Lee-Metford hollow-point round, found on the site of Cronje's laager, Paardeberg. With headstamps for Eley Brothers, London.
This is similar to the Cartridge, S.A., Ball, .303-inch, Cordite, Marks IV & V. However, the diameter of the hollow is greater.
This was clearly a "dud" round, as the cartridge remains intact despite having been fired.
Bellow is an article describing the comparative "harmlessness" of the Mauser bullet compared to that of the Lee-Metord.
Published in The Spear, March 28 1900, pp. 452-454.
THE WAYS OF A BULLET.
THE MERCIFULNESS OF THE MAUSER.
Two of the most extraordinary things about modern warfare are the facts that so many escape being hit, although bullets are whizzing all around them, and that the bullets when they do strike, in most cases cause no permanent injury, although they pass through the various organs of the body.
Sir William McCormac, who has the advantage of being able to compare from actual observation the nature of bullet wounds during the Franco-Prussian War and the Transvaal Campaign, has been sending home to The Lancet a series of letters in which he relates his experiences in South Africa.
We venture to quote some of his remarks, which have a great interest both to the savant and general reader of the present moment.
“One cannot help contrasting with amazement”, writes Sir William, “the comparative harmlessness of the injuries so frequently inflicted with the Mauser rifle bullet with the frightful extent of the damage done by those pf the needle-gun and the chassepot. To anyone familiar with the wounds caused by these weapons many of those inflicted by the Mauser rifle might be regarded as being somewhat of the character of a “pin-prick”. Quite a large proportion of the wounded, in fact, have returned to duty, and several patients whom I have seen have been wounded for the second time at another engagement”.
While the Mauser makes a clean perforated wound, the Lee-Metford causes more damage, being endowed with greater “smashing power”.
The projectile used with the Mauser rifle bores a small clean hole right through the part, and the surgeons say that the aperture of the exit can hardly, if at all, be distinguished from that of entrance. Major Hickman Morgan, D.S.O., in command of the Hospital Ship Princess of Wales, while showing to the Princess, on the occasion of her visit to the ship in Southampton water the other day, a Mauser bullet which he had extracted, stated that the bullet was perhaps the most merciful ever used in warfare. Such a statement should rejoice the hearts of the members of the Peace Conference.
From a perusal of cases of bullet wounds recorded by surgeons at the front, we are forced to the conclusion that a Mauser bullet may traverse the lungs, the thighs, the neck, the stomach, the skull, the colon, the thorax, and the liver, without inflicting any lasting injuries on the soldier struck.
Sir William McCormac says that what causes him never ending surprise is the number of wounds traversing the lung, and in many instances both lungs, without causing greater inconvenience than temporary and insignificant hæmoptysis and often not even that. Another feature, he adds, is the number of the abdominal wounds in which no serious consequences have taken place, wounds in which from the direction taken of the ball (which may be assumed to be a straight course from the entrance wound to the exit wound) it is impossible to conceive that the visceral contents have escaped perforation, and in which, nevertheless, no serious consequences arise.
“The most extraordinary head wounds”, writes Sir William, “with damage to the brain, seem also, in many instances, to entail no mortal results”.
Remarkable, indeed, are the escapes of our soldiers at the front. In the case of Private Smith, of the 2nd Seaforth Highlanders, the bullet passed through his tongue and he almost died of hæmorage, but all that now remains are the scars and a very slight occasional lisp. Private Coutts was hit by a ball which passed across his neck, behind one carotid sheath and in front of the other, fracturing the thyroid cartilage, yet his voice has not been lost.
Writing later, Sir William McCormac says – “almost all the Mauser wounds present the characteristic features – a small circular slightly depressed area the size of [graphic of a 5.5 mm circle] covered by a black scab. The exit wounds are often quite similar, but a little larger, sometimes presenting a scar like an incised wound, and difficult to discover. When I saw them a week or ten days subsequent to the injury, they were for the most part healed. How these bullets fail to damage vital structures lying immediately in their path is nothing short of marvellous. The proportion of fatal chest wounds to those which have recovered is believed to be small, but what the proportion precisely is cannot yet be ascertained. It is abundantly clear that one lung, and often both lungs, may be traversed, and in many directions, without causing grave symptoms, and often without producing any symptoms of having been injured at all. The large number of perforated abdominal wounds which are recovered from give pause to operative procedure in that direction, but indications for operation in such cases must be completely revised.
Wounds of the knee-joint seem also to be recovered from with a facility of which we had no previous experience. “The same may be said of wounds implicating other joints”.
Here are some more curious cases of the paths traversed by Mauser bullets in the bodies of our soldiers at the front.
In one instance the bullet struck the men in the centre of his throat, coursed round his neck on the right side, and passed out just at the centre of the back of his neck. Another remarkable case was that of a private of the Northumberland Fusiliers. The Mauser bullet entered his left temporal region, must have gone close to, or even through, a portion of his brain, and coursing diagonally across the back of his orbit, made its exit in the centre of the right bone of that cheek. “Except for some sanguineous effusion in the corner of the left eye”, writes a R.A.M.C. officer, “there is nothing to indicate that the patient has received an injury of any kind whatever. He eats, drinks, sleeps, and sees well”.
Our photographs, which are supplied courtesy of The Lancet from an article by Dr A. Keith and Mr H.M. Rigby, give a good idea of the nature of the wounds made by the bullets used by the different nations.
This image shows the exit wounds caused by the three types of bullet.
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That article ('Modern Military Bullets: A Study of their Destructive Effects' ) by Kirby and Rigby - their experiments shooting at cadavers - is a bit grisly!
An easier read on the subject: Sir George Makins, 'Surgical Experiences in South Africa, 1899-1900 - Being Mainly a Clinical Study of the Nature and Effects of Injuries Produced by Bullets of Small Calibre
The past is not dead. In fact, it's not even past.
Great photo of Kommandant Louis Wessels who carries an early "cone hammer" C96, with an unusual milling pattern on the sides; this dates it to an early production run, probably from 1898. It also has a leather sheath over the stock, which he has clipped onto the butt of the pistol to make it into a carbine.
My contribution is a rather blurry detail of a box-camera snap, showing Colonel Ian Hamilton (L) and Colonel Alex Thorneycroft (R) in Natal.
Thorneycroft certainly was a big lad. He carries his C96 Mauser pistol on his right hip as if it weighs nothing.
The past is not dead. In fact, it's not even past.
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