A slightly mad question? 1st/24th Equipment.

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Re: A slightly mad question? 1st/24th Equipment.

Postby mike snook » 22 Nov 2016 14:54

Superb Rob. Thank you greatly for that.

So to summarize where we are, on the matters of vocabulalry and capacity, in particular:

[Everybody should feel free to raise any objections to these bullets or to expand upon them in any way]:

Pre-1853. We have a single ammunition pouch on the right buttock containing 60 rounds. There is ample evidence, as Rob suggests, that this 60-rounder bounced about at the run and was a right royal pain in the proverbial part of the anatomy (literally!). This was to some extent offset by the adoption of a waistbelt in the line infantry, a measure twinned with the abolition of the right shoulder cross-belt carrying the bayonet. The bayonet frog now went onto the left side of the waistbelt, either in a fixed frog (stitched on) or a slip-on frog. Of passing interest is that the Rifle regiments, the Royal Marines and the East India Company armies had worn a waistbelt for many years before they were finally adopted by the Line Infantry of the Home Army, so that in those corps their main pouches had not been so problematic for a good many years. It might be added that the failure to introduce a waistbelt until the Crimean War was a pretty pathetic failing: it might readily have occurred a couple of decades beforeband. In the Cape contractors and traders provided soldiers with brown leather waistbelts and so-called 'belly box' ammunition pouches worn centrally on the aforementioned waistbelts from the 6th CFW of1834-5 onwards. Some regiments in SA seem not to have tolerated anything other than issued kit. [Chapter and verse on this can be found in my Cape Warriors].

From 1853/4/5-59. A 20-round expense pouch is worn on the right side of the waistbelt, in conjunction with a 'main' ammunition pouch worn on a left shoulder crossbelt just as before. This might have been a smaller 40-round pouch (onus on me to prove) or was the same 60-round pouch referred to above. In operational terms this period is primarily of relevance the Crimean War, the Indian Mutiny and the Second China War of 1860, so its importance is obvious. The P1851 rifled musket (Minie) comes in in time for the Crimea, but is fairly quickly superseded by the P1853 Enfield. Almost all regiments in India are still using smoothbore percussion muskets up to and during the Mutiny, (1st/60th KRRC and 1st Madras Fusiliers with Enfields are notable exceptions), but regiments dashing there in response to the crisis, either from the deferred China expedition or from the Home Army, arrive with P1853 Enfields.

From 1859-1871. A 10-round ball-bag goes onto the right side of the waistbelt in lieu of the 20-round expense pouch and a new 'main' ammunition pouch holding 50 rounds replaces its predecessor. The 'ball bag' functions in the same way as the 'expense pouch' that preceded it. The muzzle-loading P1853-Enfield is converted to be the breech-loading Snider-Enfield and the brass cartridge replaces the paper one.

From 1871 onwards. P1871 Valise Equipment adopted. It is not immediately available in the Colonies. It is used initially with the Snider-Enfield and then with the Martini-Henry. This has left and right ammunition pouches (each holding 20 rounds) on either side of the waistbelt buckle. In addition the 'ready to use' function, formerly fulfilled successively by the expense pouch and the ball bag, now passes across to a black leather ammunition bag which is suspended beneath the right ammunition pouch. The ammunition bag routinely contains a single packet of ten rounds broken open and ready for immediate use. There is some flexible provision in the first edition of the guide to the valise equipment for a second (sealed) packet of 10 also going into the ammunition bag. Two more packets of 10 can be carried inside the valise, in special ammunition pockets , for a total of 80 on the person in all.

I would add that it is clear (to me at least) that 60 rounds was the typical first-line ammunition scale for the infantry up to the adoption of breechloaders, when 70 rounds became more typically the norm. (Hardly proportional to the enhanced rate of fire!). Worth noting that first and second line line ammunition scales are determined by other specific regulations, not by the guide to the fitting of valise equipment.

When carrying a first line scale of ammunition in P1871 equipment, be it the typical 70 or the theoretical 80, soldiers did something else with the two packets of ammunition that would otherwise have been inside the valise and inaccessible (not least becuase one wasn't meant to wear the valise in action). Options as earlier described; haversack or ammunition bag.

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M
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Re: A slightly mad question? 1st/24th Equipment.

