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Often when I read Ost Front accounts, especially by Soviet troops they mention the Nazi's using 'explosive bullets' or dum dum bullets. Did the Wehrmacht actually issue dum dum bullets like the AK74 bullets with the air pocket in them? Or was this field modification, like putting a cross on the top of your bullets? Or is this all nonsense?

Sometimes the stories are obviously nonsense or misremembered - one Soviet vet describing the fighting on the Mamayev Kurgan in Stalingrad mentions German planes dropping sheets of flame from them. This I would account to nonsense or misremembering for example. But the explosive bullets thing is so pervasive I had to ask..

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I wouldnt be surprised about the HMG bullets but the sheer amount of Red Army anecdotes mentioning explosive bullets makes me think its more than just HMG rounds. I think then they'd specify something like 'the fascists used a really nasty machine gun..'

For example just right in front of me Voices From Stalingrad by Jonathan Bastable has literally 5 seperate incidents I can cite off the top of my head. The book covers soldiers memories from both sides.

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no clue what US uses --maybe match HP with are not made to expand but I'd guess they will come apart -- with modern weapons and their power the so called "dumdumm" are not needed -- the standard WW2 bolt rifles were very powerful -- I have hunted with a 30.06 for years- the idea of using that on a human is a bad thought- bullets deform, tumble -bend-the jackets can split -- and on it goes- with fast firing machine guns mulitiple hits are likely and close together- increasing damage- again I can not say who uses what, but "dum dums" are not needed to inflict horrific damage-

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BS. Was forbidden to use since 1899 in the Reichswehr/Wehrmacht.

But you could ask the USA and their peace nobel laureate, why they are using them in Iraq and Afghanistan right now and why "homeland security" bought a few million bullets... ;)

@ Steiner14,

I am inclined to agree with you whenever the Wehrmacht engaged another Geneva Convention signatory. But as the USSR (and the Japanese in the Pacific War) did not abide the Geneva Conventions, I am under the impression that greater savagery existing on those fronts. That might also align with your observations about current NATO operations against Jihadi extremists.

On the other hand, I wonder how much such complaints of "exploding bullets" might derive from communist wartime propaganda, a making of excuses for poor Russian performance against the Wehrmacht, a mystification of superior German munitions by ill trained peasants, or some combination from all of the above. History is replete with honest error and dishonest exaggeration.

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Just because it was forbidden to use in 1899 didnt mean it wasnt used on the Ost Front or in WW2 at all. The Third Reich violated war crimes conventions and all moral conventions with its Commissar Order, forcing it's armies to live off the land killing perhaps millions of innocent civilians by taking their food and shelter - many who would have welcomed the Germans, its Soviet PoW treatment, treatment of partisans and reprisals for partisan and resistance actions, the Holocaust, the Malmedy Massacre, and countless other instances. Obviously not every German soldier was a war criminal but it was a thoroughly insinuated practice into every official action of any part of the Third Reich and the SS werent simply the only bad guys. The idea the Germans would simply balk at dum dum bullets because they were banned in 1899 is silly Steiner14, especially since the quote refers to a Battle where German soldiers were resorting to sharpening their entrenching tools to use as axes. The Third Reich was the most successful genuinely evil empire in human history and to delude yourself into thinking that they had anyone's welfare besides their own at heart is ridiculous. They were crude, murdering thugs, and in the end they betrayed your own homeland - to think they were somehow glorious or honorable, is a load of $hit. Any honor, even by regular army units in the Ost was lost by being complicit in widespread abuses of human nature itself. There's no way around it. War is hell and brutal, and the US and many other nations have done a great many mistakes, but never on a scale or level so brutal, and calculated to kill when it wasn't necessary. Maybe that's what someone from the 'U.S.A and their nobel peace laureate' would think.

Otherwise, I can see this as an example of mistakes or generalizations. But i had read it enough to finally want to ask. There are other instances where I think whoppers are being told or the guys are simply wrong. The plane dropping liquid fire is one, another is that they were 'drunk as devils' while Im sure both sides had drunk combatants on thousands if not millions of occasions I think this is exaggerated a lot.

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<snipped>

I think whoppers are being told or the guys are simply wrong. The plane dropping liquid fire is one, another is that they were 'drunk as devils' while Im sure both sides had drunk combatants on thousands if not millions of occasions I think this is exaggerated a lot.

"They were too drunk to run away or fall down when struck or know to surrender when beat", has a long tradition in military history. It probably dates back to how the Egyptians beat the Canaanites at Megiddo. "Dutch Courage" comes from the battle of Waterloo when the British veterans were hard put to explain why those silly green Hollanders outperformed English expectations. Sometimes its true, other times not. That's the wonder of history in general.

