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Cloth .30 Army Bandoleers - 1903-1910


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#1 RustyCanteen

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Posted 28 April 2014 - 05:30 PM

This thread is focused on the 1903 pattern bandoleer as used for .30 rifle cartridges from 1903-1918. Due to the relation of the 1909 bandoleer it is included, but the focus is not on the 1909 or latter bandoleers. They are included strictly for discussion purposes.

 

Prior to 1903 the US Army did not issue small arms ammunition in bandoleers. Ammunition came from Frankford Arsenal (and contracted commercial firms) in 20 round pasteboard boxes, which were then packed in wooden crates lined with zinc to seal against humidity and water damage. In practice a soldier would open a 20 round box and then load his looped Mills cartridge belt, opening more boxes until his belt was full (if ordered to carry a full load). In 1903 the new Springfield magazine rifle (M1903) was adopted and this coincided with new developments in modernizing the US Army. One such development was an experimental cloth bandoleer to carry the new rifle's clipped ammunition. In addition to making resupply and reserve ammunition easier to carry this was likely spurred at least in part by the difficulty in packing clipped ammunition in the pasteboard boxes than an attempt to match the equipment of other nations.

 

Bandoleers would be opened under order of the commanding officer, the ammunition would then be used to fill a cartridge belt. If additional reserve/emergency supplies of ammunition were needed two bandoleers would be issued per soldier. The ammunition in the bandoleers was to be expended before that carried in the cartridge belt.

 

Two 1909 pattern bandoleers being worn in conjunction with a cartridge belt and pack:

1909.jpg



#2 RustyCanteen

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Posted 28 April 2014 - 07:14 PM

In 1903 the Army trialed a cloth bandoleer:
 
June 1903
"Bandoleer.-Experiments are being made to develop a cheap cloth bandoleer, having six pockets, in which 60 cartridges can be packed. If these experiments are successful, all ammunition will be packed and issued in bandoleers, as in this form an extra supply of ammunition can be most conveniently carried by the soldier and distributed to the firing line."
 
By 1904 the experimental bandoleer was adopted as standard:
 
"Bandoleer.-The experiments referred to in my last report, made to develop a cheap cloth bandoleer having six pockets, each containing 10 cartridges, models of 1898 and 1903, will be packed and issued in bandoleers instead of pasteboard boxes."
 
The "Description and rules for the management of the U.S. Magazine Rifle, Model of 1903, Caliber .30" of March 3, 1904 gives the following overview of the bandoleer as adopted in 1904:
 
"Sixty ball cartridges in twelve clips are packed in a bandoleer. The bandoleer is made of khaki cloth and contains six pockets, each holding two clips.
Each pocket is sewed up, but a piece of tape is sewed in in such a manner that by pulling on its end the seam is readily opened.
The bandoleer is provided with a shoulder strap by which it is carried over the shoulder, and a safety pin is provided to afford an adjustment of its length to suit the convenience of the soldier. The bandoleer with cartridges weighs about 4 pounds. On each bandoleer is stamped the number and kind of cartridges, the place of manufacture, the intrumental velocity, and the date of loading.
Twelve hundred cartridges (in 20 bandoleers) are packed in an hermetically sealed zinc case provided with one end of tin soldered to the case. By means of a brass handle on the cover the latter is easily torn off.
"
 
An artistic rendering of the original .30-M1903 Bandoleer as used from 1904-1906:
 
1904bandoleer30.jpg



#3 RustyCanteen

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Posted 28 April 2014 - 07:34 PM

This passage from the testimony of an Infantry Officer during the investigation of the 'Affray at Brownsville Texas' in 1906 gives a good insight into the supply of the 1903 bandoleer from both Frankford Arsenal and contracted commercial manufacturers:

 

"Q. Captain Rice, I will now show you a bandoleer which was offered in evidence in connection with the testimony of one Juan Cerda, and which is alleged to have been picked up in the alley in the rear of the Miller Hotel, in the city of Brownsville, at about daylight on the morning of the 14th of August. After having been examined this bandoleer, I will ask you to state whether of not it is similar in all respects to the bandoleer used by the United States troops.

