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  1. #1
    Contributing Member RRPG's Avatar
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    Ground dug 303 cartridge case restoration

    Hi All

    With lockdown in full swing in the UKicon, I have been unable to get out and recover any WW2 relics. This meant that, due to a heightened level of boredom, I had to find something to do with the relics I have already recovered. You may recall I had some fun last year at a dump pit used by the RAF, ( https://stephentaylorhistorian.com/2...cases-one-pit/ ), recovering not only a large number of bomb fuzes, but also a considerable number of spent cartridge cases. As I had so many, (around 10,000 WW2 dated 303s and about 4000 WW2 dated 9mm), I decided to turn them in to something I could use when I do displays at military shows. I already have a nice 250rnd Vickers belt filled with WW2 dated 303s, but have always wanted a disintegrating belt display, to show the kind of thing the RAF were loading into the wings of Spitfires and Hurricanes at the start of the war. So, I ordered some 303 bullets from a dealer, along with some disintegrating links and set to work.

    The cartridge cases had been in the ground for 70+ years so I had to try and get them back to shiny brass. I did this by giving them a bath in citric acid for about 5 minutes, then a buffing with a wire wheel on a pillar drill. The reason for the buffing is that, while the acid bath gets rid of the mud, clay and aged patina, it dissolves the zinc first, leaving the cartridge cases with a copper look. The wire wheel removes this thin layer of copper to reveal the brass beneath.

    Once clean, the cartridge cases had a 303 bullet glued in place, but not before I placed a small piece of metal inside each. This is to make them rattle when shaken, to show they are inert. In the UK, a used primer isn't enough!! You have to make the cartridges rattle to show they are truly inert. Daft I know, but these are the laws we live with and I for one will abide by them!

    I don't reckon they have turned out bad at all! Take a look........

    Before any cleaning



    After cleaning and with the bullet now in situ.......(just a few of the 210 I put together)



    Examples of some of the headstamps...



    Now the completed belt.....














    Some of the eagle-eyed among you may have noticed the Bren fired cartridge cases. Despite being found on an RAF bases, and initially believing they were spent cartridges from the Lancaster bombers based there, because we found other calibres, and a large number of Lee-Enfield charger clips, we have speculated that many came from the small arms range. Hence the presence of the Bren fired cases!

    Not a bad job I reckon, for cartridge cases buried 4 foot down in the ground for 70+ years!

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    Contributing Member RRPG's Avatar
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    Oh, and for those of you who are like me and love headstamps........



    1 – Royal Ordnance Factory, Radway Green, Cheshire. 1943. Armour piercing

    2 – Kynoch (I.C.I.), Standish, UK. 1941. Mk VII

    3 – Defence Industries Ltd., Canadian Industries Ltd, Park Avenue Plant, Montreal, Canadaicon. 1942. Mk VII. Nitrocellulose fill

    4 – Greenwood & Batley Ltd, UK. 1943. Mk VII



    5 – Royal Laboratory, Woolwich, Englandicon. 1936. Armour piercing Mk 1

    6 – Kynoch, (I.C.I.), Birmingham, England. 1940. Mk VII

    7 – Small Arms Ammunition Factory No. 1 Footscray, Australiaicon. 1939. Mk VII

    8 – Kynoch, (I.C.I.), Birmingham, England. 1943. Tracer Mk II

    9 – Crompton Parkinson Co. Ltd, Doncaster, Yorkshire, U.K. (C-P). 1942. Armour piercing Mk 1

    10 – Crompton Parkinson Co. Ltd, Guiseley, Yorkshire, U.K.(CP). 1942. Mk VII

    11 – Kynoch (I.C.I.), Standish, UK. 1942. Mk VII

    12 – Royal Ordnance Factory, Radway Green, Cheshire. 1942. Mk VII

    13 – Kynoch, I.C.I., Kidderminster, Worcs.1942. Mk VII

    14 – Dominion Arsenal, Québec, Canada. 1940. Mk VII

    15 – Winchester Repeating Arms Co., Bridgeport, CT, USAicon. 1943. 303

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    Advisory Panel browningautorifle's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by RRPG View Post
    Once clean, the cartridge cases had a 303 bullet glued in place, but not before I placed a small piece of metal inside each. This is to make them rattle when shaken, to show they are inert. In the UKicon, a used primer isn't enough!! You have to make the cartridges rattle to show they are truly inert.
    How about a shotgun pellet? 7/8/9 would do and a single shell will yeild lots. Done now I know but... Also, I'd have done a neck size on those and seated a bullet proper. I suppose you don't load ammo though, so no dice. They all look great, yes I saw the Bren striker indent. We had an individual here that had an RAF display with a pair of Browning Inglis .303 guns in a mount and the belts and boxes to accompany. He'd done about 1000 rds for it. The links themselves around here are at least $1 CDN each. Very hard to find. .30 cal links not so hard.
    Regards, Jim

