First World War: The Story of a Global Conflict

In commemoration of the upcoming centennial of the outbreak of World War One The Guardian newspaper, historians from around the world and the British Academy have created an immersive interactive documentary looking at the First World War available in half a dozen languages.  The documentary involves audio and text contributions from ten historians from ten countries.  
The interactive documentary gives a brief overview of some of the conflict’s most important aspects as well as covering some of its lesser known facets such as the various ancillary fronts in the far east, Africa and southern Europe.  While the overview may be brief with each topic being addressed by a number of audio clips or several hundred words of text it is excellently presented and wholly immersive.  

The inclusion of historians from various fields and from around the world gives a broader spread of the historical discourse surrounding the history of the Great War and this in itself is to be commended.  The presentation of the documentary is unique with various interactive screens progressing the viewer through the conflict looking at mobilisation through to the wider aftermath of the war.  Each screen offers audio clips of both historians but also contemporary readings, songs and instrumental music.  Other sections offer contemporary footage as well as other primary sources such as scans of The Guardian’s original coverage of the war as well as rarer seen photographs.  

The documentary is roughly 30 minutes in length if you listen to its main stream of audio, but longer if you follow the links offered.  It is available in English, French, German, Italian, Spanish, Arabic or Hindi.

Update

Over the next couple of weeks there are going to be a lot of posts on the various political and military aspects of the beginning of World War One. This will be part of the #WWI100 project so it’ll include key quotes, analysis of treaties and declarations of war.

Posts examining the uniforms and equipment of the major powers. Examinations of early major battles and the mobilisation.

There will be a slight emphasis towards the British aspect of the beginnings of the war but I’m going to try and give an overview of as many countries actions as I can. I’ve been working these posts up over the last month or so. Looking forward to sharing them and hope you guys will enjoy them.

Recoil Operated vs. Gas Operated

The above diagram comes from a June 1942, Popular Science article introducing the US Army’s new M1 Carbine.  The diagram illustrates the difference in operating systems used by the new carbine and the Thompson M1A1 submachine gun.  

While both systems show use the expanding propellant gases or the fired cartridge they use it in different ways. The M1 Carbine siphons of gas into is gas cylinder driving the piston and operating rod backwards. While in the Thompson the bolt is blown back by the pressure of the gas.  

In actuality the diagram is incorrectly labelled, the Thompson’s action is described as ‘Recoil Operated' which would imply that the weapon's barrel and bolt move rearwards when firing.  In fact the Thompson uses a simpler blowback action where the unlocked breech allows the pressure from the fired bullet to push the bolt back against a recoil spring.  However, in a true recoil system the breech is locked during firing and it is the recoil of the weapon’s bolt and barrel back unlocking the breech before returning forward.

Popular Science, June 1942 (source)

Vacancies Exist

The image above is a recruitment poster, which looks to date to just before the First World War.  It calls on volunteers for all of the army’s branches.  The British Army was one of the few in Europe which did not rely upon conscription, instead the army was made up entirely of volunteers many coming from the upper lower and lower middle classes. 

The poster itself played on the prestige and smart appearance of units like the hussar cavalry regiments and highlanders and even the Army Service Corps is show in smart uniform.  However, by 1902 the entire British Army had adopted 1902 Pattern Service Dress which exchanged the famous scarlet coast for a khaki one. By late 1914 walls and poster boards across Britain would be inundated with recruitment posters of all sizes, colours and styles.

Image Source

The Austro-Hungarian Ultimatum to Serbia

On the 23rd July, the Austrian Minister in Belgrade, Baron Giesl von Gieslingen, presented a carefully formulated ultimatum to the Serbian government.  The July Ultimatum had been drafted with direction from Germany and was calculated to be humiliating and unacceptable. Winston Churchill described the ultimatum as “…being the most insolent document of its kind ever devised.”

The Ultimatum:

  1. To suppress any publication which incites to hatred and contempt of the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy and the general tendency of which is directed against its territorial integrity;
  2. To dissolve immediately the society styled “Narodna Odbrana,” to confiscate all its means of propaganda, and to proceed in the same manner against other societies and their branches in Serbia which engage in propaganda against the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy.  The Royal Government shall take the necessary measures to prevent the societies dissolved from continuing their activity under another name and form;
  3. To eliminate without delay from public instruction in Serbia, both as regards the teaching body and also as regards the methods of instruction, everything that serves, or might serve, to foment the propaganda against Austria-Hungary;
  4. To remove from the military service, and from the administration in general, all officers and functionaries guilty of propaganda against the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy whose names and deeds the Austro-Hungarian Government reserve to themselves the right of communicating to the Royal Government;
  5. To accept the collaboration in Serbia of representatives of the Austro-Hungarian Government for the suppression of the subversive movement directed against the territorial integrity of the Monarchy;
  6. To take judicial proceedings against accessories to the plot of the 28th of June who are on Serbian territory; delegates of the Austro-Hungarian Government will take part in the investigation relating thereto;
  7. To proceed without delay to the arrest of Major Voija Tankositch and of the individual named Milan Ciganovitch, a Serbian State employee, who have been compromised by the results of the magisterial inquiry at Serajevo;
  8. To prevent by effective measures the cooperation of the Serbian authorities in the illicit traffic in arms and explosives across the frontier, to dismiss and punish severely the officials of the frontier service at Shabatz Loznica guilty of having assisted the perpetrators of the Serajevo crime by facilitating their passage across the frontier;
  9. To furnish the Imperial and Royal Government with explanations regarding the unjustifiable utterances of high Serbian officials, both in Serbia and abroad, who, notwithstanding their official position, have not hesitated since the crime of the 28th of June to express themselves in interviews in terms of hostility to the Austro-Hungarian Government; and, finally,
  10. To notify the Imperial and Royal Government without delay of the execution of the measures comprised under the preceding heads.

The Austro-Hungarian Government expect the reply of the Royal Serbian Government at the latest by 5 o’clock on Saturday evening the 25th of July.  

The Serbian government reacted by requesting assistance from their slavic allies Russia, who publicly supported Serbia.  However, the response was disappointing with the Tsar and his government recommending that they agree to the terms of the ultimatum.  The primary reason for this was that Russia was not ready for war in 1914. As a result the Serbian government was forced to accept Austria’s demands all accept point six, which required Serbia allow “delegates of the Austro-Hungarian Government” to take part in the investigation which while on the surface sounds acceptable it was in fact tantamount to allowing Serbia to become an Austrian police state.  The British Foreign secretary Sir Edward Grey told the German Ambassador to London that “any nation that accepted conditions like that would really cease to count as an independent nation.”  Serbia replied to this point saying “this cannot be accepted, as this is a violation of the constitution and of criminal procedure.  Yet in some cases the result of the investigation might be communicated to the Austro-Hungarian officials.”  

The New York Times front page with a column on the ultimatum (source)

The Serbian failure to fully comply with the Austrian demands gave the Austro-Hungarian Empire the opportunity to declare war at 11am on 28th July.  Count Leopold von Berchtold, the Austro-Hungarian Foreign Minister sent a telegram directly to the Serbian Prime Minister in response to country’s unsatisfactory reply: 

The Royal Serbian Government not having answered in a satisfactory manner the note of July 23, 1914, presented by the Austro-Hungarian Minister at Belgrade, the Imperial and Royal Government are themselves compelled to see to the safeguarding of their rights and interests, and, with this object, to have recourse to force of arms. Austria-Hungary consequently considers herself henceforward in state of war with Serbia.

However, having declared war only limited offensive action could immediately be taken as the Austro-Hungarian Army was still mobilising and would not be able to begin offensive operations for several weeks.

In response to Austria’s declaration of war Russia to begin to mobilise along the Austro-Hungarian border on the 29th July, in response Germany began to mobilise her army in support of her ally, full Russian mobilisation began on the 1st August with Germany declaring war on Russia catalysing the beginning of the First World War.  In response to this France and Belgium begin full mobilisation of their armed forces, Europe braces itself as the war’s impetus grew.

Primary Sources:

The Austro-Hungarian Ultimatum to Serbia

The Serbian Response to the Austro-Hungarian Ultimatum

The Austro-Hungarian Declaration of War on Serbia

Dillinger Killed

80 years ago today infamous gangster John Dillinger was shot and killed by Federal agents outside Chicago’s Biograph Theater on the 22nd July, 1934.  Dillinger had become America’s most wanted man having managed to evaded the police and FBI for a year while embarking on a series of bank robberies.  

On the evening of the 22nd July, Dillinger, Anna Sage and Polly Hamilton left a screening of Manhattan Melodrama starring Clark Gable.  Dillinger is said to have spotted agents as he walked out of the cinema.  Moving to draw his pistol, a .380ACP Colt 1908 Pocket Hammerless, however he was unable to pull the pistol from his pocket and while moving towards a nearby alley he was shot by three FBI agents with a fatal round hitting him in the back of the neck.

