Thursday, February 25, 2016

German K98k Mauser Ammo Pouch, WW2 Russian Capture, Wehrmacht - Russian Front

Today we'll be taking a look at a newer addition to the collection and a wonderful piece of WW2 and Cold War history.  It is a very nice, late war, WW2 German K98k Mauser, ammo pouch.

I spotted this pouch on eBay earlier this week and took a gamble on it.  The listing photos were poor and the seller listed it as a 1948 date stamped, vintage, post-war pouch.  I had a hunch that it was actually WW2 production and that the 1948 date was most likely 1943. Needless to say, I won the auction and got a great deal.
When the pouch arrived in the mail, I was more than happy to see that my gamble paid off.  

The pouch has clear stampings on the back side, with an RBN number and the date, "1943", clearly stamped under it.  The pebbled leather and the date stamp line up perfectly to give the illusion of an "8" instead of the stamped "3".   Definitely WW2 vintage German Army!

This is a classic "late war" pouch with riveted straps and pocket corners, with the short, riveted belt loops on the back.  All of the metal hardware has been brushed with black "tar paint".  The "tar paint" was applied by the Russians.  The pouch is a genuine "Russian Capture" pouch!

During WW2, the Russians gathered up all of the German Mausers and ammo pouches from the captured German soldiers and sent them to their armories for overhaul.  At the armories, they "de-nazified" the rifle markings (stamped out the swastikas) and prepped them for long term storage.  The ammo pouches had all of the metal rivets, and often the stitching, painted with he same "tar paint".  The rifles and pouches sat in warehouses until long after the war, waiting for a WW3 that never came.  Some time in the 1990's these Mauser Rifles and pouches were then cleared out and sold as surplus. 

Russian Capture Mausers at the end of WW2
This ammo pouch follows nicely along this story line:  Issued to a Wehrmacht soldier who was sent to the Russian Front, soldier captured by the Russians, pouch sent to the Russian armories, pouch in long term storage, surplussed, and then to eBay and then to my collection.  A very interesting history, unfortunately the known history only covers the high points.  I would love to have all of the "back story", details and circumstances of how the Russians actually picked up this pouch.  We will never know that part of the history, but at least an actual piece of the "Russian Front" is now going to be preserved.  It is also nice to be able to connect it to an actual time and location during the war.

A group of German POW's escorted by a Soviet soldier.

The overall condition of the pouch is quite nice. The condition and wear of the leather gives us a few clues about it's pre-capture useage.  The leather is nicely pebbled in the center areas, and nearly worn smooth on the edges.  The leather is also "softened, worn, and stretched" indicating that it saw extensive field use before capture.  It is a fire-tested veteran of the Russian Front.  

These pouches normally have a rawhide dividing strip inside each pouch pocket.  These strips keep the two stripper clips of ammo separated.  These strips are missing from this pouch.  You can see were the ends are still riveted in place, but the main strip has been cut away.  For some reason the Russians cut out all of these dividers when they were paced into long term storage.  This is another clear indicator that this pouch was captured by the Russians.

On the back of the pouch, we can see the "RBN" number.  These numbers were instituted in 1942 and were meant to replace the old "3 Letter Code" that was being used previously.  These numbers all follow the same format:  RBN  x / xxxx / xxxx.  They are always 9 digits long, in number groups of 1-4-4, each separated by back-slashes.  No one knows for certain what the numbers mean exactly, as the records were lost at the end of the war.  It is however, widely believed that the second set of numbers x / XXX / xxxx, is a city code, and the last set of numbers x / xxxx / XXX, is the manufacturers code.  There is normally a year date stamped under the RBN number.  You can see the "1943" stamped on this pouch.
The number on this pouch is:  RBN 0/0390/0069

This pouch is a wonderful new addition to the "Russian Front" part of my collection.  Now the hunt continues for a companion pouch!

Here is the photo album of this wonderful pouch:

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