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    Contributing Member RRPG's Avatar
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    I have been using old lead fishing weights, and then chopped up paper clips!

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    Senior Member bombdoc's Avatar
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    Original drill ammunition was made from bullets with a hollow base.. a short length of dowelling was then fitted between the bullet and the base of the case to prevent the bullet being pushed back into the case. I don't know if these bullets were specially made or they were just taken off the line before the bases were finally formed. I suspect the former!

    When I make up drill rounds, I usually put in a length of dowel to achieve the same effect. I also tend to drill a small hole in the side of the case to prove it is free from explosive, particularly if there is a chance that the round may fall into the hands of the public.

    There is no legal requirement to do anything with drill ammunition in UKicon, despite what "laws" the Police may dream up! Common sense however dictates that the more you can do to prove a drill round contains no active components, the shorter the argument is likely to be. Having been in the business of getting rid of stray ammunition, can I make the following points:

    1. If in doubt, the Police will tend to seize first and ask questions later.
    2. EOD have no compunction about blowing stuff in situ if they feel like it.. again never make anything that looks like it is live, unless you want to have a long and embarrassing discussion with your insurance company!
    3. All recovered military ammunition and components thereof technically remain crown property unless you can produce certified documentation to prove that it has been sold out of service! This also includes any enemy ammunition that is found on UK land. Just because you unearth a 500KG Lufwaffe bomb in your cabbage patch does not mean you can keep it! ANY ammunition or components which have explosive fillings, regardless of where they came from, are technically Sect 1 or V forbidden items unless you have proper certification that they are "free from explosive". In practice this is often ignored/forgotten about, however do not push your chances...!

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    Member Low & Slow's Avatar
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    Those came out quite nicely. Heck of a task, I'm sure. I still have a tin of the GB 1944 sitting around here somewhere. The other one I had was about 25% click/ bang, or just click. Wound up pulling bullets from a bit of it.

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    Contributing Member RRPG's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bombdoc View Post
    Original drill ammunition was made from bullets with a hollow base......
    Thanks for the info bobmdoc but I am far from new to this game. I've been recovering and preserving WW2 relics for over 25 years now, and am well aware of the UKicon firearms act. Go take a look at my website, as I'm sure it will put your mind at ease...... Stephen Taylor, WW2 Relic Hunter World War 2 Historian, Relic Hunter and expert in identification of WW2 relics .

    As for ground dug finds in the UK, I'm afraid your information is not correct. All relics recovered from private land belong to the landowner and not the Crown, unless the area is covered by an active bye-law. Once the bye-law expires, the military relics held within pass to the landowner and, once permission is obtained to search their land, the relics become the property of the finder, asssuming an agreement has been reached with the landowner. I have documented proof of such agreements for every single one of the sites I have recovered WW2 relics from. As for explosive fillings, you are correct, but you have missed out incendiary, armour piercing, incendiary AP and all other such projectiles covered under section 5 1a (g) of the firearms act. Only standard ball and tracer projectiles are legal to possess without a relevant licence. I am pleased to say that, with this knowledge of the act, I have not one single item in my collection that is in contravention of the UK firearms act. But thanks for pointing it out.

    ---------- Post added at 11:03 PM ---------- Previous post was at 11:00 PM ----------

    Quote Originally Posted by Low & Slow View Post
    Those came out quite nicely. Heck of a task, I'm sure. I still have a tin of the GB 1944 sitting around here somewhere. The other one I had was about 25% click/ bang, or just click. Wound up pulling bullets from a bit of it.
    I'd love to live in the US and not have to only keep inert ammo! But UK laws are quite strict so nothing I possess is live, nor could ever be made live again!