Dillinger’s personal effects, including his 1908 Colt Pocket Hammerless (source)

The above video is an original MCA/Universal newsreel showing (rather graphically) Dillinger’s body, the reaction of crowds and his personal effects.  

Video Source

1796 Pattern Light Cavalry Sabre
This afternoon I cleaned an original trooper’s 1796 Pattern Light Cavalry Sabre.  The above photographs show the first stage of cleaning the sabre.  I have used extremely fine wire wool and a metal cleaner to lift surface dirt and any active rust from the scabbard and blade.  While this won’t remove the pitting or any pre-existing tarnishing of the steel it will retain the patina and help to prevent any further tarnishing. 


A photograph showing the tip of the scabbard after the surface dirt has been lifted off by buffing.  Note the buffed centre section in contrast to the dull uncleaned areas either side. 

The first photograph was taken before cleaning and the second was taken just afterwards, sadly the photo quality doesn’t do the improvement justice.  The photographs below are show the sabre in more detail.  The third and fourth photographs show the sword’s grip and handguard and hatchet point and scabbard before cleaning while the fifth photograph shows the the sabre’s hilt (handguard and grip) after cleaning.  The next step with be to apply a micro-crystalline wax polish to the scabbard and hilt’s surface, coat the blade in oil and a light leather conditioner to the grip’s leather binding.
The History
The 1796 Pattern Light Cavalry Sabre was designed by John Gaspard Le Marchant, then a major with the 16th Light Dragoons, who was instrumental in improving British cavalry at the turn of the 19th century having designed new light and heavy cavalry sabres and written a new drill book; ‘Rules & Regulations for the Sword Exercise of the Cavalry’. Le Marchant’s sabre was shorter and handier than the one it replaced with a blade measuring 33 inches long and a wide central fuller lightened the sabre to just under 1 kilogram.  The simple hilt with a stirrup to the rear and single piece handguard cut unnecessary weight and gave it a flat profile.  This made it a weapon that even smaller troopers could wield effectively. 
The blade itself was influenced by the Indian Tulwars which widened toward the point, the 1796 Pattern has what is referred to as a hatchet point.  This placed more weight at the tip of the weapon improving the momentum of swing.  Le Marchant’s drill book dictated that the best use of the new sabre was to slash or cut at an enemy’s head and face to maim or incapacitate them.  However, a properly sharpened blade in the hands of a well trained cavalryman was capable of severing limbs or killing outright.  It wasn’t uncommon for regimental armourers to sharpen the reverse of the sabre as well as its cutting edge, this made the weapon an effective thrusting weapon as well as a cutting one. 


  Light Dragoons c.1815, (The Thin Red Line, Fosten)

The sabre is dramatically curved, more so than most other British sabres of the period, this increased its efficiency when slashing with the sword.  The 1796 Pattern was in service until 1821 and was used by all light cavalry regiments including, light dragoons, hussars and later lancers.  The design is widely said to be the finest light cavalry sabre of its era and was also adopted by many of Britain’s allied during the Napoleonic War including; Prussia, Sweden, Portugal, and Spain. 
Sources:

'1796 Pattern Light Cavalry Sabre', Classic Arms & Militaria Vol. XIV No.1, (source)
'English Light Cavalry Sabre 1796 Pattern', Swords Collection, (source)
The Thin Red Line: Uniforms of the British Army between 1751 & 1914, D.S.V & B.K. Fosten, (1989)


1796 Pattern Light Cavalry Sabre
This afternoon I cleaned an original trooper’s 1796 Pattern Light Cavalry Sabre.  The above photographs show the first stage of cleaning the sabre.  I have used extremely fine wire wool and a metal cleaner to lift surface dirt and any active rust from the scabbard and blade.  While this won’t remove the pitting or any pre-existing tarnishing of the steel it will retain the patina and help to prevent any further tarnishing. 


A photograph showing the tip of the scabbard after the surface dirt has been lifted off by buffing.  Note the buffed centre section in contrast to the dull uncleaned areas either side. 

The first photograph was taken before cleaning and the second was taken just afterwards, sadly the photo quality doesn’t do the improvement justice.  The photographs below are show the sabre in more detail.  The third and fourth photographs show the sword’s grip and handguard and hatchet point and scabbard before cleaning while the fifth photograph shows the the sabre’s hilt (handguard and grip) after cleaning.  The next step with be to apply a micro-crystalline wax polish to the scabbard and hilt’s surface, coat the blade in oil and a light leather conditioner to the grip’s leather binding.
The History
The 1796 Pattern Light Cavalry Sabre was designed by John Gaspard Le Marchant, then a major with the 16th Light Dragoons, who was instrumental in improving British cavalry at the turn of the 19th century having designed new light and heavy cavalry sabres and written a new drill book; ‘Rules & Regulations for the Sword Exercise of the Cavalry’. Le Marchant’s sabre was shorter and handier than the one it replaced with a blade measuring 33 inches long and a wide central fuller lightened the sabre to just under 1 kilogram.  The simple hilt with a stirrup to the rear and single piece handguard cut unnecessary weight and gave it a flat profile.  This made it a weapon that even smaller troopers could wield effectively. 
The blade itself was influenced by the Indian Tulwars which widened toward the point, the 1796 Pattern has what is referred to as a hatchet point.  This placed more weight at the tip of the weapon improving the momentum of swing.  Le Marchant’s drill book dictated that the best use of the new sabre was to slash or cut at an enemy’s head and face to maim or incapacitate them.  However, a properly sharpened blade in the hands of a well trained cavalryman was capable of severing limbs or killing outright.  It wasn’t uncommon for regimental armourers to sharpen the reverse of the sabre as well as its cutting edge, this made the weapon an effective thrusting weapon as well as a cutting one. 


  Light Dragoons c.1815, (The Thin Red Line, Fosten)

The sabre is dramatically curved, more so than most other British sabres of the period, this increased its efficiency when slashing with the sword.  The 1796 Pattern was in service until 1821 and was used by all light cavalry regiments including, light dragoons, hussars and later lancers.  The design is widely said to be the finest light cavalry sabre of its era and was also adopted by many of Britain’s allied during the Napoleonic War including; Prussia, Sweden, Portugal, and Spain. 
Sources:

'1796 Pattern Light Cavalry Sabre', Classic Arms & Militaria Vol. XIV No.1, (source)
'English Light Cavalry Sabre 1796 Pattern', Swords Collection, (source)
The Thin Red Line: Uniforms of the British Army between 1751 & 1914, D.S.V & B.K. Fosten, (1989)


1796 Pattern Light Cavalry Sabre
This afternoon I cleaned an original trooper’s 1796 Pattern Light Cavalry Sabre.  The above photographs show the first stage of cleaning the sabre.  I have used extremely fine wire wool and a metal cleaner to lift surface dirt and any active rust from the scabbard and blade.  While this won’t remove the pitting or any pre-existing tarnishing of the steel it will retain the patina and help to prevent any further tarnishing. 


A photograph showing the tip of the scabbard after the surface dirt has been lifted off by buffing.  Note the buffed centre section in contrast to the dull uncleaned areas either side. 

The first photograph was taken before cleaning and the second was taken just afterwards, sadly the photo quality doesn’t do the improvement justice.  The photographs below are show the sabre in more detail.  The third and fourth photographs show the sword’s grip and handguard and hatchet point and scabbard before cleaning while the fifth photograph shows the the sabre’s hilt (handguard and grip) after cleaning.  The next step with be to apply a micro-crystalline wax polish to the scabbard and hilt’s surface, coat the blade in oil and a light leather conditioner to the grip’s leather binding.
The History
The 1796 Pattern Light Cavalry Sabre was designed by John Gaspard Le Marchant, then a major with the 16th Light Dragoons, who was instrumental in improving British cavalry at the turn of the 19th century having designed new light and heavy cavalry sabres and written a new drill book; ‘Rules & Regulations for the Sword Exercise of the Cavalry’. Le Marchant’s sabre was shorter and handier than the one it replaced with a blade measuring 33 inches long and a wide central fuller lightened the sabre to just under 1 kilogram.  The simple hilt with a stirrup to the rear and single piece handguard cut unnecessary weight and gave it a flat profile.  This made it a weapon that even smaller troopers could wield effectively. 
The blade itself was influenced by the Indian Tulwars which widened toward the point, the 1796 Pattern has what is referred to as a hatchet point.  This placed more weight at the tip of the weapon improving the momentum of swing.  Le Marchant’s drill book dictated that the best use of the new sabre was to slash or cut at an enemy’s head and face to maim or incapacitate them.  However, a properly sharpened blade in the hands of a well trained cavalryman was capable of severing limbs or killing outright.  It wasn’t uncommon for regimental armourers to sharpen the reverse of the sabre as well as its cutting edge, this made the weapon an effective thrusting weapon as well as a cutting one. 


