Dum-Dum Bullets 1

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Dum-Dum Bullets Mike Waldren QPM Police History Series 2012PFOAPoliceFirearmsOfficersAssociationHeadOffice:PFOA,POBox116,March,PE155BATel:08455430163Email:info@pfoa.co.ukRegisteredCharityNo.1139247CompanyNo.07295737June2012

Dum-Dum Bullets Page 1 It Will Rip The Arm From A Normal Healthy Human The kind of ammunition used by police forces in the United Kingdom occasionally becomes a subject for heated debate, particularly if there is any suggestion that the police have used, are using, or intend to use, Dum-Dum bullets. Few people, however, have any real idea of what such abulletactuallyis. More often than not it is described as being a bullet that will rip the arm from a normal and healthyhumanor cause some other unspeakable injury. That, so popular legend has it, is why it was outlawed by civilised states including Great Britain in 1899 at the Hague Convention (although an unspecified Geneva Convention is often substituted) thus ensuring that only humane bullets have been used in armed conflicts ever since. The reality is very different and fallacies have plagued the subject from the time the bullet was invented. How It All Started Chitral was a small principality in what today is the far North-West Frontier Province of Pakistan on the border with Afghanistan. When the Mehtar (ruler) of Chitral died in 1892 thefirstofhisseventeensons,Nizam-ul-Mulk,claimedthethrone.Heenjoyedfriendly relations with the British but in J anuary 1895 he was killed at the instigation of one of his half-brothers, Amir-ul-Mulk, who promptly took over. Amir had no time for the British Raj andapoliticalagent,Surgeon-Major(laterSir)GeorgeRobertson,wassentwithasmall military detachment to deal with the matter. Robertson deposed Amir and installed his more compliant 12-year-old brother, Shujah-ul-Mulk, in his place. Amir appealed to his brother-in-law, Umra Khan, and his uncle, Sher Afzal, for help. They agreed (probably intending to get ridofhimaswellsothatoneofthemcouldruleinstead)andbetween3,000and5,000 tribesmen laid siege to Robertson and his men in the small Chitral Fort. Typical Modern Polemical Diatribe on Dum-Dum Bullets Dum-Dum Bullets Page 2 Two attempts at relief failed and with more Chitralis joining Umra Khan and Sher Afzal every day the British government decided on a full scale expedition of 15,000 men. While these marched up from the south and engaged the bulk of the opposition along the way, a small secondary force commanded by Lieutenant-Colonel J ames Kelly marched from Gilgitintheeast.They heroically crossed the 220 miles of mountains, some of which were covered in deepsnow,toreach ChitralFortintwenty-eightdaysandUmra KhanandSherAfzal abandonedthesiege.The main relief force arrived a few days later. The British suffered less than a hundred casualties and although the losses suffered by Sher Afzal and Umra Khan are unknown, they werereportedlyinthethousands.ItwasthestuffofwhichgloriousVictorianmilitary triumphs were made but it would have been consigned to the pages of history were it not for the actions of some of the British soldiers who took part. It was the military expedition that brought about the Dum-Dum bullet. The late 1800s was a time of great change for all European armies in terms of what firearms they carried and the ammunition they used. In the case of the British, 1866 had seen the introduction of the breech-loading Enfield-Snider rifle which discharged an all-lead .577 calibre bullet at a muzzle velocity of 1,250 ft/s. This was superseded in 1871 by the Martini-Henry which fired a .450/577 calibre all-lead bullet at a similar muzzle velocity. In 1888 the first true repeating rifle in the form of the bolt-action Lee-Metford was introduced. It had a box magazine and the ammunition to accompany it was of .303 calibre. The smaller sized bulletwaslighterandthismeantthatthemuzzlevelocityincreasedto1,830ft/sthereby increasingtherangebuttherewasaproblem.Greaterspeedmeantthatmoreheatwas generated with the result that some of the lead adhered to the lands and grooves in the barrel causing fouling. To overcome this, a cupro-nickel jacket was added to stop the lead coming intodirectcontactwiththeriflebore.Thevastamountofsmokegeneratedbytheblack British soldiers during the Chitral Expedition Dum-Dum Bullets Page 3 powder charge was overcome when cordite (a mixture of nitro-glycerine, nitro-cellulose and mineral jelly) was introduced in 1891 as a smokeless powder. This also had the effect of increasing the muzzle velocity, this time to 1,970 ft/s. The final development of the cartridge had a round-nosefully-jacketed bullet and was officially knownas the Cartridge S.A. Ball, Magazine Rifle Cordite Mark I, later to become the Mark II. Soldiersthemselvesdidntlikethenewbulletfor severalreasons.Firstlytherewasthesoldierstraditional mistrust and suspicion of anything dreamed up as being ideal for their purposes by someone who, to borrow a military idiom from later