I thought I'd start off this very welcome new forum with a real rarity. This bandolier was made by the Mills Equipment Company for the South African Forces in 1915. It has ten pockets, and is made to carry individual rounds, not cartridges in chargers. You can see the South African "broad arrow in a U" mark in the lower picture. There is an identical bandolier in a military museum in South Africa.
John, that is a fascinating find. Already this forum is proving worthwhile.
I am curious about the pockets. Are they open, or are there loops inside for individual rounds? It looks like a charger would fit in just as easily as 5 loose rounds. The pockets look somewhat larger than the Mills US M1912 bandolier, which holds clips of .30 cal. rifle ammo.
Mills usually tried to replicate leather items as closely as possible, but in this case opted for 5 round pockets instead of the 10 round pockets of the 1903 bandolier equipment. Possibly this was due to some experience developing the M1912 bandolier.
I am also amazed that Mills was able to produce such a thing so shortly after Britain had to resort to the 1914 leather equipment due to the shortage of web equipment.
Here's an inside view of the pocket. As you can see, it has five individual sleeves for cartridges, and there is room for one 5-round charger to fit as well. The pockets only have one snap, though, and if you have cartridges in the loops and put a charger in as well, the flap won't snap closed.
As far as Long Lees in 1915, there were plenty. The Old Army had SMLE's as did some of the Australians thanks to Lithgow production, but most colonial troops and most of Kitchener's mob went into battle with the older rifles, and the Canadians of course had Ross rifles. It wasn't until late 1915 / early 1916 that there were enough short rifles available for distribution to the Territorials.
It is quite likely that this item was originally developed by Mills at the turn of the century. The unusual pocket which holds either single rounds or a full charger suggests that it was designed while the British forces were still in transition. I think it is highly likely that Mills developed an entire P1903 web set. The puzzling thing is that this is only a 50 round bandolier, suggesting dismounted use, yet the back pockets would seem to preclude use of the bandolier with the greatcoat carrier that was also a part of the P1903 equipment. I'm sure that, as usual, there is a lot here we don't know and can only speculate on.
I know Long Lee's were still being used, but wasn't there a modification that allowed the use of clips? Maybe I'm thinking of the early SMLE's.
Thanks for the pics of the pocket interior.
IIRC there was a modification to Long Toms that enabled them to use chargers. Amongst other things the dust cover was removed, a sliding charger guide was added to the bolt head and a newer model of magazine was added. This was done around 1905 if I've got it right.
I find the date interesting too, but for a different reason. The South African Forces were formed in 1912 when SA was given Home Rule. The new government had more important things to spend money on so this half Boer and half Uitlander army used kit left over from the previous Anglo-Boer war and subsequent Territorial Force. Period pictures show a real mix of old kit; ordinary and carbine Lee Metfords, Long Lees, 1889 and 1901 pattern bandoliers, 03 belts, shoulder bags, British-Warms instead of greatcoats, blankets, slouch hats more often than Pith helmets, a few bits of civilian clothing..... not alot else and very few bayonets (some of the ex-Commandoes wouldn't use British kit at all). The horses were much better equiped! Their first actions were against renegade Boers in 1914 before swinging north to take German South West Africa (who had aided and abetted the rebellion). After the GSWA campaign, in the summer of 1915 the South African army needed reorganizing, many men had left to fight in Europe and the East African campaign was beginning. The government had enough money and so procurement began, hence the pictures of uniform uniformity from East Africa..... and voila yon bandolier!?
Hi there @all, this is my first posting here. After my National service in the SADF 1984-85 I was posted to the Prince Alfred´s Guard for my reservists service. Among my duties was assisting the colonel´s wife in sorting our Photo Archive. I saw photos dated WW II where PAG members who were posted on picket duties at strategic points around Port Elizabeth wearing P´08 webbing and armed with Long Lee Enfields! This is not as strange as it may seem. I have P´08 bits in my collection 1936-dated with the Union property mark. Until 1996 we didn´t throw things away. South Africa does not have the Sell-off-surplus culture that european states have. In the eighties when I mucked about with Armoured cars we were issued the British WW II machete with pig-skin sheath and-all. We re-issued the Bren, the Vickers, the WW II flame thrower to name but a few bits of kit. In the PAG we wore whitened putees, most of which were of WW II vintage. There was a lot of old kit about.
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