Gunboards Forums banner
1 - 20 of 35 Posts

·
Administrator
Joined
·
12,031 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
Let me start with a disclaimer on the nomenclature M.88/24 - we don't really know what this carbine is called. I am using it only because most collectors call it by that name.

The similarity between the rear sight of M.88/24 and the three-line rifle obr. 1891 is uncanny. I have always been puzzled by it, but had no explanation until yesterday:

It appears the Belgians re-used the original three-line rifle sights. The Tula hammer is clearly visible as is the П proof mark. The old arshini graduations are also clearly visible on the left ladder. Mystery solved!
 

Attachments

·
Diamond Member
Joined
·
4,292 Posts
I get to learn somethng new today. Thanks, Nick. Now, any idea who the Belgians made these for? Or for the 'export market' in general?
 

·
Diamond Member with Oak Leaves and Swords
Joined
·
3,472 Posts
TP,
That is is a good question. The Belgians made and converted (?) many low end military rifles for sale in the late 30's for customers around the world. These rebuilt hybrid short rifles somehow fell into British hands in 1941 and 5,000 were provided as aid the Greeks (see Sazaidis) in 1941. Somehow, many, perhaps still in Greek hands, ended up in North Aftrica where a number were captured by the Axis. (There were Greek units in North Africa who initially did not perform well according to Sazanidis, perhaps account for loss of some these rifles? ) Some were later recaptured by the British 8th Army and inspected, repaired as needed and cleaned. (See "Ordnance Went Up Front). I was given one of these in 1951 by an uncle who was Master Sgt with Patton's Quartermaster staff. He told me (6 years after the war ended) that the rifle was Greek and was captured in North Africa.

That's my story and I'm sticking to it....or is it the other way around? :)
Regards,
John
 

·
Administrator
Joined
·
12,031 Posts
Discussion Starter · #5 ·
... any idea who the Belgians made these for? Or for the 'export market' in general?
Good question. John Wall helped with that by pointing at the book "Ordnance Went Up Front" where Roy Dunlap, an armorer, describes the gun among the captured from the Germans weapons. So its battle history is a fact. But who was the client? My logic is the following:

  • A country where 8x57 is a main cartridge.
  • A country where 8x50R (Patrone 93) is not the main cartridge.
  • A country that ended with a significant amount of free M.88's and M.90's (captured or reparation guns)
Greece was suggested by W.H.B. Smith, but it doesn't satisfy the above conditions. The only country that fits the description is Yugoslavia.

We don't know how many 88/24's were made. One of mine has a SN is below 1,000, the other is above 2,000. Can anyone report their serial numbers?
 

·
Administrator
Joined
·
12,031 Posts
Discussion Starter · #6 ·
... 5,000 were provided as aid the Greeks (see Sazaidis) in 1941.
Hm... must have missed this. I have "The Arms of the Hellenes" - where is this model described, John? I will take the book to my Greek friends for a detailed translation.
 

·
Diamond Member with Oak Leaves and Swords
Joined
·
3,472 Posts
Hi Nick,
There are virtually no arms adequately described at all in the English summary of "Arms of the Helles", but there is mention of these, although not by any model number. I'll get the page number from the English summary when I get home and post it.
Regards,
John
 

·
Diamond Member with Oak Leaves and Swords
Joined
·
3,472 Posts
Good question. John Wall helped with that by pointing at the book "Ordnance Went Up Front" where Roy Dunlap, an armorer, describes the gun among the captured from the Germans weapons. So its battle history is a fact. But who was the client? My logic is the following:

  • A country where 8x57 is a main cartridge.
  • A country where 8x50R (Patrone 93) is not the main cartridge.
  • A country that ended with a significant amount of free M.88's and M.90's (captured or reparation guns)
Greece was suggested by W.H.B. Smith, but it doesn't satisfy the above conditions. The only country that fits the description is Yugoslavia.

We don't know how many 88/24's were made. One of mine has a SN is below 1,000, the other is above 2,000. Can anyone report their serial numbers?