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Yes. Sometimes of course Im sure it's true. The Red Army was well known for it's drinking, especially then. The Germans too, but I haven't heard as many stories of outright every man getting a liquor ration. Maybe the odd mention of a flask or brandy here and there. However, a big exception to this is reading about German troops, specifically the 76th Infantry Division, drinking perfume they had found and getting $hitfaced late in the battle of Stalingrad. Of course this is an aberration and different than getting everyone drunk before an attack. I do know that before 'actions (genocide)' the Einsatzgruppen would often get drunk en masse and then start shooting people. I wouldnt doubt it was pretty common to have drunk soldiers with some of the more nefarious of the anti-partisan units such as the Dirlewanger Brigade.

With the US/CW it seems more individualized or before or after attacks, like GI paratroopers drinking calvados they found, or finding Goering's 10k wine bottles in BoB.

In Vietnam with drugs, marijuana was especially prevalent, but mostly when combat was considered unlikely. With many units it was very frowned upon and unofficially disciplined when used 'in the field'. With harder drugs I doubt many people would know as much. Officially I hadn't known much about official US policy towards heroin addicts in Vietnam until earlier reading a Chris Appy book where a US nurse mentions that heroin addicted GIs would be thrown into a metal shipping container and locked in for a couple of days. Then brought out, put on intravenous drip to hydrate them, and sent back to their units. She didn't know or say about legal repercussions.

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The german army was issued tons of methamphetamine, which actually explains a lot. I think the allies also dabbled a little with "morale-pills", but not on the scale as in germany. By the way, international law is a joke, napalm is legal, so really, a joke.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Methamphetamine#Military_use

"More than 35 million three-milligram doses of Pervitin (=Meth) and the closely related Isophan were manufactured for the German army and air force between April and July 1940." - Wikipedia

Caculating from that data, this means 1,890 tons of meth where produced for the wehrmacht between 1939 and 1945. This equals 630 millions of 3-milligram dosages or 34,6 dosages per wehrmacht soldier (if 18,2 millions served between 1939 and 1945, as stated at wikipedia*).

However it can be assumd that those Herman-Göring-Pills, Dive-Bomber-Pills or Tankers Chochlates were only issued to combat personal, so the average amount of dosages that was available for consumption for each soldier who had acsess to those pills was probably higher than 34,6 dosages.

*http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wehrmacht#Truppenst.C3.A4rke_und_Gliederung

"Nach den Recherchen des Historikers Rüdiger Overmans dienten in der Wehrmacht 18,2 Millionen Soldaten, die im Verlauf des Krieges eingezogen wurden und nicht alle gleichzeitig Dienst taten" - "According to Rüdiger Overman, 18,2 million men served in the wehrmacht during the war."

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On Topic:

I found something interesting:

"B-Geschoß - (Beobachtung) ("observation") — The German Luftwaffe 10.85 grams (167.4 gr) B (Beobachtung—"observation") HE incendiary ball bullets contained phosphorus and "had a pellet in it which exploded on contact with any target, however frail". The B ball bullet was like any other high-explosive or incendiary bullet, illegal for anti-personnel use according to the Hague Conventions. It featured a higher muzzle velocity than standard ammunition due to a more powerful smokeless powder charge. These rounds were designated as V-patronen, with 'V' being short for improved (German: verbessert). "The Germans maintained that it was used mainly for observation and range-finding, but observers report having seen them in rifle clips and machine gun belts". The regular German infantry units were not allowed to use this round; however German snipers sometimes used this high velocity round to gain an extra 100 m (110 yards) effective range and cause horrendous wounds. The standard issue Karabiner 98k rifles handled these higher pressure cartridges without issues. This cartridge can be recognised by the black circular cap groove, yellow bullet."

Source:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/7.92%C3%9757mm_Mauser#German_cartridge_variants_during_World_War_II

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"Dutch Courage" comes from the battle of Waterloo

The phrase Dutch Courage predates Waterloo by many years. The phrase came from the English troops fighting in the Low Countries in the late 1600's - where gin was developed ands initially referred to the drink itself (not the effect). They brought this love of the drink home and it became popular in England, and in fact William III (who himself was Dutch) allowed unlicensed gin production in England and at the same time imposed a heavy duty on all imported spirits. Pretty shortly most of England was smacked off their tits on Gin.

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on topic again...

There is a very detailled article about the German 7,92-round.

(http://www.waffen-welt.de/bilder/DiePatrone7.92x57.pdf).

The author claims that Germans started to use the explosive B-Patrone when they encountered Russian Snipers using a similar round (ZP-Patrone).

The right designation of this ZP-Patrone was 7,62 ПЗ гж.

That is indeed some very detailed info you found there.

