Bandolier 50 rounds Mounted Infantry 1897 : British and colonial forces

Unit Colonial Military Forces
Place Oceania: Australia
Accession Number REL27378.001
Collection type Heraldry
Object type Personal Equipment
Physical description Brass, Vegetable-tanned leather
Maker Beckworths Ltd
Place made United Kingdom
Date made 1901
Conflict South Africa, 1899-1902 (Boer War)
Australian Colonial Forces, 1854-1900

Brown vegetable-tanned leather bandolier, for use by mounted infantry (described in List of Changes 8789 June 1897), designed to hold 50 rounds of .303-inch ammunition. The belt is made of one piece of leather measuring 48 inches in length and 3 inches wide but is cut more narrowly at each end to 2 1/2 inch wide. At one end of the belt is a sewn-in double-tongued cast brass buckle with a running loop; the other end has an adjustable billet (strap) with eight double rows of punched holes. The ammunition is fitted into fifty tubes (each measuring 1 6/8 inches in length) which are formed from long strips of leather sewn to the belt. The tubes are arranged in six sections; the four outermost being fitted with ten tubes each and the two innermost smaller sections with four and six tubes respectively. Each section has a flap shaped with sewn darts to prevent the ammunition falling out. The flaps are fastened with short tapered billets which have a single tear-shaped hole to pass over the studs. The studs are rivetted to the belt between the leather tubes. The leather used has a strong oat-grain pattern impressed into it. There is an incised line running around the edges of all leather components. Between the two shorter sections of tubes, a brass D ring is sewn to the belt with a leather tab. It serves to take a short strap to secure the bandolier to the waistbelt. 'BECKWORTHS LTD C&M 1901' is impressed into the point of the belt billet. A broad arrow with the number '6' underneath has been impressed under the flap closest to the buckle.

History / Summary

The first regulation bandolier for mounted infantry was introduced in 1882 as Mark I in the List of Changes 4401. In 1889 (List of Changes 4607) the belt was shortened from 51 inches to 46 inches and the tubes were shortened by one third to make it easier to extract the cartridges. The tubes were again shortened in 1896 (List of Changes 8391) and the bandolier was redesignated as the Mark II. In 1897 a further modification was made in which longer brass studs with larger bases were used for securing the flaps to prevent them from being torn away. The studs were affixed between the tubes instead of through them as in earlier versions. The two innermost sections which previously held five tubes each were altered to four and six-tube sections to allow the billets to be placed in the centre of the flaps. This particular example has been manufactured slightly longer than the 46 inches noted in the List of Chnages. Photographs of Australians serving in mounted units during the South African War show them wearing the different variations of 50 round bandolier.