  Light Dragoons c.1815, (The Thin Red Line, Fosten)

The sabre is dramatically curved, more so than most other British sabres of the period, this increased its efficiency when slashing with the sword.  The 1796 Pattern was in service until 1821 and was used by all light cavalry regiments including, light dragoons, hussars and later lancers.  The design is widely said to be the finest light cavalry sabre of its era and was also adopted by many of Britain’s allied during the Napoleonic War including; Prussia, Sweden, Portugal, and Spain. 
Sources:

'1796 Pattern Light Cavalry Sabre', Classic Arms & Militaria Vol. XIV No.1, (source)
'English Light Cavalry Sabre 1796 Pattern', Swords Collection, (source)
The Thin Red Line: Uniforms of the British Army between 1751 & 1914, D.S.V & B.K. Fosten, (1989)


1796 Pattern Light Cavalry Sabre
This afternoon I cleaned an original trooper’s 1796 Pattern Light Cavalry Sabre.  The above photographs show the first stage of cleaning the sabre.  I have used extremely fine wire wool and a metal cleaner to lift surface dirt and any active rust from the scabbard and blade.  While this won’t remove the pitting or any pre-existing tarnishing of the steel it will retain the patina and help to prevent any further tarnishing. 


A photograph showing the tip of the scabbard after the surface dirt has been lifted off by buffing.  Note the buffed centre section in contrast to the dull uncleaned areas either side. 

The first photograph was taken before cleaning and the second was taken just afterwards, sadly the photo quality doesn’t do the improvement justice.  The photographs below are show the sabre in more detail.  The third and fourth photographs show the sword’s grip and handguard and hatchet point and scabbard before cleaning while the fifth photograph shows the the sabre’s hilt (handguard and grip) after cleaning.  The next step with be to apply a micro-crystalline wax polish to the scabbard and hilt’s surface, coat the blade in oil and a light leather conditioner to the grip’s leather binding.
The History
The 1796 Pattern Light Cavalry Sabre was designed by John Gaspard Le Marchant, then a major with the 16th Light Dragoons, who was instrumental in improving British cavalry at the turn of the 19th century having designed new light and heavy cavalry sabres and written a new drill book; ‘Rules & Regulations for the Sword Exercise of the Cavalry’. Le Marchant’s sabre was shorter and handier than the one it replaced with a blade measuring 33 inches long and a wide central fuller lightened the sabre to just under 1 kilogram.  The simple hilt with a stirrup to the rear and single piece handguard cut unnecessary weight and gave it a flat profile.  This made it a weapon that even smaller troopers could wield effectively. 
The blade itself was influenced by the Indian Tulwars which widened toward the point, the 1796 Pattern has what is referred to as a hatchet point.  This placed more weight at the tip of the weapon improving the momentum of swing.  Le Marchant’s drill book dictated that the best use of the new sabre was to slash or cut at an enemy’s head and face to maim or incapacitate them.  However, a properly sharpened blade in the hands of a well trained cavalryman was capable of severing limbs or killing outright.  It wasn’t uncommon for regimental armourers to sharpen the reverse of the sabre as well as its cutting edge, this made the weapon an effective thrusting weapon as well as a cutting one. 


  Light Dragoons c.1815, (The Thin Red Line, Fosten)

The sabre is dramatically curved, more so than most other British sabres of the period, this increased its efficiency when slashing with the sword.  The 1796 Pattern was in service until 1821 and was used by all light cavalry regiments including, light dragoons, hussars and later lancers.  The design is widely said to be the finest light cavalry sabre of its era and was also adopted by many of Britain’s allied during the Napoleonic War including; Prussia, Sweden, Portugal, and Spain. 
Sources:

'1796 Pattern Light Cavalry Sabre', Classic Arms & Militaria Vol. XIV No.1, (source)
'English Light Cavalry Sabre 1796 Pattern', Swords Collection, (source)
The Thin Red Line: Uniforms of the British Army between 1751 & 1914, D.S.V & B.K. Fosten, (1989)


1796 Pattern Light Cavalry Sabre
This afternoon I cleaned an original trooper’s 1796 Pattern Light Cavalry Sabre.  The above photographs show the first stage of cleaning the sabre.  I have used extremely fine wire wool and a metal cleaner to lift surface dirt and any active rust from the scabbard and blade.  While this won’t remove the pitting or any pre-existing tarnishing of the steel it will retain the patina and help to prevent any further tarnishing. 


A photograph showing the tip of the scabbard after the surface dirt has been lifted off by buffing.  Note the buffed centre section in contrast to the dull uncleaned areas either side. 

The first photograph was taken before cleaning and the second was taken just afterwards, sadly the photo quality doesn’t do the improvement justice.  The photographs below are show the sabre in more detail.  The third and fourth photographs show the sword’s grip and handguard and hatchet point and scabbard before cleaning while the fifth photograph shows the the sabre’s hilt (handguard and grip) after cleaning.  The next step with be to apply a micro-crystalline wax polish to the scabbard and hilt’s surface, coat the blade in oil and a light leather conditioner to the grip’s leather binding.
The History
The 1796 Pattern Light Cavalry Sabre was designed by John Gaspard Le Marchant, then a major with the 16th Light Dragoons, who was instrumental in improving British cavalry at the turn of the 19th century having designed new light and heavy cavalry sabres and written a new drill book; ‘Rules & Regulations for the Sword Exercise of the Cavalry’. Le Marchant’s sabre was shorter and handier than the one it replaced with a blade measuring 33 inches long and a wide central fuller lightened the sabre to just under 1 kilogram.  The simple hilt with a stirrup to the rear and single piece handguard cut unnecessary weight and gave it a flat profile.  This made it a weapon that even smaller troopers could wield effectively. 
The blade itself was influenced by the Indian Tulwars which widened toward the point, the 1796 Pattern has what is referred to as a hatchet point.  This placed more weight at the tip of the weapon improving the momentum of swing.  Le Marchant’s drill book dictated that the best use of the new sabre was to slash or cut at an enemy’s head and face to maim or incapacitate them.  However, a properly sharpened blade in the hands of a well trained cavalryman was capable of severing limbs or killing outright.  It wasn’t uncommon for regimental armourers to sharpen the reverse of the sabre as well as its cutting edge, this made the weapon an effective thrusting weapon as well as a cutting one. 


  Light Dragoons c.1815, (The Thin Red Line, Fosten)

The sabre is dramatically curved, more so than most other British sabres of the period, this increased its efficiency when slashing with the sword.  The 1796 Pattern was in service until 1821 and was used by all light cavalry regiments including, light dragoons, hussars and later lancers.  The design is widely said to be the finest light cavalry sabre of its era and was also adopted by many of Britain’s allied during the Napoleonic War including; Prussia, Sweden, Portugal, and Spain. 
Sources:

'1796 Pattern Light Cavalry Sabre', Classic Arms & Militaria Vol. XIV No.1, (source)
'English Light Cavalry Sabre 1796 Pattern', Swords Collection, (source)
The Thin Red Line: Uniforms of the British Army between 1751 & 1914, D.S.V & B.K. Fosten, (1989)

1796 Pattern Light Cavalry Sabre

This afternoon I cleaned an original trooper’s 1796 Pattern Light Cavalry Sabre.  The above photographs show the first stage of cleaning the sabre.  I have used extremely fine wire wool and a metal cleaner to lift surface dirt and any active rust from the scabbard and blade.  While this won’t remove the pitting or any pre-existing tarnishing of the steel it will retain the patina and help to prevent any further tarnishing. 

A photograph showing the tip of the scabbard after the surface dirt has been lifted off by buffing.  Note the buffed centre section in contrast to the dull uncleaned areas either side. 

The first photograph was taken before cleaning and the second was taken just afterwards, sadly the photo quality doesn’t do the improvement justice.  The photographs below are show the sabre in more detail.  The third and fourth photographs show the sword’s grip and handguard and hatchet point and scabbard before cleaning while the fifth photograph shows the the sabre’s hilt (handguard and grip) after cleaning.  The next step with be to apply a micro-crystalline wax polish to the scabbard and hilt’s surface, coat the blade in oil and a light leather conditioner to the grip’s leather binding.

The History

The 1796 Pattern Light Cavalry Sabre was designed by John Gaspard Le Marchant, then a major with the 16th Light Dragoons, who was instrumental in improving British cavalry at the turn of the 19th century having designed new light and heavy cavalry sabres and written a new drill book; ‘Rules & Regulations for the Sword Exercise of the Cavalry’. Le Marchant’s sabre was shorter and handier than the one it replaced with a blade measuring 33 inches long and a wide central fuller lightened the sabre to just under 1 kilogram.  The simple hilt with a stirrup to the rear and single piece handguard cut unnecessary weight and gave it a flat profile.  This made it a weapon that even smaller troopers could wield effectively. 