 

A. It is of Government design, such as is manufactured for the model of 1903 ammunition, and is furnished the Government either by its own plant at the Frankford Arsenal or by private manufacturers working under contract for the Government. The markings indicate that this particular bandoleer was furnished by the Union Metallic Cartridge Company in January, 1906. The cartridge cases, in reference to which I have previously testified, were manufactured by that company, as shown by the markings, in December, 1905." Affray at Brownsville, Tex, Vol. 1.

 

A later Remington Arms UMC Co. 1903 pattern bandoleer for the .30-M1898 is pictured below in reply #5.



#4 RustyCanteen

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Posted 28 April 2014 - 07:46 PM

Three different models of .30 caliber service ball cartridges were packed during the lifetime of the 1903 bandoleer. The M1898 .30 cartridge for the M1892-1898 Krag-Jorgenson rifles, the .30-M1903 (using the same type of round nosed bullet as the earlier M1898 Krag cartridge), and from 1906 until 1910 the .30-M1906. This isn't a history of the various cartridges and the inclusion of information on the various calibers is strictly for educational purposes of understanding the manufacture and usage of the 1903 pattern bandoleer.
 
(Note, the nomenclatures (both military and civilian) for all three rounds has a confusing history in itself with dozens of various designations given. Stemming from the fact that all three are the same relative caliber (.30) and that two of the cartridges had been chambered at different times in the same model of rifle (M1903). I strongly recommend that interested parties undertake further research of the cartridges to familiarize themselves with the differences before handling them.) Only the most basic of information will be given below for illustrative purposes.
 
M1898 Ball Cartridge, Cal. 30
 

30-1898.jpg

A rimmed cartridge adopted for use in the M1892-1899 series of US Krag-Jorgensen Magazine rifles.
 
 
M1903 Ball Cartridge, Cal. 30
 

30-1903.jpg

A rimless cartridge that was introduced for the Magazine rifle model of 1903. The cartridge was replaced in September 1906 with a redesigned cartridge designated the M1906 Ball Cartridge, Cal. 30. The two major changes were the introduction of the tapered spitzer bullet and the case was shortened slightly. This cartridge was adopted with a 220 grain round nosed bullet which was replaced in the M1906 cartridge with a 150 grain spitzer bullet.
 
M1906 Ball Cartridge Cal. 30

 

30-1906.jpg
 
This cartridge replaced the .30-M1903 service cartridge and later formed the basis of the M1 an M2 ball cartridges.
 
 
The adoption of the M1906 cartridge meant that manufacture of M1903 ball cartridges ceased as production shifted to the new cartridge. The 1906 cartridge was shipped in 1903 pattern bandoleers from late 1906 through 1909.
 
An artistic rendering of the original .30-M1906 Bandoleer as used from 1906-1909:
 
1906bandoleer06.jpg

 

The same bandoleer pattern was also used to ship M1898 cartridges which were still in use by most of the Army through the early years of 1903-1907 and by the various State Guards.

 

The 1903 pattern bandoleer for .30-M1898 cartridges:

 

18981907b.jpg

Note the tape ties above each pouch. Pulling on one would remove the thread which kept that pocket closed and allowed access only to that particular pouch. The later 1909 pattern bandoleers made it easier to retrieve ammunition from all pouches of the bandoleer.



#5 RustyCanteen

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Posted 28 April 2014 - 07:49 PM

1909 ushered in the beginning of the end for the old 1903 bandoleers, a new replacement was authorized as detailed in the below report:
"Bandoleer.-A new form of bandoleer has been designed which is cheaper, and answers all requirments better then did the old form. In the old form the pocket opened at the top. It was closed by a seam which also held a strip of tape whose ends protruded from the pocket. It was opened by tearing the tape. In the new form the pocket opens at the side, and the material overlaps at the opening in order to hold the clips in the pockets until it is desired to remove them."

 

The 1909 pattern bandoleer introduced the side opening pocket:

 

09opening.jpg

 

 

 

In the 1909-1910 Fiscal Year:
"Bandoleer.-The bandoleer mentioned in my last annual report has been adopted after being slightly modified. It is estimated that the new form of bandoleer will effect a saving, at present rate of production of ball cartridges, caliber .30, of $8,000 per year."

