The Infernal Mauser Pistol

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The Infernal Mauser Pistol

Postby rclpillinger » 27 Feb 2016 14:55

I have come across a report of the sinking of the transport ship Ismore, written by Captain Stewart. The ship carried two Squadrons of the Tenth Hussars from Liverpool to the South Africa War, with a Bearer Company, and a Battery of Field Artillery, (67th ?), leaving the port of embarkation in November 1899.

In the report Stewart says: There were few incidents on the voyage... Care of the horses took up most of our time, varied by a certain amount of musketry practice (rendered a somewhat dangerous proceeding by the infernal mauser pistols possessed by most of the officers), and by a good deal of boat drill.

I wonder if any of our firearms experts could explain to me why this particular pistol should be referred to as "infernal" and why it should render practice "somewhat dangerous."

Richard
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Re: The Infernal Mauser Pistol

Postby Waggoner » 27 Feb 2016 16:29

Could it be that it was semi-automatic and it was easier to make random shots?

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Re: The Infernal Mauser Pistol

Postby 95th » 28 Feb 2016 20:49

It could be referring to poor weapons handling of the new mauser c96 semi automatic pistol which was popular with British officers . I believe Churchill carried one.
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Re: The Infernal Mauser Pistol

Postby Mark » 29 Feb 2016 11:32

As already stated, the Mauser seems to have proved popular with many officers at this time. I wonder if the move from a revolver to a semi-automatic (without any formal training) presented 'issues'?

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Re: The Infernal Mauser Pistol

Postby 95th » 29 Feb 2016 14:11

Mark i think you are right,Issues like a negligent discharge are serious and dangerous, having nearly been shot by a recruit on the ranges at Catterick I can say it's not fun but accidents do happen even amongst trained men.
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Re: The Infernal Mauser Pistol

Postby rclpillinger » 29 Feb 2016 21:11

That is very interesting, and I assume that there were no inherent faults or quirks (I hate that word!) with this particular pistol, which I gather must have been fairly new onto the scene at this time.

If officers had to provide their own form of firearm at this stage, were there any regulations controlling what type of weapon they used? I know that shotguns were sometimes the piece of choice, but were the officers given a list of firearms to chose from, or could they pitch up with whatever they thought might serve the purpose? Also, was there a weapon of issue in cases where they didn't bring their own?

I have also added three photos from my Grandfather's album of the journey to South Africa aboard the Ismore, which was a requisitioned cattle boat off the Americas route, and as such must have been of little comfort for the journey. One pic. is of the horse stabling, one relays the boredom, and the last is of the disembarkation after the ship has floundered on the rocks at Paternoster Point. The Captain was under pressure to arrive on time having been delayed seriously by bad weather after leaving Liverpool, and decided to take a short cut to Cape Town and forgot to take account of the strong in-shore currents. No men were lost, but only about six horses were persuaded to swim to shore; most just swam round and round the wreck.

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Evacuating the Ismore
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Horse Crates on Board the Ismore
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Re: The Infernal Mauser Pistol

Postby Mark » 01 Mar 2016 13:24

Wasn't the Webley and Scott revolver standard issue by this time? I know many officers did supply their own weapons, but I thought by the late 1890s there was a service revolver. As to the Mauser, it seems to have held up well during WW1, although it was no doubt updated and/or refined by 1914. My feeling is it was due to what we would refer to today as 'user error', but I might be wrong. After all, it was cutting-edge technology in its day, and one can imagine enthusiastic young officers wanting to show off their new toys!

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Re: The Infernal Mauser Pistol

Postby 95th » 01 Mar 2016 16:48

I think the Webley was standard issue but it certainly doesn't seem to have stopped some officers private purchase of pistols . By all accounts the only real problem with the c96 was that it was under powered and that's why it was produced in 9mm in later years.
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Re: The Infernal Mauser Pistol

Postby ED, in Los Angeles » 02 Mar 2016 18:47

Actually, the Mauser pistol was chambered in 9mm in 1916 to make the supply issue of pistol ammo compatible with the 9mm, P08 Lugar pistol that had been in service for eight years. The broomhandle Mauser was never an official sidearm of Germany or any other country. It enjoyed great success throughout the word, and was even produced in China. Why this success, is questionable, as the pistol has an unbalanced feel to it, a clumsy wooden holster in many cases that doubled as a detachable shoulder stock, and competition that include the Lugar P08, Webley revolver, and Model 1911 that fired the powerhouse .450 acp.
But the Mauser broomhandle looked cool and personal taste does count.
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Re: The Infernal Mauser Pistol

Postby rclpillinger » 02 Mar 2016 21:18

I wonder if your last sentence, ED, sums up the whole problem on board the Ismore.

If the weapon was purchased more because it "Looked Cool" rather than its ability to harm the enemy or hit targets at practice whilst remaining safe in the hand, then perhaps there was a certain amount of pointedness in the remarks made by Captain Stewart, having the advantage of hind-sight engendered by the passing of some eight years after the fact, when the report was written for issue no. 3 of the XRH Gazette.

It is pretty clear that Captain Stewart did not own one. I would be interested to see a picture of the Mauser broomhandle if anybody has one. I know; I could easily go to google, but one in a VWF member's collection would be much more interesting to me.

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Re: The Infernal Mauser Pistol

Postby Mark » 03 Mar 2016 09:55

ED, in Los Angeles wrote:But the Mauser broomhandle looked cool and personal taste does count.


As Richard says, that probably pretty much sums it up.

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Re: The Infernal Mauser Pistol

Postby RobD » 03 Mar 2016 15:58

On the other hand the C96 was a stripper clip loaded, 10 round magazine, automatic pistol, sighted up to 1000 metres (optimistically, I do admit), probably highly effective up to 200 metres. Firing high velocity jacketed bullets at over 1400 fps. The competitor was the 6 shot Webley, crude sights, firing lead bullets at 600fps at a range of up to 50 yards, and slow to reload.
Obviously both were lethal in hand to hand combat, but the C96 was a bit like a carbine, too.
I can see exactly why C96s were so prized by Boer and British officers alike.
I have picked up C96 brass on the battlefield at Ladysmith (Gun Hill) so they did see action in the ABW.
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Re: The Infernal Mauser Pistol

Postby Mark » 04 Mar 2016 16:49

I would imagine a Webley revolver was pretty effective in places like the Sudan against determined warriors; a number of officers ended up in close-quarter combat against the Mahdists at the Battle of Atbara. Other than that, the job of the officer was to direct the fire of his men, so did he need a longer range weapon?

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Re: The Infernal Mauser Pistol

Postby Redleg56 » 04 Mar 2016 19:17

And if an Officer did require a weapon with longer range, he could always use a rifle instead of a pistol, such as in South Africa a year or so later.
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Re: The Infernal Mauser Pistol

Postby 95th » 05 Mar 2016 09:26

Those large slow moving heavy 455 lead rounds would definitely hit you like a ton of bricks!
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