go! This Carcano M91/28 (Moschetto Modello Mod. 91/28) in 6.5×52 shows stock markings indicated that it was issued to the Italian Navy. Markings on the stock and receiver, including the dirty bird, plus the blued bolt, indicate it was captured by the Germans, inspected and reissued. This completes my Carcano group as I have a 91/41 Carcano here and a 91/38 here.

Man it’s great having a picker like Andrew :)

A Czech VZ-23 in German use

Posted in Firearms with tags , , on February 23, 2020 by The Dude

Here is an pretty rare rifle, the Czech VZ-23 Mauser, produced by Brno. The rifle was manufactured using a German Karabiner 98AZ base, resulting in a 550mm long barrel. The newly independent Czech arms industry only made these for a short period before moving on to the improved VZ-24. Signs of German reuse in WW2 include a stamping on the receiver under the wood-line and the blued bolt.

An Embroidered Postcard from France

Posted in Paper with tags , , on February 23, 2020 by The Dude

These postcards were very popular, especially with the British troops, during WW1. This particular one has a personal connection being sent by a soldier with the surname of Birchall.

“With my best wishes to you and all in Garston. Yours with kind regards, L. Cpl J. Birchall.”

It is sent to a Nellie Tomas in Garston. Likely one I found in Garston on Ancestry, born in 1900. No sign of a marriage tho so Romeo was unsuccessful.

A Birchall Masonic Medal

Posted in 1919-1938 Medals, Family Groups & Singles with tags , , , on February 23, 2020 by The Dude

Along with the military medals, occasionally drifts a Masonic medal. This one is the 1930 Royal Masonic Hospital Charity Jewel from 1930. It was awarded to Worshipful Brother J. Birchall of the Robinson Lodge (2046) in Maidstone, Kent.

A Birchall in the Liverpool Regiment

Posted in 1914-1918 Service Medals, Family Groups & Singles with tags , , on February 22, 2020 by The Dude

Another ordinary pair of Squeak and Wilfred, the two most common ww1 service medals. These belonged to Private 202702 John Birchall of the Liverpool Regiment.

A Birchall, Died a POW in Germany

Posted in 1914-1918 Service Medals, Family Groups & Singles with tags , , , on December 24, 2019 by The Dude

This Death Penny belonged to Sidney Burchell, a Private in the 7th Battalion, King’s Royal Rifle Regiment. Sydney died from illness while a prisoner in Germany on the 26th of June 1918. This is likely not his actual death date as the POW rolls have him dying on the 20th of June. Sidney enlisted in Chichester, initially as TR/10/6344 in a Training Reserve Battalion, probably the 23rd based in Shoreham, although Soldiers Died in the Great War 1914-1919 probably erroneously states the 2nd. Later he became Rifleman A/205284 in the 7th Battalion King’s Royal Rifle Corps, part of the Army’s 14th Division.

Sidney was taken prisoner on 21 March 1918 and held at Camp Stendal, Prussia. He died of kidney infection while in captivity on 20 June 1918 aged 19. [Some current records state he died on 26 June which is likely to be the date of his burial.]

He was buried in grave V.A.11 at the Hautmont Communal Cemetery. Hautmont had been captured by the Germans in the early days of World War 1. The communal cemetery was used by the German troops for the burial of their dead. The Allied prisoners who died in the local German hospitals were buried there too by the authorities of the town.

Sidney is also commemorated on the Lodsworth war memorial.

Commemorative Medal of the 1939-1945 War with Allemagne, Liberation and Engage Voluntaire Bar

Posted in 1939-1945 Service Medals with tags , on December 7, 2019 by The Dude

This is a French medal awarded to all participants in recognised formations, fitted with a range of bars depending on the type and theatre of service. In this case the bars are “Allemagne” for all regular forces involved in the German campaign of 1944-1945, the “Liberation” bar for the French Campaign of 1944 and the “Engage Voluntaire” bar to indicate a voluntary enlistment.

Another WW1 Birchall Orphan

Posted in Family Groups & Singles with tags , , on December 7, 2019 by The Dude

This lonely little WW1 Victory Medal orphan belonged to M2-033111 Private A.J. BURCHELL of the Army Service Corps. Arthur James Burchell entered France on the 18th of July 1915 and was therefore entitled to the 1914-1915 Star in addition to the BWM and Victory Medal. His M2 prefix on his service number indicates that he was an electrician.

A Birchall Killed In Norway

Posted in Family Groups & Singles with tags , , , , , on December 7, 2019 by The Dude

This modest little group belonged to John James Burchall-Ward, 997361, 114 Squadron. John was a Sergeant-Observer in the RAF Volunteer Reserve. He was killed in action on the 27th December 1941 when the Blenheim he was helping to crew was shot down into the sea at the island of Vaagso in Norway during Operation Archery. He is buried in the Møllendal Church Cemetery in Bergen.

A Birchall who didn’t deploy

Posted in 1945 + Medals, Family Groups & Singles with tags , , on September 21, 2019 by The Dude

Surprising this week, after a drought of a few months, a plain old garden-variety British General Service Medal (1962). The recipient is Gunner R. Birchall 23381785, Royal Artillery. The lack of any of the 14 possible theatre bars means he didn’t deploy from the UK during his service.

German WW2 Luger P-08

Posted in Firearms with tags , , , , on August 4, 2019 by The Dude

The Luger pistol is a prohibited firearm up here north of the border, due to its barrel length of 100mm. Because I came to Canada so late I was unable to be grandfathered into the pistol license required to own one. As a substitute I own a WW1 & WW2 “cock and click” dewat as well as the long barrelled LP-08 Artillery Luger. But I always wanted the real deal. So I went the long route of sourcing a 105mm barrel from the US and then locating a Luger up here to get re-barrelled and reclassified as restricted.

This is it, a 1937 Mauser made S/42 marked Luger P-08. It came with a spare magazine, a takedown tool marked WaA63 (correct for Mauser) and a period holster from 1937.

British SMLE Enfield No1 Mk3*

Posted in Firearms with tags , , , , , on July 20, 2019 by The Dude

I have always had a wee hard-on for the Enfield No1 Mk3. It was the first rifle I owned as a child and I have always wanted to own one again. A friend of mine is a nut for Enfields and owns far too many. I asked him to sell me a no-issues wartime rifle to go with the No4 & No5 I already had. He came up with this one. Battle issued, made in 1941/42 by Lithgow in Australia. Sighted for high velocity MkVII ammun ition, this rifle went into New Guinea with the Australian Forces. It was returned to Lithgow in June 1945.

Arisaka Rear & Side Ammunition Pouches

Posted in Ammo & Magazine Pouches with tags , , , on July 20, 2019 by The Dude

A fair while back I found a single front ammunition pouch for the Arisaka battle rifle. The standard issue was two front pouches and one rear one. The front pouches held 30 rounds and the rear one 60, for a full load of 120 rounds.

The rear pouch also houses a small oil bottle. Both of these came stinking of mothballs. I sat them outside for a couple of months and then soaked them in vinegar & water overnight. They still stink but not so much as to drive me out of my own house.