Postby mike snook » 22 Nov 2016 15:23

Further thought. The guide to the P1871 equipment is quite clear that the braces must be worn if carrying a full load of ammunition, as the waistbelt, if left unsupported, will not take the weight. That's a good reason not to put the additional two packets into the ammunition bag, where the weight would be carried on the waistbelt, but into the haversack (slung over the right shoulder), where it would not.

Could I ask if any of our re-enacting members have ever been onto the range with 50 rounds of .450 ball ammunition split between the ammunition pouches and the ammunition bag, without wearing the braces. If so how did it feel? Did you think your waistbelt might drop too low on your hips to be practical over extended periods of time and vigorous activity?

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Re: A slightly mad question? 1st/24th Equipment.

Postby rd72 » 22 Nov 2016 19:47

Mike,

An excellent summary. In regards to the wearing of the waist belt only, this picture comes to mind...

Image

The interesting thing about this photo is it shows the back on some of the men. Of conspicuous note, is the Sergeant at the right. His "Bag, Ammunition" at the rear centre of the waist belt is obviously got something in it. By the way it is fastened and, on closer inspection, it's rounded or "stuffed" profile, I might think that it has more than ten rounds in it. Ten rounds tend to "disappear" when placed inside. Also of note is the way it is pulling down on the belt. This might, of course, be a function of the tightness of his belt (or lack thereof) but taken together with the full appearance of the pouch, I might speculate that a more substantial load is in it. The man standing at the extreme right, although partially cut off by the edge of the photo, is visible with the same arrangement at the back of the belt, with a similar, weight induced sag and pouch profile. Imagine running with that lot flopping about.. :-)

Of interest perhaps?
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Re: A slightly mad question? 1st/24th Equipment.

Postby jf42 » 22 Nov 2016 20:26

Would it be fair to say that the fighting in 1879 was mostly from fixed positions be it field works or in square- as opposed to extended bouts of fire and manoeuvre. Would that have made the arrangement in the above photo less problematic in those specific circumstances ( as opposed to a consideration of the merits of the system in principle)?

In my experience, impedimenta bouncing on the lumbar region is the least inconvenient place for it to hang.
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Re: A slightly mad question? 1st/24th Equipment.

Postby mike snook » 22 Nov 2016 21:14

Oh definitely of interest Rob. I agree there is a good load, (probably 30 I would speculate), in there. It's a particularly interesting picture in that it sort of makes the point that the cautionary note on the use of the braces, contained within the guide to fitting the P1871 kit, is essentially sound, but that, even so, this did not stop units using the waistbelt only in certain situations. Long experience of infanteering tells me that our sergeant friend there couldn't walk very far like that - with the slightest bit of running about and dashing around that weight on the waistbelt will become untenable. It won't only slide off his hips by degrees, over the course of about an hour, but unless he's got his strides well secured, (which of course he generally will have - by wearing the other type of braces under the frock), it will also gradually pull his trousers down into the bargain....now that would be embarrassing to the izzat of the Raj (shades of 'Carry On' up that well known pass!). That setting has the appearance of a static camp, (church parade on a Sunday obviously), when one might get away with 'standing to' and manning the barricades/laager/breastwork and fighting strictly on the defensive with your kit like that - but it wouldn't work for proper soldiering...flogging over the veldt all day on the offensive. I feel ever more sure that in situations where the braces of the P71 kit were not being worn, but the other elements of field kit were, (ie haversack and waterbottle), the extra two packets to make the difference between 50 and 70 would have gone into the haversack in preference to the ammunition bag. Clearly there is some flexibility in the matter nonetheless - depending rather on scenario and setting.

P.S. I should have added that he is wearing those 30 rounds round the back of the belt because it really would be wholly untenable round the front in the approved position. The 40 rounds at the front are counerbalancing the 30 rounds at the back - the issue being the floppy, soft leather, dangly nature of the ammunition bag, as opposed to the more rigid leather and the more secure fitting (to the belt) of the front pouches.

All

Meanwhile D Company 1st/24th are drawing nigh to Helpmekaar on 21 January 1879 wearing P1859 pouches and not P1871 valise equipment - aren't they? Who else can see the Lloyd picture? Is there any other evidence out there to corroborate or refute the notion that the 1st/24th had not yet been issued with P1871 kit?

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Re: A slightly mad question? 1st/24th Equipment.

