Missing Ammunition

The standard infantry weapon carried by the British army during the intervention in Crete between 1897 and 1909 was probably either the Lee Metford Mk1 or, in the later stages, the Lee Enfield Mk1. Since this is the exact period when the army was moving from black powder to smokeless powder several different types of rifle were in use, all of which were, externally, very similar.

British Infantry rifles c.1898

British Infantry rifles c.1898.                                                                                                                                                  Top: Magazine Lee Metford Mk.II.  Middle: Magazine Lee Enfield Mk.i. Bottom: Magazine Lee Enfield Mk.I*

However, irrespective of the weapon used, all were designed to fire a .303 round and, according to the Army accounts of 1911, clearly some of these went astray. If they were stolen, it’s unlikely that they were sold to the Cretans since their rifle of choice for them appears to have been the single shot Fusil Gras Modèle 1874 M80 adopted by the Greek army in 1877.

Fusil Gras Modèle 1874 M80

Fusil Gras Modèle 1874 M80

Photographs by courtesy of  “A History of military equipment of Modern Greece (1821 – today)

Since the Gras fired an 11mm round, the British ammunition would have been of little or no use to them. However, the ammunition went missing and someone had to pay.

“On the evacuation of Crete in July 1909 a deficiency of small arm ammunition, valued at £39.18s., was discovered. It was decided that the Ordinance Officer was not altogether free from blame, and he was called to pay the sum of £5. 16s. 4d.”

(Treasury; Army Appropriation Account 1911 (B). Claims abandoned for pay etc.)

Quite how, or why, the poor Ordinance Officer was deemed to have been to blame for losing £5. 16s. 4d worth of ammunition, rather than the whole £39. 18s worth, must remain a mystery.



One thought on “Missing Ammunition

  1. Pingback: Inniskillings in Crete | The British in Crete, 1896 to 1913.

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