Category Archives: Ammunition Box

Wooden H13 .303 Ammunition Box

Updated. This post has been updated thanks to the kind input of Gary Hancock.

Whilst metal ammunition boxes from the Second World War are pretty easy to find, wooden boxes survive in far fewer numbers- they were chopped up for firewood, rotted and were not as robust as metal cases so were more likely to be thrown away than used for tool boxes. As such they are harder for the collector to find, but if you get lucky they are often covered in old labels indicating their original contents. Tonight we have an example of a H13 box, used to store .303 ammunition:imageSadly this box is missing its lid and the metal bands that secured it; the handles are replacements I fitted as the originals were also long gone:imageThe ‘B’ on the end of the box would originally have been a raised metal plate to allow identification of contents in the dark, the ‘B’ standing for incendiary ammunition. The labels on the side of the box make up for any missing fittings however. Firstly we have a small government explosives label, pasted near the top:imageA faded label is also attached, which sadly is unreadable now:imageThis label originally read ‘Not to be fired from Synchronised Guns after 3/5/46.’ The most interesting label however is the large one identifying the original contents of the box:imageFrom this we can see the box contained 1248 rounds of incendiary ammunition, this would have been packed in 26 individual cartons of 48 rounds and would have weighed an impressive 77lbs- hence the sturdy box. These rounds were ‘B Mk VII’ rounds and were used in aircraft; the following description of the round comes courtesy of the British Military Small Arms Ammo webpage:

In early 1941 problems were encountered in service with the brass base plug of the Mark VI bullet becoming detached as the bullet left the muzzle and damaging the aircraft. To overcome this a simplified design was produced in which the steel sleeve was chamfered to the internal shape of the envelope to prevent it moving forward and the base of the bullet was closed with a steel disc over a lead plug.

“Cartridge S.A. Incendiary .303 inch B Mark VII” (and VII.z) were approved to design DD/L/11846 in 1941 and were not shown in Lists of Changes. In Naval service the design was later superseded by NOD 6322.

The case was the normal service case and had a blue annulus. Some early examples were unheadstamped or loaded into cases headstamped “B.VIZ” in an attempt to maintain secrecy but most carried the code “B.VII” or “B.VIIZ”.

The bullet had a gilding metal envelope inside which was a steel sleeve within a lead sheath. the bullet base was chamfered and closed with a steel disc and lead base plug. The bullet had a single cannelure and weighed 168 grains. The bullet tip was coloured blue for identification. The composition was 7 grains of SR 365.

The propellant charge was 36 grains of Cordite MDT 5-2 or 35.5 grains of nitro-cellulose.

Muzzle velocity was 2,370 fps.

From this it can be seen that the box is RAF rather than army related, the ammunition issued for aircraft machine guns rather than ground based small arms, the incendiary nature of the bullets helping to set fire to the fuel on enemy aircraft if they hit in the right place. One fighter pilot described the experience of being hit by incendiary ammunition:

I could smell powder smoke, hot and strong, but it didn’t make me feel tough this time. It was from the cannon shells and incendiary bullets that had hit my machine…Bullets were going between my legs, and I remember seeing a bright flash of an incendiary bullet going past my leg into the gas tank…Then a little red tongue licked out inquiringly from under the gas tank in front of my feet and became a hot little bonfire in one corner of the cockpit

Returning to the box, the box type has been stamped on the underside of the wood:imageFurther stamps indicate the box was made by ‘CH Ltd’ in 1944:imageOne end of the box has ‘Gross 84’ stencilled on in yellow paint:imageThis being the weight of the full ammunition box, including both the box and its contents.