Hi Nick,
Yugoslavia didn't need these rifles. Besides, in 1940 and 1941, I doubt that the threat from Nazi Germany would have allowed them to sell rifles abroad, even ones as badly designed as this one. I don't know if anyone has ever posted this information but IMHO functionally, these rifles are genuine dogs with bolt stops that break quickly. (I own one and have seen two others, all with this damage.) These would have failed any Yugoslav field test. My suggestion wowuld be that we should look wider that Yugoslavia and and ask another (key) question: Which country had lots of need and money, and was routinely buying military rifles without inspection irrespective of caliber? There is only one answer, the Republican forces during the Spanish Civil War. My best guess therefore is Spain. The availability of these rifles in 1941 means the rifles were undelivered by the end of SCW hostilities or they were confiscated in transit by a Government enforcing the Spanish arms embargo.

In any case, there were many ex-A/H weapons in Spain provided by Russians and others, in 8x50 to the Republicans. Both sides used 8x57 widely in the WW I era Gew 88 and Gew 98 rifles they imported, as well as transitional Gew 98's, vz.24's, Mauser Standard Modells, and P-14's (from Belgium) in 8x57. From what I've read and seen, the Republicans never turned down a rifle purchase because of cartridge interchangability issues.
Regards,
John
 

·
Administrator
Joined
·
12,031 Posts
Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Yugoslavia didn't need these rifles.
Depends when. We don't know when the so called M.88/24 was made. If the conversion was done in the 20's the Yugoslavians certainly would have needed them. They did convert ~130,000 M.95's, so it appears all the Mausers they had weren't enough. Bad thing is there is not a trace of evidence that Yugoslavia ever had any of the M.88/24's. So Yugoslavia is off the list as an actual user, but is on the list as an intended customer.

Spain is an excellent candidate, but why bother with a conversion to 8x57? They had about 10,000 Mannlichers from Russia and I forgot how many from Poland. Their main round was 7x57. It is unlikely that they ordered the conversion, but it is possible that they bought some 88/24s. Here the opposite is true - off the list of countries that could have ordered the modification, but on the list of countries that could have ended up with it.

Sounds kind of convoluted, but in short - intended target could have been Yugoslavia, but the likely user could have been Spain.
 

·
Silver Bullet Member
Joined
·
2,910 Posts
what about china? they were using 8x57 as one of their main cartridges, they wanted arms, and they were not looking for expensive rifles.
 

·
Administrator
Joined
·
9,440 Posts
Belgium, in the early 1920s, was refurbishing and converting to 7,9mm a lot of "Foreign rifles" for Sales to China ( I have several Gew98s from China with "Balle Blindee" and other Belgian (ELG) proof markings). There is also some credence in the fact that Belgium had large numbers of M91 Mosins which were converted to 7,9, either by Venus-Werke (1917) for Turkey, or by the Belgians themselves ( also for China...even though China had acquired large quantites of MN 91s from the new Soviet Russia, the design was accepted also in 7,9mm by some warlords, who already had Mausers ...

( which brings up the story of a Gun-runner scam involving MN rifles, the wrong ammo, and missing ( delayed) Bolts ( which way I can't remember)...The Chinese Warlord eventually got the Rifles, the bolts and the correct ammo, and the Gun-runner was fished out of the Huang-Pu River at Shanghai, minus his windpipe. ( and his money).)

The Belgians would have had access to quantities of MN rear sights of the old style, and many other various spares from all sorts of rifles; as they also used early style GEW 98 Trigger guards ( locking screw within Kingscrew head) for some of the China export refurb 98s ( I have two fitted with such). SO 1920s Liege was a thriving workshop of Milsurp refurbishment.
As mentioned, many "new" countries were clamouring for 7,9mm calibre rifles; Greece was one, as were Ethiopia and China. The Rifles could have been part of a "Greek" supply, early in the 1930s, along with the FN30 Mausers; or it could be that they were captured by the Germans ( either in Belgium, Greece or even Yugoslavia) subsequently captured by the British (where?) and issued to Greek troops which had escaped the German-Italian invasion of Greece and were fighting in North Africa?
Ethiopia seems unlikely a destination, as Italian use of the M95 and M88/90 ( all 8x50R) in the AOI makes no mention of captured
7,9 M88/24s at all (but then the variety of rifles used by the Abyssinians was mind-blowing).