The blade itself was influenced by the Indian Tulwars which widened toward the point, the 1796 Pattern has what is referred to as a hatchet point.  This placed more weight at the tip of the weapon improving the momentum of swing.  Le Marchant’s drill book dictated that the best use of the new sabre was to slash or cut at an enemy’s head and face to maim or incapacitate them.  However, a properly sharpened blade in the hands of a well trained cavalryman was capable of severing limbs or killing outright.  It wasn’t uncommon for regimental armourers to sharpen the reverse of the sabre as well as its cutting edge, this made the weapon an effective thrusting weapon as well as a cutting one. 

  Light Dragoons c.1815, (The Thin Red Line, Fosten)

The sabre is dramatically curved, more so than most other British sabres of the period, this increased its efficiency when slashing with the sword.  The 1796 Pattern was in service until 1821 and was used by all light cavalry regiments including, light dragoons, hussars and later lancers.  The design is widely said to be the finest light cavalry sabre of its era and was also adopted by many of Britain’s allied during the Napoleonic War including; Prussia, Sweden, Portugal, and Spain. 

Sources:

'1796 Pattern Light Cavalry Sabre', Classic Arms & Militaria Vol. XIV No.1, (source)

'English Light Cavalry Sabre 1796 Pattern', Swords Collection, (source)

The Thin Red Line: Uniforms of the British Army between 1751 & 1914, D.S.V & B.K. Fosten, (1989)

Stand To

A military term, a shortening of the phrase ‘Stand to Arms’.  Stand To is usually in the hour before and after the rise or setting of the sun, when an attack is most likely.  On the order to stand to all Troops bring themselves to full readiness in order to repel any possible attack.

The Necessary War

In this BBC recent documentary presented by respected British historian Max Hastings the causes and moral implications of the First World War are examined.  The documentary examines to July Crisis and the build-up to war and the justification for Britain’s involvement.  An interesting film, well worth watching.

“The quickest way to end a war is to lose it.”
— From George Orwell’s 1946 polemic essay ‘Second Thoughts on James Burnham’.
The Doglock
The 15th and 16th centuries were dominated by one firearm, the Matchlock, which was fundamentally only a short step forward from the first Handgonnes (or hand cannons).  The Matchlock however, was extremely susceptible to damp and wet weather, if a musketeer could not light his match he could not fire his weapon.  The 17th and early 18th centuries saw a numerous new firing mechanisms coexist and a number of alternatives were developed to replace the vulnerable Matchlock; the Wheel-lock which proved too sophisticated and expensive to produce en masse and also a number of Flintlock designs which began to appear in the early 1600s but remained in the minority until the early 18th century.
There were a number of variations on the Flintlock design, all of which used a piece of flint as a striker against a frizzen to ignite the powder in a pan.  These variations included the Snaphance, a design possibly originating from Holland which like the Wheel-lock was expensive to manufacture.  During the late 1600s the English came to favour a simpler Flintlock mechanism, the Doglock.  This design while being simpler to manufacture than the Snaphance also had an added safety feature - a ‘dog’ catch that hooked into the back of the ‘cock’ when the musket was half-cocked.   When the cock was pulled back to ‘full-cock’ the ‘dog’ disengaged and allowed the musket to fire (see image below). The advantage of this was that it ensured that the musket would not prematurely fire because the ‘cock’ was secured.
The Doglock was popular with mounted troops as it allowed them to ride with a ready primed weapon safely and was found, alongside Wheel-locks and Snaphances on both pistols, carbines and musketoons from the 1630s through to the 1720s.  It was adopted by the British Army in the late 1600s and was the primary infantry weapon during the War of the Spanish Succession, in which the Britain and her allies under the Duke of Marlborough fought and won a series of victories over France and her allies at Blenheim, Ramillies, Oudenarde and Malplaquet between 1701-1710.


A Doglock musket with the ‘dog’ positioned behind the ‘cock’

Over time the Doglock fell from favour with the Flintlock with its internal ‘half-cock’ safety system replacing the external and manually set ‘dog’ (see image two).  By the 1720s the British Army had replaced all of its Doglocks with Flintlocks.  
The Flintlock musket would come to dominate the latter half of the 18th and the first half of the 19th century with every European nation adopting it by the 1730s. The first British Flintlock, the Land Pattern Musket was issued in 1722 and over the next century would evolve through various patterns and become known as the Brown Bess, this legendary musket would be in service until the introduction of the percussion lock in 1839.

Image One Source
Image Two Source
The Doglock
The 15th and 16th centuries were dominated by one firearm, the Matchlock, which was fundamentally only a short step forward from the first Handgonnes (or hand cannons).  The Matchlock however, was extremely susceptible to damp and wet weather, if a musketeer could not light his match he could not fire his weapon.  The 17th and early 18th centuries saw a numerous new firing mechanisms coexist and a number of alternatives were developed to replace the vulnerable Matchlock; the Wheel-lock which proved too sophisticated and expensive to produce en masse and also a number of Flintlock designs which began to appear in the early 1600s but remained in the minority until the early 18th century.
There were a number of variations on the Flintlock design, all of which used a piece of flint as a striker against a frizzen to ignite the powder in a pan.  These variations included the Snaphance, a design possibly originating from Holland which like the Wheel-lock was expensive to manufacture.  During the late 1600s the English came to favour a simpler Flintlock mechanism, the Doglock.  This design while being simpler to manufacture than the Snaphance also had an added safety feature - a ‘dog’ catch that hooked into the back of the ‘cock’ when the musket was half-cocked.   When the cock was pulled back to ‘full-cock’ the ‘dog’ disengaged and allowed the musket to fire (see image below). The advantage of this was that it ensured that the musket would not prematurely fire because the ‘cock’ was secured.
The Doglock was popular with mounted troops as it allowed them to ride with a ready primed weapon safely and was found, alongside Wheel-locks and Snaphances on both pistols, carbines and musketoons from the 1630s through to the 1720s.  It was adopted by the British Army in the late 1600s and was the primary infantry weapon during the War of the Spanish Succession, in which the Britain and her allies under the Duke of Marlborough fought and won a series of victories over France and her allies at Blenheim, Ramillies, Oudenarde and Malplaquet between 1701-1710.


A Doglock musket with the ‘dog’ positioned behind the ‘cock’

Over time the Doglock fell from favour with the Flintlock with its internal ‘half-cock’ safety system replacing the external and manually set ‘dog’ (see image two).  By the 1720s the British Army had replaced all of its Doglocks with Flintlocks.  
The Flintlock musket would come to dominate the latter half of the 18th and the first half of the 19th century with every European nation adopting it by the 1730s. The first British Flintlock, the Land Pattern Musket was issued in 1722 and over the next century would evolve through various patterns and become known as the Brown Bess, this legendary musket would be in service until the introduction of the percussion lock in 1839.

Image One Source
Image Two Source

The Doglock

The 15th and 16th centuries were dominated by one firearm, the Matchlock, which was fundamentally only a short step forward from the first Handgonnes (or hand cannons).  The Matchlock however, was extremely susceptible to damp and wet weather, if a musketeer could not light his match he could not fire his weapon.  The 17th and early 18th centuries saw a numerous new firing mechanisms coexist and a number of alternatives were developed to replace the vulnerable Matchlock; the Wheel-lock which proved too sophisticated and expensive to produce en masse and also a number of Flintlock designs which began to appear in the early 1600s but remained in the minority until the early 18th century.

There were a number of variations on the Flintlock design, all of which used a piece of flint as a striker against a frizzen to ignite the powder in a pan.  These variations included the Snaphance, a design possibly originating from Holland which like the Wheel-lock was expensive to manufacture.  During the late 1600s the English came to favour a simpler Flintlock mechanism, the Doglock.  This design while being simpler to manufacture than the Snaphance also had an added safety feature - a ‘dog’ catch that hooked into the back of the ‘cock’ when the musket was half-cocked.   When the cock was pulled back to ‘full-cock’ the ‘dog’ disengaged and allowed the musket to fire (see image below). The advantage of this was that it ensured that the musket would not prematurely fire because the ‘cock’ was secured.

The Doglock was popular with mounted troops as it allowed them to ride with a ready primed weapon safely and was found, alongside Wheel-locks and Snaphances on both pistols, carbines and musketoons from the 1630s through to the 1720s.  It was adopted by the British Army in the late 1600s and was the primary infantry weapon during the War of the Spanish Succession, in which the Britain and her allies under the Duke of Marlborough fought and won a series of victories over France and her allies at Blenheim, Ramillies, Oudenarde and Malplaquet between 1701-1710.