Postby mike snook » 22 Nov 2016 21:30

jf

Posted together - but I think my post addresses and confirms the sound point you make about fixed positions.

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Re: A slightly mad question? 1st/24th Equipment.

Postby rd72 » 22 Nov 2016 23:41

Mike,

I do not have the Lloyd picture, but I certainly wish I did. It's a most interesting detail of possibly monumental proportions (as far as popular military history goes).

To further explore the wearing of the expense pouch at the rear, the common depiction of the troops at Tel El Kebir is one showing the expense pouch worn at the back of the belt. In some common artistic depictions, it is worn with the suspension strap looped over the cross in the braces and somehow fitted to, or tucked under the belt.

Admittedly, the images are all of artwork so not particularly reliable. This is quite prolific, however. Was the Bag, Ammunition worn in this position, with the strap over the braces, or was it merely attached to the belt? The former is defiantly the more stable.
Image

Image
There is also a plate in Barthorp's British Infantry Uniforms showing an HLI man with this arrangement too.

As the men were issued 100 rounds for this operation. Undoubtedly, a combination of all pouches and haversack would have been used, I should think.
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Re: A slightly mad question? 1st/24th Equipment.

Postby mike snook » 23 Nov 2016 00:10

Rob

Inbound PM on the way.

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Re: A slightly mad question? 1st/24th Equipment.

Postby RobD » 23 Nov 2016 14:43

Mike, is there any buckle which is only present on P1871 kit? If so, I will look through my Isandhlwana pickups from my mis-spent youth.
Actually, Dougie McMaster in Ladysmith has a private museum with many many wonderful Isandhlwana pickups - it's staggering what he has - so if there is a characteristic bit of brass that would determine the issue one way or the other, that would be where I'd look.
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Re: A slightly mad question? 1st/24th Equipment.

Postby Dixie » 23 Nov 2016 14:56

RobD wrote:Mike, is there any buckle which is only present on P1871 kit? If so, I will look through my Isandhlwana pickups from my mis-spent youth.
Actually, Dougie McMaster in Ladysmith has a private museum with many many wonderful Isandhlwana pickups - it's staggering what he has - so if there is a characteristic bit of brass that would determine the issue one way or the other, that would be where I'd look.


Two spring to mind, the two round 'brace rings' that the main shoulder straps all connect to, and the two 'D' or square rings on the belt itself that the shoulder straps connect to at the front.
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Re: A slightly mad question? 1st/24th Equipment.

Postby mike snook » 23 Nov 2016 18:22

Hi Rob

Proving the presence of P1871 on the battlefield doesn't really get us anywhere - because I believe we can be certain that the 2nd/24th had it. So that's pretty much one third of the imperial infantry in the battle. So we need to see something from the earlier kit - I'm not expert enough to say what that might be. Can anybody else suggest what should be looked for?

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Re: A slightly mad question? 1st/24th Equipment.

Postby mike snook » 23 Nov 2016 22:55

Chaps

Here is one reference to a 40-round pouch:

D.S.V. and B.K. Fosten, The Thin Red Line: Uniforms of the British Army from 1751 to 1914,, (London, 1989), 103.

This, whilst a secondary source, reflects a very high standard of research and is one I would rate very highly. The Fostens say this:

By 1855 the 60-round pouch was being replaced by a 40-round main pouch, and for manoeuvres and active service a black leather expense pouch holding an additional 20-rounds was fitted to the right front of the belt....From 1859 the main pouch held 50-rounds, the expense pouch [which we have established here was actually known as a 'ball bag'] ten rounds, an oil bottle and cleaning materials.

This text accompanies a lovely colour plate entitled '1856. Infantry of the Line: NCOs and Privates', in which just such a pouch is illustrated, albeit only from the outside. It does not have a rear mounted cap-pouch like Rob's P1859 50-rounder, but rather the soldiers wear their cap-pouch on the front of the main pouch belt.

I might add that to me the logic of replacing the old 60-round main pouch with a 20-round expense pouch and an accompanying 40-round main pouch seems inescapable, not least since the introduction of the P1859 10-round ball bag coincides with the introduction of a 50-round main pouch. The maths, shall we say, is not difficult!!

I will look for other corroborating references over the weeks ahead.

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Re: A slightly mad question? 1st/24th Equipment.