    ---------- Post added at 11:07 PM ---------- Previous post was at 11:03 PM ----------

    Quote Originally Posted by bombdoc View Post
    ....Just because you unearth a 500KG Lufwaffe bomb in your cabbage patch does not mean you can keep it! ........
    Oh, and one other thing. We did unearth a 500kg bomb. No permission to keep it was necessary from the Crown, or MoD. Just a check by EOD to make sure it wasn't live. This was televised in my show WW2 Treasure Hunters, and is now on display at the museum in Blackpool.

    WW2 Treasure Hunters Stephen Taylor, WW2 Relic Hunter
    Last edited by RRPG; 05-24-2020 at 06:25 PM.

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    Really Senior Member GeeRam's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by RRPG View Post
    Oh, and for those of you who are like me and love headstamps........

    https://www.milsurps.com/images/impo...2def5f_c-1.jpg

    1 – Royal Ordnance Factory, Radway Green, Cheshire. 1943. Armour piercing

    2 – Kynoch (I.C.I.), Standish, UK. 1941. Mk VII

    3 – Defence Industries Ltd., Canadian Industries Ltd, Park Avenue Plant, Montreal, Canadaicon. 1942. Mk VII. Nitrocellulose fill

    4 – Greenwood & Batley Ltd, UK. 1943. Mk VII

    5 – Royal Laboratory, Woolwich, Englandicon. 1936. Armour piercing Mk 1

    6 – Kynoch, (I.C.I.), Birmingham, England. 1940. Mk VII

    7 – Small Arms Ammunition Factory No. 1 Footscray, Australiaicon. 1939. Mk VII

    8 – Kynoch, (I.C.I.), Birmingham, England. 1943. Tracer Mk II

    9 – Crompton Parkinson Co. Ltd, Doncaster, Yorkshire, U.K. (C-P). 1942. Armour piercing Mk 1

    10 – Crompton Parkinson Co. Ltd, Guiseley, Yorkshire, U.K.(CP). 1942. Mk VII

    11 – Kynoch (I.C.I.), Standish, UK. 1942. Mk VII

    12 – Royal Ordnance Factory, Radway Green, Cheshire. 1942. Mk VII

    13 – Kynoch, I.C.I., Kidderminster, Worcs.1942. Mk VII

    14 – Dominion Arsenal, Québec, Canada. 1940. Mk VII

    15 – Winchester Repeating Arms Co., Bridgeport, CT, USAicon. 1943. 303
    Interesting that No.15 also looks to be a ‘small primer’ case, but isn’t ‘Z’ marked like No.3 is, assuming both are single hole boxer primer cases, especially both being made in North America. Although so is No.14 but that is a ‘large’ primer case as well, so assume all the large primer cases are two hole Berdan primer cases for cordite?

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    Senior Member bombdoc's Avatar
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    Thank you Stephen, for your response regarding the ownership of recovered military ammunition... we shall just have to agree to disagree!

    I would however like to clarify the legal basis for your statement "Only standard ball and tracer projectiles are legal to possess without a relevant licence."? According to my reading of the Firearms acts, these items fall under Section 1 of the Act and require a licence to possess? The only ammunition that does not require a specific licence is blank and shotgun cartridges having more than five projectiles which fall under Section 2 of the Act, although technically these should only be sold to someone who can produce the relevant shotgun licence..? The point I was trying to make that it is up to the possessor to demonstrate that what they have is clearly not "Ammunition" that falls under the Acts. Live Ball and tracer ammunition most certainly does fall into Section 1 and requires an annotated Licence to possess.

    I am the first to admit that UKicon firearms law is a complete mess, and that both the Police, courts and the Home Office seem wholly incapable of managing the subject area in a sensible or logical manner. I am well aware of the fact that a market exists for recovered and imported ammunition, however I suspect that this is poorly regulated and is neither logical or coherent.

    Recent actions and events, including indeed a much respected contributor to this board have fallen foul of issues of ownership, title and possession..! My intention in posting the warning was to make it clear that this is not, as you allege, a clearly defined legal area. I will repeat my warning that possessing and trading in military munitions is full of potential pitfalls, both physically and legally, and that folk need to be aware of this!

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    Really Senior Member Daan Kemp's Avatar
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    Post #2. Note the many off centre firing pin marks on the primers. I found my No 1 Mk 3* was like that and never had the slightest problem in shooting.

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