Home Guard training alongside Royal Marines.

We can learn an awful lot about the military activity from just one small little cartridge. It looks to be a fairly ordinary cartridge on first inspection but this is a wartime one which has turned out to be the first certain evidence I have found of the local Home Guard training alongside the Royal Marines Woodbury Common!

I spotted this American .30-06 cartridge that had been washed up from recent storms. The markings on the base are ‘FA 33’.
FA – Frankford Arsenal, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA and dated 1933.




This was the standard issue calibre used by the US military during WW2. The American .30-06 is a little bit longer than the British issue .303 (63mm long and the .303, 56mm).
.30-06 left, .303 right.



The .30-06 was used in all sorts of American issue weapons, such as the M1919 machine gun, M1918A1 BAR (Browning Automatic Rifle), and the standard US Infantry rifle the M1 Garand, to name a few.
Markings from firing show that this cartridge was fired by one particular rifle, which can be identified as the P.17 rifle.
In 1914, the US supplied Britain’s war effort with American made ammunition and weapons, one such rifle was the .303 calibre P.14, also known as the ‘American Enfield’. When the US entered the First World War in 1917, the then standard US issue Springfield 1903 rifles were in short supply for the American Expeditionary Forces. So, to help supply arms to the AEF, US factories ‘modified’ the P.14 they were supplying to Britain, and changed the calibre to the US standard .30-06, which became the P.17 rifle. When WW2 broke out, again, the US supplied Britain and P.17 rifles were sent over for use by the Home Guard, along with the .30-06 ammunition. The British Home Guard used the .30-06 calibre, as well as the .303 calibre.

This particular cartridge can be identified as being fired from a P.17, by the tiny rectangular imprint on the base, to the left of the ’33’.


This rectangular imprint is from the ejector grove of the bolt face (pictured below). The bolt (firing mechanism) has a ‘claw’ extractor part that grips the rim of the cartridge to remove it from the barrel after firing. When the bolt is pulled back, a thin rectangular ejector part knocks the cartridge out of the gun. The imprint on the cartridge is from the ‘passageway’ on the bolt for the ejector.



This imprinting from the ejector shouldn’t actually happen, and suggests a problem with the rifle. This is most likely to be a problem with the ‘headspace’ (headspace being the distance between the base of the cartridge and the front face of the bolt). The headspace of this rifle was probably slightly too large (maybe only by about 0.002″), causing the cartridge to slam into the bolt face at the moment of firing and producing the imprint.
One soldier’s rifle problem is a great source of ID’ing for us cartridge geeks!

Really super identification that Home Guard were training in this area, especially after 80 years in truly awful soil!!


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