A Doglock musket with the ‘dog’ positioned behind the ‘cock’

Over time the Doglock fell from favour with the Flintlock with its internal ‘half-cock’ safety system replacing the external and manually set ‘dog’ (see image two).  By the 1720s the British Army had replaced all of its Doglocks with Flintlocks.  

The Flintlock musket would come to dominate the latter half of the 18th and the first half of the 19th century with every European nation adopting it by the 1730s. The first British Flintlock, the Land Pattern Musket was issued in 1722 and over the next century would evolve through various patterns and become known as the Brown Bess, this legendary musket would be in service until the introduction of the percussion lock in 1839.

Image One Source

Image Two Source

Double Action:

A mechanism found in pistols or revolvers which allows the firer to either first cock the hammer manually to cycle the weapon or to simply cock and fire the weapon with a single pull the trigger.  This system both cocks the pistol’s action and releases the hammer firing the weapon.  First introduced in the 19th century, while double action makes firing faster the increased length of trigger pull can affect accuracy.  Popular early examples include the 1878 Colt Double Action Army, the British Beaumont-Adams revolvers and the Webley No.5.

Colt-Vickers M1915: America’s 2nd Maxim Gun
While the heavy machine guns of John Browning have become synonymous with the US Army since the turn of the 20th century, it was actually the Maxim gun, which was the US Army’s most used machine gun of the First World War, with 13 US divisions equipped with the Colt-Vickers M1915.  
First introduced in 1887, the Maxim gun was revolutionary.  It instantly made all preceding hand operated machine guns like the Gatling Gun obsolete.  Over the next 15 years the Maxim was adopted by almost every major military power across the globe including Great Britain who adopted an improved model built by Vickers Ltd.  It was this Vickers-improved design which the US would adopt in 1914.  However, the Colt-Vickers Model of 1915 was not the first Maxim adopted by the US Army, in 1904, after several years of fitful testing an order was placed with Vickers, Sons & Maxim of England to manufacture a run of 90 machine guns while licensed manufacturing was prepared at Colt.  In the end only 287 Maxim Model 1904s were built before the US Army began to favour the Benét-Mercié, which was adopted in 1909. 
With the outbreak of World War One and the obvious dominance of the machine gun the US began to realise that in comparison for example to Germany who fielded approximately 12,000 machine guns at the onset of war their machine gun capability was woeful.  When the US entered the war in 1917 the US machine gun establishment was made up of a mishmash of guns dating from the turn of the century.  These included Colt-Browning M1895s, Maxim M1904s, Benét-Mercié M1909s and Lewis light machine guns.


US troops training with the Benét-Mercié M1909 (source)

In 1913, US Ordnance had begun the search for a new machine gun to replace the mixture of designs then in service.  Seven competing designs were tested including a British Vickers MkI which jammed just 23 times during extensive testing with no parts broken.  This greatly impressed the selection board who unanimously deemed the Vickers as the best machine gun tested,  Captain John Butler of the Office of the Chief of Ordnance later described how the Vickers gun “…stood in a class by itself. Not a single part was broken nor replaced. Nor was there a jam worthy of the name during the entire series of tests.  A better performance could not be desired.”  
The Vickers-Maxim was adopted as the 'Vickers Machine Gun Model of 1915, Caliber .30, Water-Cooled' with an initial order of over 4,000 guns.  However, as with the earlier Maxim M1904 production issues at Colt meant that by 1917, the US Army has not received any of the ordered guns, this put the Army at a grave tactical disadvantages as they had neither the machine guns to equip divisions shipping out to Europe nor had they had the chance to train and develop tactics for the use of machine guns in the field.   As a result when the lead divisions of the American Expeditionary Force reached France they were equipped with French and British machine guns.  The first US troops to be issued with the Vickers M1915 were the ten divisions that arrived in June 1918.   By the end of the First World War thirteen US combat divisions in Europe were armed with the Vickers M1915, with some 7,600 guns in the field this made it the most widely use American-made machine gun of the war.


British Vickers Machine Gun MKI (source)

Physically the US Vickers M1915 is almost identical to the British Vickers .303 MkI.  They share the instantly recognisable muzzle booster and indented barrel shroud.  Both cycled at around 450 to 500 rounds per minute and while the guns could be differentiated by their markings, grips and sights the main difference between to two weapons was their ammunition.  The British Vickers fired the rimmed .303 round while the M1915 fired the rimless US .30-06, as such when the US shipped Vickers M1915s to British during World War Two as part of the Lend-Lease scheme the newly arrived American weapons were painted with a red stripe on the receiver to differentiate the very similar looking guns to prevent soldiers firing the wrong ammunition in the weapon.
By 1918, the US Army had adopted the American-designed Colt-Browning M1917 which was simpler to manufacture and began issuing this in the place of the Vickers M1915 in late 1918.  By the time Colt ended production some 12,125 guns had been produced, today due to loss in action, Lend-Lease shipments to Britain during World War Two and the loss of remaining stocks in the Philippines during the early Pacific campaign the Vickers M1915 is a rare weapon with its important role as the US Army’s main machine gun during World War One largely forgotten.
Sources:

Image One Source
Image Two Source
Image Three & Four Source
U.S. Colt Vickers Model of 1915 - Small Arms Defense Journal, January 2012, (Source)
Vickers American Roots & Ties (Source)
Military Small Arms, I. Hogg & J. Weeks, (1985)
Colt-Vickers M1915: America’s 2nd Maxim Gun
While the heavy machine guns of John Browning have become synonymous with the US Army since the turn of the 20th century, it was actually the Maxim gun, which was the US Army’s most used machine gun of the First World War, with 13 US divisions equipped with the Colt-Vickers M1915.  
First introduced in 1887, the Maxim gun was revolutionary.  It instantly made all preceding hand operated machine guns like the Gatling Gun obsolete.  Over the next 15 years the Maxim was adopted by almost every major military power across the globe including Great Britain who adopted an improved model built by Vickers Ltd.  It was this Vickers-improved design which the US would adopt in 1914.  However, the Colt-Vickers Model of 1915 was not the first Maxim adopted by the US Army, in 1904, after several years of fitful testing an order was placed with Vickers, Sons & Maxim of England to manufacture a run of 90 machine guns while licensed manufacturing was prepared at Colt.  In the end only 287 Maxim Model 1904s were built before the US Army began to favour the Benét-Mercié, which was adopted in 1909. 
With the outbreak of World War One and the obvious dominance of the machine gun the US began to realise that in comparison for example to Germany who fielded approximately 12,000 machine guns at the onset of war their machine gun capability was woeful.  When the US entered the war in 1917 the US machine gun establishment was made up of a mishmash of guns dating from the turn of the century.  These included Colt-Browning M1895s, Maxim M1904s, Benét-Mercié M1909s and Lewis light machine guns.


US troops training with the Benét-Mercié M1909 (source)

In 1913, US Ordnance had begun the search for a new machine gun to replace the mixture of designs then in service.  Seven competing designs were tested including a British Vickers MkI which jammed just 23 times during extensive testing with no parts broken.  This greatly impressed the selection board who unanimously deemed the Vickers as the best machine gun tested,  Captain John Butler of the Office of the Chief of Ordnance later described how the Vickers gun “…stood in a class by itself. Not a single part was broken nor replaced. Nor was there a jam worthy of the name during the entire series of tests.  A better performance could not be desired.”  
The Vickers-Maxim was adopted as the 'Vickers Machine Gun Model of 1915, Caliber .30, Water-Cooled' with an initial order of over 4,000 guns.  However, as with the earlier Maxim M1904 production issues at Colt meant that by 1917, the US Army has not received any of the ordered guns, this put the Army at a grave tactical disadvantages as they had neither the machine guns to equip divisions shipping out to Europe nor had they had the chance to train and develop tactics for the use of machine guns in the field.   As a result when the lead divisions of the American Expeditionary Force reached France they were equipped with French and British machine guns.  The first US troops to be issued with the Vickers M1915 were the ten divisions that arrived in June 1918.   By the end of the First World War thirteen US combat divisions in Europe were armed with the Vickers M1915, with some 7,600 guns in the field this made it the most widely use American-made machine gun of the war.


