Or, to give it its full title, ‘Things that lurk in the shadows of the display cabinet that haven’t seen the light of day for a while’. And no, this is not exactly a mystery item, as you can probably identify what it is, if not its exact specifications.
It’s interesting what still survives on the battlefield after all these years. I don’t claim the credit for finding this piece of ammunition belt and associated bullets for a German MG08 Maxim machine gun, but when it came into my possession I was assured that it was found on the surface in fairly recent times, not excavated, and I have no reason to believe otherwise. So, here’s the gun, below, ammunition belt in place,…
…and here’s how the fitted belt would have looked from above.
The easy way to identify the bullets as German is the indent before the ring round the base, which is not present on the British Lewis machine gun .303 round pictured at the bottom. That bullet, by the way, I did find, on the Arras battlefields, along with part of the magazine, hence I know it was intended for a Lewis gun.
Along with another rust-coloured piece of web belt, two additional items were found along with the ammunition belt,…
…both of which appear to be metal fixings through leather, although your guess is as good as mine as to their purpose (the finder suggested part of a backpack), so I suppose we do have mystery item, or items, of sorts, this post. Does that split-pin thingy give a clue? Why would you need to use one of those?
East Lancs raiders, captured German Maxims, La Gorgue area, Flanders, December 1914.