Can the M88/24 rifles be dated by the Belgian proof and inspection marks which are quite evident???. Remember that Belgium also assembled "M94/24s", similar to the Yugo "M95.M" of domestic Yugo conversion.

Another Mystery awaiting a solution.

Regards, Doc AV
AV Ballistics.
 

·
Administrator
Joined
·
12,031 Posts
Discussion Starter · #12 ·
... Remember that Belgium also assembled "M94/24s", similar to the Yugo "M95.M" of domestic Yugo conversion.
No, M.95/24 is Yugoslavian without any doubt. It has absolutely the same marks as M.95M, with the same Cyrillic letters. I have compared them side-by-side and can attest to that.
 

Attachments

·
Diamond Member with Oak Leaves and Swords
Joined
·
3,472 Posts
The reference to these rifles in Sazanidis is on page 557 in the Engliish Summary, column one, section D, "Up to the Fall of Crete, October, 1940 - May, 1941" in which Sazanidis lists the inventory of arms available to the Greek Army during that period. In the first paragraph, he lists arms received from Great Britain in or after January 1941. After many appeals, the British Goverment sent the Greeks some older machine guns, some Thompson sub machineguns and a paltry amount of ammunition. There are no rifles in the list except for "5,000 7.92 Mannlicher rifles". This is the only evidence ever to appear to my knowledge that the Greeks used rifles of this type of rifle, and to me substantially connects the dots to Greek use and ownership of of converted M1888's and the written (W.H.B. Smith etc) and verbal claims that the Greek Army used these, especially in North Africa. Maybe one day a photo or two will turn up on eBay showing their use by Greek troops? :)
Regards,
John
 

·
Diamond Member with Oak Leaves and Swords
Joined
·
3,472 Posts
Nick,
In the photos of the barrel markings you posted above, I'm not quite sure of the Liege proof house controlleur's mark. That is the mark to the right of the "crown-over-R". It's the mark consisting of a single capital letter with a star over it. On your rifles it looks like a "star-over-R" or a "start'over-X" or maybe a "K"? Could you check and post the correct answer?

Also, are your stocks numbered?
Many thanks!
Regards,
John
 

·
Administrator
Joined
·
12,031 Posts
Discussion Starter · #15 · (Edited)
Thanks, John. I remember that line, but he only states "Mannlicher" without a model - and then with a question mark after it. On pages 218 & 219 Sazanidis writes about Mannlicher 1895 from Bulgaria, among which he lists ΥΠΟΔ 1895/24, 7,92 χιλ (M95/24 in 7.92 mm) - which I seriously doubt came from Bulgaria.

Here are close-ups of the marks on both Belgian Mannlichers:
 

Attachments

·
Diamond Member with Oak Leaves and Swords
Joined
·
3,472 Posts
Nick,
What is the entry on pages 218-219? Isn't that where he simply lists rifles by model and their charactertics? Is there any information there of a historical nature? I have all the pages after 219. Regarding the question mark, I take that to indicate someone's questioning of the caliber "7.92" who thought it should have been 8 mm Mannlicher instead of 8 mm Mauser. I think it is important that there are no M95/24's entered in any Greek Army arms inventory in the English summaries, except for these 5,000 rifles from England. Did you notice the Greek language chart on page 509? In wonder what the third entry in the first section is? It may be the same 5,000 Belgian conversions.

Thanks for the pictures of the Liege proof marks. According to Bruno Joos Der Ter Beerst's book on Belgium firearms markings, the "star-overX" controleur's mark belonged to Alfred Regnier who worked at the Liege Proof House from 1937 to 1964.
Best Regards,
John
 

·
Administrator
Joined
·
12,031 Posts
Discussion Starter · #17 · (Edited)
Thank you, John!

1937 and on? Hmm... kinda late....

Here are pages 218 & 219, they have information about the rifles taken from Bulgaria. There is something about the modification to 7.92 on page 220 (at the very end) and page 221. I will take the book with me to church and see if any of my Greek friends can translate the text. I mean - they can certainly translate, but almost no one knows the military terminology except for one guy who has served in the military.
 