H51 Small Arms Ammunition Box

Tonight we are looking at a very common type of ammunition box- The H51. This box is made of plywood and was used to carry a variety of small arms ammunition:imageTwo of these boxes were carried in a larger H50, (see here) but were designed with folding metal handles to allow their contents to be more easily transported to where they were needed than would have been the case with a big metal box. The handles fold flat on the lid for transport:imageBut can be folded up to form a comfortable hand hold:imageThe edges of the box are reinforced with metal strips and a pair of metal clips secures the lid:imageInside the box would originally have had a metal liner to prevent moisture damaging the ammunition, this has now gone though:imageThe boxes can be found with a large range of stencils for different ammunition; 9mm, .38 and of course .303. The .303 round was packaged in boxes, belts or bandoliers; as the markings on this box indicate:imageFrom this we can see the box contained 300 rounds of Mk 7 .303 ammunition packaged in bandoliers on 30th December 1953. The 1948 guide to inter-service ammunition and ammunition package markings, provided a representative diagram on how to mark these boxes:UntitledThe H51 box was introduced right at the end of World War II for use in the Jungle, “Pamphlet No11, Small Arms Ammunition “ dated February 1945 has the following description:

“Jungle Packages 16. as the result of requirements of a “Jungle pack” for S.A.A., Boxes H.50 and H.51 (not listed in Tables 14 and 15) have been introduced and will probably eventually become universal standard packaging”

A post was pamphlet describes the H51 and H50 boxes:

“These packages were introduced during the late war in order to give full protection to ammunition carried into jungle and tropic zones. The steel outer box is designed mainly to provide protection during transport and storage and during free or parachute dropping from aircraft.”

This box is one of two I own, the other having 9mm ammunition markings.

P59 Ammunition Box

Regular readers will know I have quite a lot of ammunition boxes! Tuesday’s market brought up yet another one:imageThis has been painted silver at some point so I need to strip it down and repaint it in service brown. The markings on the top date it to 1942:imageAnd indicate it is a P59 box:imageThese boxes measure 19.15”x7.85”x8.5” and were used for carrying a number of different items:

25-pr. Q.F. gun Shell, H.E.

Number Packed: 4

Gross weight: 115 lbs

25-pr. Q.F. gun Shell, Chem

Number Packed: 4

Gross weight: 96 lbs

25-pr. Q.F. gun Shell, Smoke

Number Packed: 4

Gross weight: 104 lbs

Grenades No. 68

Number Packed: 17

Gross weight: 50 lbsbBomb, hand incendiary 1 1/4-lb

Number Packed: 24

Gross weight: 46 lbscThe box lid is secured by two wire clasps:imageThe rubber grips on the handle are indicative of early production runs of ammunition boxes:imageIn this image the P59 boxes can be clearly seen as Female worker Pauline Renard stencils a case of 25-pounder shells ready for shipment at the Cherrier or Bouchard plants of the Defense Industries Limited. “July 1944 Montreal, Quebec:

aThese boxes are very easy to restore, I attach a wire brush to my drill and remove any loose particles, before giving it a coat of paint (always a messy job). I will update with further pictures when this one is looking a little less dishevelled.

.30 Cal Ammunition Box

On the whole, post war ammunition boxes are ignored by many collectors. These ammunition boxes though are cheap (often under £5) and they are easily available so they make an interesting area for collecting and research. It must also be remembered that many of these boxes are now reaching 50 years old and as time moves on they will start becoming more collectable and hopefully better appreciated by collectors. Tonight’s ammunition box dates from 1966 and its official designation is H82 Mk1:FullSizeRenderfAs can be seen this ammunition box is a smaller example used for belted small arms ammunition and much of what we want to know can be learnt from the markings on the side:FullSizeRendereFrom this we can see that the box contained 240 rounds of .30 cal mixed belt ammunition at a ration of 4 rounds to one tracer. Underneath this we see that it is in a Mk1 belt and that the ball ammunition is Mk4 rounds, the tracer Mk 1 and both were packed on `12th December 1966. The ammunition type, .30 cal, was used for the machine guns on many tanks and armoured vehicles of the period. Also on this side of the box is an MOD sticker indicating that the box contains explosives that are safety type 6:FullSizeRenderqThe top of the box has a handle for carrying, this is on moveable wire fasteners so it stows flat against the top of the ammunition box for easy storage:FullSizeRendernThe weight of a full box, 18lb, is recorded on one end:FullSizeRendermWhilst on the other is the clip fastener for the box which secures the lid. This is also the fastener that allows the box to be mounted on the side of a weapon so ammunition can be fed from it into the breech of the machine gun:FullSizeRenderoBelow this is impressed the details of the box:FullSizeRenderpFrom this we can ascertain that the box is an H82Mk1 and was manufactured in 1966. These details are added on the end as it is common practice to quickly overspray ammunition boxes on a range with the base colour once the contents had been fired to indicate they were empty. The embossed details ensured the original date of manufacture were not lost. A lot of the boxes that do come on the market have details over painted or multiple issues printed on the outside, this box is unusual in that it has only been used once and still retains all its markings and stickers. The markings were added using either rubber stamps or stencils and yellow paint. Examples of this type of box are probably the smallest ammunition boxes in my collection and are a good place for new collectors to start as they are cheap, available as surplus and don’t take up too much room. The box is also found with markings for 7.62 ammunition for use with a GPMG and as such this box is still manufactured today.