British Vickers Machine Gun MKI (source)

Physically the US Vickers M1915 is almost identical to the British Vickers .303 MkI.  They share the instantly recognisable muzzle booster and indented barrel shroud.  Both cycled at around 450 to 500 rounds per minute and while the guns could be differentiated by their markings, grips and sights the main difference between to two weapons was their ammunition.  The British Vickers fired the rimmed .303 round while the M1915 fired the rimless US .30-06, as such when the US shipped Vickers M1915s to British during World War Two as part of the Lend-Lease scheme the newly arrived American weapons were painted with a red stripe on the receiver to differentiate the very similar looking guns to prevent soldiers firing the wrong ammunition in the weapon.
By 1918, the US Army had adopted the American-designed Colt-Browning M1917 which was simpler to manufacture and began issuing this in the place of the Vickers M1915 in late 1918.  By the time Colt ended production some 12,125 guns had been produced, today due to loss in action, Lend-Lease shipments to Britain during World War Two and the loss of remaining stocks in the Philippines during the early Pacific campaign the Vickers M1915 is a rare weapon with its important role as the US Army’s main machine gun during World War One largely forgotten.
Sources:

Image One Source
Image Two Source
Image Three & Four Source
U.S. Colt Vickers Model of 1915 - Small Arms Defense Journal, January 2012, (Source)
Vickers American Roots & Ties (Source)
Military Small Arms, I. Hogg & J. Weeks, (1985)
Colt-Vickers M1915: America’s 2nd Maxim Gun
While the heavy machine guns of John Browning have become synonymous with the US Army since the turn of the 20th century, it was actually the Maxim gun, which was the US Army’s most used machine gun of the First World War, with 13 US divisions equipped with the Colt-Vickers M1915.  
First introduced in 1887, the Maxim gun was revolutionary.  It instantly made all preceding hand operated machine guns like the Gatling Gun obsolete.  Over the next 15 years the Maxim was adopted by almost every major military power across the globe including Great Britain who adopted an improved model built by Vickers Ltd.  It was this Vickers-improved design which the US would adopt in 1914.  However, the Colt-Vickers Model of 1915 was not the first Maxim adopted by the US Army, in 1904, after several years of fitful testing an order was placed with Vickers, Sons & Maxim of England to manufacture a run of 90 machine guns while licensed manufacturing was prepared at Colt.  In the end only 287 Maxim Model 1904s were built before the US Army began to favour the Benét-Mercié, which was adopted in 1909. 
With the outbreak of World War One and the obvious dominance of the machine gun the US began to realise that in comparison for example to Germany who fielded approximately 12,000 machine guns at the onset of war their machine gun capability was woeful.  When the US entered the war in 1917 the US machine gun establishment was made up of a mishmash of guns dating from the turn of the century.  These included Colt-Browning M1895s, Maxim M1904s, Benét-Mercié M1909s and Lewis light machine guns.


US troops training with the Benét-Mercié M1909 (source)

In 1913, US Ordnance had begun the search for a new machine gun to replace the mixture of designs then in service.  Seven competing designs were tested including a British Vickers MkI which jammed just 23 times during extensive testing with no parts broken.  This greatly impressed the selection board who unanimously deemed the Vickers as the best machine gun tested,  Captain John Butler of the Office of the Chief of Ordnance later described how the Vickers gun “…stood in a class by itself. Not a single part was broken nor replaced. Nor was there a jam worthy of the name during the entire series of tests.  A better performance could not be desired.”  
The Vickers-Maxim was adopted as the 'Vickers Machine Gun Model of 1915, Caliber .30, Water-Cooled' with an initial order of over 4,000 guns.  However, as with the earlier Maxim M1904 production issues at Colt meant that by 1917, the US Army has not received any of the ordered guns, this put the Army at a grave tactical disadvantages as they had neither the machine guns to equip divisions shipping out to Europe nor had they had the chance to train and develop tactics for the use of machine guns in the field.   As a result when the lead divisions of the American Expeditionary Force reached France they were equipped with French and British machine guns.  The first US troops to be issued with the Vickers M1915 were the ten divisions that arrived in June 1918.   By the end of the First World War thirteen US combat divisions in Europe were armed with the Vickers M1915, with some 7,600 guns in the field this made it the most widely use American-made machine gun of the war.


British Vickers Machine Gun MKI (source)

Physically the US Vickers M1915 is almost identical to the British Vickers .303 MkI.  They share the instantly recognisable muzzle booster and indented barrel shroud.  Both cycled at around 450 to 500 rounds per minute and while the guns could be differentiated by their markings, grips and sights the main difference between to two weapons was their ammunition.  The British Vickers fired the rimmed .303 round while the M1915 fired the rimless US .30-06, as such when the US shipped Vickers M1915s to British during World War Two as part of the Lend-Lease scheme the newly arrived American weapons were painted with a red stripe on the receiver to differentiate the very similar looking guns to prevent soldiers firing the wrong ammunition in the weapon.
By 1918, the US Army had adopted the American-designed Colt-Browning M1917 which was simpler to manufacture and began issuing this in the place of the Vickers M1915 in late 1918.  By the time Colt ended production some 12,125 guns had been produced, today due to loss in action, Lend-Lease shipments to Britain during World War Two and the loss of remaining stocks in the Philippines during the early Pacific campaign the Vickers M1915 is a rare weapon with its important role as the US Army’s main machine gun during World War One largely forgotten.
Sources:

Image One Source
Image Two Source
Image Three & Four Source
U.S. Colt Vickers Model of 1915 - Small Arms Defense Journal, January 2012, (Source)
Vickers American Roots & Ties (Source)
Military Small Arms, I. Hogg & J. Weeks, (1985)
Colt-Vickers M1915: America’s 2nd Maxim Gun
While the heavy machine guns of John Browning have become synonymous with the US Army since the turn of the 20th century, it was actually the Maxim gun, which was the US Army’s most used machine gun of the First World War, with 13 US divisions equipped with the Colt-Vickers M1915.  
First introduced in 1887, the Maxim gun was revolutionary.  It instantly made all preceding hand operated machine guns like the Gatling Gun obsolete.  Over the next 15 years the Maxim was adopted by almost every major military power across the globe including Great Britain who adopted an improved model built by Vickers Ltd.  It was this Vickers-improved design which the US would adopt in 1914.  However, the Colt-Vickers Model of 1915 was not the first Maxim adopted by the US Army, in 1904, after several years of fitful testing an order was placed with Vickers, Sons & Maxim of England to manufacture a run of 90 machine guns while licensed manufacturing was prepared at Colt.  In the end only 287 Maxim Model 1904s were built before the US Army began to favour the Benét-Mercié, which was adopted in 1909. 
With the outbreak of World War One and the obvious dominance of the machine gun the US began to realise that in comparison for example to Germany who fielded approximately 12,000 machine guns at the onset of war their machine gun capability was woeful.  When the US entered the war in 1917 the US machine gun establishment was made up of a mishmash of guns dating from the turn of the century.  These included Colt-Browning M1895s, Maxim M1904s, Benét-Mercié M1909s and Lewis light machine guns.


US troops training with the Benét-Mercié M1909 (source)

In 1913, US Ordnance had begun the search for a new machine gun to replace the mixture of designs then in service.  Seven competing designs were tested including a British Vickers MkI which jammed just 23 times during extensive testing with no parts broken.  This greatly impressed the selection board who unanimously deemed the Vickers as the best machine gun tested,  Captain John Butler of the Office of the Chief of Ordnance later described how the Vickers gun “…stood in a class by itself. Not a single part was broken nor replaced. Nor was there a jam worthy of the name during the entire series of tests.  A better performance could not be desired.”  
The Vickers-Maxim was adopted as the 'Vickers Machine Gun Model of 1915, Caliber .30, Water-Cooled' with an initial order of over 4,000 guns.  However, as with the earlier Maxim M1904 production issues at Colt meant that by 1917, the US Army has not received any of the ordered guns, this put the Army at a grave tactical disadvantages as they had neither the machine guns to equip divisions shipping out to Europe nor had they had the chance to train and develop tactics for the use of machine guns in the field.   As a result when the lead divisions of the American Expeditionary Force reached France they were equipped with French and British machine guns.  The first US troops to be issued with the Vickers M1915 were the ten divisions that arrived in June 1918.   By the end of the First World War thirteen US combat divisions in Europe were armed with the Vickers M1915, with some 7,600 guns in the field this made it the most widely use American-made machine gun of the war.


British Vickers Machine Gun MKI (source)

Physically the US Vickers M1915 is almost identical to the British Vickers .303 MkI.  They share the instantly recognisable muzzle booster and indented barrel shroud.  Both cycled at around 450 to 500 rounds per minute and while the guns could be differentiated by their markings, grips and sights the main difference between to two weapons was their ammunition.  The British Vickers fired the rimmed .303 round while the M1915 fired the rimless US .30-06, as such when the US shipped Vickers M1915s to British during World War Two as part of the Lend-Lease scheme the newly arrived American weapons were painted with a red stripe on the receiver to differentiate the very similar looking guns to prevent soldiers firing the wrong ammunition in the weapon.
By 1918, the US Army had adopted the American-designed Colt-Browning M1917 which was simpler to manufacture and began issuing this in the place of the Vickers M1915 in late 1918.  By the time Colt ended production some 12,125 guns had been produced, today due to loss in action, Lend-Lease shipments to Britain during World War Two and the loss of remaining stocks in the Philippines during the early Pacific campaign the Vickers M1915 is a rare weapon with its important role as the US Army’s main machine gun during World War One largely forgotten.
Sources:

Image One Source
Image Two Source
Image Three & Four Source
U.S. Colt Vickers Model of 1915 - Small Arms Defense Journal, January 2012, (Source)
Vickers American Roots & Ties (Source)
Military Small Arms, I. Hogg & J. Weeks, (1985)

Colt-Vickers M1915: America’s 2nd Maxim Gun

While the heavy machine guns of John Browning have become synonymous with the US Army since the turn of the 20th century, it was actually the Maxim gun, which was the US Army’s most used machine gun of the First World War, with 13 US divisions equipped with the Colt-Vickers M1915.  