 

A 1918 dated 1909 pattern bandoleer:

 

18.jpg

But wait! When the US entered WWI in April 1917 the Army was given the monumental task of converting from a defensive sized army to one that would rival those engaged in the brutal trench warfare in Europe. Due to shortages of M1903 Springfields M1892-1898 Krags were issued for training, stateside guard duty, and even service in France. Thanks to this dire need for rifles new contracts were awarded for M1898 ammunition to be supplied by Remington-UMC in 1917 and 1918. The old 'retired' 1903 bandoleer was dusted off and once again soldiered to the nations service. This was likely due to the M1898's lack of clips which meant that the cartridges were more or less 'loose' in the bandoleer pockets. In order to secure them it was probably decided that the sewn pockets of the 1903 bandoleer were superior in that respect to the open pockets of the M1909 bandoleer. Another consideration is that the 1903 bandoleer was the last pattern authorized to pack M1898 ammunition.
 
1917 dated 1903 pattern bandoleer for M1898 cartridges loaded by Remington Arms-UMC:
1917.jpg
 
The 1909 bandoleer continued in (US) manufacture as late as the 1950s, possibly into the 1960s. Certainly the major impetus for dropping of the bandoleer was the move away from the M1 Rifle. The 1909 pattern bandoleer could hold the same 60 rounds of .30-M1906 cartridges packed in 5 round clips, two to the pouch. It would also hold 48 rounds of .30-M2 ball packed in 8 round enbloc clips, one clip per pouch.

Pre-1945 1909 pattern bandoleer:

 

pre45.jpg



#6 RustyCanteen

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Posted 30 April 2014 - 03:22 PM

If anyone has additional information on the above mentioned bandoleers (or corrections) please feel free to post it. And if anyone has examples of these bandoleers please feel free to post them also.

 

I hope this thread will be of interest,

 

RC



#7 jgawne

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Posted 30 April 2014 - 05:45 PM

This is pretty nice. Thanks.



#8 RustyCanteen

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Posted 30 April 2014 - 06:12 PM

Thanks Jon. I thought this was an interesting subject.

 

RC



#9 RustyCanteen

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Posted 30 April 2014 - 06:16 PM

For those who are not familiar with the 'original' incarnation of the M1903 rifle, here is a photo along with a link to the Army CMH article. This is the so-called 'rod bayonet' 1903 that was chambered in the .30-M1903 cartridge until it was altered with the M1905 rear sight, bayonet, and finally in 1906 the .30-M1906 cartridge.

 

 

rod.jpg

 

A nice article from the Army Center for Military History on the first Rock Island produced 'Springfield' M1903: http://www.history.a...fieldRifle.html



#10 robinb

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Posted 30 April 2014 - 08:09 PM

Here's a M1903 bandoleer that was loaded in 1912. All bandoleers had such a packing slip included.

MVC-096S.JPG

MVC-097S.JPG

MVC-098S.JPG

 



#11 robinb

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Posted 30 April 2014 - 08:11 PM

An M1909 bandoleer with packing slip from Remington. This bandoleer is dated 1917.

MVC-099S.JPG

 



#12 robinb

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Posted 30 April 2014 - 08:11 PM

M1909 from Winchester.

MVC-100S.JPG

MVC-101S.JPG

 



#13 solcarlus

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Posted 30 April 2014 - 10:43 PM

Bonjour.

My contribution to this interesting post. The two piece are "field"

 

 

 

Solcarlus.

 

[Attachment = 773012: IMG_0538.jpg]

 

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[Attachment = 773015: IMG_0540.jpg]

 

[Attachment = 773014: IMG_0541.jpg]

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Edited by solcarlus, 30 April 2014 - 10:56 PM.


#14 world war I nerd

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Posted 01 May 2014 - 01:21 AM

Thanks RC, this is an excellent reference on a subject that I only had rudimentary knowledge in.



#15 Charlie Flick

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Posted 01 May 2014 - 01:56 AM

Hey RC:

 

Thanks for illuminating this subject, one that has not gotten much attention heretofore.  This thread is a valuable addition.

 

Can you comment on the introduction and use of the safety pin with the bandoleer?