Tuesday Finds

Another Tuesday, another couple of ammunition boxes…

Ammunition Boxes

Those of you who have been reading for a while will be aware I have a weakness for the humble ammunition box, these two cost me a fiver each so I couldn’t leave them there! Some restoration is needed, but I have done enough of these now that it doesn’t present any difficulties- its a messy job but its just sanding them down and a repaint. The two examples I picked up today are some of the easiest to find, indeed I already have examples of both in my collection. However they are a useful place to store items of my collection and always look good on a display at a show so at that price I was more than happy to pick them up!.

The first box is a 1943 dated B166 box used to carry either 6x 3” mortar dbombs, 6x PIAT bombs or 10x No73 grenades:

63DE6FF3-E126-4C00-B43D-B83D365D9934I already have a couple of these boxes, but due to their size and depth they are very useful- they are one of the few boxes you can fit a full set of 08 webbing for one thing!

The second box is a 1944 dated H50 box that was originally used to carry a pair of wooden H51 small arms ammunition boxes:

D5F1EC08-66E9-46BD-9611-0E0A5307B805Inside each of these wooden boxes would have been 6 cotton bandoliers of 50 rounds each, resulting in this box holding 600 rounds of .303- quite a weight when full!

Folding Saw

I am very pleased with this find as its something I have been after for a while now. This is an example of the folding saw issued as part of the standard kit on British Army tanks and fighting vehicle and to engineers. Originally introduced in WW1 this saw is housed in a leather wallet:45D8D983-F9B9-4E46-8033-04EDBA8B7985

With two belt loops to the rear:C60451C6-9F6C-458F-BDB2-27291E4796ECOne of which shows the pouch to have been made by Jabez Olliff & Co of Walsall in 1918 (?):3971743C-A573-4060-8FA0-AA0D10CFACB1Inside is a folding saw with triangular teeth and brass loops at each end:

2D6F1757-3DD0-40C0-A352-2575FA7689DDThe stampings on the brass ends reveal the saw was made in Sheffield in 1916 by Francis Wood & Son:

90E70C93-FF6D-4A88-B730-CD9B4E650BCCAlso in the pouch are two wooden handles:

B75CCD1F-2410-4050-AECF-2CF435C28D23A file for sharpening the teeth on the saw:


And a tool for setting them at the correct angle:

33BAF423-645D-4117-ADBB-B413BB44A7D5The pouch needs a bit of TLC as the leather is very dry and dirty, but its a nice complete set to add to my growing collection of British Army pioneer kit.

French Language Book

This battered little book was printed in Algiers sometime in the Second World War and as the cover says it was aimed at helping Allied Soldiers learn French:B83042F4-BF86-4448-B306-C930CCBEE314Although I can’t find a date on it, the book refers to the current tragedy facing France (The Occupation). As Algeria was invaded by the allies and the Vichy regime overthrown in late 1942, and France was liberated in 1944 it would suggest this book dates from either 1943 or 1944.

