Mauser C96 'Red 9' Pistol : Sergeant A E Bennett, 24 Battalion, AIF

Accession Number REL45064
Collection type Technology
Object type Firearm
Maker Waffenfabrik Mauser AG
Place made Germany
Date made c 1896-1899, modified c 1916
Conflict First World War, 1914-1918

The Mauser C96 pistol is a recoil operated, locked breech, semi automatic pistol. It uses short recoiling barrel with bolt, located inside the large barrel extension. The bolt and barrel are locked by a vertically tilting locking piece with two lugs that lock into recesses on the bottom of the bolt. The gun is hammer fired. The safety is located at the left side of the hammer and locks the hammer when engaged. The magazine is a non removable, fixed box located ahead of the trigger guard. The C 96 is fitted with an adjustable rear sights graduated up to 1000 meters.The pistol has a wooden hand grip. On the rear of the handgrip is mounted a metal dovetail guide, which allows the user to fit a removable wooden shoulder stock which also serves as a holster (not present).

The pistol grip is incised with a large red numeral '9', in filled with red paint. This denotes that the weapon is one of 150,000 C96 pistols chambered in 9mm Parabellum. This was undertaken by the Govermnment to offset the slow production of the standard-issue Luger P08 pistol. The number "9" warns the pistols' users not to incorrectly load them with 7.63 mm ammunition.

History / Summary

This C96 Mauser pistol was captured from a German officer by 5297 Sergeant Albert Edward Bennett, 24 Battalion AIF while he was leading a four-man night time patrol at Ville in 1918. The captured pistol was later used by Bennett on a number of occasions during engagements at Mont Saint Quentin and was used in an action where he was involved in overrunning and capturing of a machine gun post.

Bennett enlisted in the Australian Imperial Force on 20 July 1915. He embarked for overseas service aboard HMAT Miltiades with 24 Battalion Reinforcements on 1 August 1916. Arriving in England on 26 September, Bennett proceeded overseas to the Western Fronton being officially taken on strength by 24 Battalion from 2 Australian Divisional Base Depot on 9 January 1917.

Bennett was wounded in action on 15 March (gunshot wound to his left foot), which kept him out of regular service with his unit until 11 May. He was promoted to corporal on 5 October and temporary sergeant on 25 October after another sergeant from 24 Battalion, Leslie Victor Starr, was evacuated wounded. This rank was made substantive for Bennett on 25 January 1918. Other than a period in hospital suffering pyrexia and a short period of leave late in September. Bennett remained with his unit until the end of the war. He returned to Australia aboard HMAT Prinz Ludwig on 9 July 1919 arriving in Melbourne on 5 September. Bennett was demobilised on 20 October.

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