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A general note. For anyone so motivated a fellow named Charles Pate wrote a book on secondary allied handguns of WWII. Like the SCSW it falls short of complete but is the best I know of.

A few factoids: In the wake of the fall of France the U.S. Navy gifted a huge number of revolvers including 1899s, 1902s and 1917s to the Brits. I believe several members own 1917s with British civil proofs.

While U.S. marked .38 S&Ws typically begin around 880XXX they have been encountered in the 77XXXX range. I believe this is partly due to the rejection rate while S&W was rapidly ramping up production and reclaiming bypassed numbers. My guess.

While I am not allergic to the Pre-V term, in my view if it has a military finish, grips and is U.S. marked its a Victory. If it is a five inch (or 6") .38 S&W its a BSR (British Service Revolver) which may have been commercial grade, transitional or Victory in origin.

The Canadians, South Africans, Australia and New Zealand had property marks; the Brits and Indian Army did not. Other than those with RFI rebuilt marks I do not know how to i.d. an Indian gun.

Summer of 1940 into 1941 was crazy time. In the wake of defeat in France everything happened to include the day they bought every .38 and .45 Colt had in stock. Colt obliged by including their shelf stock of Single Action Army, Officers and Shooting Master models. It happened. They were buying H&R Defenders for the police and taking anything for the Home Guard if it was a none standard caliber, .30-06, .45 ACP, .38 Special etc. the solution was to paint a big red ring around the barrel to avoid mishaps. Some not all .38 Specials were converted (38/380). The stamping practice was continued for a time beyond the conversions. Obviously some weapons bypassed the inspection/acceptance process altogether.

Mark Clark's 5th Army in Italy and Montgomery's 21st Army Group looked like the United Nations. I am guessing their General Support and Depot level maintenance organizations accounted for much of the "trans-national" traffic in BSRs, better add graves registration/recovery to that thought.

Post war traffic in BSRs has certain tell tales. A number were seconded to German and Austrian police agencies and were so marked. Some escaped into the hands of GIs and were treated to remarkable engraving by German craftsmen. If the revolver (or pistol) entered the British civil economy it went through either the Birmingham or London Proof House. If so the caliber/case length are stamped on them. .38 .767 = .38 S&W; .38 1.15 = .38 Special. Guns marked BNP were proofed in 1955 or later (FYI). That did not mean it did not get reamed on arrival in the U.S. in order to accept .38 Specials.

Cogswell & Harrison and Parker-Hale notably converted BSRs in England for the export market.

Most of these BSRs were exposed to conversion if not outright butchery. It is a joy to find one that escaped.

Great post, thanks. I am lucking enough to have a couple of examples of what you talked about.

My Cogswell & Harrison. The casings do not swell at all in this revolver. They did a great job except for the front sight. This one shipped 4/42.

Trigger Revolver


Firearm Gun Revolver Trigger Gun accessory


This one was used in Hesse, Germany after the war. This Victory shipped in 1944.

Wood Finger


Firearm Gun Trigger Revolver Airsoft gun


Regarding the Cogswell conversion I did email the British MOD and they responded. I provided them with the S/N and asked if they had any info. They said they had no records of those firearms.
 

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Looks like maybe Hessen-Mannheim P.D. also? Unless you literally lucked into a serial number on a published document or a receipt for sale out of service I imagine research will likely be a dead end. A series of guns running from 685,000 to SV811,000 with concurrent serial numbers in two calibers, the most prolific period of production in S&W history, challenging?

My earlier look as the subject brought me to no clear conclusions with respect to Defense Supplies Corporation, Army (supervised) contracts, Navy contracts, limited civilian sales, Commonwealth nations, U.S. Maritime Commission, the OSS, foreign aid to Latin America (about 1,200) and so on.... My guess at the time was 400,000 plus of the million plus were chambered in .38 S&W.
 

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......

The p came about when the Brits delegated military proof to S&W. So no for these early guns.
Thanks for the detailed response.

Unless you have an actual documentable source for that “delegating” though, that seems to be contradicted by the fact that we have several months of BSR’s documented now which have both the Enfield acceptance mark and pennant proof despite the presence of the P proof.

The Enfield marking and proofing stopped in late fall with the beginning of Lend-lease, when the guns at least nominally were “loaned” and remained Uncle Sam’s, thus the UNITED STATES PROPERTY topstrap stamping beginning in the upper 800-thousands,

Looks like maybe Hessen-Mannheim P.D. also?
HE is Hessen, but Mannheim is not in Hessen, but in Baden-Württemberg, or Württemberg-Baden as that part was called until 1952. I‘m currently working on a little research project on the occupation Victorys; Marburg is the best candidate for M, if it‘s a city, but stamping wasn‘t consistent, and it could simply be M for Municipal, as guns in Bayern were stamped.
 

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Somehow I ended up with two revolvers marked HE-M.

V477114 shipped 12/43. It is a .38 special, 4" barrel

Gun Firearm Revolver Trigger Starting pistol


and the one shown earlier, a 5" .38SW which has been refinished but not converted back to a .38 special. It shipped 8/44.

Firearm Gun Trigger Revolver Gun accessory


my only other V prefix revolver is also a 5" .38SW (not converted) which shipped in 11/43. No post war German service markings.

Firearm Gun Revolver Trigger Gun accessory
 

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Somehow I ended up with two revolvers marked HE-M.

V477114 shipped 12/43. It is a .38 special, 4" barrel
.......

and the one shown earlier, a 5" .38SW which has been refinished but not converted back to a .38 special. It shipped 8/44...
The various Victorys and pre-Victorys transferred to the German police did not come from any single identifiable source. There have been identified Navy and OSS shipped guns among them, and if I remember correctly, even a DSC gun that lettered as originally shipped to a stateside recipient. In the three main American occupation regions Würtemberg-Baden, Hessen, and Bayern, US version and BSR models in both calibers were issued. The BSRs so far all letter to Hartford Ordnance like all Lend-lease guns. These may or may not have gone to the Germans by way of Britain.
 

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The various Victorys and pre-Victorys transferred to the German police did not come from any single identifiable source. There have been identified Navy and OSS shipped guns among them, and if I remember correctly, even a DSC gun that lettered as originally shipped to a stateside recipient. In the three main American occupation regions Würtemberg-Baden, Hessen, and Bayern, US version and BSR models in both calibers were issued. The BSRs so far all letter to Hartford Ordnance like all Lend-lease guns. These may or may not have gone to the Germans by way of Britain.

Next year I may letter the '43 5" .38 SW.
 
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.... The American Rifleman had an article on this subject within recent years, perhaps it can be pulled up easily?
That was a good suggestion. I'd heard about that article, but now I made the effort to find it.

A lot of the article consists of rephrasing info from James Mock's Bavarian M1 website ("James Mock ... has kindly provided information ...", um, yeah).

But it's a generally good overview. It's good to find out I was apparently correct with the M for Municipal. (I take no credit for this though, I've been on the topic some time and may have read it somewhere).

There is a glaring mistake in the article discussing Berlin.

Quote: "The police in the U.S. Sector of Berlin are not known to have carried American revolvers. Berlin being a special case, they were issued FN pistols from 1945 to about 1958, at which time they switched to the French-made Manurhin P-1 (P.38)."

Fiddlesticks. The .38 Special Victorys on duty with the West Berlin police, with the distinct backstrap markings for the six districts within the American sector, are well-known among collectors. And the Manurhin-stamped and finished, but not French-made, P1 wasn't introduced until 1963.
 

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