Royal Navy Sweetheart Compact

This delightful little compact has a King’s Crown Royal Naval Oficer’s badge affixed to the front:

48C3DB25-4B0B-4AF4-9511-8E4B58F796E1This sort of item is typical of the many types of souvenirs produced as ‘sweetheart’ items for soldiers, sailors and airmen to buy as gifts for their loved ones. One the rear of this compact is scratched, ‘Mrs McWalter, 22 Hermitage Road, Crumpsall, Manchester’:4E692556-5C49-4202-8657-CDC4844676A5

The Windsor Magazine

This rather battered magazine dates frm 1915 and amongst the usual stories and articles that made up the typical Edwardian magazine, are many on different aspects of WW1. We start with ‘The Spirit of Our Army and Its Moral Force in the Conflict’

16299C0E-075E-476D-A8FB-F3AA5BAE1F1FBefore going on to ‘The Dog in Modern Warfare’:


‘Men of Mark in the War’:09E95B1A-A680-41A4-9F5E-74E48CB754AEAnd ‘India’s Active Part in Medical Relief ‘

7F4A4284-90D4-43F8-8C6B-8D53B7A6B402All very uplifting stuff, interestingly, there are also some great period cartoons and adverts that use the British Tommy:


Tuesday Finds

A few nice bits, and one I’m not so sure of today…

Bren Gun Ammunition Box

One of the problems with all machine guns is ensuring they have an adequate supply of ammunition in battle. The Bren Gun was no exception and every man in a section carried a couple of magazines for it. The gunners carried additional magazines and these 12 magazine boxes were also issued allowing large quantities of ammunition to be delivered to the gunner in the field. Considering the box holds 12 magazines, each of which would have been filled with 28 rounds, that made for 336 rounds per box. Not a huge number, but enough to have made the box a heavy enough thing to have lugged around the battlefield:


This box is a Mk1* example, distinguished form the earlier Mk1 by having a horse hair seal around the rim:


A catch on the front secures the box:


Whilst on one end is a steel strip carrying handle (the Canadian manufactured example uses webbing instead):


Inside is room for 12 Bren box magazines:


The box has been repainted at some point in its army career, but the original marking have been left unpainted:


This is not the first time I have seen this done on one of these boxes and seems quite common practice.

Dog Tags

Throughout both world wars British troops wore pairs of compressed fibre dog tags on string around their necks. These tags were in two parts, a hexagonal green tag and a red circular tag. Onto these were stamped a troops name, service number and religion. Regimental details were also sometimes added, but this was by no means universal. The idea was that if a soldier was killed the red disc would be removed along with his paybook so the death could be recorded, whilst the green tag remained on the body for future identification.

These two sets of dog tags appear to be for brothers or possibly cousins, as they share the same surname. The first set is for 5520478 KG BORN, who is recorded as being Church of England. The number block indicates this man was a member of the Hampshire Regiment:


The second set is for 2206317 CJ BORN who is recorded as being Roman Catholic. Again the number block indicates regiment- in this case the Royal Engineers:


Both sets of dog tags are in lovely issue on a piece of string for wear around the neck:



I will be honest, I have my doubts about the military origins of these binoculars. They are very similar in size and design to military binoculars and I would guess they date form around the First World War:


They are manufactured by Necretti and Zambra, London and this is stamped on the front:


I have my doubts about them due to the lack of WD or /|\ stamps and the lack of range reticules on the lenses. The manufacturer is also not listed as one of the WD approved suppliers for WW1 or WW2. There is a possibility that these were private purchase items, but no proof.

This is a case of buyer beware and I should have thought a bit harder before purchasing them, or waited and done my research to be sure of their provenance before buying. However they were not expensive, have definite age to them and have good optics so I’m not too concerned with picking them up. If anyone has any further information on them I’d be delighted to hear about it.

Coldstream Guards Cap Badge and Buttons

This cap badge and pair of buttons are for the Coldstream Guards, the oldest regiment in the British Army and second only to the Grenadier Guards in order of precedence. The regiment was founded in 1650 in Coldstream, Scotland by General Moncke. The regiment’s badge, seen on the cap badge and buttons, is the Garter Star with the motto ‘Honi soit qui mal y pense’ or Shame on him who thinks evil of it.


RAF Officer’s Tunic

This was a particularly nice find considering how little it cost me. This is a 1953 dated RAF officer’s tunic and belt, still with King’s crown buttons on. The tunic is made of fine RAF blue cloth. The distinctive colour of RAF uniforms dates back to its inception at the end of the First World War, when the War Office purchased a job lot of cloth, destined for tsarist Russia, at a knock down price (due to the sudden replacement of the Tsar with those who preferred Red!). The colour of the uniform soon led to the new service being nicknamed ‘Crabs’ due to the supposed similarity in colour between the uniform and the underwater crustacean.