First introduced in 1887, the Maxim gun was revolutionary.  It instantly made all preceding hand operated machine guns like the Gatling Gun obsolete.  Over the next 15 years the Maxim was adopted by almost every major military power across the globe including Great Britain who adopted an improved model built by Vickers Ltd.  It was this Vickers-improved design which the US would adopt in 1914.  However, the Colt-Vickers Model of 1915 was not the first Maxim adopted by the US Army, in 1904, after several years of fitful testing an order was placed with Vickers, Sons & Maxim of England to manufacture a run of 90 machine guns while licensed manufacturing was prepared at Colt.  In the end only 287 Maxim Model 1904s were built before the US Army began to favour the Benét-Mercié, which was adopted in 1909. 

With the outbreak of World War One and the obvious dominance of the machine gun the US began to realise that in comparison for example to Germany who fielded approximately 12,000 machine guns at the onset of war their machine gun capability was woeful.  When the US entered the war in 1917 the US machine gun establishment was made up of a mishmash of guns dating from the turn of the century.  These included Colt-Browning M1895s, Maxim M1904sBenét-Mercié M1909s and Lewis light machine guns.

US troops training with the Benét-Mercié M1909 (source)

In 1913, US Ordnance had begun the search for a new machine gun to replace the mixture of designs then in service.  Seven competing designs were tested including a British Vickers MkI which jammed just 23 times during extensive testing with no parts broken.  This greatly impressed the selection board who unanimously deemed the Vickers as the best machine gun tested,  Captain John Butler of the Office of the Chief of Ordnance later described how the Vickers gun “…stood in a class by itself. Not a single part was broken nor replaced. Nor was there a jam worthy of the name during the entire series of tests.  A better performance could not be desired.”  

The Vickers-Maxim was adopted as the 'Vickers Machine Gun Model of 1915, Caliber .30, Water-Cooled' with an initial order of over 4,000 guns.  However, as with the earlier Maxim M1904 production issues at Colt meant that by 1917, the US Army has not received any of the ordered guns, this put the Army at a grave tactical disadvantages as they had neither the machine guns to equip divisions shipping out to Europe nor had they had the chance to train and develop tactics for the use of machine guns in the field.   As a result when the lead divisions of the American Expeditionary Force reached France they were equipped with French and British machine guns.  The first US troops to be issued with the Vickers M1915 were the ten divisions that arrived in June 1918.   By the end of the First World War thirteen US combat divisions in Europe were armed with the Vickers M1915, with some 7,600 guns in the field this made it the most widely use American-made machine gun of the war.

British Vickers Machine Gun MKI (source)

Physically the US Vickers M1915 is almost identical to the British Vickers .303 MkI.  They share the instantly recognisable muzzle booster and indented barrel shroud.  Both cycled at around 450 to 500 rounds per minute and while the guns could be differentiated by their markings, grips and sights the main difference between to two weapons was their ammunition.  
The British Vickers fired the rimmed .303 round while the M1915 fired the rimless US .30-06, as such when the US shipped Vickers M1915s to British during World War Two as part of the Lend-Lease scheme the newly arrived American weapons were painted with a red stripe on the 
receiver to differentiate the very similar looking guns to prevent soldiers firing the wrong ammunition in the weapon.

By 1918, the US Army had adopted the American-designed Colt-Browning M1917 which was simpler to manufacture and began issuing this in the place of the Vickers M1915 in late 1918.  By the time Colt ended production some 12,125 guns had been produced, today due to loss in action, Lend-Lease shipments to Britain during World War Two and the loss of remaining stocks in the Philippines during the early Pacific campaign the Vickers M1915 is a rare weapon with its important role as the US Army’s main machine gun during World War One largely forgotten.

Sources:

Image One Source

Image Two Source

Image Three & Four Source

U.S. Colt Vickers Model of 1915 - Small Arms Defense Journal, January 2012, (Source)

Vickers American Roots & Ties (Source)

Military Small Arms, I. Hogg & J. Weeks, (1985)

Webley No.5 Army Express
Webley produced their first pistol in 1853, introducing their first double action in 1867.  They are perhaps best known for providing the British Army’s pistols during the late 19th and early 20th century.  The Webley No.5 is one of the later pistols produced by Webley before they altered their nomenclature from ‘Numbers’ to ‘Marks’ when the Webley MkI was adopted by the British Army in 1887.  The No.5 is sometimes referred to as the Webley New Model, the New Army Express or the No.5 Army Express.
Chambered in the British .455 service cartridge as well as being able to chamber .45 Colt while other models could chamber Winchester’s .44 round (see image two).  The Webley No.5 was introduced in 1878 ostensibly as a rival to Colt’s Double Action Army.  While the two pistol’s share similar bird’s-head style grips the Webley No.5 was a fundamentally better revolver with a stronger action and more robust frame.  


Colt Double Action Army 1878 (source)

The No.5 was a step forward for Webley improving on their earlier pistols, it proved considerably popular in both the civilian market and with officers purchasing it privately.  Like the Colt it loaded through a side gate and had a solid frame.  Its stout cartridge, accurate 5 1/2 inch barrel and robust manufacture made it a popular service pistol during the 1880s with its double action allowing the pistol to be fired rapidly.    It however, was not adopted by the British Army who instead retained their Adams Revolvers until 1880, when the flawed Enfield revolver was adopted before the top-breaking Webley Mk.1 finally supplanted them in 1887.
Sources:

Image One Source
Image Two Source
Pistols of the World, I.V. Hogg & J. Weeks (2003)
Military Small Arms, G. Smith (1994)
Webley No.5 Army Express
Webley produced their first pistol in 1853, introducing their first double action in 1867.  They are perhaps best known for providing the British Army’s pistols during the late 19th and early 20th century.  The Webley No.5 is one of the later pistols produced by Webley before they altered their nomenclature from ‘Numbers’ to ‘Marks’ when the Webley MkI was adopted by the British Army in 1887.  The No.5 is sometimes referred to as the Webley New Model, the New Army Express or the No.5 Army Express.
Chambered in the British .455 service cartridge as well as being able to chamber .45 Colt while other models could chamber Winchester’s .44 round (see image two).  The Webley No.5 was introduced in 1878 ostensibly as a rival to Colt’s Double Action Army.  While the two pistol’s share similar bird’s-head style grips the Webley No.5 was a fundamentally better revolver with a stronger action and more robust frame.  


Colt Double Action Army 1878 (source)

The No.5 was a step forward for Webley improving on their earlier pistols, it proved considerably popular in both the civilian market and with officers purchasing it privately.  Like the Colt it loaded through a side gate and had a solid frame.  Its stout cartridge, accurate 5 1/2 inch barrel and robust manufacture made it a popular service pistol during the 1880s with its double action allowing the pistol to be fired rapidly.    It however, was not adopted by the British Army who instead retained their Adams Revolvers until 1880, when the flawed Enfield revolver was adopted before the top-breaking Webley Mk.1 finally supplanted them in 1887.
Sources:

Image One Source
Image Two Source
Pistols of the World, I.V. Hogg & J. Weeks (2003)
Military Small Arms, G. Smith (1994)

Webley No.5 Army Express

Webley produced their first pistol in 1853, introducing their first double action in 1867.  They are perhaps best known for providing the British Army’s pistols during the late 19th and early 20th century.  The Webley No.5 is one of the later pistols produced by Webley before they altered their nomenclature from ‘Numbers’ to ‘Marks’ when the Webley MkI was adopted by the British Army in 1887.  The No.5 is sometimes referred to as the Webley New Model, the New Army Express or the No.5 Army Express.

Chambered in the British .455 service cartridge as well as being able to chamber .45 Colt while other models could chamber Winchester’s .44 round (see image two).  The Webley No.5 was introduced in 1878 ostensibly as a rival to Colt’s Double Action Army.  While the two pistol’s share similar bird’s-head style grips the Webley No.5 was a fundamentally better revolver with a stronger action and more robust frame.  

