Bullets and Casings

The top image shows .303 bullet casings and a single .303 bullet (now very rusted) found in the wreckage of Halifax V9977.

Though the casings look to be in quite good order, they were, unfortunately, corroded to the point where no information

could be read from the underneath. Each casing would have contained a bullet, and yet when they were dug up, in every case,

none had a bullet in them because the explosive propellant had expanded over time and pushed the bullets out.

Though there is naturally an element of danger when dealing with live ordnance, in this case what remained of the propellant had

deteriorated to a powdery substance which would not even ignite with a naked flame. The bullets, having been pushed out of

the casings, had rusted in the ground and were no longer easy to determine as bullets.

The example you see here was one of the best that I found during my excavations in February 1999.

Halifax V9977 was fully armed and operational when it crashed on 7 June 1942.

During the clean-up and disposal operation following the recovery of the bodies of the

crew and the vital H2S parts, most of the remaining pieces of the aircraft would have been taken away, including

all the ammunition that could be found. But as you can plainly see, some remain in the ground to this day.

These were found at the crash site of Halifax V9977 at a depth of just 2 inches (4.5cm) and was the very first pieces recovered.

For comparison, I have placed a genuine 1941 .303 bullet, one which is in pristine condition and obviously has not

been dug up from a wreck, next to the ones discovered during the excavations.

As you can see, the splitting of the casing has allowed the corrosion to progress considerably over time. On the 1941

casing, you can clearly see the initials "W.R.A. 1941 .303", indicating that this casing was manufactured by

Winchester Repeating Arms Company of Connecticut USAin 1941. This was a large contract to the UK government.

(my thanks to Tim Coggin for this information)

The image above shows a genuine 1942 .303 casing with the bullet still intact for comparison.


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