Attachments

·
Administrator
Joined
·
12,031 Posts
Discussion Starter · #18 ·
I checked Sazanidis' bibliography where I remembered he quoted the venerable W.H.B. Smith and his "Book of Rifles". Here we have a full circle as I believe Sazanidis quoted W.H.B. Smith, who wrote the following regarding the 7.92 mm M.88 conversion:



He also wrote that M.95/24 is Greek, but we know it ain't Greek, it's Yugoslavian:

 

Attachments

·
Administrator
Joined
·
12,031 Posts
Discussion Starter · #19 · (Edited)
I had a friend of mine translate parts of Sazanidis' book where Mannlicher in 7.92 is mentioned.

On p. 219, last paragraph of the first column, the author claims that Mannlicher M.95/24 was created in (or for) Bulgaria at the end of WWI (First World War) so that the Bulgarians could use the German 7,92 mm cartridges. (Well, we know this is not true.)

On pages 220 and 221 he reasons why Greece can not be the country that ordered the 7.92 mm modification. Here is the exact translation of this excerpt:

"A second point that has to be clarified is the information written in foreign books that Greece after WWI acquired a number of 8 mm Mannlicher rifles from the dissolved Austro-Hungarian empire as war reparations, which in 1924 Greece had them converted to 7.92 mm in Belgium. The inaccuracy here is obvious considering that in 1924 Greece had not adopted the 7.92 mm cartridge and accordingly had no reason to perform the caliber change attributed to Greece. On the contrary, if Greece had received 8 mm Austrian weapons it would have had every reason to keep them as they were, given that Greece already had Bulgarian weapons in the same caliber for which EEPK manufactured 8-mm Mannlicher cartridges. At the same time neighboring countries such as Yugoslavia and Bulgaria, who had adopted the 7.92 mm cartridge, had interest in such conversion. So, under the logic that in the Balkans facts that take place in some countries relate to all the countries in the region, Greece was included in this list without this being true, though. Moreover, it has not been proven conclusively whether Greece received as war reparations any Austrian 8 mm Mannlicher rifles. From all Greek literature and from comparison of related numbers, the conclusion that Greece acquired these weapons cannot be drawn with any certainty. In any case the issue remains open with the most probable version being that Greece did not receive 8 mm Mannlichers after WWI as war reparations."

The last translation is of the headers of the table on p. 509 where 5,000 Mannlichers are mentioned, the caliber of 7.92 mm being questioned on p. 557. The headers of the last four columns are: Captured (δ) Purchased from Abroad (ε), Issued (στ) and Total (ζ). Item 3 is Rifle Mannlicher of 7,92 mm.

In short, Dr. Sazanidis seriously doubts Greece ever ordering a 7.92 mm Mannlicher conversion, questions the caliber of the 5,000 Mannlichers purchased abroad at the beginning of WWII and doesn't specify the model of these 5,000 Mannlicher rifles.
 

Attachments

·
Diamond Member with Oak Leaves and Swords
Joined
·
3,472 Posts
Hi Nick,
Many thanks for getting this interesting section translated and for posting it here. I have no doubt that Sazanidis is 100% correct. Greece did not order these weapons abroad and they never had old M88 Mannlichers to convert. Certainly not in 1924!

Rather than being "ordered abroad", the Greeks received these rifles simply because they pleaded with the world for military aid while being overrun by the Wehrmacht. As Sazanidis points out, only Great Britain responded to with arms. As a result, the Greeks got these rifles, (and many other arms) which they accepted. Not surprising also because the rifles were made in 7.92mm which the Greeks had adopted in the late 1930's as their new service cartridge....which per chance is the time frame when these 5,000 were re-manufactured in Belgium. I have no doubt that in normal times, the Greek Army would never have looked twice at these rifles. As it is, given that so many of these rifles originated in North Africa where the British formed two Brigades of Greek infantry, I am confident that the rifles did not arrive in time to see combat in Greece or Crete.
Regards,
John
 
1 - 20 of 35 Posts
Top