Colt Double Action Army 1878 (source)

The No.5 was a step forward for Webley improving on their earlier pistols, it proved considerably popular in both the civilian market and with officers purchasing it privately.  Like the Colt it loaded through a side gate and had a solid frame.  Its stout cartridge, accurate 5 1/2 inch barrel and robust manufacture made it a popular service pistol during the 1880s with its double action allowing the pistol to be fired rapidly.    It however, was not adopted by the British Army who instead retained their Adams Revolvers until 1880, when the flawed Enfield revolver was adopted before the top-breaking Webley Mk.1 finally supplanted them in 1887.

Sources:

Image One Source

Image Two Source

Pistols of the World, I.V. Hogg & J. Weeks (2003)

Military Small Arms, G. Smith (1994)

Colt 1871-72 Open Top
The Colt Open Top revolver was Colt’s first production pistol to chamber a metallic cartridge. Until 1870, when Rollin White’s patent on bored-through cylinders expired, Smith & Wesson had enjoyed the exclusive license to using the patent in their revolvers.  With the expiration of the patent and the license Colt was finally able to begin manufacture of pistols using bored-through cylinders which could accept metallic cartridges.
Colt turned to William Mason the experienced gunsmith who had worked on Colt’s percussion revolver conversions.  Mason designed a pistol which outwardly much resembled many of Colt’s earlier revolvers with an instantly recognisable grip, barrel and trigger profile.  The design took shape between 1871 and 1872 with numerous patents filed including a rear loading gate and Mason’s patented extractor rod which was offset to the side of the barrel and would later be used in the Single Action Army.


Percussion Colt Army Model 1860, adopted by the Union Army the Model 1860 like the Open-Top 1871-2, relied on a ‘wedge’ that held the barrel and frame together.  (source)

The pistol like earlier Colt revolvers lacked a top-strap making the pistol inherently weaker than many of its rivals. Chambered in the popular .44 Henry rimfire cartridge - possibly in an attempt to capitalise on the popularity of the cartridge and encourage Henry & Winchester rifle owners to buy a Colt as a companion pistol.  This was in direct contrast to the vast majority of the percussion pistol conversions Colt had produced which used a .44 centrefire round.


A Remington Model 1858 converted to fire metallic cartridges - these were found to be more durable than Colt’s new Open-Top because of their solid frame.  (source)

However, when the revolver was appraised by the US Army they complained that the .44 rimfire round was too weak and that the open-top design was still reliant on a ‘wedge’ that held the barrel and frame together as in earlier Colt revolvers.  This put the pistol at a grave disadvantage when compared to the solid frame and top strapped revolvers produced by Remington and Smith & Wesson.


Colt 1873 Single Action Army, the Colt Open-Tops successor

As a result following US Army’s testing in 1872, Colt were asked to produce a pistol with a stouter centrefire cartridge and a stronger, more durable frame.  Mason, along with fellow Colt gunsmith Charles Brinckerhoff Richards, began to rework the design incorporating a top-strap to increase the strength of the pistol’s frame and remove the need for a wedge.  The new pistol, the Colt Single Action Army was chambered in the new .45 Colt centrefire cartridge.  This means that the Colt Open-Top was in production for only a very short period between 1872 and 1873, with serial numbers running no higher than 7,000.  This makes the revolver rather rare and highly sort after by collectors commanding up to approximately $10,000
Sources:

Image One & Two Source
Antique Firearms Assembly/Disassembly, D. Chicoine, (2005)
Flayderman’s Guide to Antique American Firearms and Their Values, N. Flayderman, (2007)
Colt 1871-72 Open Top
The Colt Open Top revolver was Colt’s first production pistol to chamber a metallic cartridge. Until 1870, when Rollin White’s patent on bored-through cylinders expired, Smith & Wesson had enjoyed the exclusive license to using the patent in their revolvers.  With the expiration of the patent and the license Colt was finally able to begin manufacture of pistols using bored-through cylinders which could accept metallic cartridges.
Colt turned to William Mason the experienced gunsmith who had worked on Colt’s percussion revolver conversions.  Mason designed a pistol which outwardly much resembled many of Colt’s earlier revolvers with an instantly recognisable grip, barrel and trigger profile.  The design took shape between 1871 and 1872 with numerous patents filed including a rear loading gate and Mason’s patented extractor rod which was offset to the side of the barrel and would later be used in the Single Action Army.


Percussion Colt Army Model 1860, adopted by the Union Army the Model 1860 like the Open-Top 1871-2, relied on a ‘wedge’ that held the barrel and frame together.  (source)

The pistol like earlier Colt revolvers lacked a top-strap making the pistol inherently weaker than many of its rivals. Chambered in the popular .44 Henry rimfire cartridge - possibly in an attempt to capitalise on the popularity of the cartridge and encourage Henry & Winchester rifle owners to buy a Colt as a companion pistol.  This was in direct contrast to the vast majority of the percussion pistol conversions Colt had produced which used a .44 centrefire round.


A Remington Model 1858 converted to fire metallic cartridges - these were found to be more durable than Colt’s new Open-Top because of their solid frame.  (source)

However, when the revolver was appraised by the US Army they complained that the .44 rimfire round was too weak and that the open-top design was still reliant on a ‘wedge’ that held the barrel and frame together as in earlier Colt revolvers.  This put the pistol at a grave disadvantage when compared to the solid frame and top strapped revolvers produced by Remington and Smith & Wesson.


Colt 1873 Single Action Army, the Colt Open-Tops successor

As a result following US Army’s testing in 1872, Colt were asked to produce a pistol with a stouter centrefire cartridge and a stronger, more durable frame.  Mason, along with fellow Colt gunsmith Charles Brinckerhoff Richards, began to rework the design incorporating a top-strap to increase the strength of the pistol’s frame and remove the need for a wedge.  The new pistol, the Colt Single Action Army was chambered in the new .45 Colt centrefire cartridge.  This means that the Colt Open-Top was in production for only a very short period between 1872 and 1873, with serial numbers running no higher than 7,000.  This makes the revolver rather rare and highly sort after by collectors commanding up to approximately $10,000
Sources:

Image One & Two Source
Antique Firearms Assembly/Disassembly, D. Chicoine, (2005)
Flayderman’s Guide to Antique American Firearms and Their Values, N. Flayderman, (2007)

Colt 1871-72 Open Top

The Colt Open Top revolver was Colt’s first production pistol to chamber a metallic cartridge. Until 1870, when Rollin White’s patent on bored-through cylinders expired, Smith & Wesson had enjoyed the exclusive license to using the patent in their revolvers.  With the expiration of the patent and the license Colt was finally able to begin manufacture of pistols using bored-through cylinders which could accept metallic cartridges.

Colt turned to William Mason the experienced gunsmith who had worked on Colt’s percussion revolver conversions.  Mason designed a pistol which outwardly much resembled many of Colt’s earlier revolvers with an instantly recognisable grip, barrel and trigger profile.  The design took shape between 1871 and 1872 with numerous patents filed including a rear loading gate and Mason’s patented extractor rod which was offset to the side of the barrel and would later be used in the Single Action Army.

Percussion Colt Army Model 1860, adopted by the Union Army the Model 1860 like the Open-Top 1871-2, relied on a ‘wedge’ that held the barrel and frame together.  (source)

The pistol like earlier Colt revolvers lacked a top-strap making the pistol inherently weaker than many of its rivals. Chambered in the popular .44 Henry rimfire cartridge - possibly in an attempt to capitalise on the popularity of the cartridge and encourage Henry Winchester rifle owners to buy a Colt as a companion pistol.  This was in direct contrast to the vast majority of the percussion pistol conversions Colt had produced which used a .44 centrefire round.

A Remington Model 1858 converted to fire metallic cartridges - these were found to be more durable than Colt’s new Open-Top because of their solid frame.  (source)

However, when the revolver was appraised by the US Army they complained that the .44 rimfire round was too weak and that the open-top design was still reliant on a ‘wedge’ that held the barrel and frame together as in earlier Colt revolvers.  This put the pistol at a grave disadvantage when compared to the solid frame and top strapped revolvers produced by Remington and Smith & Wesson.

Colt 1873 Single Action Army, the Colt Open-Tops successor

As a result following US Army’s testing in 1872, Colt were asked to produce a pistol with a stouter centrefire cartridge and a stronger, more durable frame.  Mason, along with fellow Colt gunsmith Charles Brinckerhoff Richards, began to rework the design incorporating a top-strap to increase the strength of the pistol’s frame and remove the need for a wedge.  The new pistol, the Colt Single Action Army was chambered in the new .45 Colt centrefire cartridge.  This means that the Colt Open-Top was in production for only a very short period between 1872 and 1873, with serial numbers running no higher than 7,000.  This makes the revolver rather rare and highly sort after by collectors commanding up to approximately $10,000

Sources:

Image One & Two Source

Antique Firearms Assembly/Disassembly, D. Chicoine, (2005)

Flayderman’s Guide to Antique American Firearms and Their Values, N. Flayderman, (2007)