Most post-war ammunition boxes you come across form British small arms rounds are painted green, with details stencilled on in yellow. It was therefore somewhat surprising to be given a box in red oxide that the previous owner assured me had been rescued form a British Army dump many years before:Further research, and the help of an old friend, revealed that the box was Belgian in origin, but produced under contract for the British. This then explained the odd size and colour compared to normal British boxes! The design of the box is very square in profile, with a heavy duty metal handle on two sides. One of the sides with a handle has a large spring clip for securing the lid:The opposite side is stencilled up with the boxes weight and the initials FNB indicating that the ammunition was made by Fabrique Nationale, Belgium:The date of packing is marked on as 16th April 1985. The date is repeated on one of the sides of the box along with details of the original contents:From this we can see that the box held 1200 rounds of 7.62mm ball ammunition in cartons. The four and final side of the box is marked up with the words ‘Cartridges for Weapons’:Although Britain has long produced its own ammunition at factories such as Radway Green, at times it has supplemented this manufacture with foreign contracts. Sometimes it would have been because the ammunition was a specialist type and it was not cost effective to set up a full production line for it, at others the factories in the UK were too busy producing other ammunition. In 1985 I suspect that the UK factories were flat out producing 5.56 rounds for the newly introduced SA80 in order to build up a stockpile in warehouses for the new weapon. As such they would not have had capacity to produced 7.62mm rounds and so the British Government turned to FN to fill the shortfall.
My thanks go to Ian Ward for kindly giving me this box.