Postby colsjt65 » 24 Nov 2016 01:07

By 1855 the 60-round pouch was being replaced by a 40-round main pouch, and for manoeuvres and active service a black leather expense pouch holding an additional 20-rounds was fitted to the right front of the belt....From 1859 the main pouch held 50-rounds, the expense pouch [which we have established here was actually known as a 'ball bag'] ten rounds, an oil bottle and cleaning materials.


I haven't read that book for a while, which I own and think highly of, so didn't remember that.

It would make sense, to retain a 'standard' issue of 60 rounds, to split it 40-20. By my calculations (Enfield cartridge approx 600 grains), 60 of them weighed 2.33 Kg. All of them in a pouch behind the right hip, rather uncomfortable. To then add another 10 or 20 - you do the maths.

Turner never mentions it, but illustrates only 60 round and 50 round pouches. There does seem to still be a gap in knowledge about cartridge pouches in the 1850s - were they adapted at the introduction of the '51 pattern Minie, with its completely different bullet .691 ,rather than the .68 round ball? Was there a issue of new pouches that came with the '53 pattern Enfield - .577? If only LoCs had started earlier.

Here are the LoCs - make what you will with them:

60 - Pouch, 60 Rounds, Obsolete Pattern - 23 Nov 1859
Altered to hold 50 rounds, with receptacle for nipple wrench; cap pouch lined with fur, and tins with three compartments, to govern the alteration of the (60 round) pouches in store.
Submitted by the P.M.S., Tower.

61 - New Pattern Pouch (50 Rounds), Tin - 16 Dec 1859
Specially provided for governing supply of 10,000 under contract.
Submitted by the P.M.S., Tower.

127 - Pouch, 50 Rounds, with Tin Compartments, for Infantry - 2 May 1860
Specially provided for governing supply of 10,000 under contract.
Proposed by Adjutant-General.

1378 - Fifty Rounds Pouch, Infantry - *11 Dec 1866
Altered for Snider ammunition, by removal of cap pocket, and introduction of strengthened tin.
Buff Frog, with Buckle and Strap
Similar to that of the Royal Engineers, for serjeants, band, buglers, and drummers of infantry.
Submitted by Superintendent of Stores, Tower.
Recommended by Adjutant-General.
*Provisional approval date.
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Re: A slightly mad question? 1st/24th Equipment.

Postby mike snook » 24 Nov 2016 10:25

Thanks Bruce. That clears up for me what the references to P1866 kit mean. It is the removal of the external cap pouch from what is essentially the same 50-round pouch as P1859. So it would be the P1866 pouch that appears in the one rear-view soldier in the Lloyd painting, not the P1859.

I agree that the LoC cited tend to imply a direct hop from a 60-rounder to a P1859 50-rounder.

As I was turning in last night, I found another reference to a 40-round pouch, again a secondary source, this time in Michael Barthorp, The British Troops in the Indian Mutiny, Osprey, (1994), 16. I won't bother quoting it verbatim, as it says exactly what one would expect it to say - about 20-round expense pouches being coupled with 40-round main pouches. Goes on to say that some units didn't have that new kit and continued using the old 60-rounder...just as one would expect such a text to say.

If there was a 40-rounder, I wonder whether it might not have been made in very large numbers, such that there were still far larger stocks of the old 60-rounder in hand when the P1859 changes were decided on. I'm speculating here...but what if the 40-rounder was a 'special' rushed into production for the China Expedition of 1857...and thus ended up being diverted to India.

I hope I'm not chasing my tail on this 40-rounder, solely because Turner didn't include such a pouch, which might, after all, simply represent an editorial decision on his part. I'm taking you guys at your word as SMEs that you've never heard of such a thing and believe that you assuredly would have done if it had ever actually existed...right?

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Re: A slightly mad question? 1st/24th Equipment.

Postby Isandlwana » 24 Nov 2016 12:14

Mike,

Very late last night I finally located the photograph of the 57th in the field during their advance to Ulundi, I will post it this evening when I get home. I may well have a precise date for the photograph given the other images in it.

Given what Bruce has mentioned about the R.E.'s in 1866 L. of C.'s take a look at viewtopic.php?f=19&t=2079&p=9004&hilit=sapper#p9004 I wonder if that sapper is wearing said pouch?

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