Here are some pics of the 7,92x57 B:

post-1385-1158169064.jpg

http://www.germansteel.net/B-Patrone1.jpg

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Sublime,

I don't know anything about explosive bullets in the East, but I do know about Japanese wooden bullets on Guadalcanal, what they did and the ensuing unpleasantness visited upon the Japanese (we cut off our bullet tips, causing horrendous wounds) until said bullets were hastily removed from service. Contrary to what this link says, my recollection is that the Japanese used them in order to conserve lead and copper, strategic resources. Any resource and cost savings were more than offset by the horrible wounds and resulting morale drop.

http://www.trailblazersww2.org/history_woodenbullets.htm

Apparently, wooden bullet use in combat was not merely an Axis offense. Would you believe the British, too?

ttp://suite101.com/article/wooden-bullets-used-in-peace-and-war-a141786

From this, it appears the Germans had and used large quantities of wooden bullets in combat. See "All's Fair in Love and War" here.

http://www.skylighters.org/memories/reunion99/

From what I can tell, I first read about Japanese use of wooden bullets in MARINE: The Life of Chesty Puller.

Regards,

John Kettler

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Sublime,

If you read any number of accounts at IRemember.ru, you'll find there was indeed a vodka combat ration for attacking troops. I don't recall the quantity involved, but it was enough to, as they say, take the edge off.

Mehlsack,

Welcome aboard!

agusto and Mehlsack,

Excellent, if somewhat nauseating, info. Might well explain the exploding bullet reports, especially in conjunction with the MGs 34 and 42. Shall have to check Wound Ballistics to see if there are any U.S. reports of such use.

Regards,

John Kettler

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Yes JK I know - thats why I mentioned it. IIRC it was 100 grams of vodka a day. And yes the Allies used benzedrine - an upper quite a bit during WW2 and into the Cold War. The Germans also invented Methadone as well - but Im not making the argument most or even more than a tiny fraction was on uppers or methadone.

Now anyways - the explosive bullets - this is interesting, do you think only snipers used them? Because it seems VERY common in Red Army accounts..

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Out of curiousity/ignorance, why where explosive/expansive bullets prohibited in international conflict?

I mean, you can't really blame armies for trying to kill each other more effectively, that kind of is what armies do, trying killing enemy soldiers that is. And I know that the Swedish Police force uses hollow points so bullets to minimize how much bullets they have to fire and to minimize bullets going entirely through and striking innocent bystanders, and that is... totally legal right?

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@smeel:

In theory, weapons of war are only thought to incapacitate the target, not necessarly to kill it. If it dies, that is collateral damage. Hollowpoint bullets would incapacitate the victim on battlefield as good as regular ammunation but, however, the wounds they inflict would be much more severe and thus increase the probability the victim dies in the hospital. The same is also true for flechette ammunation, like it was fired by the steyr ACR for example.

Another reason why you dont want enemy soldiers to die on the battlefield but to survive gravely wounded is that the enemy will have to spend significant time & resources on caring for his casualties.

The reason why police forces use hollowpoint bullets is probably the one you have mentioned: they stay inside the target and wont fly around riccochetting, endangering inocent bystanders. A normal, non-hollow-point 9mm round could easily penetrate a human body and continue travilling at lethal speeds for several hundered meters.

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Out of curiousity/ignorance, why where explosive/expansive bullets prohibited in international conflict?

I mean, you can't really blame armies for trying to kill each other more effectively, that kind of is what armies do, trying killing enemy soldiers that is. And I know that the Swedish Police force uses hollow points so bullets to minimize how much bullets they have to fire and to minimize bullets going entirely through and striking innocent bystanders, and that is... totally legal right?

Last time I read about this, it was something to do with the Boer War, IIRC, and the horrific mutilations that dum-dummed rifle bullets caused. There has always been a drive in the minds of some folk (largely among those who are trying to get others to do the dying to further their agenda) to sanitise war, and bring it back to some mythical time of honour and chivalry where all deaths were clean and quick and all injuries led to a quick and total recovery. A good chunk of the "rules of war" were originated in this misguided dreamland. Some of them (humane treatment of prisoners for example) make pragmatic sense both in that you'd want the enemy to do the same to your troops, and in that if it's known you obey the rules, the enemy are more likely to, for instance, surrender than fight to the death, but I'm not convinced that the delegates at the Hague Conventions necessarily saw it in that light.

The Hague Convention only covers warfighting, not actions against individuals. Bank robbers rarely bother to get through the red tape, so police forces are free to use frangible or expanding ammunition against them for good and pragmatic reasons of incapacitation and prevention of overpenetration. The same applies to the COIN operations in Afghanistan and Iraq and any other operations against stateless terrorists.

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