 

Regards,

Charlie



#16 Lancer-86

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Posted 01 May 2014 - 04:39 AM

Extremely valuable information gentlemen. Thank you for taking the time to share.

#17 Dr_rambow

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Posted 01 May 2014 - 06:38 AM

Fantastic topic, thank you for the information!



#18 RustyCanteen

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Posted 01 May 2014 - 07:38 AM

Thanks for the interest guys! And for posting more examples!

 

@Robin - Excellent, that is the first post-1910 dated example of the 1903 pattern bandoleer (that wasn't .30-M1898) that I have seen! I admit I don't know why they would have been using it so late. All I have is speculation on that for the time being. Thanks for posting those.

 

@Solcarlus - Very nice bandoleers! I think the color was changed to a darker green OD in 1918 but I haven't seen anything in writing on that yet; only what I have observed. I think US Cartridge Company contracted with another manufacturer to source the bandoleers they used. I don't know if that was also the case with Remington & Winchester or not, or if they had their own in-house supplier. Thanks for posting your examples.

 

RC



#19 RustyCanteen

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Posted 01 May 2014 - 07:45 AM

Hey RC:

 

Thanks for illuminating this subject, one that has not gotten much attention heretofore.  This thread is a valuable addition.

 

Can you comment on the introduction and use of the safety pin with the bandoleer?

 

Regards,

Charlie

 

 

Hi Charlie!

 

I think bandoleers are under-appreciated.

 

To answer your question to be best of my knowledge, the safety pin was introduced with the adoption of the 1903 pattern bandoleer. For sure it is mentioned in the original rifle manual for the .30-M1903 springfields from 1904. But that manual was revised in 1905 and one last time in early 1906 prior to the adoption of the .30-M1906 cartridge. Since the initial issue was experimental I would guess they saw the need for the safety pins early on. The only instructions on use pertain to (in rather vague terms) using it to adjust the bandoleer to obtain the best fit for the individual soldier.

 

Regards,

RC



#20 Garandomatic

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Posted 01 May 2014 - 07:57 AM

Can anybody post a shot of the opening of the pockets on the early belt with that tape-opening system? I had not yet heard of that type of bandoleer yet.


Edited by Garandomatic, 01 May 2014 - 07:58 AM.


#21 RustyCanteen

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Posted 01 May 2014 - 08:48 AM



Can anybody post a shot of the opening of the pockets on the early belt with that tape-opening system? I had not yet heard of that type of bandoleer yet.

 

Absolutely!

 

It opens from the top by pulling the tape:

 

1.jpg

 

 

Which pulls out the stitch that secures the seam:

 

2.jpg

 

 

Allowing access to the interior:

 

3.jpg



#22 Garandomatic

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Posted 01 May 2014 - 10:59 AM

Like a feed bag. Interesting. I can see why they went to the side-open variety.



#23 GWS

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Posted 01 May 2014 - 01:44 PM

Here's another variation of the tape pull type of this bandoleer of .30 Model of 1898. The pull was inserted through a piece of stiff cardstock  which tore the light thread stitching when pulled. The heavy cardstock also limited the movement of the cartridges in the pocket so they couldn't poke through the lightly stitched opening. This bandoleer is dated 1917 for use with the Krag rifle.

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Edited by GWS, 01 May 2014 - 02:00 PM.


#24 GWS

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Posted 01 May 2014 - 01:50 PM

Frontal pic of the bandoleer and headstamp of the cartridges. The tag with the lot number etc. is still in one of the unpulled pockets.

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#25 RustyCanteen

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Posted 01 May 2014 - 02:56 PM

@GWS

 

That is a very nice Remington bandoleer you have. It is noticeably lighter in shade than the 1917 Remington I posted on page one. One of the questions that I can't find an answer to pertains to the change in color from 'khaki' to green cloth used to make the bandoleers. It seems the olive drab 1909 bandoleers are dated no earlier than 1918.

 

I also noticed that both bandoleers are dated 1917 but use different fonts for the markings. This (along with the differnt color of cloth) makes me wonder if Remington sourced their bandoleers from yet another party. Very interesting, yet something else to look for!

 

Thanks for posting!

 

RC




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