The Tunic itself is full cut, with four pockets:


The pockets and front are secured by brass ‘Kings Crown’ RAF buttons:image

One of the buttons is a flat disc as it is covered by the waist belt and needs to fit discretely behind it:


Inside is a label detailing size, manufacturer and date:


Unfortunately the rank lace is missing, but looking at the discolouration it belonged to a Wing Commander:


My aim with this one is to try and track down some lace and restore it a bit before displaying it as its in pretty good nick and it fills a hole in my collection as most of my other RAF kit is Other Airmans.

Naval Ratings Photograph

This little photo depicts a sailor in square rig. Judging by the age of him, he may well be a boy sailor. His cap tally says HMS Victory, which was used as a training ship. The black top to the cap dates him to around the Second World War, whilst on the back is the photographer’s details for a J Roberts, 83 Dewsbury Road Leeds.


Tuesday Finds


Tuesday Finds

As usual I’ve had a hunt round the second and market and come back with a few more bits for my collection. A couple of bargains today, but some restoration work needed on them…

German WW1 Bayonet

This one definitely falls into the category of a fixer upper! This bayonet is for a German Gewehr 98, Mauser rifle. It was introduced in 1898 and was a modification of the earlier 1884 bayonet. The muzzle ring was removed and a new pommel fitted to allow it to fit to the new rifle. It was used throughout WW1 and presumably it was during this conflict it was picked up as a souvenir and brought to England.imageThis example is missing the spring catch in the pommel and the wooden handgrips, as well as being very well rusted. I plan to soak it in treacle (it works to remove rust, but don’t ask me how!) and clean it up and see if I can find some replacement grips. Its not my usual area of collecting as I normally stick to British kit, however for £4 even in this state I was happy to pick it up.image

25 Pounder Ammunition Box

Yes I have a problem! As regular readers will be aware I seem to come back with ammunition boxes with alarming regularity. This particular example is the cheapest I have bought so far, and set me back the princely sum of £4. It is a C206 box from 1942 and would originally have held 8 brass cartridges for the 25 pound field gun. I have one of these cartridges already, but will need another 7 to fill out the box.imageAgain this one needs restoration, but that is typical after 70 years, as these boxes have survived by being used as tool boxes in sheds, outhouses and farms. Looking at other examples and the surviving paint, this box looks like it should be green rather than service brown. From what I can work out items that were considered part of a vehicles equipment such as Jerry Cans and artillery boxes would have been in green, whilst all other ammunition boxes were brown. As I don’t have any green paint, I need to decide whether to quickly get this one restored in inaccurate brown paint, or hang on and put an order in for the correct green paint. As I also have a Jerry Can that has needed a repaint for the last 5 years, I might do the latter.image

RAMC Wedding Photo

Another rather elegant studio photograph, this one of a wedding party. The groom is clearly in Royal Army Medical Corps uniform and has a red cross armband sewn to his left sleeve. Looking at the style of the wedding dresses and the use of collar dogs on the uniform, I believe this photo is probably from the early 1920s rather than WW1. The outer paper sleeve is rather battered, but does reveal the photograph was taken by a photographer with studios in Dundee and Montrose, so we can say the Private is most likely to have been Scottish. Again like most of these photographs there is no name or identifying features.SKMBT_C36414080513320_0001Sadly these photographs are virtually worthless these days, indeed this one only cost £1.50, however they clearly meant a lot to the people in them, who posed so proudly all those years ago. This picture at least will not get thrown into the bin along with so much of this sort of ephemera.

Kit Bag Ring

This brass loop is designed to secure a kit bag. Most kit bags have a series of reinforced eyelets around the ‘mouth’. The idea was that the ring was opened and the long end pushed through the loops. The ring would then be closed and a padlock would secure it. This served a dual purpose of securing the soldier’s belongings safely within the bag, and of giving him a handy carrying handle with which to hold the bag safely on his shoulder whilst transiting.image