years, had never been up to their neck in muck and bullets. This was exacerbated by their not being able to see a comforting lump of soft lead that would be sent hurtling toward the enemy and because the bullet was smaller they believed that it was not likely to be so effective anyway. TheirworstfearswererealisedduringtheopeningskirmishesintheChitral expedition when rumours started to spread of tribesmen who were still able to fight even after they had been hit by several bullets. One story, which no doubt improved with the telling, circulated widely about a tribesman who had been hit by six bullets and yet fully recovered afterhospitaltreatment.Giventheaveragesoldiers talent for improvisation it was not long before one of them discovered that by taking a bullet and rubbing the nose of it against a stone it was possible to wear away the top of the jacket so that the old familiar lead could beseeninside.Whenthiswasfiredatacharging tribesman it had the desired result. The need for the British to have an ammunition factory in India had been recognised as early as 1846 andthefirsttobeconstructedwasatDumDum,a small town north-west of Calcutta (renamed as Kolkata in2001).AtthetimeoftheChitralexpeditionthe superintendentofthefactorywasaRoyalArtillery Martini -HenryMark II .450/577.303 Charging Chitral tribesmen Dum-Dum Bullets Page 4 Captain, Neville Bertie-Clay (sometimes spelt without the hyphen).Bertie-Clayhad spent much of his career so far in the Indian Ordnance Department and he was not one to approve of soldiers messing about with his ammunition. He was, however, sympathetic and so he started his own series of trials with the standard military bullet (the Mark II). He found that thebenefitsofthecupro-nickeljacketwhich,itwillberemembered,wasonlythereto prevent lead fouling in the barrel, were unaffected by the removal of the top one millimetre of it to expose the lead and that the increase in the performance of the bullet in terms of stopping power was significant. His factory therefore started to turn out what today would be called a jacketed soft-point bullet and it is this that was the original Dum-Dum. Itwasjustintimebecause1897sawageneraloutbreakofrebellionagainstthe British.TheRisingsontheNorth-WestFrontierwascompiledin1898fromthehighly detailedreportsofspecialwarcorrespondentsandofficialdispatches,manyofwhichit quoted verbatim. It described the revolt as encompassing: From Waziristan on the left to Bimerontherightastretchofmorethan400milesofourborderland,inhabited...by 200,000 first-rate fighting men. ... The tribes which immediately face us on this frontier line, commencing at the top of the semicircle at Dirbund, on the Indus, are, taking them in their order, the Bunerwals, the Swats, the Utman Khels, and the Mohmunds; then come the Khyber Pass and the Afridis, and lastly, on the northern flank of the road from Kohat to Thull, the Orakzai. The Myths Begin Intheearlystagesthisresultedintheformationofapunitive expedition,underthecommandofthemagnificentlynamedMajor-General Sir Bindon Blood, which would gain international renown as a resultofanarrativebyayounglieutenantwho accompaniedtheexpedition.Hisnamewas WinstonChurchillandhisbookwasentitledTheStoryofthe MalakandFieldForce.Init,hedescribedhowduringoneaction: Determined and vigorous sword charges were now delivered on all sides of the camp. The enemy, who numbered about 4,000, displayed the greatest valour. ... The fire of the British was, however, crushing. Blood Churchill Dum-Dum Bullets Page 5 Their discipline was admirable, and the terrible weapon with which they were armed, with its more terrible bullet, stopped every rush. Churchill went on to write that: The power of the new Lee-Metford rifle with the new Dum-Dum bulletit is now called, though not officially, the "ek-dum" (Hindustani for "atonce.")bulletistremendous. The soldiers who have used it have theutmostconfidenceintheir weapon. Up to 500 yards there is no difficultyaboutjudgingtherange, asitshootsquitestraight,or, technicallyspeaking,hasaflat trajectory.Thisisofthegreatest value. Of the bullet it may be said, thatitsstoppingpowerisallthat couldbedesired.TheDum-Dum bullet,thoughnotexplosive,is expansive. The original Lee-Metford bullet was a pellet of lead covered by a nickel case with anopeningatthebase.Intheimprovedbulletthisoutercasehasbeendrawnbackward, making the hole in the base a little smaller and leaving the lead at the tip exposed. The result is a wonderful and from the technical point of view a beautiful machine. On striking a bone thiscausesthebulletto"setup"orspreadout,anditthen tearsandsplinterseverything beforeit,causingwoundswhichinthebodymustbegenerallymortalandinanylimb necessitate amputation. Continental critics have asked whether such a bullet is not a violation of the Geneva or St. Petersburg Conventions; but no clause of these international agreements forbidsexpansivebullets,andtheonlyprovisiononthesubjectisthatshellslessthana certain size shall not be employed. I would observ