Friday, February 24, 2012

The Webley and Scott .455

The Webley and Scott Mark VI was the standard issue handgun for officers in British forces in World War I. Weighing two pounds, the Webley was known for reliability and sturdiness. A six-shot revolver, .455 calibre, the Webley had an impressive heft and no doubt inspired confidence in the men carrying it. It is another question, of course, how much use it was to a mounted man; I know my father put no faith in his ability to hit what he aimed at while on horseback. During the charge of Flowerdew's "C" Squadron at Moreuil Wood in 1918, Flowerdew drew his sword, not his Webley, for the attack.
My father owned a Webley when I was young, although not the one he carried as a troop sergeant. That one was abandoned on the field so he could better crawl, wounded, out of the way of bullets and pounding hooves.


Pat H said...

Sidearms and Commonwealth cavalry are sort of a complicated topic. There's a couple of SMH topics on it.

British cavalrymen were not routinely issued a sidearm. During WWI they were issued a longarm and a saber, but not sidearm. This was true of the Boer War also, after it got really rolling.

During the Boer War Canadian cavalry were issued sidearsm, following the American pattern in which the U.S. Army had issued sidearms to all cavalrymen following the Civil War. I don't know off hand if this practice was uniformly followed during WWI, but some Canadian mounted units did do this early on. During the Boer War they sidearms were not Webleys, however, but Colt double actions.

The Webley was actually not an "issue" arm to Commonwealth officers. They were required to purchase a sidearm and had wide leeway as to what they bought. The Webley was the official sidearm, and was what was issued to the (relatively) few British enlisted men who were issued sidearms, but officers could purchase any sidearm they desired as long as it was in .455. Quite a few purchased Webleys, but many others bought a wide variety of sidearms, to include even Colt 1911s manufactured in .455.

Robert Mackay said...

Hi Pat
Many thanks for your recent input. Fascinating material on the SMH site.

Pat and Marcus said...

Bob, just so you know I added a link to your blog from one of mind. I noted you have a legal and ranching background, and we obviously share a similar historical one, so I added you to my Lexanteinternet site. Keep up the good work here!

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